Chapter 21

Waking up the next morning was a bit difficult for me. I don't know why I was so groggy and sluggish, especially after sleeping in on my day off. I just think the previous visit to Dustin in the hospital was a bit 'draining', emotionally. Something about being so tense and so close to extreme danger for an extended period of time just sucks the life out of you sometimes. It takes a touch of effort to recover.

I was able to get out of bed, do my laundry, make myself a decent lunch...and then attempted to get on with my regular day. Something that seems to be a bit out of the ordinary lately. It's a hard feeling to shake...the idea that I'm madly in love with a boy that's so young. A situation so taboo that the 'normalcy' of it all feels like a dirty trick on my sensibilities. It's the kind of church minded brainwashing that makes you check behind every dark corner at night to see if Satan himself is going to jump out of the shadows and take your soul to Hell right away without any protest.

I keep finding myself trying hard to feel awful about all of this. My brain is continuously bashing me with reasons to be ashamed, and afraid, and depressed. A jumble of thoughts and memories about news articles and movies of the week and press releases of rape and torture in the most despicable ways imaginable, that are all trying their best to tear me apart inside. But...just when I think the horror of what I've done, and continue to do, is about to win and cause me to collapse from the weight of it all...I think about Dustin's addictive smile. I think about his untouchable beauty, and the way we make each other laugh, and the way that we can just sit on the couch and talk for hours on end without a single touch passing between us, sexual or otherwise...and the 'guilt machine' begins to break down. Almost immediately.

It's not a psychosis or a disorder. There are no mental gymnastics involved to convince myself that I'm not the scum of the Earth. I'm in love. Period. My feelings aren't any more 'crazy' or irrational than love, itself, would be for anybody else in my position. I love him, care about him, work hard to protect him...I think about him, day and night, and I enjoy his company over all others. It's enlightening...notjust being strongly attracted to the beauty of another person...but to share something deeper. Possibly something that other people can't see from a distance, but it's there. And it's golden. And it quickens your pace when it comes to getting out of bed every morning...because your real life has completely outperformed the most vivid of your dreams while you're asleep.

That's what my Dustin does for me. And every chance that he gets, he tells me that I do the same for him too.

I feel bad for anyone who can't have what we have. Feel what we feel. What would life be without love to inspire you to push forward? What would my reflection look like every morning if it wasn't graced with this nearly permanent grin? Hehehe, I don't plan to find out. That's just not one of the answers that I'm looking for. Not anymore.

I was watching TV when I thought about maybe going back to the hospital to see Dustin again. Not that my last visit was anything short of a journey towards a complete and total nervous breakdown, but...I missed him. And I didn't want to give him the chance to miss me back before talking to him again. But...I used some restraint. Dustin's always so eager to please. I didn't want him to do anything risky to answer me right away and make his parents or the nurses around him question what he was up to. It's best I keep a bit of distance right now.

Or...at least that was the plan! Hehehe!

It was about 9 PM when my phone rang, and Dustin's name came up. A giddy rush caused me an excited shiver as I smiled to myself and answered. "Hello?"

"What are ya doing right now?" He grinned.

"Hehehe, what? What do you mean?"

"Are you thinking 'bout me"

I cringed a little bit when he said the words out loud. "Shhhh! What are you...??? Are you there by yourself?"

"Of course I am, silly!" He giggled. "I'm not as dumb as you think I am, ya know? Besides, visiting hours were over at 8 O'clock. I'm just watching stupid stuff on TV right now. I got bored. This place needs cable, or...Netflix, or something. TV sucks. Plus...I kinda wanted to hear your voice. I missed it."

"Well, here I am. " I said, blushing as the flattery of my sweetheart's confession took over my entire emotional state. "How are you feeling?"

"Dude, my headache and everything is, like...totally gone! And the bump on my head has gone down soooo much! It doesn't hurt anymore, but it still looks kinda sick. I had to have my mom tell my boss at work that I was in the hospital so I don't get canned. But my boss was totally cool with it."

"That's good to hear." I said.

"The BEST news, though, is that they might let me go home tomorrow! I was hoping to get out of here tonight, but they still want to keep me for one more night. Who knows why. I feel fine!"

"Well, they have to be sure, Dustin."

"Sure of what? It's not like I'm coughing up blood or continuously slipping into a coma every fifteen minutes. They just wanna squeeze more money out of my folks by forcing me to occupy a bed for another night. They're a bunch of crooks, I swear!"

I know Dustin was just goofing around, but I didn't want him getting too antsy until they gave him a proper release. I said, "You have to let the professionals do their job, babe. Ok? Let them check you out and give you a clean bill of health before you go skipping back home, ok?"

I heard Dustin sigh out loud, and he seemed to melt right into his hospital bed mattress as he said, "You called me, 'babe'." It gave me goosebumps to know that he focused on THAT one part of what I was telling him over everything else. God, this boy could be so sweet sometimes! And not on purpose. It was just...a part of who he was as a person. There was no end to the ways that I loved this boy. "I like it when you do sappy stuff. It's cute." He giggled.

"I wasn't trying to be sappy."

"That's even better. It means you're sappy by nature. I like it. It suits you." He said.

"Don't try to charm me over the phone. Save your energy for getting well first. Then you can flatter me all you want, ok?" I told him. Following it up with, "Get some sleep, k? It's getting late. We'll talk more when you come home and get yourself situated again..."

Dustin immediately cut me off, "WAIT! Are you gonna hang up? Awwww, don't hang up. Can't we talk for a little bit?"

"Dustin, you've only got one night left in the hospital. We'll have plenty of time to talk later."

"Yeah, but..." He was stuck for words, but I could hear the desperation in his voice, regardless. "...Awwww, Eric! I MISS you! Come on, dude. Don't leave me to stay up all night watching dumb ol' TV shows in this place. I'd much rather talk to you for a while. You make me feel better."

"I thought you already felt better." I snickered.

"Nope! I'm in pain. Tons of pain." Then he faked a cough over the phone and I laughed out loud. "See? You're laughing at my misery!"

"You hit your head, doofus! What are you coughing for? That doesn't even match your current situation." I giggled.

"Yeah, but...well, I mean..." He thought about it for a second, and then said, "SHIT! Awww, come on! Whatever! Just...talk to me for just a FEW minutes longer! Is that ok?"

With a sigh, I said, "Fine. But I want you to get some sleep tonight. You hear me?"

"I will! Geez!" Then he fidgeted and told me, "Call me 'babe' again. I like the sound of it. It's like...I'm your wife or something. It's kinda hot."

"Anything you want, 'babe'." I grinned.

I could literally hear Dustin squirming over the phone. "Omigod...you're too awesome for me to process right now. Hehehe!" Then he said, "I wish I had a way to kiss you right now. I'm a total mess without you. I feel like you're a billion miles away."

Dustin could be so damned cute and affectionate when he wanted to be. My heart melted just from the sincerity in his tone alone. "I miss you too." I said softly, causing Dustin to wiggle helplessly in his bed. "i'll be sure to buy you the biggest freshly baked cookie when you come back to work, ok?"

It almost sounded like Dustin was whimpering when he said, "Can you come over? I mean...I can tell the nurses that you're my big brother or something. They might let you in..."

"Hehehe, you've only got ONE more day on lockdown, cutie. I think I can wait that long before getting into more trouble than I already am." I said. "Get some rest, and when you come back to work, lunch is on me. Ok?"

"Promise?" He said, a slight sniffle being heard as he tried to hold the phone away from his face.

"Promise." I told him.

I felt myself blushing from the unadulterated feelings of love that I had pouring through my heart at that moment. He really didn't want me to hang up just yet. And, hehehe...what can I say? There's something so friggin' FLATTERING about having this gorgeous boy try so hard to express his feelings to me without really having a precedent as to how to do that. He was trying so hard, though. It was insanely cute to me!

Then...he suddenly tells me, "Eric...dude...I'm SO hard for you right now! Everything you say to me is so extra!"

"Hehehe, stop! You've got to be careful, Dustin..."

"No, it's ok. I'm in the room all by myself. I swear." He assured me.

"Still...this isn't exactly safe. Maybe when you get checked out tomorrow..."

"You wanna see how hard I am? Seriously! I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight if I stay this hard!" Then, Dustin says, "OOH!!! I've got an idea!" Oh God...not a 'Dustin' idea! "I can take a picture for you to jack off to. You jack off, and just, like...let me listen over the phone. I'll do it too. It'll be hot! Hold on a second..."

GAH!!! I spoke up and said, "Dustin! NO! Do NOT send me a dick pic! You hear me?"

"Why not?"

"Well, it's ILLEGAL, for one! But there are about a thousand other reasons why that wouldn't be a great idea!"

He said, "But we love each other, right? You wouldn't, like...share it or anything, right?"

"I wouldn't, no! I LOVE you. But...let's not get in the habit of you doing this at random, ok?" I said. "No naked pics. It isn't necessary. I love you just the same without them. I love you for you. And maybe you're too young to really understand that fully right now...just know that it's the truth, alright?" I hoped that I was making a point that was worthy of holding back. Because...deep down, I actually wanted to see a boy's erection with my name on it at that moment! Hehehe! But, hey...restraint. I'm already going to hell for what I've done thus far. Might as well keep myself out of jail.

"I'm not too young. I get it. Quit treating me like I'm stupid." He said.

"I don't think you're stupid. Just...'impulsive'." I said.

"Impulsive? Hold on..." He said. Was he Googling the word 'impulsive'??? "Acting or done without forethought. Unh unh! I thought about it! I wanted to show you my dick! It's hard! Hehehe, you wanna see? I know you wanna see!"


"Wait...hold on a sec..." I could hear him fidgeting in his bed and squirming around, so I had to stop him.

"DUSTIN! NO! Do not send me a dick pic! You hear me?"

"I'm NOT! God! You're so paranoid!" He said, soon adding, "If I send you an attachment, you're gonna open it right? Just asking."


"DUSTIN!!!" I growled, and the fidgeting stopped.

"You're no fun!" He giggled, and finaly stopped shifting around in his bed. "I can't believe you passed up a golden opportunity to finger me in a hospital bed."

What the...??? "I'm thinking that's a good thing, Dustin."

"Nope! You've deprived me of a childhood fantasy. I'm never gonna get that back. You're depriving me of a healthy sexual development, hehehe!" GOD, I wish he wouldn't say stuff like that out loud! Even when he thought he was alone.

"That was NOT a fantasy of yours!"

"It was once you came to visit me." He snickered. "Being around you drives me super crazy. You know that right?"

"You've 'hinted' at it, sure." I teased.

"I see what you did there..." He grinned. "...Don't be a jackass. I'm being serious here."

"I can't tell whether that makes things better or worse, to be honest." I said.

"Awww, I'm not being bothersome, am I? I'm sorry..."

I pretty much assumed that Dustin was still joking around with me at first, but...then there was a slight pause in his conversation. A gentle change in the tone of his excited teen voice. I had grown sensitive to his subtle cues at this point, and despite his playful speech...it's easy to forget how delicate his self confidence can be at times. Especially when it comes to me.

"You drive me crazy too. You know that, right?" I said.

"I DO?" Hehehe, his voice almost squeaked, but he managed to keep it under control. "Cool." He sighed.

I didn't want to spoil the moment, but...it would keep me awake all night if I didn't ask...



"When your parents were there...your mom, in particular...did anything seem a bit 'off' to you?"

Dustin said, "'Off', like how?"

Arghhh...am I going to sound paranoid if I say this? Will I come off as being selfish and sneaky? God...I LOVE this boy sooooo much! I really HATE feeling like a full blown criminal for wanting to be close to him. To take care of him and enjoy his presence in my life. It destroys a piece of yourself every time you hide your best and most natural instincts from the world. The unnecessary 'shame' of it all...it never goes away. It's all so dumb.

I'm sure Dustin would feel the same way...

"I mean..." I started, but found the words getting choked up in the back of my throat as I tried to make this as easily digestible for him as humanly possible. "...Did she seem at all...suspicious? About you and me?"

Dustin giggled in the cutest way. "Dude...what are you talking about? She's not suspicious. What's she got to be suspicious about?"

"Dustin, I'm being serious, ok? Think. Did she ask any questions about me? Did she find it strange that I was the one that brought you to the hospital? Or that I came to visit you? Did she...?"

He cut me off. "RELAX, Eric! Geez! You're babbling worse than me right now!" Dustin smirked. Just from the sound of his boyish voice, I could almost imagine the exact tilt and angle of his smile. "Do you really think that I would tell my mom and dad about us? Hehehe, that's just crazy. I'd get into more trouble than you would."

"Yeah...somehow, I doubt that." I told him.

"Oh wait...yeah, I guess, you're right." He giggled. "So does that mean that I can blackmail you into fingering me now?"

"STOP talking about 'fingering'! Jesus!" I said, but couldn't keep myself from laughing...which only made Dustin laugh in response. He was so beautiful, heart, mind, body, and soul. So much so...that it made you feel just as gorgeous and appreciated by association alone. He was so playfully manipulative when it came to my every thught and emotion that I found it a comical pursuit to even try to maneuver my way around his trickery. I swear, it was like some hidden form of teen voodoo, or something.

"Will you be at work when I come back?" He asked, hopefully.

"I'm pretty sure I will. How come?"

He said, "Do you wanna come in early for coffee and cookies at Smitty's that day, or...no?" Dustin bit his bottom lip in anticipation. He really was anxious for us to get back in contact again. Geez, it had only been a few days.

"Sure thing. I'll buy. Ok? You just get better. And tend to that bump on your head, alright?"

"Hehehe, right now, I'm more worried about taking care of this bump in my pants!" Delightfully wicked. That's how I would describe him.

"You do that." I grinned.

Then, in the most sincere tone of voice, Dustin said, "Eric?"


He sighed, and told me, "I was totally gonna send you a picture of my boner."

"Hehehe, I know."

"You said, no more lies. No more tricks. So...just thought I'd tell you."

With a huge smile, I said, "Well, what do you know? I just may be a positive influence on you after all." Dustin squirmed a little bit, sighing again as he got himself all worked up again. So I said, "Goodnight, babe. Sweet dreams, k?"

"G'night." He said. "I love you, Eric."

"I love you too."

When I hung up the phone, I just sort of lay back on my bed and stared dreamily up at the ceiling. How a beauty like Dustin's could ever possibly go unnoticed by anybody is a blasphemy in itself. People can talk about the age difference all day, but if they spend just five minutes with this boy...they'd understand why my heart is turning back flips right now. Why my breath is short, and why thoughts of kissing those unbelievably soft lips again has me so mesmerized.

I've had crushes and infatuations in my life. I've done double takes at boys that were pretty enough to make time itself slow down to a crawl whenever they walked by. But i'm starting to realize that I've never been in love before. Not until Dustin came along. And what I'm going to do with this craving that I have for someone I was never meant to have...? Well, I'll have to figure that out as time goes along.

Right now...I just drift for a while. Just...drift.

Am I smiling? Wow, I didn't even realize that I was smiling. Hehehe...neat.