The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 137: Justin Cardin Sandrithani

Jean-Michael lay on his bed thinking about his roommates.   He felt very lucky to be living with them.   He remembered when he had first met Coach Dodd, it had been at one of his high school hockey games.   There had been several recruiters in the stands that night, and a couple of them had approached him, with offers of scholarships.   So, when Coach Dodd offered him a scholarship to play for the Gophers, he wasn’t sure he wanted to play hockey for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, since he already had better offers, elsewhere.   However, Coach Dodd had managed to persuade him to at least visit the campus, before making up his mind which school to attend.

His mind went back to that moment:

Coach Dodd stood up in front of the team, and said, “I’d like to introduce Jean-Michael Gagnon.   He is thinking of playing for us next year.   Please make him welcome.”

After everyone had welcomed him, Zach and Todd had come up to him.   Zach put his hand out and introduced himself, “Hey!   I’m Zach, and this is my husband, Todd.”

Jean-Michael’s mouth fell open in surprise.   He stood there, staring at them.   He couldn’t believe the big brawny hockey players standing in front of him had just introduced themselves as being husbands.  

When, Jean-Michael didn’t take his hand, Zach raised his hand to Jean-Michael’s chin, gently closing his mouth.

At Zach’s light touch, Jean-Michael seemed to awaken from his trance.   “Did you just say he’s your husband?”

Zach laughed, and said, “Yes, I did.”

“How can you be gay, and be on the hockey team?” Jean-Michael asked, incredulously.

Todd smiled at the young man.   “We’re both on the hockey team, and we were married in Thunder Bay.   Both of our teams came to our wedding.”

Jean-Michael said, in wonder, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Todd asked, “You’re gay, aren’t you, Jean-Michael?”

Todd’s question scared him.   He was sure he didn’t act gay.  He wondered how Todd knew he was gay.  He looked around to see if anyone had overheard their conversation, specifically his parents!

Seeing his discomfort, Zach said, “You don’t need to hide the fact you’re gay, here.   Todd and I live with several gay couples.   Why don’t you come over to the house to meet them after you’ve toured the campus with your parents?”

Jean-Michael looked over at his parents.   They were talking with Coach Dodd.   “I haven’t come out to my parents yet.”

Todd said, “We understand.   Maybe we could convince your parents to let you come with us to meet some of our friends, while they relax at the hotel.   We’re moving to Toronto this summer, so there will be an opening for you at our place, if you decide you want to go to school here.”

Jean-Michael smiled.   “I like you guys, already.   I’ll tell them you’ve invited me over to see your place, and I could rent a room there, instead of living on campus.”

Zach said, “We’ll talk to Coach Dodd about it, too.”  Zach put his arm around his shoulders.   “Jean-Michael, just let us take care of you.   You have nothing to worry about.”

He smiled at Zach, and said, “Please call me Michael.”

Todd said, “Okay, Michael, let’s take you on a tour of the campus.”

Michael looked over at this parents.   “What about my parents?”

“What about them?” Todd asked.

He asked, “Don’t they have to go with me?”

“No, they don’t,” Zach responded.  

“They’re adults, and can fend for themselves, Michael” Todd said.   “Let’s go.   Besides, they can always text you, if they want to know where you are.”

Michael liked the way Zach and Todd made him feel.   For the first time in his life, he felt like he could be himself.   It felt very liberating, not worrying about looking at someone or saying something that would give away the fact he liked guys.

His mind was brought back to the present by the ringing of his cell phone.   He picked it up off the night table, and looked to see who was calling.

Seeing his cousin’s name, Jean-Francois, flash on the screen, he answered it, in French.   “Hey, J.F.!

“Michael, are we still on for next week?   I’m getting really excited to visit you in Minneapolis.”

“Yes, we’re still planning to have you stay with us,” Michael said.   “I’ve got two new roommates who just moved in.   They are really cool, J.F.   I think you’ll like them.”

J.F. said, “If they’re friends of yours, I’m sure I’ll like them.”

They chatted for a few more minutes, before ending their call.

Michael was a little worried about his cousin.  Even though, J.F. was a year older, he had always felt like J.F.’s big brother.   Michael had always been physically bigger than J.F.   J.F. had come out as gay when he was 14 years old; and had constantly been harassed by their classmates.   Michael had stood up for J.F. and threatened them with physical violence if they didn’t stop.   Since that time, he had been J.F.’s protector.

J.F. had been through so much over the past year, since the police had attacked him outside a gay bar in Trois Rivieres.  Michael started crying, because he thought he caused J.F.’s suffering.   If only he had been there to protect J.F.   There was a light knock at the door, and Michael quickly wiped his tears away with the back of his hand, and said, “Come in.”

 The door opened, and Justin came into the room.   He looked at Michael and walked over to sit on the bed next to him.   He didn’t say a word, but put his arms around Michael, holding him tight.

Michael buried his face in Justin’s chest, soaking his shirt with his tears.   When the storm had subsided, Justin asked, “Do you want to talk about it?”

Michael pulled back, and nodded his head.   “I feel so guilty, Justin.   I let my cousin down.   I should have been there to protect him, and I wasn’t”

Justin looked puzzled, and asked, “What happened?”

He said, “My cousin, Jean-Francois, asked me to go with him to a gay bar in Trois Rivieres.   J.F.’s boyfriend works there, so we can get in, even though we aren’t old enough.  But I had hockey practice the next morning; so, I didn’t want to go.  J.F. wanted to be with his boyfriend, so he went by himself.   That night, after he left the bar, four cops attacked J.F., calling him a faggot.   They said they were going to teach him a lesson.   The entire attack was caught on a security camera, plus on several cell phones of bystanders.”

Justin was shocked at what he was hearing.   “I thought things we’re so much better for gays in Canada.   I mean Canadians seem so much more civilized than we are here.   But, I guess police brutality is universal, whether it’s here or in Canada.”

Michael said, “You’re right about that.   But, at least, the four policemen involved in the beating incident were suspended without pay and face seven charges, including assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, negligent use of a firearm, fabricating police reports and obstruction of justice.  The four of them have been sentenced to the maximum jail time for their heinous crimes.”

Justin said, “I’m glad they won’t be out on the streets for a very long time.   It’s good to know the Canadian justice system works.   Those rogue police officers were charged and put in prison, instead of getting away with assaulting your cousin.   Here, in the United States, the cops get away with murder, assault, you name it, because they can claim you were resisting arrest; so, their use of force is justified.   The police believe they are above the law, and can do as they please, because they’re never held accountable for their actions.”

Michael said, “I’ve heard that about your country, but aren’t there organizations out there to monitor police abuses?”

Justin said, “Yes, there are, but they are constantly harassed and labeled as terrorist organizations, because they shine a light on bad cops and their illegal behavior.”

Michael said, “Isn’t there something we can do to stop police brutality?”

Justin said, “Yes, there is.   We can vote out politicians who support and condone such behavior in our law enforcement officials.   But the best way to stop police brutality is to record the cops’ bad behavior and publish it.   You would be amazed at the impact posting cops’ bad behavior on the internet has on the community.   It’s like giving antibiotics to someone who has a bacterial infection.   It takes a while to get the police to recognize their bad behavior, but it eventually will cause the public to be so outraged the police will have to make changes.”

 Justin paused for a moment before continuing, “So, back to what happened to your cousin.   Why do you feel you’re responsible for what happened to him?”

“I still feel guilty for not being there to protect him.   I can’t help thinking if I had been there, J.F. wouldn’t have been attacked,” Michael paused, trying to get his emotions under control.   “I still remember getting that call at 3 AM in the morning from Aunt Loren asking us to go with her to the hospital.   My Uncle Marcel died the year before, leaving J.F. and Aunt Loren alone, so whenever she needed anything she always called us.   When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors told us they didn’t expect J.F. to survive the night.   His attackers had beaten him with their nightsticks, in addition to kicking him and stomping on him after they had handcuffed him.   They had cracked open his skull, broken most of his ribs, puncturing one of his lungs.   One of the officers had stomped on his back, fracturing several of his vertebrae.”

“No wonder those guys are in jail,” Justin said, shuddering at the thought of such brutality.

“It was fortunate there were several videos showing what happened, because the cops tried to cover it up,” Michael said.

“So, how is J.F. doing?” Justin asked.

Michael wiped the tears from his eyes, and said, “Justin, you won’t believe how many miracles have happened to J.F. over the last few months.  J.F. has proven all the doctors wrong.   They told us, if he survived the night, he would be a vegetable, unable to live without life support.   Then they said he would be paralyzed from the waist down.   They were wrong on all counts.   J.F. did make it through the night and recovered enough to testify against his attackers, and he learned to walk again.”

Michael stopped talking, and started to cry, again.   Justin put his arms around him, holding him close.   “It’s okay, Michael.”   Justin brushed his blond hair out of his face, and looked into Michael’s eyes.   “Is there more?”

Michael nodded his head.   “Yes, J.F.’s skull healed, but he has brain damage that causes him to suffer massive seizures.   He’s on medication to control them; but, now, J.F. will never drive a car or have a job where he could endanger someone, if he had a seizure.  J.F. has tried to commit suicide several times, since the attack, Justin.   He is so depressed all of the time.”

Justin said, “I know about the depression thing.”

Michael said, “Robbie and Adam said you’ve been through a lot, but they wouldn’t tell me anything.   They told me you would share what you would with me directly.”

Justin released Michael from his embrace and stretched out on the bed.   Michael moved to the head of the bed and leaned against the wall.   Justin rolled onto his side, supporting his head with his hand, and looked up at Michael. 

“I’ll tell you a little bit about me, but most of it will have to wait until J.F. is here, because I think I can help J.F.   But I don’t like talking about what happened to me, so I won’t do it twice.”

Michael said, “J.F. is the same way.   He doesn’t want to talk about what happened to him.   Aunt Loren told me he still wakes up screaming in the middle of the night.”

Justin said, “I get that part, too.”   He sat up and said, “Let’s get something to eat.   I’m starving.”

Michael laughed.   “It’s after midnight, Justin.”

Justin stood up and turned to give Michael a hand up.  “Exactly.”

The two men left Michael’s room, and went downstairs to the kitchen.   “How did you know I needed someone to talk to?” Michael asked.

Justin didn’t answer, at first.   He opened the fridge and pulled out the left over pizza from their dinner.   He looked at Michael, and asked, “Cold pizza?”

Michael nodded his head.   “Yeah, I like it cold, especially combo pizza.”

Justin grabbed a couple of paper towels from the roll hanging under the cabinet.   He took two slices of pizza and placed them on a paper towel, handing them to Michael.  Then, he took the remaining two slices for himself.   He opened the fridge and pulled out two cans of beer, giving one to Michael.

Michael hesitated for a moment, before giving it back.   “I can’t drink this.”

Justin met his eyes, and asked, “Are you sure?  It will help you relax, then maybe you’ll be able to sleep.”

Michael said, “I’m good, Justin.”

Justin put the beer back in the fridge, and pulled out a can of soda.   He looked at Michael with his eyebrows raised.   Michael laughed, and said, “Okay, I’ll take the soda.”

Justin handed it to him.   They walked over to the kitchen table and sat down.   After taking a bite of pizza, Justin said, “I heard you crying, Michael.  That’s how I knew you needed me.”

Michael said, “But, I thought everyone was asleep.”

Justin said, “I often can’t sleep.   I still have nightmares about what happened to me.   The bad dreams haven’t been as bad since I married Brian, but I still have them.   At least, I don’t wake up screaming, anymore.   I used to wake Brian up every time I had a nightmare; but now, I just get up and wonder around the house until I’m calmed down enough to sleep.   I was just outside your door, when I heard you crying.   Hearing you crying reminded me of the many nights I cried myself to sleep after my parents disowned me.”

Michael looked into Justin’s eyes, and asked, “What happened?”

A look of great sadness crossed Justin’s face, before he started to speak, “Well, let me start at the beginning, I grew up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, about 97 miles (156 km.) from here to the east.”

Michael nodded his head.   “I think I know where it is.”

“My Dad was an independent truck driver.   He worked for several of the cheese factories near Chippewa Falls, as well as other businesses who needed to ship their goods to their customers.   He developed a good relationship with the smaller cheese makers around the state, and would make a run to pick up their cheese.   He would drive to Ottawa and Montreal to deliver their specialty cheeses.”   He grew more animated as he talked about his childhood.

“Dad would take me and my brother, Jared, with him on his runs to Canada.   We thought it was super cool to go on the road with him!   He had a sleeper cab, where we could take naps, play video games, and hang out, while Dad drove the truck.   Back then, I didn’t have a care in the world.   My brother was my best friend in the entire world.   We did everything together.”

Justin stopped, and drew a ragged breath.   Michael saw the tears begin to course down his cheeks.   He got up, and walked around the table.   He sat down next to Justin and put his arm around his shoulders.   Justin wiped his tears away with the back of his hand.   “I’m sorry, Michael.  I really miss my brother.”

Michael asked, “Why don’t you tell me more about him?”

“Jared is a year older than me.   He is a great sportsman and excels at everything athletic.   He was on our high school basketball team and led our team to the state championships his senior year.   I remember sitting in the stands cheering for him, and shouting and yelling so much, I could hardly speak afterward.  Everyone at the school loved Jared.   Not only was he a great athlete, but he was also valedictorian of his class.   He got a full ride scholarship to Maranatha Baptist University.   He met his wife there.   He’s married, with two kids and lives near my parents.”

Michael said, “He sounds like a really nice guy.”

Justin said, “He is, but my parents always compared me to Jared, telling me I needed to be better at sports, and get better grades, because Jared did so well.  Nothing I did measured up in their eyes.   Jared defended me to them, telling them it wasn’t fair to me, to be compared to him.   He always treated me as an equal.   What I liked most was the fact he included me in his circle of friends at school.   I was fifteen, when I realized I liked guys more than girls.   Being around Jared’s friends allowed me to hang with the best looking studs at school!”

Michael asked, “Did Jared know you were gay?”

“No, but I think he suspected I might be, because I never dated anyone.   He tried to line me up with some of his friends’ sisters, who were my age; but, I always had an excuse why I couldn’t go out with them.”

“Did you play sports?” Michael asked.   “You look like you’re an athlete.”

Justin nodded.   “I was on the swim team.   I managed to hide the fact I was gay from all of them, except Mitchell.   He was my best friend on the swim team.   He caught me looking him over one evening, after practice.   He waited until everyone had left the showers, before he approached me.”

As Justin told Michael about Mitchell, his mind went back to his first sexual encounter with him.

Justin stood under the shower, rinsing the chlorine out of his swim suit.   He couldn’t resist the temptation to give Mitchell the once over, as he showered a couple of shower heads over from Justin.   Justin’s light blue eyes met Mitchell’s dark brown ones.   Justin blushed, as he realized Mitchell knew he had been lusting over his body.

Mitchell was 6’2” (188 cm.), and had short, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, a rather large nose, and a generous mouth.   His olive skin was flawless.   He had no body hair except around his large cock.   Mitchell trimmed his pubic hair so that it wouldn’t show above his bikini swim suit.

As Justin watched, Mitchell’s cock began to inflate until it was at full mast.   Mitchell grinned, and said, “Come here, Justin.”

Justin turned off the water, and joined Mitchell.   Mitchell asked, “You’re gay, aren’t you?”

Justin met his eyes, and nodded his head.   “Please don’t tell anyone, Mitch.   They’ll run me off of the team.”

Mitchell said, “I won’t tell, but you have to let me fuck you.”

Justin grinned.   “I hoped you would say that.”

Mitchell said, “Turn around, and bend over.   I need to fuck you, now.”

Justin did as he was told.   He saw Mitchell pump the soap dispenser a few times, and felt his fingers push into him.   Mitchell repeated the process a couple of more times, then said, “Are you ready?”

Justin nodded his head.   Mitchell lined up his huge cock with Justin’s quivering hole.   Mitchell said, “Relax, Justin.   It will be much easier if you can relax.”

Justin took a couple of deep breaths, and managed to relax, letting Mitchell’s steel pole enter him.   Mitchell wrapped his arms around Justin’s waist, and kissed the back of his neck.   “You feel so good, Justin.   I’ve wanted to fuck you since you first joined the team.”

Justin turned his head, and said, “I’ve felt the same way, but I was afraid you would hate me.”

Mitchell said, “Well, I’m glad we’ve finally figured out we both wanted to be together.”

Mitchell released Justin, and held onto his hips, as he proceeded to take Justin’s virginity!

Justin was brought back to the present by Michael’s voice.   “Justin, are you okay?”

The memory of his first time with a guy, had his dick tenting the fabric of his boxer shorts.   He managed to respond.   “Yes, I’m okay.   It’s just thinking about Mitchell has me all amped up.   I’m going to have to wake up Brian to have him take care of this.”   He pointed to his cock.

Michael laughed.   “That must have been a great fuck, to get you aroused like that.”

Justin nodded his head, in agreement.   “It was.   We fucked like rabbits the rest of my senior year.   He was my first love.   I stayed at his house when my parents disowned me, until I returned here to go to college.”

Michael asked, “When did you come out to your parents?”

“It was after I came here to school.   I went home for the weekend the first week of October.   I had phoned Mitchell to tell him I planned to come out to my parents.   He told me to be careful, because my parents are Baptist and deeply religious.   When I came out to them, Dad told me I was not a child of his and completely disowned me.   Mom didn’t defend me, but just sat there in silence.   I packed my stuff and haven’t been back.   Even Jared has disowned me.   I haven’t seen or heard from them since that time.”

Michael said, “That makes me sad, Justin.   You don’t deserve to be treated that way by those who should have been there to love and support you.”

Justin said, “I know, but that is the way things are.   Since then, I’ve worked to pay for my tuition and books, sometimes taking a semester off to save enough money to go the following semester.   It’s took me seven years to graduate.”

Michael said, “I’m impressed you stuck with it, and managed to graduate, despite the obstacles in your way.”

Justin said, “It wasn’t easy for me, especially after I moved in with Alex.”

Michael asked, “Who is Alex?”  He felt Justin shiver, and gave him a concerned look.   “Are you okay?”

Justin said, “Let’s talk about Alex another time.”

Michael said, “Thank you for talking with me.”

Justin smiled, and said, “I’m always good for a nice long chat.”   He leaned over, and kissed Michael on the lips.  Michael gave Justin a look of surprise.   Seeing his expression, Justin kissed him again.  

Justin said, “Don’t worry, Michael.   I’m not going to cheat on Brian; but, I couldn’t resist kissing those beautiful lips of yours.”

Michael blushed, and said, “I’m glad you think I’m good looking.”

Justin said, “Jean-Michael, you are a stud.”   With that, he kissed Michael once more, then stood up.   “Let’s get to bed.   It’s late.”

Michael smiled up at him, and said, “Thanks for talking to me.”

Michael stood up and followed Justin out of the kitchen, switching off the light as he left.   Later, in his room, he picked up his cell phone to find a text message from J.F.

“Henri veut venir avec moi pour vous rendre visite. C'est bien cela?”  (Henri wants to come with me to visit you.   Is that okay?)

Michael replied, “Je suis d'accord avec ça, mais je dois demander Zach et Todd.”  (I’m okay with it, but I’ll have to ask Zach and Todd.)

Michael wasn’t sure he wanted J.F.’s boyfriend to come with him.   Henri hadn’t been able to protect J.F. from the cops, and he felt Henri should have done something to stop it from happening.   He knew he was blaming Henri for something he had no control over, but he still felt Henri should have kept J.F. with him at the bar, instead of sending him home alone.

He stared up at the ceiling, trying to calm down.   He needed to get some sleep, or he would be a total wreck in the morning.

The next morning, Peyton woke up in his lover’s arms.   He felt refreshed, and more than a little horny.   He could feel Jonathan’s cock pressing against his leg, and it excited him.   He felt Jonathan’s fingers running through his hair, and smiled.  

He lifted his head from Jonathan’s chest, and met his husband’s eyes.   Jonathan said, “Good morning, my dearest husband.”

Peyton said, “Good morning, Babe.”   He kissed Jonathan, and said, “I want you to fuck me in the shower, this morning.”   He reached down to stroke his husband’s male member.

Jonathan said, “I’m ready.   Let’s go.”

The two lovers got out of bed, and made their way into the en suite.  Jonathan turned on the shower, adjusting the temperature.   He turned, and took Peyton’s hand, pulling him under the cascade of warm water.   He held him in his arms, kissing him deeply, loving the feel of Peyton’s hard body against his.  

Peyton murmured against Jonathan’s lips, “Fuck me, please.”

Jonathan turned Peyton around, gently pushing on his back until he was leaning against the shower wall.   “Are you ready?”

Peyton nodded his head.   “Now, please.”

Jonathan was more than ready to comply with Peyton’s wishes!

A while later, they appeared in the kitchen dressed in matching khaki cargo shorts and black tank tops.   The floor felt cold on their bare feet.   Jonathan said, “I think we need to invest in a pair of slippers.   These floors are freezing.”

Peyton nodded his head.   “It’s not like Atlanta.   Rick and Glenn’s floors were never cold as they are here.”

Greg and Cory were already sitting at the table, eating their breakfast.   “Good morning, guys,” Greg said, smiling at the newlyweds.   They had that glow that comes from having sex with the one you love.

Cory grinned at them, and asked, “How was the shower?”

Jonathan blushed, but answered, “It was wonderful.”

Peyton said, “Jonathan is the best husband ever.”   He leaned over and kissed him.

Greg said, “Have a seat, guys.  There’s plenty of food.”

The two lovers sat down opposite their brothers-in-law.   Peyton asked, “How do you like being a Scarborough?”

Greg said, “Letting Grandpa adopt me was the best decision I’ve ever made.   I’m glad you decided to let him adopt you, as well.”

Cory said, “I second that.   It has been a very good thing for us.”

Jonathan asked, “Why do you call him Grandpa?”

“Because it’s what Glenn and Rick call him,” Greg said.  “We could call him Dad, because he adopted me.   However, it feels right to me to call him Grandpa.”

Peyton said, “I thought about calling him Grandpa, as well; but, I wanted to find a way to feel closer to him, and calling him Dad seemed to fit the bill.”

Jonathan said, “He seemed pleased we’re calling him Dad.”

Cory said, “I also think it puts you on equal footing with Bob and Corey.”

Peyton said, “I guess you’re right about that.   I need to feel I’m being treated the same as my new brothers.   Sometime, I still feel like I don’t really belong to this family.”

Greg said, “That feeling will fade as time goes on, Peyton.  Being adopted really made me feel different.  It was something I needed to help me move past what my biological father did to me.”

“In my case, my father hasn’t done me harm; but, I know he would if he ever found out I’m married to a guy,” Peyton said.

“True, but you needed a new start, just as much as we did,” Cory said.

Peyton met Cory’s gaze, and nodded his head.  “Yes, I did, and still do.  I’m hoping Peyton Jeremiah Scarborough Smith can become someone who inspires people to do their best.”

Cory said, “I think you’re already that man, Peyton.   Greg and I already look up to you.   You’ve been able to overcome the fear you had of being intimate with another man, despite everything you’ve been through.”

Peyton reached over and took Jonathan’s hand.  He smiled, and said, “That’s because I’ve married my best friend.”

Jonathan said, “I love you, Babe.”  He kissed Peyton, lightly on the lips.  “But, Cory is correct.   You’ve already made great strides to become the man you envision yourself to be.”

Peyton’s eyes filled with tears, and he said, “It’s only because you guys insisted on never letting me sleep alone at night.   I learned I could be close to you guys without being raped.  I needed to know I was loved for being me, and not just a sex toy to be fucked at will.”

Jonathan took Peyton’s hand in his.  “You’re much, much more than a sex toy to me; but, I like the sex part a lot.”

Peyton laughed, and said, “You guys wouldn’t believe how horny Jonathan gets.   He’s a sex maniac!”

Greg said, “I think I can believe it.   Did you guys wait to have sex, until after you were married?”

“Yes, we did,” Jonathan said.   “I wanted our first time to be on our wedding day.”

“We haven’t been able to keep our hands off of each other since that day,” Peyton said, giving his husband a lecherous grin.   “I can’t get enough of him.”

Jonathan smiled, and said, “I’m glad I made you wait, because now you appreciate having sex with me.”

Greg asked, “What do you guys want to do today?”

“We want to meet all of your friends,” Peyton said.  “Glenn and Rick have told us all of your friends are wonderful people.”

Greg said, “Rick and Glenn are right, because every one of the guys is a loyal friend.”

“Plus, they’re all studs.   I love having them around,” Cory said.

Greg nodded his head, and said, “They are great role models, Peyton.   All of them work out, regularly.   They know how to treat their spouses, because they’re madly in love with their husbands.”

Robbie and Adam walked into the kitchen.   Robbie asked, “Did someone say I was madly in love with my husband?”   He kissed Adam, and led him over to the table.   The two young guys sat down next to Peyton and Jonathan.

Peyton smiled at them, and said, “Rick and Glenn warned us to watch out for you, Robbie.”

Robbie gave Peyton his “who me” look, then broke into laughter.   “They know me too well.”

Greg said, “Robbie is our resident practical joker.   There is never a dull moment around this place.”

Robbie stuck his tongue out at Greg.   “Tattle tale!”

Greg laughed, and said, “Robbie, you know it’s true.   Besides, you should never stick out your tongue around here, because you know we’ll collect on the invitation to kiss you.”   He got up and walked round the table to where Robbie was seated.   He took Robbie’s hand and pulled him to his feet.   He embraced Robbie, kissing him deeply.  Releasing Robbie, he returned to his place next to Cory.

Robbie grinned, and sat down.  “I love living here.”

Adam laughed, and said, “You’re incorrigible, Robbie.”

Robbie said, “But, you love me, anyway.”

Adams leaned over, and kissed his husband.  “Yes, I do.”

Robbie glanced at his watch, and said, “We’ve got 15 minutes before we have to leave for class.”

Handing Robbie a plate of eggs and sausage, Adam said, “Here, start eating.”

Robbie obediently took his food, and dug into it.   The two wolfed down their breakfast.   Peyton laughed, and said, “You guys are crazy!”

“No, they’re just the youngest ones in the house,” Greg said, smiling at his friends.

Robbie said, with a grin, “It’s true.   You guys are all getting so old.”

Greg said, “You guys aren’t teenagers, anymore, so you can’t give us a hard time about being in our twenties.”

Adam said, “Don’t encourage him, Greg.   You know how Robbie likes a challenge.”

Robbie stood up, and walked over to the sink.   He washed his dishes, and turned to take Adam’s dishes from him.   He quickly washed them, and placed them on the drain board to dry alongside his own.

“We’ll see you guys after class,” Robbie said.   Adam and Robbie left the kitchen, and, soon, the guys heard them open and close the front door.

Greg said, “Let’s clean up.   Brian and Justin will be down in about 30 minutes, to go to work.”

Peyton asked, “What about Jean-Michael?”

Greg said, “He goes to class with us.   Our first class is at 10 AM, so we won’t see him for a while yet.”

The guys cleaned the kitchen, and moved into the recreation room to relax until it was time to leave for class.   As predicted, Jean-Michael showed up 30 minutes later.   He walked into the recreation room, and looked at the guys, and said, “Good morning.”

“Good morning, Michael,” Greg said.   “There’s some eggs and sausage in the warmer in the kitchen.”

“Thanks, Greg.   I’ll be right back,” he said.   He left the room, and returned a few minutes later with his plate of eggs and sausage.   He sat down in an armchair, and proceeded to make his breakfast disappear.

He finished, and put his plate down on the floor next to the chair.   “Guys, I needed to ask you if it’s okay for my cousin, J.F., to bring his boyfriend with him next week.”

Greg said, “I’m good with that.”   He glanced over at Cory, who nodded his head.  

“I’m okay with it, as well.”

Michael looked over at Peyton and Jonathan.   Peyton said, “It’s fine by me.”

“Same here,” Jonathan said.   “What’s his boyfriend like?”

Michael said, “He’s really good looking, tall, blond and really built.   I’d say he’s got the perfect body.”

Peyton asked, “But, you don’t approve of him?”

Michael didn’t respond at first, then said, “I approve of him, but I still blame him, in part, for what happened to J.F.   He shouldn’t have sent J.F. home by himself.”

Greg said, “Jean-Michael, you need to stop blaming him for what happened.   He didn’t know those cops were going to attack J.F.”

It was evident to Peyton and Jonathan that there had been previous discussions about this subject.   Michael said, “I know, but I still can’t get it out of my head.  I can’t help thinking there was something I could’ve done to prevent it from happening.   I blame myself for letting him go alone to that gay bar.”

Peyton said, “Can you bring us up to date with what happened to J.F.?”

Michael said, “I’m sorry.   I keep forgetting you don’t know what happened to J.F.”  He related the entire story to them.   “I think I’ve told everyone, now, except Brian.”

Brian walked into the room, and asked, “What haven’t you told me?”

 Peyton gave Brian a once over, noting his olive skin, black hair and eyes.   He wore a white muscle shirt and tight-fitting jeans that hugged him in all of the right places.   Brian smiled, and said, “Good morning, guys.”

Michael said, “I was telling the guys about my cousin, J.F.”

Brian turned to look at Michael.   “Justin told me about your cousin, this morning.”

Justin walked up behind his husband, and wrapped his arms around his waist.   “I hope it was okay to share what you told me with Brian.”

Michael said, “I was going to tell him, but now I don’t have to repeat myself.   J.F. sent me a text message last night asking if he could bring his boyfriend with him next week.”

Justin kissed the back of Brian’s neck, and released him.   “It’s okay with me.   Brian?”

Brian said, “As long as he doesn’t try to hit on any of us, I’m good with him visiting.”

Michael laughed, and said, “I don’t think Henri would dare try something like that.   J.F. has him on a pretty short leash.”

“Is that why J.F. wants to bring him?” Peyton asked.

Michael nodded his head.   “J.F. is super possessive.   I keep telling him he needs to relax.   I’m afraid Henri will tire of it, and leave him.   Since the attack, J.F. has been exceptionally clingy.   He’s terrified of being alone.”

Justin said, “I can understand that.   Go ahead and tell him to bring Henri.”

Michael said, “There’s breakfast in the warmer.   I made sure to leave enough for you guys.”

Justin smiled, and said, “Thanks, Jean-Michael.”   He took Brian’s hand, and led him to the kitchen.   Justin grabbed the sausage and eggs from the warmer and sat them on the table, while Brian retrieved cups, plates and utensils.   Justin walked over to the fridge to retrieve the orange juice.

He joined Brian at the kitchen table, and the guys finished off the sausages and eggs.   Brian said, “I want to start looking for a house in Mark and Brandon’s neighborhood.”

Justin said, “We can look, but I don’t want to move until July or August.   I want to make sure the guys are settled before we move out.”  Brian frowned, and muttered oaths under his breath.   Justin said, “I won’t change my mind, Brian; so, just stop the cursing and deal with it.”

Brian met his husband’s eyes, and said, “Justin, I want you to put us first.   We need to be on our own.   Don’t you think we’ve been here long enough?”  Justin’s pressed his lips together in a thin line.   Seeing Justin’s expression harden, Brian said, “I’m sorry, I know we’ve discussed this many times before.”

Justin let out a sigh of resignation.  He wasn’t sure he was ready to abandon the safety and comfort he felt living with the guys.   He loved Brian very much, but sometimes Brian didn’t know what to do to help him with his fits of depression.   Even Brian acknowledged living with the guys had been a huge blessing in their lives.   It was just Brian felt they needed to move on with their lives; and, to Brian, that meant moving into a home of their own.  “Brian, I promise we can move in the summer.   In the meantime, I’ll go with you to look at houses.”

Brian smiled at his husband, and said, “Thank you, Babe.”  

He leaned over and kissed Justin, placing his hand on the inside of his thigh.   Brian knew he had just won a minor victory; but, he also knew he needed to tread lightly, or things could blow up in his face.   If he pushed too hard, Justin would shut down, or, worse, do a death spiral into a deep depression.   Justin had attempted suicide several times, since they had gotten married.   The first time it happened, they had had an argument.   The next day, they had kissed and made up, at least that is how Brian perceived the situation.   He discovered just how wrong he was when he walked into their en suite to find Justin on the floor in a pool of his own blood.   He had never forgiven himself for causing Justin so much mental and emotional suffering.   It had taken months for Justin to return to normal; and, even at that, Brian kept a close eye on Justin, not knowing if another suicide attempt was just an hour away.

Brian was brought back to the present, when Justin asked, “What’s wrong?”

Brian said, “Nothing, sweetheart.”  He gave Justin’s thigh a gentle squeeze, and picked up his cup of orange juice, finishing off the last of it.

Justin knew something was bothering Brian, but he didn’t press him.   He knew Brian would tell him, eventually.   Justin stood up, and helped Brian wash up their dishes.   He pulled Brian into his embrace, and looked him in the eyes.   “I love you.”

Brian said, “I love you, too.”

Justin kissed him deeply, before releasing him.   “It’s time to go.”

As they grabbed their coats, and walked out the door, Justin thought about Brian’s propensity to be over-protective of him.   They had argued about it before, but Brian hadn’t backed off of his insistence that Justin needed to be shielded from things that would upset him.  He smiled as he thought of his husband’s sense of responsibility for his well-being.   It gave him a sense of comfort, despite the occasional chafing he felt at being watched over.  

The week flew by for Jean-Michael.   He borrowed Robbie and Adams car to drive to the airport to meet Jean-Francois and Henri.   He parked the car, and walked inside the terminal.  

His cell phone rang, and he answered it.   “Hey!”

“We’re picking up our luggage,” J.F. said.

“I see you,” Michael said, waving at his cousin.

He ended the call, and walked over to J.F.   He pulled him into a warm embrace, and kissed him on both cheeks.   “I’m glad you came.”

J.F. clung to Michael for a moment longer, before releasing him.   Michael turned to Henri, who stood waiting, patiently, as the two cousins greeted each other.   J.F. was 5’8” with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, a button nose, and a small mouth.   He had a round boyish-looking face, except that now he had huge black circles around his eyes.   He looked like he hadn’t slept in days.   He was very thin and emaciated.

Michael looked at his cousin with concern in his eyes.   “You’re too skinny, J.F.   Aren’t you eating right?”

J.F. looked away from his cousin’s gaze.   He mumbled, “I don’t like to eat.”

Michael frowned, and said, “I can tell you aren’t sleeping, either.”

Henri said, “He has insomnia, Michael, but he won’t take his sleeping pills.”

Michael said, “J.F. we’ll talk more about this later.”  Michael turned to Henri.   He hugged him and kissed him on both cheeks.   “Welcome to Minneapolis, Henri.

Henri said, “Thank you, Michael.   I’m glad your roommates agreed to let me come.”

Michael gave Henri the once over.   Henri was the same height as Michael; but, there the similarities ended.   Henri had jet black hair, black eyes, a hawk-like nose, a bushy black mustache, and a square jaw.   He was a mountain of a man with broad shoulders and a barrel chest.   He reminded Michael of a bull, ready to charge.

Michael said, “If you’ve got all of your luggage, let’s go.”

Henri said, “I have it all here.”

Michael led the way back to the car.   They loaded their luggage into the trunk, and climbed in.   Michael pointed out things of interest as they made the short drive to the guys’ house.   He pulled the car alongside the curb, and parked it.

They got out, and retrieved the luggage from the trunk.   As they walked towards the door, it opened and Robbie came bouncing down the steps.   He had a broad smile on his lips.   “Welcome!”   He took the suitcases out of Henri’s hands.   “Let us help you with those.”  Adam followed him, at a much slower pace.   Robbie turned to hand Adam one of the suitcases.   “Please take this one.”

They turned and went back into the house.   By the time Henri, Michael and J.F. had entered the house, Robbie and Adam had returned from taking their luggage to their room.

Robbie embraced J.F.   “J.F., I’m so glad you came.”

J.F. kissed Robbie on both cheeks.  J.F. said, “Thank you for letting us come to visit.”

Robbie turned to Henri.   He put his arms around Henri’s waist, and leaned up to kiss Henri on the lips.  “Welcome to our home, Henri.”

Henri grinned, and said, “I like being here already.”

Robbie released Henri, and said, “Did you need to rest for a bit?   I’ve put your things in Michael’s room, if you want to freshen up.”

Henri looked over at J.F.   J.F. said, “I’m okay.”

Henri said, “If J.F. is okay, I’m okay.”

“Then, let’s go to the recreation room and relax,” Robbie said.   “The rest of the guys are waiting there to meet you.”

They followed Robbie and Adam into the recreation room.   Michael made the introductions.   “Henri Girard and Jean-Francois Fortin, this is Greg and Cory Scarborough, Peyton and Jonathan Smith, and Brian and Justin Sandrithani.”

Robbie interrupted him, before he could go on, “I’m Robbie and this is my husband, Adam; but, you’ve already met us.”

Henri smiled, and said, “Yes, we have.”

The guys all acknowledged the introductions, with a smile and a nod of the head.   J.F. asked, “Are all of you married?”

Greg said, “Yes, we are.”

J.F. smiled.   “That makes me very happy.   Henri and I are engaged to be married.”

Michael exclaimed, “Congratulations!   When did Henri propose to you?”

J.F. grinned, and said, “Last night.   He took me to our favorite restaurant in Trois Rivieres.  He proposed to me over a glass of champagne after dinner.   He even got on his knees, when he asked me to marry him.”

Cory said, “We’re very happy for you guys.   Please sit down.   We were just planning out our week.”

Henri and J.F. sat down on the loveseat.   Henri put his arm protectively around J.F.’s shoulders, pulling him close.   J.F. snuggled against his finance.

Justin watched the two of them very carefully.   He could see J.F. was not doing well.   It was evident he was in a lot of mental and emotional pain.   He also noted Henri was deeply in love with J.F.

As they discussed their plans for the week, J.F. dropped off.   Henri said, “I’m taking J.F. up to bed.   Michael, will you show me which room is ours?”

Henri picked up the sleeping J.F. in his arms, and followed Michael out of the room and up the stairs.   Michael opened the door, and indicated which bed was theirs.   The guys had helped Michael set the queen-sized bed in his room for them.   It didn’t leave a lot of room between his bed and theirs, but it was only for a short time.

Michael pulled back the duvet, and Henri laid J.F. on the bed, covering him with the comforter that lay across the foot of the bed.   J.F. stirred, but didn’t waken.   Michael and Henri quietly left the room and rejoined the group of guys downstairs.

Justin met Henri’s gaze, and asked, “How long has J.F. been like this?”

Henri glanced over at Michael, who said, “They already know what happened to J.F.”

Henri looked back at Justin.   “He’s been practically catatonic for nearly two weeks now.   He hasn’t been eating or sleeping much.   I’ve tried to get him to go to the doctor or his therapist, and he won’t go.”

Michael asked, “Why didn’t you call me?”

“J.F. made me promise not to tell you, Michael.  He threatened to leave me, if I said one word to you about his mental and emotional state,” Henri said, tears rolling down the big man’s cheeks.   “Watching him slipping away from me is killing me, Jean-Michael.   You don’t know how hard it’s been for me, to keep that promise.   I proposed to him last night, hoping it would give him something to live for; but, you can see what a bad state he’s in.”   He put his head in his hands, as sobs wracked his body.

Michael rubbed Henri’s back, and said, “It’s alright, now, Henri.   We’ll see what we can do to help J.F.”

Henri sat up, and looked at Michael.  He said, in a voice still choked with tears, “I hope you can reach him, Jean-Michael.   I’m afraid I’m going to lose him.”

Michael knew Henri loved J.F., but he didn’t realize how deeply until now.   He said, “I’ll do my best.”

Greg said, “I think we all can help.”

Brian looked at Justin, and said, “Okay, you win, Justin.”

Justin smiled, and said, “You love me.”

Brian kissed his husband, and said, “Yes, I do love you, very much.”

Robbie looked at Brian and Justin, and asked, “What’s up?”

Brian said, “I’ve been pushing Justin to go house hunting; but, he agreed to do so, on the condition we wouldn’t move until this summer, because we need to be here with you guys.   After meeting Henri and J.F., I agree with Justin’s assessment of the situation.   I think that, between Justin, Greg, Cory and Peyton, they have enough experience with the kinds of things J.F. is going through they should be able to reach him.”

The four men looked at each other and back to Brian.   Justin grinned, and said, “What Brian is trying to say is there isn’t any group of guys better qualified to reach out to J.F. than the four of us.   Each of us have had life experiences that give us a lot of credibility with others who’ve had similar experiences.”

Adam looked at Robbie, and said, “I think Justin just said we’re young and inexperienced.”

Justin laughed, and said, “No, you two are experienced, alright, but in different ways.”

Robbie grinned, broadly.   “Yes, you should know.”

Henri looked from Robbie to Justin, wondering what he was missing.   Seeing Henri’s look of confusion.   Justin said, “After I tried to commit suicide, Robbie and Adam made it their mission in life to make me happy.”

Adam put his arm around Robbie’s shoulders, and grinned.  He said, “Justin is the master of understatement.   We made him more than just happy.   I think some of the words he used were – enraptured, enchanted, deliriously euphoric, and passionately fiery.   Of course, that was before Brian came into the picture.”

Justin blushed, slightly, but said, “Let’s just say Robbie and Adam practiced their charms on me, and I was a very willing subject.”

Henri smiled, and said, “Maybe they can work their magic on J.F.   You seem to be pretty happy, Justin.”

Justin said, “I am very happy.   I have a wonderful husband, and fantastic friends.”

Greg said, “Glenn calls us his Band of Brothers.   We are very close, and we look out for each other.”

Henri asked, “Who is Glenn?”

Greg said, “He’s our nephew.”

Henri asked, “How is that possible?”

Peyton smiled, and said, “Greg and I have been adopted by Glenn’s Grandpa.”   He paused for a moment, before continuing, “And his life partner is my cousin, Rick.”

He looked the rest of the guys, and asked, “Are you related to Glenn, as well.”

Robbie said, “No, but we’re really good friends with Glenn and Rick.”

Justin said, “It’s like all of us are part of the same family.”

Adam said, seriously, “That’s because we are.”  Henri shook his head, trying to understand what the guys were saying.   “Just hang around us for a while, and you’ll start to understand what we mean.”

Henri said, “Okay, but how did you meet Glenn and Rick?”

Robbie said, “Glenn was our roommate while Rick was on active duty.”

Henri looked at Robbie in surprise.   “Rick is in the military?”

Adam got up and walked over to the fireplace.   He picked up a framed photograph of Glenn and Rick.   Rick was in his full dress uniform.   He walked over, and handed the photo to Henri.   “That’s Glenn and Rick.”

Henri whistled.   “Wow!   They are quite the handsome couple.”   He handed the photo back to Adam, who returned it to the mantelpiece.   He picked up the frame next to it.   He handed it to Henri.

“This is our Band of Brothers,” Adam said.   “We had this taken when we went to Spain together.”   He pointed to each of the guys, as he named them.

Henri asked, “How did you manage to find so many great looking gay guys?”

Adam shrugged, “I don’t know.   All I know is Glenn and Rick seem to make friends with great guys.”

Greg said, “We met Rick, while he was on active duty at Quantico Marine Base, in Virginia.”

Cory said, “Rick helped us earn the rank of Eagle Scout.”

Greg said, “He and my brother-in-law, Joey, kept on us until we managed to finish our Eagle Projects.”

Henri looked at the photograph in his hand.   “So, this guy here is your brother-in-law?”

Greg nodded his head.   “Yes, that’s Joey.   My sister was killed in a car accident, leaving Joey alone with my two nieces.   He married Tyler, and they have twin boys, Martin and Rafael.  Our nephews are almost two months old now.   We’re going to meet them in Florida in two weeks, for spring break.”

Henri smiled, and said, “I wish we could go with you.”

Greg said, “Well, you can, if you want to go.   I’m sure we can get you into the same hotel with us.”

Henri shook his head.  “I have to work to support us, since J.F. isn’t working, right now.”

Cory said, “What if we paid for your trip?  Could you go, then?”

Henri looked uncertain.   “I don’t know, if I could be away from work that long.”

“Well, you’re going to be here a week, then you’ll be back home for a week, before you would be flying to Florida for a week,” Justin said.

“Why don’t you call your boss, and ask him if it’s okay?” Jonathan said.   “Most employers won’t care, as long as you let them know with enough time to make arrangements for someone to cover for you.”

Henri still looked doubtful.   “I’m sure Pierre will let me go, but how will we pay for our bills?   If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.”

Justin said, “We’ll float you a loan for your expenses.”

Henri said, “I don’t like borrowing money from anyone.   We’re already in debt from all of J.F. medical bills.”

Jonathan said, “I thought the Canadian health care system took care of most of your needs.”

“It covers most of our medical expenses, but J.F. has special needs, some of which aren’t covered,” Henri said.  “J.F.’s mother doesn’t make a lot of money, and can’t really help us.”

Peyton said, “Well, let us think about how to work things out for you.   In the meantime, let’s plan our week with you and J.F.   We just got here ourselves, and haven’t had time to explore the city.”

They spent the next hour or so, planning out their activities.   Afterward, Henri took his leave of them, and went upstairs to check on J.F.   He opened the bedroom door, to see that J.F. was still asleep.   He took off his shoes, and slipped into bed, alongside his boyfriend.   J.F., sensing his presence, snuggled against his body.   He lay awake, thinking about the conversation he had with the guys.   He was glad he had insisted on coming with J.F.  He eventually drifted off to sleep.

Half way through their stay, the guys were relaxing in the recreation room.   They had been talking about their activities, when the conversation turned to their experiences of coming out to their family and friends.

Robbie said, “I made the mistake of telling my best friend that I’m gay.   I soon found out he wasn’t a very good friend.   Jake told all of his buddies and pretty soon all of the jocks were harassing me.   Things got so bad, I hated going to school.   When Glenn came to visit, he knew right away something was wrong.   He encouraged me to talk to my parents about what was going on at school.”

Adam said, “That’s when they talked to my parents about sending him to school, here in Minneapolis.   That’s when he met me.”

Robbie put his arm around Adam’s shoulders.  “It was the best day of my life.”

Adam grinned, and said, “We’ve been inseparable, since then.”

Justin laughed.   “I never thought I would be part of threesome before I met these two.”

Robbie said, “I didn’t hear you complaining about having a threesome with us.”

Justin said, “I’m not complaining, I’m just noting, for the record, you two come as a package deal.”

Adam said, “Yes, we had your number, Justin.   We knew exactly what you needed to bring you out of your depression.”

Justin smiled, and said, “Yes, you did help me.   You gave me a reason for living.”

“Someone had to keep an eye on you, since you attempted to kill yourself,” Robbie said.

J.F. looked at Justin, with a sudden interest.  He asked, “What happened to you?”

Justin said, “I’m not sure you want to hear about me.”  He had a haunted expression on his face.

Brian took his hand, and said, “You don’t have to tell them, Justin.   I don’t want you to have a relapse.”

Justin turned to his husband, and said, “I will only tell my story this one time.   I think it will help J.F.”   He looked over at J.F.  “I want you to know you’re not alone.   There are several of us here, who have been through experiences similar to yours.”

J.F. looked at Justin in disbelief.   “I can’t believe anyone can understand what it was like being attacked by four policemen.”

Greg said, “I beg to differ, J.F.  When Cory and I came out to our parents, Cory’s parents were very supportive of us.   I thought my parents would be just as supportive.   After dinner one night, we told my parents we were gay and we were dating.   Dad seemed to be okay with us.   However, a few hours later, Cory and I were sitting on the couch, watching a movie, when my Dad attacked us with a baseball bat.   He nearly killed me and Cory.”

Cory said, “We spent a long time in the hospital.   They had to cut holes in our skulls relieve the pressure of the swelling.”   Cory lifted his shoulder length hair, to show the scar on his scalp.   “This is where they removed the bone from my skull.”

Following Cory’s example, Greg lifted the hair covering his scar, and said, “I have a similar scar.   We both had our arms and legs in casts.   It took us a long time to recover.   We both have really bad headaches, at times.   Fortunately, my Dad is in jail and will be there for a long time to come.”

J.F. met Greg eyes, and said, “I’m sorry.   I misjudged you.   I’ve been feeling sorry for myself a lot, lately.   I guess I didn’t realize I’m not the only one who has been beaten for being gay.”

Greg said, “At least your mother doesn’t blame you for putting your Dad in jail, or causing your family to fall apart.”  

There was a deep bitterness in his voice that pierced J.F.’s heart.   He looked away from the pain he saw on Greg’s face.   Henri took his hand in his, and gave it a squeeze.  J.F. met Greg’s gaze.   “I’m sorry for your loss, Greg.  You’re right, I should be grateful my mother has been very supportive of me.”

Justin said, “When I came out to my parents, they disowned me.   I packed up the few things I owned, and loaded them in my car.   I’ve never been back.   I was in my first year of college, here.   I was living in the dorms, then.”

He stopped, and wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand.  Brian said, “You don’t have to do this, Justin.”

Peyton watched Justin carefully.   He sensed Justin carried some very deep emotional wounds.   Greg and Cory had shared their story with him, when he first came to live with the Scarboroughs.   He knew they still carried mental and emotional scars; but, he had also witnessed their strength and resiliency.

He had met Justin at the Scarborough home, and had felt a certain kinship with the man.   He knew Justin had been through some terrible things, judging from how all of his friends protected him.   He had been impressed with Brian’s attentiveness to his husband, and remembered thinking at the time how he envied Justin for capturing such a wonderful guy.

Now, he watched as Brian put his arm around Justin’s shoulders, trying to comfort him.   Justin turned his head, and kissed Brian on the lips.   “I love you, babe; but, I need to do this.”

Brian nodded his head, and said, “Okay.”

Peyton noticed the shimmer of unshed tears in Brian’s eyes.   To cause such a reaction in his husband, Justin’s experience had to be something dreadful.

Justin said, “When I got back to my dorm room that night, I cried myself to sleep.  I spent the rest of that weekend trying to get myself together.   I had enough money in my bank account to pay my expenses for a few months.  Fortunately, the account was in my name, and not my parents, because they took the money my grandparents gave me for college.   My Dad called the bank and had the money transferred out of the account.   I went to the bank to get the money for my tuition, and found out it was gone.  I had to drop out of college the next semester, to find work.  But, before I moved out of the dorms, my roommate, Alex, came home late one night from a party, and found me crying my eyes out.”   Here he stopped, and ran his hand through his hair.  

Robbie asked, “Are you sure you want to talk about Alex?”

Justin said, “I need to talk about Alex.   Alex sat on the bed next to me, and put his arms around me.”   Justin relived that moment, as he told the guys about Alex.

Justin sat on the bed with his head in his hands, sobbing and feeling totally and utterly alone in the world.   He had been so lost in his own misery he failed to notice Alex had come back from the party with his fraternity brothers.   Alex was 6’3” (191 cm.), well-built, with curly blond hair, mischievous bright blue eyes, a broad nose, and a slightly crooked grin.   He weighed 190 lbs. (86 kg.).  He played a lot of basketball at the gym, as well as hitting the weights.  As a result, Alex was a gay guy’s wet dream.   He often walked around their room in the buff, giving Justin a lot of fantasy material!  Justin had spent most of the semester trying to hide his attraction to Alex.   He loved hanging out with Alex and he was afraid he would lose his friendship, if he found out Justin was gay.

Alex walked over, and sat on the bed next to Justin, putting his arm around Justin’s shoulders.  “What’s wrong, Justin?”  Justin had sat bolt upright, as if he had been stung.  “Justin, it’s just me, your roommate, Alex.”

Justin said, “You scared me.”

“I know, and I’m sorry for startling you,” Alex said.  “But, you haven’t answered my question.”

Justin asked, “Will you promise not to hate me, if I tell you?”

Alex gave him a puzzled look.   “Why would I hate you?”

“I don’t know, but you might after I tell you what’s wrong,” Justin responded, fear tinging his voice.

“I promise I won’t hate you, Justin.   Now, tell me what’s going on,” Alex said.

Justin poured his heart out to his roommate, telling him about coming out to his parents, and their reaction.   He told Alex how they had taken his college tuition money, forcing him to leave school at the end of the semester to find a job.   He didn’t know where he could find work or where he was going to live.

Alex listened attentively to Justin’s narrative, keeping his arm around his shoulders the entire time.   When he finished, he pulled Justin into his arms, and held him tight.   Justin slipped his arms around Alex’s waist and buried his face in his chest.   Alex continued to hold him, as Justin let his emotions find an outlet, watering Alex’s shirt with his tears.

Alex rubbed his back, and said, “It’s going to be okay, Justin.”

Justin pulled back, and looked up into Alex’s eyes.   “You mean you don’t hate me?”

“No, I don’t hate you, Justin.   You’re my friend, and I’m angry at the way your family has treated you,” Alex said.

Justin said, “So, you aren’t going to kick me out of your room?”

Alex laughed, and said, “No, Justin, I’m not going to kick you out of our room.   Now, I know your gay, it explains a lot of things.   I’m sorry I’ve paraded naked around our room all semester.   I caught you looking at me, from time to time; but, I never would have guessed you were gay.”

Justin grinned, and said, “Don’t apologize, Alex.   I love seeing you naked.”

Alex rubbed his hand over Justin’s crotch, and said, “I bet you do, given your reaction to my touch.” 

Justin’s cock had sprung to full mast, and was straining to get free.   Alex continued to stroke him, through the fabric of his jeans.  Alex leaned over, and kissed Justin.   At first, it was a gentle kiss, but soon deepened.   They came up for air, Justin gasping for breath.  

Alex grinned, and said, “You’re a great kisser, Justin.”

Justin said, “And, so are you.”

Alex asked, “Before we go any further, Justin, I want to know if this is what you want?   I’m horny as hell, and I want to fuck you; but, I won’t go any further if you aren’t ready to have a relationship with me.”

Justin asked, “My concern is you’ll fuck me; then, you’ll hate me forever for turning you gay.”

Alex looked at Justin in surprise.  “I won’t hate you, Justin.   I may not be gay, but I do want to have a relationship with you.   I like you a lot, and find you very attractive.”

Justin could feel the heat of Alex’s body next to him, and wanted so much to have this gorgeous man fuck him.   Every fiber of his body wanted this man, even though he had doubts about being in a relationship with Alex.   He decided he would take a chance being hurt, if things didn’t work out for them.

Justin said, “That night will always be a treasured memory for me.   I loved Alex very much, and he loved me, or so I thought, at the time.”

Peyton could see the memory of that night had caused a tent to appear in Justin’s pants.   He looked over at Brian, to see if he had noticed.   Brian met his eyes, and smiled.   “Yes, I know Justin still has feelings for Alex; but only for the man Alex used to be, not the man Alex has become.”

Justin took Brian’s hand in his.   “I love you, Brian.”

Brian smiled, and replied, “I love you, too.”

Justin returned to his narrative.  “The next semester, we moved into an apartment, near campus.  I got a job working at a grocery store as a cashier.   I still didn’t make enough money, so I started working a second job.  Things went well for us.   Alex was always very attentive and we had fantastic sex!   I managed to save enough money to start back to school that next fall.   I look back on our first two years together as our golden years, because by the third year, Alex began to change.   He would come home drunk from partying with his fraternity brothers.   Alex is a mean drunk.   He started to beat me, accusing me of turning him into a faggot.   He would stay away from home for days at a time.   I knew he was staying with his girlfriends, trying to convince himself he was straight.   Then, he would come home in a drunken stupor, and beat me up.   I would make up my mind to leave him, then he would apologize, and beg me to stay.   He claimed he couldn’t live without me.   Things would get better, for a while, then, he’d get drunk again.”

“Didn’t anyone call the cops, when he beat you?” Jonathan asked.

“No, the cops wouldn’t have helped me.   They would have encouraged him to keep going.   That is what he told me, because he didn’t want to be put in jail.   I was so afraid of him, I didn’t dare tell anyone what was happening to me.” Justin said, shuddering at the memory.

“Then, one night, he said he was going to kill me.   I managed to get free of him, and ran out of the apartment.   I screamed for help, and one of the neighbors came out of their apartment.   I begged her to call the cops.   I told her Alex was going to kill me.   She didn’t believe me, until she saw Alex come running after me.   He caught me and dragged me back into our apartment.   He kept hitting me, until I collapsed on the ground.   He kept kicking me, then he broke both of my arms, and he would have killed me, if the cops hadn’t arrived when they did.”

Justin stopped, and leaned against his husband.   It was obvious he was completely drained, from reliving what had happened to him.   Adam said, “I’ll tell the rest of the story.   Justin moved in with his friend, Sarah, and her two boys, Mitch and Jerry.   They nursed him back to health.”

“It wasn’t long after that when we met him,” Robbie said.  “Actually, it was Glenn who met him, first.  Justin had joined the gay men’s chorus, and Glenn had gone to their concert.   He approached Justin afterward, asking how he could become a member.”

Justin said, “I had become very depressed, and I’d decided I had nothing to live for.   I bought a gun and some ammunition.   That night, I went to a gay bar, to have one last night out, before killing myself.   I had written a note, and intended to leave it with whomever I could get to take me home with them, when I saw Glenn.  I wanted to talk with him, one last time, so I went over to their table.   The guys invited me to join them.”

He stopped, unable to proceed, because of the strong emotions that washed over him.   The guys waited, silently, until he was sufficiently recovered to continue.  “They made me feel welcome, and showed a genuine interest in me.   The more I talked with Glenn and his friends, the more I wanted to be one of them.  I, finally, showed them my suicide note.  They read it, and they calmly took control of the situation.   They took the gun from me, and took me into their home.   With their love and support, I got the treatment I needed.  I’m not completely cured of all the mental and emotional ills that plague me, but I have wonderful friends and a loving husband to help me through the rough times.”  He looked around the room, and said, “I love each of you, and can’t thank you enough for being here for me.”   Justin turned to his husband, and kissed him, tenderly.   “You, I love most of all, Babe.”

There were tears in everyone’s eyes, as he finished speaking.   They sat in silence, as each man pondered Justin’s words.   The impact of his life’s story could be seen on each of their faces.  Justin looked around the room, noting the different expressions on their faces.  His gaze lingered on J.F.’s face.  J.F. finally raised his eyes to meet Justin’s. 

He smiled, and said, “Thank you.” 

Justin smiled back, and said, “You’re welcome.”

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Previously published as Our Band of Brothers Chapter Two

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