By Vance Lister

©2005 All Rights Reserved


                         Chapter 14:


          They were up and on the road at 4am.  They were in Tad’s SUV and Shane was asleep his head on Shep’s thigh within an hour of taking off.  His pack was tightly in his arms as he’d refused to have it put in back something Don was sure had to do with his other one being taken away and never being returned to him.

          They passed the Maine border at Eight am and Don glanced back at Shane who was, still sound asleep.  “Did I ever tell you what that dog was doing that day Shane was pounding his head into the floor?”

          “You mean besides barking his head off?” Tad who was driving asked grinning over at him.         

          Don nodded.  “He was pulling back on the neck of Shane’s shirt.  Like holding him back from nailing his head into the floor.”

          “Shane has himself a free body guard in that dog.  Even if he only needs to be guarded from himself right now.  If you think about it they only had each other for many years.  Shep’s owners did nothing but feed him.  They never let him off that chain and I don’t think they ever stopped to pat him.  It was always Shane who gave him attention and always Shep that gave Shane attention.  They both were in their own little hells but managed to make each other’s lives a little brighter just by knowing each other.”

          Don grinned and rubbed Tad’s leg and the road stretched on before them surrounded by pine trees, birch and oak trees.  “You are such a sap.”

          Tad cuffed his shoulder.  “Me? My God Don.  I’ve never seen anyone cry as much as you these past few months.”

          Don chuckled.  He could do that freely now as Shane was doing so much better reminding him every day why he’d grown so attached to him in the first place.  He knew Shane still had a long ways to go but he had a lot to sort through and didn’t expect it was going to happen over night.

          Shane sat up and stretched as they pulled into a rest area and Tad hollered out ‘piss stop.’

          Don smiled back at him.  “Not a very nice awakening huh?”

          Shane stopped mid stretch and chuckled.  “I spose it’s better then yelling fire or something.”  He patted Shep’s hip.  “I gotta pee first boy then I’ll come back and take you out.”

          They got out of the truck Shane did not notice both Don and Tad scanning the parking area as he was walking ahead of them head to the ground as usual.  After they all relieved their bladders they met up out in the food court.  “You want a coffee or bagel or something Shane?”

          “You gonna have something?”  

          “Would it make a difference whether or not you want something?” Tad asked.

          Shane sort of smiled, loving Tad’s personality in the way he said what was on his mind with no inhibitions at all.  He did not treat Shane like an idiot and spoke candidly to him treating him more like someone his own age then some dumb kid.  “I guess I’ll have a coffee.”

          They walked up to the coffee shack and Shane looked over the flavors while they waited in line.  A long line that was roped off so you knew just where to go.  Shane stood between Tad and Don feeling total safety in their midst.  Not brave enough though so he was gonna order his own drink he put his hand up on Tad’s shoulder who was extremely tall towering nearly a foot over Shane’s five feet six inches. He pulled down so Tad leaned over putting his ear to Shane’s mouth.  “I’ll have French Vanilla please.  Just cream.”

          Tad nodded and faced him.  “You want a donut?”

          “No that’s okay.”  ‘The that’s’ okay told Tad he did want a donut just didn’t want to ask for one.

          “Okay then I’m ordering you get one.  You still need to gain weight, you want sugar free liver flavored or you gonna tell me what kind you want.”  He was whispering back in Shane’s ear knowing Shane would be embarrassed as hell if he was saying this out loud.

          “Liver flavored sounds good.” Shane whispered back knowing Tad was toying with him but loving it.

          Tad laughed and shook his head.  “I don’t think they really have that kind.”

          “I’ll have chocolate with sugar on it then please.”

          Tad nodded and straightened back out.  He was straightened back out no more then ten seconds before Shane pulled him back down again.  “Shouldn’t we get Shep something?  He’s on vacation too.”

          Tad nodded and grinned.  “What kind does he like?”

          “Don’t know, maybe plain.  Dog’s ain’t supposed to have chocolate I heard.”

          “Yeah I think you’re right.”

          They got their coffee and donuts and went back to the truck Shane hooked Shep up to the leash apologized to him for it then gave him the donut as a peace offering, while Tad and Don grinned at each other.

          “Where should I take him to pee?”

          “Over there looks good.” Don said pointing to the far side of the parking lot where there were a multitude of trees beyond that all he could see was forest.  Shane walked off feeling as safe with Shep as he did Tad and Shane.

          He did not see a car pull up beside the SUV and did not see Sam get out with his own pack and sleeping bag.

          Sam was hugged by Tad and Don at the same time then they loaded his gear into the back of the SUV. “Where is he?” Sam asked looking around nervously.

          “Taking the dog for a pee.”

          Sam kissed his mom goodbye while she told him to be good.  She smiled and waved at Tad and Don before she took off leaving Sam with no escape route which was the way he wanted it.  He told himself no matter how Shane was at seeing him there he was gonna go and hopefully by the end of the week he’d start talking to him at least.

          Don seeing his nervousness patted his shoulder.  “I don’t think it’s gonna be as bad as you are thinking.  He’s doing so much better.”

          “Matt said he was.  But he still won’t take my calls.” Sam put his hands in his front pockets and looked down at the ground.  “I just miss him so God Damned much I can’t take this.  Why’s he pushing me away so?”    

          “I think cause he loves you the most.” Don said smiling warmly.  “You’re always meanest to the ones you love, you always try and protect them more then anyone else.  He was feeling like the lowest form of life and didn’t want to drag you down with him.  Now that he’s doing better he hopefully will realize he’s not gonna drag you down anywhere.”

          Sam nodded and climbed into the back of the truck while Tad and Don got in the front Don taking the wheel this time.  “And if things go real well you’ll need these.”  Tad pulled a pack of condoms out of the glove box and threw them back to Sam.

          Sam’s mouth dropped open as he caught them.  “Geez Mr. Mason are you condoning sex on this trip?”

          “I’m not a stupid man Sam.  I know you boys are gonna do what you damn well want to do and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna have my trip ruined by doing fifteen minute tent checks.  Just be safe that’s all I ask.”

          “You mean like don’t do it on the edge of a cliff.”

          Tad busted out laughing while Don shook his head and grinned.  “You know what I mean Sam.”

          Sam seeing Shane heading back to the truck tucked the condoms in his back pocket and held his breath.  He said a silent prayer and braced himself.  Shane opened the back door he was looking at the ground and did not yet see Sam.  “You shoulda seen the crap he took.” there was no response to his words which he thought might bring a laugh.  He looked up to unsnap Shep’s collar and his eyes nearly bugged right out of his head seeing Sam in the back seat.  He let out a long shaky breath then climbed up in behind Shep.

          The tension in the car could have been sliced and served for a good minute.  Sam stared at Shane and Shane stared back at him.  Shep licked Sam’s face then got down on the floor.  Shane pushed over in the seat and wrapped his arms around Sam.

          Sam melted in his arms his fear suddenly evaporated as Shane stroked his thumb along his ear and into his hair.  “I’m sorry Sam.  I didn’t mean to be such an asshole.”  Tears slipped out of Sam’s eyes as he brought his hands up over Shane’s back and onto his shoulders.

          He turned his mouth into Shane’s ear.  “You know I like assholes.” He whispered so only Shane could hear.  Shane’s shoulders shook with mirth and he squeezed Sam tighter.

          Tad smiled at Don who was yet again crying as he started the truck.

          Shane and Sam stayed in the embrace for quite some time when they separated they kept their hands clasped tightly together.  They both had so much to say to each other they didn’t even know where to begin.  Most of it was not something either felt like discussing with Tad and Don right there so they rode in silence their hearts full at just being so close to one another.   

          As they drove on the woods got thicker they didn’t pass more then a couple towns with just seemed to spring out at them for a few seconds before they were swallowed up again by thick woods.

          They pulled onto a dirt road at shortly after noontime and drove on that for another half hour.  This road still had a lot of woods but there were many patches of bare land where trees were scattered only here and there.  Shane could see stumps where trees once stood and wondered why they had all been cut down.

          Sam seeing him staring out the window every time they passed one of these barren fields squeezed his hand.  “It’s called clear cutting.  They do it up here in the woods they harvest all the trees for paper and stuff.  There’s all kinds of places like this up here.  In fact this road was built mainly for logging trucks to haul the wood in and out.  It wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

          Shane looked into his eyes and nodded amazed that even after a month apart and two months of not talking to him that Sam could still read him like a book.  Though he knew that should be scaring the hell out of him he didn’t care anymore.  Sam kept coming back, kept coming back even though he knew him better then anyone else.  If Sam didn’t mind his craziness then he was no longer gonna push him away.  He loved Sam he knew that.  He’d admitted it to himself maybe a hundred times over the last month.  He hadn’t known what he’d had til it was gone and was not about to let it slip through his hands again.

          He nestled his head down onto Sam’s shoulder while putting his hand up on his other shoulder and squeezing it gently.  Sam put his cheek down on Shane’s head and his hand on his thigh.

          Sam was flying on air he never thought Shane would be this wonderful not on the first day.  He prayed it would stay this way cause he knew if it did they would have two weeks neither of them would ever forget.

          They pulled into a clearing in the woods overlooking a wide stream.  The clearing was full with two other vehicles with Canoes on top and four people standing around talking.  Two of them were woman and two of them were men.

          “We on this trip with Hetoro’s.” Sam piped up.

          “Sam would you stop being racist.” Don said laughing.

          Sam laughed too and shook his head.  “I just do it to be funny I don’t hate no one. Well unless they piss me off.”

          Don shook his head too.  “They’re not hetero’s as you call it anyways.  We’re all queer here.”

          They all got out of the vehicle and Tad and Don were immediately consumed in hugs while Sam and Shane stood next to each other just watching it all.  Sam leaned over and put his mouth to Shane’s ear.  “You spose they are all swingers too.”

          Shane snorted and shook his head then wiped his arm across his nose praying something hadn’t come flying out in his snort.  Sam still at his ear asked. “You been with Matt or Seth?”

          “No, not that way.  I just wouldn’t feel right about that without you there.”

          “Jesus Shane you gotta.” Sam said still whispering.  “I give you permission.  It’s best to be with them that way I know you’ll be sexually satisfied and not go wandering off to someone you may like more then me.”

          Shane turned his face to Sam their lips nearly touching.  “I would never like someone more then you Sam.  I never have and I never will.”

          Sam smiled and pressed his lips into Shane’s which evolved into an all out kiss time passed they had no idea how much and all of a sudden they heard snickering and Don clearing his throat.  They turned their heads over to the others who were all standing around and looking at them.

          One lady who had short black hair and way more muscles then Shane, had her hand on her chest and looked like she was about to cry or something.  “Ahh young love.” She said dreamily.

          Sam and Shane both turned bright red neither of them having known they’d been the center of attention.  “If you boys think you could keep your lips off each other’s for a couple minutes we’ll introduce you to everyone.”  Tad said grinning.

          He started to his right with the short black haired woman whose name was Lorraine and took her hand off her heart only long enough to shake each of their hands.  Beside her was another woman this one blonde with beautiful long hair and a chest that Shane thought could serve as her life preserver.  Tad introduced her as Mary and they both shook her hand.

          Next was Aaron a tall dark and handsome young man Shane considered to be about twenty or twenty one.  He was the epitome of hot and could see Sam was thinking the same way as he looked just shy of drooling.  Jason who had his arm around Aaron was next he as well was very cute and looked maybe a couple years older then Aaron.

          “Well what do you say we hit the river?” Jason said smacking his palms together.  “We got three hours of rowing before we get there.”  

          They spent the next half hour unloading the canoes and packing them up since neither Sam or Shane had been canoeing before they all decided it would be best if Shane went with Tad this first time and Sam went with Don at least til they got to know what they were doing.

          Though they had spent two days getting Shep used to sitting in a canoe they could not get him into one once it was on the water.  Shane feeling quite panicked and on the verge of tears not wanting to ruin anyone’s trip but not about to leave Shep behind looked desperately at Tad.  “What are we gonna do.” His chin was quivering and Tad knew just by looking at his face he was near the danger zone.

What Tad had been calling his rapid mood swings.

          “Just get in Shane.  I think once you get in there he’ll follow you right in.”

          Shane nodded quickly wiped a falling tear then walked carefully out onto the canoe holding his arms out to balance him.  Shep whined and paced back in forth in small circles.  It took about ten seconds before he followed Shane out and sat on his haunches in the middle of the canoe.  Shane smiled widely his body tingling with relief as he leaned over and kissed Shep on the head which Shep returned with his tongue.

          “Ahh Shane.” Tad said hating to point it out but having to.

          Shane looked up at him from where he was sitting.  “Yeah?”

          “You’re facing the wrong way.”

          Shane put his hand over his mouth and hunched his shoulders.  Tad was very relieved to see a grin when he pulled his hand away.  Sam busted out laughing in the next canoe and Shane reached over and swatted him upside the head which got everyone else laughing.

          Sam leaned out of Shane’s reach.  “No matter how good I get I ain’t going with him.  He can’t even sit right.”

          Shane laughed right along with everyone else.  Though Don had originally bristled at his comment he was exceptionally happy at Shane’s response.

          “If we are done teasing the new guy perhaps we should get to camp.” Shane said shaking his head as he reached behind him and picked up the paddle.

          They set off.  Shane paid careful attention to Tad’s instructions and realized canoeing would be a great workout as his arms were burning within five minutes.  His eyes wandered from one side of the river to the other his heart filling with its beauty.  It was not only the visual splendor he saw, the tall trees, leaves swaying in the breeze the clear blue sky with only a few very puffy clouds dotting it here in there but the smell.  It smelled heavenly like fresh turned dirt and a mix of pine.  It just smelled fresh and he loved it.  He couldn’t wait to jump in the river buck naked in the middle of the night and was sure he could get Sam to join him.

          The sound was also very stimulating the constant soft lapping of the water against the rocky shoreline, the birds singing in the trees, and even some other sound he couldn’t decipher a deep sort of gurgle.  About the 10th time he’d heard it he looked over at Sam who was abreast of him in the next canoe.  “What is that sound?”

          “Which sound?”

          “That weird one.  Sort of deep and louder then the birds, that only happens every now and then.”

          Sam listened for a minute Shane could almost see his ears preening as he turned his head slightly for a better vantage.  “That one?” He asked as it happened again.

          Shane nodded.

          “Don’t know,” Sam said shrugging.  “It might be big foot.  Ma said he’s been seen roaming these parts.”

          The adults laughed while Shane rolled his eyes.

          “It’s a frog Shane.” Jason said from the next canoe over past Don and Sam’s.  “Bull frog.  Wait til nighttime you’ll hear tons of them.”

          “Why they call it a bull frog?  It’s not as big as a bull is it?”

          “No but it’s big.  Like a rat.”

          “They don’t bite do they?” he asked worried suddenly about his midnight swim.

          “No they have no teeth.”

          Shane looked down over the side of the canoe and into the water.  “Is there anything in here that bites?”

          “Don’t think so, Maine is a really cool place just for that reason, there’s no poisonous spiders or snakes very few things that would bother to bite anyone.  It’s a lot safer in a river then; say the ocean.”

          “Yeah Shane and you swim in the ocean all the time.” Don spoke up.  “If you can do that surely you can swim in this river.”

          By the time they pulled the canoes up to the bank of a small clearing Shane’s arms felt like they were gonna fall right off.  Shep ran off into the woods immediately being a modest dog he hated peeing in public.  Shane joined him shortly after he disappeared, his hands so numb he could barely hang onto his wiener.  Sam stepped up beside him and pulled out his own.

          “Dammit.” Shane said looking at him.

          “What?” Sam asked smirking knowing by Shane’s face he was gonna be joking in whatever he said.       

          “I was hoping you’d hold mine.  My hands are all numb.”

          “Oh I can hold both.” He reached over and grabbed onto Shane’s, which got Shane chuckling and did not allow him to pee. He swatted Sam’s hand away.  “I can’t pee like that.” he said shaking his head as he re-grasped his own dick.

          Sam shrugged and shook his out, “Just trying to help.”   He pulled out on his waist band dropped his peter back in and snapped the waist band back against his waist.  “I’ve beat off til I was raw these past couple months.  I hope you are going to provide me a remedy tonight.”

          Shane looked over his shoulder, and back at the camp site his pee finally spurting out.  He shook it off then tucked it back in.  Grabbing Sam by the arm he pulled him further off into the woods.  “Why wait til tonight.” He said pulling Sam’s pants down to his knees in one swift movement.

          Sam became erect so fast it looked like a snake launching an attack.  Shane smiled from it up to Sam.  Sam sort of shrugged looking a little embarrassed.  Shane lowered his own shorts to his knees then pulled Sam in close their lips mashed together and they gyrated their hips into each other their rock hard members doing their own mashing.

          They dropped to their knees and Shane eased Sam over onto his back pressing his body into Sam’s then laying on top of him their kisses were frenzied like they were fighting each other to get in the best kiss.

          They both got off long before a condom was needed then laid in each others arms feeling each other’s penis slowly contract between them.  Shane raised his face off Sam’s and looked over at Shep who was looking back at them peculiarly.  He grinned at him then back down at Sam who had dead leaves stuck all through his hair.

          “Guess my dog ain’t used to that.”

          “Least he didn’t attack me cause he thought I was attacking you.”

          Shane laughed and rolled off Sam they both pulled up their shorts deciding they’d better go for a swim before too long since they were both smeared with semen.  Once standing Shane pulled the leaves out of Sam’s hair and they walked hand in hand back to the camp sight where just by everyone’s faces they got the feeling everyone knew what they had been up to.

          “You boys gotta put up your tent.  Make sure it’s all set before dark.”

          Shane knelt down by his pack and unsnapped the tethers that were holding his tent in place.  After some help from Aaron they got it erected both of them surprised how big it was from what it had been before it was unrolled.

          They grabbed their sleeping bags and unzipped them once they got in the tent.  They laid Sam’s out flat on the floor of the tent then laid Shane’s on top and zipped them up together to make one two person sleeping bag.  They grinned at each other looking very forward to bed time

          “You boys want some lunch?”  Lorraine said who was standing over the fireplace which had a steel grate lying across the rocks.  Hamburgers were sizzling on the grate and smelled absolutely heavenly.

          “We were gonna take a swim.” Sam said wiping at the spot on his chest over his shirt where Shane’s semen was smeared beneath it.

          “That’s fine.” Don said nodding.  “But you still have to eat.  Just don’t swim too long.” he said looking at Shane whose stomach was only starting to not look so caved in.

          Shane nodded then walked to the river with Sam they threw their shirts aside and walked in.  “Jesus it’s cold.”

          “No colder then the ocean.” Sam said quickly walking out to the middle where it was up to his chest.  “I’d say more refreshing then cold.”

          “I’d just say cold.” Shane said joining him in the middle.  Sam grinned and walked over closer to him.  He rubbed his back and slid his hand down into the back of his shorts rubbing his fingers along Shane’s crack.

          “I was so scared you were gonna kick me out of the truck back there at that rest stop.”

          Shane cocked his head to one side totally understanding why Sam would feel that way and feeling very guilty about it.  “I’m sorry Sam.  I was just scared I guess.  I was real confused but I’m doing better now and I swear I won’t ever treat you like that again.”

          Sam nodded.  “I’m real glad to hear that Shane.  I don’t want to lose you ever.  You are the best thing that ever happened to me.  I’ve never really known love before cept with my mom. I’ve had a lot of boyfriends but none I’ve felt so strongly about.”

          Shane smiled wondering why he wasn’t pissed at what Sam had said maybe, he thought, it was cause he loved Sam too.  Maybe being in love with someone made whatever they said, seem believable.

          He cupped his hand around the back of Sam’s neck just before their lips met he looked into his eyes.  “I love you too Sam.”  He never thought he’d say those words but now that they were out he was sure he’d made no mistake.  Was sure what he felt was love and he was never gonna let it go.

          “So how’s he doing?” Lorraine asked from where she was sitting on a stump near the fire.

          “Real good,” Don said smiling out over the river where Sam and Shane were smooching away.  “He was not pissed at all about Sam coming.  He was real glad actually.  Seems they’re picking up right where they left off.”

          “They’re a beautiful couple.” Mary was looking out at them too and could not get over both boys stunning looks she pointed over at Aaron and Jason.  “Think they could even give these two a run for their money.”

          Jason who was standing behind Aaron put his arms over across his shoulders and pulled him back to him in a tight embrace.  “We don’t have any money so they can run as much as they want.”

          Aaron laughed as he put his hand up on Jason’s.  “You’re not gonna start spouting about that rich with love crap are you.”

          Jason grinned and kissed Aaron’s neck.  “Oh you know it’s true.”

          Aaron nestled his neck into Jason’s lips and looked down at Don.  “So he’s really doing okay?”

          “He’s doing so much better.  Every day he improves.  He’s got a lot more work to do but I think his self esteem is starting to come out of the gutter and that’s the biggest step.”

          Aaron nodded already knowing that.  He’d been severely abused himself as a kid up til he was seventeen.  He and Jason had actually met at a school for abused boys where they both still worked.

          “Aaron laughs at least once a day at what Sam and his friends did to that damn basket ball team. Does Shane know about that yet?”

          “No, we figure if Sam wants him to know he’ll tell him.  He’s the one that did it he should have the privilege of telling him.”  Don chuckled, as well thinking back on it.  It certainly was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

          Shane and Sam came back out of the water and joined them around the campfire sitting down on the ground once they got their burgers.  “So Shane says you guys do a lot of drinking on these trips, you gonna make us stay sober while you do it.”

          Don sighed while Tad grinned.  “You can have a few beers if you want.  We let Aaron drink before he was twenty one.  Just don’t do; nothin’ stupid. Don’t make me act like a parent.” he said pointing his finger out at Shane who grinned back at him.

          “You know I could get fired for this.” Don said after swallowing a bite.

          “No you can’t you old fart.” Tad said chuckling.  “Neither one of them still go to that god forsaken school and who the hell is gonna catch us way up here in the North woods of Maine?”

          “Old Fart?” Don looked at him his face lit with humor.  “You are two years older then me grandpa.”

          Tad pointed a finger to his head. “Mentally.”

          “Oh yeah mentally you are like five.”

          “So you two are getting along well then.” Aaron said grinning where he was still standing in Jason’s arms.  Don looked up at him and chuckled.  “Just fine Aaron.  Just you are more mature then he is half the time.”

          “I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not.”

          Don chuckled and ran his hand down Tad’s thigh.  After Shane and Sam finished eating they went for a walk down along the river so be sure not to get lost.  Shep bounded along with them circling them as he bounded along.

          Sam put his hand in Shane’s as they stepped over stones and tried to keep their balance.  “Did you ever see deliverance?”

          “No,” Shane said eyeing him curiously.

          “You want to play deliverance.”

          “What is deliverance?”

          “It’s about this group of men who go off canoeing in the woods.  One gets raped by the hillbillies that live there.”

          Shane started laughing but was all for it.  “Just don’t beat me up while you rape me.”

          “Well of course not dumb ass.”  He let go of Shane’s hand and pushed him off into the woods.  “You be wandering along and I’ll come out and tackle you.”

          Shane laughed again and headed off into the woods Shep on his heels.  He walked no more then three minutes before Sam jumped out from behind a tree.  “What you doin’ here Flat Lander?” he sneered a great hillbilly accent.

          “Just exploring mister.” Shane said playing the perfect scared tourist.

          Sam put his hands in his pockets and jutted out his pelvis.  “Shouldn’t go out wandering alone in the woods.  Don’t know what danger be out here.”

          Shane had to laugh a minute before he could get back in his role.  “You mean there’s wild animals out here.”

          “Oh yeah,” Sam sneered jumping down off the log he’d been standing on.  “Real wild.”  He was menacing he was great at his part.  “Now I suggest you drop them pants of yours boy.  I’ll show you just how wild they’s are.”

          “Please sir, I’ll move on.  Please don’t stick your thing in me.” Shane held up his hands in mock terror and Sam doubled over laughing but quickly composed himself.

          “You take off them there pants or I’ll stick me knife in your chest.” he pretended to pull something out of his pocket then flip it up in the air.

          Shane turned his head and chuckled some more.  “Well sir, if you are gonna kill me if I don’t I guess I have no other choice.” he fake trembled as he lowered his shorts to his ankles.   

          “Under wears too boy.”

          Shane trembled more and lowered his boxers.  Sam made a guttural sound and walked in a circle around him.  “Guess you Flat Landers got big cock.” he stroked Shane’s dick his face still menacing. 

          He stepped back and pointed down at his own shorts.  “Take them off boy and suck my dick.”

          Shane nodded making it look fearful and pulled down his shorts.  “Git on your knees boy.”  He pushed Shane down by the shoulders and held his hands there while Shane took his penis into his mouth and sucked it like a Popsicle on a very hot day.

          “Oh yeah boy.  You make bubba feel good.”

          Shane pulled his head back and turned his face over his shoulder letting out a long laugh before Sam playfully smacked the side of his head. “Git with it boy.”

          He returned to his duty til Sam pulled back his dick hard and glistening.  He stepped out of his shorts and rounded Shane getting down on his knees. 


          Shane on his hands and knees now turned to him.  “What?”

          “I forgot my condom.  Can you get it out of my shorts?”

          Shane laughed.  “I’m surprised you hillbillies use condoms when you rape tourists bubba.”

          Sam laughed as Shane handed him the condom.  “Well boy this day and age you never know what ya gonna git.  Damn city folk come up here all crawling with sins of fornication.”

          “Now you just sound like a preacher.”

          “You’ll be praying soon too boy.”  He spit in his hand and wet the condom that was now his dick he spent a few minutes with his face buried in Shane’s ass.  “Oh it’s good to be home.” came his muffled voice.

          Shane dropped his head between his arms and laughed despite the raging erotic sensation filling his entire body.  A feeling he had not felt since late March.  Sam pulled his face out and rolled Shane over onto his back he pulled his knees up with his arm and placed them on his shoulders.  “I like to see my victim’s faces when I rape ‘em.”  He guided his dick into Shane then leaned over him pushing his knees down towards his chest.  They wrapped their hands around each other’s arms just below the elbow while Sam eased back and forth deeper and deeper.

          They climaxed in record time Sam pulled out and Shane dropped his knees off Sam’s shoulders and sat up.  They kissed deeply and passionately.  “Your lips taste like my ass.” Shane said as he pulled away chuckling a minute later.

          “You tasted your ass man?  Gross.” Sam smirked his eyes glinting with mischief.

          Shane grinned and kissed him again rubbing his hands up and down Sam’s back while pressing in close to him.   “Have I even got the right to say I missed you?” he asked a moment later.  “I mean since it was my fault.”

          Sam moved both his hands down the sides of Shane’s face his eyes poured with love that could be seen on every detail of his face.  “You have a right to feel however the hell you want to feel Shane.”  He kissed him again then pulled back and smiled.  “Just lucky for you, you feel the way you do now or I’d have to kill you.”

          Shane grinned again he ran his hand down Sam’s side.  “I guess maybe instead of my dad knocking some sense into me he knocked some sense out of me.”

          Sam smiled a warm and sympathetic smile.  “What’s going on with the shit head do you know?”

          “He’s in jail I think.  I’m supposed to go to court next month and testify.  I don’t want to, I don’t want to say what happened but Don says I have no choice.  He’s real adamant about that.  Which is funny he’s never adamant about anything.”

          “Well it’s cause he doesn’t want your dad getting out of jail.  If you don’t testify he could get out a lot sooner.”  

          “Brian is living with his grandmother.  Don said they started treating him like hell after they kicked me out.  He came to visit me once but I was asleep.  I haven’t seen him at all but Don says they went away.”

          “Do you like Brian?”

          Shane nodded.  “I hated him at first but it was just cause I was so jealous.  He’s a real nice kid.  He sort of took care of me.”  He blushed and looked past Sam down to the river.  “You know sneaking me food and stuff.”

          “How do you like living with the school principal?”  Sam made a face and Shane chuckled.

          “He’s great.  I always liked him anyways, even when I got suspended.  He and Tad have taken real good care of me even though I’ve been a real asshole.”

          “Well they know you have a right to be a bit asshole-ish.”

          “I don’t though.” He shook his head then rested his cheek down on Sam’s shoulder.  Sam put his hand up on the other side of his face.  “Why do I gotta start being an ass when things are better?  Why couldn’t I have been an ass to the people who actually deserved it?”

          Sam rubbed his back with his other hand.  “I think it’s just cause you feel so safe with them.  You know they won’t hurt you so you are letting off some much needed steam.”

          They got dressed long enough to walk to the river then took another swim.  They were halfway back to camp ten minutes later when they came across Aaron and Jason sitting on a couple rocks looking out at the river.

          Aaron looked up at them and smiled.  “You guys having fun?”

          “Most definitely.” Sam nodded enthusiastically while he took Shane’s hand.

          “So how’d you guys meet?” Jason asked leaning back on his rock.

          Shane sat down by Aaron on a nearby rock and Sam sat beside him.  “Funny story really.” He said grinning.  “I was hiding in the bathroom on a toilet and he came in with a friend of his.  They didn’t know I was there cause I had my feet up on the toilet.  They were talking about me.  Sam said I was real cute and he bet I was real nice too.  I’d just sort of broken up with my other boyfriend and he said he was not gonna let this chance pass him by.” He smiled over at Sam who was leaning into him with a shit eating grin on his face.  “Then he chased me down after school and invited me to his house.  We played games and talked then kissed then we were a couple.”

          “How did you guys meet Tad and Don?” He asked looking from Jason to Aaron.

          “On a cruise.  Three years ago.  That’s where we met Lorraine and Mary too.” Aaron reached down and picked up his can of beer.  He took a long swallow then set it back down looking back out over the water he smiled.  “That was fun as hell.”

          “They really feed you all the time on those things?” Sam asked having dreamed of going on a cruise his entire life.

          “Oh yeah.” Aaron nodded and smiled over at him.  “You can eat any damn time you want.”  Jason started to snicker beside him and he turned to him grinning.  “What the hell are you laughing at?”

          “You and how much you swear every time you’ve had more then two beers.”

          Aaron chuckled.  “I don’t even know when I do it.”

          “It’s just damn and hell anyways.  That’s not really swears.” Sam was leaning past Aaron and smiling at Jason.

          “Oh but wait after five beers he’ll graduate onto the big money swears.  You’re ears will be ringing for days after two weeks with him.”

          Aaron laughed while Shane and Sam chuckled.  They all headed back to camp.  “Hey you guys want s’mores?”  Mary called out.

          “Burgers?” Shane asked.

          Every one laughed and Sam put his hand up on Shane’s shoulder who was wondering why everyone was laughing at him.  “Not some more.  ‘S’mores.’  They’re graham crackers marshmallow and chocolate.”

          “Oh sounds good.”  Shane looked up at the sky the camping spot was growing dark and the sun was nowhere to be seen only it’s fading light could be seen on the other side of the river.  He preened his ears and listened and could hear a lot more of those bull frog things just as Jason had said.  “You spose it’s possible to find a bullfrog?”

          “Well sure,” Aaron led him down to the river while Sam and Jason stayed behind to prepare some S’mores.

          Shane and Aaron walked along the river bank to a small pool off the side of it.  “They don’t like swift running water much.  Our best bet is finding one in here.”  He put his hands on his knees and leaned over scanning the pond Shane walked a little past him and leaned down doing the same thing.

          He was so intent in his own scanning he did not see Aaron lean down and snatched one up.  “Here’s one.”

          Shane looked over.  “Holy shit.” He went to take a step back tripped over Shep again and fell flat on his back.  Aaron was over him in an instant. 

“Shane you okay?”

          Shane a little stunned nodded.  “Could you not hold that thing over me though?” He said with a wave of his hand in the direction of the frog.  Aaron grinned, “Oh yeah sure, sorry.”  He set the frog back in the pool and washed off his hands.  Leaning back over Shane he held out his hand and pulled him up.

          Shane wiped off his ass and rubbed his head.  “I really have to not back up like that.  I’m always tripping over my dog.” he grinned weakly trying to hide his embarrassment.

          Aaron chuckled and brushed off Shane’s back.  “He’s just watching out for you.”

          “Seems lately he’s the only one hurting me” He said with short laugh then quickly put his hand over his mouth his eyes horror stricken knowing he’d said too much.

          Aaron looked into his eyes and smiled warmly.   “It’s alright Shane.  I already know all about your dad.”

          Shane slowly lowered his hand.  “How?”

          “Don told me.”

          Shane took a shuddering breath his anger flaring no doubt at Don this time.  “So everyone here knows?”

          “I’m not sure everyone knows me and Jason know.  He told us cause we weren’t treated real well by our parents either.  He thought we may be able to answer some questions for you.”

          “I ain’t got no questions.”  He snapped then took another deep breath not wanting to get pissed off.  “I’m sorry,”

          “Don’t worry about it Shane.  I’m not gonna make you talk if you don’t want.  I just thought I should let you know, in case you had questions.  You know for someone who’s been through a lot of what you’ve been through.”

          Shane nodded looking past Aaron and down at the water.  “How were you parents not treated well by your parents?”

          “I got a lot of whippings. A lot of spankings got punched and kicked a lot got yelled at all the time.  Told I was worth nothing and would never amount to anything.”

          “Ain’t whippings the same as spankings?”

          “No a whipping is with a whip and a spanking is with a belt.”

          Shane nodded.  “I never got whipped.”

          Aaron smiled and put his hand on Shane’s shoulder.  “Well I didn’t say our lives were identical Shane.  Just real similar, my parents made me feel like a useless piece of cow shit.  That’s what it really boils down to you know.  What they did.  They were trying to knock you down mentally so they could feel more powerful.  But they didn’t knock you down not all the way.  You are still here and you are still holding your head up.  And the more you start to feel better about yourself the more you are showing them that they didn’t get you down despite their years of trying.”

          Shane put his hand up in the crook of Aaron’s elbow.  “But they did get me down.”  He looked up into Aaron’s eyes briefly then lowered his eyes back to his chest.  This person whom he’d just met was making more sense to him then that damn shrink that rambled on and on for an hour every other day asking him questions he still refused to answer.  He thought it must be cause this guy knew what he was talking about.  This guy had actually been where he was now.  He thought just maybe he would talk to this person. 

          He looked back up into his eyes.  “You don’t really want to spend your vacation hearing my whining do you?”

          “If you would whine to me I would love it.” Aaron said smiling as he ran his hand gently over the side of Shane’s face.  “And I don’t call it whining anyways.  It’s more like liberation.  It’s not good to keep things inside Shane.  It only keeps you angry.  And you don’t seem like the type of person who would enjoy being angry all the time.”

          Shane shook his head.  “I don’t I hate it.  But I can’t even control it.  I’ll be just fine then all of sudden I’m so pissed I just want to...” he stopped and shook his head.  “I don’t know something real bad.”

          “What makes you get pissed?”

          “Lots of things.”  Aaron turned around then led Shane over to a log where they both sat down.  He turned to Shane and put his hand on his knee.

          “Give me a for instance.”

          “Well a lot of times it’s when someone says something nice about me.  I always think they are just pacifying me or something.  I don’t like people being fake nice to me.”

          “Why are you so sure it’s fake?”

          He rubbed his hand along the log then reached down and patted Shep.  “Don’t know, I guess cause I know I don’t deserve it.  That what I do is not special.”

          “That’s not true.” Aaron moved his hand from Shane’s knee to his back.  “Don’t get pissed off at me cause I haven’t even seen if what you do is special or not but your friends and Don wouldn’t try and pacify you and they wouldn’t lie to you.   They are your friends cause they like you.  I mean they can’t be using you for your family could they.”

          Shane’s head snapped up and he looked at Aaron.  A slow smile spread across his face.  “I see your point.”

          “Did you admire your dad Shane?”

          He shook his absolutely sure of that.

          “Did you think he was right when he beat on you?”


          “Did you think he was an upstanding citizen that people could confide in and count on?”

          “No,” he said it slowly though he was sure of his answer.

          “Well then why are you being so hard on yourself for what he did?  Why have you taken all his hateful words to heart?”

          Shane looked back down at Shep and shook his head.  “I don’t know.”

          “Well you should really start thinking about it.  As soon as you realize how bad a man your father was all around then you should start feeling better about yourself if only for the reason that you are not like him.  That in itself is a pretty wonderful thing.  You could have easily turned out just like him.  You didn’t though.”

          “Like Buzz.” Shane said it to himself but he said it out loud he was just about to curse himself but figured if he was gonna talk he may as well talk about his damn brother.

          “Whose buzz?”

          Shane looked back up at him which was difficult in the rapidly fading light.  “He’s my brother.  His real name is Austin.  I just called him Buzz cause he snored real loud.”

          Aaron chuckled.

          “So then he was an asshole too?”

          “He was my father’s son.” Shane said nodding, “Took right after him.  He’s a few years older then me but already he was as mean as my dad.  He’s married now, and I wanted to warn the girl he’s married to before they were married but I didn’t dare.  I feel real bad cause she’s real nice.  I should have said something.”

          “It’s easy for you to think back and say that Shane but when you were there still tip toeing around just so’s you wouldn’t get beat on you can’t say that it would have been easy to do.”

          “I saw her the other day though when I was in town with Don, I shoulda told her then too.”

          “Maybe he was only that way with you Shane.  Maybe he just took after your father in what he did to you.”

          Shane shook his head.  “It’s not that.  It’s what else he did.  He likes to have sex with kids.”

          Aaron’s hand tightened around his shoulder and he was very fearful he made a huge mistake.  “He had sex with you Shane?”

          Shane leaned forward over his knees hanging his head down over them.  “I shouldn’t a said nothin’.” he said quietly and Aaron could tell he was crying.

          “No Shane you should.” He rubbed his back.  “No one else knows this do they?”

          Shane shook his head and sniffled.  “Don’t tell anyone Aaron, please.”

          Aaron knew Don should know knew Don would have to tell his shrink but he could not break Shane’s trust.  Shane had just revealed to him a very deep and dark secret and he just couldn’t violate him more by telling anyone.  “I won’t Shane I promise.”  He knew what he had to do was try and convince Shane it was okay for him to tell but was not gonna start pressing him on that this first time they were talking.

          “Did he do it to you a lot Shane?”

          Shane sat up and nodded as he leaned into Aaron not sure why exactly he liked this guy so much.  He was hot that was for sure but his feeling weren’t sexual.  They were just warm feelings.  Feelings that made Aaron seem very trustworthy and safe.

          “How old were you when he started this?”

          “I don’t know, maybe eight, he used to mess with me before that but didn’t really have sex until I was in third grade.”  He chuckled a little.  “I always go by grades cause I can’t decipher how old I was.  I don’t even know when my birthday is.”

          “Well geez Shane why don’t you ask Don, he would know.”

          “I don’t know, never thought much on it I guess.  I was just explaining why I say grades and not ages.”

          “Do you know how old you are now?”

          “Yeah I’m fifteen.”

          “How do you come to that?”    

          “Cause I was in tenth grade last year.”

          Aaron nodded and smiled.  “I hate to be the one to break this to you but Don told me you were sixteen.  I think maybe you miscounted.”

          As soon as they got back to camp Shane sat down by Don and leaned over to his ear.  “How old am I?” he whispered.

          Don turned his head and whispered back.  “Sixteen.”

          Shane turned his head back and whispered.  “When did I turn sixteen?”

          “December 18th.”  Shane nodded then got up and walked over by Sam he sat down on the ground with him and gave him a big hug around the waist.

          “Did you find a frog?” Sam asked.

          “Yeah, scared me, and I fell over Shep.” He grinned then pulled some sticky marshmallow off Sam’s face.  “You look like you are enjoying those.”

          “Well yeah,” Sam said grinning wiping his hand over his face to see if there were any more marshmallow stuck there.  He reached over to the napkin beside him and picked up another S’more. “Try one.”

          Shane let go of Sam and sat up straight he took it then took a bite.  His eyes lit up immediately. “Oh yuh this is good.”  They sat around the fire the firelight dancing off their faces.  They talked and laughed long into the night and Shane felt totally at home.  Like he belonged with these people and had known them his whole life.  He spent a lot of time studying Aaron and Jason wondering how they could seem so calm, confident and happy and prayed some day he could be more like them.

          They all went into their separate tents and Sam and Shane made quiet love for at least another hour.  After they were done they snuggled into each other’s arms molding their sweaty bodies together.  “Can you picture Mr. Mason having sex?” Sam asked his face an inch from Shane’s.

          Shane chuckled trying not to make it too loud.  “I can now, but before when I just knew him at school I never would have pictured it.”

          Sam rubbed his hand down Shane’s arm and sighed.

          “What?” Shane asked knowing the sigh was serious.

          “Don’t yell at me but how come you never told me why you and Derek really broke up.”

          The next sigh was Shane’s.  “I was too ashamed I guess.  How’d you find out?”

          “Don told me.  He thought I already knew and he said something that basically told me what happened but I dragged the rest out of him.  Don’t yell at me again but I can’t believe how strong you are.  How brave.  If that had happened to me I would never have dared to go back to school.”

          Shane pressed his head further into the pillow.  “You don’t have to worry about me yelling at you Sam.  You don’t have to say that before you say everything to me.”

          Sam moved his face closer and pressed his lips into Shane’s then laid his head back down their lips still touching lightly.  “I’m just scared to say anything nice to you.  It always used to make you mad.”

          “I won’t get mad no more.  I think I’m starting to like it.”  Sam could feel him grin with his lips.

          “We got those guys you know, the basket ball team.”  He explained to Shane what he, Matt and Seth had done and Shane laughed loudly not at all able to keep this quiet.  Sam chuckled right along with him trying to keep Shane’s laughing to a dull roar by putting his hand over his mouth.

          “I guess I shoulda waited til not everyone was sleeping before I told you.”

          “I can’t believe you guys.” Shane was grinning from ear to ear his love for Sam multiplying by at least two.          

          “It was actually Seth’s idea.  He’s such a prankster.” he said prankster like he was a fifty year old man.  “You are gonna be totally set at your new school you know.  Seth is like the most popular guy there.  And since he totally loves you I’m sure all his friends will too.”

          “Seth loves me too?” Shane asked wearily.

          “Well yeah of course.  The four of us we are like a family.” He chuckled and sort of shrugged then propped his head up on his elbow.  “An incestual family but hey what can you do.” he put his hand on Shane’s cheek.  “We all look out for each other.  We all have our own families but we support each other as much as our families do.  You don’t have a family so we look out for you even more.  You ever need anything you tell one of us.  Matt and Seth are a couple and you and I are a couple but the four of us we just all go together.  You get it?”

          “I do sort of have a family now though.  Tad and Don are taking real good care of me.”

          “So your family is just a little bigger.  It doesn’t make the rest of us any less your family.”

          Shane put his hand up on Sam’s and turned his lips up and kissed his.  “I wish you hadn’t moved.”

          “It’s just one year Shane.  I’ve already enrolled at the University of Rhode Island I’ll be half an hour away next year.  I’ll have my own car.  We’ll see each other nearly every day.  Don and Tad say I can come down over Christmas and February break and stay there the entire month of August next year.”

          They felt as though they’d just gotten to sleep when they heard Don calling to them from outside the tent to rise and shine.  They put on some shorts but no shirts as their first order of business was to take a morning dip.

          They rolled out of the tent and Shep took off into the woods.  “We are just gonna go for a swim first to wake ourselves up okay?” Shane asked looking at Don.

          “Sure, make it quick though we want to get to the next sight early enough so’s we can try and catch supper.”

          “What a moose or something?” Sam asked.

          “No fish dummy.” Don said chuckling.  “Unless of course you think you can wrestle down a moose bare handed.”

          “Uh no,” Sam scratched his chin looking bashful though he wasn’t.  “I guess fish’ll do.”

          “You boys look tired.  Maybe if you hadn’t been up all night you would feel more rested.” he put his hands on his hips over his tan knee length shorts.

          Shane turned to him.  “He told me what he did to the basketball team.  And what you did with the fire drill.  That’s why I was laughing so hard.”

          Don smiled.   “It’s about damn time he told you.  I was having all I could do not to tell you myself.  God that was funny.” He shook his head and walked off back over to the campfire where Mary was heating up some beans and frying some eggs.

          Shane and Sam walked down to the river.  The day was already hot and the sun was blaring down making the river sparkle like diamonds were floating all over its surface.  The leaves on the trees surrounding them were swaying gently in the breeze which brought little relief from the heat as the breeze was as hot as the air.

          They swam for about five minutes scrubbing themselves with a bar of soap that Don had packed in Shane’s bag.   Sam started singing an Irish tune with a heavy Irish accent cause of course they were using Irish spring.

          Birds flew out of nearby trees as he hit a high note and Shane laughed so hard he was nearly dragged down river. 

          They walked out of the water and the adults were still laughing about his singing telling him if he kept it up they would not get to see any wild animals on their trip.

          “Yeah,” Lorraine spoke up.  “And I want to get some pictures.”

          Shane’s mouth hung open wishing he could take some pictures too.  Don took one look at him and laughed and Shane quickly closed his mouth and grinned shyly.

          “We’ve brought a camera too.  You want to be in charge of pictures today.”

          “Oh yeah.” he said enthusiastically.  “You gotta show me how to use it though.”

          “No problem.  I’ll show you before we get in the boats.  You two get dressed.  No eating with, no shirts.” he smiled kindly and they took off for their tent.  Shane pulled on green shorts and a white tank top that hung loosely around him the arm holes leaving a good amount of his sides exposed.

          Sam who was pulling on a grey T-shirt looked over at him.  “That won’t do Shane.” He said shaking his head authoritatively.

          Shane looked down at him self then over at Sam.  “Why not?”

          “Cause you look way too hot,  as in good looking.  I won’t get any canoeing done.”

          “Well I am hot, as in heat, so tough shit!”  Shane did not believe he looked at all hot as in ‘good looking’ but appreciated the compliment anyhow.  Sam chuckled then reached back into his bag.  “We took some pictures of the weight room incident.  We thought you might like to see them bawling their eyes out.” He stood back up and handed Shane a stack of pictures whose hand was outstretched waiting in anticipation.

          He laughed at each and every one. Wishing he had been there but knowing at the time he wouldn’t of dared.  Hell even now if they decided to do it again he probably wouldn’t dare.  “Did you show these to Don?”

          “No, we can show him though.  Tad probably would want to see it too.”

          “Well I’ll wait til not all these other people are around.” He looked over at Sam.  “Can I keep them?”

          “Well yeah.”

          He nodded and tucked them into his pack.  They rolled up their sleeping bags and hooked them to their packs then stuffed the clothes they’d been wearing into a plastic bag and stuffed those in too.  They had breakfast then took down their tent.

          Out at the canoes they loaded up their gear Shane’s arms were still real sore but he was raring to go dying to be buff by the time school started so he’d be able to start over without still being a wuss.

          Tad put his hand on Shane’s shoulder.  “You and Sam think you are ready to man your own canoe?”

          Sam turned from where he was leaning over one of the canoes.  “We ain’t gonna hit any rapids or anything are we?”

          “No, this is a leisurely trip.”

          He straightened out and looked at Shane who shrugged then nodded.  “Sounds good.” He said smiling back at Tad.

          They took off again after Shane was instructed how to use a camera.  He took pictures more then he rowed which Sam kept yelling at him about.  He took pictures of the others, took pictures of Shep and several pictures of the beautiful scenery.

          He was having the time of his life never remembering feeling so at ease or so peaceful.  They got to their next camp at one o’clock and he nearly kissed the ground with relief as his arms were already burning twice as bad as they had been the day before.  The burn though painful made him feel good about himself.  A feeling he had never felt before.

          They set up camp then Don took a bunch of fishing poles out of one of the canoes.  Sam took on the role of teaching Shane how to fish which didn’t take long.  “I think you are a fishing pro.” he said as they stood a couple feet a part casting out their lines then reeling them back in.  “Like Bass Masterson.”

          Shane chuckled.  “Who in hell is Bass Masterson?”

          “Don’t know, I imagine he’s some champion fisher man.” he said grinning looking at Shane a hell of a lot more then he was watching his pole.  He could not believe how handsome Shane was. He’d always thought he was handsome.  But put some decent clothes on the guy give him a little tan and he was one hunky dude.  He wished the girls at Prescott high could see him now.  He knew they’d eat their feet at picking on him for so many years.  He hoped one day they would see him again so at least they could see what they’d been to mean to for so long.

          Shane was changing he could see it clearly.  He was quickly becoming more confident.  And not second guessing himself or apologizing for every little thing he did any more.  He looked around to make sure no one was in ear shot then turned back to Shane.  “If you saw Derek again what would you say to him?”

          Shane took his eyes off his pole and looked over at Sam.  Sam was a little worried by his expression that maybe he shouldn’t have asked the question but then Shane’s face softened.  “I don’t think I’d say anything.  He really doesn’t deserve anything from me.  Even if he did want to see me again I’d refuse to.  I had a good time with him.” Shane sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.  “But he couldn’t have liked me very much.  Despite the fact he said he did.”

          “So I’d never have to worry about you going back to him.”

          Shane looked at him in disbelief.  “No way Sam.  If he asked I would tell him I met the guy of my dreams.  One who’s always nice and that I know loves me without question.  And that I love him back something I am sure I didn’t feel with him.”

          Sam smiled side stepped and planted a firm kiss on Shane’s lips.  “I’m glad you know I love you.  I hope you just know how much.”

          “I don’t know how much Sam.  I can’t say how much I love you, cause I love you so much I don’t even know how to describe it.  It’s like it’s immeasurable, you know?”

          Sam smiled and nodded.  “It’s so great to hear you talk about how you feel.  I love to hear what you think about things.”

          “Yeah well it’s easier to talk about things when I feel good about them.”  His pole bent forward.  “Shit what do I do?”

          “Reel it in.” Sam said excitedly.    Everyone else noticed their excitement and gathered around Shane who barely noticed them in his excitement to reel in the fish.

          He pulled back the pole and started reeling in he nearly dropped the pole when he looked down at his arm and could easily see a well sculpted muscle just beneath his skin.  A warm feeling of content ran through him which could be felt despite the incredibly hot day.

          “Wow Shane it’s a big one.”

          Shane wanted to say I know but he was paying little attention to the fish thinking his muscle could be considered as big.  Between Sam being there, his new home to go back to every night, and his self perception now tolerable he was almost looking forward to going back to school.

          Don took a step ahead of him holding a large net in his hand and scooped up the fish.  He moved the net up and down a couple times and smiled at Shane.  “I’d say this is a good five pounder.  It looks like we get fish for supper.”

          Shane smiled still holding his pole up in the air he wanted to hug Don right then.  Hug him and let him know how happy he was now.  But was still leery of what reaction it would bring so he kept his arms to himself.

          The only part of the two week trip that Shane did not like was the fact it went so fast.  He talked with Aaron a lot, more then he’d talked to anyone else and Aaron had given him his phone number and email address and pretty much ordered him to keep in touch.

          Shane knew he would.  Aaron was so easy to talk to and never made him feel stupid or like he was annoying.  He also made so much sense.  Everything he said got Shane thinking, thinking for the better.

          They pulled into the rest area where Sam’s mother was already waiting before opening the door he and Sam kissed for several minutes.  They both got to crying then laughed at themselves promising they’d write or talk every day.  Sam gave him his email address and Shane said he’d email just as soon as he set up his own email account.  Which he planned on doing that very night.

          Sam’s mom got out of the car when they did and after hugging Sam gave Shane a big hug.  “My god honey you look amazing.  How are you doing?” She asked pulling back and squeezing his arm while looking warmly into his face.

          He smiled at her.  “I’m doing much better.  Thank you for letting Sam come.  We had a great time.”

          “So he behaved himself then?” she asked looking over at Don who was pulling Sam’s pack out of the back of the truck.

          “Oh yeah.  We all had a great time.  He was a perfect little angel.”

          His mom laughed.  “Well now I know you’re lying.”

          Don chuckled himself.  “Well I can’t think of anything he did wrong.  So he was close anyways.  A natural woodsman.”

          After Sam and his mom left Shane took Shep out to pee then he Tad and Don went in to pee themselves and got some coffee and donuts.  Don put his arm around Shane on the walk back out.  “You okay?”

          Shane smiled over at him.  “Well I’m gonna miss Sam but that’s normal right?”

          Don smiled and nodded giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze.  “Sure is.  You two are a strong couple.  You’ll make it I have no doubt.”

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