The Apartment

Chapter 2

The slam of a door brought Ray suddenly alert. He realized he'd dozed off, feeling warm and comfortable lounging on a couch in the living room of the apartment. Blond, slender Andy sat a scant foot away, apparently having turned from watching TV to smile at him as he came to.

With a touch of surprise, he realized that he'd felt so warm and comfortable, after only a few short hours, that he'd relaxed and let go the constant worry he'd felt since he'd been on his own. A bit embarrassed, he smiled back sheepishly at Andy, and watched the other's smile deepen and broaden, lighting up his face. He fought back the response he felt from seeing that � going there would only screw up what boded to be the only good thing that had happened since... since.... Angrily, he put all that out of his mind.

A triple rap on the apartment door pushed the past out of Ray's mind. Andy got up and walked to the door, opening it to let someone in. Ray looked up to see who it was. The newcomers were a muscular, dark-haired guy of about 15 with what seemed like a haunted smile, and a dark-complected skinny kid who looked to be about 12 or 13, who sauntered in confidently.

"Hey, guys, we've grown!" Andy greeted them. "Ray, this is Pauly..." – his gesture waved at the muscular kid – "and Chay" – the little dark-skinned East Asian, this time. "Guys, this is Ray. Remember, we talked about him the other night, and I went to meet him, and he came home with me."

"Why does that sound like, 'Momma, he followed me home, can I keep him?'" Chay's tenor voice wasn't particularly deep, but far deeper than the barely-in-puberty treble his appearance would have led Ray to expect. "Glad t'meetcha, Ray!" Pauly shyly waved a hello.

The redheaded Mikey came out of the kitchen. "You guys timed that just right," he said with a grin. "We just finished a rummy game; gonna have hot chocolate and popcorn." His gaze went over to the chair. "Heh, Peewee crashed again." And sure enough, the youngest boy was sound asleep, draped over the chair. "Ray, willing to give me a hand?"

With a little effort, he hoisted Peewee's torso into his arms. "Get his legs, willya?" Ray lifted and supported them. With Ray following and bearing the legs, Mikey walked backwards out of the living room into one of the bedrooms – the one with pastel robin's-egg-blue walls. Mikey propped the boy's body in the bed, surprisingly gently, and motioned Ray to set his legs down hanging off the bed. Mikey then pulled Peewee's shirt off, laid him down, unbuckled his pants and slipped them and his underwear off, boosting his bottom off the bed to do so. Then he drew the covers up over Peewee's body, tucking them in around his neck and gently caressing his head and cheek. Ray watched him do all this with a sort of stunned expression.

"He burns himself out keeping on the go all day," Mikey said. "Then when he falls asleep, it's next to impossible to wake him up even enough to get him to bed. Easier to carry him in and get him ready and in bed while he sleeps."

They walked back out to the kitchen, where Donny was heating milk while Pauly popped corn. "Hey, Ray," Donny said, "get half a stick of butter out of the fridge, put it in that glass pitcher, and stick it in the microwave, about 40 seconds, if you don't mind." Momentarily startled and then smiling at the casual way Donny had included him, made him a part of things, Ray did as instructed.

When everyone had a dish of buttered popcorn and a mug of hot chocolate, they trooped into the living room, and Mikey found a movie. They settled down on couches and chairs, Donny taking the chair Peewee had been sleeping in and Chay flopping down in another. Andy settled down on the couch they'd been occupying and motioned Ray to sit next to him again. Pauly sat upright on the other couch. As Mikey finished messing with the TV, he flopped down next to Pauly and drew him over, wrapping an arm around him. Pauly looked nervously at Ray.

"Hey, don't worry!" Mikey said reassuringly. "Ray's been on the street just like us; he won't freak." He wrapped his arms around the more muscular boy and drew him closer, planting a kiss on his cheek. Ray looked surprised; Mikey said, "no sweat, right?"

Ray said, "No, no problem," feeling a touch envious but unwilling to show any sign of it. Andy smiled. Donny drew their attention to the movie.

With good heating and six bodies in the room, it began to get quite warm. Pauly pulled off his sweatshirt to reveal a 'wifebeater' undershirt. "Make yourself comfortable," Donny said to Ray. "We're pretty relaxed about things, with only guys living here." As if to emphasize the fact, Mikey stripped to flannel boxers.

"Gotta take a leak," Andy said. "Give me your clothes, guys." Mikey gathered up his things and Pauly's sweatshirt, and handed them to Andy.

Donny muted the movie. "That's part of how we work things around here," he said to Ray. "We try to avoid handing out chores, because none of us likes doing them. So we help each other out in little ways like that – it's almost no extra work for Andy to dump those clothes in the wash on his way into the bathroom, and it saves those guys either having to remember to take them with them, or somebody having to pick up this room – not that it doesn't need it a bit anyway."

Chay walked out and heated himself a plate of spaghetti. "Nobody did the dishes, I see," he said as he came back in.

"Jack got 'em last night, and I did up breakfast and lunch earlier," Pauly said.

"Okay, guess it's my turn," Chay said cheerfully. "Ray, Donny, Mikey, you want to bring out cups and bowls from where you are after the movie?" Three "Sure"s echoed. Chay finished his plate and walked out into the kitchen.

"It takes willingness and cooperation to make that work," Donny said, "but we've all got burned by someone unwilling to pull his load, so we know that pitching in voluntarily on what we consider fair, and sitting back when it's really someone else's turn until it dawns on him that he needs to pull his weight, makes it work." He paused. "Oh, and always feel free to ask Mikey, Pauly, or me to do any top-shelf stuff, and be prepared to lend a hand if Peewee or Chay need help with something heavy or high." He grinned. "Though the two of them are little monkeys, always climbing when they can't reach."

Andy walked back in then, in T-shirt and bikini briefs. Ray did a double-take, then looked away. "Hey, no sweat, Ray," Andy said. "If I cared whether you looked at me, I wouldn't have gotten comfortable. You'll be seeing more than this shortly anyway; we all sleep nude."He pretended to ignore Ray's stunned expression.

As the movie came to an end, Pauly yawned. Mikey grabbed his own and Pauly's popcorn bowls and mugs and carried them to the kitchen. Ray took the hint and followed suit with his and Andy's. Pauly stood up and joined Mikey as he re-emerged from the kitchen, and they headed for the bedrooms together. Donny picked up his own, and said, "Looks like Jack's staying out tonight, or else he's got the couch."

"Um, eight guys, six beds. I'm not displacing him, am I?" Ray said, suddenly aware again of his newness at what he'd quickly come to feel was his new home.

"No, not to worry," Andy said. "Your bed was Mikey's when I first got here, but, um, he usually sleeps in with Pauly... and Peewee. Jack actually prefers the couch – long story, and his to tell."

Donny patted Ray on the back and headed for his room. Andy said, "C'mon, let's crash," and led the way towards their room.


In their room, Ray was nervous, and Andy was solicitous. "Hey, what's got you worked up now?"

In point of fact, Ray was not willing to put words around what was actually on his mind. First, despite everyone's openness and warm welcome – or maybe because of it – he was still a touch paranoid, waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the price for what he was being offered to be demanded. And he was excited about sharing a room with Andy – too excited, and fearful that his body would give away something he didn't want to face the consequences of. He'd been there once, and he dreaded what could happen again. Especially now, with literally nowhere to go.

He temporized, "Uh, just nervous, I guess. 'Bout what's gonna happen, I mean."

"Well," Andy said with a nervous giggle, "what happens now is, we get undressed and get into bed. You do have experience at doing that, don'tcha?" His grin made clear it was a tease, to express friendship, not a putdown. "After that? You live with us, do what you want to, just like before but without the worry about what you're going to eat or where you're going to sleep that we all had on the street." He paused. "Beyond that? I don't know. I read a story once where when one guy was worrying about the future, the other guy said that giant angry lobster people would emerge from the oceans and attack us all."

"Giant angry lobster people? That's weird!"

"Well, yeah. His point was that when we don't know what's going to happen, at all, it's pointless to worry about it. Worry's for fixing things you can change, seeing bad stuff ahead and avoiding it. After all, you don't know that the giant angry lobster people definitely won't attack. So hakuna matata, enjoy what we've got now, and we'll cross those bridges when we come to them." Andy's face was earnest, trying to ease his new friend's concern.

"You're pretty smart, you know that?"

"Not really. I just remember stuff that might help, and think of it when it seems like the right time." A little embarrassed by the praise, Andy changed the subject. "Let's get in bed; we can talk more then, if you want." He pulled off his T-shirt, then put his thumbs into the waistband of his bikini briefs and noticed Ray looking. He got a wicked grin on his face and said, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours!"

Ray broke up laughing. His nervousness at stripping in front of Andy was just wiped away by Andy's using the old cliché – which Andy had counted on. "Deal!" Ray said.

Andy slipped out of his briefs to reveal ... it was not too large, not too small, not erect but not totally flaccid either. A small patch of pubic hair was present above it.

Ray looked up to see Andy smiling but obviously a little nervous about what Ray thought. "Um, is there a polite way to say, 'you have a nice dick' without sounding like, uh, you know?" Ray asked.

"That sounds just fine to me," a relieved Andy said. "Your turn."

Nervously, Ray pulled off his flannel shirt, T-shirt, kicked off shoes and stripped off his socks, making a wrinkled nose as he did – he'd been wearing them five days already – undid his pants, and slid them down. He was acutely aware, first, of the dorkiness of his Fruit-of-the-Looms, and second, that what was inside them had a mind of its own, and seemed intent on swelling. Drawing a deep breath, he started to slide them down.

Fortunately, from his perspective at least, freed from its confines, his penis decided to simply hang at about a 45 degree angle to the floor – if not exactly soft, not obviously hard either. He blushed as he looked up to see Andy looking at him and smiling.

"Guess I've got the same question you had earlier," Andy said. And the shared laugh at mutual embarrassment passed through successfully began to cement their friendship.

Andy's covers were rumpled already. He turned and climb ed in, showing off what Ray privately thought was a very cute butt in the process. Ray turned and looked at his bed seriously for the first time ° it was made up neatly. He dithered about messing it up to climb in.

"Go ahead and get in," Andy said. "It's your bed now. There's no Mommy around to make sure you make up your bed neatly – except for Donny, I guess." He grinned at his own joke.

"What's the story with him, anyway? I mean, I know there's stuff you can't say, but, um...." Ray's question was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"C'mon in!" Andy called out, and in walked Chay carrying an armload of clothes.

Ray gawked. The young South Asian boy was naked, but his body was not what Ray had expected. His impression had been that Chay was barely into puberty; his shortness, youthful appearance, and openness suggested he was almost or barely 13. Chay was as slender as he'd looked in clothes, but instead of a preteen boy's flat chest, there was a hint of firm pectoral muscles, and a little musculature on the shoulders and biceps. But below the waist, instead of a preteen boy's relatively small penis and either no pubic hair or the wisps of first growth, he was very amply endowed – bigger than either himself or Andy, and with a quite substantial hair growth. Chay's characteristic warm open smile was as expected, however.

"Hey, I stopped by the laundry after I did the dishes, and stripped out of the stuff I'd been wearing – they're Raunch Central, now, after I sweated into 'em and then got 'em wet with dishwater." Chay went on, "So I brought your clean stuff, Andy, and that reminded me: Ray's going to need changes of clothes. So what I did was, I went and talked to Donny, and we found you this stuff, Ray." He handed him two pairs of jeans, a few pair of white sports socks, one of them new and still in the package, two pairs of lowcut briefs, a green sweatshirt, and a Western-style shirt, black with gold stitching.

Ray's eyes bugged out, even more than they had. "That's awesome!" he said excitedly. "Thanks, Chay!"

"We look after each other," the dark-skinned boy said simply. "You'd do the same thing for any of us, and probably will be doing it for the next guy we bring in." Spontaneously, he stepped over and gave Ray a hug. The pressure of the smaller boy's naked body accomplished what the sight of Andy stripping had started but not finished: Ray went to full mast. Embarrassedly, he turned away quickly, set the clothes on the table he hadn't paid attention to before but now focused on, and rapidly slid under the covers.

Chay chuckled. "Be good to him, Andy. Something tells me he's got scars as bad as mine." He turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him and leaving Ray to wonder – he hadn't missed an inch of Chay's body, and no scars were visible.

"Hey, don't worry about popping a boner," Andy said in an effort to mollify Ray's obvious panic. "You're in a house where seven teenager guys and one preteen with a tendency to exhibitionism live by themselves. By the time you've been here a week, you'll have probably seen all our dicks, and most likely all of them hard as well. It comes with the territory – no pun intended." He giggled a bit at the inadvertent joke.

"Really?" Ray felt that that at least was safe to say.

"Really. I don't know how long you were on the street, but most of us were on our own long enough to know what things are like, the seamy side of life. Getting horny is normal around here; don't worry about it a bit."

"It really doesn't bother anybody?"

"Nope. Maybe if you tried to force someone to have sex with you.... but you're not that kind of guy. I can tell." For some reason, Andy was blushing intensely – and it looked very cute on the slim young blond, a fact which made Ray blush even more.

"Um, can I ask about Chay?" Ray quickly changed the subject.

"Huh? What about him?" Andy sounded confused.

"Well, when he first came in, he looked to be just a kid – 12 or 13 or so. But, um, well... that wasn't a kid that was just in here." Ray was blushing and fishing for euphemisms.

"Oh, that," Andy answered. "You know how some Asian people, Siamese and like that, look younger than they really are?" Ray nodded. "Well, Chay was born here in America, but his parents are both from one of those little countries, the ones you learn about in geography and promptly forget – and they're a minority group even in their own country. And with them, the looking younger bit is particularly strong." Andy paused. "I don't want to tell Chay's story without his leave, but his family's most of why he's here."

"Chay looks younger than he is?" Ray asked.

"Yeah. You probably had him pegged about 13, right?" Andy asked; Ray sheepishly nodded yes. "He's 16, older than any of us but Donny. And you saw what he's packing." Andy grinned. "The fact he barely clears five feet and looks like a little boy – that's his family heritage, not who he is." Andy yawned, and so did Ray; it was contagious.

"Well, good night." Andy slipped out of bed, took a step to flick off the room light, and was back in bed before Ray could be sure if what he'd seen was accurate. But if it was, he wasn't the only one with rebellious private parts with minds of their own.

Put a bit more at ease by the conversation, he relaxed back on his pillow, realized that he was warm and safe, then just how tired he was, and was asleep in seconds.

To be continued...


Editor's Notes: Well, I don't know exactly where this is going, but so far, like other D and B stories, it is full of really great kids, who obviously care about each other, and who are willing to help a new kid have a better life. I am eager for more!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher