Chapter 17

Maybe it was a sudden, last moment, cry for help...but I didn't know who else to call! Jack was the only person on the planet who was even remotely in on the big secret that Dustin and I had been hiding away from the rest of the world, and the only one who might understand what was truly going on here. I was so fucking terrified about the possible outcome of this situation that I found myself nearly throwing up from the queasy turbulence that was overwhelming my stomach at the moment and attempting to bring my morning breakfast spewing forth over my steering wheel as I drove over to Jack's house, looking for some level of guidance. Or protection. Or...I don't know...at least enough optimism to keep me from turning myself inside out while waiting for a judgement that was sure to ruin the rest of my life on this Earth...if not END it, once and for all. A sick and despicable punishment that would be welcomed by the majority of supposedly 'well-minded' people, I'm sure. Those who would feel righteous and morally correct in defending the rights of a victimized child, while lynching, castrating, and violently murdering, me for being involved with him. No matter what the true story is.

I will be slaughtered for this.

I know it.

And Dustin will be traumatized for life because of it.

I'm frightened and I'm depressed...but I should have prepared for the ruthless persecution of society by giving in to my loving instincts in the first place. Those feelings that...once gave me soooo much pleasure and joy. Those instincts that cried out to me and told me to protect him at all costs, to wait and let him discover this relationship at his own pace, to hold back and force him to 'fool' me into giving him more affection when I was sooooo worried that he was moving too fast for me to follow. They're going to HURT me for this! They're going to hurt me so BADLY! They'll tell the world that I am the scum of the fucking EARTH! That I tricked him! That I 'groomed' him into a position of being my sex slave, traumatizing him and ruining his entire fucking LIFE, without ever mentioning the sweet and tender moments that we shared together as companions in a loving and consensual relationship. People who will scream that a relationship between a teen boy and an older guy of 23, simply CAN'T be realistic! That it can't happen. That it MUST be an example of deliberate RAPE and torture! I'm a rapist in their eyes. I'm a disturbed individual. A psychopath. Because it's a much more disgusting act of me loving Dustin and wanting to protect him than it is for a brainwashed populace to think it's okay to talk about having me killed, stabbed, shot, and beaten to death for my attractions, than it is to find beauty in a gorgeous teenage boy who feels the SAME way about me. Leaving us alone instead of ripping us apart with the most violent and fucking LOATHSOME parts of human behavior in existence is a leap that they're just not willing to take.

And that means I'm alone. Totally alone.

Driving to Jack's house, I just...I thought about that, and I wondered why my love for a boy that I was willing to give my heart to was soooo criminal that I now feared for my LIFE just worrying about his well being. I couldn't even watch over him at the hospital, for Christ's sake. Society's rules have made a complete asshole out of me today.

I think it took half of the drive to explain to Jack what was going on and why I was practically on the run from the law! We had a serious discussion about the accident and the hospital and the paperwork and Dustin's parents and just...FUCK!!!

His initial reaction was one of shock and horror. Followed by, "I hate to tell you that I TOLD you so..." which was son followed by a truly aggravated sigh and the invite of, "Ok...just...where are you now? Come on over. Shit...we'll try to relax for a bit and then put our heads together to see what comes next. Alright?"

"I'm so sorry, Jack! I'm just...I'm flipping out here, and I didn't know who else I could talk to."

"Whatever. Just get your ass over here." He shook his head, and mumbled, "Stupid bastard. Hurry up!"

At least he hadn't abandoned me when I needed it most. After the heated exchanges we've had about Dustin lately...I was lucky that he didn't hang up in my face and tell me to get lost.

I parked my car and held my head low as I quickly walked up to Jack's front door...half expecting the 'Catch A Predator' SWAT team to jump out of the bushes and tackle me to the ground, using handcuffs, tasers, and full cans of mace, to subdue my perverted predator ass and take me to jail!

Oh God...I think I'm going to be SICK!

I was shaking when I rang the doorbell...and when Jack opened the door, he just gave me this pathetic look and said, "You stupid son of a bitch." But he then stepped aside to let me in. And what followed was a twenty minute conversation that basically filled him in on the details of the last few hours...with Jack covering his face and shaking his head the entire time. It took a while for me to settle down from the massive dose of hysteria flooding my system, but then...Jack told me that he'd do whatever he could to help, and tried to make me a bit more comfortable. Which worked wonders...because, before he said that, I was shaking myself to pieces right in front of him.

I was actually surprised at how big Jack's living room futon was once he made the quick adjustment to turn it into something we could both lay back on. There was more than enough room for us both, and it was quite soothing to lay down...despite my worried mind.

Jack had the TV on, but it wasn't for any particular reason. Background noise mostly. We were there, laying side by side, enjoying a not-so-uncomfortable moment of silence...when he said, "Eric? Can I just...ask you a personal question? About Dustin? I mean...you can say no if you want to. I just...I thought I'd ask. You know?"

"Ummm...sure. I guess so." I could feel myself being a bit apprehensive already. I don't know why, though. Just a paranoid fueled defensive habit, I suppose.

He paused for a moment, and I turned my head to look at him. He didn't look back though.

"What was it like? Being with...well..." He asked. Then stopped himself. "Wait...that came out all wrong. No...no wait, on second thought, I don't think that came out wrong at all." He stumbled for words for a moment, and then said, "I think I'm just curious about what you're getting out of all this. Dustin is...he's so YOUNG! Why do you...? How can you just...?"

I don't think I was hurt by Jack's comment, really. I just figured that he wouldn't get it. Not ever. And it's best not to try to explain something that can't be explained sometimes. They can't see it. The pre-rehearsed answer is already clearly implanted in their mind, and it's an uphill battle trying to explain why you feel the way you feel when it's already been declared immoral before you open your mouth. It's impossible to fight a lifetime of brainwashed perspective with a single conversation. At best...all I could hope to accomplish was the idea that I'm not to be lumped together with rapists and criminals who use little boys for sexual gratification for reasons that are both HORRIFIC and disgusting. I won't fight for that. He should know me well enough where that's not a point that needs to be proven with forgotten examples and wasted breath. Better to avoid that conversation altogether at this point. "Maybe we should talk about something else. K?"

But, instead of dropping the issue, Jack turned to look at me and said, "No, really. I'm sorry if I sound like I'm being overly judgemental or whatever, I just...I really want to know. What is it like having a...teenager for a boyfriend? How does that even work?"

The flood of thoughts that came rushing to my mind nearly blocked my ability to speak about it. It was so hard to choose just one idea, or ten, or one hundred, that could explain it...but as I looked up at his living room ceiling, the reflected dancing colors of his flatscreen television almost resembling a festive display of Christmas lights...I tried to speak whatever truth my heart was ready to unleash at that particular moment.

"I know it's hard to believe, Jack...but it works just like every other relationship that has ever been pursued throughout the history of relationships. It really isn't all that different. Not for us, anyway. Just for other people. You both work to make each other happy. You confide in them and learn to trust them enough to put your heart on the line, hoping that they'll do the same for you. The only difference is...you get hated for it. People think you're sick. They 'constantly' bring up the fact that your attraction is something that they detest and don't agree with...but say they love you anyway with the same breath." I said. "Sometimes...I really wish it didn't matter. Sometimes...I wish my character as a human being outweighed the endless obsession and totally intrusivesearch into who I'm attracted to. But that world doesn't exist. And maybe it never will." I said. "But...I'll deal with it. Because Dustin is worth it. And because I've never been so crazy in love before. Nowhere close. That 'teenager' taught me more about love than anyone else ever could."

"So, that's it?" Jack asked. "I mean, come ON, Eric! You mean to tell me that you never once looked at Dustin and thought to yourself 'Omigod! What the hell am I doing? He's WAY too young for this!'. You mean to tell me that thought never crossed your mind the entire time you were involved with him?"

"Of course it did. It crosses my mind every day." I told him, the emotion building up in the back of my throat and straining my voice until it was audibly shaken with with the stress of holding back my own tears. "I went through every worst case scenario, every structured rulebook, and every socially acceptable solution, to this problem in my mental Rolodex. I put up a giant wall of brick and mortar and iron and barbwire, JUST to keep him out of my heart long enough to regain my senses. But it didn't work, Jack. By the time I even recognized how strong my feelings were for him, it was already too late to shut them off. God knows I tried. I didn't expect any of this to happen! I swear! We just...we fell in love. Is that something to be MURDERED over???" But as thoughts of Dustin's smile, and the way he giggled whenever he was feeling particularly frisky, and the little 'oops' game he used to play with me in the grocery store...stopping abruptly so I'd run into the back of him and give him a quick thrill...it made me grin. Even through budding tears of fear and sadness. "You know what, Jack? It's so rare that you find someone who just causes the rest of the world to simply melt away in their presence. Someone who makes you feel something so real, so true...that they make you realize just how much you're willing to leave behind you for just a few moments of genuine joy in a life that tells you that it can't ever happen for you. A joy that people want you to think is so loathsome and reprehensible that you'd be better off being tortured and punished for being a part of it at all." I told him. "It's just love. Shared love. That's all it is. And they make it sooooo dirty. What the fuck is everybody so scared of?"

Jack smiled for a moment, and snickered, "You're still not making a believer out of me. You know that, right?" He rolled his eyes. "But, I'll leave you alone if you want me to stop talking about it. I just thought I'd ask. You know, for confusion's sake."

But, I actually did want Jack to know how I felt. I spent SO much of my life screaming on the inside, wishing that there were just ONE or TWO people on the whole fucking planet who could listen to me and not hate me for it. Someone who could stand up for me, or at least stand beside me so I wouldn't feel so helpless and alone. Someone with the guts to say, 'Hey...he IS really cute', so I don't feel like killing myself every time I embarrass myself by admitting that someone under the government appointed age in my small area was beautiful. But...that's never going to be in the cards for me. I've shed enough tears to fill the Grand Canyon two times over...and not a single one of those tears has ever made me feel like less of a 'freak'. Less despised by the majority. The most humble, most forgiving, most unbelievably charitable, people on the planet...turn into barking and slobbering attack dogs when it comes to the very idea of Dustin and I being happy together. It's an intense and merciless hatred that, thankfully, most people will NEVER know in their lifetime. Ever. It's a love that they don't even care to acknowledge or investigate to any real merit because the fear of validation when it comes to my affections is too great to accept. They just refuse to have it matter. And that's the way it will remain until I draw my last breath in this life. I'm sure of it.

The way it'll be until Dustin draws his last breath as well.

I propped myself up on one elbow, and with a dreamy look in my eye, I took this opportunity to finally tell Jack our side of the story for once. Just...just ONCE! You know? Maybe Jack will actually hear me. Then again, maybe he'll go to sleep tonight thinking I'm full of shit and delusional beyond repair. Either way...at least one person in my life, someone I considered a friend, will know that there's a flipside to the coin. And that I'm not insane for feeling the way I do.

"You really want to know what it's like? Being with him?" I asked, re-energizing his interest. "It's like...he's just so...excited by it all. Heh...everything excites him. You tell him you love him and he feels like he just had 12 birthdays squeezed into that single moment. He listens to every word you say, and he remembers it. He's cocky without being arrogant or mean. Spontaneous, almost reckless, to the point where it makes you double over in laughter." I said. "That's another thing. Dustin isn't afraid to laugh. Full, wholehearted, laughter from the gut. He's not afraid of looking a bit silly when it comes to having fun. And he's SMART, Jack. So smart. He's already looking to learn something new. And when he learns...he appreciates it. He doesn't deny it or say, 'I knew that already'. He's always looking to absorb more. Hehehe, it's so refreshing. It's not a worship or a power thing. And if it was, he'd be the one in control more times than not. Because I'd do anything to make that boy smile. To see those bright eyes sparkle and his slender frame shiver with the elation of a young puppy. It feels...so complete. You know?"

Jack asked me, "Do you ever feel like...and no offense or anything...but, do you ever think that you might be taking advantage of him? That maybe he's just being young and horny and...maybe he doesn't really want this?" The way that he said it, he really didn't mean to insult me. I'm kind of glad that he was able to ask me though. I couldn't believe that I was having an open and honest discussion about something that would probably get me outcast and shunned by the rest of the world before I finished the first few sentences.

"I worried about that. A lot, in fact." I said. "I try to be responsible enough to slow down, but...it actually hurts him when I do. I'm trying to get him to understand the consequences of rushing into things, but...sometimes I think he understands love better than I do."

"Psh! Somehow, I doubt that, Eric." He said.

"It's true. I mean...everything he feels is so magical, and so deep, and so amplified! I actually envy him for the fact that he hasn't been brainwashed out of the purity of it all yet. He hasn't been trained to hide it yet, or to be ashamed of it, or forced tothinkthat he has to restrain and control every aspect of what his heart is giving him with no effort at all." I said. "I look back at my life, and the times I've been hurt, made mistakes, gathered regrets...and I try to put it all on his shoulders in an attempt to spare him from going through what I've been through. But something about Dustin makes me realize that going through those things made me who I am. And if he's having THIS much fun with it...then that makes me the bad guy. It's the equivalent of tying up a ten year old with a short leash and a straitjacket during recess. Sure he doesn't get hurt, but...all he wants to do is go PLAY like the other kids! I should be so lucky to enjoy life the way he does."

At this point, Jack got up from the futon and said, "Ok...and now it's 'wine time'."


"I am WAY too sober to be soaking this all in the way you want me to, bud. You want a glass?"

"Ummm, yeah. Sure. Why not?" I said, and he was back in a jiffy with two wine glasses and a big bargain bottle of White Merlot wine.

As he poured me a glass, he asked, "So no power imbalance, huh?"

"It's a little awkward at first. I don't want him to do anything just to please me or make himself uncomfortable in an attempt to impress. But, after a few stumbling blocks where we try to get to know each other...you create this amazing balance between you. You truly learn to look out for one another. To treasure and respect each other's needs and do your best to provide. In Dustin...I find all of the passion and the humor and the excitement that I used to have when I was his age. It's like experiencing it all over again." I said. "And in me? Dustin finds all of the wisdom and the life experience and the rapidly expanding world view that he has been so damn EAGER to develop on his own. To just grow up and get excited about his own future. Like I said...there's a balance that evolves out of our concern for each other."

"This is so wild." Jack said softly, drinking from his glass.

I took a sip myself, and continued. "We surprise each other at least twice a day. We laugh until it hurts. Sometimes, there isn't even anything funny going on. Hehehe, we just laugh at the fact that we can't stop laughing." Feeling a wave of warm tingles wash over me, I grinned and said, "We go down to Smitty's whenever we work on the same morning...and we go get coffee and big cookies...and then we just talk. Talk. And it's really something special, Jack. Something surreal."

"Well, you certainly sound like you're in love. That's for sure." He said. "I remember when Philip and I had our first real date. I thought he was a little too god to be true, to be honest. At the time, I was certain that I was misreading his signals and that the whole thing was going to blow up in my face."

"So what happened?" I asked.

"He took me back to his house while his wife was away...we kissed...we both got naked...I sucked his dick...and then he 'blew up in my face'! Hehehe!"

I laughed at him, and we clinked glasses at the idea of it. Good for him. I wish...I could show my boyfriend off the way he can his.

After a minute or two, I noticed Jack squirming a little bit next to me. Not really in a negative way. If it was, he was really subtle about his discomfort. But it was nearing 'cringe' levels. That much, I could seewithout having to do much guessing. "So...I mean...you know what I'm going to ask you next, right? About Dustin?" I gave him a sideways look, and he continued with, "...The sex? You two have been...well...you know...have you been...?" I hesitated with my answer at first, and he backed down immediately. "Sorry. None of my business."

"No. No, it's ok." I told him. I took a deep breath. I mean DEEP! The kind of breath someone takes before pulling the trigger in a game of Russian roulette, or going over Niagra Falls in a wooden barrel. This was admission of CRIMINAL activity, after all. "Yeah. Dustin and I have been...'intimate' with each other. Sure." Ok, that seemed to make Jack REALLY uncomfortable this time! I immediately stopped talking. Had I crossed a line? I don't think he was progressive enough for this part of the conversation. And I was too scared to really go into detail about it. Maybe this was the wrong time for this. "Sorry. Just forget it, ok?" I told him.

"No! It's ok, just...go on. I'm listening. Promise. No hate." He made such a yucky face at me when he said it. And yet, he seemed sincere enough about his curiosity to urge me to go forward. "...Alright!!! I'm SORRY! Ok? Just...I'm not used to this kind of conversation, ok? I've never known a practicing pedophile before. This is new to me. So...give me a minute or two to adjust here." He sort of gave me a halfhearted grin to let me know that he just poking fun...but I was beginning to feel society's moral rejection of everything that I am all over again. That inner voice telling me to shut up, hide my feelings, and swallow my personal joy whole...wishing they would all go away so I could live life the way he does. Easier. Acceptable. Protected. To not be seen as dirty and evil just because my tastes revolve around something that he can't grasp or understand beyond the hatred broadcasted on the latest episode of 'CSI: SVU' on television.

Then...despite the little pinch of misery that I felt in my gut, I managed to continue on anyway.

"His skin...it's like...the finest silk." I said. It was almost as if I merely wanted to sigh out loud in remembrance of it, but those words came out of me instead.

"What?" He asked, his jaw dropped slightly.

"It is. Dustin's skin is...wow. You hold him close to you, and your brain can't comprehend just how soft and smooth and pliable he is. He feels sooooo delicate, Jack. So fragile. Like he's literally going to melt in my arms. Like...I'm going to damage him somehow by not restraining myself. But...at the same time, you just want to hold him and nurture him and protect him from harm. You want to shower him with all the love you have inside and never let go. And he LET'S you. He enjoys the affection without wanting anything in return other than your soft breath on his cheek." I grinned to myself. "I, honestly, think I've spoiled him to the point where we can't sit on the couch together without him physically taking my arm and wrapping it around his slim shoulders like a ratty old security blanket. Not to mention the number of kisses he's stolen from me. If I had a nickel for every surprise kiss that boy has given me I would have bought us a private island by now." Jack didn't really say anything, but I could tell that he was listening. At least he wasn't cringing this time. "Dustin and I fit together in ways that I really don't expect other people to understand. I mean, I'm attracted to boys and he happens to be one...but it's more than that. He's got a brilliant mind. A wicked sense of humor. A demonic wit with the most angelic intentions. A smile that could power the city for a decade straight with its splendor. A touch as gentle as the warm drops of a Summer rain. Lips so full and so pink and so beautiful that to say they were highly addictive would be an extreme understatement. God, his lips are so unimaginably soft." I said. "Even the slightest, most random, of physical touches...anywhere on his body...and he's soooo responsive to it. It's like every inch of his tender skin is one giant G-spot. He twitches and he wiggles and he whimpers...every part of him that my lips connect to quivers with an orgasmic spasm that drives him wild. Especially in those sexy little places where my kisses really matter. Teasing a lover has never been so erotic. Believe me." I hoped that I wasn't going too far, but he's the first person I've ever been able to tell. I got a little carried away. "Slender hips. And a tiny stomach so flat, a belly button so shallow, that I am completely baffled as to how his waif-like body can possibly contain the massive amounts of junk food and household snacks he gobbles down without exploding. Or at LEAST gaining weight!"

"Yeah, teenagers are crazy like that, I suppose." He said.

"Heh...you wanna know something weird? When I go shopping for food now? I actually have to make sure that I keep Dustin's ravenous appetite in mind. Like...I seriously make it a point to add his favorite snacks to my grocery list, and make sure that I keep them in the house for whenever he comes over to visit. Is that not the craziest thing you've ever heard of? I've actually worked the brat into my weekly budget! Hehehe!"

Jack still seemed a bit conflicted though. "So sex is just...'sex' then. Right?"

"Well, not exactly. I don't want to push him to do anything he's not ready for."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh? So you two haven't...you've never...?"

"No! No way. That's...the advanced class." I said, finishing off my glass of wine in an attempt to hide my intense blush.

"Have you ever thought about it?" He asked.

"That wine has certainly gone to your head pretty fast. Hehehe!"

"Maybe. But that doesn't answer my question." He said with a smirk.

I don't think this was a level of 'personal' that I was willing to take with Jack just yet. So I simply told him, "I'd like to think that...maybe someday, when he's older and we've been together for a while...we might try. I don't know. He wants to try, but..."

"Oh! So he asked you, then?" Jack said.

"You know...I think we should just drink our wine and change the subject." I giggled.

"Awww, and just when things were getting juicy." He said. Then he poured me another glass full. "I'm going to get you to talk eventually."

"By pouring me more wine?"

"It's the elixir of the 'truth gods'. So...yes! Hehehe!" Then, after a brief pause...Jack looked at me and rolled his eyes again. With a deep sigh, he said, "Eric?"


"Dustin is..." He stopped for a moment, but then told me, "...He's really hot. Ok? There. I said it. REALLY hot!" My eyes widened, and my jaw dropped, causing Jack to laugh out loud. "That DOESN'T mean that I'm a pedophile or that I'm condoning this whole thing! I'm simply stating the fact that your...boyfriend...is kinda hot. And that's the first and last time that I'll say that out loud. So...there. Do you feel better now?"

A little choked up from the sudden confession, I said, "You have no idea how much that one comment affected me, Jack. Thank you."

"But I DON'T have a fetish for teenage boys!" He demanded.

"It doesn't matter." I smiled.

"I mean...it doesn't make me a pervert for seeing beauty where there's...beauty. So don't go thinking that I'm changing my mind on this."

"I wouldn't ask you to." I said. "Hehehe, but I'm not CRAZY, right?" Jack didn't want to answer me at first, so I poked and pushed him a few times until I got him to snicker to himself. "He's HOT, right??? I mean...you see it? Don't pussy out on me now! You see it, don't you? He's fucking HOT!"

"God...I shouldn't have said anything. You're not going to be satisfied until you drag me to Hell with you. Ugh!"

"Yes, I am, Jack." I laughed. "Yes, I am!"