CSU: A New Door Opens

Chapter 03

"Rory, can you raise your left arm?" Ken asked as he and Lawrence worked to get my blue button up shirt off me.

"No, well, not much. Just pick it up and move it however you want." I said, not wanting Ken to feel funny about it.

"Okay, but you have to tell me if I'm hurting you." Ken said cautiously, then started lifting my left arm.

Oh God! I hope Ken and Lawrence don't notice that I'm... Um... getting excited by all the personal attention.

I can't help it, I can feel Ken touching me, I can smell his hair, I mean... I don't know what I mean...

I'm just all kinds of horney.

"I brought the jacket too, just in case." Deacon said as he hurried into the room.

"We're just about ready for the shirt." Ken said with effort as he tried to work the long sleeve off my uncooperative arm.

"You're in pretty good shape for not being able to work out." Deacon said in a considering voice as he looked at me.

I thought about the statement, and finally said, "I guess my mom's cooking makes it so I don't eat too much."

Deacon smiled and said, "My own cooking did the same thing for me."

"Okay, we're ready for the shirt." Ken said as he folded my shirt neatly and sat it aside.

"If you'll do my right arm, I can help you with everything else." I said, hoping they wouldn't feel too funny about helping me to dress.

Billy walked into the room with a laptop case and opened it up on the coffee table.

"I'm going to do test shots with the digital camera, then when I'm happy with the poses, I'll use the 35mm for the 'real' pictures." Billy said in concentration.

Within a minute, Billy was out of the room to gather more supplies.

"Billy looks like he really knows what he's doing." Lawrence said as he looked at the laptop.

"I guess so. We've never really talked too much about his work. I know he's a photographer and I've seen some of his pictures. But this will be the first time I've ever seen him working." Deacon said seriously.

"Rory, can you help me now?" Ken asked quietly.

I turned my attention to him and saw that he had the new shirt on my arm.

"Sure, just bring it around my back and I can get the other side." I said as I noticed again how absolutely cute Ken was.

"Deke, would you open the blinds? I think some natural light would be good." Billy said as he walked into the room carrying two leather cases.

Deacon ran to the window and opened the curtains to allow the sunlight to flood the room.

"Rory? I thought your eyes were blue." Billy said with surprise.

Oh, that.

"Well, they are when I'm wearing a blue shirt." I said shyly.

"They're green now. That's so cool." Billy said with a huge smile.

Everyone else in the world gets one eye color, me. I get kaleidoscope eyes.

"What color are they really?" Ken asked as he looked deeply into my eyes.

"Kind of gray. But there's blue and green both in there too." I said as I looked deeply into Ken's beautiful chocolaty brown eyes.

"That's really awesome." Billy said, then went back to setting up his equipment.

Ken is just so beautiful. Leaning over me, helping me dress... and it's like he's really happy to do it.

"Are you guys about done getting changed?" Billy asked as he opened the second case.

"I'm just buttoning Rory's shirt." Ken said from in front of me.

"Good. When you're done, I need you to move Rory's chair over beside the love seat." Billy said professionally.

Ken finished with the last button, then efficiently moved my chair to the indicated position.

"Like this?" Ken asked as he stood behind me.

"A little more to your left. Leave enough room so that you can stand beside him." Billy said as he mounted a little camera on a tripod.

Ken moved me over slightly.

"Good. Rory, it won't be any problem if we move you out of the wheelchair for a while will it?" Billy asked as he stopped his activity for a moment.

"No, I've been in the wheelchair all morning. I'm past ready to get out of it for a while." I said honestly.

If we hadn't gone to the doctor's office this morning, the guys probably would have found me in bed wearing my sweats.

"Good. I want to do the shots with you and Ken on the love seat." Billy said as he squatted down to look through the camera.

"Would you mind taking a picture of all four of us? I think I'd really like to have a group picture to remember today." Deacon asked hopefully.

"Sure thing Deke, the 35mm even has a timer so I could take a picture of all five of us if you wouldn't mind an old geezer like me in your picture."

"That would be great. Do you want us to change or anything?" Deacon asked with increasing excitement.

Billy looked at all of us and said, "Deke, do you remember that football jersey that we bought for your birthday? I think that would look good on Ken. Lawrence, get the white long sleeved shirt and the burgundy vest. And Deke..."

I noticed a devilish smile come across Billy's face that made me glad that it wasn't directed at me.

"What?" Deacon asked hesitantly.

"Oh, nothing, I like the shirt you're wearing now. I just had an idea for when we do your shots with Lawrence." Billy finished with a smile, then started arranging some lights with shades that looked like umbrellas.

"I think I should be worried." Deacon said to me and Ken with a playful look of concern.

"Go over to that bookshelf and get the third book on the second shelf down." Billy said as he pointed to the bookcase by the door.

Deacon hesitantly walked over to the bookcase and got the requested book, then brought it to Billy with a puzzled look on his face.

"Look at the cover, that's kind of what I have in mind for you and Lawrence." Billy said with a devilish grin.

Deacon looked closely at the cover, then he broke into a big smile.

"What is it?" Ken asked curiously.

Deacon brought the book over and held it so Ken and I could see.

It was a romance novel with the typical shirtless studly guy and dainty swooning woman on the cover.

"You and Lawrence?" I asked with a smile of delight.

"Yeah... in fact... Ken, depending on how you look without a shirt, I could even do that for you and Rory." Billy said with an impish grin.

Ken looked at me with question, obviously wanting to do it.

"Sure, it sounds like fun." I heard myself say.

"Take off your shirt and I'll let you know if it will work." Billy said as he seemed to have run out of things to do.

Ken peeled the blue-gray T-shirt off over his head to reveal a very nice, toned body.

Something caught my eye, a shadow or something, I couldn't really see it the way Ken was standing.

"What's that?" I asked, wanting to see what it was.

Ken glanced at me and saw where I was pointing, then turned to show me his full back.

Just below his right shoulder blade was a large bruise. It was black and blue and purple and even a little bit yellow and green in spots.

"What happened to you?" I asked, knowing that whatever it was must have really hurt from the size and color of the bruise.

"Oh, that's where that guy hit me the other night." Ken said, apparently just remembering it.

"Someone hit you?" I asked with concern.

"Yeah... Um, I think Billy's about ready. I'll tell you about it later, okay?" Ken asked hopefully.

"Okay." I said quietly, hating the thought of someone hitting Ken.

"Let's go ahead and get started. Deke, will you go get that Jersey for Kenny now?" Billy asked as he looked through the little camera again.

"Yeah. I'll be right back." Deacon said quickly and hurried out of the room.

"If either of you guys feel funny about anything I ask you to do. Just tell me. We're just doing this for fun. I'll come up with some different ideas for how to pose you, but that doesn't mean you have to do them." Billy said frankly.

"Are you going to ask us to do anything weird?" Ken asked cautiously.

"Not really. I save the weird stuff for the professional models. All I'm going to do is pose you guys in a few different themes. We can get a few quick shots in before Deke gets back." Billy said with a smile.

"Where do you want me?" Ken asked curiously.

"Just squat down beside Rory on his right side." Billy said and looked through the little camera again.

Ken took his place and waited expectantly.

"Okay. When I say 'go', I want Ken to look at Rory and say 'Peas and carrots'. Rory, when Ken is finished, I want you to say 'Carrots and peas'. Keep repeating that to each other a little faster each time until I say stop." Billy said seriously.

I looked at Ken with question to see a bewildered look staring back at me.

"Ready... Set... Go!" Billy said

Ken looked into my eyes and seriously said, "Peas and carrots."

In my most serious voice I responded, "Carrots and peas."

I saw the beginning of humor start to dance in Ken's eyes as he said just a little faster, "Peas and carrots."

I felt a smile trying to break out on my face as I said, "Carrots and peas."

"Peas and carrots." Ken said as I heard a giggle in his voice.

"Carrots and Peas." I said and almost let a chuckle escape.

There was a blinding flash of light that surprised us both.

"You can stop now. That was perfect." Billy said with a smile.

Ken and I both looked at Billy with question.

"Here's the shirt for Kenny." Deacon said from just inside the door.

"Thanks Deke, we're ready for it now." Billy said with a smile.

Deacon handed the shirt to Ken while Billy punched a few keys on his laptop.

"Okay guys, do you want to see why I had you saying silly things to each other?" Billy asked with a smile.

"Yeah." Ken and I both said at once.

"Come over here and I'll show you." Billy said and turned the laptop around so we could see the picture on it.

And there it was. A picture of me and Ken talking. Both of us had big smiles and it looked like we were old friends just chatting and having fun.

"That's really something. This looks like a picture out of a magazine." Ken said with surprise.

"Well, this is how magazines get their pictures. Photographers like me take pictures of guys like you." Billy said frankly.

Not guys like me, but... there it was. There's no denying the picture in front of me. Ken and I talking to each other, him without a shirt and me wearing this green shirt of Deacon's.

By the way it looked, you'd think that my wheelchair was just a prop that a photographer brought in to make an interesting picture.

* * * * *

After that Billy just had the guys help me out of my wheelchair and we sat on the love seat.

What we did was about half modeling and half horsing around.

It was really a lot of fun. Billy even had a couple pictures with all four of us and one with him in it too.

There was this one picture of me and Ken that was really amazing. It started out when Billy told Ken to act like he was going to give me a noogie... you know? That thing where someone holds you by the neck and rubs your head real hard with his knuckles... Well anyway, I was laying back on Ken and he had his arm around my chest, but really loose, kinda like he was hugging me from behind. His other hand was kind of playing with my hair.

When we were doing it, Billy was telling Ken to 'fluff' my hair and make it 'poofy', but then he started saying 'slower... slower... I think you missed one...'

The next thing I know there was the flash.

When we saw the picture on Billy's laptop, I couldn't believe my eyes.

It was like looking at a stranger. The guy in the picture was happy and loved and in love and it was the most incredible, beautiful thing I've ever seen... and it was me... Me and Ken.

"You should think about getting a shirt like this one. It looks really good on you." Ken said from beside me.

"Yeah. It really does. And you should think about getting a football jersey. That looked really great on you." I said with distraction as Ken pulled the green shirt off my right arm.

"I have a couple that my dad bought me, but I don't wear them much. Usually just when my teams are playing." Ken said as he started to put my blue shirt back on me.

"Thanks for helping me Ken. I hate feeling so helpless." I said, then took the edge of the shirt as Ken handed it to me.

"Everyone in my family helps each other all the time." Ken said dismissively.

I looked at Ken with question, wanting to know more.

"Mamacita helps us all by taking care of us. Pop helps us by making sure we're all happy and stuff. It's the same for all of us, we all take care of each other however we can. Xain, Jake, Kevin, Reuben... even Ricardo does stuff to help us out." Ken said seriously.

"What does Ricardo do?" I asked, I just couldn't imagine what the little boy could do to help out.

"He holds the book for Kevin when he reads. Whenever he sees someone sad or worried, he'll hug them and try to make them feel better." Ken said in thought.

"Okay... I just don't know what I could do to help someone else. I feel like I'm the one who's always needing help." I said, then realized that I was probably saying too much.

"Guys, I'm going to process the prints as soon as I'm done with Lawrence and Deacon's shoot. I'll bring them over to the house as soon as they're done." Billy said seriously.

"Thanks Billy. I just thought you were going to snap a few pictures, but this was really great." Ken said with a smile.

I nodded my agreement.

I couldn't have dreamed that something like taking pictures would be this much fun.

"You guys go on. You don't want to miss any of your swimming time do you?" Billy asked playfully.

"Are you going to be over in time to swim?" Ken asked with a smile.

"Probably not this time. I have a few rolls of film from my trip to Belgium to process while I'm in the dark room. But I bet Lawrence and Deacon will be able to join you." Billy finished with a smile.

"We'll see you guys in a while then. Are you ready to go Rory?" Ken asked from beside me.

He's the one who pushes me. He could just have wheeled me over to his house and I wouldn't have thought anything of it. But Ken asked my permission... It seems like such a small thing but... he's the only one who asks.

"Yeah." I squeaked out, feeling choked up by his kindness.

* * * * *

"Billy's house is really nice. This is the first time I've seen it." Ken said conversationally as he pushed me through the kitchen to the side door of the house.

"Yeah. It's kind of like our house, but the furniture is a lot nicer." I said as I looked around.

"It's nicer than ours too. But I like our house. It's just right for us." Ken said in thought.

"I think so too. Your house seems really comfortable. I think Billy's house would feel too formal... well, except that Billy is living there." I finished with a smile.

Ken nodded and said, "Billy is great. I hope that him and my Pop can get together. I know they like each other, it just seems like there's always something going on to keep them apart. They're going on a date tonight, so maybe they'll be able to make it official."

"Really? Billy and Allen?" I asked with disbelief.

They're both really nice and cute, I guess I can see it.

"Yeah... The gay stuff doesn't bother you does it? Because if you don't want to talk about it, I wont." Ken said as he stopped my chair on the sidewalk to look at me seriously.

I want to talk about it. I want to talk about it a lot. I want to tell you about me...

"No. It doesn't bother me. I'm just not used to it. We don't talk about stuff like that at my house." I said as Ken continued to push me toward his house.

But not yet. I know Ken is cool with gay guys... but I don't know if he's gay... and even if he is... I don't know if he'd be interested in me...

"I'm glad. It's easy to talk to you. It'd be tough to try and think about what I'm going to say before I say it all the time." Ken said as we moved up his driveway.

"Thanks. It's easy to talk to you too... especially since I can really talk now." I said, and broke into a smile.

"Let's find Pop. Then we can get ready to swim." Ken said as he pushed me through the utility room.

As we entered the kitchen, I saw Juana cleaning up.

"Hi Mamacita, do you know where Pop is?" Ken asked as we stopped in the kitchen for a moment.

"Yes. I believe he is in the family room." Juana said in thought.

"Thanks." Ken said and started pushing me again.

"And thank you again for the wonderful lunch." I said as we moved out of the room.

"It was my pleasure to see you enjoy it." Juana said with a tender smile as she watched us go.

* * * * *

"Hey guys. How was the photo shoot?" Allen asked gently as he looked away from the terminal.

"It was really great. Billy is a fantastic photographer." I said, remembering the incredible images that Billy had captured.

"Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I can't wait till you get to see the pictures. Rory really looks great." Ken said with a cheerful smile.

"Guys, I think you both know Solak." Allen said as he scooted back from the terminal to reveal Solak and someone else in a split view on the terminal screen.

"Hi Uncle Solak." Ken said happily.

"Greetings Kenny. Rory, are the adjustments my son made adequate?" Solak asked curiously.

I was about to explode an answer about how great it was to be able to talk and do stuff again, when I remembered what I had studied about Vulcans.

Logical. No emotion. If I bubbled and gushed about how great all this is, it would be like I was being disrespectful of him.

I pushed down my emotions and said, "Yes. And I want to thank you and Xain for helping me."

"It was logical to do so." Solak said, and I think I even saw a hint of a smile in his expression.

"I was just talking to Solak and Doctor Michaels to see if there is anything they can do to help you." Allen said seriously.

"What have you decided?" I asked cautiously.

Solak spoke before anyone else could get the chance, "K'war'ma'khon Allen has offered to speak with your parents regarding the options. Pending their agreement, I will make arrangements to travel to Florida tomorrow and evaluate your condition. Doctor Michaels has volunteered the use of his medical facility for the examination..."

"Provided that I get to observe the exam. I don't think I'm likely to have another chance to see a Vulcan healer who specializes in genetic disorders." The Doctor said frankly.

Solak inclined his head in a half nod of agreement to the terms.

"So that's about all we can do for now. What time does your dad get home from work Rory? I want to talk to both your parents at once." Allen asked seriously.

"He usually pulls in around five-fifteen." I said, feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that was happening.

"Then it's a plan. At five I'll take you home and talk to your parents. If they agree, I can take you to the Short Compound in the morning and Solak can evaluate you." Allen said in thought.

"Are you going to have to do a spinal tap or bone marrow sample?" I asked hesitantly.

I don't want to sound like a whiney baby, but those things really hurt.

"No. I anticipate no need for any invasive procedures. Vulcan medical techniques are somewhat different from conventional Earth medicine." Solak said in a careful tone.

Dr. Michaels laughed and said, "That's one way of putting it."

Allen smiled at the pair on the screen and said, "Hopefully I'll see you guys tomorrow."

"Yeah. Good luck with your talk." Dr. Michaels said then gave a small wave before signing off his terminal.

"I will begin to make preparations to transport the equipment I will need." Solak said formally.

"Thank you for doing all this for me." I said quietly, trying to keep any emotion out of my voice.

"Vulcan society operates differently from your Earth societies. I do not seek profit from my profession. I am a healer. You are in need of healing. It is logical for me to aid in your recovery if it is possible for me to do so." Solak said seriously.

He's a healer. He's trained to do this. He doesn't want money or praise or to prove that he's smart. He wants to help me because... that's just what he does.

"I see the logic." I said in deep thought.

Okay, that time I know I saw a little, itty bitty, tiny smile on Solak's face. Just for a second.

"Either Xain or I will contact you as soon as I've talked to Rory's parents." Allen said with a delighted smile.

"That will be acceptable." Solak said in a peaceful voice.

"Live long and prosper Solak." Allen said happily.

"Live long and prosper K'war'ma'khon Allen." Solak said peacefully.

Allen reached up and signed off the terminal.

"So, how does this sound? Why don't I carry Rory upstairs so he can see your room, then we'll get changed." Allen said as he turned to face us.

"Then I'll carry Rory back down and we can go swimming." Allen said happily.

"That sounds great." Ken said with enthusiasm.

"Grab Rory's trunks and we'll get started." Allen said as he stood.

* * * * *

"Here you go Rory. I'll leave you guys alone for a minute while I check on Xain and Jake." Allen said as he put me gently into a chair.

"Thanks Pop." Ken said with a big smile as he watched his father walk out of the room.

"Your room is really big. Do you share it with Kevin?" I asked as I looked at the two beds.

"Yeah. That's his side with all the pictures. Mine has all the models and the video game." Ken said with pride.

"You sure do have a bunch of models." I said as I looked at the large shelf on one wall.

"My Uncle Brady and I made this shelf all by ourselves." Ken said with excitement.

"That's really something, I've never made anything like that." I said as I looked more carefully at the shelf.

"Maybe if Uncle Solak can make you better, we can build something together. It was really fun." Ken said happily.

"That'd be great." I said past the lump in my throat.

I felt something on my face and lifted my hand to find a tear on my cheek.

"Is something wrong?" Ken asked with concern as he hurried to my side.

"No. Nothing's wrong. I guess I'm just so happy that it's making me cry." I said, feeling really stupid for saying it. I turned slightly away from Ken and tried to hide my face.

"Rory, please don't hide what you're feeling. If you're crying because you're happy, then I think it's great. It's a whole lot better than crying from being sad." Ken said seriously.

"Yeah, I guess." I said as I put my hand down and turned to face him.

"Do you think I should be embarrassed and hide it when I'm feeling stuff?" Ken asked me curiously.

"No. But that's how you are. I guess I'm used to hiding what I'm feeling." I said shyly.

"You don't have to hide it from me... I promise." Ken said as he moved closer to look deeply into my eyes.

I felt a tremble of fear deep inside me at what I wanted to do.

"I... I'm..." I said, then leaned closer.

Kiss him. I'm going to kiss him.

"Are you guys ready to get changed?" Allen asked as he walked into the bedroom.

Ken pulled back slowly, then looked at his father and nodded.

"Did I interrupt something?" Allen asked with a curious look.

A few more seconds and you might have....

"No. We were just talking." Ken said in his cheerful voice again.

Oh God! I was so close! I almost kissed Ken. I was right there, just an inch or two away!

"So Rory, how do you want to do this? I'm guessing that you'll need help to get changed." Allen asked curiously.

"Oh yeah." I said hesitantly.

I can't dress myself. I can't believe I didn't think about that before.

"Well, Jake already said that he'd help you. He says he knows what to do. But if you feel funny about that, Kenny or I can help you." Allen said seriously.

After what just about happened with Ken, it'd probably be weird between us. Even though I want Ken to be the one...

"Well, I guess since Jake knows how to do it, he could help me." I said hesitantly.

"Okay, I'll let him know. He'll be in in a few minutes to help you." Allen said as he walked back out the door.

I looked over at Ken to see if he was hurt by me not choosing him.

Whew. He's fine. He's just looking like the friendly, happy guy that he is.

"I'll try not to hide my feelings from you Ken. I don't know if I can show you everything yet, but I'll show you what I can." I said, hoping it was enough.

"Just show me what you feel like sharing. I don't want you to feel like I'm demanding anything. I just want you to know that you don't have to hide it when you're feeling something. If you'll share it with me, maybe I can feel it with you." Ken said softly.

Mmmm. That sounds so great. Someone to share what I'm feeling. Even if the kissing thing never happens, that would be enough...

"Thanks Ken, I understand." I said, matching his tone.

"Rory, why don't I take you over to my room to change so Ken can change in here?" Jake asked from the doorway.

"If you're willing to carry me in there, I'm willing to go." I said frankly.

Jake walked over to me and leaned down so his chin was almost on my shoulder.

"Go ahead and put your arm around my neck and hold on." Jake said as he put his arms around my back.

I put my one working arm around his neck and held on tight as he lifted me.

"Light as a feather." Jake said with a smile in his voice.

"Here are Rory's swimming trunks." Ken said from behind me.

"Thanks Ken, we'll be back in a few minutes."

* * * * *

"How are you doing buddy?" Jake asked as he carried me across the hall.

"I'm great, thanks to you and Xain." I said, holding on tightly.

"Me? I didn't do anything." Jake said as he nudged the door open with his toe.

I looked around the room to see that we were in a little dressing room or something.

Jake toed open another door and we were in a really big bathroom.

"You talked to me and listened when no one else did. If it wasn't for you, I'd still be sitting in my room." I said as he sat me down on a chair inside the door.

Jake looked at me in thought for a second, then said, "Okay, maybe you're right. But all I really did was talk to you just the same as I would anyone else."

I couldn't help but smile. I think that if anyone else said that, I'd think they were just being modest. Jake means it. He was being friendly to me just the same as he would anyone else.

"Do you need to use the bathroom before we do the swimsuit thing?" Jake asked curiously.

"Um, yeah." I said shyly.

Well, at least it's not Ken in here with me.

"You don't need to be embarrassed Rory." Jake said as he unfastened my pants.

"That's easy for you to say." I mumbled as I felt the prickly blush rising up my face.

"Yeah, I guess. I just wanted you to know that it's no big deal. I've done this before." Jake said as he picked me up and moved me over to the toilet.

He kinda propped me up on the edge, then with one tug, had my pants down.

"Hold onto me for a sec." Jake said and guided my hand to his neck.

I held on and he lifted me slightly as he worked my briefs off.

"There you go. I'll be back in a couple minutes, then we'll get you changed into your swim suit." Jake said as he moved me back onto the toilet.

"Thanks." I said in almost a whisper, not from embarrassment, but from wonder.

Jake walked out of the room as I thought about how wonderful Jake really was.

I mean, he just did something that no one else had ever done for me.

He made helping me go to the bathroom totally not embarrassing.

When mom helps me, she just lays me out on the bed and yanks off my pants and underwear, then hauls me to the toilet.

It's so humiliating. I know that's the only way she can do it without my cooperation, but it's just such a horrible feeling to have my mother see me naked like that.

I guess in reality what Jake did just now wasn't that different, except that he gave me the illusion of privacy. He did it so I never felt like he was looking at me.

Dignity. I think that's what I'm feeling. I think that's what Jake just did for me. He gave me dignity by treating me so thoughtfully.

"You done in there?" Jake asked through the door.

"Yeah, just finished." I said as I awkwardly reached behind me and flushed the toilet.

"Cool." Jake said as he walked in carrying my swim trunks.

"Tell me about this Lewis guy you used to know. You must have been really good friends with him if you helped dress him." I said, trying to make some kind of conversation to mask the fact that Jake was kneeling in front of me, taking off my pants.

"Yeah, I guess so. He lived with his brother and sister-in-law and their kids. They really took care of him, I just kind of helped him out with the things they couldn't." Jake said, then glanced up at me with an uncomfortable look of question. Like he didn't really know if he should tell me.

"Like what?" I asked hesitantly. I could see that Jake was uncomfortable talking about it, but somehow I needed to know.

"Well, to be honest... I had sex with him." Jake said timidly as he worked my briefs off my legs.

"Really?" I asked, looking at Jake with total disbelief.

"Really. Lewis was a guy, just like any other guy. I guess because he was in the wheelchair and stuff, people thought he wasn't interested in sex or didn't need it or something." Jake said in thought as he worked the swimming trunks up my thighs.

"Yeah. People think that I'm like a little kid because I'm helpless." I said, completely understanding what he was saying.

Jake stood up and guided my arm around his neck.

I held on and he lifted me up, then guided my swim trunks up over my butt.

"So I'd visit with Lewis and help him out when he needed it. We talked a lot and became friends." Jake said as he started working on my shirt.

"That's really nice. I mean, I don't think I know anyone else who would even think of doing something like that." I said honestly.

Jake gave me a shy look and said, "He paid me."

I looked at Jake with complete surprise.

"Yeah. I used to have sex for money. Lewis is probably the only one I would even think about doing it with for free, but I couldn't even suggest it to him. It would be too much like pity." Jake said timidly.

"Does your dad know you used to do that?" I asked with wonder at this new information.

"Yeah. Dad knows everything I used to do. I mean, he doesn't know about Lewis, but he knows I used to be a whore." Jake said as he worked the shirt off my uncooperative arm.

"But... how? I mean... how could your dad let that happen?" I asked in disbelief.

"Dad's only been my dad for less than a week. Before that I was on my own, living on the streets and doing what I had to so I could survive." Jake said distantly.

"I thought he was your real dad. You... I don't know... you just seem like a real family." I said in wonder.

"We are a real family. Dad adopted all of us. Family isn't about blood or marriage or anything, it's about how you feel about each other." Jake said as he folded my shirt.

"I guess it's lucky for me that you went through all that, or you wouldn't have been able to understand me and help me." I said as I looked Jake in the eyes.

"Yeah. Even though I went through some messed up stuff, good things like this happen because of it." Jake said with a smile, then leaned in and guided my arm around his neck again.

"I'm going to take you into Ken's room for a few minutes while I get changed." Jake said as he carried me to the door.

"Thanks for helping me Jake. You and Xain completely changed my life today." I said as I held on to him tightly.

"I'm just glad I was able to help." Jake said softly, and I could feel his grip on me change from that of just carrying me into more of a hug.

I hugged him in return as he carried me out into the hall.

"And thanks for telling me Jake. I promise I won't spread it around." I whispered into Jake's ear.

Jake stopped and turned his head to look me in the eyes as he said, "I told you all that so you'll know that I'll understand if you ever need to talk about sex or feelings or other stuff that someone else might think you're too young or whatever to think about."

I thought about the words and marveled at what Jake was offering me. Someone to talk to about all the stuff that bothers me. Someone who sees me as a real person. Someone whose been there and done that and can really give me advice.

"Thanks Jake. I think there's some stuff I'd like to talk to you about, but later... when I've got it all sorted out in my head." I said as I held his gaze.

Jake broke into a gentle smile and said, "I'm here whenever you need me buddy. Now I need to get changed so we don't miss out on too much swimming time."

"Yeah." I said in a relaxed voice as I cuddled into Jake's embrace.

* * * * *

"There you are. I was about to come and check on you." Allen said with a smile.

Oh MY God! There was Allen, Ken and Kevin all lined up wearing only swim suits.

Ken is even more gorgeous than I imagined.

"I'm going to get changed now. I'll see you down at the pool." Jake said as he handed me to Allen.

"Thanks for helping me Jake." I said as I held tightly to Allen's neck.

"Sure thing buddy." Jake said as he walked out of the room.

"I got you a towel." Kevin said in a voice filled with accomplishment.

"Thanks Kevin." I said as I turned my head to see him.

I was shocked when I saw him. I thought he was pale and skinny before but to see him wearing the little Speedo swimsuit... It's like someone just wrapped some skin around a skeleton.

I don't know what happened to Kevin, but he looks like he hasn't eaten in a month. Then I remembered that at lunch, he didn't eat anything...

I was about to ask, I really wanted to know what was wrong with him, but before I could open my mouth and ask the questions I stopped.

I don't want every single person I meet to ask me about my condition, so I'll just let it go unless someone else brings it up.

"Do you have the sun-block Kenny?" Allen asked quietly.

"Right here." Ken said and held it up.

"Then let's go." Allen said and carried me toward the door.

Usually when someone has to pick me up and carry me somewhere, I feel like I'm being a burden. But for some reason, being here in Allen's arms, I just feel loved.