The Apartment

Chapter 5

Ray slipped into the bathroom and seated himself. Yes, he needed to use the toilet for its intended uses — but he also desperately needed a few minutes to get his thoughts in order. The last 24 hours had turned his world upside down.

First, he was in somewhere warm and safe, somewhere he could actually be himself. Yeah, there were a few unanswered questions — like how come seven kids had a place like this, and nobody seemed to be asking questions about it — but for the moment he was prepared to take it one day at a time, and be glad for what he could get. Then there was their attitude toward his ... he made a decision then and there — it was not the "shame on his family" his father had called it, it was a part of who he was, for better or worse, and if the world had an issue with it, they could go deal with it! But, amazingly, they all seemed to feel the same way, and had no problem with him, or with the fact he was "that way" — making another leap, he called himself 'gay' for the first time, then and there.

Which meant — there was no secret agenda, no other shoe to fall; if they were all like he was, they had found a way to live safely as themselves. And they were willing to welcome him into it.

He thought over his housemates. First, Donny: tall, almost six feet, skinny and pale, with glasses, dark haired. He remembered being told that Donny was 17, the oldest of the boys. It seemed to Ray like Donny was in charge, at least when he spoke up — but he seemed happy to have most things the decision of the guys, either as individuals or by consensus. Ray had a lot of questions about Donny, but he had a hunch he wouldn't be getting the answers soon if ever. But, importantly, Donny seemed genuinely happy to have Ray there, welcoming him and encouraging him to feel at home.

Then Chay. Chay was at once the most intriguing and the most open of the boys. Ray recalled he was actually 16 — which his body showed when he was unclothed, but he was just over five feet, and with his open features, he looked barely 13. Chay had beautiful eyes, brown and large, uncomplicated and honest, and often with a twinkle in them, and a warm smile usually on his face. Slender of build, with real but understated muscles under his medium-brown skin, and that amazing dick! Chay was stronger than he looked, Ray recalled, having watched him with the bags of food earlier. If not Donny's boyfriend, he was at least Donny's partner in keeping the place running.

Mikey: the redhead had fair skin, was a few inches taller than Ray's 5'3", and seemed a bit serious by nature, though with a funloving side as well. It seemed like Donny depended on Mikey to some extent, though not anywhere as much so as he did Chay. Mikey was slender, and besides his devotion to Pauly nothing in particular stood out to Ray about him.

Pauly was an enigma. Dark haired and muscular of build, he seemed — almost afraid. His eyes had a haunted look, and he was quieter than most of the others. He'd also spoken up a couple of times defending Ray's nervousness; Ray felt very close to him for that.

Jack, Ray had for all practical purposes not met. He'd been gone when Ray first came, and had only returned home after he'd been hurt. Ray remembered him as of average build and medium skin color — the parts that weren't bruised, at least — with black hair. Jack seemed older than most of the others, maybe 16. Ray wasn't sure what to make of him.

Peewee. Obviously that wasn't his real name, but it fit. Not quite five feet tall, brown hair, skinny, and a sense of mischief. Andy had told him that Peewee had only two settings — on full and completely off, and Ray could see it. Peewee gave him something he thought he'd lost forever — he was fun to be around.

And finally Andy. Ray's heart skipped a beat thinking of him. Andy had honey blond hair, a face Ray thought was the cutest thing he'd ever seen — pretty, full lips, usually smiling at him, and big brown eyes that seemed full of love for him. Andy's slender figure was a thing of beauty to him — he remembered seeing him, in the bikini briefs he favored or naked in their room. Tiny nipples that stood out from his hairless chest, an innie belly button poised below a slender waist, hipbones that stood out at either side of a smoothly rounded belly, and what was found at the base of it. Ray blushed at the thought, even by himself.

And this beautiful boy wanted him — wanted him enough to have talked the rest into bringing him into their group, had gone out and risked himself to try to talk Ray into coming back with him. With shock, Ray realized that he was falling in love with Andy, and promised himself to live up to whatever it was that Andy wanted him to be.

His head on a little more solidly, he wiped himself, flushed the toilet, pulled up his pants, and walked back out to deal with whatever the apartment had for him next.


Pauly was coming back down the hall, with a somber expression on his face, as Ray emerged from the bathroom. He followed him into the living room.

"How's Jack?" Peewee demanded.

"He's not good," Pauly answered. "He's running a couple degrees of fever, and about half conscious, moaning in pain."

"Fuck!" Chay exclaimed. "What the heck can we do?"

The now-familiar three knocks on the door answered Chay's question. Donny had returned, and with him a short, slightly pudgy man of about thirty in a suit. Chay's face lit up. "Van!" he said.

The man he addressed as Van nodded. "Hello, Chay. Good to see you." His glance took in the other five boys. "You've been busy, I see," he said to Donny.

"Yeah," Donny conceded. "Can we talk about that later? Jack's back here, and needs you." He led Van back towards the bedrooms.

Answering the question evident on Ray's face, Mikey said, "That's Dr. William VanBauern. He's cool; Donny knows him — and apparently Chay too?" he added with a glance at Chay.

"Yeah," Chay said, with unusual reticence in his voice. "He's, um, more Donny's friend than mine, but, um...."

"You don't need to explain, bro," Mikey said. "I think I get the picture, and, well, if Donny wants us to know the story, he'll tell us." Chay gave Mikey a thin smile, obviously relieved.

"He works the clinic, right?" Andy asked.

"Yeah," Mikey and Chay both answered, one echoing the other immediately. Peewee giggled.

"You guys said we shouldn't let on, about the apartment I mean," Ray asked. "I know Andy said it almost the first thing he told me, and then Donny stressed it when I first got here. This, I mean Van coming here, isn't going to blow our cover, is it?"

"No," Chay said with assurance. "I can guarantee that Van will not make any trouble for us. He has every reason to help us keep our cover." Mikey's eyebrow lifted at that comment; Ray noticed and decided not to ask the question that was in his mind.

The living room for the next 15 minutes had something of the air of a hospital waiting room, with the six boys sitting there waiting to find out what Van would say about Jack, asking questions no one had the answer to out of nervous concern, and generally jittering. After about ten minutes Pauly walked back to see what was happening, but didn't return.

Pauly, Donny, and Van came back to the living room maybe five or ten minutes after Pauly had gone back. "Look, I'm going to say once more, I'd be more comfortable if...." Van began to say.

Donny cut him off. "Jack's a few weeks from his 16th birthday. He's officially a runaway. If we have to, we will, and I'll ask Gil to slide through a miracle. Won't be the first time, nor probably the last. But you know why I don't want to risk it unless we have to."

"I don't have to like it, but I'll go along with it," Van said. "You both know what to do and what to watch for, right?" Both indicated yes, they did.

"What's wrong with Jack?" Peewee piped up, voicing the question they all had.

"Well, you all saw the condition he was in when he got home," Donny said. "Besides that, his kidneys are bruised. Van thinks they aren't too bad, and he'll heal okay, but wants to admit him to the hospital. You know what that would mean."

Nods from most of them agreed they knew, but Peewee and Ray were puzzled. "Why not?" Peewee asked.

"They'd want to get approval to treat him from his parents," Van answered the young boy gently. "That'd mean he'd have to go back home, and could lead to the authorities checking up on where he was staying — here."

"Okay, everybody," Pauly said. "We're to provide him as much fluids as he's willing to drink. Van left some painkillers for him; they're in our room, on the table. We're to keep watch for blood in his urine."

"And one of you older guys check his blood pressure regularly," Van said. "I showed Paul and Don how. If his blood pressure starts dropping substantially or if there's more than a trace of blood in his urine, get him to the clinic or the hospital — pronto."

"You've got his food stamps number," Donny reminded Van.

"Yeah, and I can run interference with social services if I need to," Van said. "They normally insist on separate paperwork for Medicaid, but if you qualify for one, you almost definitely qualify for the other. It won't be the first time I've pushed a patient's paperwork through their bureaucracy. But, like Donny says, they're apt to want to call his parents."

"If it looks like he needs to be admitted," Donny said, "I'll call Gil. But you know what all that would screw up for me."

"Yeah, and I admire you for doing it," Van said. "I'll work with you best I can if it comes to that. But, Don, don't risk his health for — well, you know what — if he needs hospitalization, get him there. I'm relying on you and Paul to make the right call there."

"Yeah," Donny said resignedly. "Dammit!"

Chay had been listening to this exchange with far less confusion than was evident on the other boys' faces. Now he spoke up. "Donny, don't you think they already trust you? You seriously think anybody's going to walk away — even Ray — after what you've done, just because they learn something you haven't told them yet?"

Donny glared at Chay. "Let it be!" he said vehemently.

"Look," said Chay, "I have one thing you don't — I see how these guys react to you, and to what you've set up for us. I won't say anything more except — trust the people you've asked to trust you; they'll understand."

"You know what that'll turn us into," Donny said. ""I don't want to throw what we've built away."

"You won't," Chay answered him calmly, showing a determined side of himself that seemed strange to Ray, even knowing Chay's real age. "Caring built this place, and caring will make it survive, even if...." He didn't finish, as Donny's expression told him to cut it off right there.

"Well, I need to get back to the clinic," Van said. "See you later, Don." he added with a smile. He slipped his jacket back on, and let himself out the door.

"'See you later'?" Chay repeated with question in his voice.

"I've got to go out about midnight," Donny said. "Have to pay for a house call, after all." But the expression on Donny's face made it clear he didn't see that as a bad thing, at all.

Chay laughed. "And he's anxious to collect?"

"You could say that!" Donny grinned.


Things were subdued for the rest of the evening. Mikey and Pauly kept checking on Jack, and seemed to feel there was no change worth discussing when they came back out.

Donny and Chay took Peewee down to their room and bedded him down. Surprisingly, he didn't make a fuss. When Ray asked about it, Andy explained, "It's not grownups telling a kid it's his bedtime — instead it's his friends, and they don't push him about it until he's tired enough not to make a fuss. Anything everyone else stays up for, he's welcome to as well, if he can keep his eyes open. And he gets that; he's not dumb. So when they tell him he looks like he needs to go to bed, he knows they're just caring about him, not ordering him around. And if he's insistent on staying up, like the night you came, nobody sends him to bed. He's not our kid, he's our little brother. And that makes all the difference."

Donny came back out, dressed in fleecewear with a warm jacket. He poured himself a coffee, and sipped it. "Don't wait up!" he said with a grin.

"Be careful walking over to the clinic," Andy said to him. "You never know what to expect this late."

Donny nodded seriously."I know. But Van asked, and we owe him. Besides," he said with a grin, "I've been getting too housebound. It'll do me good to ... you know."

"Yeah," Andy said with a matching grin. "Well, don't do nothing I wouldn't do."

Donny's eyes flicked to Ray, not Andy. "You probably won't listen this time either, Andy, but don't go too fast."

"I won't," Andy said seriously. "This is too important to me." He smiled mischievously. "But a guy can dream, can't he?"

Donny laughed, finished his coffee, and went out the door.

"I think it's bedtime for us, too," Andy said to Ray. "You ready?"

"Okay," Ray said, and followed Andy back to their room.

"Okay, get ready for bed," Andy said. "I'll put your things in the dresser over here." And he took the stack of clothes Chay had brought the night before, and put them in the middle drawer of the room's dresser. Ray again thought how cute Andy was as he bent over to put Ray's clothes away, clad only in his bikini briefs.

Ray pulled off shoes and socks, shirt and pants. Andy stepped over to him and drew him into an embrace. "God, I'm so glad things worked out, and you said you liked me," he breathed, drew Ray closer, and began a kiss. The effect on Ray was electric. He kissed back — felt his dick come to attention, felt Andy's pressing against his own bare belly, and tensed up, drawing back as he remembered what had happened with Tommy.

"What's wrong? Are you upset with me?" Andy asked, crestfallen. Ray absently noticed Andy's boner protruding from the top of his briefs, and felt a surge of desire.

"Just a bad memory," Ray said. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have...."

"Hey, as long as it wasn't me doing something you didn't want, it's okay," Andy said soothingly. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No!" Ray said with a touch of panic, then, getting control of himself and thinking, "Well ... yes, but not now. I do need to tell you. But I'm not ready to, not just yet."

"Okay," Andy answered. "Whenever you're ready. But you didn't have any problem kissing?"

"No," Ray said. "In fact...." And he drew Andy to him and renewed the kiss.

After a few seconds, they came up for air, and then kissed again. Andy began moving his hips, grinding his penis up against Ray's belly, and Ray began to do the same back.

"You know," Andy said breathlessly, "good as that feels, we better cut it out, or we'll cum way too fast. And I want our first time to be something special."

"Me too," Ray said, realizing as he did that in saying that, he was making it official between them that they were a "we", a couple. It felt good.

Andy caressed Ray's chest. "Man, those are sexy!"

"Huh? I always thought they made me look like a girl."

The "they" in question were Ray's nipples and areolas, which bulged out from his chest a little when he got horny, a circumstance that embarrassed Ray a lot.

"Nonsense!" Andy said. "They're beautiful, like the rest of you." He bent over a bit and began kissing Ray's left nipple, which sent waves of pleasure through him. He moaned. Andy chuckled, repeated the process on the other nipple, then dropped to his knees, sliding Ray's briefs down as he did so. Ray felt conflicting impulses, of shock, desire, and guilt as Andy's lips met their target and engulfed it.

Despite Andy's enthusiasm for the project he'd embarked on, he noticed the sudden tension. He looked up Ray's body. Removing his mouth from it, he said, "Is this too soon, too?"

"Um, no — but remember I'm dealing with parents having told me all this was evil," Ray answered him, "It feels ... well, I can't tell you how wonderful it feels." An impulse struck him. "But it's not fair."

"What's not fair?" Andy asked.

"Stand up," Ray said. Andy stood; Ray dropped to his knees and began to return the favor, so to speak.

Andy moaned with pleasure, and caressed Ray's head. "You know you don't have to," he said as he found his voice.

Ray pulled back long enough to say, "But I want to" before returning to his task.

A few moments later, Andy said, "Ray, you need to stop." Wondering what was wrong, he stopped abruptly. "Like I said, I don't want either of us to cum too fast — and I particularly didn't want to give you a mouthful you might not be ready for."

Ray's heart went out to the boy who loved him, once again. "It woulda been okay," he said. "I kind of expected you would."

"And leave you still horny?" Andy asked. "Bet you can't guess what number I'm thinking of." He grinned.

"Huh?" Ray said. Then, "Oh!" as the answer struck him. He blushed — all over.

"Yeah, I'd like that ... a lot!" Ray said. But he was tense, and Andy saw it. Andy drew a deep breath, resolutely set 'the big head' to take charge over 'the little head,' and said, "Hey, c'mon sit here with me for a little bit" as he moved up onto his bed, sitting with his back against the wall and patting the rumpled comforter next to him.

Ray sat down gingerly, wondering what was up with Andy. Andy slipped one arm around Ray's back, caressed his upper leg with the other — which made Ray's leg jerk and his boner bounce by reflex.

"Look, Ray, I've been coming on kind of strong," Andy said, "but that's 'cause I want you, want you to love me, want to have hot sex with you, want you to feel comfortable cuddled with me ... the whole nine yards. And when I suggested a 69, after what we'd just done, you tensed up."

He closed his eyes briefly. "I'm going to go against the rules. We don't pry — that's a piece of what we agreed to. But if we have a chance at being happy with each other — and that's something I want so badly I can taste it — it sounds like I've got to ask you to tell me what's going on inside you, why you're so nervous about sex when you clearly are turned on by the idea too. Please, please forgive me for prying like this; it's only because I care, and I don't want to keep hurting you."

Ray looked at Andy — maybe the most beautiful boy he'd ever seen (maybe you don't think so, reader, but you aren't living in Ray's head), saw the honesty in his face, and slowly subdued the panic he felt at the question, searching for the courage to answer.

"I can't believe how relaxed you guys are about guys doing stuff together," Ray began. "Where I came from, that was evil. And I was evil or sick for wanting to do it."

Andy said nothing, just drew him closer and wrapped his free arm around Ray's waist. His eyes said, 'Go on; I won't condemn you' in a language even Ray could read.

"I kept it under cover as long as I could," Ray went on. "But I was weak." He drew a breath, finding the resolution to tell the whole story. "Tommy was our neighbor's son. He was big, blond, strong, not quite three years older than me. I looked up to him, like a big brother or something. I needed somebody; Pa was strict, go by the book — and the book he went by was the Bible. 'Spare the rod, and spoil the child,' and all that. And Ma loved me, but she'd back Pa up if I was bad. But I thought I could trust Tommy."

"Anyway, his family's place was the old farm that they'd developed into housing, and it had an old barn that they'd made into a garage, with an upstairs that I guess was the hayloft when it was still a barn. That was where we hung out."

"A couple weeks ago, a Saturday night, Tommy smuggled a six-pack of beer out there. His father drank some; my Pa said it was evil, but almost everything people did was, in his opinion. And Tommy shared it with me — I think he drank four, and I drank two. But anyway, Tommy stood up and went over to where there was a piece of siding missing, at the back end of the loft. Naturally, I got up and tagged along. And he grinned, and said he needed to take a piss. And then he unzipped and whipped it out and pointed it out through the hole where the siding was missing."

"I'd wanted to see his dick for a long time, but was afraid to let on. This was my chance! So he pissed out through the hole — and it was pretty big. I guess it was half hard from having to go. Well, I watched, and he saw me watching, and got this evil grin on his face, and asked me if I liked what I saw. I couldn't believe he asked that, and I said sure."

Andy was intent on what Ray was telling him, and he held Ray close.

"He didn't fix his pants, just walked back to where we'd been sitting and drinking, and flopped down, with his back up against an old chest that was stored up there. And he told me I could check it out if I wanted to. Well, yeah, it was something I'd wanted for like forever, and here was my chance. Now, remember, we were both a bit sloshed, and I threw caution to the winds. I started playing with it, and it got hard, and he asked me if I'd suck it. Would I suck it? Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears shit in the woods?"

"So I did, and he put his hands on my head, and then pushed me down on it and started pumping into my mouth. And then he came. And of course I swallowed it. I couldn't believe my good luck — or that's what I thought at the time."

"After a few minutes, he said he had to go in the house, and I'd better go home. Well, I did, and went straight to my room — even with two beers in me, I knew better than to let my Pa get a smell of my breath.. You can probably guess what I did that night — three times! — and what I was thinking about while doing it."

"Monday, though, I got called a fag at school. It turns out Tommy had told his friends I'd sucked him off. And the story spread — everybody knew about it. I thought that getting ridiculed every day at school was bad. But that wasn't the half of it. Two guys I didn't even know were talking about it, and the father of one of them overheard it, and he worked with my Pa, and called him."

"When I got home, I got the strap. I got told I was evil, sick, a 'bomination, no child of his — he went off on me like I'd never heard him before, and he'd been mad at me before that. Then I was sent to my room and told not to come out."

"Next morning I got up to get ready for school. Ma told me I wasn't going to school, that Pa was going to send me away. Then she did something weird. She kissed me and told me she loved me, and that she was going to the store, and I should figure out what I needed to do. Then she put some money on the dining room table and started out the door to the store. I asked her if she wasn't forgetting the money, and she said no, she left it there apurpose. She looked really sad when she said that. Then she went out the door."

"I sat there thinking about what she'd said, that Pa was going to send me away, and what all Ma had done. And I realized what she was telling me. I took the money, put on my jean jacket, and started walking. When I got to the interstate, I started hitching. I got to the city two days later. And five days after that, I was sitting on the loading dock when you invited me home."

Andy drew a deep breath. "And now you're afraid to risk it again? And you feel like you're evil for wanting it, wanting to love another boy?"

"That's about it," Ray said. "I'm not worth you spending your time and effort on me."

"Let me be the judge of that," Andy said. "Because that just makes me love you more, and want to kiss away the hurt those bastards inflicted on you!" He was silent for a minute, thinking; when he spoke up again, there was an impish glee in his eye. What he said, though, seemed like a non sequitur to Ray. "What did you think of Peewee and Chay's dance?"

"Um, uh," Ray floundered. The change of subject and his acute embarrassment at finding the two boys a turn on combined to leave him without words.

"You were watching them intently, and getting turned on by it, right?" Andy said. "So was I."

"You were?!"

"Yeah. Don't feel any guilt about it — they did it because they know we like to watch it. Tell me, was Tommy bigger or smaller than Chay?"

"Oh, he's a much bigger guy, about 5'10" and maybe 180 pounds," Ray answered.

"Down there, I meant," Andy corrected.

"Huh? About the same size, I guess — it looks bigger on Chay, though, 'cause he's built so small."

"Good; c'mon!" Andy said, and started for the door.

"But we're naked!" Ray said.

"And that's a problem in this apartment how?" Andy said with a grin.

Andy led Ray into Donny's room. Donny of course was out. Peewee was out cold on Chay's bed, lying on his side and curled up, his little butt sticking out. Chay sat on Donny's bed reading, also with nothing on.

Chay looked up, surprised and seemingly happy. "Donny's not back?" he asked.

"Not that we've heard," Andy answered. "And he'd go past our room, and I can usually hear the door." He paused. "'S kind of hard to explain why I brought Ray down here without breaking a confidence. But I had an idea, and I think it's the right thing to do." He turned to Ray. "Will you trust me about something — something to do with what you just told me?"

"Uh, yeah, sure!"

"Okay, look at Chay. He's sitting there, all five foot one of him, wearing nothing he didn't come out of his mother wearing. And he's got a heck of a dick on him, right?"

Ray blushed bright red. He didn't answer; he was shocked at Andy's openness.

"Okay, Chay, what Andy told me is that a piece of why he ran is that he was treated absolutely shittily by a guy he trusted and looked up to, an older friend who was as well hung as you. There's more to it than that, but that's the piece you need to know. Okay, Ray? Does that summarize it and was it okay to tell?"

"Yeah, that's pretty much it." Ray was feeling a bit reticent.

"Now, I do not want this to be license for the future, but Chay, I know Ray is fascinated by your cock, and I think now I know why — it reminds him of his friend's. Ray, anything after this that's sex is going to be between the two of us. But I don't think you'll be comfortable with that until you've exorcised your demons. So what I want is for Ray to go over and do for Chay what he did for Tommy — and get treated right, because I know Chay will."

Ray was thunderstruck. Chay beamed. "Come here, Ray," he said with a warm smile. Feeling almost like a robot programmed to do it, Ray walked unsteadily across the room. Chay took his head in his hands, planted a kiss on his cheek, and said, "I'd kiss you on the lips and make love with you, but you need to save that for Andy. But I get what he was saying." Caressing the back of Ray's head and his shoulders with one hand, he took Ray's hand in his other hand, and moved it to his penis, which was already beginning to come erect.

We don't need to go into the mechanics of what happened next. Suffice it to say that Chay encouraged Ray to play with his, Chay's, dick, and eventually to give him a blowjob, gently encouraging him and complimenting him, guiding him to what gave Chay pleasure and what he knew Ray would enjoy about being the one doing it.

After Chay came, he drew Ray to his feet, standing up himself and giving him a big hug. "Andy, this guy's a natural," he said. "That was as good as any I've ever got, and you know about them. Ray, thank you; I loved that. Now go make love to Andy; he deserves somebody like you."

"You're not upset, either of you?" Ray asked.

"Not in the slightest," Andy said. "I came up with this idea, after all."

"Why should I be upset at getting a really good blowjob from somebody I consider a brother already?" Chay said. "That was wonderful, and I'm happy Andy decided to share you with me."

"Now, let's go back to our room," Andy said. "You won't believe how hot watching that got me!"

"Ray?" Chay said. When Ray looked over at him, Chay's face was not merely warm and open as always, but ... sad, compassionate, as well. "I know what it's like to be dicked over by someone you fell for, someone you thought you loved, someone you looked up to. If you need to talk it out some more, count on me — been there, done that, got the T-shirt." He grinned. "With or without fringe benefits." With one hand he wiggled the 'fringe benefit', now dangling across his thigh.

"Not a chance," Andy said with a grin. "I'll keep him busy with my 'fringe benefit'." And the shared laugh among all three of them was the start of Ray's feeling comfortable about his sexuality, for the first time.

"Now c'mon, this way," Andy said, pointing towards the door though both hands were dragging Ray by the arm. Ray giggled and followed, feeling happy.

To be continued


Editor's Notes: That was a very tender and loving chapter. It looks as if Ray is beginning to feel more relaxed and is beginning to feel better about himself. It seems that at least some of his demons are being tamed. He and Andy are right for each other, and now Ray is coming closer to accepting it.

I want more!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher