Advent Calendar: “Fences” by D M Hubbard


by David Hubbard

Everyone expected the world to end with a bang: nuclear war, alien invaders, even zombies would’ve been fun. Instead, it was with a whimper; the smallest of sounds, really, a virus of all things. Dubbed the X1N1 virus, X for short, it was the most virulent strain of swine flu ever seen, and no one knew where it had come from or how it had become so lethal. I like to think it was just Darwinism at its finest. Survival of the fittest, and this time around humanity wasn’t all that fit. Almost the entire population had already become infected before the virus had even been identified and named. But X was a clever little bug; it didn’t always kill its host immediately. Sometimes it would just lay dormant: weeks, months, sometimes even longer. Like years, in my case.

The body count skyrocketed into the millions in the first few weeks after the initial discovery and diagnosis of the X virus. This of course brought on all sorts of responses: transportation was severely restricted in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease; the global economy crashed and burned; people panicked, and riots broke out at every grocery store and Walmart nationwide. News coverage attempted to continue where it could, though as time went on, it became more and more sporadic. Eventually only one network continued to broadcast, and all those fancy TVs were showing nothing but white snow or colored bars, in 1080p HD, of course. Martial law was inevitably declared, but unlike in most apocalypse-themed movies, it actually helped the situation.

Things finally settled into a kind of stunned calm. When the inevitability of the disease finally hit home, we all just learned to deal with it. There were several mass suicides among the scattered “End World” religious cults that sprang up almost as fast as the infection, but once they were gone, everyone else returned to their lives as best they could.

Even me.

* * * *

“John would’ve loved the garden this year,” I said with mixed pride and sadness. John and I had been partners for eleven years when the X virus arrived and changed everything. We had the 3,000-square-foot home in suburbia, two dogs, two cars, two incomes: every well-adjusted homo’s dream. Then one morning, I woke up to find that reality had broken down the door.

I glanced up to the sun; it was a hot summer afternoon in Texas, not that there was any other kind. I stripped off my shirt, soaked through with sweat, and tossed it aside as I knelt back down and resumed pulling weeds from around the vegetables. John had always wanted a garden, so we had taken part of the backyard and turned it into one. Tomatoes, squash, peppers of all kinds, cantaloupe, cucumbers, okra: everything a Southern garden needed, and then some. Now it was paying off more than he would have imagined, providing me with plenty of fresh food to eat. This season had been especially abundant; ironic, considering there weren’t very many people around to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

One of the benefits, if there was such a thing, to a disaster of this proportion was that there weren’t any more bills to pay. No mortgage, no electricity bill, no water bill. It just didn’t matter anymore when everyone was focused on trying to survive another day. Part of the healing process for me involved yard work, and the dogs certainly helped fill the void John had left behind. I had the best-looking yard in the neighborhood since I didn’t have to worry about a water bill anymore. Not that there was an HOA anymore to appreciate it, the bastards.

That made me laugh out loud, and I had to stop weeding for a moment. I clambered back to my feet, still grinning, to get some water from the hose when I noticed I was being watched. The guy next door was in his second-floor window watching me working in the garden. I couldn’t remember his name… Brian? Bret? Something like that. John and I hadn’t lived here very long and hadn’t gotten a chance to really know the neighbors when the virus had sent everything to Hell in a hand basket. Still, I waved, trying to be neighborly. He just stared blankly and turned away from the window after a moment. That caused my smile to waver a bit, but I just shrugged, determined not to get depressed on such a beautiful day.

Hauling the hose out, I turned it on and took a long drink. The water was refreshing, cold and clear. In a fit of childishness, I put my thumb over the end of the end and pointed it toward the sky, letting the droplets rain down on me. I let loose a raucous whoop from somewhere in my childhood and tipped my head back, laughing. The dogs, female and male boxers named Pagan and Apollo, respectively, decided that they wanted to play in the water, too, and joined me in the impromptu shower. The water felt good on my skin, and soon I was soaking wet, my shorts clinging heavily to me.

“Screw it, who’s gonna say anything?” I said as I dropped the hose and shucked off my shorts. I had swim trunks somewhere, but who cared if I was in my Calvin Kleins in my own backyard? “Not me, that’s for damn sure.” I turned the water off and got back on all fours to continue weeding. The dogs nosed around the wet grass for a few minutes before retiring to a shadier spot of the yard. A little while later, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and I stopped and turned slowly to glance over my shoulder. Neighbor guy was at his window again.

Maybe it was the Texas heat frying my brain, but in a purely random moment of perversion, I pretended not to notice as I stood up and stretched languidly. Yard work did sculpt muscles quite well, if I did say so myself. I turned the hose back on and drank again; this time, though, I put the flow above my head and let the icy water sluice down over me. I was only half conscious that white underwear, when wet, became rather transparent. That thought and the chill of the water had my nipples hard in seconds. I shot a glance back at the upstairs window and caught neighbor guy staring. I waved again, beaming, and this time I got a reaction: his eyes widened like a deer in headlights and he stumbled away from the window so quickly I think he fell. I felt bad for about half a minute, but he didn’t return the rest of the day.

Before it was completely dark, I jumped in the shower to wash off the day’s sweat and dirt and then threw on some clean clothes. I had a basket full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and ears of corn, and there was no way I was going to eat it all before it went bad. It occurred to me that maybe neighbor guy would like some, so I walked across my beautifully manicured lawn and up to his front door. I rang the bell and stood, smiling, holding my basket of goodies.

“Basket of goodies, indeed,” I snorted.

What’s gotten into you today, Jer?” inside voice asked, amused.

When there was no answer, I pressed the doorbell again. I knew it worked because I could hear it, but no one came to the door. At least I didn’t hear them come to the door. I got the impression that I was being watched again, through the peephole this time, so I just spoke to the air. “Hey, it’s, uh, Jeremy… from next door… I have all these vegetables and I can’t eat them all by myself… so I, uh… I thought I’d give you some… you know… to eat… so, uh… yeah… here.” I finished abruptly and placed the basket on the step and scurried back home.

“Wow, you’re a real master with words there, Jer… ‘you know, to eat’… moron,” I berated myself, shaking my head as I closed the front door.

* * * *

A few days later I was making coffee when I heard a small sound on my front porch. I quietly set the cup down, grabbed one of the baseball bats I kept in every room of the house, and moved toward the door. Before the military had restored a semblance of order, it had been necessary to defend yourself, so I’d invested in some bats from a sporting goods store. It wasn’t like there was any pressing need to play ball any time soon; the American pastime had become survival.

I peered through the peephole but didn’t see anyone there. Moving to the side window, I pulled back the curtain just a fraction. Nothing. After another minute of silence, I unlocked the door and cracked it, peering out. No one there, but the basket I had used to deliver neighbor guy’s veggies was returned, empty.

“Well, guess he liked them,” I said, putting the bat down and opening the door to retrieve the basket. Once the door was secured again, I returned to my coffee.

Later that day, another Texas scorcher, I was back outside, shirt and shorts, working on the garden again. It was really the only thing that kept me sane. The nights were hard enough, but I had made John a promise that I would go on until it was my time, or until X decided it was my time. And, for the most part, I succeeded pretty well. It had been months since the last time I cried when I went to bed, so that had to be a good sign.

“Well, John, you sure would hate me right now, this garden looks fantastic. And it should, since I’m out here every damn day working on it,” I said to the air. I had taken to talking to myself/John a few months ago as a way to give voice to all the thoughts that jumbled themselves in my head. I’d talk to the dogs, of course, but they weren’t as engaging of conversationalists.

“My name’s not John,” said a quizzical voice from behind me, startling me so hard I went face first into the dirt with a yelp. “Oh god, I’m sorry. I… I didn’t mean to scare you like that….”

I turned over and sat up, wiping the back of my hand across my face and searching for the source of the voice. I finally caught sight of a shadow behind the fence that separated my yard from neighbor guy’s yard.

“Oh, it’s fine. I just really like to get into my gardening,” I replied, spitting mud. The sudden ridiculousness of my predicament hit me and I sputtered into laughter, which was soon followed by that of neighbor guy.

“Thanks,” I said, when I could speak again.

“For… for what?”

“I haven’t heard the sound of another laugh in a long time,” I said, smiling through the dirt at the spot where I knew he was standing. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was able to see me.

“Y-yeah…” was all he could say, and I could hear the weight of pain in that one word.

“So you liked the vegetables then, huh?” I asked quickly—last thing I wanted to do was bring us both back to dark places. There would be ample time for darkness later.

“Oh, yes… very much. I wanted to say thank you, but….” he trailed off, and I realized how difficult it was for him to be speaking to me, even now. Poor guy, he didn’t have anyone to talk to.

Neither do you, Jer, unless you count yourself—and that’s just not healthy,” inside voice chattered at me.

The silence was growing uncomfortable, so I quickly injected, “Well, as you can see, there’s more where that came from. You’re welcome to it any time; I can’t eat it all by myself in any case.” I finally had the presence of mind to get back on my feet, but I didn’t move toward the fence just yet. Too many months of paranoia kept us both at safe distances from each other. “I’m Jeremy, by the way, Jeremy Petroklus.” I waved at the fence.

“I’m… Bradley… Simms,” he replied.

I was close. Bret, Bradley, whatever,” inside voice mentally shrugged.

“Nice to, uh, meet you, Bradley,” I said, even though we were about fifteen feet apart and an eight-foot wooden privacy fence separated us. “I think I’m gonna take a break, this heat can really be a kill—I mean—hot….”

You really are a moron, aren’t you?” inside voice seriously wanted to know.

“Uh, yeah, it’s pretty hot again today. If you… if you ever want, I have a pool… in the backyard… you’re welcome to it… least I can do for the vegetables.” He stumbled awkwardly over the words.

“Thanks, Bradley, I just may take you up on that offer,” I said politely.

“No, really… you can use it any time….”

I stared at the fence a moment before replying, “Thanks, I will.”

* * * *

An hour later, I was on Bradley’s doorstep with my swimming gear: the trunks I’d finally located, towel, flip-flops, sunglasses, and sunscreen. I pressed the bell and waited. A few moments later, I heard the clicking of the locks and the door opened, giving me my first look at Bradley Simms. He was about the same height as me, six-foot-something, but where I was blond and blue eyed, he was dark with piercing green eyes. He was near my age as well, mid-thirties or so, with a wedding band on his finger. A day’s worth of stubble stippled his strong jaw line, and the close-fitting t-shirt and shorts showed off that he wasn’t the typical chunky married suburbanite.

Good thing you have sunglasses on, your eyes are bulging out of your head,” inside voice confirmed, causing me to blink several times before I smiled. “Hi there, neighbor.”

“Hi,” Bradley said with a nervous smile. “Come on in.”

He led me through the hall and into the kitchen, where the sliding glass door opened onto his backyard. I took a moment to glance around, admiring the house. “Nice place, Bradley,” I commented sincerely. My eyes stopped for a long moment on a picture of Brad and his wife, and I knew immediately why he had been so reclusive. I was the same way for months after John died.

“Thanks, you can call me Brad. All my friends do… well, they did back when I had friends….” He trailed off again, and I could see the darkness creeping back into his eyes, so I quickly moved the conversation forward.

“So, show me that pool you were bragging about earlier.”

He came back to himself with a little jolt, as if he’d already forgotten I was there, and flashed that nervous smile again as he showed me out to the patio and pool beyond.

It was beautiful, landscaped all around with plants and decorative rocks. The water was crystal clear and very inviting.

“Wow, it’s gorgeous, Brad.” I whistled appreciatively as I laid my towel across the back of a chaise lounge that sat beneath an Italian-style pergola.

“Thanks, I work on it every day,” he said, eyes moving critically, looking for anything that might be out of place or need work.

“Relax a bit,” I said with a grin, playfully chucking him on the shoulder, “I’ll feel really guilty if you start working while I enjoy the water.”

He looked at his shoulder where I’d made contact as if he couldn’t figure out what had happened and then shifted his gaze up at me with a confused expression.

I blushed nervously and grabbed my bottle of sunscreen, flipping open the top and squeezing out a liberal amount into my palm, then slathering it onto my shoulders and chest. Brad turned back to scan his yard, but I noticed he was watching me out of the corner of his eye.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” he said abruptly and walked quickly back into the house.

I watched him go as I finished with the sunscreen and took off my shades and flip-flops. I tentatively dipped a foot into the water; it was the perfect temperature for a sweltering Texas summer. Grinning like a teenager, I let out a loud “WOO HOO!” and did a cannonball into the deepest part of the pool. I came up for air, the grin and my hair firmly plastered to my face. The water was fantastic, and for a few moments anyway, I let all the horrors of the past slip from my mind and just enjoyed the moment.

Brad still hadn’t returned after I’d made a few laps of the pool, so I hauled myself out and grabbed my towel, draping it across the lounge chair and then reclining on top to let myself drip dry in the summer sun. I picked up my sunglasses and settled them into place just as the glass door slid open and closed.

Brad strode to the chair beside mine and spread his towel.

“How was it?” he asked.

“Fantastic, thanks so much for inviting me over,” I said, eyes closed, enjoying the feel of the water drying on my skin and the voice of another human being.

A moment later I heard a splash and opened my eyes to see Brad’s head pop up above the water. I smiled and let my eyes slip closed again, suddenly drowsy from the heat and water.

“You’re right, the water’s perfect,” he said, and I opened my eyes again in time to see Brad pull himself from the pool. It was like one of those slow-motion moments in a movie: Brad put both hands on the side of the pool, and I could see the muscles in his shoulders bunch as he heaved himself out of the water. His chest slid into view, water streaming down through the hair arranged in an attractive pattern that continued down in a small line to the top of his trunks. When those came into view, I think I actually gasped; they were the box-cut type, not at all what I would have pictured a married suburbanite like Brad would wear. They fit perfectly, outlining everything a guy like me appreciated.

And then some,” inside voice whistled in my head.

As he moved over to the lounger, I had to put one hand under my chin to close my mouth and the other over my crotch to keep the rapidly growing hard on from becoming visible.

Been a long time huh, Jer?” Inside voice was a master of the obvious.

“You… wanna beer, Jeremy?” Brad asked.

“Oh, uh, sure… yeah, that’d be great,” I said quickly, and when he turned and strode to the kitchen, I watched the muscles play across his back, legs, and ass, then quickly took the towel out from under me and draped it across my midsection to hide the tent I’d made.

“Here ya go,” he said and handed me an open bottle before straddling his chair and sitting back.

We sat in silence for a time, enjoying the sun, the water, and the company. After a while, I broke the silence with an invitation.

“Hey Brad, would you like to come over for dinner?” I asked tentatively.

“Oh… well, I don’t wanna be a bother,” he began.

“Oh no,” I cut him off quickly, “it’s no bother, I haven’t had anyone to cook for since… since John died, and I’d really like to make dinner for more than one for a change.” Until the words were actually said out loud, I hadn’t realized how true it was. I was lonely, and had been for a long time. The dogs were definitely a help, but they didn’t make up for real human companionship. I think Brad was lonely too, though he wouldn’t admit it.

“Um… okay, sure. Why not?” he said, giving me a small smile as he tipped his beer back for a drink.

* * * *

Slow down before you break something,” inside voice said in exasperation. I was rushing around the kitchen like my hair was on fire.

“Okay, stop, deep breath,” I said out loud, following my own instructions and trying to calm down. I hadn’t had anyone over for any reason since John died, and while this wasn’t a date, it sure had the feel of one, somehow.

I had the table set and the food ready by the time the doorbell rang. I was still so giddy, I had to stop at the door and take another deep breath to steady myself before I opened it.

“Come on in!” I said a bit too loudly as I ushered Brad inside.

“Here, I… I brought you this,” he replied, offering me a bottle of wine.

“How thoughtful, you didn’t have to do that, Brad, thank you.” I smiled, and he blushed.

Before things could get any more awkward, I brought us into the dining room. “Have a seat, dinner will be ready in just a few minutes. Why don’t you open that bottle you brought?” I said and took down two wine glasses and set them on the table along with a corkscrew.

As I finished preparing the salads, Brad poured the wine and took a look around the room; seeing a picture of John and me on the sideboard, he paused and took a drink.

“This is you and John, isn’t it?” he inquired quietly.

“Oh, uh… yeah, we were together for eleven years,” I answered as I brought the salad and plates to the table. Brad was still standing in front of the picture.

“Do you… miss him?” He said it so softly I almost didn’t hear the question.

I stopped and waited for him to turn toward me in the silence before answering. “Every minute of every day. But life goes on, and that means I have to do the best I can with what I’ve got.”

There was another long moment of silence as Brad’s eyes stared into mine, then he tossed back the last of his wine and moved to pour some more.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be such downer,” he apologized.

“No, it’s ok, it’s been over three years now and it’s good to talk about it,” I said, “have a seat.” I pulled out a chair and extended a hand in invitation.

We ate the salad in relative silence before I got up to get the rest of the meal. I don’t think Brad had had a real home-cooked meal in quite a while, the way he went at it. After a few minutes, he paused and looked up at me across the table.

“Sorry, this is really good Jeremy, thanks.” He flashed a real smile then, and a little color came to his cheeks.

“You’re very welcome. It’s nice to have someone over for a change, I was getting tired of eating alone all the time… well, the dogs are here, but I don’t let them sit at the table with me,” I said with a grin, but my heart clenched as I realized how true it was. I missed simple human contact; just conversation with another living being was hard to come by these days thanks to X, the tiny bastard.

We finished the meal and moved to the living room, where we sat across the coffee table from one another. I had brought the wine and refilled our glasses as I sat.

He took a long drink and then spoke. “Lisa and I were only married for three years before… before the virus. We had just bought this house after I’d gotten a promotion at the firm and were starting to talk about a family.” I could hear the anguish in his voice, and his chin trembled with the effort to not break down completely. Suddenly, his eyes focused on me and he sat forward on the couch, the intensity in his voice taking me aback. “How do you do it, Jeremy? How do you keep going after… after…” he trailed off, unable to say the words, his free hand fluttering aimlessly like a wounded bird.

I looked at him, compassion welling up. “I just do, Brad. John made me promise that I’d keep living as long as I could, doing whatever I needed to do. So I do. I work on the garden, I read, I play with the dogs, I watch movies… I do everything I did on a daily basis when John was alive. It’s what’s gotten me through it so far, and I think it’ll continue to get me through it until it’s my turn.”

He kept staring at me, past me, processing what I’d said and working through his own pain, his eyes wet and his glass empty. Suddenly he came back to the present. “I’m sorry… I should go… thanks again for dinner, Jeremy.” He rose and headed to the door before I could say anything.

I reached the door as he opened it. “Brad, wait….”

He turned suddenly and embraced me, the breath he held released in a sob, but he stepped back quickly and tried to smile, then turned and headed across the yard to his house. I was left reeling in my doorway wondering what had just happened and struggling to think of a way to help my new friend work past his demons.

* * * *

I waited a day before going over to use the pool again. Brad’s car was gone, so I let myself in through the side gate and claimed the same lounger I had previously used. This time I didn’t cannonball into the water, but slipped in and just floated along the surface, staring up at the cloudless Texas sky through the polarized lenses of my sunglasses.

After a while in the pool, I climbed out and moved the chaise to a sunny spot, laying it flat, and stretched onto my stomach to give my back and legs a more even tan. I usually wore a shirt when gardening, so the “farmer tan” was what I had ended up with. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep, the sun adding to the drowsiness brought on by the sound and smell of the water.

I’m pretty sure the dream I was having was about John and I, but when I felt strong, gentle hands rubbing sunscreen onto my back, I couldn’t help but let out a little groan of pleasure. The hands stuttered a moment but then continued to do their work, moving from my shoulders to my lower back. They skipped from there to the backs of my thighs, working down to my ankles, and when they came back up, the hands slid up the inside of my right leg, sending little bolts of lightning up and down my spine straight to my groin. That brought me fully awake, but I didn’t move, afraid any sudden movement might only embarrass Brad more than he had already been.

Plus this feels fuckin’ awesome!” inside voice all but purred.

“Brad… what are you doing?” I said very quietly in my most nonconfrontational voice.

There was the sound of breath inhaled, but the hands continued their motion up the inside of my thigh, coming dangerously close to sliding beneath the mesh lining of my trunks. “You were getting red… I had to put some lotion on you so you wouldn’t burn.” His voice was husky and there was a tone I hadn’t heard before. “Why, does it not feel good?” His hands stopped.

“No, no it feels good… great, actually. It’s just—well, you’re um… kinda turning me on….” I think I was actually blushing, so it was good my face was turned away from where he knelt beside the lounger.

Rather than stop, Brad took one hand and slid it across to my other thigh and began to rub gentle circles closer and closer to the edge of my trunks with both hands. I inhaled sharply as those strong, gentle fingers slipped under the mesh of my swimsuit, and the exhalation came out as a quivering moan.

“Brad,” I hissed, breathless, “do you know what you’re doing?” I was honestly worried. Here was this straight man, gorgeous, yes, but heterosexual nonetheless, rubbing his hands up the insides of my thighs.

He didn’t answer, but when his hands made contact with that sweet, sensitive spot at the junction of my legs, I all but jumped off the lounger. I turned over so fast Brad fell over.

“What’s wrong? Am I not doing something right?” he asked with wounded concern. I was staring at his eyes, those emerald green pools, when I realized he was wearing that box-cut swimsuit from the other day. Only this time, the outline of an erection was clearly visible, along with a small wet spot.

“N-no, no… unless you count giving me a raging boner ‘wrong,'” I replied, and blushed where he could see me this time.

Brad hauled himself up and straddled my hips, grinding his hard on into my own with such force I thought he would push us through the woven straps of the chair. He pressed his lips to mine before I could protest. I tasted the vodka then and knew what had helped bring about these lowered inhibitions. His tongue was insistent, prying my lips apart in a furious, hungry kiss.

When I could breathe again a few minutes later, I placed my hands on the furry pecs in front of me and pushed back gently. “Wait, wait… Brad, you don’t know what you’re doing,” I protested, though maybe not strongly enough. It was difficult to think clearly with this gorgeous man on top of me; something made more so since it hadn’t happened in a long time.

“Yes I do, Jeremy,” he retorted, and moved to kiss me again, but I locked my elbows, holding him at bay.

You really are a moron,” Inside voice was clearly irritated.

“You’ve been drinking, I don’t think you know what you’re doing… with me…” I said, concerned, but also trying desperately to ignore the throbbing in my groin.

“Yeah, so I’ve had a few drinks, but I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m sitting in your lap trying to kiss you,” he replied matter-of-factly and leaned toward me again.

This time my elbows gave way, and I allowed him in again for several more minutes of deep, passionate kisses, then pushed him back to catch my breath once more. Both of us now had large wet spots in our trunks.

“Brad wait… you’re not—I don’t want to take advantage of you or our friendship,” was my feeble-sounding excuse. Sure, I wanted him, badly now that he had gotten things so heated, but was it worth the risk of losing a friend, especially when you never knew when X would decide to claim you?

“Jeremy, I want this—I want you… I’ve been so lonely… after Lisa died… just being with someone, with you… you’re so nice, and… and…” he trailed off, unable to form the words, and the pain in those green eyes almost broke my heart. I could certainly empathize with what he felt.

I held him back a moment longer, searching his eyes for deception. “Okay… as long as you understand that this isn’t a pity fuck, for either of us, got it?” I gently ran my thumb under his eye, wiping away the tear that had formed there.

He smiled and nodded, and I moved my arms, letting that muscular hairy chest rub against my own as my arms encircled his waist and pulled him down on top of me. He groaned as my hands slid down to his ass and squeezed. He started to hump, grinding our cocks together, when I slipped my fingers into the waistband of his trunks and tugged them down over his muscular glutes. He stood up then, still straddling the chaise, and started to finish taking them off when I grabbed his wrists.

“No, let me.” I looked up at him and he flashed his teeth wolfishly, putting his hands on his hips as I sat forward and slowly, slowly pulled those trunks down. His dick was so spring loaded, it almost put my eye out as it came free of the Lycra and swung toward me, trailing a sticky string of pre-come. I looked up at those green eyes as I stuck out my tongue and swiped at the swollen head, tasting the salty-sweet gathered there.

“Oh fuck, Jeremy!”

“I guess I’m doing something right, huh?” I replied, and with a wicked little grin, I showed him one of my many talents, swallowing him to the base in one long gulp that had him burying his hands in my hair to keep from falling over. I stayed down, inhaling the scent of musk and soap for a moment before sliding back up and letting him relax his grip on my hair a bit. His balls were big and hung down pendulously, perfectly. I scooped them up in one hand and ran my tongue over the fuzzy orbs, satisfied with the gasps that resulted.

“W-wait!” he gasped, “I-I wanna make you f-feel good too!”

“You are, Brad, you are,” I assured him, but he wasn’t convinced and moved back from me, stepping out of his trunks completely and then kneeling on the chaise to tug and pull at mine. He couldn’t get them off fast enough, but when they were off, he sat there, staring at my stiff prick oozing pre-come. “Um… I’m not sure what I should do now,” he said with a little embarrassment.

I laughed, but not unkindly, and sat up.

“Let me give you some pointers—so to speak,” I grinned. “Here, sit in front of me just like this,” I said, and guided him to straddle the lounger like I was so that our knees were pressed together and we could see and touch everything in front of us. “Brad, you’ve got the same plumbing—when in doubt, do to me what feels good on you.”

He paused and cocked his head to the side with a little “hmpf” as if the thought hadn’t ever occurred to him before. Wasting no time, he wrapped his hand around my shaft, giving it a good squeeze and sliding his hand up to milk a big dollop of clear slick. With his thumb he began to rub it around the head of my cock, and my eyes rolled back as I groaned.

“That feel good, Jeremy?” he asked huskily.

“Uh huh, keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll be there in no time.”

“Well, I’d better slow down then,” he teased, taking both hands and moving them up my sweat-covered chest to pinch both of my erect nipples as he leaned in to kiss me some more. Taking my cue, I moved my hands across his hairy chest, running my fingers through the soft, dark curls before finding his nipples and working them into two stiff pink nubs. Then it was Brad’s turn to moan. Pushing him back from my mouth, I bent and swirled my tongue around first one nipple, then the other, pausing on the second to suck and bite gently.

We took turns stroking each other, finding just the right places, speeds, and pressures that made the other’s eyes roll back and jaw go slack. Then I pushed him back onto his elbows so that his legs were spread wide, his beautiful curved cock was pointed up and toward me, and those plump balls were nestled underneath. I collared his cock at the base with one hand and leaned down, taking the head into my mouth and running my tongue around the edge. With my other hand, I cradled his balls, tugging them gently, and extended two fingers to rub the spot right behind them.

“Oh God, Jeremy, that feels so good,” he gasped, legs trembling, barely able to remain propped up thanks to my ministrations. I continued working him over for several minutes.

Suddenly he sat forward, pushing me back so that I sprawled on my half of the lounger. True to his word, he did his best to make me feel good, and what he lacked in technique he more than made up for in enthusiasm. Doing his best to mimic what I had just done to him, Brad tentatively tasted cock for the first time, running his tongue up the side and over the head of my prick, following the trail of pre-come.

He locked eyes with mine when I managed to get up on my elbows and slowly took as much of me in as he could before his gag reflex kicked in. Not one to be deterred, Brad kept at it and quickly learned to use his hands to stimulate other parts of me as well: nipples, balls, and taint in equal measure. After a while he left off sucking cock to ask, “Are you ok? Is this good?”

“Oh, hell yes,” I said. “For a straight guy, you sure pick this up fast!”

He grinned and his cheeks colored, then he swiped his tongue over the head of my cock again, sending shudders through my whole body.

“C’mere,” I said with a growl and sat back up, pulling myself closer to him and hooking my legs over his so that our bodies could press fully against each other. Our arms wrapped each other in a tight embrace, hands moving as our tongues took turns exploring the other’s mouth.

Brad was sucking my earlobe when I slipped my hand between us, groping for the pair of dueling dicks wedged there. We were drenched in sweat, and between that and what seemed like a gallon of pre-come, I didn’t need any additional lube. Finding the prizes, I squeezed them together, moving my hand up and down quickly.

“Fuck, Jeremy, you’re gonna make me come if you keep that up,” he breathed in my ear.

“Well, I’m not far behind,” I said as he moved around and we began kissing furiously again, gasping and grunting into each other’s mouths in time with my stroking. I increased the speed of my stroke and we both began to writhe, edging closer and closer to the point of release.

The sounds we were both making were steadily increasing in frequency and pitch when I felt my orgasm begin. Pulling away from his lips for a second, I looked into those beautiful green eyes and whispered, “Come with me, Brad.” He stared back at me for that one perfect moment, and then our mouths were locked in their devouring embrace, uttering grunts, moans, and sobs as we came together on the chaise lounger. We shuddered and rocked, locked together with legs and lips and arms as I pumped all the fear, anger, and frustration out of us. We stayed like that, rocking gently, arms still wrapped around each other for some time after we’d crested the impossibly high wave and slid blissfully down the other side together.

* * * *

It was two days before we spoke again. I thought it best to let things cool down a bit before trying to swim or make dinner again. I finally broke the silence by delivering another basket of vegetables. To my surprise, he opened the door and invited me in, leading me to the kitchen, where he took the basket and set it on the breakfast bar.

“Hey,” he said awkwardly.

“Hey,” I returned in equal measure.

An uncomfortable silence ensued, until finally it was Brad who broke the tension. “What does it mean if I want… if I want you around more?” he asked, fidgeting and not looking me in the eye.

“Um… I dunno, Brad. I just brought vegetables….” I replied.

He looked up then and snorted an involuntary laugh that quickly broke the tension between us.

“Look, Jeremy… I’m straight,” he said out of nowhere.

“Um… okay, Brad, I don’t remember that ever being in question. Is it?”

“It’s just—I’ve never—when we did…” he stumbled over the words and blushed, looking down at the floor.

I stepped a little closer. “Look, at this point, with everything that has happened to us and the world, I don’t think your sexuality is really an issue. But that’s just me.” I put my hand on his shoulder and realized we were both trembling. “Brad, I haven’t been with anyone since John died. I want us to be friends, and if we’re more than that, so what?” I told him, realizing the depth in those words as they left my mouth. X had changed everything; now every day was completely uncertain.

He looked up and stepped closer to me, wrapping those arms around me and hugging me tightly. We stood there a long time, and when he finally began to loosen his grip, his face passed close to mine and he leaned in to kiss me, tenderly and with such intensity that my head reeled.

When we parted lips, he asked, “Jeremy… what does this make me?” genuinely concerned and confused all at once.

“Brad, I’m not sure, but… I think it makes you… human.”

His held breath came out as a laugh, which quickly spread to me.

“Fuck you, Jeremy,” he said playfully.

“Mmm… maybe,” I retorted with a sly wink that made his cheeks redden but his nostrils flair with arousal. We stood there, in his kitchen, holding each other as the rest of the world crashed, ever so slowly, down around us.

* * * *

The next day, after hearing the latest viral-induced body count on TV, we worked on tearing down the fence that separated our yards.

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