Matt was first to awake the next morning, roused by the gentle snores vibrating against his neck. This was welcome relief from the startled interruptions he had become accustomed to over the past few days. He rolled over on his back and saw Tommy still lying there on top of the covers in the same position he had taken in the middle of the night. It was Matt's turn to watch Tommy sleep. His light strawberry hair looked more blonde from this close up. Matt smiled at the odd angling of Tommy's lips, his mouth dangling open in slumber. Assured by the snores, Matt leaned over and kissed his best friend gently on the cheek before retreating back to a more relaxed position on his pillow. Tommy's right hand was still loosely grasped around Matt's, never having abandoned its faithful duty during the night.
While being so concerned about protecting Tommy's feelings, Matt had let his own guard down. Chris and Tommy were so different; really, they were at opposite ends of the spectrum in physical makeup and personality. Chris had a radiant charisma and charm about him. Tommy had a subtle, quiet quality that spoke to Matt in a different way. Chris was a year older and even more physically mature than the age difference would normally warrant. He had a commanding presence about him that made Matt feel confident. Tommy had a soft, soothing air of support about him that made Matt feel reassured. As different as Chris and Tommy were, still it was becoming harder for Matt to distinguish his feelings between the two. Lying there in bed, it occurred to him that to have one love was a blessing but to have two might become a curse. He loved Chris and wanted him in a way he wanted no one else but he couldn't find an explanation in his heart for why he chose Chris over Tommy in this way.
Tommy gave a sleepy snort and suddenly his head was off the pillow. At first he was a bit startled, for he was certainly unused to waking up in someone else's company.
"Hey," Matt greeted him softly.
"Hey." Tommy's eyes adjusted to the light and to Matt's close proximity.
Being blessed with keen hearing, Digger chimed in pronouncing his own morning greeting and bringing smiles from both boys.
Tommy found Matt's eyes and asked, "Did you rest better last night?"
"Yeah, and I woke up normal for the first time in almost a week. But I don't guess you slept that well, on top of the covers and all. You must have been cold."
"Oh, I didn't have any problem sleeping and it wasn't cold at all. I'm not use to having a heater in my bed." Tommy looked Matt over and blushed just a bit.
"Well, I'm glad I served some useful purpose anyway. Thanks, Tommy." This time Matt didn't need reassurances and he leaned over and re-planted the same soft kiss on Tommy's cheek. Tommy's eyes closed and reopened slowly as Matt eased back away.
"Guess I should take the little guy out." Matt's words brought a confused stare from Tommy. "Wouldn't want him to pee all over the basement."
"Oh yeah. We don't want that." Tommy's confusion had passed.
Matt rose up and shuffled over to an excited Digger. Puppies are definitely morning people. Tommy repositioned himself on the bed and stretched out, stomach down.
"You not ready to get up yet?" Matt asked.
"I think I'll lie here for a few more minutes." Tommy replied with a heavy blush on his face, beyond Matt's view.
"Take your time. I'm going to take Digger outside for just a few." Matt scooped Digger up in his arms and headed upstairs.
Hearing the door close, Tommy rolled over onto his back and attempted to subdue his morning arousal. Unable to wrestle it into submission, he decided to use his night bag for cover and head for the bathroom upstairs. A shower was in his future anyway and now seemed a better time than any.
It was only ten feet from the basement door to the bathroom door. What were the odds he would run into Matt's mom in such a short distance?
"Good morning, Tommy. I see you're finally up." She had no idea.
The good part about horrific embarrassment is that all of your blood runs straight to your face and away from your extremities.
"Oh…..Good morning, Mrs. Jordan." Tommy nearly jumped out of his pajama pants and that would have been truly embarrassing.
"You are too polite, young man. Please start calling me Joanna, OK?" Joanna was already feeling her age without the verbal reminder brought on by "Mrs."
"Yes ma'am, I will start doing that. I really need to go to the bathroom now." He really did and he held his carry bag in front of his waist like a shield.
Joanna was part of the "morning people" crowd too. With a wide grin she said, "Go right ahead. We wouldn't want any more accidents on the carpet." Tommy replied with a nervous smile before quickly disappearing behind the bathroom door.
Freshly showered and relieved of his embarrassment, Tommy returned to the basement to find Matt and Digger bonding together.
Matt looked up as Tommy came down the stairs, yelling up to him, "He's so cute. But I found a little pee puddle over in the corner. I guess he needed to go again last night."
Tommy replied, "If you catch him doing it, scold him for it right then. That's the only way he'll learn it's not OK. And make sure you're real nice to him when he goes outside like he's supposed to."
"I guess having a puppy is sort of like being a dad, huh Tommy?"
"I guess it is. But it looks like he's really taking to you." Tommy's words drew a proud smile from Matt.
Joanna called from upstairs and the boys were treated to a monstrous stack of pancakes, some of them with chocolate chips cooked in. Tommy ate to the full content of his heart and his belly, eventually refusing Joanna's requests to fill his plate again.
Greg, the Invisible Fence man, returned as promised and fitted little Digger with his special collar. His smile and demeanor had lost no appeal since his visit the day before. He went through the training routines with Matt showing him how the collar buzzed when Digger got within four feet of the fence line. Holding Digger by the collar, he would walk him toward the line before quickly pulling him back each time the collar buzzed. Greg told Matt to repeat the drills with Digger at different points around the fence until Digger started to get the idea. Matt didn't care much for the "He'll need to get shocked a few times to really understand" part, but he took the system on faith. Sure enough, Digger got shocked a few times and he developed the habit of stopping near the fence line and yelping at the unseen force there. Matt finally felt comfortable that his friendship with Digger wouldn't end in a hurried trip to the Vet's office.
Tommy and Matt enjoyed the rest of the day together. With Digger on a leash, they ventured outside the neighborhood and into the surrounding fields and woodland. Tommy was happy to explore a few new hills and streams. Matt enjoyed the view of his neighborhood from the surrounding rise in terrain. With Tommy's help he had staked out new territory and with Digger's help they marked many of the trees there.
Seeing Tommy go home was always sad to Matt. As the afternoon sun set behind the trees and evening started to settle back in, it was particularly sad this time. Christmas was now just one week away.
John Jordan arrived just after Tommy's departure. An earlier stop at the home improvement store had yielded a wonderful improvement for the Jordan home: namely a new wing of the structure in the form of a doghouse for Digger. It was a little oversized for him and served as a reminder that he wouldn't be a puppy forever. Having set it in a favored spot near the kitchen door, Matt tried to talk Digger into going inside his new home. Digger seemed unconvinced, having already been spoiled in the big house. New carpeting in the form of an old heavy quilt still didn't convince him. Only when Matt dexterously crawled inside, did Digger finally find his new digs to be suitable. Peering into the small confines, Joanna Jordan decided this was truly a Kodak moment and she flashed a few frames for the family photo album. Matt exited with a wince or two, his sore ribs still not healed, and Digger followed him to the back door. The first time Matt found himself on the inside looking out at a dejected Digger was less than a picture perfect moment for him. Joanna buoyed his spirits and reminded him that parenthood wasn't always about taking the easy choices. Matt decided his parenthood of Digger wasn't always going to be easy, indeed.
It had been a difficult couple of days at the Briggs' home. Chris and Melanie were having parenting problems of their own as they tried to reign in the childish behavior of their mother. Melanie was reliving struggles she had left behind so many years before. This time, things were more complicated and she couldn't bring herself to simply walk away. Reality had settled into her mind: Peggy Briggs could not take care of herself in her current condition.
Chris and Melanie finally had their long talk. It was an eye opening conversation for Melanie and only deepened her guilt for having left Chris in the care of their parents. The conversation also reinforced an old guilt about Jay Henson, the other brother she had left behind.
She had made a clean break leaving home right after high school. Though she kept in distant touch, there was hardly any warmth in the relationship with her mother or late father. Possibly to spite her, neither Robert nor Peggy Briggs bothered to call while Chris was in the hospital two years earlier. Even Chris's tales of the physical abuse were mostly news to her. She had received a few bad "whippings" at the hands of her father, but she had suffered nothing as extreme as the experiences of Chris or Peggy. Her father had mostly exercised the warfare of emotional abuse on her.
Now she found herself as the only responsible -- and legal -- adult in her family. Hard decisions had to be made.
Friday night had passed without incident at the Jordan house. Tommy's short visit had concluded the day before but seemed to have broken the spell, if only for a while, and Matt had ended his night's sleep comfortably and alone.
Saturday morning drifted into afternoon and Matt wished Tommy had stayed one more day. He enjoyed a day alone with Digger and they continued bonding together. Finally, the evening hours were fast approaching and the house had grown quiet until the ring of the phone.
"Matthew! Chris is on the phone for you!" Matt had spoken to him only briefly in the days since the funeral, trying to give him some space to work out whatever grief he might feel.
"Hey!" Matt was ready for things to return to normal between them. Counting Peggy's hospital stay, it had been over two weeks since they had enjoyed any normal contact.
"Hey," very subdued, "I really need to talk. Do you think your folks would mind if I came over?" The tone unsettled Matt.
"Sure, they won't mind and plan on spending the night, or maybe two. What's wrong?" Matt's mind was filled with anxiety and some of it was spilling into his voice.
Chris ignored the question. "Could your dad pick me up? I don't want Melanie to have to leave mom here alone right now." Chris had a birthday coming up soon. He was ready for the freedom of his own driver's license.
"Yeah, when will you be ready?" Matt hoped it was soon.
"I'm ready right now." That still wasn't soon enough for Matt. He checked with John to see when they could make the short trip.
"We'll be over in about 30 minutes. What's wrong, Chris?" Maybe he just hadn't heard the earlier question.
"OK, I'll be ready. We'll talk about it then, OK?" This wasn't the time.
"OK. See you soon." Matt dropped the phone down to the floor, badly missing its normal stand on the counter. He leaned over to pick it up and dropped down in a seated position with his back against the wall, needing a moment to gather himself and control the rush of panic.
John Jordan spotted him and first thought Matt had passed out. "Matt, are you OK?" He rushed over to his side and looked him in the eyes. Matt's face had gone pale.
"Dad, something's not right with Chris…. .Something's bad wrong….." His mouth stayed open and he tried to form more words, but he didn't know what else to say.
"What did he say, son?"
"He just said he needed to talk to me. But I don't know what about. He wouldn't say. Are you ready to go, dad?" Whatever it was, Matt would rather know sooner than later.
"Let me grab my jacket and you put yours on too. And put on some jeans, it's gotten colder this morning." Parenting was about the little things too.
John was right. It had grown much colder.
This was the first time the Jordan family car had been all the way down the Briggs' driveway. Matt had never allowed either of his parents this close to the house when Robert Briggs had been around.
The despair in Chris's eyes was obvious from the moment he stepped out of the house. He forced on a smile, but it took all of his strength to hold it in place. When he climbed in the backseat, Matt turned to face him but Chris turned away before his emotions outraced him. Fear detonated inside Matt's head and he turned back to the front of the car. What was happening? John Jordan clearly sensed the discomfort and he felt out of place as if he were invading a private conversation. It wasn't his fault; he was only preventing a private conversation that couldn't possibly take place in his presence. The ride to the Jordan house was quiet.
Joanna greeted Chris with a long warm hug. Chris melted into her arms and wondered why his own mom couldn't hold him like this. Matt and Chris still hadn't spoken to each other.
John provided some fatherly advice. "Matt, why don't you boys go downstairs and relax for a while? I'm sure you have lots to talk about and catch up on."
Once they were out of view, John turned to Joanna and told her, "Something is definitely up. I don't know what, but it's not going to be good." Joanna had sensed it too and they moved to the living room and sat quietly wondering what drama would unfold next.
Downstairs, Chris had sat nervously on the old couch and Matt had wasted no time taking a seat beside him, reaching out a hand and placing it on Chris's shoulder. The touch brought a strained look onto Chris's face and he turned to face Matt looking him in the eyes. This was beyond his ability. He just couldn't do it. It was simply too hard.
"Chris, what's wrong?" The only thing calming Matt's fear was his own loving compassion for Chris; he had to keep it together for him. Chris looked him in the eyes again. How do you make yourself hurt someone you love?
"Mom and Melanie are selling the house." There, he had said it.
Matt couldn't imagine why this was bothering Chris so much. There couldn't be many good memories in a house where there were also so many bad ones.
"It's OK, Chris. I'm sure……" Suddenly, he wasn't sure at all. The latest look in Chris's eyes told him it wasn't OK and he shouldn't be sure. "Where….." Chris cringed and tears leaked from his eyes. "Where are you going to be living?"
"I don't want to go!" Chris was defiant but helpless in solving his own problem. "It's not my choice, Matt. I screamed at my mother. I even screamed at Mel, but it's not her fault. She's trying to help my mom, but I'm always getting pulled into the problem."
Matt repeated the question. "Where are you going to live?" Involuntarily, his hand had pulled back from Chris and he crouched in a defensive position. His body was preparing for the pain even if his mind wasn't willing to accept the possibility.
"We're moving to Virginia after Christmas, when Mel has to go back to work. Mel has already started packing stuff up. We're going to move in with her and she's going to try and get mom in a treatment program for her alcoholism. We can't pay our bills because of all the hospital costs. My stupid mom got fired from her job and didn't tell anybody about it. She lost her insurance and Mel says we're way below being broke." Chris watched the life pour out of Matt's face but Matt didn't cry. He was in too much shock to translate this information into an emotion.
"That can't be. You can't be leaving." Matt had only heard one word: Virginia. And he knew it was too far away. He couldn't comprehend it. Robert Briggs was gone. Chris should be safe. Chris should be his. This made no sense.
Chris wanted no blame for this. "It's not my fault…….It's not my fault."
The full scope of the parental conspiracy was starting to settle into Matt's brain. What one parent had kept apart by force, another had stepped in to block with her own passive carelessness. He couldn't have stopped his own parents from moving here from California even if he had wanted to, and at first, he did want to stop them. "We're moving WHERE? The SOUTH!?!?" He remembered the frustration of knowing he wasn't the adult and this was going to happen to him, no matter what. Chris wasn't the adult either. This was going to happen to him, no matter what. In the end, they were somebody else's children and not yet their own adults. Their futures, at least at this stage in their lives, were in someone else's hands.
Their eyes met again. This was no fault of theirs. All they could do was support each other and hope things would find a way to work out. But hope was running in short supply. Too much of it had been beaten out of them, or stolen away, or just lost by the incompetence of others. At least for now, they still had each other and what little hope they could muster between them.
Matt was completely lost. He often cried without any ability to control it. But now at the most opportune time the tears just wouldn't come. Chris reached out and put a hand on each of Matt's shoulders pulling him to rest against his chest. There were no more words to say right now; the ones already spoken still hadn't been absorbed. Chris wrapped his arms around Matt and pulled him tighter, bringing him to a painful groan.
"It's OK. Just go easy on the ribs." Matt adjusted Chris's arm to a higher point and away from the sore spot.
"I'm sorry," Chris whispered in Matt's ear. He paused his lips to give Matt a soothing kiss just below the earlobe. Matt realized just how badly he had missed this and rubbed Chris's arms and rested completely against him. THIS is the way it was supposed to be! The devastation was slowly sinking in.
Matt's mind refused to ponder the future. Chris would be leaving in the middle of a school year. He wouldn't have any friends there. How often would he be coming back? Why would they come back at all? These things tried to fire into his mind but he rejected each one. To ponder such things would require submission to facts. Submission meant surrender. He had fought too hard and too long to surrender now.
Chris held him and they lay there in silent reflection unyielding to time. Chris was in denial too but his denial was starting to fade into bleak acceptance. The same questions Matt's soul rejected had seeped deeply into Chris's mind and he didn't like any of the answers. He wouldn't miss the house he grew up in, for there were no fond memories there to be missed. Melanie lived in Richmond, in the city. He would miss his woods and everything about the surrounding terrain he called home. He couldn't bring himself to imagine how much he would miss the boy in his arms.
John knocked on the basement door, startling Chris and he moved quickly to disentangle himself from Matt. John cracked open the door and announced, "You boys come on up soon and we'll eat," before closing the door again.
"It's OK, Chris. They know." Matt had never told him. Suddenly, it didn't seem to matter anyway. Still, it was news to Chris.
"They know!?!?.....How?" He was most surprised.
"I told them. After your……after your dad came and picked you up last time you were here." Matt turned to face Chris and looked him square in the eyes. "I came out to them, Chris. They know about me."
Chris looked him over in disbelief. "And you said I was the brave one. You're always finding new ways to amaze me. I don't think I could have ever told my dad." Chris stared away for a minute. That was a conversation he would never have to face. "What did you say to them?" Chris placed a hand on the side of Matt's neck.
"I just told them the truth. I told them I love you. I think I said it about twenty times." Matt's gaze into Chris's eyes said it again. "I didn't tell them anything about you, Chris. I mean, I just talked about me."
Chris's hand rubbed into the soft flesh where Matt's neck and shoulder met. "You mean you didn't tell them I'm in love with you." It was a statement, not a question. "Matt, your parents are pretty smart. I think they've probably figured that part out."
Matt didn't get a chance to reply. Chris pulled him into a forceful kiss. This was a kiss packed with fear, anger, love, and a deep wanting that couldn't possibly be fulfilled right now.
As Chris released him, the full desperation of the day took tight grip of them both. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't possibly end like this, not after all they had been through. The tears finally came to Matt's face and Chris was soon to follow. They re-embraced, heads tucked together much the same way they were on that first day back in the old shack.
Another knock came to the basement door. "Come on up guys."
They pried apart from each other. Chris's thumb wiped away a pool of tears that had collected under Matt's eye. The back of his other hand wiped away a few of his own.
"We're going to have to tell my mom and dad." Matt was right and Chris's move would be welcome news to no one in the Jordan home.
Together, they made a slumped march into the kitchen. Joanna read the depressed body language. She didn't like to wait for bad news either and she didn't waste any time.
"Let's let dinner sit for a few minutes more." She directed the boys into the living room and John joined them there.
"Someone tell me what's wrong." She looked back and forth between the faces of Matt and Chris. Neither boy had the courage to tell her. Matt couldn't repeat it, for he had yet to accept it himself. Chris had a soft spot for Joanna. Telling her was almost as bad as having to tell Matt.
Finally, Chris just spurt it out. "My mom and me…..we're moving to Virginia to live with Melanie, my sister." He briefly made eye contact with Joanna and then John, but he couldn't keep his eyes up. Still, it was long enough to see their eyes flinch too.
Joanna asked the adult question. "When?"
"Right after Christmas when Melanie has to go back to work." Chris couldn't raise his eyes to deliver the reply.
John jumped in. "Chris, it seems like this is coming together so suddenly, but I think I know why. Am I right?" John did know why. His long conversation with Chris just a few weeks before had reminded him of what he knew about his own childhood growing up with an alcoholic parent. John had watched Peggy Briggs' closely at the funeral. He saw a woman still in pain from the injuries of her car accident and he saw a woman in confused grief at the loss of her husband. But he also saw unsteady movements and distant expressions that he found disturbingly familiar.
Chris did raise his eyes to look at John. He found some strength in knowing that at least someone else knew and could understand. He gave John a confirming nod. "My mom is still really sick, but it's even worse. We're so broke. I don't think we could keep the house even if she was OK. I know that Mel wishes it wasn't this way too..….She's trying to do the right thing." Chris shrugged and dropped his eyes again.
Joanna switched her stare to Matt for a moment. She saw a familiar expression too and found it equally disturbing to the one John had seen in Chris's mom. The spirit and spark that Matt had regained during their time here in North Carolina was pouring out of him before her very eyes.
"Chris," Joanna asked, "isn't there some other option? Does your mother have family here who can help her?"
He shook his head. "It's just the three of us including Mel. My mom's older sister has been dead for a long time and she doesn't have any other close family or friends. My dad didn't let anybody get real close."
"Conspiracy" was the word ricocheting inside Matt's brain. It was one big fucked up family conspiracy to keep them apart. Suddenly, he saw the irony of it all: Robert Briggs was doing in death what he couldn't have done in life. His death had brought about this very change in everyone else's life. Matt thought of the choice he never consciously made: Save Chris from his dad but lose him in the process, or keep Chris even if it was the abused version of him. He knew the answer. It was the same as the silent pledge he had made much earlier: Save the life of the boy he loved, even if he died trying. Chris had been saved and if Matt's heart died then it was the bounty he had always been willing to pay. The tears came again and they were streaming this time. Matt stood up and hurried through the kitchen and out the back door.
He leaned against the back of the house and the emotions flowed freely without the hindrance of embarrassment. Digger had been curled up inside his new doggie house and he trotted out and then stopped at Matt's feet, quietly looking up at his new best friend. Seeing him there stemmed the flow of Matt's tears. "I'm all right," Matt said, trying to put up a good front but it didn't last. The night air was frigid and he started shaking between the sobs.
"Matthew, put this around you." Joanna had been so quiet he didn't hear her approach. She spread a coat over his shoulders and pulled it around tight in the front, huddling with him and trying to warm his emotions.
"It's not fair, mom! After everything……." Matt couldn't verbalize the hurt he was feeling inside and he couldn't stop shaking.
"I know, son." Joanna also knew there was nothing she could say to make it better for him, or for her. "Come on, let's go back inside. The last thing we need is for you to get sick." She gave him a motherly tug toward the door and they went back inside.
Matt saw that his dad had moved and was now sitting beside Chris. He had an arm around Chris's shoulder and they were sharing miseries, present and past.
"I'm not hungry. I'm going back down to the basement." Matt walked past the freshly prepared table and glanced over at Chris as he headed for the basement. Chris met his glance and their eyes consoled each other for just a moment.
"Here Matt, take your drink down with you. I'll put the food in the fridge and you can eat something later when you feel like it." Joanna could only do the little things at this point.
Matt waited downstairs for a good while. Having left Chris in good hands, his eyes roamed around the basement and his thoughts drifted back to the one night they had spent together there, the only night they had spent together at all. Sitting on the same couch, Matt had made his coming out speech to John and Joanna the next day. It had been less of a speech, and more of a tear-filled confession.
Now unsure of what the next day would bring, Matt realized this could be their last night together for a long time. His mind tried to add "and maybe forever" but his heart rejected the idea. The shaking had subsided and the tears had run dry. There was nothing left but cold, harsh reality forcing its way into his recognition. The footsteps on the stairs drew his eyes to the boy he had been destined to love and now seemed destined to lose. Matt's mind started recording the frames. Suddenly, every step had new meaning and value and he wanted to remember each one.
Chris eased in beside him on the old couch, placing a hand out and softly caressing Matt's hair. "I love your folks. I'm really glad you have them, Matt. It would kill me to know you had to live with mine." Chris still thought in terms of a matching set of parents; his father's influence was much too prevalent in his life to consider him gone.
Matt took grasp of the hand on his head and brought it to the side of his face, guiding it to his lips and kissing it before binding it with his fingers and pulling it to his chest. He locked eyes with Chris, holding a deep gaze as their bodies made promises to each other; promises that held little time for fulfillment.
It was only a little after 7:00pm but the heavy exercise of emotions had tired them out. Sitting upright and cuddled on the couch, they drifted into an early sleep.
Neither boy sensed her presence and Joanna didn't linger for long. She had come down to check on her boys and she found them as well as could be expected. At least they were at peace, if only for a little while.
Her mind reminisced back to an earlier night in the basement. She hadn't needed Matt's tearful confession of love that had followed on the next morning. She had known that her son was in love when she saw Chris wrapped in Matt's arms on the couch the night before. Some mothers might have reacted differently that night, seeing their boy in the tight embrace of another boy. Joanna had in fact felt fear that night, but it was only fear that Matt might someday get hurt; to lose a love so special could only bring equal torment. Joanna left as quietly and unnoticed as she had arrived.
Matt was first to open his eyes. His first thought was one of relief: three wake-ups in a row with no old nightmare. The relief melted into fresh dread as reality set back in and he wished he could trade it for the nightmare.
Still wearing his jeans and pullover shirt, he eased from the couch and tiptoed upstairs to change clothes. He put on the t-shirt he most liked to sleep in along with some comfy baggy basketball shorts. When he came back through the basement door, Chris was digging into his overnight bag for a change of clothes as well. Matt locked the door and proceeded to his spot on the couch.
Chris was standing just in front of the couch, still in jeans. Having found his night shirt, he hoisted off the heavy sweater and undershirt he had worn and folded them sloppily before tossing them back in the bag. Matt looked him over, admiring again the athletic tones of his bare, hairless chest and tummy. Chris reached down for the night shirt and Matt stuck a bare foot out to pin it in its place. Chris stood up square and smiled at Matt. Matt smiled back but it wasn't a kidding smile. Matt reached out and hooked his hand in Chris's jeans just below the adorable outie bellybutton Matt so admired. The back of his hand was brushing against the lower edge of Chris's belly. He pulled Chris toward him and Chris obliged, still standing in front as Matt had slipped out to the edge of the couch. His free hand rubbed the firm inside of Chris's thigh and Matt looked up at him for approval.
Chris placed a hand on the side of Matt's head and resumed the same caressing touch he had given earlier in the day. Matt now moved both hands to the front of Chris's jeans, gliding over the growing outline encaged in the fabric. Matt's eyes drifted up and down. Chris's lips had separated slightly and he was breathing more heavily, his eyes looking down, fixed on the tender face of the boy he loved. Matt's touch roamed up and down the length of Chris's strong, lean thighs before his fingers made their way around to the top button on the jeans. He was fixed on Chris's face now, taking in every expression. Chris's eyes were conflicted, revealing the deeper erotic desires that lurked just beneath the softer expression of love.
The defenses of the button and metal link fell quickly and without fight. Matt grasped the top edges of the faded blue fabric and pulled downward, careful to leave the last underlining of defense intact. He pulled the jeans all the way to the floor, allowing Chris to step out of each leg, and then stripped the socks from each foot in the process not wanting any unnatural disfiguration in his view. Chris's arousal was now pounding the front of his briefs with each beat of his heart. Matt's focus drifted down to the barely concealed form of his ultimate prize. He moved his palms freely again along the front of Chris's thighs stopping just short of the thin cotton shield. Again, he surveyed Chris's face for feedback. Chris was breathing harder now, his mouth gaped open and his tongue occasionally poking out the side edge. The conflict in Chris's eyes had moved deeper. A primal part of him wanted to grasp Matt by the hair and direct his eager mouth onto his cock. Another part of him won out and he pulled Matt to his feet and practically swallowed his face whole.
Matt was feeling no such conflictions. He simply wanted to please Chris in whatever fashion pleased him most. The act of pleasing him produced a powerful arousal of his own.
Chris pulled the bottom of Matt's t-shirt and lifted it up over his head. At least now, they were more balanced. His thumbs shared Matt's nipples and worked in small tight circles there. Meanwhile, Matt had not taken his eye off the prize. His right hand couldn't completely encircle Chris's generous girth, but he had him well in grip all the same. A good firm squeeze brought a muffled moan from Chris, causing his lips to fall off of Matt's.
Chris became aware of exactly where he was and he had a sudden flash of worry that maybe Matt had forgotten. He buried his mouth against the side of Matt's face, still under the effect of Matt's squeezing rhythms. "Matt, your folks might hear us," panted more than spoken.
"They're in bed and I locked the door." Matt wasn't going to be deterred or denied. But he added for caution, "Don't get crazy-loud though."
Chris gave a snorting laugh at Matt's combination of words. "Do you at least want to turn out the lights?"
"No!" Matt's reply came swiftly and with no reservation. He wanted the full visual experience for both of them. Early in his friendship with Chris, Matt had felt an awkward physical shyness. As their relationship had matured, the shyness had faded away. Matt considered it good riddance of another awkwardness he could do without.
Matt pulled his face back from Chris just far enough to make good eye contact. Matt's gaze locked with him one more time giving Chris a deep, wanting look. Matt then closed his eyes in a dreamy manner and dropped his lips to the side of Chris's neck, gently kissing him all along the right side and under his chin. Chris rotated his head to the other side, desiring equal treatment for all of his sensitive neck area.
Matt leaned his head in and tongued a perked nipple. Chris groaned and involuntarily grabbed Matt by the back of the head and pulled his mouth even tighter around the sensitive projection of pink flesh. Delirious in Chris's enjoyment, Matt suckled him on each side back and forth for several minutes until his neck almost started to cramp from the pressure he was applying. Matt's right hand had been delivering much pleasure to the lengthy shaft of Chris's arousal, but Matt had stayed away from the most sensitive part of the head. Although he was making it up as he went along, he still had extensive experience with similar equipment, though admittedly nothing quite to this scale. His left arm had been wrapped around Chris's back for added balance, but now he took the second hand and joined it in the attack on Chris's shaft. The added pressure made Chris issue a faint screech. Matt responded with a reminding "Shhh!!" Continuing his tongue and lip assault on Chris's belly, Matt worked his way downward until he was sitting on the edge of the couch again with Chris still standing before him.
Matt's heart was about to beat its way out of his chest. This is what he wanted but he was also afraid it wouldn't meet Chris's expectations. Feeling reasonably sure that Chris hadn't had anything to compare it to, he felt a little relief. He had no doubt it would meet his own expectations.
Matt gripped the top linings of Chris's briefs and pulled them down exposing the prize. Matt had seen him once before but not from this angle and not from this close. He looked up at Chris and saw a begging expression on his face. Even with the blur of passion, Chris could see a hint of self-doubt on Matt's face. He leaned over and covered Matt's lips again with his own, tonguing him forcefully and pouring reassurance into Matt's sexual confidence. Chris then rose back up, leaving a gentle guiding hand on Matt's head, caressing him softly again and imparting more subtle encouragement.
Chris's arousal was angled directly ahead, parallel with the floor. Matt gripped him again, this time with one hand near the base of his shaft while looking up at Chris as he leaned in and flicked playfully at the tip, tasting him for the first time. Seeing Chris's eyes blink at each flick and anticipation dripping from his face, Matt closed his eyes and covered the head with his mouth, working it there softly and adjusting to the shape. Chris's face slumped forward and he released a gasp of hot breath that Matt felt swoosh by on the top of his forehead. Matt's tongue enjoyed the soft underside near the head of Chris's shaft and he began to build a slow rhythm of motion. Chris's fingers roamed appreciatively over Matt's head and across his shoulders and neck.
Just a couple minutes into the rhythm, Chris used his hands to slow Matt's motions before bringing them to a complete stop. Matt had a temporary attack of performance anxiety and wondered if he had done something wrong -- but everything was right. Chris leaned down again, retaking Matt's lips in his own. He whispered into Matt's ear, "I didn't want it to end yet. Do you have any idea how great this feels to me?"
Matt replied softly but surely, "No. But I know how great it feels to me." He couldn't have possibly been more pleased, for Chris's pleasure was his own.
Chris stood up in his full position again. Matt resumed his pleasuring and ventured his tongue up and down the underside of Chris's shaft a few times. Chris enjoyed all of these motions but he was ready for the full warmth of Matt's mouth again. He shifted his hips back just a bit and guided the tip back toward Matt's lips. Picking up on the cue, Matt opened up and retook him as fully as he could. Matt peaked up and saw Chris's eyes tightly closed and a contorted expression of absolute ecstasy on his face. His own face was contorted in the act of giving pleasure and unable to smile, but he smiled deeper within himself instead.
The rhythm resumed and Matt became more comfortable in his new skills. Matt's right hand had gone idle and was resting on the side of Chris's thigh. Chris grasped the idle hand and guided it down to the base of his shaft. Again, Matt picked up on the cue and gripped Chris there and matched the motions he was making with his mouth. His other hand had been continually exploring Chris's chest and stomach, mostly spending time around the sensitive nipples. This continued for a few minutes more and Matt felt Chris's grip tighten on the base of his neck as he pushed into him a little more deeply. Chris had been sensitive not to force himself too deep but he was definitely seeking more control at this last stage. Matt relaxed and tried to take the guidance. The critical moment was nearing.
Matt had played the end scene out in his head long before this night. He had no experience in such matters but to him it seemed less than intimate to simply stand aside for the last moments, suddenly reduced to a spectator instead of a full participant. He wasn't interested in being a spectator. When Chris started to tighten and whisper his name, he responded with both hands on the back of Chris's ass, sending a signal as best as he could that he wasn't about to stand down. Chris opened his eyes and looked down at him, now almost near the point of no retreat. Matt glanced up at him and re-firmed his grip before closing his eyes again and fully focusing on the last few moments. Chris gasped erratically, his eyes almost in tears, and both hands gripping Matt's head tightly. Matt stayed the course and consumed him completely, nursing him until Chris had eased his grasp and pulled out.
Chris was completely spent and he eased down, putting his wobbly knees on the concrete floor and meeting Matt near eye level. Matt was still perched on the edge of the couch. His hands roamed the back of Matt's neck and head again, feeling traces of sweat there from the strenuous efforts that had been put forth. Chris leaned in and their mouths locked together in a long probing embrace. Still on his knees, Chris let his weight fall forward onto Matt, collapsing him into the couch but their lips never lost contact. Matt felt the pressure on his sore ribs, but he was in too much pleasure to complain.
Pulling back for air, Matt's lips separated enough from Chris to allow him to ask a question. "Was it OK?"
Chris gave him a disbelieving look and asked, "You mean you couldn't tell?"
Matt ran his fingers through Chris's hair and grinned from ear to ear. "So it felt OK?"
"I don't think I could possibly explain how great it felt. But maybe I could show you."
Matt's mouth opened to tell him it wasn't necessary, but he never got a chance; Chris's tongue flicked the words aside before they took flight. Matt was gasping for air by the time Chris pulled off his lips again.
Matt's eyes widened when he felt an unfamiliar hand grip him where only his own hand had gripped before. Chris had touched him once, but only briefly and only with an open palm. And then it had been a response to calm Matt's fears after his first nervous attempt at sexual exploration with Chris. This was quite different.
Chris was in full control now, kissing Matt on the neck and playfully nibbling at his ears - something Matt discovered that he really liked. But then, Matt hadn't discovered anything yet that he didn't like. Being on the receiving end of this much attention from Chris was beyond his wildest expectations and Chris didn't plan to shortchange the experience for him.
When Chris reached his small nipples, Matt felt a wave of erotic electricity run through his entire body and he instantly understood Chris's earlier delight at the same treatment. Chris continued downward and Matt became enthralled with anticipation. Chris dug his tongue into Matt's belly button and although it produced limited pleasure, there was still an odd quality to the experience. Chris tongue darted around on Matt's belly and back up to his nipples before making one last rise to join his lips. The next dive downward bypassed the earlier route and landed softly on Matt's inner thighs. Chris kissed and tongued his way back around in close proximity to Matt's excited young cock.
Matt was now squirming and his hands were mimicking Chris's earlier actions, roaming over Chris's head and shoulders. Chris had adjusted his position and pulled his carry bag underneath his sore knees, buffering them from the hard cement floor. Matt's head was propped up by the back of the couch and he had a close-up view of Chris's attention.
Chris paused to look back at Matt, smiling at him before making his final move. Matt had been breathing in broken gasps, but he stopped inhaling completely as he watched Chris's lips hover over of his cock. As he eyed the top half of it disappearing into Chris's mouth, Matt almost launched into an immediate eruption. Only the sudden fear of the embarrassment prevented it. Matt couldn't take his eyes off Chris's face; the sight and sensation of his loving motions were quickly driving Matt over the edge, embarrassment or not. He tapped Chris on the shoulder and muttered his name. Chris was unmoved and he intensified the last moments by taking more of Matt's length.
Biology, intimacy, sexuality and emotion all exploded together and young Matthew Jordan's first time set a high standard for future comparisons. When Chris opened his eyes, he saw tears streaming down Matt's cheeks. The full effect of the release had pushed them from Matt's eyes. He softly retraced his way up Matt's stomach and chest before reclaiming his lips, pausing first to whisper in Matt's ear, "Did that answer your question?"
Matt answered with a giggle and Chris wrapped his arms around his back. They reinforced each other and attempted to push away the dread that was already trying to sneak back into the moment. Their escape had been far too brief and reality settled back in around them far too quickly. The tears continued to flow, but they couldn't drown the sorrow. They settled for what they had at the moment and wrapped themselves in a protective blanket of each other's arms and legs. Tangled together on the old couch with a thin quilt pulled on top, they found another escape in the form of sleep.
John and Joanna had been up for some time. Sunday mornings were normally lazy and relaxed around the Jordan house, but this one was a rude exception. They were unaware of the explorations and adventures that had taken place in the basement the night before. Matt's parents weren't dumb or naive, but they were realists. Given Matt's declaration of love for Chris, it might have been the prudent thing to ask the boys to sleep in different quarters. They didn't have the heart to make such a request last night.
Their trust in Matt wasn't based on any assumption of celibacy, but it was also a topic they mostly tried not to think about. Raising any maturing teenager presented such realities and conflictions. Raising a gay teenager didn't change the basic parental concerns but it complicated other ones. They mostly expected Matt to be honest and faithful with his emotions. It was obvious that he was in love and they didn't fault him for it. There was nothing in his young history to suggest he would be irresponsible and so much of his life had been spent quietly alone.
His encounter with Robert Briggs was the most irresponsible thing Matt Jordan had ever done in his parents' eyes and they had mixed emotions about even that. Having heard the full story retold so many times now, they realized a greater quality in Matt's actions. What was first only thought of as reckless was slowly shifting into the category of brave.
The Jordan parents talked quietly and seriously about the news from the previous day. Joanna led the discussion and John saw the bulldog in her coming to the surface. Two hours later they hadn't moved but much ground had been covered. The discussion was over and an agreement had been reached. Huddling together closely on the living room couch, their minds released the past and looked forward to what the future might hold.
This time Chris was the first to awake. They had shifted positions during the night and Matt was now draped over his chest, still sleeping safely and soundly. Chris couldn't keep his hand off of Matt's cropped black hair and he ran his fingers through it fondly caressing his sleeping love. Chris was besieged with thoughts of the pending move, but he chased them out with warmer thoughts of the night before. These new thoughts brought him fully erect again and he could feel his cock pressing into Matt's ribs.
Matt's breathing had changed and his eyes had opened unbeknownst to Chris. Feeling the caressing hand on his head and the excited jab in his ribs, Matt planted a wet kiss on Chris's chest and slid straight down to the pulsing head of his cock. He didn't wait for approval and took Chris back in his mouth and directly into the rhythm that had been so successful the night before. Chris was surprised but didn't fight him and he moved both hands to Matt's head.
Matt's enthusiasm made short work of Chris's rise, bringing him to a quick conclusion.
Looking up and rubbing his hand across Chris's face, Matt declared a soft "Good Morning."
Chris gave him a loving smile and laugh. "Yeah, I'd say so!"
"Chris, I'm starving…..well, you know, like for food." Both boys laughed.
Then Matt turned somber again. "I'm afraid to get up off this couch, Chris. I wish we could just stay here and never leave."
Chris's face gave him a silent and equally somber reply.
"And I feel grungy." Matt was always one to recognize grunge at an early stage of development but the sweaty workouts had in fact left him rather grungy for a change.
Chris smiled down at him. Matt lifted off of Chris's chest and added, "I'll go to the bathroom up by my room. Just take the guest one downstairs and then we need to eat. Did I mention that I'm starving?"
He smiled and tried to take a step away, but Chris grabbed his arm and pulled him back for one more lingering kiss that broke with a wide smile from both. Matt went upstairs soon followed by Chris. The warm showers brought freshness to their bodies but also seemed to remove any remaining shielding from the future to come.
After the late breakfast, the adult Jordans went upstairs for a bit and came down dressed in more formal, but still casual, attire.
"Matt, your father and I have a few errands to run and we'll be out for a few hours." Joanna looked unusually determined for a simple run of errands.
"Where are you going?" Matt asked. Such vagueness in communications was unusual from his parents.
Joanna revealed no clues for their mission. "Oh Matt, it is almost Christmas. You don't want to know every detail do you?"
"Oh, I get it." He didn't. "Well, don't forget to buy something nice for Digger too." He was serious.
Joanna smiled and John added, "You boys behave while we're gone." His words brought a sheepish guilt from Matt and Chris. The Jordan parents were out the door and Matt and Chris had the house to themselves.
The short drive was a nervous one. John reached out a hand and took Joanna's in his grip. Her other hand patted anxiously on her knee. They arrived unannounced at their destination and pulled the car to a stop near the back of the modest house.
The sound of car doors closing brought a curious but friendly face to the back door. Formal introductions were in order.
"Hi, Melanie. I'm John Jordan and this is my wife Joanna." Joanna reached out a hand and shook Melanie's in the way women do. All exchanged polite smiles. "We're Matt's parents." John paused and his words almost stumbled, but the marketing guy in him took control of the presentation. Melanie was polite but unsure of the motivation for the visit. "The boys are back at the house and everything is fine, but we wondered if we could come in and sit down and talk for a while." John paused again briefly, looking over at Joanna by his side. Unnoticed by Melanie, Joanna extended her fingers and held John's hand. They both turned back and put their full determined focus on Melanie.
Joanna spoke up. "We'd like to talk about Chris."