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"Where you goin, Princess? We're just gettin started, you don't want to miss it!" A loud voice called out, framed by the sound of taunting snickers.
Brian kept his head down and walked faster, elbowing past the group of boys that he had once considered his friends.
A tall figure stood in the shadows beside the field house and watched the scene unfold, holding his breath and hoping he wouldn't have to intervene.
As soon as he had seen that Brian was able to get safely away from the field house without physical violence, he turned with purpose toward the main school building.
* * * * *
"What you're suggesting is beyond the scope of the school's responsibilities." Mr. Hammond, the school's counselor, said seriously.
"Screw scope and responsibility, this kid needs help! And if he doesn't get it soon, I honestly believe that we're about to have another teen suicide on our hands."
Mr. Hammond looked down with regret, and seemed to be at a loss for words. Finally, he quietly said, "The school can't officially endorse what you're suggesting. But I suppose that if I gloss over why Brian needs to be absent and insist that it is a personal issue that I, as his counselor, can't discuss... I could probably arrange it."
"Thank you, Lloyd. You know that I can't promise that this will fix everything but considering the way things are going... we've got to do something."
"Who's going to do it?" Mr. Hammond asked cautiously.
"I have someone in mind. The less you know, the better. If this ends up going wrong, there could be legal consequences."
Mr. Hammond reluctantly nodded, then said, "We'll need the parents' cooperation. There's no way this will work, otherwise."
"Just smooth things over with the school and I'll take care of the parents."
"When are you going to do it?" Mr. Hammond asked cautiously.
"I think that will depend on you. If you can manage to get him the excused absence, I'd like to do it tomorrow afternoon."
After a moment of thought, Mr. Hammond quietly said to his desk, "I'm not sure how I'll manage it, but I will."
"I know that you're sticking your neck out by doing this. Just remember, it's his life we're talking about."
"I realize that." Mr. Hammond said as he looked up. "That's the only reason I'm even considering going along with it."
* * * * *
Brian walked into his bedroom and sat numbly on his desk chair.
He was tired of being afraid.
He was tired of being alone.
Increasingly, he was tired of being...
* * * * *
"Thank you for seeing me."
"What's this about? The receptionist said it was urgent, but I'm sure we've never met before." Mr. Weston said firmly as he closed his office door behind him and waited.
"My name is Cameron Reed, I'm a coach at your son's school. I need to talk to you about Brian."
"Coach? I can't imagine why you'd want to talk to me about Brian. He's never shown any talent for sports or an interest in anything athletic." Mr. Weston said frankly, still standing just inside the door of his office.
"I don't know if you're aware of this, but he's being relentlessly teased at school and has picked up a nickname." Coach Reed said seriously.
"Yeah. Well, maybe that'll force him to 'man up' and kick some ass. It'll probably be good for him." Mr. Weston said, finally walking fully into the room and settling behind his desk.
"I've seen Brian's reactions, and that's not the way he's dealing with it. He's doing his best to ignore it, and his failure to rise to the occasion is prompting his tormentors to escalate their attacks." Coach Reed said as he looked Mr. Weston in the eyes.
"Maybe then he'll..." Mr. Weston started to say, then realized that he was only voicing his own hopes, not what his son would actually do.
"Mr. Weston, Brian is on a path that has no happy ending. The best we can hope for is that he will survive. Even then, the psychological scars will follow him through his life and probably torture him every single day." Coach Reed said frankly, then continued, "As I said, that's the best we can hope for. Chances are, it won't end that well for him."
"Sit down." Mr. Weston said as he gestured to the chair across from his desk.
Cameron took the seat, then quietly said, "A few of us at the school have an idea of how we might be able to help Brian."
"Don't tell me you're going to start a lot of touchy feely "Let's all just get along" crap. Because, if you start forcing his whole class to go through that, they're probably going to kick his ass worse than ever." Mr. Weston said seriously, then added, "I'd even want to kick his ass if I was forced to sit through it."
Coach Reed slightly smiled, then said, "Well, we do plan to have a little talk with the rest of the class. But it's more about our zero tolerance policy and the consequences of inappropriate behavior. I promise, no one will sing 'cum-bay-ah'."
"So what's your plan?" Mr. Weston asked with interest.
"Here it is in a nutshell..."
* * * * *
After enduring another day of non-stop taunting and teasing, Brian was dreading having to put up with three more days of the same. And the only payoff he would enjoy at the end of those three days was the weekend; two days of solitude to somewhat buoy his soul for yet another, probably even worse, week of torment.
"C'mon Princess, why you leaving so quick? Don't you want to hang around with some real boys?" One of the boys called out as Brian hurried past them.
Another of the boys tripped him as he walked by, but Brian was able to keep his balance and lowered his head even further as he walked faster down the hall.
"Look at that! The Princess is rushing away to hide the family jewels!" Someone called out, then the entire group burst out in laughter.
* * * * *
As Brian walked out the front door of the school, he was surprised, or more accurately shocked to see his father standing by the main gate, obviously waiting for him.
"Dad?" Brian asked as he hesitantly approached his father.
"Get in the car." Mr. Weston said firmly.
Brian did as he was told and racked his brain, trying to think of what he might have done to incur his father's wrath.
"I had a talk with your P. E. coach, yesterday." Mr. Weston said without prelude as he pulled away from the front of the school.
Brian looked at his father with surprise.
"He told me that some of the boys in your class have taken to calling you 'Princess'." Mr. Weston said, never taking his eyes off the road ahead of him.
Brian tried to restrain his tears, but it was no use.
He knew that he had never been the son that his father had always wanted, but still, he had also never wanted to do anything to disappoint him.
"Stop that!" Mr. Weston said under his breath, as if Brian's tears were making him ashamed.
"I'm sorry." Brian whispered as he tried to get his tears under control.
Mr. Weston didn't respond. He just kept his eyes steadfastly on the road and continued to drive.
Once Brian was able to get his eyes dried, he looked around and noticed that they weren't heading toward home.
With reluctance and more than a little fear in his voice, he asked, "Where are we going?"
"I don't know what to do to help you, Brian." Mr. Weston said in an emotionless tone, then continued, "I've never had to deal with something like what you're going through."
Brian considered his father's words and had no trouble believing him.
"You're going to be going away for a while, somewhere that you can get some help." Mr. Weston said tonelessly.
"What? Where?" Brian asked anxiously as his mind raced.
"We're here." Mr. Weston said as he pulled into the parking lot of what used to be a grocery store.
Brian looked around and saw a large gray SUV parked at the edge of the lot.
Mr. Weston pulled his car up beside the SUV, then slowly got out to stand.
Brian waited for a moment, then reluctantly got out of the car and picked up his backpack.
"You won't be needing that." A young man with golden blond hair said as he approached from the back of the SUV.
Brian looked at his father anxiously, but saw no emotion in his face.
"Does he have any food allergies or need any medications that I should know about?" The young man asked Mr. Weston seriously.
"No. Nothing like that." Mr. Weston responded shortly.
"Come on then, Brian. We've got a long drive ahead of us." The young man said, then gestured to the SUV.
Brian looked at his father, silently begging him to stop this and not make him go with a complete stranger.
Mr. Weston looked into his son's eyes for a moment, then calmly walked away without saying a word.
Brian watched as his father got into the car and drove away.
"Brian. We need to go." The golden haired stranger said firmly.
After a quick look around the abandoned parking lot to verify that there was no other choice, Brian reluctantly walked to the passenger side of the SUV and got in.
* * * * *
The pair rode in silence as the miles passed by outside the SUV.
After a while, Brian hesitantly chanced a look at the young man who was driving.
The man's hair was dark blond and seemed to have a natural wave. His eyes were a deep rich blue and his skin was tan. His overall look was attractive, although Brian wouldn't call him beautiful. He had a certain 'ruggedness' that masked any boyish good looks that he might have once had.
The young man didn't appear to be 'built', like someone who lifted weights. But Brian noticed that the man was well muscled; broad chested with a narrow waist.
When the silence had gone on too long, Brian finally screwed up his courage enough to ask, "Where are we going?"
"To a little place that's about two hundred and fifty miles from anything you would call civilization." The man said frankly.
"What are we going to do there?" Brian asked hesitantly, feeling more than half sure that he didn't really want to know.
"Brian, there are some things you need to figure out. Me telling you everything that we're going to be doing in advance would only complicate the process and make it that much harder for you in the long run. I need for you to trust me."
"Trust you? How can I trust you when I don't even know your name?" Brian asked helplessly.
"You never asked." The man said as he spared Brian a glance, then said, "And my name is Jason, but everyone calls me Jack."
"I'm Brian... but I guess you knew that." Brian mumbled awkwardly.
"I tell you what, Brian. If you'll reach under the seat, there's a CD case. Why don't you pick something out for us to listen to?" Jack asked quietly.
Brian was surprised by the request, but did as he was told and took out the zippered nylon case that looked something like a photo album.
As he looked through the CDs, he noticed that they were all of singers and bands that he'd never heard of.
"Don't you have any top 40 or pop music?" Brian asked hopefully.
"What I have is in that case. Either pick something for us to listen to, or we can ride in silence for the next few hours." Jack said firmly and there was a hardness in his tone that put Brian on edge.
Finally, Brian ended up picking a CD at random, since he had no idea what any of them sounded like, anyway.
If asked, he wouldn't be able to describe the style of music. It seemed to be almost a Native American chant at it's base and some flutes, but as the song progressed, synthesizers and electric guitars came into play along with a drum beat that was so strong that Brian could feel the vibration coursing through him.
* * * * *
After a while longer of riding and a few more CDs, Brian turned down the music and asked, "Are we going to stop soon? I'm hungry and I have to use the bathroom."
Jack glanced at him with annoyance for a moment, then carefully said, "It's about an hour before we'll be off this highway. Once we're on state roads, we'll be able to stop for supper. If you've got to take a leak before that, just say the word and I'll pull over."
Brian's eyes went wide, then he stammered, "I think I can wait until we stop to eat."
"Suit yourself." Jack said without concern as he focused entirely on the open road before him.
* * * * *
When Jack left the highway, it was to get onto a road that seemed to be completely deserted.
In the ten or fifteen minutes that they were on the new road, they didn't see any other cars.
"It's time for a break. Get out and walk around and get your blood circulating again." Jack said before getting out of the truck.
Brian undid his seat belt and took a few seconds to consider the situation he found himself in.
Finally, Brian stepped out of the SUV to the sight of Jack unzipping his pants.
"What are you doing?" Brian gasped.
"Taking a piss. If you got to go, now would be the time." Jack said simply, then as Brian watched, Jack pulled his cock out.
After a moment of pissing, Jack glanced over and saw that Brian had turned away. Even from the back, Jack could tell that Brian was blushing scarlet red. The red was immediately noticeable on his neck and even the tips of his ears.
"I'm guessing that you've never pissed with another guy." Jack said cautiously.
"No! Never!" Brian said as he tried to keep himself from running away and hiding in embarrassment.
Jack finished his business, then tucked himself away before saying, "I bet you've gotta go really bad by now. How's about I go get our food together while you take care of that."
After a moment, Brian turned and found Jack looking at him expectantly.
"Um, yeah. Thanks." Brian mumbled.
"Come to the back of the truck when you're finished. We need to have our dinner, then get back on the road."
Brian waited for a moment, then squatted down to see Jack's feet under the SUV. As Jack had said, he was at the back of the truck, presumably fixing something for them to eat.
Brian nervously looked around, seeing only natural, unspoiled greenery and the road, which was empty as far as the eye could see in both directions.
Nervously, he took out his dick and immediately began to take a long and much needed pee.
The sense of relief overrode his nervousness for a moment as his aching bladder continued to drain.
As soon as he was finished, Brian quickly tucked himself away and nervously looked around again.
Jack was still at the back of the truck and there were still no cars.
Blushing slightly, just from the fact that Jack had known what he had been doing, Brian slowly made his way to the back of the truck.
"Here." Jack said as he offered Brian a box of hand wipes.
Brian took the offered container, then looked at Jack curiously.
"We don't have a sink out here. You can use one of those to wash your hands." Jack said simply, then went back to taking things out of an ice chest.
"Thanks." Brian said with surprise, then took one of the damp towels from the box and cleaned his hands.
"I've got salami, pickle loaf and turkey sandwiches here. Pick whatever kind you want." Jack said as he tore open a bag of potato chips.
Brian didn't usually eat sandwiches, but he was very hungry and the turkey sounded good.
The plate that Jack handed him looked something like a pie pan, but shallower.
Brian took two of the half sandwiches and put them on his plate, then added a generous handful of the sour cream and onion potato chips.
"Drinks are in the ice chest. Just don't overdo it on the drinking, because I don't want to be stopping every few minutes the rest of the way." Jack said frankly.
Brian nodded, then selected an orange soda from the variety in the ice chest.
"What do you see out here?" Jack asked contemplatively as he leaned against the side of the truck and ate his sandwich.
Brian looked around at the absence of anything familiar to him and honestly answered, "Nothing."
Jack nodded, as if he had expected the answer.
After a long moment of silence, Brian asked, "What do you see?"
Jack smiled at the question, then said, "If I told you, then you wouldn't be able to come up with the answer for yourself the next time I asked you."
Brian puzzled over the response as he looked around again.
Some trees and a road. There was nothing else to see and no other answer that he could come up with.
Brian took a large bite of his sandwich and was surprised at just how good it tasted.
The turkey sandwich had tomatoes and lettuce on it and the flavors seemed to explode in his mouth.
"Hey, this sandwich is really good." Brian said honestly.
"Yeah. My secret ingredient is mayonnaise." Jack said with a grin, then added, "Actually, I think it probably tastes better because you're hungry. There's an old saying that 'hunger is the best seasoning'."
Brian nodded his agreement, since his mouth was busy enjoying more of the delicious sandwich.
* * * * *
They finished their meal in virtual silence.
Occasionally, Brian would sneak a glance at Jack in an attempt to gauge his mood, but couldn't get any sense of what the man was feeling.
Finally, after packing everything away, they got back into the SUV and were on their way again.
Brian was trying to think of something to say to Jack, just to make conversation, when Jack beat him to it.
"I guess that there is something that I should tell you to prepare you for what's coming up." Jack said ominously.
Brian turned to look at Jack curiously, pretty sure he wasn't going to like what was about to be said.
"Sometimes, life's not fair." Jack said simply, then glanced at Brian to see if he was listening.
"You'll get no argument from me." Brian said as he fought to contain his nervous laughter.
Jack nodded as he turned his attention forward again, then said, "I've heard that the other kids at school have been teasing you and have given you a nickname. Do you know why they're doing that?"
There was a long moment of silence, but Brian finally said, "Yeah."
Jack waited for a moment, then said, "Well?"
After a few seconds to gather his courage, Brian hesitantly mumbled, "I, um... I guess it all started when I wouldn't take off my underwear and shower with the other guys after gym class."
Jack considered the answer, then quietly said, "You know that them teasing you and calling you by that name isn't the right way to behave, don't you?"
"Yeah." Brian said as he looked up at Jack with surprise, interested to know where he was going.
"And you also know that, just because it's wrong, doesn't mean that they're going to stop." Jack said as he glanced at Brian again.
"Yeah." Brian said with resignation.
"So it's not right, it's not fair, it keeps happening, and it's getting worse... is that about right?" Jack asked seriously.
Brian felt the tears welling in his eyes, but he managed to force out another, "Yeah."
Jack could see Brian fighting to hold in his tears, but felt that he needed to continue, just a little more, to lay the groundwork for the coming days.
"Try thinking about this, Brian." Jack said, trying to draw the boy's attention, "You have very little control over what other people do. I mean, you can run to your teachers when there's a problem so they can intervene. Or you can try to get the school to crack down on bullying and harassment. But realistically, what you have the most control over is yourself."
The sound of the engine was the only sound in the SUV for the next few minutes as Brian thought over Jack's words.
Brian looked up when he saw something besides the seemingly endless blur of trees outside his window.
Jack pulled the SUV up to a gas station and stopped the engine.
"This'll probably be your last chance to visit a proper toilet for a while. Go on, if you need to, while I gas up the truck." Jack said seriously.
"Thanks." Brian said gratefully, then quickly rushed away.
Jack watched as Brian left, then took in a long, slow breath. The emotions that he had been suppressing while in Brian's company finally made their way to the surface.
Jack pulled a red bandanna handkerchief out of his back pocket and quickly wiped his eyes.
"He needs you to be strong." Jack told himself, then took in a few deep breaths to regain his control.
* * * * *
Brian looked up at the squeak of the opening door.
"Do you want to get any snacks or anything while we're here? This'll probably be the last stop we make." Jack asked as he walked past the sink to the urinal.
Brian quickly turned his eyes toward the sink, trying not to look at Jack without being obvious about it. After a moment to consider the question, he cautiously said, "If you don't mind me eating potato chips in the truck, I'd be fine with the chips we had at supper."
"Sounds good." Jack said as he flushed the urinal, then walked to Brian's side.
It took a moment for Brian to figure out what Jack was waiting for, but finally he twigged to it and quickly said, "Sorry! Go ahead, I'm done."
Brian hurried to the towel dispenser and dried his hands.
When he glanced over at the sink, he noticed that Jack was putting eye drops in his eyes.
Once Jack was done, he glanced at Brian and asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"Well, I'm done here, if that's what you're asking. But since I don't know where we're going or what we'll be doing, I can't say that I'm ready to go." Brian said frankly, then seemed to be bracing himself for an argument.
Jack broke into a smile and said, "That's it, Brian! That, what you just did, how you just felt. That's exactly what all of this is about."
"Huh?" Brian asked in confusion.
Jack chuckled, then said, "Don't worry about it. You're on the right track."
Brian looked at Jack uncertainly, then followed him out of the restroom.
* * * * *
As they walked out of the store, Brian noticed the chill in the air and hurried to get into the SUV.
Jack got the chips from the back of the truck and gave them to Brian before they started the next leg of their journey.
As Brian munched his chips and watched the scenery passing them by, he realized that he wasn't feeling as anxious as he had.
He was still nervous about facing the unknown, who wouldn't be, but he got the sense that Jack wouldn't go out of his way to make him miserable.
Whatever they were about to do, Jack thought it was important and was doing it, doing all of this to help him.
"There are some boots in a plastic bag behind your seat. Why don't you try them on and see if they'll fit." Jack said as he kept most of his attention on the road which was becoming increasingly winding.
Brian tried to reach behind him and ended up taking off his seat belt to finally get hold of the bag.
When he got the bag open, he looked inside and said, "These are covered in dried mud."
"Yeah. That's why they're in the bag." Jack said simply.
Brian took off his shoes, then carefully worked his right foot into the stiff and mud covered boot.
"How close are they to fitting?" Jack asked after a moment.
"They're a little bit loose, but not too bad." Brian said slowly, then added, "If I tighten the laces, I think they'll be fine."
"Good. Because it's likely that we'll hit a mud hole or two on our hike up to the cabin. I don't think your regular shoes would handle that too well." Jack said frankly.
"We're going to a cabin?" Brian asked cautiously.
"Yeah. But we can't just drive the truck all the way up to the front door. We'll have to get out and walk for a few minutes."
Brian nodded, then hesitantly asked, "How much longer until we get there?"
"Hard to say. Probably just over an hour. But if there are any trees down along the way or if the ground's too muddy, it could take longer."
Brian wanted to ask more questions, but didn't want to push. As nice as Jack seemed at the moment, Brian could tell that the young man became impatient with him when he chattered.
* * * * *
After a few minutes of silence, Brian took out the CD case and selected another CD for them to listen to.
Brian was shocked when the music started and it was rap. He was about to say something when he noticed that the music behind the rapper was flutes and a synthesizer along with the same driving beat from earlier. Brian found himself somewhere between surprise and hilarity at the bizarre combination of sounds that somehow seemed to work perfectly well together.
When the first song had finished, Brian turned and said, "I really like your music."
Jack smiled and said, "I'm glad. I don't listen to this music all the time, but I really enjoy it when I'm driving. It puts me in just the right state of mind; both energized and tranquil."
Brian considered for a moment as he listened to the music, then finally said, "Yeah. It might be good for background music when I'm studying."
"It might be. You should try it." Jack said frankly.
"Will I get the chance? I mean, am I going to get to go home again?" Brian asked quietly, then looked at Jack hesitantly.
Jack looked away from the road long enough to look Brian in the eyes as he said, "Yes. I promise."
Brian nodded, then turned his attention to the seemingly endless sea of trees racing by outside the window in the diminishing, early evening light.
"I'm taking you to the cabin to give you a chance to figure things out. Once you've done that, I promise that I'll take you back to your home and your family." Jack said compassionately.
Brian nodded again but didn't respond otherwise.
* * * * *
"Are you belted in? The ride's about to get rough." Jack asked as he pulled to the side of the road.
Brian quickly buckled his seat belt, having forgotten after getting the boots from the back seat.
"Pop the CD and make sure the case is put away." Jack said as he looked around the truck quickly, making sure everything was secured.
Once he seemed satisfied that everything would travel well, he pulled the SUV off the road and into a stand of trees.
Brian wanted to ask Jack if he was nuts, but was too shocked to do anything but hold on tight and look at everything around them.
"Hang on!" Jack said, then the SUV jolted as he drove across uneven ground, weaving among trees.
Brian felt as if he would be ricocheting around the cabin of the SUV if he weren't belted in.
Just as Brian seemed to be getting used to their trek across the uneven terrain, Jack turned sharply and they started going up a steep incline.
"Hold on tight!" Jack called out over the straining of the engine to maintain it's speed as they climbed.
Brian dug his fingers into the dashboard and the door handle as the SUV seemed to be trying to climb nearly straight up the side of a hill.
After a moment to adjust to the new sensation, Brian turned to Jack to ask him to slow down, or at least be more careful.
When he looked at Jack, everything else seemed to disappear for just an instant.
The expression on Jack's face was one of unbridled joy. The face that Brian had seen earlier as rugged now glowed with excitement.
The memory of that expression on Jack's face burned itself into Brian's mind.
Before he could dwell too much on that, they finally crested the small hill and Brian was surprised to find that they were on what was more or less, a road.
"Good news. Since we were able to take the short cut, we should be able to get to the cabin before midnight." Jack said happily.
Brian just nodded dumbly, still not able to force his hands to release the dash board or the door handle.
* * * * *
They followed the on-again, off-again road for nearly half an hour before Jack left the road completely and drove cross-country again.
By now, Brian was more or less getting used to being jolted and jostled.
"Here we are!" Jack said happily as he pulled the SUV to a stop.
Brian couldn't see anything except what was illuminated by the headlights, but from what he could see, they were nowhere.
"Come on, sitting here ain't getting it done." Jack said, then climbed out of the truck.
Brian hesitantly released his seat belt, then opened his door.
* * * * *
"It's cold out here!" Brian exclaimed.
"Yeah." Jack agreed as he opened the back of the SUV.
Brian could see where Jack was, from the dim illumination of the interior light and made his way back to join him.
"You can carry the bedrolls or the ice chest." Jack said as he pulled two backpacks out of the SUV.
"Bedrolls, I guess." Brian said hesitantly.
"Go on. Grab your backpack so we can get going." Jack said as he put on the larger of the two.
"I, um... I don't know how to wear one of these things." Brian said cautiously.
"Try. Then if you can't get it, I'll help you." Jack said seriously as he hefted the ice chest out of the SUV and put it on the ground.
From the tone of Jack's voice, Brian got the impression that he should have tried before asking for help. He didn't have much chance to think about it. The weight of the backpack drew all his attention.
"I can't..." Brian began to say, but caught himself and actually tried to stand with the backpack on his back.
"Hold still, I'll fasten the strap around your waist, that will keep it from shifting around." Jack said quickly.
Brian did his best to hold still, but had to adjust his footing a few times to balance the huge heavy thing on his back.
"Thanks." Brian grunted.
"Here. We need to get moving." Jack said as he handed the bedrolls to Brian.
As much as Brian wanted to groan, he was able to keep it to himself and just accepted the bedrolls.
A moment later, Jack closed the cargo area of the SUV and Brian found himself in complete darkness.
He blinked his eyes, somehow thinking that he might have closed them.
In all his life, Brian couldn't remember ever being in such complete and all consuming darkness.
Suddenly, a light came on and Brian quickly turned.
"Are you ready?" Jack asked from the darkness.
"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to be." Brian said honestly.
Jack chuckled, then said, "It'll have to be good enough. Come on."
From the position of the light, Brian thought that Jack must be wearing some kind of hat with a flashlight mounted to it.
After a moment to get his balance right, accommodating the unfamiliar weight, Brian followed Jack, making sure to keep close so he could use Jack's light to avoid obstacles in his path.
* * * * *
After slowly walking through mud that seemed intent on sucking the boots off his feet, Brian hopefully asked, "Can we stop for a rest?"
"You can stop if you want, but I'm going to keep going." Jack said frankly.
Brian weighed how nice it would be to rest for a few minutes, against the possibility of being left alone in complete darkness.
"I'll keep going." Brian finally said reluctantly.
"We're almost halfway there." Jack said with a smile in his voice.
Brian wanted to groan at the announcement.
* * * * *
"Here it is." Jack said as they crested an incline that had nearly stopped Brian in his tracks.
Brian looked ahead of them and could barely see the outline of a wooden structure in the dim illumination of Jack's flashlight.
"Still cold?" Jack asked with apparent humor as he increased his pace toward the cabin.
Brian felt like every part of his body was dripping with sweat from the effort of carrying the backpack and bedrolls.
"Not so much, now." Brian forced himself to say.
Jack chuckled as he walked up to the door and opened it.
* * * * *
"Give me a second to get a light on, then I'll help you with your backpack. You can drop those bedrolls." Jack said from ahead of him.
Brian didn't need to be told twice. He let the bedrolls drop at his feet as he strained to see what Jack was doing.
Suddenly, a match was lit and a moment later the soft glow of lantern light began to fill the room.
"That's better." Jack said happily, then quickly took a headband off his head that had a small, rectangular flashlight on it.
Brian found the clasp of the straps around his waist and undid it. As he was trying to figure out how to get the pack off his back without falling over, Jack appeared at his side and suddenly the weight he had been carrying for so long was being lifted from him.
"Thanks." Brian said with relief.
"You did good, Brian." Jack said as he carefully sat the backpack aside.
Brian looked at him curiously.
"I'm guessing that you've never done anything like this before. I really expected you to be bitching and moaning for the entire hike." Jack said frankly, then added, "What you just did wasn't easy and you bore it well. I'm proud of you."
Brian was speechless and felt tears beginning to well in his eyes. He didn't even know why he wanted to cry except, maybe, that he couldn't remember the last time anyone said that they were proud of him.
"It's late. We have a few things we need to get done before we can call it a night." Jack said as he turned away.
Brian looked around curiously, not knowing what he could do.
"There are coats by the door. Put one on before you cool down too much." Jack said as he knelt in front of a big thing that looked something like a stove and started putting wood in it.
Brian looked through the coats and was happy to find that one of them appeared to be close to his size.
He put it on and was shocked at how cold it felt against his sweaty skin.
"You can lay the bedrolls out on the bed while I get the fire started." Jack said, still kneeling on the floor.
Brian looked around and spotted the bed; the one and only bed.
He looked down at the bedrolls, then at the bed again uncertainly.
"There's pillows in that garbage bag by the bed." Jack said over his shoulder.
Brian nodded, then proceeded to unroll the two sleeping bags and place them on the bed, side by side.
As Brian was putting the pillows on the bed, Jack walked up beside him and said, "That'll work. When you're finished doing that, I'll show you where the outhouse is."
"Outhouse?" Brian asked as he looked around the cabin quickly.
It hadn't occurred to him before, but as he took inventory, he could see that the cabin was just one room. There was no bathroom.
"Yeah. Sooner or later you're going to need it, so I might as well show it to you now." Jack said as he rummaged through one of the backpacks.
Brian finished laying out the pillows, then noticed that Jack was putting rolls of toilet paper on a small shelf by the door of the cabin.
"We can't leave the toilet paper out in the outhouse or the raccoons and such will get in there and tear it up." Jack said frankly, then offered Brian a flashlight as he approached.
Brian took the flashlight, then glanced over at the table where Jack had left the small headband flashlight.
"I need to save the 'headlight' for when I need to do stuff in the dark and my hands are full." Jack said simply.
Brian nodded as he waited for Jack to lead the way.
"Will you be needing toilet paper on this trip?" Jack asked from beside the door.
"No. I, um, took care of that at the gas station." Brian said shyly.
Jack nodded, then led the way outside.
* * * * *
"See the path?" Jack asked in the complete darkness.
Brian slowly scanned around with the flashlight and finally settled on a small, sort-of-a trail leading up a hill, away from the cabin. "Is that it?" Brian asked cautiously.
"No, that leads to the spring. It's over this way, to your right." Jack said seriously.
Brian moved the flashlight beam to the right and found another path leading down and away from them.
"That's it. Let's go." Jack said firmly.
Brian led the way, and wondered why Jack had him holding the flashlight, since Jack was the one who knew where they were going.
"See that rock? We turn right here." Jack said slowly.
Brian searched to the right and found where the path continued.
After a few minutes of walking, Brian spotted the tiny little house, off to itself.
"Usually when we need to take a whiz, we'll just go behind a tree. But since we're here, we might as well make use of it." Jack said casually.
"I, um... don't need to go." Brian said hesitantly.
There was a long moment of silence, then Jack quietly asked, "Brian, do you remember when I said that what you have most control over is yourself?"
"Yeah." Brian said cautiously.
"One of the things you can control is the way you react to certain situations. From the short time that I've known you, I can tell that you're extremely timid when it comes to your body and the bodies of others." Jack said carefully.
Brian didn't respond, so Jack continued, "While we're here, I'm going to do my best to take every opportunity to help you learn to manage that shyness, or at least to make your reactions less obvious."
Brian nodded, but it was wasted in the complete darkness.
"Come on, I've got to piss." Jack said quietly.
"You want for me to watch you pee?" Brian asked hesitantly.
"Truthfully, no. But if you can't get some control over your shyness, things are only going to get worse for you as time goes on. The best way I can think of to help you deal with it is by desensitizing you to it through repeated exposure." Jack said frankly.
"Are you, um, going to want to watch me pee, too?" Brian asked cautiously.
"No. At least, not yet. But before we're done here we'll probably do that just to be sure that you can manage while you're around other guys in public bathrooms and locker rooms and stuff." Jack said honestly.
"What about, um... number two." Brian asked quietly, almost mumbling the last words.
"We need to work on your terminology, so you don't sound like a little kid. But to answer your question, no. I can't think of any circumstance where someone else will be watching when you take a dump, so there's no need for you to have to prepare for that." Jack said thoughtfully.
Brian thought about Jack's words. Everything that Jack had been saying fell into place and began to make sense. Jack was going through this, and probably all of it, to prepare him for dealing with the situations that he hadn't been able to handle on his own so far.
With his heart racing and sounding in his ears, Brian screwed up his courage and quietly said, "Okay."
* * * * *
"If you really don't need to go, you can just hold the light." Jack said once they were inside the outhouse.
"Actually, I do kinda need to." Brian said shyly.
"Do you want to go first? I'll hold the light and promise not to look, if you want." Jack said seriously.
"No. Go ahead." Brian said quietly.
Jack reached down to unzip his pants and noticed that Brian had the flashlight focused on his crotch.
He fought the impulse to say anything about that and proceeded to pull the zipper down.
"You okay, Brian?" Jack asked carefully.
"I, um..." Brian trailed off.
"By the time we're done, I'm sure that this will be no big deal." Jack said reassuringly as he slowly took out his cock.
Brian's hand holding the flashlight started to shake slightly as Jack's cock came into view.
"Would you shine the light so I can see my target?" Jack asked quietly.
"Sorry!" Brian said nervously, then hurried to shine the flashlight on one of the two toilet seats mounted on a wooden bench.
"It's okay, Brian. Just relax, it's fine." Jack said gently.
It took a moment for Jack to be able to begin. He didn't typically have a 'shy bladder', but he also didn't typically have an audience with a flashlight.
Once the urine started to flow, Jack relaxed and enjoyed the sensation.
When he was done, he tucked himself away and zipped up.
"Do you need to go while we're here? I'll hold the light for you." Jack asked quietly.
"Um, yeah. But you promise not to look?" Brian asked cautiously.
"Sure." Jack said as he accepted the flashlight.
He took the light and focused it on the other toilet, in front of Brian, then said, "Okay, I've got my eyes closed."
Brian's eyes had adjusted to the darkness enough that he could see Jack's face well enough to tell that he had, indeed, closed his eyes.
Nervously, Brian took out his dick and tried to force himself to pee.
Jack waited patiently, keeping his eyes firmly shut.
Brian took in a few deep breaths, trying to relax himself.
"Don't worry about me. There's no rush. You take as long as you need." Jack said quietly.
"Jack, could you not talk to me right now? It's really not helping." Brian said anxiously.
"Whatever you say." Jack said with a smile.
There was a long moment of silence, then Jack heard the slightest trickle.
He held his breath, not wanting to make any sound that might distract Brian and cause him to freeze up.
Soon, the flow of urine stopped and Brian quietly said, "I'm done."
"Okay." Jack said gently, then handed the flashlight to Brian as he continued, "Why don't you see if you can find your way back to the cabin."
"Alright." Brian said in a relaxed tone, relieved that Jack didn't want to talk about what they had just done.
* * * * *
"Wash up." Jack said as soon as they were inside the cabin, then tossed the box of hand wipes to Brian.
Even though Brian had seen it coming from a mile away, he still didn't come anywhere near close to catching it.
"Not much of a catcher, huh?" Jack asked cautiously.
"No. I'm not really good at anything like that." Brian said as he picked up the box of hand wipes from the floor.
"I'm sure we have a baseball around here somewhere. Maybe we can work on that." Jack said casually.
"I really suck at sports." Brian said frankly.
Jack shrugged, then said, "You don't have to be good at them, or even enjoy them. But I think things will be a lot easier for you in the long run if you're able to at least manage the basics. You know, pitching, catching, running... stuff like that."
"I suck at all of it." Brian said darkly.
"Things like that take practice. I'm betting that you haven't ever really tried." Jack said speculatively.
"No. When you totally suck at doing something, why would you want to keep doing it?" Brian asked indignantly.
Jack chuckled, then said, "You've got a really good point, Brian."
"I do?" Brian asked with surprise.
"Yes. No one likes to fail. So why set yourself up to fail, over and over again when there's no real payoff to winning?" Jack asked seriously.
"Yeah." Brian said with a smile, happy to know that Jack understood how he felt.
"Well, now things are different. The stakes have changed. Continuing to suck at sports will make things harder for you with the other kids at school. If you improve, I can't say things will be great for you, but there will be one less thing for them to tease you about."
"Are you going to get, like, mad and scream at me and stuff if I can't catch or throw right?" Brian asked hesitantly.
"No. But I might get upset with you if you give up, or don't really try." Jack said honestly.
Brian nodded but didn't say anything more.
"Who yelled at you, Brian?" Jack asked quietly.
Brian looked up at him curiously.
"It sounds like someone tried to teach you this stuff before, and in doing so, killed your motivation for ever wanting to learn it at all." Jack said sympathetically.
Brian thought about that for a moment, then slowly nodded.
"Who was it, Brian?" Jack asked quietly.
"My dad." Brian whispered.
Jack nodded, then said, "We're each responsible for our own accomplishments and failures in life. We can't blame other people for the things that we didn't have the strength or will to achieve."
Brian thought about the words, then nodded his agreement.
"But we'll make an exception when it comes to your father." Jack added with a smile. "I have a feeling that we're going to be blaming him for all kinds of things before this is all over."
Brian looked at Jack with surprise.
"When you were too young to know better, he berated you and made you feel like a failure. Face it. He sucks. It's all his fault." Jack said with a teasing grin.
"Yeah." Brian said with a smile.
"So, for this one thing, you're off the hook. It's not your fault, it's not your failure. We still have to fix it, but there's no reason for you to feel the least bit bad about not learning this stuff earlier." Jack said firmly.
"Yeah!" Brian said happily, looking as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.
"It's late, so we'd better get to bed. If you'll look in your backpack, there should be some sweatpants and a sweatshirt in there." Jack said as he walked to the bigger of the two backpacks.
"Oh. Yeah, thanks." Brian said at the abrupt change in subject.
"I know the clothes in there probably aren't what you're used to, but they should be fine for while we're here. No one is going to see them but the two of us." Jack said frankly as he took some clothes out of the backpack and laid them out on the bed.
Brian opened the smaller backpack and found the sweat pants and shirt almost immediately. He unfolded them to gauge their size, then noticed that Jack was taking off his coat.
"Go on and change. We need to get some sleep." Jack said frankly.
Brian also took off his coat and stole the occasional glance at Jack as he continued to undress.
"Brian." Jack said, now standing only in his boxer shorts.
At the sound of his name, Brian looked at Jack curiously.
After observing Brian's reaction, Jack said, "Oh, good. It looks like you don't have any issues with us changing clothes at the same time."
"No. At least, not until the underwear comes off." Brian said timidly.
"We'll work on that. But would you do something for me?" Jack asked casually as he started to pull on some faded and very comfortable looking sweat pants.
"Sure. What?" Brian asked casually as he pulled down his pants.
"Think about what you're feeling right this minute." Jack said as he stopped to look Brian in the eyes. "You don't appear to be the least bit nervous about looking at me or me looking at you. Think about how drastically different your reaction is when one little scrap of cloth is removed."
Brian slowly nodded, then continued to dress for bed. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Jack was doing something in front of a small mirror hanging on the wall.
He stopped what he was doing and watched for a moment, until he realized that Jack was taking out his contact lenses.
Brian could feel a chill on his exposed skin and quickly pulled on his sweat pants.
"I'm leaving a flashlight beside your bed. Make sure you know where it is before I put the light out." Jack said seriously.
Brian pulled the sweatshirt on over his head, then nodded.
"I guess that's it. If you get hungry during the night, you can help yourself to what's in the ice chest." Jack said as he looked around the cabin.
Brian glanced at the ice chest and nodded.
Jack walked up to him and, much to Brian's surprise, pulled him into a gentle hug.
"Don't worry about anything, Brian. Once we get you past this bump in the road, your life is going to be wonderful. I'm sure of it." Jack said with conviction.
"Thank you for doing this, Jack." Brian responded quietly, then continued, "Even though I don't know what's going to happen or what it is that I'm supposed to do, I appreciate that you're going through all of this to help me."
"You're worth it, Brian." Jack said seriously. "Remember that."
Brian nodded as he enjoyed another minute of the hug.
Finally, Jack released him and said, "Good night, Brian."
"Good night, Jack." Brian said as they each made their way to their own sides of the bed and got into their separate sleeping bags.
Brian did as Jack had said and made sure he knew where the flashlight was, beside his bed.
Jack took one last look around the cabin before lowering the flame of the lantern until it went completely out.
Editor's Notes: Well, we have a brand new story from MultiMapper. Of course, any story from MultiMapper is worth reading.? I always know that when I start reading one of his stories, I am going to love at least one of the people we are meeting. In this case there are two of them, and they are both going through some rough spots.
At first it was very frightening for Brian.? He couldn't understand why he was being sent away.? I am not sure that he understands, even now, but I think he is getting there.
It is a very good thing that there are people in Brian's life that really do care what happens to him and can see things that he somehow doesn't.? Brian has always seen himself as a failure.? His teacher and a few others can see the signs and his coach has decided to do what he can to help Brian get past some of the issues.
I am glad that Brian has Jack to help him, and I am also glad that Jack has Brian there, for him, as well.? I am certain that Jack is more than gratified that Brian is beginning to respond to the things that Jack is showing him.
We will just have to wait for the next chapter to find out what will happen next. I can hardly wait.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher