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


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Chapter 5 - A Compound in One   Rian lay eyes wide open in the cool darkness of his bedroom.  He rolled toward his nightstand and stared at the clock.  The muted red-orange numbers glowed 4:

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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.  Powerfull

GymPredator

Chapter 5 - A Compound in One

 

Rian lay eyes wide open in the cool darkness of his bedroom.  He rolled toward his nightstand and stared at the clock.  The muted red-orange numbers glowed 4:00 a.m.  He'd felt so warm, so good with Dylen a few hours earlier; now he was gripped by cold - - remorse, guilt, betrayal.  He hadn't experienced a night like this since he received Brock's last letter, the day after the funeral.  On the surface, Rian liked to think he was finished with this.  He'd buried everything about that week as deep as he could.  There were a few moments when he hadn't been able to cope, but not recently.  Even his nightmares ended six weeks ago.  But now, since Dylen's return to his life, Rian's soul was twisted by conflict.  He'd been able to ignore it for a while.  But now . . . he didn't think he could take this much longer.

 

Rian rolled out of bed and turned on the lights.  He picked up the picture of Brock on his desk. 'Why can't I just tell Dylen the truth,' he thought. Seemingly in response, he started to relive it again.  A phone message long ignored that was finally heard. . .  Driving through the quicksand of the crowded beltway. . . Opening Brock's bedroom door. . .  The mattress . . . The smell of death.  Rian nearly yelled as the once exorcized memories reared their face again.  'Just leave me the fuck alone,' he shouted at the demon in his mind.

 

Rian grabbed a pair of shorts and almost ran for the stairway door.  He wasn't going to relive that, not again.  He bounded down the stairs, running to the only place he ever found an escape.  So many times since he discovered he was gay, he'd fled here, to the one thing he felt he could always control, to the place he could excise his mental pain.  Rian flew into the gym. He turned on every light he could find.  Fumbling, he cranked up his 30 Seconds to Mars CD as loud as the soundproofing in the walls could handle so that he would not wake his parents. 'The End of the Beginning' roared from the speakers.  The thumping bass was so strong it shook his whole body.  He dove for the middle dumbbell rack.  He grabbed a pair of 60's, focused on his reflection in the mirror, and started to slam shoulder presses.  He tried to lose himself, to lose the torturing tangle of feelings that gnawed away at him.

 

Rian couldn't count the number of times his mind wandered back to those pictures upstairs.  He lost count of his reps, even how many sets he did. And every time he realized he was thinking about Dylen and Brock, he lifted heavier and harder.  Within a few minutes, fueled by adrenaline and anger and heartache, he zoned to a place few ever go.  Rian's muscles shrieked in agony as he forced them to tear through their normal limits with 100 pound dumbbells in each hand, going up, up, up, up.  Sweat poured across his chiseled body, through the valley between his pecs, filling the gaps between his abs, dripping from every angle to the floor.  His blond hair soaked through and stuck in tight twists to his head.  The knurl pattern etched into the handles rubbed his long calloused hands raw, ready to bleed.  Curls, presses, raises -- he slammed set after set, harder and harder.  But it did no good.  The demon had at last followed him here.  It would give him no refuge.

 

For two hours Rian continued mutilating his arms and shoulders.  Finally, when his hands were so raw and sore from ripped calluses that he couldn't pick up a dumbbell, he decided to go back to Boulder.  He pulled on a shirt, grabbed a few things from his room, and loaded them in his car.  He recklessly sped as fast as he could, making it back to the freeway in record time.  Hard, loud music poured from the speakers as he drove his spotless classic faster and faster.  Even through the beltway's mounting rush hour, he pulled everything he could out of the Corvette's engine.  But, as he merged toward the Boulder Turnpike, the adrenaline-fueled anger faded to the same profound sadness he felt all night.

 

Now calmer, Rian decided to make the stop before he got to his apartment. Maybe there was an answer there. He was able to turn around without much difficulty, and began making his way south to Littleton.  On the way, Rian found an open florist and bought a single red rose.  He would not think of going to the cemetery without it.  He made slow, but descent time through the downtown and Tech Center areas, all the while thinking about what he might say when he arrived.

 

Rian had made this trip a few times since the funeral, but even if he hadn't, the first one was physically seared into his brain.  He took turn after turn, winding toward what would otherwise be a tranquil area in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was a beautiful, warm morning, just as the brilliant sunset the night before portended.  But, no matter how much sun, how much warmth, was available this place was always overshadowed by gloom. As Rian made the final turn into the open cemetery gates, gloom was all he felt.

 

Rian drove to the spot where he parked as a pallbearer four months prior and got out of his car.  His energy was draining fast, sapped as much by the hollow of this place as by his sleepless night and overworked muscles. He staggered up to the slightly raised dome of earth that was settling down the covered hole into which he shed so many private tears.

 

The bright morning sun illuminated the spot where the grave lay.  It was quiet, near a large oak tree that shaded the spot in the afternoon.  A sealed white marble stone was at the head.  It was beautifully carved with two soaring birds with etched ribbons flowing around them.  But, also cut

in the smooth face of the stone, were the ugliest words Rian had ever seen:


 

Brock Aaron Lassiter 

September 24, 1984 - February 17, 2004 

We Will Never Forget You


 

Tears were already fogging Rian's sight as he looked at it.  After a few moments of silence, he scanned the area and found himself alone.  This was something he wanted no one to hear.

 

Slowly, his rich voice broken with pain, Rian's began to speak.  "Hi Brock. I . . . I don't know why I came here.  It just felt like I needed to come somehow.  I, ah, mean I know that you're not really here.  I hope that wherever you are, it's that better place you wanted.  Where you can finally be happy.  I . . . I . . .," Rian stumbled to find the words.  Then, like a fountain, they spilled out, "I think I've found someone.  The one you told me to find.  He's so much like you.  Sweet, innocent, smart just like you. Funny thing is I've always known him.  I feel so good, so loved around him. Ahhh . ." Rian sniffed back the conflicting emotions.  "He makes me smile. I know you always said I should smile more.

 

"Your dad sent me some stuff for Bryce, and I thought I'd take Dylen. Oh. That's his name.  I know -- I know it was our spot.  I hope you won't hate me.  It just feels so right to take him there.  I feel like soaring when I'm with him.  So much like I do . . . did with you.  I just . . . ." Rian broke down in anguish, audibly sobbing.  "Please tell me that you don't hate me.  Please tell me you forgive me.  Please tell me I can . . . love . . . someone else."

 

Rian's words trailed off to silence.  The only sound was the soft splash of Rian's heart spilling on the ground.  He wished -- he wished so hard -- that he could hear Brock once more.  That he could hear those words that he craved.  That he could be forgiven for what he did.  That he had Brock's blessing to go on.  But, all he felt was emptiness.  Rian gently touched the headstone.  A few days ago, Dylen off-handedly told him about angels, how they sometimes spoke to people.  Right now, Rian would have sold what was left of his soul for a chance to hear the angel he knew Brock had become.  He knelt down and placed the rose on the wide lip of the stone's pedestal.  Rian lingered for a moment before he stumbled back to his car and began the long drive to his apartment.

 

***

 

'I just can't believe them,' Dylen thought as he slipped on his favorite new shirt.  On their way home from watching the sunset, Rian made him promise not to open the boxes and card until Saturday morning.  He tried, but Dylen could never resist the temptation to open gifts.  He made it a couple of hours before he tore into them.

 

Dylen, having reached the age where good stuff was in cards, decided to open it first.  Outside, it was a typical graduation card, but it was unusually heavy.  Some common words about how proud he should be were printed on the outside.  However, he'd never received anything like what was inside.  The left flap was signed by Kevin and Lacy with the caption "You deserve some fun.  Don't spend it all in one place."  On the right side there was a small silver metal bookmark.  It was engraved with an eagle and a quote from Helen Keller: "One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar."  Behind the bookmark was a check for 1000 dollars.

 

After what was in the card, Dylen couldn't imagine that there would be very much in the boxes.  From the size and weight, they were obviously clothing boxes.  But those expectations dissolved when he tore open the wrappings. The clothes were top of the line, from stores Dylen could rarely afford to walk into.  Every size and measurement was a spot on match.  He opened all four boxes in tears.  The previous night he'd come to think of the May's as family, but his own real family would never, could never even afford, do this.  When he finished he had four shirts, two pairs of jeans, and a pair of slacks and a dress shirt that fit so well and looked so good Dylen swore they were custom.

 

As Dylen combed his mop of hair, he said goodbye to reflection in the mirror.  He felt energized in a way he hadn't for a long, long time.  The day, the bookmark, the gifts -- but most of all Rian -- made him think long and hard.  Gnothi Seauton.  Whatever his ultimate choices might be, whatever life held in store, it was time he finally got to know himself. It was time to start facing who he was and what he wanted.

 

Dylen glanced at the clock.  8:45 am.  He needed to arrange a few things before graduation practice.  Dylen sat at his computer, pulled up his search engine, and wrote out a couple of phone numbers.  He then grabbed the May's card and his valedictory speech and quickly took the stairs.

 

Dylen's mom was still in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast.  He stuck his head in the door to see her washing dishes.  "Hey, Mom, I'm leaving for practice.  I doubt I'll be home until dinner."

 

Kathi heard Dylen come down the stairs, and was a little surprised.  She knew that Dylen wasn't going to the May's this morning and practice wasn't until noon.  She turned around and said, "Dylen.  You've got three hours before you need to be in Fort Collins.  And -" She stopped as she saw Dylen's new clothes.  They were really nice.  "Where did those come from?"

 

Dylen was so excited over what he was planning that he became a little impatient.  "Rian's parents.  They bought me some clothes for graduation. Look, I did something to my speech last night, and I've gotta show it to the principal before practice.  I'll be home for dinner.  Love ya."  And with that, Dylen was out the door.

 

"But," Kathi said to the now empty air.  She wondered what could have gotten her son this excited.  Surely, he couldn't know what was coming.

 

As she turned back to her dishes, she began to review what was happening this weekend.  All of her family lived nearby and would be coming for Dylen's graduation dinner.  Most of Paul's family was coming also.  Even his parents and brothers in Salt Lake and Provo were coming.  But, there was a reason beyond Dylen's graduation that was drawing the men of the family here.  The stake president approached Paul about it at high council meeting last month.  It was a bit unusual to organize this sort of thing before an interview had taken place and Paul raised the question. President Sorensen replied that he knew Dylen and the interviews were merely a formality.  He said he would have done it before now, given Dylen's maturity, but the handbook required Dylen to graduate high school first. 'Graduation AND priesthood ordination,' Kathi thought.  She wondered how Dylen would react.

 

---

 

Dylen was in his car speeding down the road that no longer felt quite so confining.  He grabbed his cell phone and dialed one of the number's he'd written down.  "Hello.  This is Cindy.  May I help you?"

 

"I wanted to see if I could get an appointment for late this morning or this afternoon?"

 

"Hmmm.  That's gonna be tough.  Do you want someone in particular?"

 

"No, whoever is available will be fine."

 

"OK.  You're lucky.  I've got a cancellation for an appointment at 3 o'clock with Glen.  Is that OK?"

 

"Sure."

 

"And your name?"

 

"Dylen Mason"

 

"And what will we be doing for you Mr. Mason?"

 

"I don't know really.  I'm ready for something new.  Thought I'd see what you guys suggest."

 

"Ah.  A trusting soul.  But, I don't think you'll be disappointed."

 

"OK.  3 o'clock it is.  Thanks a lot."

 

"Thank You, Mr. Mason.  Goodbye."  Dylen closed his phone.  He had a couple of shopping stops to make before practice.  An infectious smile graced his lips.  Why he was so energized he did not know.  Maybe it was the thought of finally getting a grip on this thing, one way or the other.

 

***

 

A beautiful sunrise and the promise of a fantastic late spring day heralded the arrival of Dylen's graduation day.  It was much the same as the previous morning, only this one's beauty invigorated Rian.  A cloud seemed to follow him all day Friday.  When he got to his apartment, he pulled out the letter.  He read it over and over, searching for anything that would

make him feel better.  The words were there but the feelings weren't.  Now, a few hours later on the freeway to CSU, anticipation clung to him as closely as sadness had earlier.  He winced a little as he moved around, the pain of healing muscles reminding of yesterday's stupidity in the gym.

 

But, he was happy to endure it now.  It was so weird, Rian thought, how his mood could totally reverse just on the prospect of seeing Dylen.  He wasn't sure, but something in his gut said today was going to be special.

 

Just over an hour after leaving his apartment, Rian pulled into the CSU campus parking lot designated for graduation guests. A mixed group of all ages ambled across the lot toward Moby arena.  But, as Rian pulled in, it seemed like the whole throng paused to look at him.  For Dylen's special day, he dressed in some of his very best, a crisp dark green collared shirt and black slacks, both perfectly pressed and meticulously well fitted to his muscular frame.  Strikingly handsome, impeccable dressed, driving a top-down, classic convertible -- Rian looked more like a young movie star than a college kid.

 

The May's had agreed to meet in front of the arena before they took their seats.  And though it was crowded, Kevin May was a hard man to miss.  So Rian had no problem in locating them.  As he made his way toward his parents, he noticed Paul and Kathi Mason conversing with them.

 

"You didn't have to go to all that trouble." Paul told Kevin.

 

"It wasn't that much really.  It was mostly Rian's idea anyway.  He's taken quite a shine for Dylen, and with his depression or whatever, he wanted to do something special for him."  Kevin replied.

 

"Dylen really is a wonderful man.  And I'm not just saying that because he's your son.  I was just as excited shopping for him as Rian was." Lacy said, starting to chuckle.  "The way he looked this morning, you're going to have to help him fight off marriage proposals."

 

"Well, when he came home last night . . ." Kathi began, but stopped.  Rian had finally been noticed.  Lacy walked up and hugged her son, much to the envy of the assembled females.  Rian exchanged greetings with his father and the Mason's, who looked at him with a mixture of thanks and awe.  He'd clearly done something, but Rian couldn't figure out what it was.  Maybe, it was the presents, he thought.

 

"We were just telling your folks how excited Dylen is that you came.  Most of our family is here, but I think you're being here means just as much to him."  Paul said.  He walked closer to the younger man and lowered his voice.  "I don't know what you told him, what you're doing for him, but . . . Well, you'll see.  You always have been the best friend my son could hope to have."

 

'What's going on,' Rian thought.  'I didn't think I'd done anything, yet.'

 

Before Rian could reply, Kathi interjected, "Dylen was up here looking for you a few minutes ago.  They just called all the seniors around that corner to line up.  I bet there's still time enough to catch him if you hurry."

 

Rian looked around and saw a few gowned stragglers moving around the building. As Rian started to follow them, Kevin spoke up from behind, "We saved some seats a few rows down from the door along the aisle.  You can't miss us."

 

Once Rian was out of earshot, Kathi began speaking again.  "Lacy, Kevin. When Dylen came in the door, I swear, it was like he was someone I've never seen before."

 

---

 

Rian knew he only had a few minutes before the processional would begin. He hoped he could find Dylen quickly.  But, as he rounded the building, those hopes were dashed.  Rian walked into a sea of robed clones.  They bounced like billiard balls from one laughing conversation to the next. Trying to corral the horde were several faculty members, but they weren't making much headway.  Rian remembered this same scene when he graduated, and figured the chances of finding Dylen were next to zero.  As he was about to return to his parents, Rian noticed one of the throng wearing a large gold sash emblazoned with a crest.  An honor graduate.  Rian kicked himself for not remembering that Dylen would be wearing one of those colored sashes.  He started to walk around the periphery of the crowd, looking at each person with an honors sash but with no luck.  It was as if Dylen had disappeared.

 

Then, a loud hollow thump signaled the opening of one of the arena doors. Most everyone turned to the sound and saw a small group of people emerge. Rian recognized the school principal in his doctoral puff hat and gown, and he guessed the others were the superintendent and school board.  Following behind this group were two students. Rian didn't recognize either of them at first.  The first student was a girl dressed like the other students with honors.  The person following her was a well-dressed, clean cut guy carrying all of his regalia draped across his arm.  Rian was too far away to see the person clearly, but there was something familiar about him.  He took a couple of steps toward the person before he saw it.  The clothes the guy was wearing.  He bought those clothes for Dylen.  Rian's feet riveted to the ground as Dylen continued to approach him . . .  only it wasn't the Dylen he'd come to know in the last few weeks.

 

Rian's first reaction was that someone waved a magic wand and replaced the old Dylen with the one straight out of his dreams.  As he draped his gown across his shoulders, Rian thought Dylen was actually glowing.  The mop of unkempt long hair was gone, and in its place was a short, spike-teased style that looked like it was straight out of GQ.  With the new haircut, Dylen's quickly maturing, handsome features matched his haunting eyes.  His dark tan and sun bleaching made him look like a poster for vibrancy and life. Dylen turned to speak to someone and smiled.  Someone must have said something about his appearance because Rian could see the blush from his yards distant perch.  Rian swallowed, his stomach turning somersaults . . . Dylen was hot, damned hot.  'No,' Rian thought, 'He's gorgeous.'

 

Dylen was still trying to dress himself, but there were too many things in his hands.  He was getting frustrated when he noticed Rian, frozen, staring at him.  He hadn't seen Rian dressed this way before.  Dylen couldn't remember seeing anyone so beautiful in his life, and he felt that electric spark of arousal hit him hard.  But even more electric than the spark was the longing of his heart to be with the man that - maybe -- he loved.

 

Dylen seemed to float to where Rian was standing.  For a moment, both of them stood there looking at each other, speechless.  They both were feeling the same thing, but were afraid to admit it.  Dylen finally willed his voice box to operate.  "Ah, hi.  I hate wearing this stuff.  Makes me feel like an overdressed choir boy."  He tried to reach for Rian's hand, but was defeated by his half-worn gown.  Dylen started fumbling and then giggled at his predicament.  The nervous laugh finally drained the tension between them, and they both cracked up.

 

Rian reached out and offered to take possession of the cap and sash.  Rian couldn't help but ask, "What happened to you?  You look fantastic."

 

Dylen cheeks reddened again with the complement.  "Well, you've started to help me change my outside into something I've always wanted.  I just thought I'd help things along as much as I could."  He smiled, knowing that there was more to it.  Seeing that smile up close, Rian felt his stomach flip again.  Dylen's tone changed from one of light-heartedness to introspection.  "I don't know if I can explain really.  It's just that--"

 

Dylen was interrupted by a whine of static and a yell from a portable loudspeaker, "Graduates need to get in line now.  Five minutes to the processional."

 

After hearing the announcement, Dylen hurriedly finished dressing.  "I can't tell you now, not in front of all these people.  Listen, my family wants to take pictures afterward by the trees at the Lagoon."  Dylen's pleaded as he looked into Rian's eyes, "Come find me."  Rian agreed with a silent shake of his head, and Dylen trotted toward his place in line.  Rian remained fixed, his legs unwilling to move.  He stood watching Dylen as the principal came over to speak to him.

 

The metal doors opened again, and the long line began to move.  Rian tore himself away, running as best he could back to find where his parents were sitting.  But most of the graduates were on the arena floor before Rian slid into the empty seat next to his mother.  She whispered in his ear, "I was afraid you'd gotten lost.  Did you find him?"

 

Rian managed an exasperated, "Oh yeah."  He then said almost inaudibly, "He’s wonderful."

 

Lacy stared at her son for a moment before looking forward.  'Is this what I think it is,' she thought.  She pushed aside the realization for a moment as the program began.  The principal and the superintendent stood and offered short speeches of congratulations.  Then the principal introduced Dylen to make his speech.

 

---

 

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, teachers and administrators, family and friends.  But most of all -- good morning to the class of 2004.  To you, my friends and fellow classmates I say, WE FINALLY MADE IT." The black shrouded mass of graduates yelled a massive cheer of celebration.

 

"It cost us a lot of sweat, hard work, laughter, and tears, but today we're going to graduate.  Congratulations to us all.  And on behalf of all the class of 2004, I want to express my personal gratitude and deepest thanks to those of you who helped us get here.  To our teachers, families, and friends -- to those who have helped us, supported us, taught us.  You've stood with us through the great times and the bad times.  We love you and will forever be in your debt."  Dylen stopped and clapped, allowing all assembled to give an audible show of thanks.

 

Dylen then focused on a spot in the crowd.  It was an often used trick for nervous public speakers, but nerves had nothing to do with it.  Dylen had been speaking to groups since he was ten years old.  It took awhile for him to find Rian in the crowd, but there he was just a couple of rows up from his own parents.  As best he could without being too obvious, he started speaking to the man he secretly loved.  "I hope that you will permit me to share something personal.  I wrote a speech for this occasion several weeks ago.  That speech was a few hollow words about how far we've come as a class.  But the more I read over it, the more I came to realize it wasn't from the heart.  It wasn't inspiring to me, and I doubt that it would have been inspiring to you.  Well, two weeks ago I was in a minor car accident.  I won't bore you with the details, but because of this accident, I was able to relocate a close friend I had mostly lost touch with.  Since then, our friendship has grown better and stronger than it ever was before. Just a couple of days ago, my friend taught me a great lesson.  Something that I believe applies not just to us graduates, but to every person in this room and beyond.

 

"Even though we are all from different backgrounds and experiences, we are all united in one fundamental way.  We are all facing the future.  When we leave this place, we will embark on that future in a unique, personal way. When you think about it, we have thousands of different paths we might follow, and those decisions will shape the rest of our lives.  Some paths are wide and easy to follow.  Others are seldom-used, sparse tangles of difficulty and great trial.  For those of us in the class of 2004, our paths have mostly been chosen by those who are with us today.  They've guided us well.  They've been able to shield us from some of the difficult paths we might have trod, but that time is almost over.

 

"In the last few months, I have to tell you, I've been more than a little frightened by this.  As I look to the future, every path I see looks like a hard, thorny one.  If you think about it, I'm sure each one of us has been scared as we face choices and consequences we know will be hard.  Where do we begin, how do we begin, to face them? I've struggled with that question for a long time, but my friend gave me the answer.  It isn't an easy answer, but it's not an easy question.  

 

At the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in the ancient Greek city of Delphi were two words.  In Greek, they were Gnothi Seauton.  In English, they are 'Know Thyself.'  Knowing yourself is the key to making the right choice and self-knowledge begins with two questions: 'Who are you?' and 'What do you want?'

 

"How we answer these two questions will dictate our lives, for good or ill. I can tell you, honestly, that right now as I stand here, I can't answer them.  But, I have to try, and so do you.  Our future, our happiness depends on it.  So, I challenge all of us to take this chance we've been given to look into ourselves.  Graduation is the close of an old, comfortable chapter in our lives and the opening of a new chapter filled with excitements and perils.  Now, as we start this new chapter, is the best time we will ever have to know ourselves, to find out who we are and what we want.  Before we choose a path to the future, we must make sure it is the one that will fulfill the promise that is our birthright as human beings."

 

Then, though they were separated by dozens of yards, Dylen's eyes drilled into Rian's.  "Helen Keller said, 'One cannot consent to creep, when one has an impulse to soar.'  I know that all of us here today feel the urge, the compulsion to soar into the future.  To soar down the path that will lead us to happiness and peace.  No matter if that path is wide and clear, or narrow and treacherous, I hope that we can soar to the future together. Sometime, perhaps a few months from now or many years from now, we will see each other again.  When we do, may we find that each of us knows who we are and what we want, and that the paths we have chosen helped us live up to our limitless potential.  Gnothi Seauton.

 

"Thank you very much."

 

---

 

Dylen turned around and returned to his podium seat.  There was polite applause, the amount most valedictory speeches received from people who are anxious to get their diplomas.  But everyone did applaud - except Rian.  He was absolutely still and pale, as if he'd been touched by a specter from beyond.  'How could he know,' Rian thought.  'How could he possibly know what he said?'  Rian never gave any real hope of hearing from an angel.  He thought it was a dream.  But, now, that was the only explanation.  Dylen had looked straight at him, like he was peering into his most hidden desires and pains.  The words pierced him has easily and thoroughly as any bullet could.  They were forever locked in his heart.  An angel, his angel, had finally spoken.

 

Lacy turned slightly to see why her son was so quiet.  She, like much of the audience, was a little perplexed by the speech.  It really didn't sound like Dylen's words.  She was lucky enough to at least understand the outward story Dylen told.  She knew about the accident, the friend, where the quotes came from.  But, there was an undercurrent, a hidden meaning, something Lacy didn't think she, or anyone else, was supposed to understand.  Then, she saw the reaction from her son.  She recognized the look from a few months ago.  'Oh my God,' she thought, 'it all makes sense now.'  She leaned over, and whispered quietly in Rian's ear, "Was he talking about you?"

 

Rian understood what she was really getting at.  After a long pause, Rian responded with one word.  "Yes."

 

"Does he know?"

 

"No."

 

"He hasn't told you either, has he?"

 

"No."

 

Lacy grabbed her son's large hand in her own and rested her head on his broad shoulder.  She pulled as close as she could to him, hoping that her love would help him though this.  This was going to be painful for both of them.  Dylen communicated he knew it would be.  Even so, she could only guess at the agony he was going through.  She could guess how his family, his parents, would react.  She promised herself that when that time came, she would be there for both of them.  She loved her son and had come to love Dylen too much not to be.  She hoped, she prayed, that this would end better than she foresaw.

 

---

 

The ceremony concluded with a roar and a toss of black caps.  The audience devolved into small cliques, almost breaking down the doors to get out and find their own special person.  Rian was definitely impatient to be one of them.  After what he'd heard and felt, all he wanted to do was run up and kiss Dylen passionately.  But, his mother insisted they remain seated for a few minutes.  She told Rian he needed to give Dylen some time with his family, and Rian knew she was right.  He waited for some of the longest minutes he'd ever experienced, before his parents finally moved to the door.

 

As they exited, the May's made their way toward the spot on the Lagoon Dylen indicated.  With some time under his belt, Rian curbed his first impulses.  Still, Dylen had to be the one.  There was only one question left, how to tell him.  By the time Rian saw the large assembly of Masons, it was clear that the picture taking was over.  The group was mostly ambling about, sharing apparently pleasant conversation.  Dylen was talking with the others, but Rian noticed he was looking around.  He had shed his cap and gown, revealing the glowing angel Rian saw before the ceremony.

 

The Mays were about 20 yards away when Dylen spotted Rian coming across the grass.  Dylen quickly excused himself from his family.  As soon as Dylen reached them, there were warm congratulations all around, including a long, tight knowing hug from Lacy.  But after a few pleasant moments together, Dylen and Rian started walking off together.  Before Kevin could ask where they were going, Lacy touched her husband on the arm and said quietly, "Let them go."  And she began to relate the substance of what she learned.

 

As soon as they were out of hearing range, Rian looked at his younger companion.  "Dylen, I don't know what to say."

 

Dylen looked into Rian's eyes.  Rian saw the longing there, the longing he hoped he understood, the longing he shared.  "I don't know if I can either . . ." Dylen let out a long sigh, "I need you help."

 

"You know I'll help you do anything."  Rian said immediately.

 

"No, hear me out first."  Dylen made his way toward a relatively quiet area across the street where mostly empty dorms stood sentinel.  They found a spot between buildings, where they could have some privacy.  "Since Thursday, I haven't been able to keep what we walked about out of my head. You know, for a long time now -- I guess I still am really -- I've . . . a . . . sort of been preoccupied with something.  I've got a choice to make, a really, really hard one.  It feels like no matter which way I go, I can't win.  Either way, I'm gonna hurt a lot of people, probably myself too. Everybody around me loves me, but they always try to choose for me.  At first, I thought it was what I wanted, but I'm not so sure now.  If I do this, I'll destroy them all.  If I don't, I'm afraid I'll destroy myself. I love them all so much."  By now Dylen's voice was quivering, "I don't know what I should do."

 

"What is it?"  Rian asked.  In spite of Dylen's obvious pain, he hoped beyond hope that he already knew.  He reached out for his friend's hand. Dylen took it.  Rian resisted mightily the urge to kiss Dylen.  Instinct told him they both wanted it, but he couldn't, not now.  Not here.  Still, the bond, the love, was so strong it threatened to pull them both in.

 

"I need someone to talk to, to help me figure this out.  I can't explain why, but when I'm with you everything seems so clear.  You're the only person in my life that lets me choose for myself.  I learn so much when I'm with you.  I . . . I really don't know what I'm asking.  Just . . . I don't think that I can do this without you."

 

"I understand.  I'll always be here for you.  Whatever you need whenever you need it, just ask.  As long as I'm alive, I promise you will never be alone."

 

Dylen had never come so close to telling anyone.  He needed to feel Rian near him.  Dylen reached around Rian's broad chest and pulled himself into as tight a hug as he could muster.  Rian returned it, nearly lifting Dylen off his feet.  It felt so safe, so secure here.  Dylen understood now why Rian did this a couple of nights ago.  There was something so beautiful, so warm here; the barbs of pain and sadness just bounced off.

 

"Thank you."

 

"No.  Thank You."

 

***

 

Rian felt so good he was practically floating as he opened his apartment door.  As he crossed the threshold, he saw the open letter lying on the couch.  Rian walked over and picked it up.  He read the last lines again, lines transmuted in one day from a source of heartache to a source of joy.


 

"Please know that I love you always.  You know my favorite quote, the one your dad gave me that day.  I would only cause you to creep when you are meant to soar.  You are destined for great things Rian May, places and paths I can not follow.  I wish with all my heart that I could, but I can't.

 

"Even though the path will be rocky and lonely sometimes, I know there is someone out there for you.  Please find him.  I will smile from a happier place as you soar above the clouds, above the whole world, with the one who can soar with you.  Don't blame yourself.  I had to do this.  Don't forget me.  Brock"

 

***

 

The following afternoon, Dylen sat in the back seat on the way home from Church.  He could still hear the words, see the moments from just a couple of hours earlier.  Two sudden interviews.  His father presenting his name. Several hundred hands automatically raised.  Sitting in a chair encircled by every man he loved, save one.  The heavy press of their hands on his head.  His father's emotional voice:

 

"Dylen Fielding Mason.  By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood and under the direction of the President of the Greeley Colorado Stake of Zion, we lay our hands upon your head and confer upon you the Priesthood of Melchizedek and ordain you to the office of an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

"At this time Dylen we also give you a blessing.  The Lord . . ." He kept reliving it, but the only words that came to him were 'How did I end up here?'  No one even asked him if this was what he wanted.  And why should they have?  He'd always towed the line and been happy.  A few months ago this would have been the happiest moment of his life.  But now, after what he was experiencing with Rian, it felt empty, cold.  The weight of those hands, the weight of expectation he wasn't sure he wanted, felt like it was smothering him.  Was this really who he was?  Was he supposed to be swept with the tide of Church pressure, never questioning what he was

doing?  Was his destiny to walk a path he never chose for himself just because it was expected? Was he never meant to feel what he craved when he was with Rian? What he had told Rian was the truth.  The only time Dylen was happy now, the only time he ever chose his own path, was when he was with Rian.

 

The irony struck him again that he was truly happy only when he was supposedly sinning.  But, there were so many pits on that path.  Rian was straight.  He had to be.  He said he had been with girls, had sex with them.  Rian might always be a friend, but he couldn't be a lover, no matter what Dylen felt for him, could he?

 

Dylen looked at his scripture case, the same case he'd been staring at two weeks ago when he wrecked his car.  He opened it up and took out the copy of his priesthood lineage, the chart showing his passed down authority, generation after generation, back to Jesus Christ himself.  By following his heart he'd betray generations of his family.  He'd reject the very reason God made him.  The Church would declare him an abomination and desert him.  He hoped his family could still love him, but he doubted they could accept him after that.  He'd sacrifice it all and still have no one to love.  By staying in the closet, by towing the line, he'd be lying and miserable, but he would still have everything and everyone he once and still held dear.  If he came out, he'd be honest at last, but alone and unloved.  Would staying in be any less miserable than coming out?  He felt so trapped.

 

"Are you OK, dear?"  Kathi asked, breaking Dylen's concentration.  "You look a little preoccupied."

 

"I'm fine, Mom.  Just thinking."

 


 

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tobebig

This is such an fantastically written story. Gets me a bit anxious from my own insecurities from when I came out, but I love it so much 

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DennisFLL

From the opening with his rendering of the heartbreaking experience at the death of a lover, to the closing with the all too familiar coming-out confusion, GymPredator has presented us with another touching love story chapter.  Very much looking forward to seeing exactly how this all evolves for Dylen and Rian!    

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Jtchef2

Thank you for writing this story! It is so well written and heartfelt! But still has the muscle 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻 I am looking forward to reading many more chapters 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻

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WrestlejockCT

This is an incredibly well-written story, both poignant and exciting.  Come for the muscle but stay for the introspection.  The characters have the depth and complexity to feel completely real and I get the feeling they are to a significant degree. They certainly live on the page and in my mind  thanks to Gym Predator's writing skills and life experiences.  Every chapter leaves me with a mix of warmth and hope but also a sense of foreboding; a feeling of some impending sadness yet to come.  Well done, Gym Predator!  I can't wait for the next part.

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Tjdonger
On 9/2/2020 at 11:25 AM, GymPredator said:

even

This is a fantastic story. Brought tears to my eyes. I grew Up in Colorado and Wyoming. Raised Mormon but of course never felt it was the right path for me. Wow. That was a long time ago.... thank you! More please. 

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GymPredator

Thank you all.

This week has been very strangely difficult in a summer I would very happily love to erase from history. 

 

The real life person behind the character of Kathi Mason, my mother, passed away on Wednesday.  My emotions are very conflicted as you might guess if I know you well enough that you know what happened between my family and me in real life.  That will come out later in this story if you don't.  What happened, I will basically not change at all.  And I think her passing will help me properly complete this story, since my real life story that lays at the base of Saving Me has had a chapter close.

At any rate, I do thank you all for your kind words.  I will be away for some time - 1 maybe 2 weeks.  But before I do, I do want to post another chapter.  Sooner than I anticipated.  Chapter 6 is extremely intense.  You will find out exactly what happened to Brock.  And more emotions besides that.  I do want to warn everyone ahead of time that if a realistic description (within tasteful bounds of course) of a teen suicide is disturbing or emotionally triggering to you, you will need to skip the last 20% of the upcoming chapter.

I hope to have the chapter posted by later this evening.

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GymPredator

Chapter 6 - Comfort in the Waste Places

 

June 17 dawned early for Rian.  Actually, dawn was still several hours away when he got out of bed.  On his desk calendar, June 17 was circled over and over.  He'd tried to plan every nuance, anticipate every problem, and now the day was finally here.  As prospects and probabilities became reality, Rian was surprised how nervous he was.  The one thing he could not predict was what his feelings would be when he saw their place again.  He tried to distract himself by focusing on Dylen.  He constantly looked for ways to improve the trip and how to come out when the time came.  These were things he hoped would bring him the joy and fulfillment he secretly longed for.  But, always floating in the back of his mind, were the questions -- the questions that plague every person when they come out to someone they love.  'What if I'm wrong about Dylen?  Will I drive him away? Will he be sad, angry, hate me?'

 

Rian collected a sleeveless t-shirt and a pair of shorts out of his closet.  He put the shorts on quickly, but as he started to pull the shirt over his head, he paused.  He tossed it back on his bed, inhaled and crunched down, and ran a hand over his tight abs. He felt the hard, unmoving, undulating bricks under his tanned skin.  Rian was not one to admire his muscles very much -- not like this anyway.  But, he hadn't reached this kind of conditioning and definition in some time.  Dylen's graduation changed him.  He hadn't felt this vibrant, this alive, since he met Brock. It impacted every facet of his life, including his workouts.  He'd had little success in shedding the extra pounds he collected before exams.  But after his realization that Saturday morning, his focus, his intensity, everything he needed to get stronger gelled.  Now, less than a month later, the dulling fat was gone and his exquisite physique was better than ever. He was even gaining weight on the scale as he shed fat, something he knew almost never happened.

 

Rian glanced down at the deeply protruding teardrop popping out of his shorts, up to his thickening chest, with just a hint of vascularity he had never had before.  He smiled as he absently shook his head.  He owed it all -- the way he felt, the way he looked -- to Dylen.

 

After a few more moments of admiration, Rian dropped the shirt in place and finished dressing.  Then, he wandered into his apartment's open living room.  The normally neurotically clean room was a disaster of scattered items.  There were piles of clothes, gear, and other, more intimate, things he thought about packing but later discarded.  He scanned the mess and decried the fact he had such a terrible time preparing for trips.  But, he decided he would clean up after he got home.  He thought of a couple more items he needed in bed during the night.  Once he collected them, he'd be ready.

 

Most of the extras -- like a second bar of soap and a travel bottle of baby oil (his mother insisted he take baby oil on trips but he never understood why) -- all came easily to his hands.  But, when he began to search the kitchen for an extra water bottle, he was stymied.  'Damn it,' he thought, 'Why is there always something I can't find?'  Even though Rian knew he owned dozens of the little plastic shaker bottles, it took almost five minutes to find one.  Once found, he slid the empty container into a side compartment in his backpack.  'That should be everything,' he thought.  But, just to make sure, he started mentally checking off what he'd packed.  Satisfied, he went to the living room table and picked up the most important items he was bringing.  He placed them safely between pairs of shorts in his duffel bag; then, he zipped the bag closed.  No matter how much it hurt, Dylen deserved to know everything, come what may.

 

Rian took one last look around, threw his backpack across his right shoulder, and picked up the large athlete's duffle bag.  His mind turned to happier concerns, and he locked the door behind him.

 

***

 

Dylen was so excited about leaving he was sure butterflies would keep him awake all night.  But, Rian dealt with that worry easily enough.  They worked legs the previous morning, and it was the first time Rian removed all the stops.  Dylen worked harder than he had in years, and he finished every set perfectly.  But, there were prices to pay for that kind of exertion.  Dylen was so exhausted he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow that night.  He slept so hard that if his father hadn't knocked on the door to wake him, Dylen would have overslept.  As he rolled out of bed and stood up, he was greeted with a stiff yelp from his quads.  Dylen winced as he walked around his room, trying to loosen his muscles.  'Oh boy,' he thought, 'This weekend's gonna hurt.'  But, as sore and tired as he was, it was the most satisfying (and the most fun) workout since he started six weeks ago.

 

Dylen wandered into the bathroom and turned on the lights.  He closed the door, and he stood for a moment looking at himself in the mirror.  Watching his body change was something of a morning ritual now.  In fact, he'd changed so much since the car accident everyone seemed lost for words. Beyond his new 'look,' he could see some of the effects his workouts were having.  His shoulders looked a little broader, his chest ever so much thicker.  His shoulders now had small caps to them, and a large vein ran down his left biceps and forearm.  Those sore legs of his had something too - his quads swept outward toward the top a bit before closing down to his knee.  His clothes lay differently on his frame now because of all the changes.  People at school had started asking if he was running track or cross country.  He was looking more and more like a thin, but noticeable athlete.  

 

This morning revealed something new.  As he breathed, he could see a hint of two upper abdominals just under the skin.  Dylen thought he should be blowing up with fat like a balloon with the sheer volume of food he was wolfing down.  But Rian seemed to have a way of molding his body in ways he didn't think were possible.  He couldn't escape the feeling he was being sculpted -- slowly, meticulously -- into something beautiful.  Every good thing in his life - his new look, his new energy, his love - emanated from his relationship with Rian.

 

As he showered, his mind turned from the physical journey he was taking to the other, more important, one.  'I am gay.'  He could hear the words in his head, and, at last, he could say it.  The shadow hardly spoke to him anymore, and it when it did, Rian was always there to quash it.

 

He'd decided since his ordination that some of the things on the Church path were dishonest for him.  He decided that he wasn't interested in a temple marriage or getting married period.  He wasn't going to marry a girl he couldn't fully love, just to satisfy the Church or his family.  He couldn't bring children into a relationship based on lies.  He would not only hurt himself; he'd hurt innocent people.

 

Staying single was one thing.  He still didn't know how, or if, he would tell anyone else about his homosexuality.  Could he really totally abandon his duty?  His ancestors?  His God?  Those questions still tore at him. Still, he knew he'd passed the greatest hurdle.  When he asked himself 'Who am I,' he could answer in part, 'I am gay.'  And because of that, he knew the Church was wrong about people like him.  He knew he wasn't worthless, and he never had been.

 

---

 

Rian opened his car to allow access to the trunk.  Then, he looked back toward the Mason's front porch and yelled at Dylen. "You know, I've only got a small trunk.  With all that luggage, you'd think I was taking all the Broncos cheerleaders."  Dylen trotted out with a large backpack and a pilot suitcase.  He blushed unconsciously as Rian gave him a mischievous stare.  Dylen didn't understand what it meant until he got to the rear of the Corvette and saw that Rian packed more than he did.

 

Dylen looked at Rian questioningly; then, Rian cracked up.  Dylen knew he'd been taken in, and decided a little revenge was in order.  As meekly as he could, he put the small suitcase in the car.  Then, without warning, he raised up and took a swing at Rian with his backpack.  Rian was caught totally off guard and stumbled backwards.  Now, Dylen was laughing.  "Looks like I'm not the only one who packs like a girl."

 

Dylen closed in for the kill when Rian held up his hands, "Okay.  Okay. Guilty as charged.  I surrender."

 

"And don't forget who's boss."  Dylen said, trying his best to look intimidating.  Just after they finished packing the car, the Mason's came out to say goodbye.  Dylen squared his shoulders and turned on his teenage mental shield.  He could tell his mom was in full doting mode.

 

"You two boys be careful now.  Are you sure you have everything?"  Kathi asked.

 

"Yes Mom."  Dylen replied.

 

"Make sure you use sunscreen and drink a lot of water.  That desert gets really hot."  Kathi continued as if her son were three years old.

 

"I will," chimed Dylen's practiced response.  He knew that if he didn't get out of here now, this would get embarrassing.  With manipulation skills only a teenager possesses, Dylen expertly maneuvered his parents into letting go.  With a few hugs and goodbyes, Rian and Dylen set off into the morning.  Once they were on the road, Dylen sighed in relief, "I'm glad that's over."

 

Rian chuckled at he thought of his mom when he went on trips.  He looked over to the passenger seat.  "They never let you grow up do they?"  Dylen's face started to redden again when Rian continued, "Don't worry.  You can't imagine my mom when I go somewhere.  Now, just sit back and don't think about anything except having a good time."  Rian put on their favorite STP CD and pressed the accelerator.  It was a ten hour drive to Bryce Canyon, and Rian knew they needed to hurry if they were to make their check-in time.

 

***

 

The late afternoon sun was beginning to cast shadows.  More than a few heads turned to see the unexpected sight of two good looking college guys in a top-down classic Corvette convertible take the final curve into Bryce Canyon National Park.  On either side of the road, groups of tourists were hurriedly making their way from the park and ride lots to the commercial hotels outside the park boundary.  But, as soon as they passed the entrance sign, the hordes disappeared, leaving the road strangely quiet.  The car slowly drove until Rian saw a sign for the lodge turnoff. After taking the turn, Dylen and Rian emerged into a small clearing where the main lodge was located.  They parked in an open space and Rian got out of the car.  It would take only a few minutes to check-in, but Dylen was so tired of sitting that he went along just to stretch his sore legs.

 

Less than two minutes later, they emerged with keys and paperwork in hand. They grabbed their bags from the car and used a small map the clerk gave them to locate their home for the next few days.  On the outside, the cabin was very simple, even rustic, but it was obviously well maintained.  Once inside, Dylen saw that there were only two rooms.  The largest was a bedroom dominated by a fireplace and two queen beds. Just to the left was a door concealing a simple bathroom.  Rian and Dylen quickly deposited their bags and decided to take showers before they ate dinner.  Since Rian drove the entire trip, he asked if he could go first.  Dylen agreed.

 

After Rian disappeared, Dylen stepped out onto the small covered porch.  It was after seven o'clock, and it was starting to cool.  He enjoyed the chance to soak up the quiet calm that emanated from this place.  Though the trip was less than a day old, Dylen already felt recharged, rejuvenated from his recent mental journeys.  It was like the further he moved away from Denver, the freer and freer he felt.  The trip itself had been wonderful, more than he could have dreamed.  Rian was so perfect; Dylen's heart skipped every time he was Rian, and now, here, it was only more intense.  This was his chance to be himself with his best friend and secret love, and he was determined to enjoy it to the full.

 

Dylen was lost in thought when he heard a sharp sound from behind.  "Whoa!" Dylen turned to see Rian slide back into the bathroom.  "Hey Dylen, close the door."  Dylen stepped inside quickly and pushed the door shut.  The bathroom door reopened and Rian emerged with only a towel around his waist. Rian smiled happily, that heart-melting smile Dylen had come to know was reserved for him.  "You want me to flash the world?"  Dylen tried to use all his senses to record this moment forever.  Rian always worked out with a shirt on; so, until this moment, he'd not seen Rian's newly shredded physique.  Dylen couldn't believe this veritable muscle god, someone that belonged on stage and on magazine covers, was his closest friend.

 

Rian outwardly appeared not to notice Dylen's reaction, but inside he was elated at the silent complement.  He grabbed a pair of boxers and put them on under his towel.  Rian bent over digging through his duffel bag, and Dylen started for the bathroom.  Out of habit, he opened his pilot case to get out all his clothes.  But, then, he paused.  'No,' he thought, 'I'm going to be myself this weekend, without inhibitions, without reservations. If Rian can dress in front of me, then I will dress in front of him.'  But, before he could close the bathroom door, Dylen's newly developing mischievous streak got the best of him.  He noticed Rian's round, firm butt upturned as he was rummaging.  It was a wondrous sight for anyone, gay or straight.  Dylen stuck his head out and let out a soft, slow wolf whistle. Rian turned around quickly, to see Dylen standing in the doorway giggling. Rian started laughing himself. He grabbed his towel from his bed and threw it hard at Dylen.  Dylen's reflexes were fast enough to catch the towel in the air.  To Dylen's now rather smug look of success, Rian said, "Oh, so you like me, big boy.  Just wait 'til I'm finished with you."

 

Rian lunged at Dylen.  He wrapped his arms around Dylen's waist in a light bear hug.  Rian lifted a little, easily pulling Dylen off his feet, and carried him back into the bedroom.  Dylen started struggling against Rian's grip, signaling that the impromptu wrestling challenge was accepted.  They fooled around for a couple of minutes, with Rian allowing Dylen to gain the upper hand on occasion.  Rian had huge advantages in every area -- strength, weight, knowledge, and experience.  He could have destroyed Dylen in a second, but they were both enjoying the contact too much to stop.

 

But, finally, the "match" ended in the only way it could.  Rian decided to take the kid gloves off, just a little.  Dylen was tied up rather handily, when Rian spun him around and clinched his fists tightly across Dylen's stomach.  Dylen was stunned to experience firsthand how fast Rian could move.  It was less than a second before he felt an enormous pull from Rian's pumped arms.  Struggling against Rian's superior weight and strength on sore legs was impossible.  Dylen instantly collapsed to the floor.  Rian maneuvered Dylen around and mounted his chest in a school-boy pin.  He collected Dylen's still combative arms and used his leverage to press them above Dylen's head.

 

Dylen looked so shocked that Rian started laughing.  But, under the laughter, Rian respected Dylen all the more.  Though Dylen was clearly beaten, he was still trying to escape.  Rian was surprised just how strong Dylen really was.  He possessed three times Dylen's strength and superior position; but, it took a real effort to hold him down.  After a few moments, Dylen realized the hopelessness of escape and stopped struggling.  Rian immediately relaxed, just holding Dylen in the position. "Boy," Rian said, "I know you're not into sports, but I've gotta teach you something about wrestling.  You'd be a show stopper."

 

Rian then went silent.  There was a look in Dylen's eyes, a dreamy, sex-clouded look that aroused Rian immediately.  Dylen didn't know what came over him.  He wanted so much to reach out and touch the beauty in front of him.  Rian let go of Dylen's arms and rose up from the dominating pin position.  He loosely sat across the smaller man's torso.  Rian knew he was getting hard and he thought he could feel Dylen getting hard under him. With his arms finally free, Dylen slowly moved his hands toward Rian's rhythmically pulsating abs.  Rian's own hand started to move toward Dylen's exposed, taut chest.  He almost gave into his desires to feel Dylen but conscious thought finally grabbed him.  'No,' Rian thought, 'Not like this. When this happens, it's gonna be right.  Everything's gotta be in the open."

 

Rian withdrew and quickly stood.  He used a vaguely reasonable excuse.  "If we don't get to dinner soon, we'll miss out all together."

 

Dylen recovered himself and stood, looking a little hurt.  'Did I go too far?' he thought.

 

Rian saw it and immediately consoled Dylen.  His voice was quiet and soothing as he grabbed Dylen around the shoulder.  "Seriously, I'm glad you noticed what I look like.  I sort of owe it to you anyway.  I haven't been like this in quite a while, and that's thanks to you being with me in the gym.  Don't feel bad."  Rian's smile reemerged.  "I don't."  Dylen's crestfallen look perked up when he saw that Rian wasn't uncomfortable, and he went to take his own shower.

 

After the door closed, Rian let out a breath of relief.  He quickly finished dressing and grabbed the hidden items out of his bag.  He had just enough time to run these to the car and hide them before Dylen's shower was finished.  Rian didn't want Dylen finding these things before he was ready. After what just happened, he was sure Dylen was gay.  But, if there was anything he'd learned about his best friend (and maybe more), it was that he was just beginning to find some kind of peace.  Finding these in the wrong way could be a disaster.  He wanted Dylen to have that little island of peace for as long as possible before the inevitable came.

 

By the time Rian got back from the car, Dylen was out of the shower and dressing.  "Hey.  Where'd you go?"  Dylen asked.

 

"Out to the car for a second.  No biggie.  Come on, I'm starving."

 

Dylen finished lacing his shoes.  As he stood, the both noticed they chose their clothes well.  Both of them looked great.  Rian stared at Dylen this time, feeling that same urge building.  It was becoming something they couldn't resist much longer.  "I thought you said you were hungry." Dylen said.  They closed the cabin door and took the path to the lodge restaurant, animatedly talking about what they were going to do this weekend.

 

---

 

"God.  I'm stuffed."  Rian said.

 

"You're stuffed.  You made me eat as much as you.  I think my stomach blew open ten minutes ago."  Dylen replied.  Rian pushed the lodge door open, and they emerged into a glorious red-orange sky.  Despite thoroughly overeating, dinner had been magnificent.  The wait staff was the same age as Rian and Dylen; so, there was no shortage of good natured flirting. Rian, having literally thousands of passes made at him over the years, was a master at it.  Dylen didn't have Rian's gift for words, but his innocent demeanor seemed to attract even more attention than Rian's overt sex appeal.  For the meal, Rian ordered bourbon glazed steak and Dylen selected trout almandine.  When the waitress brought over the dessert menu, Dylen was going to refuse, but Rian beat him to the punch.  He ordered two Tiramisu's.  Rian told him that this had just a little Kahlua in it, but he knew Dylen, lacking a sharp sweet tooth, would love it.  Dylen thought over eating something with coffee liqueur in it, but he knew most of his Church friends had a lot more than that in their lives.  Even his devout parents would occasionally have a dessert with alcohol in it.  He decided to do it, and he wasn't disappointed.  It was the best dessert he'd ever eaten.

 

They were walking back to their cabin when Dylen asked something that had been bothering him since they'd gotten here.  "You keep telling me about Bryce Canyon, but it just looks like a lot of trees on a desert mountain. What's so special about this place?"  Rian saw in his memory a fall evening with Brock.  He knew exactly why it was special to him, but again, that time was not yet.

 

"Come on.  Let me show you."  Rian said.  Dylen followed him down a small concrete path scattered with dirt.  The trees around the lodge and cabins fell behind as they approached the canyon rim.  Dylen still could not see anything special until they reached the very edge, where there were a few benches and an observation deck on a rock pinnacle.  The view that opened before Dylen's eyes was the most beautiful desert landscape he'd ever seen. The canyon floor looked like it was covered in sand dunes, the way people picture the Sahara.  But these dunes were not golden sand colored but were a deep red.  Arising from the sand were hundreds of red and white rock spires.  They were in an almost regular order, like a standing petrified forest.  In the glow of the now pink sunset, the stone's colors were accented even more.  Dylen felt serenity enveloping him.  This place felt warm, inviting, a place where people can feel the love of the universe.

 

"This is what's so special."  Rian said after a few minutes taking in the view himself.  'This goes on for miles.  And from the top of the mountains at the end of the canyon you can see 200 miles on a clear day.  I've seen the Grand Canyon from there."

 

Dylen looked at Rian.  "I've never seen anything like this.  Thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for me.  I . . . I."

 

Rian grabbed Dylen's hand.  "I've told you before.  I'm the one who's thanking you."  They sat on one of the benches watching a brilliant moon rise in the fading glow of the sun.  The entire time, whether someone passed them or not, they never let go of each other.

 

***

 

The door to the cabin burst open.  Dylen and Rian staggered through and dropped their packs.  They just finished their third day of hiking and sightseeing.  It was Sunday and tomorrow the trip would be over.  They made it inside as far as Rian's bed, the closest one, before they collapsed side by side. Both of them lay quietly breathing for a few minutes, totally exhausted.  Finally, Rian said, staring at the ceiling, "Well, did you enjoy your graduation present?"

 

Dylen replied with a simple "Yeah."  He was too tired to put very much enthusiasm into his response.  He explored one of the most idyllic places in the world this weekend, and he did it with the greatest person he'd ever met.  His love for Rian was complete.  'If I died tonight,' Dylen thought, 'at least I've had one good time in my life.'

 

Rian rolled and propped up on one elbow.  "Dylen?"  He tried so hard to make things go right.  He couldn't gauge from Dylen's response what he was thinking.

 

Dylen managed a tired smile.  "Rian.  This has been the best weekend I've ever had."

 

Rian heartened at the words and said, "I'm glad.  Well, it's my turn for the shower first.  See ya in a minute."  Rian rolled off the bed and wandered into the bathroom.  Dylen continued to lay on the bed thinking. It really had been marvelous.  Something about this place, about lying here with Rian, felt so right.  But, there was more than that.  He felt something all weekend, just under the surface.  It seemed alive, a spirit longing for them to be together.  Being near Rian, touching him, smelling him here where he'd slept the last few days, listening to water he knew was dripping over Rian's sweaty, tired body.  Dylen grabbed his cock and slowly started stroking it, a tear in his eye for what he longed for but couldn't bring himself to say.

 

In the bathroom, Rian was just as preoccupied.  He'd searched everywhere for the right moment to tell Dylen about himself, about Brock, but it never appeared.  But, he knew that wasn't exactly true.  There were times, plenty of them.  But so many places here reminded him of his first love, so many times he wanted to cry but couldn't.  Some thing, some feeling, was urging him to say something.  But, he resisted out of fear.  He had one more chance.  Tonight.  He'd have to do it tonight.

 

Rian got out of the shower and dried himself.  He left the bathroom, grabbed a pair of boxers, and put them on.  Dylen, although no longer stroking himself, barely moved from Rian's bed.  "Hey pokey. It's your turn, or do you want to sleep in my bed all night?"

 

Dylen really didn't want to leave, but he replied with an "Okay."  He was starting to get up when a blinding flash of pain ripped through the back of his left thigh.  Dylen unconsciously sucked in a loud breath.  He grabbed at the back of his leg, collapsing again on Rian's bed.  A peal of torture arose from Dylen's mouth.  Rian jumped up instantly from his duffel bag and rushed to Dylen's side.  "What is it?"

 

Dylen managed to say, "Cramp" between sharp inhales.

 

Although he was once quite prone to them, Rian's conditioning made it so that cramping was now quite rare.  He barely thought about them.  But, with the hard workout Wednesday, being stuck in the car Thursday, and three days of rather strenuous hiking in summer heat, Rian knew Dylen was lucky to have lasted this long without one.  Rian slid up on the bed and touched Dylen's hands.  "Let me see."  The trainer voice was back - firm and commanding, but loving.  Dylen hesitated, frozen in pain, but he trusted Rian enough to let go.  Rian instantly took the leg and lightly felt up and down.  There were small knots and spasms everywhere he touched, but in the hamstring there was a massive, convulsing twist.  He could tell this one was bad.  For a split second, he was furious with himself for not taking better care of Dylen, for not anticipating this.  But, now he had the chance to make up for it.

 

"Hold on.  I'll be back in a second."  Dylen nodded understanding, and Rian let go.  He grabbed his towel and ran into the bathroom.  Rian wet down the towel in the shower and came back to Dylen's side.  He lightly wrapped the cloth around Dylen's thigh and said, "I'm gonna loosen the cramp.  This is gonna hurt worse for a minute."  He then took Dylen's leg firmly and began to stretch the muscles.  Dylen was fighting back tears as the pain increased.  His contorted muscles were fighting against Rian.  Rian was gentle but methodical, applying pressure and then relaxing slightly. Pressure, relax, pressure, relax.  It took several minutes, but, finally, Rian felt the resistance in Dylen's hamstring abate.  Dylen was breathing more slowly, a sign of relief from the agony he was in.  Rian kept up the stretching pressure while he moved his left hand back to Dylen's leg.  He still felt the hard knot.  It was looser than it was, but it was still there.  Rian explored a little more, tracing Dylen's quads and up to his calf.  Tension seemed to be everywhere.

 

"Is that better?"  Rian asked, stopping his exploration.

 

"Yeah.  I've never had a cramp like that.  Thank you."

 

"It's my fault.  I shouldn't have driven you so hard the last few days, especially after a new workout you're not used to and then sitting immobile for a day.  It'll probably get worse tomorrow going home.  But . . ." Rian had an idea.  Maybe he could make up for it and make up for Thursday too. 'Maybe there's a way to keep that from happening."

 

"How?" Dylen asked.

 

"Take off your shirt and shorts."  Rian said.  Dylen looked rather funny, but Rian said, "Trust me."  Dylen trusted Rian with his life; so, that simple assurance was all he needed.  With some difficulty and more minor twinges from his legs, Dylen succeeded in taking off his clothes, stripping to his boxers.  Rian helped maneuvered Dylen onto his back, positioning him in the center of the bed.  Rian reached into his toiletry bag for his mother's baby oil.  Every time he'd hauled this stuff for nothing was made up for in this instant.

 

"Now, just close your eyes and relax."

 

Rian positioned himself on the bed where he could easily reach Dylen's legs.  He squirted a dollop of oil into his hands and applied it to the quivering muscle.  Then, he began to slowly massage Dylen's knotted body. His thumbs started at Dylen's ankles and slowly worked their way up.  Then, they slowly glided back down.  He gently kneaded and wrung every muscle, attending to every knot, every twist, until he felt it release and melt back into the supple denseness of Dylen's lower body.  When he finished with the legs, Rian moved up and positioned himself to work Dylen's back. He repeated the process of rubbing, kneading, and relaxing his love.

 

Rian leaned down and whispered into Dylen's ear.  "Just let go."  Dylen remembered the words from his dream weeks ago.  What he was feeling right now put those meager musings to shame.  He'd never felt anything more relaxing or erotic in his life.  Rian's strong hands seemed to be everywhere and nowhere, firmly and softly caressing him all over.  Every tension he'd built up over the last year seemed to drain away into Rian's hands.  Every worry, every doubt, every agonizing moment in Church and at home dissolved. Rian magically replaced them with all the warm, tender moments they'd had together.  Dylen felt like he was flying.  His dick was totally hard, as he reveled in the sensations his own ministering angel was freely giving him.

 

Dylen barely noticed when Rian turned him over so that he was face up.  His cock tented his boxers, nearly bursting out.  But, Dylen didn't care; he was too lost in his love to care.  For his own part, Rian couldn't help feeling something in his own hard member.  He'd never seen Dylen fully naked. Even covered as it was, he could tell that Dylen had some size to him.  As with most things he'd learned about Dylen, there was more to him than his thin frame and unassuming demeanor would betray.  Rian briefly thought of how much he'd love to go after it.  But, he was taking just as much pleasure in helping Dylen feel so good.

 

Rian focused on the chest next, rubbing slow, overlapping circles across Dylen's thin, but defined pecs.  Rian's hands swirled up and down, back and forth.  He lingered over Dylen's small taut nipples for a moment, causing a small whimpered moan to escape Dylen's lips.  Rian smiled as he descended to Dylen's tight abdomen.  Careful not to cause tickling, Rian whirled across the tight stomach; then up and down the entire torso.  Dylen purred contentedly and this only encouraged Rian.  He traced Dylen's arms and hands, giving each individual finger attention.  He repeated the leg massage for the quads and shins before he touched Dylen's feet.  He worked them for a long time with firm round thumb strokes.  Finally, Rian rolled Dylen over on his stomach again, so he could attack the shoulders.  He slowly worked out and back until he focused on the base of the neck, finishing the massage.

 

Rian rose up from his working posture and laid his hands lightly on Dylen's back.  "Well, how was that?"

 

Dylen opened his eyes and smiled the smile of sexy contentment that made Rian love him so much.  "You can do that anytime you want."  Dylen purred. Rian took the bed covers and pulled them over Dylen's frame, tucking him in.  Rian would have fought off whole armies to keep Dylen feeling this good.  "Just go to sleep here.  I'll get you up for a shower in the morning."

 

"What time is it?" Dylen asked

 

"9:30." Dylen couldn't believe it.  He'd spent an hour and a half under Rian's wonderful care.  He wished it would go on forever, and, somehow, as if Rian were plugged into his thoughts, Rian's hands returned to his exposed neck.  He felt Rian's thumbs gently caressing him until he fell asleep.  --- Rian felt slow, rhythmic breathing and several small twitches in Dylen's body.  Dylen was asleep.  Rian leaned down and gently kissed the top of Dylen's head.  "I love you."  he faintly whispered.

 

***

 

Darkness enveloped Bryce for many hours, but Rian found no sleep.  He lay on top of Dylen's bed full of remorse and guilt.  He hadn't done it.  The whole reason he planned this trip was gone.  He failed.  He retrieved the items after Dylen fell asleep, and as he lay there, he held them together. Despite being too dark to really see them, he didn't need to.  He'd long since memorized every pen stroke, every shade of color.  For the first time, he felt both of the men he loved together in one place.  The air was so thick with Brock's presence it was almost smothering.  And there, innocently asleep was Dylen.  He'd betrayed them both, the memory of one and the trust of the other.  He got up from the bed and lay the articles down on the covers.  Rian opened the cabin door, stepped out onto the porch, and sat down on a porch rail, lost to everything.

 

---

 

Dylen was dreaming of Rian when a feeling he would never be able to explain - perhaps a touch so light it wasn't there, maybe a quiet voice, a whisper in the dark -- roused him.  Falling asleep to Rian's ministrations was the cap to a perfect weekend.  He felt utterly content until now.  His eyes flipped open to unease, like he felt, more than heard, a distant plea for help.  Dylen rolled over to look where Rian should be only to find the opposite bed empty.  It wasn't even slept in.  But, Dylen could see something placed on top.  Curious and worried, he got up and walked quietly to the other bed.  He picked up the items and looked at them carefully. One was a piece of folded paper.  It looked like a handwritten letter, but it was too dark to read.  The other was familiar.  From what Dylen could make out, it was that picture from Rian's desk at his parent's house.  He studied it as best he could, searching for why it seemed more familiar than it should.  Then, the light bulb went off.  He finally knew where this was taken.  It was right here, in this park.  He and Rian went to that overlook just yesterday.  Rian was very quiet as they stood there looking.  Dylen knew it was somehow familiar then, but he couldn't pry anything out of Rian.

 

Dylen picked up the letter and went into the bathroom, snapping on the mirror light.  While small and dim, it provided enough light to read by for Dylen's dark adjusted eyes.  The script was precise and fluid.


---

Dear Rian,

 

By now, you'll know what's happened.  I tried to make sure that this got to you as soon as I could, but I couldn't take the risk of leaving it for you openly.  I hope that you can understand.  I just couldn't say goodbye without telling you the truth.  I couldn't bear the thought of leaving you with a lie.  No matter what things might have looked like, know that this isn't your fault.  No matter what troubles we may have had recently, my time together with you has been my anchor in a sea of storms.  You are so nice, so beautiful to me, for me, that I can never tell you how deeply I love you.

 

But, I'm not like you.  You are so brave, so strong, and I am such a coward.  I just can't face what you did with your parents.  My family would never understand.  The world hates us, and I just can't face the lies, the slurs, the fury of the outside without them.  I couldn't bear it if the people who were doing those things were my parents.  I can't choose between you, the people I love with all my heart.  Leaving is the only choice I could make.

 

Please don't tell my parents the truth.  They could never handle it.  If any part of you loves me, please keep me, keep us, a secret from them.  I don't want to cause them, or you, any more pain.

 

Please know that I love you always.  You know my favorite quote, the one your dad gave me that day.  I would only cause you to creep when you are meant to soar.  You are destined for great things Rian May, places and paths I can not follow.  I wish with all my heart that I could, but I can't.

 

Even though the path will be rocky and lonely sometimes, I know there is someone out there for you.  Please find him.  I will smile from a happier place as you soar above the clouds, above the whole world, with the one who can soar with you.  Don't blame yourself.  I had to do this.  Don't forget me. 

Brock

 

---
 

Dylen was physically shaking by the time he finished the letter.  What felt so right just a few hours ago was a jumble of senseless thoughts.  'Rian couldn't be gay, could he?  And why bring me here to this place?'  A focus of anger locked in Dylen's heart.  Whoever this . . . this Brock is, he must have left Rian.  And now, he, Dylen, was what?  A rebound . . . a replacement . . . an excuse to resurrect an old flame.  Heart broken and in shock, Dylen stumbled out of the bath and toward the front door, the letter still in his hand.  He needed air.  He turned the knob and pulled the door open.

 

The black sky was just beginning to lighten, signaling the impending dawn. Rian was staring into a blackness that matched his empty heart when he heard the cabin door snap open.  He turned slightly, and was surprised to see Dylen.  Dylen's face was contorted, and his step was unsure as he met Rian's gaze.  Rian was about to ask what was wrong when he saw the letter. 'Oh my God,' Rian thought, 'Please not like this.'  Instinct took over, and Rian dove for the letter.  He snatched it whole out of Dylen's hands.  Rian looked up, and he saw in Dylen's face the same expression he saw in the middle of that distant highway a lifetime ago.  He didn't know what to make of it.  Was Dylen confused, upset, angry, or worse?  His next words came purely out of desperation.  "Dylen.  Dylen.  I'm sorry I didn't tell you."

 

By now, Dylen's anger gripped him fully.  He felt violated.  That remolding feeling he kept having.  Was it Rian trying to recast him into someone else?  He was as angry at himself for letting Rian into his heart as he was at Rian.  Propelled by noxious feelings, Dylen lashed out furiously.  "You can say that again.  I thought I knew you, but I guess I don't know you at all, do I?  What am I supposed to be?  Just some substitute project for this guy who dumped you?  Some way to keep yourself entertained until the next boyfriend comes along."

 

Dylen's words cut Rian more than any weapon could have.  He recoiled from the icy emotionless fury in them.  He pleaded, "Please Dylen.  It's not what you think.  Please give me a chance to explain."

 

Dylen was usually one never to trust again after the first violation, but something in him wanted to hear the truth.  If for nothing else, he wanted to know how far he'd been suckered in.  He spun on his heels, threw open the door, and sat on his bed. Rian meekly followed, turned on the lights, and collapsed on his own. They sat opposite each other, Dylen staring coldly at Rian.  Rian looked away and began to nervously wring his hands, wrestling with how to do it.  But there was no time for that.  Maybe he'd ruined everything, but he owed Dylen the truth.  If these were the last words they ever shared, at least they'd be honest ones.

 

"His name was Brock Lassiter, and until this moment no one except my parents ever knew about him.  I . . . I'm gay, Dylen.  I guess you know that from the letter.  I've only known myself for a few years now.  I tried to deny it.  I tried to run away from it.  I even had sex with girls to try to ignore it, or fix myself, or whatever, but I couldn't.  I finally grew to sort of accept who and what I am, but I'd never been with another guy. Until him.

 

"We met when I moved to CU.  We lived on the same floor in the dorms.  I don't even know how it happened.  We sort of hit it off as casual friends, and then we started to hang out together.  It was so gradual when we fell in love.  But, God, I loved him so much.  I guess you figured out that this was our place, this park.  We came last fall and stayed for a weekend.  We told each other how we really felt here.  I . . . I made love, not empty sex, but real love, for the first time here with him."

 

Dylen was floored by these revelations, but hearing the remorse in Rian's voice was softening his heart.  As the anger subsided he thought more clearly.  'Why is he always referring to this Brock in the past tense?' Then another, even more horrible, possibility occurred to him.  'Oh, no. That letter could be a . . ." Dylen's formerly cold heart burst.  'What have I done?'

 

"What happened?"  Dylen softly whispered, choking with regret for his outburst.

 

"I wanted us to come out.  I got tired of loving in the shadows.  But, Brock was against it.  He was afraid.  His family is very traditional, and he said they would disown him.  He'd never been comfortable with being gay and was just starting to work it out for himself.  I insisted that we at least needed to tell my parents.  We came out to them at Christmas, and although they didn't understand it, things went okay.  Mom has a lot of gay social contacts and Dad knew some gay gym guys he respected.  That helped soften things, I guess.  So, I started pushing Brock harder and harder to come out.  We started fighting over it.  After a couple of months, I was fed up.  I told him that I didn't want to see him anymore if we couldn't be honest with his parents."

 

By now Rian's voice was quivering.  Dylen got up and moved to Rian's side, trying to comfort him.  Rian slumped into Dylen, like he was trying to draw strength for what he was about to say.  "For several days after that he called and left messages on my cell and in my dorm, but I ignored them. Then his roommate stopped by and asked if I'd seen Brock lately.  He said Brock had gone home for the weekend, but it had been four days and he hadn't come back.  I called Brock's parent's house and the answering machine said they were skiing.  I thought Brock must have been with them. But, the next day there was another message on the machine.  Brock sounded so calm.  But it wasn't calm; his voice was detached.  He told me he'd miss me, and he said goodbye.

 

"I got a really bad feeling.  Something kept gnawing at me like he was going to do something awful.  I got in my car and drove to his house.  It felt like it took forever, and when I got there, the door was open."  By now, Rian was crying, staring into space as he relived the few minutes that changed him forever.  Dylen moved closer.  "I yelled in their house for someone, but there was no answer.  I went upstairs to Brock's room, but the door was closed.  I knocked and knocked but there was no answer.  Finally, I opened the door."  Rian was shaking as he finally allowed another human to know the truth of what happened next.  "He was laying there splayed out on his bed.  There was a gun on the floor and blood on the walls and there was this . . . this smell in the air . . ."

 

Rian's voice trailed off into loud sobs and Dylen hugged the great man tightly.  All he could think of to say was, "It's okay Rian.  It's okay." 

 

Rian pulled up, now angry at himself.  "No, it's not.  You don't know what I did.  Brock planned it all from the time I told him I didn't want to see him anymore.  He'd gotten crack and heroin from somewhere and made it look like it was some kind of drug thing.  The police investigated, but it was obvious to them what happened.  So, they didn't try very hard.  They talked to me for ten or fifteen minutes max.  My mom used the family clout to get the police to eliminate my involvement from the reports.

 

"Don't you see?  I buried the . . . the only man I ever loved.  I stood there at the funeral.  I carried his casket to his grave, his family thinking how good and brave I was.  But, I let them all think he died because of drugs, like some kind of criminal.  I knew the real reason, but I didn't say a word.  I got that letter.  He must have mailed it the day he died.  I did exactly what he wanted.  I've never told anyone until now. But . . . I drove him to it.  If I hadn't have been so hard, so stupid, if I hadn't pushed him away, he'd be here.  He wouldn't be dead.  He was looking for a way out of his pain, and all I did was drive him to die." Rian was nearly convulsing with sadness and fury at himself.

 

Dylen finally understood everything.  At long last, to save more pain from the man he loved, the urge to tell his own truth was too strong.  He turned Rian's face toward his own and looked into his eyes.  Rian's were not the only one's moist with tears.  "No.  No, you didn't.  I never knew Brock, but I . . . I know exactly how he felt.  I've thought about doing it too. I might even have done it that night you found me on the road.  But, you saved me.  I'm caught just like he was.  No one, no group, no thing in my world will ever allow me to have what my heart wants.  The only time I ever feel free is when I'm with you.  You're the best person, the most beautiful person, I've ever met.  He loved you and you loved him. And love is the most precious thing anyone can have."  Rian's hand came up and covered Dylen's hand.  Dylen's eyes softened even more.  Those glowing eyes reflected the whispered words, "It's the only thing I . . . I have left."

 

Through all the pain of the moment, the pull of the love between them was still there.  Both of them grew quiet as they finally allowed it to guide their actions.  They moved closer . . . closer . . . closer.  Still holding each other, their lips touched.  The kiss was unsure at first, tentative, but after a moment, a flood of repressed emotions unleashed within them. Their arms wrapped around each other and the kiss became impassioned. Their tongues danced feverishly in each other's mouths.  But even more than the physical connection, their very souls seemed to merge in that moment. The hollows, the heart- rending terrors of their lives faded, and for a moment, pure bliss swept away all the pain and heartache.  For the first time, they felt complete, as if they had become one being.  They stayed there, frozen in the moment, frozen in passion, as the first rays of dawn swept above the horizon.

 

* * *

 

Neither Rian nor Dylen spoke very much on the way home.  The radio played music to dispel the silence but neither of them were really listening.  The enormity of it all -- the kiss, the feelings they shared, Rian's confession -- were just beginning to sink in, especially to Dylen.

 

As the car approached Denver and the sphere of influence of his home, Dylen began to feel the weight of his imposed responsibilities -- his family duty, the hands on his head -- crushing him, tearing at him more and more. From his mind, he heard the almost forgotten shadow's voice ringing clearly, "What have you done?"

 

---

 

It was quiet at the Mason farm when they turned into the driveway.  It was 11:30 pm and the lights in the house were out.  Rian suspected the Masons were asleep; so he shut off his headlights and quietly pulled up to the house.  Rian turned the ignition off, and they both got out.  It only took a moment to get Dylen's case and backpack out of the trunk.

 

They spent a few seconds just looking at each other, searching for words. Finally, Rian said, "Dylen.  I don't know what to say."  He stepped close to Dylen, the overwhelming pull guiding them into each other's arms.  "I just know that I love you."  They kissed again, as passionately as the first time so many hours ago.  They felt it all over again, the love, the connection.  But, this time, Dylen also felt the hands, the eyes of his family, the edicts of the Church.  He felt naked, just like in the dream. He could hear his father calling him an abomination, shouting that he was no longer a son.

 

Dylen wrenched himself away with tears rolling down his cheeks.  He was panicked.  "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry.  No matter how much I want this I can't. I just can't have it.  I'm so sorry."  Dylen grabbed his two bags and ran for the assumed safety of his house.  But, he was running from everything, from his heart, from his desires, from his love, leaving Rian confused and alone in the dark.

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