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m/m Saving Me - Chapter 7 Posted (09/16/2020)


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GymPredator

Chapter 3 - "By Small and Simple Things"

 

Dylen was surrounded by light.  He shivered with feelings he never imagined possible.  Raw, unbridled passions coursed through his body.  Powerfully muscled arms wrapped gently around his chest and pulled him deeper into ecstasy. He basked in overpowering radiant heat that seemed to surround him in a cocoon of sensation.  He savored the stubble of Rian's unshaven face against his cheek, marveled at the silken heaviness of his body as it lay over his own.  He smelled Rian's wonderful scent, reveled in his gentle touch.  "Just let go," the deep angelic voice whispered.  Dylen felt a strong hand touch his aching cock and gasped as another electric surge passed across his frame.  He closed his eyes.  He felt so good, so safe, so free.  Dylen wanted this feeling, this place, to last forever.

 

A door crashed open.  Dylen's eyes opened to see his parents, his friends, everyone he knew.  The warmth, the smell, the light, the feelings were gone as Rian seemed to melt away, leaving him naked and alone.  "You're nothing but evil," his father's voice echoed, "I want nothing to do with you.  I have no son.  Get out you abomination."  Everything around him faded into a swirling darkness.

 

Dylen screamed as a blaring claxon roared his doom.

 

***

 

"BEEP, BEEP, BEEP . . . ."

 

Dylen's body jerked toward the sound, and his eyes snapped opened. An all-too-familiar electronic horn blared from the alarm clock.  4:30 am. He took a deep breath.  'Just a nightmare,' Dylen thought.  But it was a nightmare he feared would come true.  He rolled an arm out from under his covers and switched the noisemaker off.  'The best thing about college will be no more 4:30 mornings, no more chores, no more seminary.  I get to sleep like a regular person for once,' he thought.  Dylen threw back the blankets and slid to a sitting position.  Then, as sleep fully departed, the memories of the previous night arose clearly.  The nightmare made sense now.  Though it wasn't the first time he'd experienced similar dreams, this time it was much more intense.  'What was different now?' he wondered. 'The only really new element was Rian.'

 

Dylen dressed in the first set of clothes he could find and moved downstairs.  As he descended, he was surprised to see the glow of lights. Usually, his father was already in the barn getting ready to move irrigation lines.  His mom never got up on Saturday before 6:30, when she started breakfast.  Dylen emerged from the stairs and stopped cold.  His parents were sitting on the couch.

 

"Son," his father said.  "Sit down.  We need to talk."

 

Dylen moved cautiously towards a chair directly across from them. He stared at his parents trying to draw some read on their mood.  It didn't feel good.  His father looked uncomfortable, and his mom looked worried. Fueled by the still fresh nightmare and this turn of events, the shadow's thoughts reared.  'I was too obvious drooling over Rian last night.  After we got home, he was with Dad on the porch.  Maybe Rian guessed what I am. Did he say something to my parents?  Do they suspect?  Do they know?'

 

There was an awkward silence between them before Kathi Mason broke it.  "Dylen, about last night --"

 

Dylen interrupted, "I'm sorry.  I just swerved to miss --"

 

His mom continued, "No, no.  Let us finish first.  This doesn't have anything to do with the accident."  Even as she said it, she was on the verge of tears.

 

Dylen almost went to pieces.  There could only be one explanation. 'Oh my God.  They know, they know,' he thought.

 

Kathi paused.  She took a breath, calming her feelings before beginning again.  "Son, we know something's been bothering you for a long time.  I don't know what -- and before you say anything, you don't have to tell us.  We know you are under a lot of pressure between school and the farm and Church.  But, when you got home last night . . . Well, we've never seen you like that before." Kathi's eyes started to tear up again as she saw an image of the hollow, empty void that was her son, standing on the porch with Rian May.  "We've always trusted you to do what's right, by the Lord and by yourself.  We just want to make sure that you know we're here to help you whenever you're ready."

 

Dylen groaned with both relief and sorrow.  They didn't know.  But this was so hard, lying to them.  Well not exactly lying, but it sure felt that way.  It had for a long time.  He knew his parents really did love him, or they wouldn't be here like this.  But, he couldn't help wondering if they would still love him if they knew.  Would the nightmare come true? Could they love an abomination?

 

Dylen pushed these thoughts aside as much as he could.  "I know mom.  I'm OK.  I promise.  You've helped me so much lately.  I just . . ." Dylen paused.  For the first time something inside of him wanted to say it, just to get it over with.  Let the sword fall on his neck and be done with it.  In the surge of the moment, he almost did -- but stopped.  "I was just scared about the accident and what you'd think."

 

Now, his father spoke up, "Your mother and I talked after you went to bed.  It's no secret that farm life isn't for you.  We've known since you were barely talking that you were special, and that you weren't meant to stay here.  But, you've helped me and your mom for a long time and never complained.  You've got a lot ahead of you that will take you from us - going on a mission, college, getting married.  That's that way it should be, and," Paul Mason's voice cracked as he remembered hearing these words from his own parents, "We have to learn to let you go."

 

Kathi took up for her husband.  "You're graduating in two weeks, so we decided to give you an extra present.  We think you need some time off before you start classes and putting in your mission papers in the fall. We want you to relax, spend some time with your friends, go out and enjoy yourself.  Let go of the pressure while you can.  After graduation, you'll be done with school for a while.  That just leaves the farm.  So, as of this morning, you have no more chores to do around the farm.  As far as we're concerned, the summer's yours."  Kathi smiled through her tears. "Just remember to help your sickly old mother keep your room clean, huh?"

 

Kathi arose and hugged her son tightly, as if it were the last time she would ever hold her child.  When his mom released him, Dylen's father looked into his eyes and clasped his hand; then after a few beats, he pulled him into a hug as well. Dylen understood what this meant.  He'd passed a milestone in life.  His parents considered him a man, able to make his own choices.  "You're a good man, Dylen. Better than we could have hoped."

 

His father released him, and Dylen started to back away toward the stairs when he heard.  "But . . . there is just one condition to this deal."

 

Dylen turned toward his dad.  "What?"

 

"When we get too old to take care of this place, do you think your million dollar salary could afford us a condo in Florida?"  Paul said, smiling.

 

Dylen scratched his head.  "Hmmmmm . . . Well, I don't know. Florida's really far away and it's expensive but . . . I think that could be arranged."  Smiling broadly, Dylen hugged his parents again and ran back up the stairs to his room.  After he disappeared, Paul and Kathi Mason looked at each other.

 

"He looked happy.  That was nice to see," Kathi said.

 

"Yes, it was.  Too bad we can't fix what's really bothering him." Paul became more serious as he lowered his voice.  "Kathi, we both know last night had nothing to do with any car accident.  I still think we should have just confronted him and not let go until he told us."  Paul had come to believe that Dylen was struggling with a choice, a decision he was afraid they wouldn't like.  Had Dylen decided not to go on a mission or done something that could keep him from serving a mission or, God forbid, worse?

 

"No, Paul.  We've always trusted him, and he's never disappointed us.  He's been making his own decisions for a while anyway, and now is not the time to ruin that.  We have to give him the chance to work this out on his own.  He'll tell us when he's ready, and I think you'll eat those words."

 

Paul wasn't entirely convinced, but he knew in his heart that his wife was right.  He put his arms around her.  "I do know you raised a good kid, woman."

 

"Only if he's as good a father as you," Kathi replied.  They kissed for a moment, then parted and went about their early morning tasks.

 

----------

 

Dylen arrived back in his room, strangely buoyed.  A free summer. What would it be like?  What would he do?  Would time help make things better?  After the previous night's events, he knew that if he couldn't find an answer, some way out of this . . . But what should he do?  Should he stick with what he had been taught and be torn his whole life or should he tear apart everyone else around him?  He needed clarity, he needed a sign.  As he climbed back into bed, another question occurred to him.  He needed someone to help him, a confidant, a friend.  But, who could he talk to who wouldn't think he was a monster?

 

***

 

After such a late night, it didn't really bother Rian that he slept later than he wanted.  He stayed up after he got to his parents and told them what happened.  After hearing the story, Kevin and Lacy May were concerned not only for the Mason's and Dylen, but for their own son. Brock's suicide was still an open wound.  How would their son handle something like this again so soon?  But, they knew Rian and told him they'd always support his choices.  They'd help in any way they could.

 

As he hit the shower, Rian thought about tonight's celebration.  He was sure it would be fantastic.  Even when they were talking about Dylen, his parents seemed excited over the upcoming festivities.  But first things first.  He needed to get over to Dylen's house.  Rian dressed in his usual weekend clothes, a wifebeater tank top, cut off khaki shorts, and a pair of ratty sneakers.  He got in his car and set out for the Mason farm.

 

As he drove, he tried to keep in mind what his father told him.  He needed to be careful about this and not get his hopes up.  The Mason's were Mormons, and while they were good people, they approached these kinds of things very differently from Brock's family.  But, Rian couldn't help it. He knew what he felt, and he had to be sure.

 

Rian's car stopped at the large silver mailbox simply labeled "MASON."  He took a deep breath and pulled off the road onto the gravel lined driveway.  It led to a relatively small, 1-1/2 story ranch style home.  It was much smaller than the May's home, but it was cozy and manageable -- something Rian might have been attracted to himself if he wanted his own farm.

 

As he rounded the house toward a barn the Mason's used as part-garage, part-storage shed, Rian noticed Paul hitching a flat bed towing trailer to his large diesel truck.  'Must be going to get Dylen's car,' Rian thought.  He pulled over so that he could park out of the way of the truck and its burden.  Mr. Mason looked up, noted Rian, and his expression brightened.  Rian turned off his engine and got out of the car. The older man waved to the younger and bade him come over.

 

Paul extended his hand, and Rian returned the firm, calloused grip. "Rian, how are you son?"

 

"Fine, Mr. Mason. And you?" Rian replied.

 

"First off, call me Paul.  And second, I'm always good until I see you.  You remind me how old I am."  Paul chuckled, "I remember when you were six, and I could carry you and Dylen both on shoulder rides through the alfalfa. Now," Paul gestured toward Rian's large muscular arms, "I think Dylen and I should be the ones that get rides from you."  Both men laughed.

 

"I don't think I can quite manage that.  Here, let me help you." Rian bent down and began helping Paul hitch the trailer.  Ordinarily, Paul Mason would never allow a guest in his home to lift a finger, but he knew it was useless with Kevin May and his son.  Kevin was known in the community for his generous nature, and that nature extended to Rian.  Both of the May men hated to see someone working alone when they could help with the task.

 

As they finished hitching the trailer, Paul looked up at the young man helping him.  In truth, he had an ulterior motive for inviting Rian back this morning.  He wanted to trust his son, but he needed to know everything Rian knew.  "Rian, I need to ask you something, and please be honest with me.  What really happened to my son last night?"  The question startled Rian.  His intuition told him that Mr. Mason wanted more than a mere retelling.  He suspected a lot more than he let on the evening before. Rian was a little uncomfortable sharing those details here.  It wasn't that he didn't want to tell Dylen's father, but he was afraid Dylen might pop up and hear something.  Mason read the concern in Rian's face correctly and offered a solution.  "I'm going to get Dylen's car.  Would you mind coming with me? You can show me where you left it."

 

Rian agreed, and both men climbed into the truck's cab.  Paul's practiced hands expertly maneuvered the truck and trailer down the driveway and into the road.  Once safely on the asphalt, Rian told the worried father everything he knew and answered his questions-- almost.  Rian was careful not to share what he thought he had felt or his concerns over suicide. That would get into Brock, and Brock was a line he would not cross.  But, he shared enough that Paul understood much more completely what happened.

 

By the time Rian finished relating the details, Dylen's car was in view.  It was exactly the way Rian left it the previous night, except there was a large damp spot smelling of fuel on the ground.  After what had just happened, Rian decided that he had nothing to lose in asking Mason a question.  "Mr. Mason, what's happened to Dylen?  The person I saw last night isn't the person I know."

 

Mason was quiet for a long moment, frozen in his seat.  He quickly weighed what he should and shouldn't say.  Rian wasn't LDS, so he wouldn't understand everything.  But, of all his son's friends, members included, Rian was the best.  Besides, Rian was more forthcoming than he had expected and, thereby, gained even more respect from Paul.  He felt a wave of emotion rise such that he couldn't face the younger man; so he just stared out the window.  "I don't know," his voice strained.  "I wish that I did. But no one does except Dylen and he's not saying a word.  One day, all of a sudden, my son disappeared.  At first, we thought it was a stage. Everybody has the 'I wanna be my own man' thing when you're 18.  But, it didn't fit.  Dylen just stopped being Dylen.”

 

"We thought it could be drugs. Kathi said we should trust our son not to do that but . . ."  Paul took a deep breath. ". . . I searched his room and car while he was at school several times.  When you're a father, you'll understand why - but I found nothing.  We've tried everything we can think of and still nothing.  I've got a guess, but it doesn't make sense either.

 

"Rian, you know about Mormon boys going on missions.  I did it myself when I was 19."  Rian nodded, acknowledging he knew about them. "Well, boys who serve have to conduct themselves a certain way before they go, obey the commandments in the Church, no sex, lots of other things.  A mission has been a goal of Dylen's since he was born.  Now, he's acting like that doesn't matter anymore.  I know my son, or, at least, I used to.  It's like whatever he is thinking about, obsessing over, he expects the world to end when it's finished.

 

"The only thing Kathi and I could think to do is give him the time he needs to come to terms with whatever it is and make peace with himself and God.  We decided last night to let him go for the summer and do what he wants.  He doesn't have to work around the farm.  He doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to.  But, once he's gone to college, he'll be alone.  What will happen to him when he really is alone?"

 

Rian touched the steering wheel, drawing Paul's gaze toward him. Rian looked the older man directly in the eyes.  "I don't know what's happening, but I can promise you one thing.  As long as I'm around that school, Dylen will never be alone."  Paul looked at his son's friend with relief.  This was the last thing he and his wife talked about before Dylen came downstairs.  More than anything, they wanted someone, even a nonmember, to help Dylen where they could not.  But, they didn't know who or how to ask.  Rian was the perfect one - honest, trustworthy, and a true friend to their son.  Rian was one man they could trust never to wrong Dylen.

 

Both men understood what was being asked and that acceptation had been made.  "Now, let's see about that car."  Paul said, breaking the moment exactly when it needed to be.  Rian decided that he'd have to try another way to pay for the repair.  Talking about it now just wouldn't be right.

 

For the rest of their time together -- while loading the car (which did have a broken fuel line) and on the drive home -- Rian and Paul engaged in typical men's small talk.  They went on at length about the upcoming football season.  Paul even asked Rian about his dating life.  But, for the first time, Rian became a little defensive, replying that he was between girls.  Paul didn't press the issue.  Talking about girls with an old man must have been very uncomfortable, like talking girls with his own father before he met Kathy. Dylen acted exactly the same way.

 

***

 

As soon as he'd gotten back to his room, Dylen fell asleep.  He didn't move until 10:00 am.  When he finally did wake up, he rolled out of bed and crossed the hall to take a shower.  He was still thinking about his parents and what they said.  For the moment, the depression was gone and the possibilities of what he could do with a whole summer seemed endless.

 

Dylen was actually excited until he closed the bathroom door.  He rarely took time to look at himself in the mirror these days.  But, as he slipped out of his clothes, for some reason, his reflection made him stop. He realized how different he really looked from the mental picture he had of himself.  The person in the reflection looked more like a Halloween caricature than Dylen Mason.  He stared at the image.  Not so long ago, he was proud of his looks.  He didn't look like a magazine cover guy or anything like that.  But, he did garner more than a few invitations for a date over the years.  The fact that he wasn't allowed to date alone until he was 18 helped him to safely refuse them all.  But, it still felt good that he was attractive enough to ask.

 

'Now, look at me,' Dylen thought.  'What have I done to myself?' Worse, what was he doing to the people he cared about?  But wasn't he supposed to be punished for what he was feeling and doing?  Wasn't he just saving them the trouble of having to do it later?

 

Dylen shook his head and slipped into the warm, soothing spray. Why couldn't he be someone like Rian?  Rian had so much.  He was everything Dylen ever wanted -- self confident, strong, normal.  People stared at Rian in admiration.  He was certain that as soon as people found out his secret, they would stare at him with loathing and contempt.  He supposed that's why he looked the way he did now.  He hated so much of what he was.  Dylen grabbed the soap and lathered himself.  If only he could wash all this away.  If only he could scrub away that person in the mirror and with him all these feelings.  Then he could be what everybody expected, what everybody wanted him to be.

 

As he got out of the shower and dried off, another thought occurred to him.  Last night was totally opposite from what he thought was supposed to happen.  Dylen thought a sinful attraction should feel wrong when it was happening.  But he felt something . . . right? . . .  with Rian.  Dylen actually struggled to put the feeling into words.  It was sort of like the dream before it turned bad.  Yes, it was sexual, but it was so much more than that.  It felt natural, good, happy.  Maybe, just maybe, he was trying to wash away the wrong set of feelings.  Maybe he could get back what he'd lost by embracing what he was running away from.

 

Dylen wrapped the towel around his waist, walked into his room, and closed the door.  For some reason, he felt like cleaning up for a change. He was searching through his closet for a shirt and shorts that he liked (and playing around with these new thoughts), when there was a knock at the door.  'Must be mom with laundry,' Dylen assumed.  "Come in," he said without turning around.

 

***

 

Kathi Mason was in the laundry when there was a knock at the open front door.  She stopped her work, curious who would be calling on her unannounced on a Saturday morning.  She smiled as she saw Rian’s large frame almost overshadowing the door.  "Hello, Rian.  Come in."

 

"Hello. Mrs. Mason.  How are you?"  Rian said.

 

"Fine.  Dylen's upstairs in his room," she said, expecting that he was here to see her son.  It was so rare for her son to have a guest anymore.  'Maybe this wreck had some benefit after all,' she thought.

 

Rian walked to the stairs.  Kathi held back, allowing the young man to pass.  She stared at the smooth flowing interaction of Rian's leg muscles as he moved away.  She felt a primal stir.  Sure, this man was the age of her own son, but she was still a woman.  He was gorgeous, and he was charming.  'He's going to have the choice of any girl on earth,' she thought.  'I just hope he chooses someone that deserves him.'

 

Rian took the stairs two at a time as jogged up them.  There were only three doors on the second floor of the Mason home.  Two led to a bathroom and a guest bedroom.  They were open and exposed the interiors to view.  Rian walked to the far door, the one he remembered from childhood that led to Dylen's room.  He was sure Dylen knew he was there.  Still, he knocked rather heavily just to make sure Dylen didn't think it was his mother.  Instead of the "Who is it" he expected, Rian's knock was greeted with a rather nonchalant "Come in."  Rian cracked open the door, and took a couple of hesitant steps in.  He didn't quite know what to do.  Dylen was standing only in a towel, thumbing through his closet.  There was a nice shirt and a pair of boxers lying on the bed.  It was obvious that Dylen was not expecting a 20 year old college guy at his door.  But, before Rian could back out again, Dylen turned around holding a pair of shorts on a clothes hanger.

 

"Just leave them . . ." Dylen started to say when he realized who was standing in his door.  His jaw lowered, and he became wide eyed, frozen in place like a newborn fawn.  For his part, Rian stumbled as fast as he could out the door, pulling it shut behind him.  In the two seconds it took for Rian to leave, Dylen's face was already blood red.  He'd been standing stark naked in front of Rian.  He could barely move from embarrassment -- again.

 

Rian stood outside the door, still not knowing what to do.  He had been in enough gyms over the years to never be embarrassed at the sight of a man in a towel, but Dylen wasn't a gym rat.  He knew how some Mormons, like Dylen's parents, were about modesty.  After the prior night's events, it wouldn't have surprised Rian if Dylen came out screaming at him. Instead, there was nothing but silence.  He decided he would to try again. Rian swallowed his uneasiness and knocked, this time much more softly.  His deep voice was only loud enough so he could be heard through the door. "Dylen.  I'm sorry."

 

Dylen was fumbling incoherently as he put on the shorts and shirt as fast as he could.  He even tripped over himself getting to the door.  He opened it to see Rian standing rather sheepishly, cheeks glowing brightly. As soon as the two made eye contact, Rian started, "I'm sorry. I'm parked under your window and I was just talking to your mom.  I thought you knew I was here."

 

Dylen had just been thinking about what he felt with Rian before the door opened.  In spite of what was happening, he still felt those strange butterflies standing here.  It felt good to know that Rian was just as embarrassed as he was.  Maybe he wasn't so different after all.  "I guess I do have a way of first impressions.  First crying in the middle of a deserted road and then inviting you into my room while I'm naked.  Sure you don't want to leave?"  Dylen asked with a hint of expectant disappointment in his voice.

 

Rian offered a warm gaze in return.  "I've made my share of first impressions I'd rather forget, too.  Besides, I decided what I think of you years ago, and it isn't bad."  Dylen was relieved and he opened the door wide, inviting Rian in.

 

Rian hadn't been in Dylen's room in years, but he was struck at the similarities between this room and his own when he was in high school. There was a whole wall covered with certificates, plaques, metals, and pictures -- just like the one in his room, except all of these had been won by Dylen in music and scouts.  There was a desk with a newer model desktop computer that was almost buried in college envelopes.  In the opposite corner was a nice TV with a Playstation.  There were books, games, clothes - all the things a normal teenage guy would have in their room -- except.  There were no posters of popular semi-naked women. Instead, hanging on the walls were a couple of small drawings of Jesus Christ and a sign that said "Return with Honor."  Also over Dylen's bed was a photograph of a beautiful white stone building that looked like a castle from a fairy tale.  Rian didn't know what the building was or what the sign meant.  But, he was sure it must have been a Mormon thing.  Dylen motioned for Rian to sit on the bed, while he grabbed the small wheeled chair at the desk and pulled it near to Rian's position.

 

Rian tried to break the ice.  "You know, compared to what happened to me the other day, this was nothing." Rian said.

 

Dylen was intrigued.  He didn't say anything, but his face invited Rian to continue.

 

"I went to the Wendy's near campus the other day for lunch, and I ordered a salad and a plain baked potato.  While I was waiting for my food, another girl came up behind the counter and started asking me if I liked baked potatoes.  It was a little weird, but I said, 'Sure, I guess.'  Then she stared over the counter at my crotch. She started making eyes at me and said, 'I bet you have a huge baked potato with lots of sour cream.'"  Dylen was picturing the situation and trying to choke back hysterical laughter. Rian's cheeks re- colored as he told the story, but he was chuckling too. "I said 'No, just plain for me' and I ran away with my food as fast as I could.  I don't think I can ever eat a potato in there again.  Now, that's a bad first impression."

 

Dylen couldn't hold back any longer.  He was in tears he was laughing so hard.  It was as if the incident two minutes ago had never taken place.  He tried to catch his breath.  "But, every girl that's ever met you has hit on you at least once.  Everybody talked about it at school. But, usually, they weren't that . . . aaahhhh . . . nasty.  I guess compared to that standing in a towel isn't so bad."

 

After the story, Dylen was completely at ease.  Rian made him feel so comfortable with himself.  Only now, unlike when he was in Rian's car, he could enjoy it.  But it wasn't only Dylen that felt comfortable.  Rian did too.  He hadn't felt this kind of instant connection with anyone before, even with Brock.

 

Rian returned to their situation.  "If it makes you feel any better, I've been in enough gyms in my life to have seen a few million guys, and most of them are in really horrible shape.  You look pretty good actually."

 

"OK, now your just trying to make me feel better.  I've never worked out a day in my life.  And look at you.  I mean you make two of me. I'm nothing compared to guys like you."  Dylen replied.

 

"Don't be too sure of that.  You may not have huge muscles, but you're defined a lot better than most.  And doing farm chores can be a huge workout, believe me.  I know you're stronger than you think.  You'd do great in the gym." Rian said.  He didn't know why exactly he issued the implicit invitation, but he didn't regret it.

 

Dylen couldn't believe it, but he could tell Rian honestly mean what he said.  Maybe Rian was just trying to finish smoothing over an embarrassing situation, but he sounded so sincere about it.  Then Dylen realized the opportunity he had.  He could settle things right now.  The laughter induced smile on Dylen's face tempered and was replaced by a serious sincere look.  "Well, I'm just glad you're here.  I was going to try to call you and tell you how sorry I am about last night.  Things just haven't been very good lately and then the accident . . .  I just want to thank you for helping me home, in spite of how crazy I was.  I hope you won't think badly of me."

 

Now, it was Dylen's turn to look sheepish.  He was letting Rian inside the emotional barrier.  Rian understood how hard this was for Dylen. He could see genuine concern on Dylen's face about what he really thought. Rian immediately put Dylen's mind at ease.  Rian felt comfortable enough to do something he would never have dreamed of doing just a few minutes before.  He leaned forward and put his hand on Dylen's knee.  Dylen didn't pull away.  "You don't have to thank me for anything.  You're my friend, and you always will be.  I know that I haven't seen you or talked to you in a while, but nothing's changed how I feel about you.  And you don't have to feel sorry for anything, either.  We all have bad days -- bad weeks -- that we wish we could forget."

 

"Still, you walked into a big mess.  I dumped a lot of stuff on you that I shouldn't have."  Dylen said.

 

As he sat there, Rian felt whatever it was grow stronger.  It was as if he could almost feel what Dylen was feeling.  Somehow, he was certain that whatever was happening shook Dylen to the core.  It involved every aspect of his life.  Rian knew that he'd only felt that way once before. If Dylen was going through the same thing for the same reason . . . The insight was almost spooky, but, if it were true, it would explain everything.  He couldn't jump to that conclusion this fast, though.  Even though he'd been right with Brock, he was going to make sure with Dylen. And this time, he was going to be careful.  Rian shifted back to where he was before.  "Dylen, can I ask you something personal?"

 

"I guess."  Dylen said, defenses automatically rising.

 

"What's going on with you?"  Rian asked.

 

Dylen knew that there was no way he was going to tell Rian what he was really feeling.  He could only imagine Rian reaction if he said, 'I think I'm gay and I dreamed I had sex with you last night.'  But, he was just wishing for someone to talk to.  And he felt this crazy connection with Rian.  He didn't know why, but maybe Rian was the person he needed. He decided to try a relatively honest approach and see Rian's reaction.

 

"I don't know."  Dylen began, with some sincerity.  "It's kind of hard to explain.  It's just like one day all this stuff I have to do, everything I ever wanted to get, everything I expected to do with my life, doesn't mean anything anymore.  Everybody expects me to be a certain way, to do this and that by the time I'm 30.  But, it all feels hollow, artificial .  . . like I'm living a lie.  Sometimes, I wish I could just throw everything away and start over.  I mean look at you.  You've got everything anyone could ever want.  Nothing bad ever seems to happen to you.  You always find a way to get out on top.  I don't know -- I guess this sounds sort of stupid to you."

 

"Dylen, trust me when I tell you I understand completely.  And I've lost more than you know."  Rian thought of the funeral again.  "Everybody looks at me and expects me to be something I'm not.  They look at me like that Wendy's girl did.  They expect me to be some dumb muscle head jock out for sex, and they expect me to act like it. Sometimes, I've been stupid enough to be the person they want, and I've hated it ever since.  In fact, you're about the only person I've ever known who's never treated me that way.  Maybe it's just because we've been friends for so long, but you always let me be me.  You don't know what that means to me.

 

"I know how hard it's gonna be when you finally leave here. Boulder's a whole new world.  It's full of so many new things.  And for somebody from a family with your beliefs, it's going to be even harder. You've gotta do what's best for you.  And sometimes that doesn't live up to everybody's expectations, but that's OK.

 

"I just want you to know that I know what its like and whenever you need a friend, I'll always be there for you. You don't have to go it alone."  Rian reached out his hand and Dylen took it.  As they touched, they both felt something . . . Like the world stopped for an instant, and there was nothing but the two of them.  A link was forged.  Neither had felt anything like it before.

 

For a moment, Dylen was swept up in the feeling.  He wanted to ask what Rian meant.  How could he really understand?  But, he knew that would mean telling Rian the whole truth.  He just couldn't risk it . . . not yet. "Thanks, man."  Dylen said.  "It's good to know that I haven't screwed up totally."  The two let their hands drop, and the feeling lessened.  But, it never went away.

 

Dylen decided to change the subject again.  "So, you really think that I could do something in a gym, huh?"

 

Rian smiled, "Yeah, I really do.  We could put arms like this on you in no time."  Rian held up his right arm and flexed the biceps.  A huge peak arose with a large vein going down just off center of a cleft showing a split between the two muscle’s heads.  The peak was perfectly balanced by a massive triceps hanging below.  Rian dropped the pose after a second, but Dylen felt a huge surge in his groin.  'NO!!' he screamed reflexively in his head.  With a massive grab at self control, Dylen felt the promised hard-on pass.

 

After almost losing it, Dylen didn't know why he continued, but he did.  "Sometimes I wish I could get bigger, look better.  Workout, you know?  I just don't know anything about that kind of stuff except that if you don't know what you're doing you could really hurt yourself."

 

Rian's eyes lit with excitement.  It was a way in, to maybe help his friend, and more, if this feeling meant what he thought it did.  "Do you really mean that?"

 

"Mean what?"

 

"Well, if you want to, you can workout with me.  I could even take you up to campus sometime before fall.  Show you around."

 

Dylen was taken aback.  "I couldn't help you in a workout.  I wouldn't know where to start.  I'd probably hold you back anyway."

 

"You don't have to know where to start.  That'd be my job.  I don't have a workout partner, and a partner helps a lot, even if you're not lifting the same weights.  The encouragement helps.  I want to, if you're willing.  It won't be easy.  If you're serious, it'll hurt like hell sometimes.  But, I've never found a better way to deal with stress and you might even like it.  All you need to do is say yes."

 

Dylen thought it over.  With what just happened, could he maintain control around Rian in a place like a gym?  Could he hide what he was feeling?  If he couldn't it would all be over.  But, something he couldn't figure out told him it would be worth the risk.  "What do I have to do?"

 

"Just trust your trainer.  Do you have time to come to the house with me for a couple of hours?  Our pool is open if you want to take a swim.  We could even start working out in the morning, if you want."

 

"I can go now, sure.  And I've got the whole summer to myself after graduation.  But, I can't start tomorrow.  I'm not allowed to so that sort of thing on Sundays.  I've got to go to Church."  Dylen replied.

 

"No problem.  We'll find a schedule that works.  Let's go."  Rian threw his arm around Dylen's shoulder.  Dylen remembered that feeling, the comforting weight of Rian's arm, just like the dream.  The two young men, excited for their own reasons, walked out of the door to Dylen's room.

 

"What's all the college stuff on your desk?" Rian asked.

 

"Scholarship offers.  You know, I won valedictorian this year."

 

"All those are scholarship offers?  I shouldn't be surprised though.  You always were the smartest person in school.  Hey, valedictorian means a speech.  How's it coming ... "

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DennisFLL

What great writing!  Interesting dialogue and I loved the interaction between Dylen and Ryan with the underlying sexual tension build-up.  Looking forward to Rian's gym mentoring.

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With the overlying sadness ever present in the world I'm eager to see how this story shapes. 

side note: Kathi or Kathy, Ryan or Rian?

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GymPredator
7 hours ago, fwee said:

side note: Kathi or Kathy, Ryan or Rian?

Should be Kathi and Rian.  Even knowing the spelling I make occasional typos, lol.  Well a lot of them, just able to catch most.

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SkyrimPlay3r

I love this story! Having a Mormon background myself, and recently only coming out publicly just over a year ago, I still vividly remember a lot of the feelings depicted here for Dylen.

And oh how I wish I could find myself a Rian

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GymPredator

Chapter 4 - The Shadow of Changing

 

"OK, Dylen.  You owe me three more, and we'll call it a day," Rian said. Dylen sighed in exhaustion.  He couldn't help it.  He was no stranger to a hard day's work around the farm, but Rian seemed to have a gift for proving what working a muscle to exhaustion really meant.  He felt so weak now he could sympathize with an infant trying to hold its head up.  And Rian said he was taking it easy until Dylen gained some experience.  At first, Dylen couldn't fathom that idea.  But, he learned just how true it was the first time he spotted for Rian.  Dylen thought he knew what brutality was until he witnessed Rian's leg workout last week.  But, what struck Dylen most was what was happening to himself.  Even though he was sore and tired for a while after each session, he'd wound up feeling better physically than at any time he could remember.  It didn't make sense that exhausting yourself could make you feel better later on, but Dylen learned it was true.  'Maybe it's just being around Rian,' Dylen rationalized.

 

Dylen reclined to horizontal to perform his last set of heavy bench presses.  There was only 145 pounds on the bar, and both trainer and trainee knew he could lift heavier weights.  (When they proved that their first Saturday together, no one was more amazed that Dylen himself.)  But, Rian had told him that he wouldn't let him go much heavier that his bodyweight until he'd learned proper form.  Rian was always reminding him that he had a seven year head start, and he shouldn't rush things.  It wouldn't be long before he was comfortable with weights he couldn't dream of yet.  Still, as he positioned himself, Dylen recalled seeing Rian strictly curl nearly this much weight (100 lbs) as if it were nothing the day they first worked arms.  He had heard the expression 'exploding biceps' before, but nothing had prepared him for the sight of Rian's 19+ inches exploding in the flesh.

 

With Dylen once again in place, Rian reassumed his mantle of trainer/coach/cheerleader.  From his spotting perch directly behind the bench, he looked down into Dylen's sweat-coated face.  "Remember, you're not trying to throw up quick, sloppy reps.  Control and form builds quality muscle, and it keeps you safe.  In bodybuilding, the way you perform an exercise is at least as important as how much weight you're doing it with. Now, what's first? . . . Good, feet on the floor, butt on the bench.  Now, pull up and set your shoulder blades like I taught you.  Feel the stretch across your chest.  Arch your back just a little.  That's it.  Now, lift up the bar and adjust.  Excellent.

 

"Now slowly, controlled as you go down.  Good.  Just touch the chest.  Up slow.  Control it.  Squeeze the muscle.  Feel what you're doing. Fantastic.  I know you're tired, but you've got two more in you.  Come on. Man you did that one clean.  Perfect.

 

"Last one.  Stay focused.  Keep control.  No, don't rush it.  Now, push that bastard up."  As soon as he heard Rian say "push," Dylen felt the last bit of energy in his body seep away.  He hit the wall -- hard.  The bar was rising, but its progress was slowing.  Rian reached out and lightly touched his fingers to the bottom of the bar.  He wasn't really providing a spot, but more of a confidence booster.  He knew Dylen was capable of doing this even though he was tired.  Just then, Dylen hit the sticking point, that spot every weightlifter knows and dreads.  His progress halted.  He was struggling to do everything Rian had taught him to do, but it wasn't working.  Dylen didn't think he could go anymore.  He was so tired, and he'd worked so hard for so long already.  Quitting with half a rep to go wouldn't be so bad, he thought.

 

He was almost ready to give up when he heard Rian angrily yell at him.  "I know you can beat that.  Quit fucking around and just do it."

 

Rian's words uncorked something inside Dylen.  He'd never experienced it outside of playing music before.  There was always a time, when he playing well, when the whole world fell away until all that was left was his hands and his sound.  His playing became that much better when it happened.  Now, the same thing started happening here.  He forgot all about the little things he'd been concentrating on.  He could tell they were happening by the feelings in his body.  But, his mind clamped down on the bar and on his body.  The minutiae of outside world fell out of focus.  A calm, determined concentration draped across his still pained face.  He poured all his will into his arms and chest, commanding them to push harder.  His aching muscles screamed in protest as he released a loud yell, but Dylen felt the bar's resistance breaking.  It began to move upward again.  Dylen started grinning despite the pain as he felt his arms lock out.  Rian's hands had dropped away, but now they returned and helped him guide the bar back into its starting position.  The clang of metal on metal signaled success, and Dylen's arms dropped.  He practically bounced up into a seated position, and only then did his surroundings returned.

 

"Fuckin' Awesome!!"  Rian said through a smile as broad as Dylen's.  Rian moved around to an adjacent bench so that he could face Dylen.  He'd seen the change in expression on Dylen's face, the look of determination that makes you stronger than you think you can be.  He knew instantly what was happening and began a silent celebration.  As Dylen was conquering the weights for the first time, Rian remembered the first time he'd beat the iron by sheer force of will.  The rush that comes when you defeat the plates, the rush that Dylen was feeling now, was like no other feeling in the world.

 

Rian was so proud of his new protege that he could barely contain his excitement.  He reached over and clasped Dylen's arm and shoulder, shaking him in congratulations.  Dylen looked at him straight on, and as he did, Rian saw it.  The fire of success, the light of determination, was burning in Dylen's eyes.  It was so riveting in Dylen's otherwise soft features that it took a moment for Rian to regain the power of speech.  Finally, he said, "No one could have done that any better.  That's why you were born to do this."

 

Their celebration was interrupted by an unexpected light clapping.  It was coming from the door leading out to the rest of the basement.  The young men looked up from each other to see Rian's dad standing in the doorway. Despite being in his mid 40's, Kevin May was still a bull of a man. He used the extensively equipped gym in the basement of his home virtually everyday.  His drill-sergeant like bass voice boomed across the room as he approached.  "Rian said you were doing good, especially not to have even lifted a dumbbell before.  I thought he was just telling tales, but Dylen, you've really got the drive in you."  Kevin extended his hand.  The thick paw of the 6'4", 260 pound giant totally swallowed Dylen's hand.

 

"Doing good?  When's the last time either of you had a hard time with 140 pounds on a bench press?" Dylen asked.

 

Kevin glanced over to his son and was greeted with a look from Rian that said, 'I've tried.  Maybe he'll listen to you.'  So, Kevin took up the challenge.  "If you want to know the truth, the last time I struggled benching 140 pounds was a long time before either of you were born.  But, that doesn't matter.  I've seen a lot of men in the gym in my time - big ones, little ones, every kind of shape and size you can think of.  And believe me when I tell, you most of them can't do what you just did.  Your average Joe on the street can't manage to bench their own body weight for a single rep.  And many of those who can either struggle to do it sloppily, or they do it so fast they get no benefit from it at all.  You've only been working on it for a few sessions, and not only are you benching your body weight, you're doing it with good form and with control.  What you just did is what separates the successful and the dedicated from the fly-by-nights.  That shows real strength.  You're a natural, and it's something you should be proud of.  If you keep it up, you have no idea what you'll be able to achieve.

 

"It just goes to show that all those years doing farm chores really didn't go to waste did they?"  Kevin replied with a knowing wink.

 

Dylen blushed.  He hated the way Mr. May could always seem to peer into his soul.  How could he have possibly known that's how he felt about helping around the farm sometimes?  Kevin leaned down and spoke in Dylen's ear. "Let me tell you a secret.  Every man feels that way about moving irrigation lines, carrying bags of seed, and those early mornings when he's 18.  Your father did.  Even I did."  Dylen still looked at Kevin like he must have a working crystal ball hidden away somewhere.  Kevin laughed and stood again.  "Oh, by the way, Lacy asked me to stop in and see if you wanted to stay for lunch.  I'd say yes; because, I don't think she'll take no for an answer."

 

Dylen didn't need much convincing.  Lacy May was an excellent cook, especially when it came to making the high protein, low fat diet he was on more palatable.  "Have I said no yet?" Dylen replied.

 

"Good.  She said it'll be ready in half an hour.  See you boys later." Kevin said as he left the room.  Dylen silently chuckled.  He thought it was nuts that Mr. May called someone that looked like Rian a boy.

 

As Kevin passed through the doorway, Dylen's attention was caught by an object above the frame.  It was a well made, but plain wooden sign just about the width of the door.  It was carved with Greek letters.

 

Dylen had noticed it before, and it stoked his curiosity.  "Hey Rian. What's that above the door?"

 

Rian glanced up to where Dylen was looking.  "Oh that.  Dad's really big into quotes.  He learned that one in college, and he taught it to me when I started lifting.  I guess it's sort of turned into our workout motto.  It's pronounced 'Gnothi Seauton' and it means 'Know Thyself.'"  Rian said.

 

"From the Temple of Apollo at Delphi?"  Dylen asked, seeking confirmation of his memory.

 

"You know that?" Rian asked.  Dylen wasn't the first of his friends who had asked about the sign, but no one before now had known where the famous saying came from.  Then, Rian remembered who he was talking to.

 

Dylen continued, "That motto was in a religious shrine.  Why put it up in a gym?"

 

Rian knew he was going to have trouble explaining the sign to a gym novice. Understanding the why of it came more easily from feelings and actions than from words.  "That's opening up a can of worms, but I'll try to explain it the way my dad did to me."  Rian began cleaning up the room, putting plates and dumbbells back into their racks.  "In weight training, you really can't succeed without doing what that sign represents.  The first thing you have to learn about in training of any kind isn't weights or nutrition or even exercises.  You have to learn yourself.  To be a successful athlete, you have to start by asking yourself - 'Who am I?'; 'What do I want?'; 'What are my capabilities now, and what can they be?"  Say you're workouts are designed to help someone become a bodybuilder, but you really want to play tennis or be a martial artist.  It doesn't matter how much you can lift or how strong you may be.  You're always gonna fail at your goal because you're training for the wrong thing."

 

Rian came around and sat down in front of Dylen again.  He could tell from the look on Dylen's face that he wasn't getting through.  It was time to be concrete.  "Before we ever touched a plate or a dumbbell, I asked you what you wanted to get out of weight training.  And you said?"

 

"That I want to be in shape.  I'm not a big athlete, but I want to look good.  Just not as big as you or your dad. That's not me."  Dylen said.

 

Rian replied, "That's almost exactly what I said to my dad when I started working out.  At first, I didn't want to play sports like he did, even though I loved it later.  But, we always had different goals.  He outweighs me by 60 pounds right now, and I've never been able to put up the sheer tonnage he can.  He still out lifts me in every area.  Power and size were what he wanted.  On the other hand, he's never been as cut or defined as I can be.  That's what I wanted.  We wanted to get different things out of our workouts, so our training is different, even though we do many of the same exercises.

 

"Focusing your training toward your real goals is what makes you successful.  But knowing what your goals should be starts with knowing yourself and thinking about what you're doing.  That's why I'm always telling you to think and feel what you're doing in a set.  Seeing the end result in your head brings you a step closer to getting it.  Mind is half the battle in weight training.  I know it all sounds kind of Zen, but it works."

 

Rian looked up at the large clock on one of the unmirrored walls.  "We'd better hit the showers.  You know how much mom hates it when we come to the table smelling like sweat."  As they started for the door, Rian came up behind Dylen and grabbed his upper arm.  "Personally, I don't think it's because she hates smelling sweat while she's eating."  Rian lowered his voice, growling seductively, "I think seeing your hot, sweaty body makes her heart start thumping for younger men, you sexy sonofabitch."

 

"You are a serious perv." Dylen replied as he looked into Rian's smirking face.  He took a fake punch at Rian's arm, landing lightly on the shoulder. "Fixing your mom up with a workout partner who's younger than you are."

 

Rian held up his hands in a gesture of innocence.  "Hey.  Don't blame me if you turn people on."  Dylen glared at Rian for that quip.  He lunged for his partly used water bottle.  Dylen squeezed hard, firing a stream straight at Rian's face.

 

"Why you little --" Rian dove for his own bottle, quickly returning the favor.  Both of them were laughing uproariously.  It would have turned into an all-out water fight among the gym equipment if Rian hadn't reminded them both about lunch.

 

Calling a truce, they grabbed a couple of towels and cleaned up the mess they'd made.  Dylen crossed the hall, entering the basement bathroom he typically used to clean up.  As he was closing the door, Rian caught it and said, "I'm gonna shower upstairs.  I'll be up there when you're done."

 

"OK" was Dylen's reply.

 

Rian turned down the hall and jogged up the two flights of stairs that took him to the second floor.  He went in his room, closed the door, and stripped off his sweaty clothes.  But instead of going to his bathroom, he sat down at his desk.  He opened his laptop and clicked on the workout log he'd started for Dylen.  Rian entered the details of today's completed workout, his observations, and what he wanted to do for their next chest routine the following week.  He also entered the results of the measurements they'd taken that morning next to the set from two weeks ago.

 

Rian stared at them as he finished.  He was taking measurements just to get Dylen in the habit paying attention to his body as it changed.  He hadn't expected to see any real results for a while.  It was only 7 workouts in, but Dylen was working hard and eating right.  He was even doing crunches and pushups at home every night.  Still, he shouldn't be seeing anything remarkable now, but the results were here in black and white.  Dylen was already starting his initial growth spurt.  It was as if his body had spent a long time priming and now was unleashed.  Dylen had maintained his bodyweight overall, but he'd gained 1/3 inch on his biceps and 1/2 inch on his chest.  Rian noticed today that there was a bit more definition showing in Dylen's lithe abdomen and in his legs.  Both were promising signs for the future.  All of that on a 29" waist.  Small gains yes, but a lot after so short a time.  Rian could already tell that Dylen was never going to be an overly massive guy.  On his frame, huge muscles like Rian’s dad had just wouldn't look right.  Dylen was going to be one of those "hidden muscle" guys he occasionally saw.  The ones who looked almost normal until their shirt and pants came off; then, they'd blow you away with the quality of their proportions and definition.

 

There was no way this kind of pace would last though.  Within a couple more weeks, this rapid growth would slow as Dylen's body adjusted to exercise with weights instead of farming.  In a couple of years, though, with 35 pounds of lean muscle on his body, Dylen was going to be a masterpiece. The thought of that future Dylen made Rian shake his head in wonder.  'His mind, his personality, his face, his body . . . damn,' he thought.  Rian closed the computer screen, dropped his dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and went to his bathroom.  He just hoped that Dylen was seeing and feeling what he was.

 

---

 

Dylen allowed the hot water to run over his body for one last moment.  Even if there were no other benefits to these workouts with Rian, this feeling of hot water against his spent flesh was reason enough to continue.  It was so relaxing to let the soap and water drain away the promised aches for a little while.

 

In many ways, the past two weeks should have been a blur.  Last classes, AP exams, assemblies, meetings, Church, and now workouts on top of it.  Since he was exempt from finals, today was the first day he'd had in months with relatively nothing to do.  But, despite all he had on his plate, he and Rian had spent an amazing amount of time together just talking.  Dylen had almost forgotten how good it felt to just talk with someone.  They'd discussed everything imaginable -- cars, sports, parents, graduation, college, Boulder -- and it was so much fun.  As seemingly opposite as they appeared at first, they agreed on so much in the end.  In an odd way, it was as if they were kids again.  The inseparable closeness they felt when they were young seemed to be alive again, at least to Dylen.

 

Dylen stepped out of the shower and dressed, still thinking about what he'd discovered lately.  To call Rian his soul mate was the wrong word, he thought.  Soul mate sounded too much like lovers.  Although he'd been jacking off most every night fantasizing about Rian, that didn't make them lovers.  Rian knew nothing about it, after all.  And the Church taught that there was no such thing as a "soul mate."  Dylen imagined the two of them were more like a matched pair, like salt and pepper; one was incomplete without the other.

 

Having finished cleaning up, Dylen packed his gym bag and climbed the stairs to Rian's room.  Even though 'room' was the easiest term for the place, Dylen discovered that calling Rian's spot in this house a "room" wasn't exactly correct.  The May's house, like his parent's home, had a small 1/2 story for the second floor.  When Dylen was little, this area included several other rooms in addition to Rian's bedroom.  But, as part of his 16th birthday present, Rian's parents converted the whole space into a large three room suite.  There was a private living area and full bath in addition to Rian's bedroom.  Rian said his parents were going to turn it into a guest space when he built his own home; but, Dylen suspected this spot would always belong to Rian.

 

As he entered the room, Dylen could hear water running in the shower.  Rian had given him free rein in his room, so he walked into the living room. Ever since Rian first brought him here, Dylen thought this room was the ultimate teen play space.  It was equipped every electronic gizmo a teenage guy could wish for, from a flat-panel HDTV to a massive sound system.  The walls held a number of autographed mementos from pro football and hockey games Rian attended.  There were so many pictures of Rian with friends and family, the display was almost a catalog of how the thin pre-teen boy transformed into an athlete and then into something more.  Everything about this room said it was meant for friends to come and hang out.  The bedroom, on the other hand, was private, simpler, a place of refuge.  It was simply furnished with a large bed, a desk with a laptop dock, and a couple of clothing chests.  On these walls were the awards given to Rian for his athletic ability.  Most of them were accompanied by news clippings or snapshots of the places where he won them - in pads after football games, in a singlet during wrestling tournaments, in a suit at a banquet.  There were a few pictures of friends and buddies in the gym.  But these pictures seemed much more intimate, more selective, than the ones outside.

 

As he walked around his friend's sanctuary, Dylen was reminded of the kind of person the private Rian was - friendly, caring, smart, special.  He started to feel guilty.  'Rian is such a good man, and here I am lusting after him all the time,' Dylen thought.  The guilt over his fantasies and his hand jobs began to grow as he stared at these walls.  He felt close to Rian, but how much of that was just a lustful illusion.  Not only had he fantasized about feeling Rian's muscles, he's thought about blowing him off.  He'd even given himself a hand job dreaming about being fucked by Rian.  It was just a single time, but he never ceased to feel worthlessly guilty over it, especially at Church.  All Sunday's and Wednesday's ever did anymore was reminded him of his inadequacies.  Dylen couldn't even concentrate in family prayer anymore for thinking about Rian and wishing that he wouldn't.  With shame mounting, the shadow began to whisper again. Maybe the 'more-than-good feelings' he sometimes thought he felt from Rian were just on his side of the equation.  How could someone like the Rian in these pictures really feel anything for some thing like him?  'Maybe it would be better to end this now.  Before he finds out, and I hurt him or he hurts me.'

 

The happiness and joy of twenty minutes prior were fast fading into another depression -- until Dylen came upon Rian's desk.  Next to the laptop, there were two small picture frames he'd never paid attention to.  One frame held a picture of Rian and someone Dylen had never seen before.  This person appeared in no other picture that Dylen saw.  He was a good looking guy. Judging from where he came up to on Rian, he a little shorter than Dylen, but more thickly muscled. He had brown hair and clear blue eyes.  It looked like Rian and the guy were somewhere in the mountains, but it was a place Dylen didn't recognize.  They looked like they were having a good time.  In fact, both of them looked very happy.

 

When Dylen looked to the other picture frame and realized what was in it, he reached down and picked it up.  The frame held a picture of Rian with him.  They had taken it last weekend with Rian's cam while they'd been swimming in the May's pool.  At first, Dylen's attention was caught by Rian's incredible body.  He was big, but Dylen had seen pictures of much larger men.  What made Rian so attractive to Dylen was his absolutely perfect proportion.  Solid vascular arms and thick, wide pectorals led to a defined cluster of six abdominals.  They were flanked by all sorts of smaller muscles that added a certain grace to Rian's upper body.  The legs dropping out of Rian's swim trunks were cut and solid.  They were a perfect balance to his large upper body.  There was just a smattering of hair on Rian's golden skin, which only seemed to further accentuate Rian's looks. Dylen's hard on was straining for release as he stared, and he started to punish himself for lusting again.  But then, he noticed the look on Rian's face.

 

The two of them were laughing together when the picture was snapped. Rian's killer smile was prominent in most of the photos Dylen had looked at.  But, there was a quality about it -- about him -- in these two pictures that was different than in all the other pictures on the walls. In these two pictures, Rian looked more than happy. He looked content, strangely completed.  It wasn't fake emotion or a false supposition on Dylen's part.  Seeing these moments frozen in time, Dylen came to understand that whatever he was feeling for Rian, Rian really did care about him.  He really wasn't alone in this friendship.

 

Dylen abandoned the fear-driven thoughts he'd just been entertaining.  He decided he wasn’t going to end anything with Rian.  If his parents or the Church knew about his feelings, they'd make him cut Rian off immediately. But, as long as Dylen could see that look in Rian's face, there was no way they could make him leave.  Most likely, Rian would never know of his attraction to him.  Dylen wasn't going to allow anything to destroy this friendship, even his own feelings.  Whatever else may be wrong or right in his life, whatever else he may be - a liar, a hypocrite, an abomination -- this was one thing he was going to try his best to protect.

 

Dylen walked to the couch in front of the TV, buoyed by his discovery.  As he sat down, he realized that he no longer heard the shower running.  Rian came out of the bathroom dressed in his usual sleeveless shirt and shorts. If Dylen needed any further confirmation of what he'd seen in those pictures, he had it now.  The expression on Rian's face, the aura of kindness and caring flowing from him, was enough.  "Hey, are you ready?"

 

"Ahh . . . Sure, let's go."

 

"What's wrong?  You look a little preoccupied."

 

"Nothing.  Just thinking about how good I've been feeling lately.  I hate to admit it, but that's probably thanks to you and your metal plates and taskmaster routines."

 

Rian's smile widened.  "That just give me license to work you harder, you know.  But, I've gotta feed you first."  They started walking to the door.

 

"Rian, who's that with you in the picture on the desk?"

 

A shadow of emotion welled up under Rian's happy expression.  Dylen couldn't be sure, but he could have sworn it was pain.  "Just a friend from college.  He lived on my floor in the dorms."

 

---

 

What was supposed to be lunch turned into an afternoon and evening of relaxation with Rian's family.  This was the first real chance Kevin and Lacy May had to get to know Dylen as a man.  It was evident to all that things had gone very well.  In those few hours, Dylen felt like the May's had virtually adopted him.  To Kevin and Lacy, while Dylen was just one more of Rian's friends at first, they were now very comfortable in thinking of him as more than a common friend.

 

The sky outside the huge picture window in the May's living room was just beginning to mute before anyone realized how late it was getting.  Lacy invited Dylen stay for dinner, but he decided to finally decline one of her meals.  He felt like he'd taken too much of their day already; plus, his mom had left him a large dinner in the refrigerator.  When the time came for him to leave, Rian excused himself while the older Mays led Dylen out to their garage.  Rian had left his car parked outside on the driveway so that Dylen could have his spot in the garage.  He guessed that Rian was now moving his car to give Dylen the chance to leave.

 

Dylen turned to the couple.  "Thank you all again.  I haven't enjoyed a day like today in a long time."

 

Kevin shook Dylen's hand firmly.  "No.  We've enjoyed getting to know you again.  You're welcome in our home anytime, day or night."

 

"See you on Saturday, and good luck."  Lacy said, and the couple returned to the home, closing the door behind them.  Finding himself alone, Dylen pressed the button to raise the door to the bay he was parked in.  As it slowly slid open, he caught sight of Rian, looking a bit out of breath. His car hadn't moved, but Dylen didn't think much of it.  He walked through the open garage door.

 

"Your mom said something about Saturday.  Are you guys coming to graduation?"

 

"Do you really think we'd miss it?" Rian said.

 

"You really do have an amazing family.  I can't believe how welcome you've all made me feel since I started coming here." Dylen said.  It really was as if he had a surrogate family.  Why wouldn't they come to see him graduate?

 

Dylen was about to say goodbye to Rian and get into his car, when something that made him stop.  Unlike Dylen, Rian wasn't as practiced at hiding feelings, especially the more powerful ones.  There was a look now, one like he saw for that brief second in Rian's room.  He could tell that Rian was anxious about something.

 

Dylen stepped closer to his friend.  "What's wrong Rian?"

 

Rian had been thinking about how to approach this since he'd gotten the envelope in the mail from Brock's father two days before.  Now, at the moment of truth, he stumbled.  "Nothing.  I just . . . What do you have going on the rest of the night?"

 

"Nothing, I guess.  Mom and Dad are in Littleton working at the temple and won't be back until midnight.  What's up?"

 

"Well, I was wondering if you'd take a drive with me," Rian said.  "There's something I need to ask you."

 

Dylen wondered why Rian was acting so nervously.  It wasn't as if they hadn't been driven together a lot lately.  Whatever it was, maybe it could be a way to give something back to Rian.  "Sure.  Let's go." Dylen said.

 

They got into Rian's car and quickly drove away from the May farm.  As they left the driveway, Rian turned the car west, emerging into a startlingly beautiful sunset.  The sky was warm in a vast wash of pinks and oranges. Dylen had witnessed some spectacular sunsets in the desert and the mountains, but he could remember very few that were this pretty here. Ordinarily, Dylen would have been transfixed by the beauty, but Rian was foremost on his mind.  Dylen had never seen anguish on Rian's face until now.  He had a death grip on the gear stick of the convertible, making the muscles and veins he'd so meticulously sculpted stand out fiercely.  All the more Dylen wanted to help, to fix whatever was going on.  He reached out and lightly touched Rian's hand.  "Hey.  What's wrong really?"

 

Rian broke from his silent concentration.  He carefully pulled the car from the side of the road and into a flat, grassy spot.  They were still facing the distant mountains and the brilliantly fading remains of the day.  Rian took a deep swallow before asking, "Do you like to go hiking?"

 

Dylen wasn't expecting something so seemingly off-the-wall given Rian's somber mood.  The question was totally disarming.  He didn't quite know how to respond.  "Uh, I guess so.  I did enough of it in scouts."

 

Rian's tone became more serious, but he continued to stare at the sunset. "No. I know you've gone hiking a lot.  Do you like it?"

 

"Well . . . sometimes it's fun.  I didn't like it so much when we were running as fast as we could just to cover ground.  But, I did enjoy it when we took the time to actually look around and see what we were passing by. Honestly, in some of the prettier places, I think I could have stood for hours just watching.  Why?"

 

Finally, Rian turned slowly to face Dylen.  His face was so soft and open that Dylen privately swooned.  His eyes were filled with a distant, longing hope.  His expression was so tender, simultaneously full of expectation and doubt.  "There's something for you in the glove box," Rian half-whispered.

 

Dylen was full of questions as he opened the small door.  On top of the usual insurance and registration materials, he discovered an envelope with several pieces of paper stuffed inside.  At first, Dylen thought of an airline ticket folder, but it was far too thick for that.  Dylen pulled the folder open, and inside he found a map of Bryce Canyon National Park and a lot of computer printouts.

 

"I owe you a graduation present.  There a card and a couple of boxes from my parents in the trunk, but this one's from me.  A friend of mine is a corporate high up for the group in Denver that manages national park guest services.  Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite places, but I haven't been able to go in a while.  Anyway, he was able to pull a few strings and arrange a weekend trip for me.  Private cabin, meals at the lodge, the works.  I know it's a couple of weeks off yet, but I would love it if you would come with me."

 

Maybe it was the thoughtfulness of the gift, or the way Rian said it, or his hopeful look, but Dylen was fighting back tears.  A part of him long buried under depression and fear began to emerge.  It tore through the fear, the doubts, the self-loathing, and for an instant a new light, a joie de vivre, lit Dylen's spirit.  He could see that this was something so important to Rian that it had taken most of his great strength to even ask. Perhaps this trip was what he'd been asking for since he'd decided to let Rian in, a chance at freedom.  Dylen was barely in control as he responded, but it was the only answer he could have given, even when he was at his bottom, crying in the middle of the road.

 

"I'd love to go."

 

Rian smiled in relief.  He reached across the seat, wrapped his arms around Dylen's chest, and hugging him tightly.  Dylen wanted to melt in Rian's comforting strength.  He felt totally at home in the embrace, like Rian had custom tailored his whole person just to hold Dylen's body.  But he also knew that there was much more to this offer.  This gift wasn't only meant for him.  But he felt like he shouldn't ask about that.

 

Rian released the hug and looked at Dylen, water shimmering on the surface of his deep brown eyes. "I just wanted to give you something special.  I'm so happy for you."  They sat together wordlessly for the next half-hour, watching the sunset.

 

* * *

 

May 20, 2004 --

 

Well, I did it.  I invited Dylen to Bryce today, and he accepted.  I don't know what's going to happen when we get there, if we get there. The last few days feel like the world's turned upside down.  Sometimes, I'm so excited, I feel like a star struck school girl.  But then, a few minutes later, I feel like I'm violating his trust.  I know the last thing Brock would have wanted was for me to not go on.  He would never want me to go cloister, but .  . . goddamnit, why does it feel so wrong to feel so good? I never intended for this to happen.  God, I really didn't.  It was just so intoxicating, so good, that I never realized what was happening, what I was doing, until it was too late.  Who would have thought that a simple good deed would turn out like this?

 

Some part of me was trying to be rational.  He was just an old friend, after all.  All I thought I was going to do was to help him accept himself. I was so confident, so self- assured, that I could work miracles with a snap of my fingers and then enjoy patting myself on the back for my ingenuity.  But, there was one unforeseen flaw in this plan.  I never expected to fall in love with him.

 

Every time I see him now, I can't help but smile.  When he's with me, I feel as if I can do no wrong.  But, when he's gone, all I feel is guilt. Guilt for Brock.  The strange thing is that he doesn't realize what he's doing to me.  He still thinks I'm just a friend.

 

Maybe I have blinders on, but I think I can see the same feelings in Dylen sometimes.  In those unguarded moments when we're alone, the innocence and the beauty in him break through.  Two weeks ago, I never thought I'd see that light again, but it's in there.  Dylen's in there.  Only now, it's different because I'm head over heels whenever he shines through.  I can see what all those girls talked about in hushed whispers when we were in school.  I see that, and it feels like God is showing me a glimpse of heaven.  Like today, when he finished that last bench rep or in the car tonight.  I see it, and I just want to sweep him up.  I want to hold his tight little body close to me, shut out everything else, and lose myself in the light in his eyes.

 

Mom and Dad have become absolutely enamored by Dylen.  Mom bounced around the whole night after I got back home.  She just couldn't get over him. And Dad.  He's usually so hard to gauge about anyone, but he's taken such a shine to Dylen.  He's started to think of him as a permanent fixture around the house, and I think he's happy about it.  They had such a hard time at first with Brock.  May it's just the time they've had to adjust to the idea, but I think they could accept Dylen as much as they accepted me.

 

I still haven't decided what I'm gonna do once we get to Bryce.  I never expected to go back there again, much less take someone with me.  But, with Dylen, maybe I can face it.  I haven't decided how to tell him yet, or even if I should.  It's kind of funny.  He thought he had drawn me into a mess. I hope, however this really works out, that I haven't screwed up his life. That I'm not wrong.  I promised that I wouldn't let it happen again.  But, what if I'm going to cause the very thing I started out trying to prevent by doing this?

 

I'm not working out with Dylen again until Monday.  He's justifiably busy with is family all this weekend, and maybe that's a good thing.  I'm gonna go back to Boulder in the morning and spend the weekend (except for graduation) at the apartment.  I might even stop by the cemetery, too.  I need some time to think.

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DennisFLL

Beautifully written, GymPredator.  I especially loved your May 20, 2004 section with the reader learning of the extent of Rian's love for Dylen.

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  • GymPredator changed the title to Saving Me - Chapter 7 Posted (09/16/2020)

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