"That went well, didn't it? I'm sorry, North."
"It was bound to happen sooner or later, Dad. Sooner or later."
"Maybe we should give them more credit. I'm sure Jason's never confronted a situation like ours before."
"At least, it's not the beginning of school."
"We'll get through it, North. I love you, kiddo."
"You, too, Dad. When's Dad Squared getting in?"
"A couple of hours. Let's work on getting unpacked before he gets back."
North ran through the probabilities of how this would go — how quickly word would spread in this smaller pond with fewer denizens to cull for allies.
Allies? To hell with them. If they couldn't see how loving his parents were, then fuck them all. He would do anything for Tom and Jim, just as they had for him, always.
Getting high-speed internet out here was a first-class miracle. None of the men in the house could live without that connection. Tom had deadlines, Jim needed to read films, CT scans, and MRIs at the house sometimes, and North needed the tenuous connection to his friends, especially one of them. In his room, he opened Skype and connected with Annie.
"Ready to hear me whine for a while, sweet one?"
"That bad, North?"
"I think so. I miss you so much. I might as well be halfway across the continent. I want to hold you and make out."
"Same here, big boy. You'd better show up this weekend like you promised. How are the dads doing?"
"Okay, I think. They're having some guilt about marooning me on this volcanic island. You're beautiful, you know."
"You, too. I wish it was safe to have Skype sex!"
"Possible, but not smart. Besides, I want the real thing, so I'll wait and practice celibacy."
"Like you could make it for a day without getting off. That's fine as long as I'm the fantasy."
"You mean you don't have all the locals out there smitten?"
"Not exactly. I've only met one guy, and he ran away screaming when he found out about the dads."
"His loss. Listen, lonely boy, I have to go, but I'll see you Saturday. Everyone's looking forward to you being home."
"This hasn't been enough time to finish whining, but see you then. Wear the chastity belt in the meantime, okay?"
"That's the kind of talk that'll keep you from getting any, smart ass. Bye."
When the Skype screen disappeared, North padded over to his bed and flopped back on it. Then he did what boys do after they've talked with the one they love who's a long way away. He got the lube and gave himself the attention he so richly deserved.
Cleaning up, he thought that one benefit of growing up around gay men was their relaxed attitude about masturbation. His dads had suggested using the lube and had provided some for him.
Both dads were absolutely attentive to boundaries with North. The boundaries didn't preclude talking about anything that North wanted to discuss, but they did preclude relating in any other than a father-son way.
One thing that really pissed off North was the assumption that gay men adopted in order to molest. The one fight he'd been in in Portland was the result of some idiot's suggestion that his dads adopted him for sex. He knew kids who'd been abused, and most of the abusers were heterosexuals, priests or teachers, or boy-fucking scout leaders.
* * * * *
Jason's mother asked, "How did it go? What are they like? Any kids? What do they do?"
"Mama, slow down. Where's Papa?"
"In town for a while. Something wrong?"
"Well, they're not exactly what I expected. I met a kid my age named North and one of his fathers."
"Yeah, I suppose they're, you know, gay, and I think North is adopted."
"North is a strange name for a white. He isn't from the Nation?"
"I don't think so, Mama. He's fair and blond."
"You didn't feel unsafe over there?"
"Mama, they're not serial killers. North seems like a nice guy. I didn't handle the situation very well. He probably thinks I hate him."
"Why would he think that?"
"I found out he has two fathers, and I ran away.
"I have to believe he's experienced that reaction before. If you think he's a potential friend, you'll have to make it right. Look, Jasey, we shouldn't lie to your father, but I think he should find out about their family on his own."
"What do you think, Mama? Is their family wrong?"
"The church says so, but that's the church that almost annihilated the People. I'm willing to give them a chance, but your father maybe not. You're a man, now. You have to find the right way for yourself."
"Thanks, Mama. I pay attention when you speak from your heart."
"You should always speak to me from your heart, Jasey."
Jason quickly looked down. Some things in his heart weren't ready to be spoken: suspicions and questions about himself — things better left in the darkness. But North's unusual family presented an opportunity to bring a little light to the dark corners of his heart. He needed to mend fences with them.
* * * * *
North's dads were fond of saying that physical activity lifted the spirits and evaporated stress. North kissed them both on the cheek and went out to run off yesterday's problems. He had hoped to join the cross-country team in the coming school year, but if Jason spread the word, that might be impossible. He was good, and he was fast. He had a runner's body, except his upper body was a little more developed than was usual for a runner. You didn't live with two gay fitness freaks without being fit enough to keep up. Out the door and down along the drive toward the dirt road, running in only shorts and shoes, long blond hair tied back, iPhone on a band around his left biceps, North smiled from inside to out at Mt. Adams rising before him. He had to get up there soon.
The intersection of the drive and the dirt road brought North to a meeting with Jason, who waited by the old truck. North pulled up, yanked his ear buds out, and looked at Jason suspiciously. "What?"
Jason looked from North's blond hair, down across his bare chest, over his running shorts to the end of his surprisingly long legs. He jerked his eyes up to North's face.
"Look, I acted like an ass, yesterday. I just wanted to apologize. I was surprised and didn't handle it well. I'm sorry."
Something about the way Jason looked at him reminded North of the way his Portland friend Jonathan had looked at him when they had first met. "Apology accepted."
As he started to run again, Jason called after him, "You've got every right to make this hard for me, but I'm trying to say that I like you, and I liked meeting your dad. He seems like a nice man. I'm sure you've all had your share of grief, and I don't want to be part of that. Please, don't be an asshole and not give me a chance."
"How long have you been waiting here?"
"A little more than an hour."
"Why didn't you just come up to the house?"
"This is hard for me. I don't usually behave badly toward other people. I didn't know if you'd talk to me."
"Okay. I'm running up toward your place. Drive back, change, and run with me. I'll go easy on you so you survive."
There was the smile that Jason had noticed yesterday. Shit, North has great eyes.
Jason hopped back in the truck and drove toward his house, leaving North to wait for the dust to settle before starting in again. The situation was weird, and North didn't quite trust Jason's change of heart. Still, both his fathers had taught him to give people a chance, though not to be stupid about it.
By the time North ran the mile and half to the drive up to Jason's house, Jason was waiting, dressed much like North.
Damn, North thought, Jonathan would love this view, and I better keep Jason away from Annie.
He just kept running, and Jason fell in beside him. North didn't set a torrid pace, but was pleased that Jason had no trouble keeping up. A running partner is a great gift. Maybe, he had found one.
They talked about the high school and the cross-country and track teams. The school symbol, a timberwolf, was not a bad one. Jason told North he could make the team with no trouble. They were light on distance runners. They didn't talk about North's family. Finally, North suggested a break. Sitting beside the dirt road, North saw that Mt. Adams hadn't seemed to change position even though they had run close to four miles.
"You go up there much?"
"Every chance I get. My mama is part of the Yakama Nation, and we spend a lot of time around Bird Creek Meadows near Hellroaring Canyon. Let me know when you want to go."
"I will. Now, you have questions you've been too polite to ask. If we're going to be friends, you'll have to risk asking them."
They sat, sweat running across their skin. Jason could smell the faint scent of North's deodorant. He wasn't going to hide.
"How long have your dads been together?"
"Seventeen years. They're the most married people I know, even though they can't get married here. They did get married in Vermont, but that doesn't mean shit here. They know it's just a piece of paper, and I know they'll be together until one of them dies.
“You know how hard it is for older kids to get adopted? I was three and almost past my expiration date. They had to go through hell to get me, and I know how much I mean to them." North was almost in tears.
Jason reached over and touched his shoulder. "I never thought of it like that. I'm really happy that you found such great parents."
"I am one lucky SOB."
"You're going to think this is stupid, but you said to take some risk. So, is one of them like the mother and one the father?"
"Honest question. They're both fathers who can act like mothers when they have to. Plus, they both have sisters who practically love me like mothers. You'd be surprised at how thick the testosterone is in our house. They're just guys, very bright and caring guys, but guys."
"How'd you get your name? My mama thought you might be of the Nation, but I told her that you're too blond."
"North is my middle name. I came to them with all the names. We kept the first and middle, and I got Underhill for a last name from Dad Squared."
"Yeah, like Dad 2," North explained, drawing the word dad with an exponent two in the dust.
"Tom is Dad, and Jim is Dad Squared. It was easier than Dad One and Dad Two. They're both number one to me."
"Okay, here's the riskiest question. I know you said you have a girlfriend in Portland. You don't feel any pressure to be gay?"
"Oh, sure. There's tons of social pressure out there to be gay. Being gay is so desirable in everyone's mind. They may kick me out any day if I don't turn gay."
"Whoa. Sorry, man. You should be thankful I know sarcasm when I hear it. I just don't know much about what it's like to be gay."
"Well, you're talking to the wrong guy. If you really want to know, you can talk to either or both dads. They're easy to talk to, thank God."
"Speaking of God, do you guys go to church?"
"Not to the Church of the Holy Chosen Few. Sorry, didn't mean to imply anything. We went to an, I believe the phrase is, 'accepting and affirming' Presbyterian church in Portland occasionally, but nothing regular. Organized religion isn't generally too kind to us."
"No, I suppose not."
"Curious about anything else?"
"Well, I guess your dads have sex with each other. Doesn't that kind of gross you out?"
"Eeeew! Do you like to think about your parents mixing it up? Do two guys going at it gross me out? No. I have plenty of gay friends who aren't celibate, and they're not grossed out by Annie and me."
"I get your point! Let's head back. Can I come back to your place and meet Dad Squared?"
"Yep. We've rested too much. I'm going to school you in running on the way back!"
The run back was faster, and although North still restrained himself, Jason was winded when they ran up the front steps. Clambering in through the screen door, they saw Jim and Tom embracing in the living room and giving each other a kiss. North saw Jason flinch just a little, and then he coughed lightly. Jim and Tom turned toward the boys, and Jim stood and walked over.
"You must be Jason. I'm Jim." He extended his hand and shook Jason's.
"Dr. Underhill. Pleased to meet you."
"Jim's fine. North said you were helpful with his unpacking yesterday. Sorry I missed you," he said, his lips curling into a small smile.
"That's my fault. I sort of freaked at your family situation. Mama always says I'm too skittish. I'm sorry I didn't stick around, and I'm sorry I hurt North's feelings."
"Thanks for that. This one's special — and not just because we raised him."
"We're going upstairs for a few before Jason has to get home," North said.
Jason started up the stairs, when Jim asked North for a minute of time. North turned back, telling Jason to go on up.
"So, Tom was right. He's due a little credit."
"Yeah. I like him. Today, he looked me in the eye when we talked. There's something he isn't sharing, but it's not because he's afraid of us."
"What would you think of asking him to go to Portland with us for the weekend?"
"I guess. I don't want to scare him off again."
"Seeing you with your friends might be good for him."
"I'll ask. Thanks, Dad Squared." North gave him a hug and tore up the stairs.
"What the hell was that about?" Tom asked.
"Your gaydar didn't ping?"
"You're shitting me, right?"
"Not at all, sweet thing. You didn't notice how he looks at North? He's so desperate not to look. That's one confused and frightened kid."
Up in the room, the boys sat on North's bed. "Thanks for letting me meet the other dad. He's something, and he and Tom obviously love you."
"Just like Ozzie and Harry, don't you think?"
"Oh, the TV show. Right."
"So, the dads suggested that I ask you if you want to spend the weekend in Portland with us. I'd be happy if you could join us."
North could see Jason's internal debate. "I'd be kind of the odd man out, don't you think?"
"A little, but I wouldn't just cut you loose. I have to live with you when we come back, after all."
"Let me talk with Mama and call you later. When do you leave?"
"Tomorrow after breakfast. If it's okay, pack a bag and wander over for breakfast."
* * * * *
Jason arrived home before his father did. He had decided on the walk back to ask if he could go, but it would be easier with his mother.
"What's on your mind, Jasey? You're working up to something."
"Well, Mama, North and his dads invited me to spend the weekend with them in Portland. They still have a condo there. I'd like to go, but I know Papa probably needs me here."
"Why do you want to go? You've just met them."
"I didn't behave kindly, and he could be a good friend."
"I'll worry about your father. If you think you should go, then go."
"Thanks, Mama. I'm invited for breakfast before we leave. We'll be back Sunday night."
In bed, Jason heard the murmuring of his mother's discussion with his father. Even without clearly hearing the words, he knew that his father wasn't happy. His mother's calm, deliberate voice had the effect it always did on his father. He knew he'd be going.
Naked on his bed, he stroked his hard dick, trying to think about one of the girls at school or on TV; the trigger to his orgasm just eluding him until the image of North intruded and sent him over the edge. His orgasm wracked him, lasting, and leaving him exhausted. He had soaked his belly and chest. After cleaning up, he drifted off until the alarm awakened him and he headed for the shower.