"How are you doing today Michael? You feeling any better after your haphazard sleepless night last night? I hope Trent was some help?" Michael sunk a little deeper into the chair and sighed. Even if Sarah had told Trent to sleep with him, he was still embarrassed that she knew they slept together with Trent holding Michael.

"Last night helped a lot when Trent came in and slept with me. I think it helped me just stop and breath enough to get some much needed sleep. I'm starting to get things sorted out in my head. At least up to this point, I'm pretty sure that I won't be going home for a little while, even if my Mother is okay with me being gay. I think the tension between my parents is going to go on for a while and they need their time to figure out where each one stands and how they are going to resolve their differences, providing my mother is on my side. If I find out differently, then it looks like you'll have me until at least graduation. I have to finish high school and figure out how I'm going to get into college."

"I want you to really slow down Michael. I think it's hard for you to do that isn't it?" Michael just looked up at her, unsure of what to say.

"I think you've been too hard on yourself in the past couple of years. I believe the gay issue has been hanging over you like a lead weight and it's still there but it's different now. You need time to adjust to knowing that your parents know. Give them time, and do the same for yourself. They aren't the only ones that are in turmoil. It's not as a matter of knowing or not knowing anymore, they know now." Sarah got up from the seat she was sitting in and came around to sit next to Michael.

"I know you're going through a hard time. I want you to know that Clay and I are behind you. And if it works out for you and Trent, then we're behind both of you. If things don't work out with you two, then you're still welcome here for as long as you want or need to be. We both mean what we said about staying here until you finish college. Clay wanted all of his kids to go to college. That's not going to happen, cause two of the older girls didn't want to. They wanted to get married instead, which is fine with us. If they decide to go later we'd still help them. I know school is important to you as does Clay. That being said please don't worry about school. You talk to Clay when you are ready to go to school, Michael. I'm going to tell you now so you have time to process it and think about it. Clay is going to want to make sure you go and I am more than happy to agree with him on this one. Too many things have happened in your life, it's time that some good things come your way. A father who doesn't have a good relationship with his son or daughter has lost a valuable piece of his life."

"I don't know. That's a lot to ask and you two are not responsible for..."

"We know we aren't responsible Michael. Please hear me out. You're going through so much and we both know from what you and Trent have said that you going to school is very important to you. Trent told us Monday night that you had problems at home with your father. We were a little prepared when you showed up Tuesday night with Trent. So this isn't an overnight decision. As a matter of fact, it's only just begun for all of us. I just want you to know that we are here to help you get through this tough time, however long it takes, and Clay is very concerned that you could sidestep college for a while and try to make it on your own, which is understandable. Nonetheless, we don't want to see you struggle when it isn't necessary. Would you at least agree with me on that one?"

Michael was holding himself in check. "Yes I do."

"Then I want you to just remember that for now. And not worry about anything else. Just know that you can go to school without the worry and we really want to see you go Michael, both of us."

He knew if he didn't stop this conversation he was going to lose it and then he'd be a basket case. He didn't want to do that. He was trying so hard to be a man, however, inside him he was still the little kid who couldn't hold on much any longer.

"Thank you for everything. I never expected anyone to do something like this for me in my whole life. I didn't think there were people in the world that cared..." Michael just couldn't hold back, his emotions had been so raw lately. Sarah leaned over and let her mothering instincts take over, pulling Michael against her so that he would just let it out. There was a knock on the door.

"Is that you Trent?"

"Yes Mom."

"Come in." Trent could hear Michael and his heart just melted, knowing he was in pain again. He knew Michael was stressed out over everything going on at his house and he was trying to make it seem like it wasn't bothering him as much as it was. But Trent knew better. He just hadn't been able to get Michael to open up to him yet. His mother got up and Trent sat down and took Michael in his arms.

"I'll be in the kitchen, Trent, when you come out." Trent nodded to his mother. He just held Michael and let him cry. It was breaking his heart that he was so unhappy.

"Come on buddy, it's going to be all right. I promise. We'll just sit here until you're ready to get up. No matter what, I'm here for you, just so you know that right?" Michael just nodded his reply and kept holding on, he wasn't crying as much as he had been. Everything in the past couple of days was just catching up to him and he was fighting so hard to be tough, but his world had fallen apart. And all of a sudden he was just feeling helpless and lost.

"It's going to be all right, Michael, honest, I'm not going to leave you, I'm going to stay right here for now until you're ready to move." Trent adjusted himself so that he could hold Michael better than he was. Another twenty minutes elapsed before Michael moved.

"Thanks Trent, I feel a lot better. I'm sorry. I guess I've just let this build up since the other day."

"It's all right, Mikey. I'm here for you. Whatever you need me to help you with, I'm more than glad to help you whenever you need it." Holding Trent's hand Michael followed behind without question. As they entered the kitchen Sarah instructed them to sit down.

"Dr. Davis is coming over, he's our neighbor next door here, Michael. I want you to talk to him for a few minutes and tell him what's going on. I told him the basics of what's been going on but I want you to just talk to him. I asked him to give you something that will help you calm down and help you sleep. As a mother I would be doing the same for my children."

"He's a nice guy Michael, do what mom is telling you to, I like this guy. I've known him a long time, he's always been honest and up front with me when I've needed a doctor to just talk to about anything."

"All right, I will, I guess something might help me to not feel so hopeless."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Michael, he'll be here in a few minutes."

The back door opened slowly and Dr. Davis entered the room. He crossed the room and Michael was taken aback by the fact that the Doctor stood about as tall as himself, perhaps even shorter. Michael was very conscious about his height and he didn't find many grown men having his height. At least it seemed that way to him. He looked comfortably dressed, wearing pants with way too many pockets on them and a casual gold shirt that matched the pants in color. Reaching his hand out to Michael he made his own introductions.

"I'm Dr. Drew Davis Michael, glad to meet you. Sarah called and said you might need some help from me. Why don't we go into her office and we'll talk for a few minutes. Then we can determine if that's really true or not." Dr. Davis headed for her office and Michael turned to follow him.

"My sister is coming, Trent. Will you take care of her until I'm done with Dr. Davis and don't tell her I'm talking to a doctor. She'll just worry and I don't want her to?"

"My mother and I will take of Mandy, Mikey."

"Thanks." They both went into her office. Michael was beginning to feel like this room was problem central, if you had a problem you went here to get it solved. He was beginning to wonder just how bad his problem was, since Trent's mother called a doctor without even asking him. His stomach was in knots just like it always did with most situations that made him feel distressed.

"Sit down, Michael. Sarah gave me a very rough outline of what's taken place in the past few days. But just let me say what I've gotten out of what she has said to make sure we are both on the same page. That okay with you?"

"That's fine."

"She told me that basically your father has found out that you're gay and he has thrown you out of the house. You've landed here as a place to stay, Trent is your current boyfriend, your sister and you are close and she's on her way over here now. And you believe that your mother knows that you're gay and she isn't talking to your father at the moment and you haven't talked to either of your parents since this has developed. Correct?"

"That's it exactly, she hasn't left anything out. Except Mandy and I are close because we're twins."

"How are you feeling about all this, because I know what it means to be adopted by the Sanders. They are very generous with their wealth and sometimes people are very reluctant to accept their kindness, even though they mean well."

"I do feel awkward about that but Sarah has assured me that anything from here on out I am to feel comfortable enough with myself before they buy anything else for me. She did kind of explain a few things today to me because we had a chance to talk for a few minutes, and although I'm not totally okay with it, at least at this point I'm okay with what they have given to me."

"I guess you've been talking to your sister every day since this took place so you know how your parents are reacting?"

"Yes, I'm pretty sure that my mother is okay with it, but she's not talking to my father at all. And she asks my sister what's going on because she knows that we talk every day. I give her messages through my sister. All I have said at this point is that I'm safe and I'm okay. But I haven't talked directly to my mother and I think until I know some things I'm not going to. I'm still uneasy about what she will say. I need to know more before I talk to her."

"When did you realize you were gay, Michael?"

"I was eleven when I began to understand that my attraction was to men and not to women. I realized that everything the other guys were talking about was how I felt about boys instead of girls. And I knew it was something that I just couldn't come out to tell my parents. My father is a Major in the Army, so that just made things worse when it came to me even thinking about telling them. My plan was to just get through high school and have them help me through college before I told them, as long as I could hide it that long. But the other day he started on me about not standing up for myself, which wasn't even the problem at the time, and I was at the end of my rope. Trent doesn't know this but it was because of our relationship that I snapped. Not that anything was said that I had a boyfriend, but for the first time in my life I had someone in my life that mattered to me and my father was making me feel, well, he was making me feel worthless again."

"So did he throw you out or did you walk out first? How do you perceive that period of time and everything that was going on at that moment? As I'm sure this was highly emotional moment for you and him both.

"I would say that it's fifty-fifty. No, now that I think about it: I walked out in the middle and he threatened me not to open the door or I couldn't come back. Then I just walked out and for a while I just walked and walked. When I stopped and realized I didn't know where I was, the only option I had was to call Trent, who at the time I was really mad at, but I didn't know who else to call since I'm new to the area. So I broke down at that point and called Trent and he came and got me. And I think since then I've been trying to process everything and I'm not doing very well. I'm beginning to feel like I'm losing it." Dr. Davis looked at Michael and he smiled.

"You're very astute for a person your age and as far as how you are handling yourself in this situation. Most kids your age would act out or have emotional problems that they wouldn't be able to identify within themselves. I think you know what the problems are and you are able to articulate them very well. That being said, I think I would like to put you on two medications for a short term, I don't think you're going to need them long term. You're too much in control of yourself for that. I want to put you on Cymbalta to help you not feel so helpless or hopeless. And at night I want you to take Xanax right before you go to sleep so that you will sleep through the night. That was another thing that Sarah told me about you: she knew for sure last night you had a really hard time sleeping, so the Xanax will take care of that.

"These aren't going to weird me out or anything?" The doctor laughed.

"No, Michael, they won't, the Xanax will make you sleepy. Don't drive while taking them. You can take one during the day but only if you feel stressed out, cause it will help calm you down. Other than that you won't feel anything. If you do feel weird as you put it: let me know and we'll try another prescription. I live right next door. If you need me just call me and I'll come over or you can come over to my house. Here's my card, all my phone numbers are on there. Don't be afraid to use them. And what we've talked about is between you and me, Michael, I won't be discussing any of this with Sarah or Clay unless you say that it's okay."

"Thanks Dr. Davis that makes me feel a lot better already, believe me, I really do feel better. And it is okay to tell them but only if they ask, okay?" Drew Davis shook his head that he was fine with that.

"Sometimes that's all it takes but I still want you taking those pills and each one is the lowest dosage I can give you. So don't worry, like I said, you won't be on them long." The two of them got up and left the office.

"Let me know how it's going, Michael, and if you need me just call, I'm right next door."

"Thanks Dr. Davis."

Mandy was sitting at the table talking with Trent and Sarah and was having a cup of coffee with Trent. They were just sitting there talking. Michael went over and hugged Mandy.

"It's good to see you Mikey." Mandy stood up and hugged her twin brother and didn't let go immediately. Michael held on as much as she did.

"It's good to see you too, Mandy. That was Dr. Davis. He's put me on two prescriptions for short term until I relax some more and I feel better about things and the way they are going. One is to calm me down and the other is to help me sleep. I feel better just from talking to him."

"I talked to Mom since we talked, Mikey, and she told me to tell you that she understands and doesn't have a problem with you being gay." Michael wanted to cry all over again and then he thought about it and just bit his lip and refused to give into the tears this time. He had had enough and just wanted to stop for a while. But it was a relief that at least his mother was being accepting. On top of talking to Dr. Davis and knowing this piece of information it made Michael feel even better. His shoulders felt a little lighter.

"Let me run upstairs and get changed into my bathing suit, Mandy, come with me. You can change in the bathroom upstairs. Michael took Mandy by the hand and told her to just follow him and off they went to Michael's bedroom. Michael watched Mandy's face as they went through the living room and up the stairs to his bedroom. He opened the door and let Mandy enter first.

"Wow, Michael, this is your bedroom?"

"Mandy, this isn't even half of it. The Sanders have given me so much and they want to help me. For some reason Trent's father seems to think I possess some kind of special quality that impresses him. It hasn't happened yet because I have put my foot down but he wants to put me through school and buy me a car, Mandy! Clay and I are supposed to go car shopping next Saturday. No car payment, the car will be paid in full and the insurance covered. I only have to pay for gas. You see all these boxes and computer? Clay and Sarah went out and bought these yesterday, it's all mine. But I've told them no more until further notice." His sister looked at him with disbelief.

"I'm not kidding and Trent is still supposed to take me shopping for clothes, which includes two tailored suits and a bunch of other things to go with the suits. There's more but we won't go into it, but it's another reason I've had this little meltdown the past like twenty-four hours. I'll explain more about it later but consequently after seeing and talking to Dr. Davis I do feel a lot better. I'm going to get those filled tonight before I go to bed. I want to make sure I have the ones that are supposed to help me sleep. If it hadn't been for Trent sleeping with me I would have never slept last night." Mandy looked at her brother and raised her eyebrows.

"Don't worry, it was Sarah's idea and she gave Trent the okay. Evidently, it something that has happened with the boys when they were growing up and Sarah just felt that it was necessary for Trent to help me get some sleep. Nothing happened, so get your mind out of the gutter, my dear big sister." Michael poked at her sides to attempt tickling her but she could move quicker than him so Michael wasn't able to tickle her as much as he wanted to. He like to call her his big sister because he told her it meant that she was older than him, thus making him the baby of the family. Mandy would call him little brat sometimes.

"Everything you see in here is mine Mandy, the Sanders have been so nice to me. Sit down and we'll talk for a minute. Actually, go in the bathroom and put your bathing suit on and as soon as I have mine on I'll knock on the door so you know it's safe to come out.

"So Dad still isn't saying anything, is he, Mandy?"

"No, I won't lie to you. Mom has come around, Michael, but it's going to take Dad longer, which doesn't surprise me and you can't tell me that you are either. It's going to take him some time with Mom working at him the whole time. I don't know how much patience she'll have with him, Michael, before she tells Dad to fuck off. And I think if he doesn't come around soon enough, Mom will do just that, Mikey." Michael looked at his sister in surprise.

"I hope not, Mandy, I don't want to see them get a divorce over me, but that's their decision, not mine. I wouldn't expect Mom to walk away from him because he can't accept the fact that his son is gay. I think it would bother me knowing I was the cause of the divorce but on the other hand if me being gay makes them get one, I wonder just how strong their marriage was to begin with?" Mandy and Michael just stared at one another and shrugged their shoulders.

"Come on, sis, and we'll go swimming at the indoor pool. Wait until you see this one, you mouth is going to drop the floor, I promise, Mandy, just wait. Remember the grand piano you saw sitting in that little living room?" Mandy nodded her answer. "Trent can play classical music without sheet music, Mandy, he's really good. Actually he's better than good. He said he just doesn't want to play professionally. I do know that he plays at some bar for tips, the music teacher from school saw him play there and that's how Trent got into the school band."

"Wow, I'm impressed that he plays so well. Shit, I'm surprised that he plays and can play classical." They got changed and headed back down the stairs and Mandy gazed across the massive size living room. For its size Mandy was surprised at how much of a comfortable laid back feeling you got from the room itself. Nothing was overdone or too ornate. She got the feeling it was a spot you could kick off your shoes wherever you sat and put your feet up on the oversized coffee table. You got the same feeling throughout the house. Nothing was ornate or obtrusive. Mandy was jealous of Michael and wondered how he had gotten into such a situation, that hadn't been living here long enough for Michael to have found this guy and then somehow hooked up with him. This had only begun after Michael met Trent. Mandy still wasn't sure what had transpired that day after school between her father and Michael. She felt that her brother wasn't telling her everything.. She followed Michael until they reached the kitchen.

"I thought you got lost somewhere, Mikey, I was going to send out the troops for a search and rescue for you two, glad to see you made it back in one piece."

"You know you're really pushing it today mister. I may be short but I have this incredible reach that a certain person has given me permission to use when I see fit and she's sitting reallllyy close to you Trent. It wouldn't take much for me to request for her to make you stand still while I give you a shot upside your head, now would it, Trent?" Michael laughed, as did Sarah. Trent bolted out of the kitchen towards the stairs, head for the pool.

"Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me." Trent chanted the childish tune over and over for Michael and Mandy to hear.

"I hope you can hide at the bottom of the pool, Michael, you have no other place to hide once I get in there."

"Oh sure, all talk, that's all you are Little Buddy! Just a breath of hot air." Mandy was laughing at their childish behavior.

"So help me, Trent, there's a head shot in your future, you're very real near future."

"Mandy, you gotta help me, he's going to throw me in the pool, help me, Mandy, please hurry." Trent popped out from behind a large rubber tree plant, which was across the pool at the other end of the room. Michael took off running towards Trent. The intercom popped on and you could hear Sarah say she hoped Michael wasn't running in the house again. Trent and Michael looked at each other and laughed. Trent pointed at Michael for having been caught. Trent had learned how to run in the house without pounding his feet on the floor, he just didn't let the heels of his feet hit the floor. Michael began to circle and Trent kept the distance between them. Mandy dove into the pool and swam around while she watched her brother be happy with another guy, his greatest dream coming true. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him happy like this. Trent was the first one of the two to jump in. Michael waited for him to get close enough and he jumped on him. The three of them laughed and splashed each other for a while. Mandy was surprised to see Trent take Michael in his arms while he was leaning against the side of the pool. Michael leaned back into Trent and Trent kissed Michael's neck.

"Okay, you two can get a room. No, never mind that idea, there are too many rooms in this house as it is. What was left of the afternoon the three of them horsed around and played in the pool. Before long Mandy made her excuses that it was time for her to go.

"Listen, Mikey, I gotta go, I need to be home and then I'm going out tonight with some friends I've made, you two are welcome to come along if you want to."

"Thanks sis but Trent and I are going to spend the evening watching a movie or two. We need some time together and do some talking, but thanks for inviting us. I'm glad you came over today. Come on and I'll take you back to my room." The three of them gathered all their belongs and headed for the other side of the house. Trent went into his room and Michael and Mandy into his.

"Listen, Mikey, if you need anything, all you have to do is call. I keep my phone on at night in case you need me. So I don't care what time it is, all you have to do is pick up the phone." Michael hugged Mandy and they just held each other both silently understanding that it was the beginning of the end to their close sibling relationship. They would always be twins but not in the same way it had always been. In the past few days their personal world had shifted away from a world reserved for twins. That bond was beginning to slowly open and the fabric of their souls would never be the same.

"I know Mandy, you always have my back, and you always have. You don't know how much I have hung on to knowing that. You are the only one that has always been there for me, maybe with any luck this will work out for Trent and me. It's only just begun for us but college is coming and that's going to be a lot less time together and only if I get into a college that's close enough for me to commute every day. I know there are a lot of them in this area. But getting into one of them that would be good for me is another matter entirely. I'm afraid to even say where I want to go because I don't know how I would even be able to do it. Well, I do, if I accept what the Sanders are offering, but I don't feel comfortable enough at this point in time to accept that." Michael hung his head, folded his arms across his chest and just rocked slowly back and forth.

"It's going to work out, Michael, I'm not sure how at this point but I just know that something will happen to make it all work out. Come here and give your big sister a hug and a kiss and I gotta fly." Mandy and Michael exchanged hugs and gave each other a kiss on the cheek and walked their way out of the house.

"Be good, kiddo, and I'll see you later, keep in touch this weekend and I'll see you in school." Mandy pulled out of the driveway and waved out the window as she pulled away from her little brother. She was worried about him and knew how tired he looked. Mandy tried to convince herself that he just needed some time, time to think and be away from his father and mother, mostly his father. Michael watched her drive away and wondered how she could drive back to that house and live with the man they called "the major" since he was old enough to remember. He couldn't even remember having ever called his father "The Major" in front of their mother.

Michael stood there, leaning against the stonewall that encircled the driveway. He looked around at the size of it and wondered just what he was doing here and how long was he really going to stay. His whole life` he had been taught to take care of himself, the major had taught them not to take handouts or accept gifts like the ones the Sanders were handing him. Everything came with a price, his father had told him repeatedly as he grew up. What was he going to do? He had already accepted them in their eyes. What was it going to cost him to repay them for what they had already done for him? He just looked out on the manicured landscape seeing its simplistic beauty. He began to think about all the work that went into making it look this way and all the time and effort.

"I know this is corny, but a penny for your thoughts." Michael was startled and jumped a little at the sound of Trent's voice.

"Yes, you're right, it is corny but worse than that, haven't you heard of inflation? Is that all I'm worth: a penny for my thoughts, I'm disappointed I'd thought for sure I might be worth a buck or two." Trent walked behind Michael and put his arms around him, resting his chin on Michael's shoulder. He kissed Michael's ear whispering in his ear.

"I just want to remind you that I love you and that it's all going to work out. Now for two bucks, tell me about those thoughts you were thinking about when I interpreted them. And don't hold back on me Little Buddy."

"Why do you insist on calling me that Trent?" Michael hit Trent on his arm as he asked.

"I just think it's you Michael and I like it, think as it as an affectionate term instead of just calling you Michael all the time. Don't tell me to stop either, cuz I won't, you know."

"Why are you so difficultly cute?" Michael leaned his head forward turning to look into Trent's eyes and all that did was have him looking into an amazing color of a blue green sea. Michael had noticed that Trent's eyes shifted in color. From a sky blue you could fall into an almost clear green that reminded you of highly polished glass.

"Because Little Buddy you make it easy for me to be that way." Trent held Michael and leaned back against Trent's chest and they both laughed.

"You're such a bullshitter, Mr. Sanders." Their jovial banter continued for a little while. Michael avoided thinking about his earlier thoughts. He didn't know how to really tell Trent what he had been thinking about. It was just the way he was brought up. Just like Trent was brought up in his style of life. They just came from such different worlds. Trent was used to what he currently had, Michael knew that, when he grew older, these things would become important to him too. Trent knew in the back of his mind that he had to struggle for a few years until he got his trust fund, but Michael didn't have that luxury. What made it worse was that Trent really believed that money didn't matter to him. Right now it didn't but by the time he turned of age to receive that, he would be thinking differently and Michael knew this. Why didn't Trent see this as a problem?

"Okay, you don't have to tell me everything, Michael, just tell me something about what your crazy brain was talking to you about. Can you do that much for me, I'm trying to make you understand that I want to help you, but if you don't let me into that head of yours at least, I won't be able to help you at all, okay Mikey." His heart felt every word that Trent said to him.

"I know Trent, I know. Just know that sometimes it takes me time to talk about some things. I'm half afraid that if I say something now that maybe I shouldn't be worrying about or even thinking about, you won't want to stick around or maybe we'll get into a fight. I know I worry too much sometimes. I just can't help myself during those moments. I don't know when I'll ever learn not to, but everything seems to be in my face and I'm really trying hard to not let it be, so just give me a little time okay, Big Boy?"

"I'll give you all the time you need, Mr. Evans, I'm not going anyway, and that's something that you have to get used to. Think you can do that for me? At least try to get used to all of this, because I think it's so in your face that it's all you see with me."

"No, that's not fair of you to say. I do know where you're coming from, believe me, I do. I just think sometimes you don't think about where you're coming from and how people look at you differently because of that." Michael was becoming edgy with the way this conversation was going because it certainly wasn't the way he wanted it. And it was for this reason that he didn't want to get into what he was thinking about with Trent just then, he needed time to think.

"Look, Trent I don't want to fight with you over this issue now, so let's just drop it. I want to spend tonight with you watch a movie and relax. I do want to talk to you tonight about us. But not about money, not tonight, please."

"All right, Little Buddy, we won't, I promise." Trent turned Michael around so that he was looking at him eye to eye. He leaned down and kissed him and wrapped Michael in his arms. He slid his tongue into Michaels' mouth slightly, prying to gain entry. Michael tried to fight him, a little. After a few more seconds Michael pushed Trent back enough for him to end the kiss.

"Now why would you want to go and do a thing like that?"

"Because you can't control yourself and we're standing in the driveway, not in the house or in a bedroom where it's a little more private."

"What kind of an excuse is that, Michael? We're in my yard, oops, our yard. No one can really see us from the road, no one is around and I'm not going to take your clothes off out here and fuck you on the driveway. That would hurt. Although bending you over this stone wall right now sounds really hot and tempting and man, could I drill you a new asshole in that tight butt of yours." Trent grabbed Michael quickly and pulled him back into a hug and used both his large hands to envelop both cheeks of Michael's ass.

"See what I mean, there you go right away talking dirty getting yourself all boned up. I can feel it, you know. Don't play games with me Stretch!"

"Yeah... mmmm... you got something I'd love to stretch right about now. Oh... I'm sorry did I say that out loud on accident?" Michael pulled back from Trent and flicked his finger right against Trent's growing member and hard. Trent's hips recoiled from the unwanted attention to his dick and Michael just laughed. "That just took the big out of Big Boy." Michael laughed and Trent rubbed at his crotch to make it feel better.

"I'm getting hungry. When do you think we'll eat? I need to go to the Pharmacy, will you take me?" Trent looked at Michael with a devilish grin on his face. "It's going to cost you." Michael backed up about a foot from Trent and he poked him in the stomach a few times really hard and Trent started laughing. "I'm sorry, it's going to cost me what?"

"Stop, okay, come on, let's go inside and tell Mom we're going and then we'll see if she needs anything and you ask Joshua if he needs anything. I always ask him but they never ask me to pick up anything at the market." Trent took Michael's hand and they walked into the house. Trent pushed Michael towards the kitchen and swatted his ass as he passed by Trent. Without thinking it just came out of his mouth. Michael looked at him and rather loudly said, "It's not your ass yet."

"MICHAEL EVANS and TRENT SANDERS! Michael wanted to die and turned about as red as a fire engine. Trent totally lost it and fell on the floor, laughing hysterically. Michael's hands flew up to his face to hide himself from Sarah's glare. He heard her begin try to suppress her giggle and he began to breathe.

"It's a good thing Clay didn't hear that or you'd both probably be in trouble."

"He did hear it." Saying so as Clay rounded the corner and walked into the kitchen. Now Michael really wanted to die and Trent was holding his sides they hurt so much from laughing so hard. He stopped walking and as the scene before him unfolded, he also joined in the laughter. It lasted all of about five minutes.

"I can say that I'm sure it was unintentional, Michael." Clay wrapped his arm around Michael's shoulder and he felt better immediately. "I heard you had a rough night and morning today, Michael. First of all, can I call you Mike? I prefer the shorter version of your name." Michael shook his head in agreement. "I'm concerned that you're getting too stressed out, so I promise to ease up on you, you tell me when you're ready to make the next step. My wife says my eagerness sometimes can be overwhelming and I know she's right, so you let me know when you're ready, okay?"

"Yes, sir, I promise I will." Taking him by surprise Clay wrapped his arms around Michael and gave him a hug. "I don't want you having any added stress and if I can help do something to fix that problem and reduce that stress than I promise you I will. You're probably still covered by your father's insurance, but just in case: here's your new medical card for medical insurance, this will cover you anywhere you go and if you have a copay of any kind, tell them to send the bill to me. Your prescriptions shouldn't cost you anything when you get them filled. So, before dinner why don't you two go and get those two filled that Dr. Davis gave Michael earlier?"

"Do you need anything at the store Mom?"

"No I don't think so, do you have money on you in case the medicine costs Michael anything? If not charge it on the card if you have to." Trent stood at the door waiting for Michael to come out of the kitchen. Two seconds later Michael came from the kitchen with a piece of paper in his hand. Trent took Michael's hand and the two of them were out the door.

"Did they actually want something?

"No, its my prescriptions and I do need a few things for myself is that okay with you?" Trent was surprised by Michael's attitude a few seconds ago. He was happy and laughing. Trent thought it might be quite a ride to the store.

Neither said anything as they got into the truck. Trent pulled out of the driveway and started down the street. At the stop sign he pulled over.

"First of all, would you please put on your seatbelt and second what's the matter. I can feel and it feels like you are wound up like a violin bow, so what's the matter. I'm not moving until you put the belt on and then start talking to me and tell me what the problem is." Trent was trying to be patient with Michael. He knew he was still on edge but the switch was just too quick, something made the switch flip over. Michael sat there after putting the seat built on.

"I told you, I don't want to talk about it right now, Trent and that's the end of the conversation. Now let's go or take me home, those are your choices. Discussing anything is not an option so don't even go down that road in any way, shape or form, does that make it perfectly clear?" Michael wasn't even looking at Trent. He was just looking forward not seeing anything. Trent put the truck in gear and pulled up to the stop sign. The ride to the pharmacy and parked. Michael got out of the truck and walked into the store. Trent stayed where he was. About a half hour later Michael came out and got back into the truck with his prescription and a few bags.

Trent didn't move and just sat there looking at the wall in front of him. Now he was going to be the one that didn't say anything and waited to see what happened. It took Michael about five minutes.

"Are we going to go back to the house or do you want me to walk?"

"Yes we are going back to the house, no you aren't going to walk and we aren't moving until you tell me what the fuck I did to get the treatment I just got on the way here. And we ARE discussing, NOW does that make it perfectly FUCKING clear? With his eyes opened wide and his mouth agape Michael just looked at Trent in disbelief. The two remained silent as each searched the other for a common ground to start talking. Michael hung his head.

"I owe you an apology, Trent. I'm sorry. I promise to discuss this whole conversation after dinner while we watch television or watch a movie okay?" Michael put the bags in the back seat and crawled over to Trent. "Will you drive me home please? And can I kiss you to say I'm sorry, so I know you won't be mad at me? I don't like making you mad and I didn't do it on purpose, I really didn't." Trent leaned in to Michael and they gave each other a kiss. Michael started to move but Trent put him arm on Michael's leg to hold him in place.

"I can't help you if you don't let me in, Babe, that's all I'm going say to you for now, and you're right: we'll talk about this later. Let's just forget about it for now, okay?"

"Okay, now take me home, Big Boy, and please."

"Your wish is my command, oh Little Buddy." Trent kept his hand on Michael's leg the whole way home. Michael kept his body as close as he possibly could all the way.

"I'll get the bags when we get out, Mikey, you just wait for me to open your door, okay? Hey... I love you." Michael smiled demurely. Trent scooped up the bags with one hand and walked around to let Michael out of the truck. They walked into the house and Trent put the bags down and pulled out Michael's prescriptions. Reading each one he opened the Cymbalta and handed one to Michael.

"Go and take this. I read up after the doc said he was giving you them. They're going to take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to start working. Do not stop or forget to take these Michael, all right?" Michael took the pill and headed out to the kitchen to get something to drink.

"I'm going to run these bags up to his bedroom and I'll be right back down, tell him, oh never mind I'll tell him." He picked up the bags and as he passed the kitchen, yelled in to Michael that he was taking the bags up and coming right back down to sit at the table.

"Come on, Michael, sit down, dinner will only be about ten minutes from now according to Andy and he's usually pretty prompt." Sarah looked at Michael, just to see how he looked after a day of rest and a visit with his sister. She had thought he looked a little better than he did this morning, his eyes didn't look so sunken in and dark.

"How did you like your day off? Sarah tells me that you got to skip school today and just kick back, sleep late. Must have felt good." Trent chimed in as he walked back into the dining room.

"It was awesome Dad, we didn't do anything all day, sweet, it was just sweet."

"I have to agree with him, at the same time I hate missing school, always makes me feel guilty when I know there's really nothing wrong with me."

"I disagree, Michael, you're always going to have some place to be, some place to go, a schedule that you have to keep. But there are times when you just have to say: the hell with it all, kick up your heels and relax. I do admire your commitment to that philosophy and understand how that feels. It will be a major part of your life as you move forward, Michael, especially in business. I have a question and it's just a simple question. I'm not trying to read into or have any other purpose than mere conversation, just telling you that, so you won't get the wrong idea. I know what you want to study in college. Have you given any thought as to where you'd like to go, Michael?"

Michael heard what he said but couldn't help feeling that he was asking this for reasons other than he claimed. He hated the way he thought automatically sometimes.

"I don't know yet. I have a wish list and a might-be-better list. I have three or four on each list." All the while Michael thought he knew the next question out of Clay's mouth was going to be what's number one on your wish list. "But right now I'm just thinking whether I should stay in this area or move to another city to give my parents some more time to be away from me and let them work it out about how they are going to deal with Trent and me. Mostly me though."

"Well don't worry about it for now, just let time go by but I am glad to hear that you have a list made of potential schools. If you have any questions that I might be able to help you with, just ask me and if I don't have the answer we'll work on getting one." Michael thought for sure that Clay would ask him for the names of schools he had on his list. In a way he was glad that he didn't ask.

"What are you two boys up to tonight?" Trent deflected the answer to himself.

"We have decided to stay home and watch a movie or two, maybe order a pizza later on, unless Andy's still here. Then I'll have him make us something but he might be gone by that time. Depends on when this bottomless pit needs refilling." Trent laughed at himself and patted his stomach at the same time, looking down at it and extending it at the same time. Andy began to bring out dinner for every one; he got assistance from one of the others who work in the house. Michael couldn't help but be impressed and awestruck at the idea that as long as he lived in this house this was the norm. Dinner was good and done with before he knew it. Michael couldn't remember sitting down to a dinner and being this relaxed and comfortable. Every one participated in the conversation, including Randy, Yvonne and Danny. Michael was most impressed with Yvonne, who was smart and had a quick wit about her. She certainly could dish it out to her older brothers, just as fast as they could deliver it. Several times she had caught Trent and Randy off guard and with pinpoint accuracy verbally assaulted the both of them. Much to the delight of her mother and father he noticed. Michael wondered what it would be like to sit down with every one of the family here. He had never had dinner at a house like this and he was sure this was normal. Perhaps because of the number in the house that this occurred, he didn't know, he just knew that he liked it and looked forward to more of them.

Trent and Michael excused themselves and went upstairs to see what movies Trent had in his room and then they were going to head to the movie room as Trent called it. When they got to it, Michael was sure they could sell tickets. It seemed like a theater but more comfortable. They had couches and reclining chairs in a big semi-circle and then a few recliners in front of them. He wasn't sure how many could sit there but he knew they could all sit there tonight and no one would be uncomfortable. Trent grabbed a blanket out of one of the closets and threw it on the back of the couch.

"What do you think we need a blanket for, sir." Michael looked at Trent with a knowing look.

"Don't even think it, that's not what I got it out for. I got it out because sometimes this room can get cool when you're just sitting in here, especially at night. I have turned up the heat just a little. I got it in case you got cold so you'll have something to wrap up in, smart ass." Michael felt a little guilty because by the tone of Trent's' voice he thought he was wrong about his assumption. The major's tape recorder clicked on in Michaels' head. It said: don't assume anything, it only makes an ass out of you and me. And the machine got quiet again. Michael now felt like an ass.

"I'm sorry Trent, I didn't mean that." Trent looked at Michael and could read his face.

"Don't apologize to me for that, Michael, usually you'd be right, you know the kind of horn dog I am. But this time I wasn't. But don't ever apologize to me, Michael. There was a movie made years ago, I couldn't tell you their names, it's like ancient, but there was a line in the movie and it was: love means never having to say you're sorry. I know the movie took place in Boston but I don't remember the rest. I can only remember the line because my mother and I talked about it and it left an impression in my head. I know it sounded corny but when you think about, isn't it true? If you're in love with someone and you respect him or her as they do you, then you shouldn't be doing anything that you're going to end up apologizing for." Michael was touched by his sentiments and talking about the movie like that. Especially after the little fight they just had going to the pharmacy.

"That was sweet, Trent, and I would say you're right about that. Think we can always be like that?"

"I don't see why not." Trent sat down in the corner of the couch and Michael leaned against his chest and stretched his legs out across the couch.

"Trent, what do you want to do when we leave high school? I know you want to be a carpenter. Are you going to go to some kind of college that teaches you that kind of thing?"

"I'm not sure yet, Michael, I know I probably should, but part of me just wants to get into the field and start working. What if after I get started working it I decide it isn't what I want after all? Then what am I going to do? At least working in the field I won't have wasted the money on college.'

"Trent, you never waste money on college, unless you get half way through and quit. Then it was a waste of money. But that's another good thing about going to college it gives you a taste of what you want to do and if you change your mind, you can change your major and you won't have lost your credits or wasted money." Trent just looked at Michael, unsure of why he wanted to talk about this.

"Why the interest in this?" Michael didn't want to push Trent but he wanted to know what he was planning for after school, is working what he really wanted and not going to school, didn't he realize how important school was for them?"

"Because I'd like to know what you're planning for your future, Trent, I don't want to see you struggle. You're smart and I'm not trying to talk you out of being a carpenter but they have degrees you can get that give you better paying jobs than just being a carpenter."

"What do you mean by just being a carpenter?" Now Michael knew instantly that Trent was pissed off at him.

"Trent I didn't mean anything by it, I'm just trying to explain to you that a degree in the construction industry will get you further as you get older. You'll get into positions of not just building, but learning to run a business in that field, being the big cheese and having people do what you want. Like what about opening your own construction company one day. I think it's something you'd be good at and by going to school you'll have the knowledge you would need. Plus you would learn how to read blue prints and how to build houses like I know you want to, please don't be mad, I just want you to be more than just a carpenter. I'd be really proud to go to school with you, Trent, and see you get a degree in some part of the construction industry. More than that I'd like to see you open your own company someday and have your company build our house if we're still together." Michael was fidgeting and was nervous wondering if Trent realized what Michael had just implied.

"What do you mean by if we're still together? Do you know something I don't? Are you trying to tell me something about us, why wouldn't we be together? Are you going someplace and you aren't telling me yet? Are you going away from here to go to school? You aren't leaving me, are you?" Trent felt sick to his stomach; all these thoughts were running through his head at a million miles an hour. He scooted to the front of the couch and turned to face Michael.

"Slow down Trent, I'm not planning on going anywhere, no, I'm not leaving you." Michael watched as Trent almost crumbled before him and it almost broke his heart.

"I'm just wondering what your plans are with your life Trent, like where do you see yourself in ten years' time? And where do you see us?" Michael held Trent's hands as he watched the man he was falling deeper in love with kneel before him. He could see that he was concentrating on his thoughts and what he had to say exactly. Time seemed to slow down coming to a standstill.

"First of all I see you and me together in ten years, Michael, there is not even a question in my mind about that one. Second, I see myself working in the construction field. I think I would like to have my own company to build unique houses. I haven't shown these yet but I have some drawings and layouts of houses done that I have never shown anyone. I want you to look at them and tell me what you think."

"I'd be honored to see them, Trent, go get them and you can show them to me."

"You won't laugh at me will you, some are kind of sketchy but those were made when I was young and as I got older you can see the improvements in my drawings. Just wait here. I have to run up to my room to get them. Be back in a few seconds, just hold that spot right there." He pointed a spot next to him on the couch. Trent sprinted up and dashed out of the room. It didn't take him long to return and with him he had a long cylinder tube that he emptied the couch and sat next to Michael. He rolled out the papers and flattened them so Michael could see them without them rolling up.

"This is one of the first drawings that I did of a house I liked. It has changed over the years and this is the one I want to live in some day with the man I love." Michael knew from his tone that these drawings meant a lot to Trent. He handled the drawings like they were precious pieces of art. Michael was impressed as Trent slowly flipped each page pausing between each one so that Michael could inspect each one.

"Does your father know what you want to do in your life, Trent?" Trent hung his head and kind of mumbled his response.

"You haven't told him have you, Trent?" Trent shook his answer in the negative.

"Why haven't you told him, Trent? He needs to see what you've done here. For someone with no training these are pretty good and the layout of each one is awesome. With a little work and polish which school can provide you'd be awesome, Trent. You could make a name for yourself, I know you could. You have to show these to your Dad and tell him what you want. I know your father will help you, Trent. If he's willing to help me, then there's no way he won't help you."

"You don't understand him like I do, Michael, you haven't known him long enough like I have. Don't get me wrong. I love my father, I really do, but there's an unspoken expectation of what I should be doing with my life when it comes to my father." Michael understood what Trent was talking about all too well.

"You're talking to the guy that has a father who is the master of expectations. Trent, I'm just asking you to trust me and show him these and talk to him about going to school to do this, if this is truly what you want, then you have to tell him and show him these. You have to promise me that you'll do that for me, please." Michael could see the hesitation in Trent's eyes. "I'll go with you if you want me to, I'll stand by you, Trent. Just like you have held my hand, I'll hold yours but sometime in the next week I want you to show him those, promise me?" Michael held his gaze as he locked eyes with Trent.

"All right, Little Buddy, I'll promise to try but I'm not saying that I won't need your help. I'm probably going to need it. I know my father is kind of hoping that I will take over the family business all of my brothers don't want to and even though I know I don't have to and he's never said I have to, it's just an unspoken expectation, like I said before."

"All right, then you just tell me when you want to do it. But you have until Thursday night since tonight is Friday, okay?" Trent felt kind of relieved knowing that Michael was willing to stand by him and even when he showed his father, he felt like he had a mission to complete. He just hoped that he wouldn't disappoint Michael in the process.

They talked during the movies they watched and had a great time just being together and enjoying each other's company for the night. They fell asleep towards the ending of their second movie. Trent was the one that got them off the couch and headed up the steps towards their bedrooms.

"I'll see you in the morning, Little Buddy, tomorrow we are going horseback riding, screw work, we are both calling in tomorrow and enjoying this time which we won't have that often so we might as well enjoy it while we can, even if it is only for two days. I promise we'll do something special for spring vacation, we'll go someplace nice and spend a few days having fun." Trent hugged Michael hard and kissed him good night. As usual Michael melted into Trent as soon as he started kissing him and he felt his mouth being invaded. Michael pushed and then spun Trent around and pushed him towards his bedroom.

"Get your ass in bed and forget that tonight, buster, don't even think that thought process through, it isn't going to happen." Trent mocked Michael with a groan of displeasure smiling the whole time. They both hit the bed within minutes of each other and both were out just as quickly. Michael was hoping that his conversation with Trent had help build his confidence some, so that Trent would tell his father without Michael's help, but he wasn't so sure that Trent could do it. How was he going to handle Trent if he didn't go to his father by Thursday dinnertime? Michael knew this was something that Trent could do and really would be good at it especially after the drawings he had seen.

The boys slept in Saturday morning until almost eleven. Sarah was glad that Michael had rested without the use of his new pills the doctor had prescribed. As much as she liked Drew Davis, she didn't want to see kids on prescriptions of any kind. She felt bad for Michael. It was too sad that his father felt the way he did. She was beginning to think about the possibility of talking to Michael's father directly and if it would do any good. She remembered talking to two other parents after Trent declared that he was gay. She knew it helped then but this was different, Michael's father was a Major in the military and she knew that his career was most important to him. She knew what kind of man he was from the way Michael had talked to her. She wasn't so sure it would work.

After showering and getting ready to go, the boys came down for breakfast and just to hang out for a little while until they went horseback riding. Michael was still nervous about going riding. He was intimidated by the size of horses. Trent was beginning to realize just how much Michael was leery of riding an animal that size. As they sat there having coffee and watching the television, Michael was unable to sit still.

"What's your problem, Mikey?"

"What do mean?"

"You're jumping around like a fish out of water." Trent took Michael's hand and looked at him trying to read his face. Something was eating him and he wanted to know what it was. He wanted to help Michael, no matter what. He hated seeing him in distress of any kind.

"Come on, Mikey, just tell me what it is, it can't be any worse than telling Coach that we were gay. Nothing can be as serious as that, unless there's something you aren't telling me. Is there?"

"Is there what?"

"Is there something you aren't telling me? And in about five seconds I'm going to be the one that smack's somebody up side the head, if that SOMEBODY doesn't tell ME what is going on." Trent shook Michael's hands to make his point.

"I feel like an idiot if I tell you, you're going to think I'm a wuss and I hate feeling like that, Trent, and I hate being in that position. And I know you're right and I should just tell you."

"Well, then just tell me. Everyone is gone now; even Joshua and Andy aren't here at the moment. So there is no reason for you to not tell me."

"Okay, as much as I hate to admit this.... oh shit, Trent, I feel like a little kid right about now."

"That's why I call you Little Buddy."

"NOW is not the time to use that name, Trent, you're not helping me that way." Michael was getting pissed now with the name. He was going to have Trent retire that name, permanently. Trent could see that Michael was deep in thought, perhaps he had gone too far in pushing Michael this time.

"Sorry, I'm just trying to help you Michael, please believe me, I just want to help." Trent rubbed Michael's hand's hoping it would help him relax.

"I'm afraid of going horseback riding, Trent, and I don't mean just a little, it's a lot more than that." Trent started quietly laughing and Michael got pissed.

"IT'S NOT FUNNY, TRENT NICHOLAS!" Michael purposely used the name that he knew Trent didn't like but he wanted Trent to know that this wasn't funny to him, he was afraid of horses. They were huge animals and in Michael's perspective being short Michael saw them differently than Trent did. And this was something that Trent wasn't taking into consideration. Trent was tall enough to almost look directly into the horse's eyes at the same level. Michael had to look and reach up to pat the horse's head if he wanted to. Trent looked at Michael and could see the frustration in his eyes.

"You know what: let's go for a little walk for a few minutes." Trent got up and took Michael by the hand and pulled him from the chair.

"Come on, let's go and take a closer look at the horses. We are going to work on your being afraid of horses because I don't want you being that way. I love horses, Michael, and I want you to enjoy them as much as I do. I don't want you being afraid of them, because then you won't enjoy them and it's something I want us to do together. And some day I want us to have our own horses when we have a place big enough." Trent just kept walking, pulling Michael along and not allowing him an option of stopping. As they neared the stable Trent began to feel resistance from Michael. He stopped where they were.

"Will you wait right here for me and not move, just watch me?" Michael just looked at Trent, unsure if he wanted to go through with this or not.

"Okay, tell you what: just go over to the table on the patio and sit on the table and watch me?" Trent wanted to give Michael some extra space. He turned Michael around and pushed him towards the patio.

"Go on, just sit on the table. I'll be back in a few minutes." Michael walked towards the table and Trent headed toward the barn. A few moments later Michael watched Trent bring out a bench from the barn and placed it by the fence and returned to the barn. Trent turned and held up his finger to indicate that he would be back in a minute. About five minutes later Trent walked out with one of the horses and led him to the fence by the bench. He came out of the pen and walked over to Michael.

"I want you to come with me. The horse can't move he's tied up. I want you to come with me and stand on the bench so that you'll be taller than the horse, will you trust me on this one and just come with me. I'll hold your hand the whole time?" Michael nodded his consent. Trent took his hand and walked towards the pen and helped him step up on the bench. Michael was looking down at the horse.

"What's his name?" Michael was watching the horse as he gently lifted his head and looked at Michael.

"His name on paper is Kings Domain, but we call him Danny for short." Michael laughed and looked down at Trent.

"Hey, you're shorter than me, Squirt." He couldn't help but laugh as he reached down and put his hand on Trent's shoulder. Trent smiled.

"I want you to think about the horse in the same way that you're looking at me now. Notice how he doesn't look so big anymore?" Michael looked and noticed that he was looking down at the horse and he didn't look as threatening.

"Now I want you to get down at this end by the horse and just stand by the fence. I'm just going to move the bench away from right here. I'm not going anywhere. And just reach out and pat the horse gently by his ears. He won't bite you. Danny is very gentle, that's why I brought him out here for you. Michael stood there just patting Danny in the same place but nowhere else.. The horse seemed to sense Michael's apprehension and stood still looking at Michael while he gently stroked him between his eyes.

"Now take my hand and come with me." Trent led Michael over to the gate and had him open it and walked him inside and closed it.

"Now I want you to walk over to Danny with me and just do the same thing you just did, just pat his nose and down the side of his neck. You don't have to do anything else at that point, just pat him and talk to him, he likes being talked to." Michael followed behind Trent a few steps but continued walking towards Danny. Once they stood next to him Trent took Michael's hand and placed it on Danny's neck. Trent stood behind Michael and kept his hand on Michael's as he stroked Danny's neck. After a few moments he let go and let Michael do it himself and slowly he backed up a few steps from. Michael held the bit and Trent began to back up a little and slowly began to walk around Danny until he was on the other side. Michael looked over and realized that Trent had gone around.

"See that, you see how gentle and how quiet he is?"

"He's really soft isn't he?" Trent chuckled

"Well, yes, you could say that." Now came the big step.

"I want you to sit in the saddle now Michael. I'll leave Danny tied to the post. You won't go anywhere, he's just going to stand here like we're doing now. Michael's eyes got bigger, but he didn't tell Trent he wouldn't. Trent came back around to help Michael if he needed help getting up.

"Put your foot in the stirrup and with one hand hold on to the horn on the saddle." Trent pointed to the horn. "Use the horn to hold on to and pull yourself up and help throw your leg up and over and sit your fine ass in the saddle." Michael laughed as he looked at Trent.

"Can you do anything without bringing sex into the conversation?"

"No, but that's beside the point. Now put your damn foot in the stirrup and do what I told you to do. I'm right here and if I see you need it, I will help you. Now get up there and in the saddle, Mister." Trent stopped laughing as he kept pointing at Michael to get on the horse.

"I don't know about this, Trent, are you sure he's not going anywhere? What if he moves around while I'm trying to get up there?"

"He won't. Danny is very patient and calm. It's another reason I brought him out here for you. I wouldn't bring Flashback out here for you, he's a handful even for me and I know what I'm doing, I just have to get on him and let him know whose boss. Now you can do this, Mikey, I know you can and if I didn't think you could, I wouldn't make you get up there. Now come on, I'm right here. Do you trust me?"


"Then come on. I'll be right here to help you if I see you need it." Trent just looked at Michael and kept his gaze locked into Michael's eyes. Michael grabbed hold of the horn and put his foot into the stirrup. After a few seconds he squatted down a little and used his weight to help lift him up and got his foot over the saddle and sat down.

"All right, Mikey, that was great. You did that like a pro. You looked like you've done this before, that was great, Michael." Michael beamed and sat a little taller in the saddle. He felt like a million bucks, sitting on this huge animal beneath him. Holding the horn he reached down with his other hand and patted Danny, telling him he was a good boy for letting him get up without a problem.

"Now, we are going to walk around the pen and I'm going to hold the reins and you just hold the horn for now while we walk. When you feel comfortable just relax your hands and put them by your side. A horse knows when your uptight and then can tell when you're tense. So when it comes to riding you need to learn to be relaxed. When you ride, it will be a good experience for both you and the horse, I promise." Danny pulled the rein from the fence and began walking around the pen.

"Now I'm going to let go and give you the reins. When you want to steer the horse or lead him, just pull the reins to the right or left, depending on which way you want to go. Obviously in the pen you're only going one direction. When you want the horse to go, you use your heels to kick him in the sides and just let your feet follow the way the stirrup will pull your feet back and up a little. That's the spot you want to kick them. The harder you kick them the faster you'll get them to go. Also by kicking and yelling at the same time you can get them to take off faster. For now just test yourself in the pen. Danny won't run in the pen because he knows he's in a limited space, but you can get him to walk just by doing what I told you. Try gently kicking him and then increase that kicking motion until he moves." Danny gave the reins to Michael and stepped away from rider and horse. Michael looked at Trent and took a deep breath and gently kicked Danny. Nothing happened.

"Try harder."

"I won't hurt him, will I?"

"You aren't going to hurt him, Michael, trust me, you're too worried right now to hurt him. Just do it a little harder this time." Michael tried again and Danny just picked his head up quickly and moved around. Trent nodded to Michael for him to do it again. The third time worked for Michael and Danny began to move. Michael grabbed for the horn with a look of surprise on his face. Trent laughed at him as he watched him begin walking.

"That's it, Mikey, you did it! See how easy that was? Now keep going around I want you to keep walking him around a few times."

"Are you sure? How about just once?"

"No, you can't do it just one time. I want you to do it at least six times around the pen. If you want him to go faster, just kick him and he'll trot in the pen but that's as fast as he'll go. If he starts to trot for you when you kick him I want you to stand up a little using the stirrups to lift you up off the saddle a little, but only if you want to let him trot with you." Trent watched Michael trying to determine if he wanted to let Danny trot or not. He decided to wait. Walking was good for now. After four laps Michael turned the corner and tried kicking Danny a little harder but nothing happened, he tried again with the same result. Michael knew he had to kick harder but feared hurting the horse. He didn't care what Trent said. He did his six laps just walking Danny and himself but he realized that he was comfortable and no longer was as afraid as he was before they began.

"How do I get him to stop?" Trent walked into the pen. As they got closer, he told Michael to gather the slack in the reins and then after that to pull up hard on the reins and just tell Danny to stop and he would. Michael pulled up on the reins gathering the slack and pulled the reins taunt.

"Stop, Danny!" Danny stopped right next to Trent. Trent reached up and held on to bridle.

"You did great, Michael, you looked like you were enjoying yourself. I see you tried to get him to trot. He didn't want to do that for you?"

"Well, I couldn't bring myself to kick him any harder. I felt like I was going to hurt him if I kicked too hard."

"Don't worry. This being your first time I think you were great. Now I want you to dismount. Use the horn for leverage again. And just do everything in reverse of what you did to get on. Michael stood up and thought for a second and did like Trent had said and dismounted from Danny.

"Yes!" Michael felt great. He had done what he thought he would never do. Trent took Danny by the reins and pointed him towards the barn and patted his hindquarter and told him to go home. Danny began walking towards the barn and Michael watched in amazement as he watched.

"That's so cool, does he do that all the time? Or is it just you that he listens to?"

"No, he'll do it for anyone. If you ever go riding by yourself and get lost in the woods, just tell Danny to go home with a gentle firm voice. Let go of the reins and hold the horn and he'll bring you back to the barn. Works every time. So anytime you want to go riding, just tell someone in the barn to saddle him up and go and when you get back just bring him to the barn and the guys will take care of him for you."

"Thanks for being patient with me, Trent. I would have never gone probably. Thanks, Big Boy, I mean it." Michael put his arms around Trent and just let his head rest on his chest. Trent just held him close to him and gently rocked side to side. Michael closed his eyes and totally relaxed and Trent could feel his body let go of the stress he had earlier.

"I could stand here all day, Buddy, you know that? You feel really good, just lying against my chest like this."

"Me to, Big Boy."

"Since you said you'd call me 'Buddy' now and not 'Little Buddy', you can be Big Boy and I'll just stay with Buddy, I like that better and I won't call you Trent Nicholas anymore. Sounds good to you?"

"That sounds fine, Mikey, I like Buddy just as much. Now how about we go inside and get ready to go riding, I think you're ready to go now. What about you, if we just walk? Do you think you want to go? I promise: no running, and we'll have a good time. I have a surprise lined up for you."

"What surprise, what have you done, Trent Nicholas?"

"Oh ouch he used the dreaded two name call me on the carpet name. I'm so shaking in my boots, Buddy." He poked Michael in his sides and he began laughing and hitting Trent to get him to stop. But Trent wouldn't let up. By now they were rolling around on the ground wrestling more than tickling each other. Michael didn't have a chance against Trent's height and weight advantage. Within a few minutes Trent was straddling Michael's hips and had his arms pinned down.

"Now tell me exactly what do you think you're going to do to me, Mister? Think you can beat me? What did you just call me? Oh yea, Big Boy, that's right. Well, Mikey, I'm going to be nice and let you up because we know that I won already. And you are going to promise to be good, right?" Michael nodded his head yes with a gleam in his eye. He had other ideas. Trent began getting up off his hips, still holding his arms. As he got up further he released Michael's right hand slowly.

"Remember: you promised and you wouldn't break your promise to me now, would you? Because it will just be worse if you do, Michael, and that's my promise to you." Michael nodded his head again, agreeing with Trent still, with a gleam still in his eyes.

"Okay, I'm getting all the way up now and don't forget: you promised. That's like giving your word and I know you wouldn't break your word, Michael." The closer he got to letting go of Michael, the more hesitant he became. For a moment he held perfectly motionless, gauging Michael's movements while staring into his eyes, still unsure.

"Are you getting up or not, Trent, I don't feel like being on the ground forever." Trent still saw the gleam in his eyes and his gut told him that there would be retribution for him poking Michael sides. Of that he was certain.

"Okay I'm going to get up because I trust you, Michael Wayne Evans, and you promised...."

"Geez, Trent, how many times are you going to ask. Just get that sexy but off my crotch before I pop a boner!" Trent couldn't help but start laughing and let go of Michael because of his outrageous statement. It wasn't like Michael to say something like that so loudly or boisterous. As Trent let go of Michael, he pulled himself up off the ground and quickly pulled away from Trent.

"You, Big Boy, are knee deep in shit. You don't know when, you won't know how, but payback is a bitch!" Michael was the one laughing now and bolted towards the back door of the house. Trent got up the rest of the way and as soon as he took a step he fell, giving Michael an advantage in getting away. Michael was in the kitchen and swirled around to lock the door. Making sure that Trent was slowed down as he made his escape. He could hear him at the back door, yelling to be let in and remembered that Joshua and Andy wouldn't be in until later. As far as he knew no one else was at home and he chuckled to himself as he ran up the stairs to his bedroom. He locked his door and sat on his bed laughing at himself feeling the adrenaline rush for escaping any further attempts of Trent's assaults. He heard Trent at the top of the landing and he called out for him.

"Michael, come on babe, Michael, are you up here?" He could hear him, as Trent got closer to his door.

"Come on, Mikey, talk to me. I'm not going to do anything, I promise. I know you'll kill me if I do. Come on, Mikey, let me in. I promise and no, I'm not kidding, I really mean it."

"Trent, you are so full of shit right now, I can't even believe you're attempting to con me into opening this door for you. I wasn't born yesterday, you know. You're just trying to get me to open the door and the more I think about it, the more I know I can't trust you Trent Nicholas Sanders." Michael chuckled quietly not wanting Trent to hear him. He had to contain himself so that Trent wouldn't catch him laughing. He knew if Trent heard him, he'd use against him.

"Go take a shower, Trent, and a COLD ONE would probably be the best idea for you right now. You're such a horn dog, Trent, don't tell me you're all innocent now. There's no one home so we're all alone and you thought I didn't notice. Does that sum it up for you or do I need to draw a map for you?" He bit his finger to keep from being heard. Trent stood there dumbfounded at Michael's accusations. He hadn't thought of that, but he thought he'd make good use of the information that Michael just outlined. How perfect, no one was home and he knew that his parents wouldn't be home until suppertime. Which meant Randy, Danny and Yvonne wouldn't be here. And since Peter his older brother wasn't home from school by now he wouldn't be coming home at all. Sweet.

"Mikey, that's crazy. I wasn't even thinking about that, you're the horn dog. I planned for us to take the horses and go riding this afternoon. I even had Joshua make us a basket for a surprise lunch on our ride. If you don't believe me, we can go downstairs in the kitchen and I'll show you the basket." This would get Michael out of the bedroom, but now he would have to be good, at least until he showed him the basket. Perhaps it would give him a chance to think of a plan to get into his pants another way.

"I'm not coming out there, Trent. If there's a basket, go and get it, and show me. You can put it in front of my door. Now go and get it."

"I'll be right back, Mikey, just hold that thought." Trent darted towards the stairs, yelling at Michael to come out in the hallway and wait for him to come back with the basket. Michael cautiously looked down the hallway, praying that Trent had really gone downstairs. He tried to listen for any noise that might indicate that Trent didn't really go downstairs like he claimed. A few seconds went by and he could hear Trent in the living room.

"I'm coming, Mikey, I'll be there in ten seconds. I have the basket with me to show you." Michael could hear him on the stairs and he moved back some so that he had time to make a dash for his bedroom if Trent was lying to him. At that moment Trent reached the landing and Michael could see him holding the basket. He was still dubious about Trent's intentions and being home alone.

"Don't make any fast moves, Trent, or I'll be in my bedroom with the door locked and we'll be right back where we started." Damn, Trent thought, he was going to have to be on his best behavior and really sweet talk Michael.

"Look, here's the basket. I'm going to put it on the floor and go back down the stairs a little so that you can still see me. Take the basket and see what's inside. Just wait a minute until I move back." Michael watched Trent as he went back towards the steps and the landing before stopping.

"Not there, go down a few more and lean against the railing where I can see you." Trent left the landing and went down a few more.

"That's good. Just stand right there and don't move. If I get a hint of movement I'll be in the bedroom with the basket and enjoying it myself while you're locked out, got it?"

"Okay, Mikey, I promise not to move and I'll even sit down so that if I do move you'll have plenty of time to make it to your bedroom. Now just check the basket and you'll know I wasn't kidding and then you are going to owe me an apology." Michael approached the basket slower than a turtle moved. Trent was trying hard not to move a muscle. Michael opened the basket and could definitely see that it was full of packages and plates and silverware. He was having second thoughts about his initial thoughts and at the same time he was a little disappointed that Trent was obviously telling the truth about there actually being a surprise. Michael felt like a heel for having thought Trent was being devious this time. Now he had to apologize. Damn, he didn't want to have to do that.

"Well, I made a mistake and I see that you did plan a surprise, so I guess we'll just have to go horseback riding now. And take advantage of your surprise that you had... Hey, who made this? It couldn't have been you?" Trent began standing up.

"Don't get up. I do not trust you just yet. Now answer the question."

"I had Andy make it up this morning. I asked when we first came downstairs this morning before he left. He left it in the side by side for us to get when we would go horseback riding."

"What would you have done if I decided that there was no way I was getting on a horse?"

"I had a good feeling that, if I helped you the right way, you would. Michael, I wasn't always tall like I am now, and when I first took riding lessons, I was afraid of the horses for the same reason you were and that's because of how big they look when they are towering over you. The trainer had me do the same thing I did to you today. He put me on the bench, had me pat him, and then we did the hand on his neck thing and I left you alone, which you didn't even notice when I first did it. The horse had your attention and I used the time to come around and surprise you, just like the trainer surprised me. By the time you were done, you weren't afraid anymore. Well, let's just say that your earlier fears had been dealt with. I realized sitting in the kitchen this morning when you were talking about your fears, that you were afraid of their size, but not of the horse itself, so I knew, if I could do the same thing that the trainer had done for me, you would be okay. At least, that's what I was hoping would happen and fortunately it did."

"I'm grateful that you did that, Trent. I'm proud of you for thinking about me like that. If my father had been here, he would have been yelling at me to get my ass up in the saddle or I wouldn't need a place to sit anyway. Never mind sitting in a saddle. Believe me, Trent, he would have made sure that if I didn't get on the horse, I would get a beating for not obeying him when we got home because I had embarrassed him in front of the trainer. That's how he would have dealt with that. And believe me, I would have gotten on the horse in the end because I might have been afraid of the horse, but I was more afraid of him." Trent's heart melted and any thoughts he had about getting Michael in the sack went right out the window. He got up and began walking slowly up the stairs. Michael began backing away, ready to fly if Trent moved an inch too quickly.

"I'm not going to get you, Michael, come on, bring the basket and we'll go put it back in the fridge. I do want to go riding soon. Are you comfortable the way you are or do you want to change? Oh, and my advice to be really comfortable in the saddle for long walks: when you put your jock strap on, put your cup in too. Usually, when I go riding I put mine on. Because that way, if I want to run, I feel more at ease about the boys getting knocked around." He took Michael's hand and grabbed the basket in the other and they walked down to the kitchen.

"In that case, I think I'll go back upstairs and redress. Are you all set or do you have to change?"



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