Randy and Bob had never felt closer to each other. After their stunning sexual experience together in the forest their relationship was defined in a more profound way than ever before. They spent all their free time together, much of it in bed, and Randy finally suggested that they go off for a day in the mountains.

"Hey, buddy. Next Saturday let's get away together, just you and me ...... up to Big Pines, maybe. We'll take the Harleys for a spin. It's about time you got to ride the bikes more often."

Bob jumped at the idea. "Sounds great. I remember Big Pines ...... gorgeous, real high up, not much more than an hour away."

"Yeah, and what a drive ...... empty, narrow mountain road, hair-pin bends, sheer drops on either side that'll make your hair curl."

So Saturday came and Pablo and the twins saw them off. Randy hugged his boy and Bob put his arms round the twins. "If you need anything while I'm gone, check with Pablo. You'll take care of them, eh, Pablo?"

"Sure thing, sir. Have fun ...... be good." He frowned, then grinned. "Oh, that's not right.... you can't do both at the same time, can you?"

And they sped away, roaring with laughter.

****************

Half an hour later they were cruising steadily along Highway 2, a narrow two-lane mountain road with stunning views and the hairpin bends Randy had promised. On the right was a steep drop way down a ravine to a stream far below. They were driving carefully, one behind the other, keeping well away from the verge.

Bob had got about a hundred yards ahead of Randy and Randy was about to catch up to him when he heard the sound of a vehicle coming up behind him. He pulled closer to the edge to let it pass and looked back to see an old beat-up red truck with what looked like three guys in it.

"Shit damn!" he yelled. "Assholes!" As it overtook him the truck had deliberately sideswiped him, almost knocking him off balance at the edge of the road. "Fucking morons," he muttered to himself as the truck swerved drunkenly ahead. "They'll fucking kill someone that way."

His next thought was for Bob up ahead and his eyes opened wide in horror. The truck was approaching him from behind, still swerving crazily. It happened in a split second. The truck came level with Bob, swerved to the right and brushed hard against him, then sped away. Less accustomed to a motorcycle than Randy, Bob did lose his balance. He swerved to the right, over the grass verge ....... and plunged over the edge.

"NO!" screamed Randy and gunned his bike forward, screeching to a halt where the skid-marks led off the side of the road. He jumped off his bike, gazed over the edge of the ravine and saw Bob and the bike tumbling down the side, through the brush, bouncing on the hard gravel and coming to rest against a tree several hundred feet down.

Randy leapt over the side and, propelled by pure adrenaline, charged down the almost sheer slope, falling, crawling, grabbing at shrubs and rocks as the gravel tore at his clothes. Breathlessly he finally reached the spot and gazed down in horror at the motionless body lying in a lifeless, crumpled heap against a tree. Randy raised his head to the sky and screamed with the howl of a wounded animal. NO! ........."

He fell to his knees and cradled Bob's face in his hands. "Come on, buddy, open your eyes. Please, man, open your eyes for me."

But the eyes remained closed, the face motionless, ashen, with blood flowing from a gash on his forehead. Apparently his helmet had flown off during the precipitous fall. Randy took a deep breath, knowing he had to control his panic. He had to think clearly. Randy was tough, and the crisis focused his mind with a knife-like clarity. He touched Bob's wrist and felt a pulse, but a very weak one.

Moving with a robotic precision he pulled out his cell phone, praying for signal. Even in this remote place there was one, and he dialed Mark. The cop was cruising near the end of his shift and answered immediately. Briefly, efficiently, Randy described the situation and location ...... "Highway 2 ..... about half-way to Big Pines You'll see my bike by the road."

"Gotcha," said Mark. "I'm on my way and I'll call the paramedics. Hang in there, buddy. Help's on its way."

After Mark clicked off Randy looked around frantically. There was nothing but the breeze, the sky and the almost sheer hillside above him. Nobody had seen the accident. He had never felt more isolated in his life. He looked down at his lover lying motionless on the ground and the sight gave him renewed strength.

"OK, buddy," Randy said softly to himself. "Gotta get you up to the road."

He knew that Bob shouldn't really be moved, but he also knew the pulse was so weak he couldn't risk a delay. He leaned forward and pushed his arms under the lifeless body, one arm under the shoulders and the other under the knees. He took a deep breath, flexed his whole body and, with a huge effort, rose slowly to his feet. God, Bob felt heavy lying limply in his arms. Randy looked up at the dauntingly steep hill, almost sheer, and his courage almost collapsed. The road was so far up he couldn't even see it. But then he looked down at Bob's beautiful face, stained with blood, and he knew what he had to do. He began to climb.

Step by agonizing step he started to walk, digging his boots into the gravel to gain a precarious foothold. Many times his foot slipped back on the loose shingle but he knew that above all else he must keep his balance and not let Bob fall. He didn't look up, but focused on the ground immediately below him, foot after foot, yard after yard.

It was a superhuman feat of strength and endurance. Randy's jaw clenched in gritty determination and he willed himself to take one more step, then another. He couldn't think about failure. Instead his mind focused on Bob, the extraordinary life they had together, the events of that life, the rough sex, the love, the spiritual bond that joined them inseparably. It was as if the man in his arms, lifeless as he was, was endowing him with the strength to struggle on.

Randy had no idea how much time was passing. His mind became numb, his body running on the force of the adrenaline pumping through his veins. His muscles bulged, racked with pain, pouring with sweat. At one point his feet slid back down several feet and he almost gave up, but then he looked down at Bob's face and knew that was not an option. He was a machine now, not thinking, barely feeling the pain, as he climbed slowly, agonizingly slowly.

The body in his arms was no longer heavy ....... it was the body of the man he loved, and it gave him the strength and courage to continue. But as he willed himself forward, step after step, the effort was so grueling that finally his strength was failing ..... his breathing was ragged, he was starting to hallucinate ....... when suddenly the gravel beneath him became grass, then hard tarmac. The road.

With his last ounces of strength he gently lowered his buddy onto the grass verge, then fell to his knees over him, totally spent, sobbing, his tears falling onto the face of his lover, mingling with the blood. He willed himself not to pass out. He was not even aware of the distant sounds of sirens, growing louder, not aware of flashing lights and tires on gravel. And when hands reached down to touch Bob he yelled, "Take your hands off him .... He's mine!"

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and he wailed like a lost animal as he heard a deep, familiar voice. "It's OK, buddy. We're here. It's me, Mark. The paramedics will take care of him now."

Randy pulled himself to his feet, looked in bewilderment at the uniformed cop, then fell sobbing, exhausted, into his arms, all the stress, the pent-up emotional and physical agony bursting like a damn. His voice was jagged. "Oh, man ....... he's hurt bad ...... I had to ...... I couldn't ..... I can't lose him, man. He's my life. Did you know that?" he asked plaintively.

Mark's voice was steady as a rock. "Take a deep breath, buddy. You're in shock." He looked over the edge of the cliff and saw the remains of the bike several hundred feet below. "Try to tell me how you got him all the way up here."

Randy looked at him, still dazed. "I carried him. I had to. I carried him."

Mark stared at him in disbelief. "Jesus Christ!"

By now the paramedics had loaded Bob onto a stretcher and were pushing it into the ambulance. Randy looked up and reality crashed back over him. He ran forward and climbed into the ambulance, watching over the stretcher as it slid in.

The paramedic looked over at Mark. "Is he coming with us, officer?"

"Try keeping him out," Mark grinned wryly. "Don't worry, I'll clear the way in front of you. Where to?"

"Closest trauma center, Glendale Memorial," the paramedic said. "Have to take the 2 all the way. Traffic's a bitch on the 210. We'll stabilize him on the way. Glad of your help, buddy."

The doors closed, Mark straddled his bike and pulled round in front of them. Then they took off, speeding along the same winding mountain road, Mark in front with his sirens blaring and lights flashing, just like the ambulance right behind him.

*****************

As the paramedics worked feverishly on Bob, taking his vitals, checking the wounds, installing a drip, they sternly warned Randy to stay back out of their way. He was still in a daze, gazing helplessly at his buddy, still not able to fully grasp what was happening.

At the hospital emergency entrance all was rapid efficiency. The stretcher was placed on a gurney and wheeled quickly through the swing doors. They rushed it along the corridor, Randy beside them, until they went through another set of doors and the staff barred Randy from entering. He was about to protest and bust his way in when strong arms grabbed him from behind and a deep, calm voice said, "No, Randy. He's in good hands. I'm right here with you, buddy."

Suddenly all the fight went out of Randy and he allowed Mark to steer him into a waiting room and pull him down on a bench. The cop was all business, and his calm efficiency helped Randy to regain his balance and think clearly. Mark asked for all the details and Randy told him the whole story. The paramedics took their leave of Mark, thanking him.

"If it hadn't been for this guy bringing him up to the road he'd be dead by now," the paramedic said. "We'd have probably needed a helicopter and that would have taken too long." He turned to Randy. "Way to go, man. That was sensational, what you did up there. Still don't know how you did it."

******************

Time stood still as the two men sat silently together in the empty waiting room. Mark kept careful watch on the ashen faced construction worker trying to come to terms with the calamity. Mark knew the five-stages theory of grief, knew that after his initial state of denial would come anger. And Randy's anger was legendary. So Mark talked to him quietly, calmly, hoping that his voice would soothe him, even though Randy was not hearing the words.

Fortunately the handsome, uniformed cop was a familiar sight around the hospital, which was on his regular beat, and the medical staff liked and respected him. After what seemed like an eternity a doctor appeared in the room. "Hi, Mark ..... you the officer that brought him in?" Mark nodded. The doctor turned to Randy. "And you, sir. Is the patient your relative?"

Randy looked up suddenly and said, "He's my life." Mark nodded to the doctor to reassure him.

"OK. We've run extensive tests and I've seen the CAT Scan and MRI. The good news is that physically he's not in bad shape ..... a few broken ribs, dislocated shoulder, torn ligaments, bruises, scratches ..... nothing we can't fix. But here the news gets worse, I'm afraid. The patient has received a traumatic blow to the head ...... apparently his helmet came off during the fall and his head took the full force of the blow against the tree.

"The concussion was severe and he is currently in a deep coma. To put it in layman's terms, the profound shock caused his mind to shut down. In cases like this it's hard to know when, or even if, he will come out of the coma. In the meantime there is nothing we can do except administer intravenous medication, monitor him closely and hope for the best. So we've moved him from Intensive Care into a room, and you can visit him there in a few minutes."

Randy looked at him without expression. "Tell me the truth, doc. What are his chances?"

"There appears to be no lasting brain damage, but the coma is very deep. At this stage it's hard to predict, but if you want me to guess I'd say that his chances of regaining consciousness are ...... less than 50-50. Of course there are many variables, so ......"

Randy cut him off. "A number, doc. Give me a number."

The doctor sighed. "Well, since you insist ........ I'd say his chances are 30, 40 percent, no better than that. As time goes on the chances decrease, I'm afraid."

Randy felt his legs buckle and was grateful for Mark's strong arm around him.

******************

In the room Randy and Mark watched as two nurses and the doctor hooked Bob up to the various monitoring devices and his intravenous drip. Randy stared down at his lover and suddenly felt a charge run through his body ...... a surge of determination and a resolve that he would not let Bob die.

The nurse was saying, "You shouldn't stay too long, gentlemen."

Without shifting his gaze from Bob's face Randy growled, "I'm not leaving."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm not leaving him. I'm staying right here."

Mark had heard that tone of voice before. He took the doctor to one side and spoke softly but authoritatively. "Look, doctor, dynamite wouldn't get him out of this room ......" He argued persuasively and after a while the doctor turned to Randy. "It's highly irregular, sir, but I've agreed to let you stay, on the understanding that you in no way impede the medical staff who will be coming and going frequently."

A nurse added. "I'll have a cot bought in for you."

Randy's voice was flat. "I don't want a cot. I'll sit by him until he wakes. I won't interfere with you, but I won't leave him." Then he looked plaintively at the doctor. "Is there anything I can do, doc?"

"Well," said the doctor shaking his head, "there is a school of thought that, even in a coma, patients can still hear, even though they don't react. It can't hurt if you talk to him."

"Then that's what I'll do. I'll talk. You can leave me with him, Mark. We started out alone together, and that's how we do best ..... just the two of us. Together we're strong. We can do anything."

********************

Mark squeezed his shoulder and left the room with tears in his eyes. He took a deep breath and sprang into action. First he called Zack, explained the situation and asked him to come over. "Better not tell the boys just yet. Let's you and me discuss it first, OK?"

They met in the waiting room and Mark brought him up to date. "Thing is, Randy wants to be left alone with him, so we can drop in for a minute, but he probably won't react much. He has eyes only for Bob. Says he's gonna talk to him."

They did go into the room but, as Mark predicted, Randy glanced at them, said, "Thanks guys" and looked back at Bob. The men walked silently out of the room and left Randy alone gazing down at the man he worshipped.

*****************

Randy took a deep breath. "OK, buddy, this is me, Randy. So, you've had a bit of a fall, but you're gonna pull through and come back to me, is that clear? That's an order. You know you always have to obey me, always have, and now's no different. Hell, man, come on, open your fucking eyes, otherwise I'll fucking well......."

His voice trailed off and he stood up and paced the room. 'Or I'll fucking well what?' he thought. Hell this was hard. He had always had Bob with him, to advise him, restrain him, and now it was all up to him, Randy. He had never felt so alone. And yet he wasn't alone. He sat down again and took Bob's hand.

"How do you like that, buddy? Me charging at you like a mad bull. In the past if you were this obstinate I'd have tied you to a tree and whipped the shit out of you. Yeah, you'd have liked that too, wouldn't you?" He faltered. "Oh, man ..... I don't know what to do ...... you gotta help me. Being rough is the only way I know, and now that won't cut it But it's all I know, kid ......" he broke down and started to sob.

But immediately he collected himself, cleared his throat and began again. "I guess toughness is not just being quick with your fists, eh? Gotta be tough now, though..... for both of us, so we can be together like we were before. Hey, remember when we first met ..... that scruffy old motel room where I beat the shit out of you? I was real rough on you, but you know what? When you first walked into that crummy bar and our eyes met, I think that's the moment I fell in love with you .... right from the start. And I am in love with you man, you know that. And that's why you can't leave me ...... I can't live without you, man ........I won't make it on my own ......."

Again his voice died, but he felt energy surge through him again and he gripped Bob's hand tighter. "Feel me, buddy? Feel my hand in yours? God, the number of times I've felt your body, your flesh next to mine. You know touching you always gives me a hard-on. Sure you know that and you know where that hard-on always ends up ...... in your ass. Jesus I love your ass."

He gazed at the sleeping face. "And that face! That gorgeous fucking face. Even covered in scratches and bruises" ....... he chuckled ..... "especially covered in scratches and bruises. Looks like I worked you over real good." Suddenly he took a deep breath. "Did I hurt you, buddy? God, I did didn't I ..... so many times That anger of mine. Oh, man, I'm sorry. I promise I'll never hurt you again, I'll do whatever in the world you want me to. That's the bargain ..... you come back to me and you can do whatever you want, beat me, whip me, punish me for the past...... anything."

His eyes streamed with tears again. "All I want to do is hear your voice, Bob, see those soft brown eyes. All I want to do is love you, buddy, to hold you again. I promise I'll make love to you like I never have before. Just don't leave me, buddy. Please, man, come back to me. Please ......."

*******************

A dark, gloomy cloud settled over the house, over the family meeting, as Mark and Zack sat on a bench and addressed the boys. Pablo, Darius, Jamie and the twins sat crossed legged on the grass looking up at the men, listening. Mark pulled no punches as he explained the situation. "You guys are our boys. We've taught you to be tough and you have to be especially brave now. Randy's gonna need us more than he ever has."

The stunned silence was broken surprisingly by the twins. "Excuse me, sir," Kyle said, "but that's not quite accurate." "No," said Kevin. "Not just Randy. Bob's gonna need us too .... when he wakes up."

Mark was stunned by their reaction and Zack took over. "You're absolutely right, guys. And in the meantime the best thing we can do is what Bob would want us to do ..... work harder than ever to keep the house and the construction company in good shape. Darius, you and I are gonna have to cover all three sites so we'll go take a look this afternoon. It's Saturday so the crew won't be there but we'll work out a plan for next week, OK?"

"Right, sir," said Darius.

"And Jamie," Mark said. "The business office will be just you for a while, so you're gonna have to make more major decisions while Bob's away. Think you can handle it?"

"Absolutely, sir. He won't know he's been away."

Pablo spoke up. "Sir, the last thing Bob said before they left was that I should take care of the twins. And I will ..... right guys?"

"OK, Mark said. "Which brings us to right now. Randy's gonna need a change of clothes, which you can get from his room, Pablo. And the twins can cook something good for him to eat at the hospital. I'm sure he hasn't touched a thing so far."

The boys sprang into action and drowned their fear and sorrow in action. It was only an hour later that Mark brought Pablo and the twins up to the door of Bob's room. "Now careful," he said. "Only a few minutes."

The boys went in tentatively and Randy, who had apparently been talking, broke off and stood up. Pablo cleared his throat and said, "Excuse me, sir. I brought these clothes for you." He looked at Randy's jeans and T-shirt, torn and covered with dirt. Pablo grinned, "You look hot, sir, but maybe you should change." Randy smiled for the first time in a long while.

The twins stepped forward and offered the casserole they had prepared. "You should eat this, sir," said Kyle, "one of our best."

Kevin held out a small bunch of flowers. "We brought these, sir. Freesias. They smell real sweet and we thought when Bob smells them that will make him wake up sooner."

Randy was moved and stammered, "Yeah well ..... you know the doc said......"

"Oh we know all about that, sir, but he is gonna wake up."

"You sound real sure, kid."

"We are sir," said Kevin. "See, Bob promised he would never leave us, and he never tells a lie."

Randy took a sharp intake of breath, turned to hug Pablo and buried his head in his shoulder to hide his tears. He pulled himself together and put his hands on the twins' shoulders. "Thanks, guys. This all means a lot to us both. I'll have the nurse put the flowers by his bed. And I promise, I'll take good care of him for you. But now we've got to be alone again, just the two of us."

The boys cast a quick glance at Bob, then turned to leave. Pablo had the last word, along with his crooked grin. "By the way, sir, don't throw that old ripped T-shirt away. Looks so hot maybe you can wear it when we ......"

Randy grinned, "Get out of here, kid."

***************

They were alone again. "So what do you make of that?" Randy asked Bob. "Those twins of yours are something else. Seems like they're the only ones not upset, they're so sure that you ....... Oh, shit man, look at this bunch of flowers. Here ...." He held them under Bob's nose. "I wish you could breathe deeper, man. Twins think they'll wake you up."

"Listen, man, those kids need you, you're their world. You can't leave them, you heard what they said. I need you too ..... we all do. The house would fall apart without you. Come on, asshole. Wake up and smell the damn flowers."

*****************

And so Mark, Zack and the boys threw themselves into work to take their minds off the hospital room. And it worked, until the evening came and, during a gloomy dinner, the truth really started to sink in. Mark and Zack were stoic, more macho than ever, determined to maintain a bold face for the boys. "OK," Zack said, standing up from the dinner table. "I'm going across to my house to go over some blueprints. Help the twins clear up, Darius, then come and join me."

Half an hour later Darius ran across the street and was about to open the door to Zack's room when he stopped in his tracks, stunned by what he heard. Sobbing. Zack had evidently let the tension of the day overwhelm him and he had given way to grief. Darius paused, waited a while then coughed loudly. He paused again, then went into the room.

Zack was wiping his face and Darius went straight up to him and hugged him tight. "I love the guy," Zack said. "I fucking love the guy to pieces."

"Me too, sir," said Darius. "Hell, he understood ...... understands ..... me so well. He's given me some great fantasies in the past. I just hope ......." But he couldn't complete his sentence.

"OK," said Zack, taking command again. "What are the sleeping arrangements for tonight?"

"Oh, we boys have worked all that out. Jamie's with Mark, of course. The twins want Pablo to sleep with them in Bob and Randy's bed. So I'll be alone in my bed, unless you want to share it, sir."

"Try keeping me away," Zack grinned.

That night all the men found solace in each other, in making love. Mark held Jamie tenderly like a precious piece of fragile china, cradling him with a renewed sense of how precious he was to him, how hard it would be to lose him. Zack and Darius were more vigorous, with Zack fucking his boy hard as if that were a way to bind them more safely together.

And Pablo took comfort in the twins as they wound their arms around him in sleep. It was not only their soft loving that reassured him. It was their absolutely certainty that everything would come right and that Bob would come back to them.

****************

But that was looking less and less likely. It was now Sunday night and Bob had been in a coma for two days and a night. Randy hadn't slept ...... he was afraid that if he stopped looking at Bob, stopped talking to him, he would slip away. So he talked endlessly about the past and about all of the plans they would make for the future. His focus was so intense he was barely aware of the medical staff coming and going, or of the persistent bleep of the monitors.

On his final rounds of the day the doctor looked in, examined the chart and the monitors. Randy searched his face for the verdict.

The doctor shook his head. "Not looking good, I'm afraid, Randy. I know it's true that people can come out of comas after a long time, but in Bob's case his brain patterns show him sinking even deeper. And there's nothing more we can do. I wish we could do CPR for the brain as we do for the heart ..... give it a shock, some sharp stimulus that would reverse the decline. But we can't. But keep talking to him. That's all you can do. I'm sorry."

As the doctor left Randy felt a sickening jolt of panic grip him. He was losing the fight ...... losing Bob. NO! He'd be damned if that was gonna happen. His brain cleared. CPR for the brain ..... a shock, a jolt, some stimulus that would bring him back. He looked at Bob.

"OK, asshole. Now what part of you always reacts first when you see me, when you just hear my voice? You know damn well what it is. It's right here." He put his hands under the sheets and moved down to Bob's groin. Gently he folded it round Bob's limp cock, squeezing slightly, then releasing.

"Feel that, buddy? Feel my hand round your cock? Now how about this?" Even more gently he slid his other hand underneath the body and cupped the cheek of his ass. "God, that ass. I have loved that ever since I first ripped your shorts off and laid eyes on it. Now how about this?" Tenderly he touched the warm hole with the tips of his fingers."

His voice grew rougher. "Now, you fucker, you're starting to make me mad. You remember that day when I first took you to the lake? You pissed me off and I tied you to the tree. I was so fucking mad I reamed your ass. Then I went for a swim, came up behind you and fucked you again, remember that? I kept you tied up and kept coming back and fucking you, again, and again, all day. You screamed as you felt my cock ram into you, ripping you open. You were helpless, at my mercy, as my huge dick hammered your ass."

He rubbed his fingers against the crack in Bob's ass. "Remember how it felt, you son-of-a-bitch. You were hanging from the ropes and I reached round and your cock was rock hard, just waiting for me to give you permission to shoot your load."

"But I didn't let you cum. Instead I squeezed your dick as I pounded your ass. It was like a fucking piston inside you. Then I started to stroke your dick, like this" ..... slowly, gently, he began stroking Bob's limp cock ...... "and I felt the blood pulsing through it, felt it getting harder in my fist. Remember that, you fucker, remember how my hand felt round your dick, remember how hard you got? Feel it, man!"

Randy was running out of images when suddenly ..... maybe he imagined it ..... no, there it was ...... a slight stirring under the membrane in his hand. "That's it, you fucker. Feel your master's fist round your cock, feel his cock in your ass. Come on, man. Let's see what you got. Get it hard for your master while he pounds that sweet ass of yours." He stroked Bob's ass gently with one hand and his cock with the other.

"Feel the pain in your ass, man. The only way I'll cum inside you is if you get your dick hard. Come on, man. Imagine that hot construction worker fucking you, sweat pouring down his dark face onto his stubbled chin. Think of that gorgeous body pounding into you. Now see those eyes, those piercing blue eyes staring at you. You know that always makes you hard."

And it did.

Randy now felt beyond doubt the blood running through the veins under the skin of Bob's cock. And it was no longer limp. It was now semi-erect, growing slowly. Randy stopped talking but continued working with his hands until the cock was hard. Bob was breathing more heavily now so Randy stopped. "What ..... you think I was gonna let you cum, asshole? You don't shoot your load unless I say you can. You know me better than that."

The trace of a smile crossed Bob's lips and Randy's eyes filled with tears.

****************

Randy pulled his hands away, took hold of Bob's hand ...... and felt a slight squeeze. He ran to the door and yelled for the doctor. A few minutes later the medical staff were in the room checking the monitors, and the doctor turned to Randy. "Hard to believe, but I think we're out of the woods. I never would have predicted that .... and so suddenly. His consciousness is racing back to the surface. What in hell have you been saying to him?"

Randy grinned, "That's between him and me, doc."

It was pretty much plain sailing form there. It was a matter of an hour or so, then Bob at long last opened his eyes slowly. His vision was blurred at first but then he saw coming into focus the swarthy face of the man who had called him back. "Hi, buddy," Randy said softly. "Thanks for coming." He grinned. "And I don't mean that in the way you think. That's for later."

Bob closed his eyes again, sighed deeply and spoke for the first time. "Had to come back. You're a hard man to refuse." He took another deep breath. "What's that great smell?"

"The twins brought flowers for you."

Bob frowned ...... then, his eyes still closed, a smile crossed his face. "Ah yes ..... the twins. Thanks for calling me back, buddy. I heard your voice."

"Yeah, and it made your dick hard."

Bob's smile increased. "You know me too well." And he fell into a restful sleep, real this time, sure to wake up.

In an hour Zack and Mark were at the hospital, beaming at Randy. The doctor was in the room checking the monitors for the umpteenth time. He shook his head. "Nothing short of a miracle," he said, "and we don't use that word much around here. I'd love to know what you got up to in here, Randy."

Randy grinned. "Let's just say it's probably not in your medical textbooks, doc."

"By the way," the doctor said, "the paramedics told me you saved your buddy's life by carrying him up an impossibly steep hill. Well, I've gotta tell you something else..... you climbed another impossible hill in here, and brought Bob along with you ...... back to life. It's an honor to shake your hand, Randy. You're a hell of a guy."

*****************

It was only a week later that the hospital released Bob. His physical wounds had been patched up ..... his ribs were sore but healing, his arm was in a sling and his leg in a light cast. Randy had not left him the whole time, agreeing to a cot being brought in so he could sleep beside him.

They had talked a lot, about the future mostly, but also spent much of the time just .... gazing at each other.

The staff had checked with Mark that the early release was OK. "Are you sure he has someone who will take care of him at home?

"Try eight someones," Mark smiled.

It was a Sunday when the boys were all gathered in the garden, their eyes fixed expectantly on the gate. They heard a truck pull up. There was a long wait, the gate opened, and a rousing cheer greeted the sight or Randy pushing a wheelchair with a broadly smiling Bob. There were smiles all round, and many tears. Darius, of course, filmed the whole scene and, as he said later to Pablo, "Awesome, dude ..... not a dry eye in the house."

*****************

Randy took another week off work so he could be with Bob continuously. It was as if he was afraid to lose him if he was out of his sight. They both knew what had happened. Bob knew by now of his heroic climb up the hill, and he had rather scrambled memories of Randy's voice, his threats and promises that had brought him back to life out of his coma.

The twins were more attentive than ever, although they had never had the slightest doubt that Bob would return. After all, he had promised them, and he always kept his word. Jamie showed Bob with pride how he had held the fort in the office, and Mark and Zack made sure that there was not a cloud on the horizon to disturb the couple's perfect tranquility.

And so, eventually, the rhythm of the house resumed. Bob got stronger and talked about going back to work. Randy too knew he had to resume control of the construction work and felt confident in being separated from Bob for a few hours.

The following Sunday morning Bob was in the bedroom with Randy and Mark while the twins prepared breakfast. "You guys," Randy said. "I'm gonna skip breakfast. There's a piece of business I've gotta take care of .... just a short trip." He pulled on a tank top, jeans and boots and said, "I'll be back this afternoon. Take care of my man, Mark." He hugged Bob and left the room.

Outside he jumped onto the remaining Harley and roared away, his jaw set in a look of grim determination. "OK," he thought to himself. "Big Pines it is. And this time it's me you're dealing with, you mother-fucking pieces of shit. And it ain't gonna be pretty."

****************

Back in the bedroom, Bob and Mark's conversation was interrupted by the twins bringing in breakfast trays. "The other guys are not up yet, sirs, so we thought you might like breakfast in here."

"Sure thing, kids," said Bob. "Bring up some for yourself and join us."

As soon as the twins left, Bob's cell phone rang. He smiled and flipped it open. "OK, handsome, what did you forget this time?"

There was a silence at the other end, then a throat cleared and a hesitant voice said, "Oh ..... hi, Bob ...... this is Hassan."

Bob took a sharp intake of breath, paused, then held out the phone to Mark. "Here, buddy ..... it's for you."

**********************

TO BE CONTINUED in "A Trial Of Strength ....... Part 100"

 

Rob Williams

[email protected]

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