Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 53

Published: 8 Apr 14

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Matt

I was very anxious about the family dinner with Luke present. I didn't know what to expect and would never have suspected what actually happened. First there was Michael's chest when he was told to remove his shirt. Just above each nipple there was a wound which, while closed, was obviously recent. Dad had told me about the sun dance and I could see that the wounds on Michael's chest could have been from being pierced at a sun dance, but I was amazed when Red Hawk and Taequo told us what had happened. The statement that more than the relationship was involved in what was going on, I would follow those instructions.

After dinner, people just sorta sat around talking. I looked at Luke and saw he was looking at me. I smiled and, as I did, he pushed Red Hawk's instructions a bit when he mouthed, but did not speak, the words, "I love you". My heart skipped a beat and I smiled big time and mouthed back, "I love you too". Luke then got up and walked out the door after telling his mom and dad he was walking home. When he left, Taequo excused himself and said he was going to sleep at the falls. Mom gave him a sleeping bag and he was leaving when Red Hawk stirred, raised up and said, "I'm going with you". When Mom offered him a sleeping bag, he told her he didn't need it and followed Taequo out of the door.

Michael and Mary Kathryn left as soon as dinner was over and I went upstairs to my room.

I had been upstairs for a while when both Mom and Dad came up. That was unusual, but very welcome. Dad sat on the bed with me and Mom sat on my desk chair. They were barely seated when I asked, "Dad, can you tell me what is going on?"

"Matt, I am a scientist and I find it difficult to accept what can't be demonstrated in the lab. Nevertheless, I am also Lakota and know that much of what I have seen and experienced cannot be demonstrated or explained in scientific terms. It is mysterious and will remain so. Does that mean one world is real and another unreal? I think not. I think it is all one world, there is just much of it we have forgotten about or pretend isn't there. There are places which, for whatever reason, are sacred, where there seems to be some kind of power node. The falls is one of them. I have known that from the first time I saw them. The rest of the family did too, it's just that our language and sense of the power is different. They have always seen the falls as a place of healing and restoration which is just another way to say they are a sacred place."

"There are also people who seem to have special power. Maybe everyone has the potential and some develop it and others do not. I don't know. I do know that in my Lakota heritage there have always been medicine men, powerful men, who seem to live with one foot in the ordinary world and the other foot in a mysterious world that most of us cannot see and do not understand. Red Hawk and Taequo are both such, men with the power to struggle with the bad things in that mysterious world and who are agents of the good things in this world. Obviously, Michael is also. It is very strange to me that Michael--who actually knows very little of the Lakota tradition and culture--has been chosen to be a medicine man. Red Hawk thinks both he and Luke received power from you. Red Hawk says your Korean heritage is responsible. He tells me that the blending of two shamanistic forces is almost beyond his comprehension."

"Add to that mix--and if your mind can begin to grasp it--the fact that the power of the three of you is in some way linked. Together in harmony you are unbelievably powerful but, without the link, your power becomes weak and capable of great harm--you might even say evil. That's why this weekend is important. Sure, we all love you and Luke and the break in your relationship is painful to all of us, but that break involves more than a lovers' quarrel. There is more, much more involved."

Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought, "All I really wanted was a simple life for me and Luke. Just a simple life of loving Luke and being loved by him."

Somewhere in the back of my mind a small voice said, "Tough tittie!".

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Luke

After my talk with John, I felt much better but I was still in no shape to face Matt and I knew it, but I guess in-shape or not, I was about to do so. When we arrived at the Greywolfs', Matt was nowhere to be seen but came down shortly. When he did, we avoided looking at each other, although I wanted to look at him. I wanted to see my Dark Angel and tell him how sorry I was, and what I had really done, and beg his forgiveness, but it was forbidden.

Dinner started with a very dramatic twist when Red Hawk had Michael reveal his piercing. I knew a little bit of what this was about, but not a great deal. I did realize, again, Michael had suffered in an effort to save me--from what I wasn't sure. While I didn't know what was really going on, I was in awe at all Red Hawk and Taequo said, and at the presentation of the shirt. I knew something very important and special was happening.

Shortly after we started eating, I was looking at Matt when he looked up. As our eyes met, we both gave the other a weak smile and quickly glanced away. Later when our eyes met, we both looked long and deep into the windows of the soul of the one we loved. As I looked into his eyes, there was no doubt that Matt loved me and I knew he also saw my love for him in my eyes. Now we just had to get the past behind us.

As soon as possible after dinner, I left and walked home alone. The moon was just waning from the full and the night was very bright. As I walked, I tried to think of the importance of what I had seen and heard, but my heart and mind were filled with Matt. My Sarang Hanun Pomul had looked at me with pure love in his eyes--nothing but love. In the night I felt Matt's love surrounding me, protecting me, and I was closer to being happy than I had been since I read only part of that damned letter. In fact, I was happy. Oh, there were still nagging doubts and I knew that Matt and I had to really repair our relationship, but it was going to happen. I laughed when I remembered the conditions under which Red Hawk said we were to spend Sunday afternoon. We had been separated for five weeks and had to make up after a serious misunderstanding and betrayal of our promise, but I knew that wise old Indian was aware we'd by-pass everything and go gangbusters for sex. After all, he had been eighteen once, "but it was just after dirt was invented," I laughed to myself. But he knew, he knew. So he gave very strict ground rules.

When I got home, I undressed and slipped into bed and fell asleep without drugs, and slept without nightmares.

Sunday morning Mom woke me before dawn and she, Dad, Mary Kathryn and I walked to the falls. All of the Family arrived about the same time and joined Red Hawk and Taequo atop Lookout Rock. Soon Greywolf, Taequo and Red Hawk were chanting in languages I didn't know but, somehow or other, understood. I mean I didn't understand the words, but the spirit was very clear, they were greeting the new day. As the sun appeared, all of us stood with our arms upraised as each greeted the new day in his own way. From the core of my being, I knew it was a new day in more ways than one. When we finished, Red Hawk turned to me and Matt--we were standing side by side, and said, "You two seem to be doing very well. You are on the road to healing. After church, you will spend time together. As I told you last night, speaking without words then you may speak to each other, but only on the condition that one speaks and the other listens. You know the boundaries. I will speak with you at sundown. Meet me here."

When he finished, the three families went home to prepare for church.

When I walked into St. Mary's, I was surprised to see Michael, Taequo and Red Hawk dressed in their ribbon shirts. Needless to say, I wasn't the only one surprised. The three created quite a stir. It was strange, as well, to see Matt sitting with his Mom and Dad and not at the organ. When Millie started the prelude, I could understand why Matt was so good. Millie hadn't lost her touch at all.

I don't know what Fr. Tom knew about what was going on but, whether he knew everything or nothing, he couldn't have done better. The Gospel appointed for the day was "Love your neighbor as yourself" and the story of the Good Samaritan. Both parts really hit home because the first part--neighbor love--took a different tack from what I expected, because Fr. Tom talked about the necessity of loving yourself. I had always been told that was wrong and conceited, but it made sense. I know, because I was still not loving myself and it sure was playing hell with loving Matt and everyone else. Then he talked about doing for those you might not really like and just doing for others in general. I guess I suddenly saw whatever it was Matt, Michael and I were involved in meant that we were, somehow or other, to care for others.

As we were leaving church, I told Matt I would come by about 1:00 and we would spend the afternoon together as Red Hawk had said. He smiled and said, "I can remember when you didn't have to be told to spend time with me!" and laughed.

Since there had been a family dinner the night before and there would be a family breakfast Monday, there was no usual Sunday dinner. I was kinda relieved. When we got home, we had dinner and actually talked about the sermon, something we seldom did. I was very interested in Mary Kathryn's comments. She didn't have to say that she had a change of heart about being a priest's wife. She just talked about how much being a part of the ceremony Saturday had meant to her and how she felt that she and Michael were a team. "I'm not sure the name of the team or the game we're in, but it's important and I find it exciting. And when I am involved, I forget about Mary Kathryn. No, I feel very much Mary Kathryn and not the selfish little snit I am too often." Amazing.

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Matt

Sometime in the night, I woke up and saw the bright moonlight pouring through my window. I started just to stay in bed--I was wide awake--but then decided to get up. I pulled on shorts and a shirt and climbed down the trellis. I wasn't sure where I was headed, but the moonlight was too good to waste. I didn't want to go to the falls where Red Hawk and Taequo were sleeping and I didn't think it wise to go to Luke's. Finally, I walked down the road toward Michael's. When I reached his place, I walked to the side of the house below his room and tossed small stones at his window until he finally heard me. He stuck his head out of his window, waved, and soon came down.

"I don't know why I am here," I said, "but I didn't want to waste the moonlight. Care to go for a walk?" Michael nodded and we started walking down the road, away from the families' homes. "Michael, can you tell me what is going on?"

"Matt, I'm not sure. All I really know is that strange things happened in the sweat lodge and, somehow or other, I am to help you and Luke heal your relationship. Red Hawk says you and Luke saved my life, now I am to save yours. I didn't think he meant it literally but, after I thought about Luke's second suicide attempt, I'm not sure. It's all very weird, but I have a very strange feeling that we are part of something that is important. Mary Kathryn feels the same way. What a change in a woman! I loved her to death before, but I am really in love with the new Mary Kathryn. She is so grown-up and powerful. Matt, I feel that you, Luke and I are linked in some way and that Mary Kathryn and I are a team. I mean, we are really together and I love it. I feel like a part of me that was missing is in place. Do you know what I mean?"

"I think so. It's how I felt when Luke and I had sex the first time. I felt we made each other whole."

"I guess I got cheated on that score," Michael laughed. "But the time will come!"

We walked in the moonlight for another half hour or so, just generally talking about our Larsens and then what next year would be like when the four of us would be separated. We had turned around and, when we reached his house, Michael said, "Matt, I have great hopes for the sweat Monday morning, but I am also frightened about what might happen. It's some experience." We said goodnight and went our separate ways. When I was in bed again, I wondered just what might happen in the lodge.

Sunday morning, the ceremony greeting the new day was very moving. I felt with all my heart I was truly greeting a new day with new hopes. I came away from St. Mary's with much the same feeling. For the first time in ages I not only listened to the sermon, but felt that Fr. Tom had directed it all to me. I was still thinking about it at 1:00 when Luke walked in.

It was all I could do not to grab him and smother him with kisses. He was so beautiful, so handsome, so Luke, and I knew I loved him more every day I lived. He just smiled and said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, we have a date".

We walked, hand in hand, to the falls. Red Hawk and Taequo were there gathering wood for the fire which would be started tonight in order that the stones for the sweat would be ready. When we walked up, Taequo said, "Seems you two are getting along pretty well. Michael will be here shortly so we can teach him the ceremony. Red Hawk and I walked down the river and found a spot where the willows hang over the river on one side and make a very private place on the bank. It's a beautiful spot, all covered with moss. Red Hawk says it is also a power place. Maybe you two would like to go there."

Luke had a wicked grin on his face when he said, "We know it well. It's a great place for making love."

"Well, remember what you are to do and what you are not to do and eating and love making are at the head of the 'don't do' list," Red Hawk laughed. "At least until after the sweat."

Luke and I left Red Hawk and Taequo and walked to the spot where we had made such beautiful love. As we walked through the willow branches to the special place, Luke became very quiet and still. Finally he said, "It seems so long ago and far away, Matt". I knew what he meant.

We sat down on the mossy bank "Indian" style, our knees touching and holding hands, just looking into each other's eyes for the longest time. Then I said, "Luke, I'd like to speak first, if that's ok". Luke nodded. "Before I get into anything else, I want to tell you what I think I discovered yesterday." I told Luke about going to the river and what I thought I had discovered about him. "That explains a great deal of what happened when you read part of my e-mail. I guess I thought you'd just be cool Luke and let it go, not realizing that you wouldn't read it all. But, even at that, I should have known better. I should have known that you feel things much deeper than I thought. I haven't been paying attention to you and your emotions the way I should and for that I am sorry." I talked at length about what I felt I had learned at Sewanee--I mean about relationships and the proper place of sex in our lives. "Luke, I never want us to reach the point where what we are about is sex. Don't get me wrong, Babe, sex is a part of it or will be when we get things squared away." I talked a while longer, but I suspect said very little. I concluded by saying, "Luke, I feel responsible for what happened to you. I never should have taken the impersonal e-mail route to tell you things which are important. Forgive me for that, please." I then fell silent.

"Matt, you have done nothing to forgive, but if you in any way feel responsible for my being a fool then, please, accept my forgiveness." Luke was silent and then gave a great sigh and started talking. He told me, in great detail, all that had happened. "Matt, I did two things for which I am so ashamed. First, I didn't trust you. I know that if there cannot be trust between us, we may as well break up now. But that's not what made me do what I did. I intentionally set out to hurt you, to hurt you as deeply as I could. I was seeking revenge for what I thought you had done. I set out to do what we pledged we would never do--intentionally hurt the other. Then when I realized you had done nothing and I had wanted to hurt you, all I saw was a life without you and, while I promise I will never attempt to take my life again, life--my life--would not be worth living without you. I thought I had lost you forever because of what I had done and that was more than I could bear."

After Luke had finished, we talked--and I mean really talked--about our love and our lives, each listening intently while the other spoke, then speaking while the other listened. Finally, because we both knew where it would end unless we were careful, we stretched out on the moss, holding hands and looking into each other's eyes, saying nothing. Then it was time to go and I said, "Yonghon Tongmu, I think our relationship is healed and we are in better shape than we were before all this mess happened".

"I think maybe you are right. I am sure our relationship is deeper, our love is deeper," Luke said, "but I have an uneasy feeling. It's as if the whole pile of shit is covered up but still there maybe. I don't feel that we're finished. I guess I feel there should be some way we could really know we have put the past behind us. If we had not been told otherwise, I think I would make mad passionate love to you and would know it's done and over with. I don't know."

"I guess, if I really looked, I'd see the same thing," I said, "but maybe that's what the sweat's about. God, Luke, I want to kiss you so bad I could die."

"So do I," Luke said, "but..."

"Yes, but..." As I spoke, I heard Red Hawk call from the falls. Luke and I got up and walked back up the river where we sat and listened as Red Hawk talked about the sweat. I had heard most of it from Dad several times, but this was different. This was not just telling us about the Lakota practice, but telling us about ourselves.

While Red Hawk talked to us, Taequo had started the fire and kept adding fuel to it. By the time Red Hawk had finished, there was a bed of red coals ready for the stones which Luke and I helped place in the fire pit. It was only then that I saw Michael and Mary Kathryn sitting atop Lookout Rock, watching the sunset. "Red Hawk, would it be ok for Luke and me to join Michael and Mary Kathryn?"

"Sure. Would be good. Would also be good if you slept here tonight--apart. Michael, Mary Kathryn, Taequo and I will sleep here. Maybe Greywolf as well. There are blankets here already."

Luke and I joined the two on Lookout Rock and sat, holding hands, as the sunset grew more and more beautiful. When it was finally dark, the four of us walked down the path to the bottom of the falls where we all rolled ourselves in blankets and the falls' lullaby soon sang us to sleep.

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Luke

I thought I was dreaming when I saw a dark shadow bending over me in the faint light from the fire pit. I thought I saw a blond Indian. It had to be a dream. Then I realized it was Michael. It was dark except for the glow from the fire pit and it took my eyes a long time to adjust so I could see anything beyond Michael leaning over me. When I sat up, he said, "Luke, Matt,"--I looked over and saw Matt was also sitting up, but not fully awake--"it's time to wash in the river before we start the sweat". I realized that the reason I thought he was a blond Indian was because he was dressed as a Lakota warrior. I crawled out of the blanket and stood, naked in the darkness. Matt did the same. We followed Michael to the falls' basin where Michael undressed. Taequo, Red Hawk and Greywolf had been joined by David and Mary Kathryn at the water's edge. All, I could see--even in the darkness--were naked.

Red Hawk led the way as he dived into the water. The river by this time was warm on a sunny day, but the water was pretty chilly on an early summer's morning. We swam for a short time and Mary Kathryn got out of the water, dried herself and got dressed, as did David and Greywolf. Michael was drying himself when he said, "No need to get dressed. For that matter, there's no real reason to dry yourselves, but I'm chilly. Your choice." Both Matt and I took a towel from Greywolf and rubbed ourselves vigorously, as much to get warm as to get dry.

As we dried ourselves, Matt and I watched as Mary Kathryn did the opening ceremony for the sweat lodge. As soon as it was finished, she nodded to Michael and left. Michael took the peace pipe from its stand, made the offering of the pipe and then, as David held the flap open, led us into the lodge.

As soon as we were inside. David closed the flap and while I thought it had been dark outside, I don't think I had ever known darkness like that inside the lodge--except when I was in the hospital, in a coma. I felt the lodge growing smaller and darker and thought about leaving. Red Hawk said some people couldn't tolerate the darkness and confinement of the sweat lodge and if it was too much, we should just leave. But I was determined not to fail this time, even though I felt like running.

After we had sat for what seemed like hours, Michael struck the lodge flap with a short stick. David opened it and Michael said, "Bring in the stones". Greywolf came to the opening with a huge stone, red hot. It lit up the inside of the lodge. Michael greeted the stone as "Friend" and Greywolf placed it in the pit. He then brought three more large glowing stones. As they lay in the pit, I could see all sorts of images dancing on their surface. All were men--or women--wearing animal masks. Each seemed to have some connection to me, but I was not sure what. As I puzzled over that, Michael reminded us of the purpose of the first endurance--the endurance of the west--calling for spirit guides. As he finished, he poured four dippers of water on the glowing stones and the lodge was soon filled with steam and becoming very warm.

Michael started chanting prayers to the Great Spirit and all the spirit guides, including our relatives who were now spirits. When he finished, he asked that we introduce ourselves and express our appreciation for being present. As all the others, I introduced myself, "Oh spirits that come among us within this womb of our Mother, I am Luke and I am pleased to be here. Hetch etu." When I had finished, I sensed a presence in the lodge with me--I mean a new presence, but I couldn't identify it, try as hard as I could. The heat and the darkness of the lodge were all the world I knew and time seemed to stand still. At some point, someone was blowing a whistle. I don't know how long we had sat in silence before Michael tapped the flap and David opened it. The cool morning air rushed in, sweet and very welcome.

While David held the flap open, Greywolf brought in two larger stones which were bright red they were so hot. As soon as they were in place, the flap was closed and the endurance of the north--the endurance for endurance, strength, courage, moral cleanliness and honesty--began. Michael appealed to the spirit and power of the north to give these things to us as he started pouring water over the glowing stones. The lodge filled with steam and the heat increased as Michael said, "Our lives will be made straight and kept straight by endurance, strength, courage and purity--moral cleanliness and purity". Red Hawk beat the drum slowly as Taequo blew the eagle bone whistle. How I longed for the qualities of which Michael had spoken! I wanted the courage to face life, the strength to go through life without the weakness I had shown when I attempted to take my life. I longed to be pure and to know I was pure and honest! I stared at the glowing images dancing on the surface of the stones and they seemed to be telling the story of my weakness and my betrayal of Matt and my failure to trust him. As the story danced across the face of the stones, the drum and whistle continued and my sense of being unclean and unworthy seemed to be burning away.

Michael had poured dipper after dipper of water on the stones and yet they seemed as red and hot as before. The lodge was becoming completely filled with steam. I could hardly breathe because of it and the heat. I was sweating profusely and that, too, seemed to be purifying me. I was becoming light-headed when Michael passed around sprigs of sage and said, "Chew on this, the herb of healing and fortifying which can help overcome the bad things of the world". As we chewed on the sprigs of sage, Michael prayed, "Oh powers of the universe, we take this herb to become strong and healthy to endure".

From Michael's account of his experience, I thought I knew what to expect, but what happened was very different. Suddenly I had an overwhelming sense of evil, of hurt, of pain, of bad spirits. The hurt and pain were not mine, but the hurt and pain I had caused. The bad spirits, I sensed, were those that my actions had given strength and had loosened on the world. I felt tears running down my face. I found myself filled with self-pity and, at the same time, self-loathing. Then I remembered what Michael had said of his experience. I had been focusing on myself, but this endurance was for purity and courage, courage to face what I had been and courage to put it behind me and focus on others. I was struggling with my soul when Michael handed me and Matt another sprig of sage. He then poured more water on the stones and used a large bird's wing to fan the steam around the lodge.

I don't know how long it was--time again stood still--before the steam, heat, silence and darkness of the lodge seemed ordinary. When it did, Michael tapped the flap and David opened it, and once again the cool air rushed in just as Greywolf brought in another stone and then another and another and another. He handed Michael a new pail filled with water. The flap was closed and the endurance seeking knowledge began. The new stones were so hot, I could make out those in the lodge with me. Matt's eyes met mine and I seemed to sense his spirit join mine. We were united in spirit. "This endurance marks the beginning of prayer for individuals," Michael said as he started pouring water over the stones. I stared at them as the water hit their surfaces and immediately burst into steam. The lodge became even more steam-filled and hotter than it had been. Taequo started blowing the whistle and then Red Hawk started beating the drum. The steam grew thicker until I could hardly see the glowing stones before me. The drum and whistle seemed to become a part of me, inside my very being, as Michael said, "Pray for what you want out of life, pray for the ones you love, pray for anything you wish". He had instructed us to end our prayers in the same way as we had ended our introductions.

I was first and I began by praying that I would be the person I knew I could be, that I would be a true soulmate to Matt and that my love would grow stronger every moment I lived. I then prayed for Matt and all the Fellowship, for the Family and my family, for Douglas and Janet, for Millie and Chelsea and Gladys and John and Uncle Michael. I even prayed for Rich--that he would be healed and forgiven. I prayed especially for Michael and Mary Kathryn and their life together and then, again, I prayed for Matt and myself and our journey together. When I finished, I'm afraid I was very absorbed in thinking about that great cloud of people who surrounded me with their love and didn't hear what others prayed. I did, however, hear Matt's final prayer, "I pray that Luke Hans Larsen will always be my Yonghon Tongmu and I his until we are parted by death and then in the spirit world". I wept.

When Michael had finished his prayers, we sat in silence again for a long time. The heat and steam were almost unbearable when Michael called out and David raised the flap and Greywolf handed Michael a new pail of water. Michael took a dipper of water and poured it over his head and then handed each of us a dipper and we did the same. While the flap was still open, Greywolf brought in four stones, the largest yet, and placed them in the pit. "This is the last endurance," Michael said, "the endurance of the south, the endurance of healing. As the warm winds of the south bring new life to the earth, so may this endurance bring new life to each of us." When he finished, he started pouring water over the stones and, as he did, Red Hawk and Taequo began chanting softy. Over their chanting, Michael cried out in a loud voice, "Oh Great Spirit, we pray that we might be healed--especially Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf and Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen--that we might be healed. Hetch etu!"

The heat and steam were more intense than they had been, yet Michael poured more water on the stones. I felt myself growing faint and suddenly I was no longer in the lodge. I didn't recognize the place, but it was a grassy meadow, filled with blooming flowers. There was a gentle, warm south wind blowing and Matt and I were walking across the meadow, hand in hand, laughing, his hair flowing in the breeze. We wore nothing except loin cloths and I had a sense of never having been so alive. I looked at Matt and knew he felt the same. His eyes were laughing and his spirit, as mine, soared. Walking with us was a coyote and flying over our heads were a great golden eagle and a red hawk, all as full of life as we were.

I don't know how long the vision lasted--and it was a vision, not some empty daydream--but when I returned to the lodge, Michael was lighting the peace pipe. When it was lit, he took a draw on it, exhaled and passed it to Matt. When the pipe had been passed around, Michael replaced it on the stand and we all joined hands. As we sat with joined hands, Michael said, "God watches over us wherever we are; the Great Spirit is with us. Hetch etu!" He then tapped the flap of the lodge and David opened it and we followed Michael out. When we were outside, we all immediately dived into the falls' basin. The cool water never felt so good!

We swam for a few minutes, then got out. As we did, Michael pointed to the sky where the first fingers of the dawn had appeared. Silently, all seven of us walked to Lookout Rock and stood watching, still silent, as the east brightened. As the sky grew bright, Matt reached out and took my hand just as the sun first appeared above the horizon. I turned and looked into his eyes and knew that this was, indeed, a new dawn for us. When I looked up, I saw Red Hawk smiling at us and he nodded. I didn't need any mystic powers to know what that nod meant. I took Matt in my arms for the first time in weeks and held him close as he wrapped his arms around me. We stood, looking into each other's eyes as our lips drew closer and then touched in a soft, gentle, loving kiss. I had my Matt back and I was whole, complete. Life was wonderful. As we broke our kiss, I saw in Matt's eyes confirmation of my feeling that life was wonderful.

"Well, I guess we can say we had a good sweat, Michael," Red Hawk said. "I think you are something special. I don't know another sixteen-year-old who has held a sweat."

"I sure don't know one who had someone of Red Hawk's standing in a sweat he was conducting, that's for sure," Taequo added.

"Well, we can talk about it over breakfast. This old Indian is starved," Red Hawk said. "David, it's ok for you to hug your son and let him know you are about to bust a gut with pride. I'm about in the same situation except he's not mine! Well, not all mine."

David didn't need a second invitation as he grabbed Michael in a great bear hug. "I am proud of you son. Always have been, but never more than right now. I only wish Elizabeth could have lived to see you."

"She sees," Michael said, as matter-of-factly as he would have said, "Looks like a nice day".

Breakfast was, again, a whole-family affair and everyone was interested in what had happened during the sweat. "Don't think it was as dramatic as Michael's," Matt said. "But things happened, things got changed. Don't ask me how, but they did. I have never felt so alive and I know my and Luke's relationship is better than ever. And while I didn't meet my guardian spirit, I certainly had a vision. I mean a real vision, not a dream or daydream or imaging, but a vision." Matt then told how he became very faint and, just when he thought he was passing out, he found himself in another world--at least another place--and described my vision perfectly.

When he finished, Taequo laughed, "Luke, close your mouth or you'll catch flies. Why would you not expect you and Matt to have the same vision? You did, didn't you?" I just nodded, but did manage to close my mouth.

"Luke, Matt, you're right, your guardian spirits didn't show up. I didn't expect them to. That's not the way it usually happens. In fact, in all my years, Michael is the only one I have known for whom it happened. You'll have to do a vision quest. Besides, you two had created such a great pile of shi... crap, getting rid of it was a pretty big job for a sweat. But it happened. Right?"

"Right," Matt and I answered together.

"Well, some of us have to work for a living when we're not rescuing lovers. Chris and Al split up and did my runs for me and I am to meet them this morning. I don't suppose I could prevail upon Michael and Mary Kathryn to run me to Lexington to meet up with them could I?"

Michael got a huge grin on his face and then looked at Margaret and David, both of whom were smiling big time as they nodded. He and Mary Kathryn jumped up, ready to go, and Taequo stood, making his goodbyes, when Red Hawk said, "Taequo, you'll be needed in North Dakota in two or three weeks, I suspect. I think I have an eagle feather I have been saving to be added to yours." Taequo hugged the ancient Indian and said, "Just give me the word," as he left.

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Matt

After breakfast, David and Margaret left to get ready to go to work, as did Jens and Gabrielle. Before they left, Jens and Gabrielle hugged me, then Luke. As Jens held his son, his eyes filled with tears and he hugged him tightly, and each time he started to let him go, hugged him again. Finally he said, "Luke, I love you, son. I am so happy you are with us," as he turned to leave.

While Luke and I cleared the table, Mom poured three cups of coffee and she and Dad sat with Red Hawk at the kitchen table, talking. They seemed to have forgotten Luke and I were still around, and we weren't for long.

Luke and I went back to the spot below the falls and sat and talked--just talked--for a couple hours. We talked about what had happened in the sweat lodge--neither of us was sure what, but we were sure that the past was the past and we were more in love and closer than we had ever been. Luke talked about his second suicide attempt saying that, while he had never thought he would consider another attempt after he first, he had just been overwhelmed. For the first time he told me that he had had thoughts about it since the first attempt. "I can't explain it, Matt. I know I had--have--every reason in the world to be happy beyond belief, but there are times when something kinda triggers thoughts inside and my world becomes bleak and dark. I don't expect you to understand--I don't--but I know that it may happen again and, please, keep an eye out for times when I just don't seem me and let me know it. Love me and if necessary, do something, even if I say I don't want you to."

I promised Luke I would, and reminded him that I thought I had a deeper understanding of him than I did before. "I know there are depths in you that I have to be very sensitive to if I am to understand you, and I want to more than anything. Maybe not now, since we have only a month left before we leave but, when we are settled, maybe we both need to look into counselling if you are willing."

"I think it would be a good idea even if I am not willing." Luke smiled a real Luke smile and, for the first time in weeks, my world became bright because Luke was very much in it.

We talked about the weeks ahead. He told me his mom had suggested he invite Douglas and Janet to come to Ohio before school started and I told him Woody was coming and probably would show up on a regular basis. "He says he thinks it would be like visiting grandchildren. Luke, our world is expanding. New friends are becoming a part of our life and it's great." Luke agreed.

"Our world. Matt, you can't know how much those words mean to me. Our world." We had been sitting as we had the day before--"Indian" style--and Luke bent forward on his knees, took my head in his hands and pulled me to him. Our lips met and his tongue brought the taste of my Luke into my mouth, my being. I guess you would have thought that after being separated for so long and going through what we had gone through, we would have been consumed by lust and started having sex like the world was coming to an end any minute, but that didn't happen.

Instead, after our kiss, we lay side by side, our arms around each other exchanging kisses--soft, gentle, loving kisses. Of course, the kisses grew more and more passionate and less and less gentle as our hands explored our hard bodies. Finally, I slipped Luke's shirt over his head and he mine. As our kissing became more passionate, our bare chests were pressed close together until I pulled back and started kissing his chest and licking his nipples. I found the snap on his shorts and unsnapped them, opened his zipper down and slid the shorts off his beautiful legs.

My hands were touching Luke the way I had dreamed of when we were separated. Again, we were exchanging passionate kisses as I reached down and took Little Luke into my hand. When I did, Luke groaned and sucked my tongue deep into his mouth but, as much as that thrilled me, it was not what I wanted. I broke our kiss and moved downward, kissing and licking my love's hard, beautiful body. I was being filled with the taste of Luke, the most wonderful taste in the world. Reaching Little Luke, I took his head into my mouth and tasted the pure taste of Luke in the precum covering him. Luke groaned, "Matt, your mouth is so hot and so loving!" His fingers were in my hair as I took more and more of Little Luke into my waiting mouth. As I started moving up and down, sucking at the same time, Luke kept calling my name. Even in the heat of our passion, he was calling me Sarang Hanun Pomul. My tongue was playing with Little Luke's head as I continued to move up and down, sucking, giving Luke all the pleasure I had been saving for my beloved Yonghon Tongmu. Foreplay is delightful and I highly recommend it, the more the better, but prolonged foreplay makes the play short. I suddenly felt Luke's body stiffen as he arched his back, pushing Little Luke deep into my mouth. "Matt, I love you sooooo!" he shouted, as pulse after pulse convulsed his body and Little Luke filled my mouth with the salty sweetness of my Luke, the salty sweetness I had missed so much and loved so much.

With the last pulse, Luke relaxed completely as his fingers played in my hair. Then, grasping my hair, he pulled my mouth to his. His tongue went wild as he thrust it deep in my mouth, his kiss passionate. When we broke our kiss, I lay atop Luke's body and we continued our kisses. Finally, I lifted my head and looked deep into his eyes and saw love, Luke's love for me. I couldn't help but say, "Luke, we almost threw this away".

Luke's eyes became sad for a moment, then brightened as he said, "But, thanks to so many and so much, we didn't." With those words, he started kissing my chest and nipping my nipples. I was so hot and hard I didn't think I could last much longer when he moved down my body and took Chili Pepper into his hot, hot mouth. Luke's mouth had, before, given me pleasure I couldn't have imagined, but this was beyond that, far beyond it. I knew I was whimpering as his mouth and tongue sent wave after wave of pleasure surging through my whole being. I didn't last as long as Luke and, before I wanted it to end, felt a bolt of electricity shoot though my body as Chili Pepper erupted into Luke's mouth. I thought it would go on forever as shot after shot after shot of man's seed filled Luke's mouth. As I groaned, I stopped breathing and when the last of my seed entered Luke's mouth, I gasped for breath. Luke lay atop me and pressed his lips to mine in a hard kiss.

Relaxing in the afterglow of our love-making, we lay side by side, silent, listening to the river which seemed to be laughing in its happiness for us. I don't know how long we just lay in each other's arms, looking into each other's eyes, but I'm sure it was much longer than it seemed. Then Luke started kissing my eyes, running his fingers through my loose hair and whispering, "Matt, I love you so very much. I have no life without you. Babe, you are my very world."

I rubbed my cheek against his and said, "And you, Luke, are my world, my reason for living and with you in my arms, I am alive. Every cell in my body is alive." Luke continued kissing my body and I was fully aroused again and said, "Luke, I want to feel you inside me. I want us to be united completely." As I spoke, I reached for my shorts and took a tube from a pocket. When I did, Luke's eyes lit up and smiled into mine, as a huge, special Luke grin spread across his face.

There is no need to go into details about what followed except to say slow and easy was the name of the game as Luke's fingers worked their magic, entering me slowly, gently. His eyes never left mine as he prepared me for what I wanted--Luke inside me. Finally I could stand it no longer and grabbed Luke's cheeks, pulling his body to mine. I cried, "Luke, Now! I want you now!" My wonderful, beautiful Luke slowly entered me. As he did, I crushed my lips against his, sucking his tongue deep into my mouth as he began, slowly, to move in and out of me, letting me know we were, again, united. Soon, too soon, I felt Luke's manhood pulse inside me, his man's seed filling me, making me whole. Finally, exhausted, he collapsed on me and we lay very still, our hearts beating as one. When I looked up, I saw tears in Luke's eyes and I was frightened. As great tears streamed down his cheeks, I asked, "Luke, Babe, what's wrong?"

"Dark Angel, I didn't think I would ever again make love to you and we are together, our bodies have been united and I feel such happiness that the tears just started. Nothing is wrong, hell no! Nothing is wrong. Everything is right. Everything is perfect because I am united with my Sarang Hanun Pomul and we are making love!"

After a long time, Luke looked into my eyes, kissed me and said, "Matt, I want you in me, please".

I laughed, "Babe, since when do you have to say please for me to do what I want to do, am aching to do?"

"Just do your wonders with those fingers of yours," he laughed back. I did as my love asked and, before long, he cried, "Now, Matt, now. I want you, all of you now, I am ready!" I was also ready. Chili Pepper entered Luke in one smooth, slow motion as I leaned forward and kissed the chest of my Bright Angel. Sure, it felt great! It was sheer heaven, but that was just part of what my uniting with Luke was. It was for me, and I was sure for Luke, the final sealing of our being together, again, completely.

Having entered Luke fully, we lay still, united, our eyes locked, our hearts beating together. Then slowly, very slowly, I began moving in and out of my love. Soon Luke was urging me on, his hips rising to meet the thrust of Chili Pepper. Our having made passionate love earlier meant we could make love longer but, even at that, the time came when I could hold out no longer. I pushed deep into Luke as his hands pulled my hips to his. When my orgasm started, I was gasping for breath, barely conscious, barely able to endure the pleasure consuming me. After I had exhausted my supply of man's seed, I collapsed on Luke and his arms held me close, tightly, as his mouth found mine and his tongue invaded it, bringing more pleasure to me. We lay in that embrace until Chili Pepper slipped from Luke.

"Luke, we may never have the variety Lucas has, but I wouldn't change all the sex Lucas has had, and will have, for one time loving you. It's the difference between getting my rocks off and worshipping the man I love with my body. There is nothing they have in common, I don't care what anyone says otherwise."

Luke looked at me, nodded, smiled and said, "Matt, when I was at the gay club with Rich, I went to take a piss. Rich warned me that men came to the club to get laid, but I wasn't prepared for guys fucking each other, leaning against sinks and walls. I was almost sick. I think that I actually wondered if our love-making was anything like their having sex and immediately knew it wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I need sex. I like sex. I want sex, I love sex, but not that. I want to be loved and sex is one of the ways you love me and I love you, but it's only part of loving and never, I hope, just having sex for sex's sake." We were silent for a while, I guess each thinking about what we had seen in the world of gay men this summer and what we had learned from it. Painful, much of it very painful, but it was now a part of who we were as lovers.

A Special Place--Part Fifty-three--Luke

Matt started trying to run his fingers through my now-long hair and we both laughed. I could easily run my fingers through Matt's long silky hair, but there was no way his fingers were able to move the same way through my tight curls. Suddenly, half in frustration and half in fun, he grabbed two hands full of hair and pulled my lips to his and started kissing me as if we hadn't been together in weeks. After we had laid in each other's arms, still and silent, for a while, Matt said, "Luke, I'm sure we're a mess. I think a swim is called for." We picked up our shorts and shirts and walked up the river to the falls and dived in. After swimming for a while, we dressed and, arm in arm, walked across the meadow to Matt's.

When we reached the house, Yong Jin, Greywolf and Red Hawk were in the garden. Matt and I joined them and we worked until time for lunch. Matt and I had picked a huge basket of strawberries and Yong Jin had gathered peas and salad greens. We went inside and she said, "I'll prepare lunch while you four talk. I think it's time." I wondered what she meant.

Greywolf poured four glasses of lemonade--tart, just the way I liked it and we went to the den. When we were seated, he said, "Luke, Matt, the sweat was the beginning of something, not the end. Red Hawk and I have talked at length about what happened during the two sweats. From the looks on your faces, I think one thing was accomplished. It's clear to me that whatever difficulty you two had in your relationship has been overcome." Matt and I looked at each other and grinned.

"From the looks on their faces, I'd say they both found sex satisfying," Red Hawk laughed. Matt and I both blushed big time. "I see I'm not wrong. I may be an ancient Indian, but I have memories. The gray wolf told me your love making was wonderful. Love making is always wonderful even at its worse, but I suspect you found yours this morning the best you have ever known. Good. But I don't want to dwell on that. Makes an old Indian wish he were young again and that's not good 'cause he's not and not going to be."

"I certainly don't think I have to tell you that you two and Michael have a great gift. It's one you will wish you didn't have sometimes because gifts always carry responsibilities. You are not your own. Michael will become a priest. I think deep inside he knows that, but it's a long time in the future if you're sixteen. Nonetheless, he will be and he will be a great one. Not the best liked or appreciated, but great. Your gifts will also be great and maybe not appreciated all the time, but how they will be used is unclear to me. Maybe in the future I'll know, but I do know they are there. You have started one journey in the sweat, a journey Michael has completed. His guardian spirit revealed itself to him. Yours have not."

"Now you know this old Indian will not fly--well, maybe in a vision or as a spirit, but not on one of those planes. Matt, your dad tells me your Fellowship will be together in a few weeks and you are all going to Ohio. Before that happens, I would like to have the three of you come to the Black Hills with me. You two need to make a vision quest. The gray wolf tells me this is a good time. Luke, you'll have to check with your parents, Matt, yours have approved already. Michael will also need to talk with his folks. I want to instruct Michael in the ways of a medicine man while you two do your quest. There'll be time for any instruction you need later. Think about it."

As Red Hawk finished, the front door opened and Michael and Mary Kathryn came in as Yong Jin called us to lunch.

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