Title: Home for the Holidays
Fandom: It! The Terror from Beyond Space
Pairing: Lieutenant Tinker (Andy) Anderson/Colonel
Disclaimer: They belong to Vogue Pictures,
United Artists, and Jerome Bixby, who wrote the screenplay.
Series/Sequel: This follows the events of The One Who
Got the Bullet Was Lucky.
one should be alone at Christmas. Andy brings Carr home for an old-fashioned
for the movie.
story was part of the Slash Advent Calendar -2004, which can be found at:
http://www.kardasi.com/Advent/2004/SAC-2004.htm I changed 'Ann' into *Andy*. (It's what they really should have done.) I also took the liberty of changing the names of the spaceships from Challenger 141 and 142 to
Home For the Holidays
The Defender, sister ship of the destroyed Defiance, had
just returned from her mission to Mars, and none of her crew had been debriefed
as yet, so I was surprised when I was called into Colonel Vickers' office. He
was the liaison between the US Space Command and the Science Advisory Committee,
but everyone knew that he was nothing more than a pencil-pushing brown-noser.
Unlike *my* colonel, who had eagles on his
shoulders, Vickers had silver oak leaves. However, he was still a colonel.
"You sent for me, sir?"
I took the paper he handed me. "What is this,
"Leave. I understand your actions aboard the Defender
were above and beyond. This is your reward."
I scanned it quickly. "A week?"
"Yes. Use it to go home and touch base with your
"Uh… thank you, sir, but I thought I needed to be
available for Colonel Carruthers' court martial?"
"It's been postponed for a couple of weeks. There's a
plane ready to take off. I suggest you be on it immediately."
"Yes, sir. I'll stop at the BOQ and pack…"
"No need, Lieutenant. I've had that done for you.
The corporal whose desk was in the outer office appeared in
the doorway with a duffel in his hand. "Here you are, sir."
"Thanks." I wasn't happy that someone had been in
my things, but there wasn't much I could do about it at that point.
"Now that that's all settled, Lieutenant, you'd better
be on your way. Dismissed."
I saluted and did an about face, and left his office. A
jeep was waiting outside the building, and I was driven to the airfield.
I should have realized it was an offer that was too good to
be true, but I needed to see my Pop, to tell her I was safe and that I'd fallen
There was an Air Force Base about twenty miles from my home
town, but I learned as I was about to board that my plane was a civilian one,
and its destination was the Blanchardville Municipal Airport, which was only a
couple of miles out of town. The airport was too small to need a taxi stand, and
once it landed, I headed for a phone booth to
call for a cab.
"Hullo?" The voice was a young boy's.
"Is Ernie there?" Ernie Allen and I had graduated
Blanchardville High together, and while I had gone on to the Air Force Academy,
he had taken over Robinson's Cab Company from Mr. Robinson, who said he was
moving to Arizona because the dry air was better for his lungs, but everyone in
town knew why he really was leaving. He liked to drink a bit, and no one felt
safe with him behind the wheel. Ernie had worked for Mr. Robinson part time
after school, so he was the logical one to take over for him, and his dad went
with him to the Blanchardville S&L and helped him take out the loan to buy
Ernie had married his high school sweetheart as soon as
she'd graduated, they'd had three children, and it looked like they were living
happily ever after.
"Nope." This had to be Ernie's oldest child, his
Someone in the background called, "Who's on the phone,
"Some man, mama."
"How many times have I told you to answer the phone,
'Allen residence'? Now go outside and play with your sisters."
young man!" There was some grumbling, and then, "Hello, may I help
"Sylvie? It's Tinker
"Tinker! How wonderful to hear from you! We're all so
proud, you know!"
"Oh, thank you."
"Yes, when we heard you were selected to join the crew
of the Defender… well, Miz Anderson wasn't the only one fit to burst a
"Where are you? This call must be costing you a fortune!"
"Actually, no. I'm at the airport. I just wanted to
know if Ernie could come pick me up, but I guess he's not available."
"He's at the airport. Or at least he should be.
There's some kind of seminar at
"Son of a gun, yes, I can see him from the terminal!
Listen, Sylvie, I'd better go. I'll be in town for a week, so I'll be sure to
"Sounds great, Tinker. Take care. Bye."
I hung up the phone, grabbed up my duffel bag, and bolted
for the Chevy Suburban that was parked just outside the terminal. Ernie had
found the station wagon to be perfect to use as a taxi cab.
"Tinker! Buddy! Long time no see!"
"Yeah." Not since my last leave, which was almost
a year ago.
"How are you?"
"Good, Ernie. And you?"
"Never better. You're lucky you caught me. I was just
"I know. I called your house, hoping you could drive
me back into town, and Sylvie told me you were dropping the mayor off so he
could catch a plane to
"Yeah. He says it's for a seminar. Never mind about
him. Throw your bag in the back seat and sit beside me."
Just like old times.
"Did Sylvie tell you how proud we all were when you
got that berth to Mars?
"Yes. That means a lot to me, Ernie, but I was just
doing my job, y'know."
He gave me a sideways grin. "Yeah, sure. Listen, how
long are you here for?"
"I've got a week's leave."
"That's great! Maybe we can get together for a couple
of drinks while you're home."
"That will be great."
On the ride to town, Ernie brought me up to date on what
was happening with the people we'd gone to school with.
"George has taken over his father's business."
"The S&L? Pop told me something about that, but I
thought he couldn't wait to shake the dust of this one-horse town from his
"His father had a heart attack, and his mother needed
him. And George's uncle never had a head for business."
"That's too bad. George always had wanderlust."
"For someone who swore he'd never settle down, he's
got an odd way of showing it. He and Mary are expecting. Again."
"What does this make? Four?"
"Five!" There was a grin in his voice.
"There's not much else to do here on a winter night."
"Well, she always said she'd love him all her
"How do you know that?"
"You know girls have always seen me as the
boy-next-door type. I just happen to have shoulders broad enough to cry
"Did Sylvie cry on your shoulder too?" he asked
"Don't be an ass, Ernie. You never wanted to get out
of Blanchardville." I thought of how George resented being tied down by his
family – Mary, their kids, his mother and Uncle Billy – and how some people
who wanted children would never be able to have them, and I sighed. "I hope
it works out for them."
"Me, too. George does love Mary, but he hates small
town life. And the way he feels about his job ... I think he may need a guardian
"I think we could all use one. What else is going
He was silent for a moment, then said, "Gaye and Steve
are splitting up."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Mmm hmmm." Ernie gave another of his sideways
"I am." I'd dated Gaye when we were sophomores,
but she'd preferred a senior who was captain of the football team, and the
mayor's son to boot, to the shortstop of the baseball team, and dumped me for
Steve. I'd been relieved, although I hadn't told anyone. That was something a
gentleman didn't do.
"Sure. Anyway, Gaye is back working at the Five and
Dime. She's gonna be tickled when she learns you're in town for a few days. I
bet if you ask her, she'd love to go out to dinner with you."
"Ernie, I really don't think…"
"No, you didn't see her face the first time she saw
you in your uniform. She always had a sweet spot for you… " not that I'd
noticed, "… but that was the icing on the cake. Steve had asked her to
marry him, and she'd been putting him off. I think she was really waiting for
you, but when she heard you'd got married, she announced they'd be tying the
knot as soon as it could be arranged. That was one of the town's biggest
weddings. It was too bad you couldn't make it."
I'd been trying desperately to keep my own marriage
"Say, maybe the two of you can even get back together
on a permanent basis."
Not if my life depended on it. "Ernie, that isn't a
"How come? Oh! You mean you're seeing someone!"
"Yes." I hoped he'd let it go.
"If it isn't serious… "
"It's serious as a heart attack."
"Shoot. Well, why didn't you bring her along? You know
the whole town would be thrilled to meet her."
I didn't think they'd be too thrilled if the town learned
'she' was a 'he'.
"Hey, we're home!" I got out of the cab and took
my duffel bag from the back seat. I propped it against my leg and reached for my
wallet. "How much do I owe you, Ernie?"
"It's on the house, pal. It's the least I can do for a
"No, listen, Ernie…"
"I'm not kidding. Now shut up, or I'll mop up the
sidewalk with you."
"Yeah? You and what army?" But I laughed. If he
was going to be stubborn about it, I'd just take him and his wife out to dinner,
and I'd see that the check came to me.
"Tinker!" Pop was on the front steps. She was
dressed in casual slacks, one of the few women in Blanchardville who was able to
carry off that look. "Oh, sweetie!" She hurried down the steps and ran
"I'll see you, Tinker." Ernie grinned, waved,
"Hi, Miz Anderson!" and drove off.
"Pop! It's so good to see you again!"
"Tinker! You're home!" She flung open the gate of
the white picket fence, and I caught her in my embrace and hugged her tight.
Pop and my mother had been friends for a long time. They'd
gone to school together, and when my biological father disappeared before I was
born, Pop had come to stay with her. They told me it was only supposed to be for
a little while, but somehow Pop had never left; even after Mom passed away Pop
was there, a solid presence who told me the facts of life, who came to all my
baseball games, who wept with pride when I'd been accepted into the Air Force
This was something the young woman I'd married had been
unable to accept. It was the final nail in the coffin of our marriage. She went
home to her mother and annulment proceedings were initiated.
"You're home!" Pop kissed my cheek and stepped
back. We were the same height, and our eyes were level; hers were bright with
tears, but she smiled. "Why didn't you call to let me know you were
"I would have, but there was barely enough time to
catch my plane." I slung my duffel bag over my shoulder, slid my arm around
her waist, and we walked toward the house. "Besides, I wanted to surprise
"Well, you certainly did."
"You mean to tell me Sylvie didn't call?"
"Scamp." She swatted my backside. "Are you
hungry? What am I saying? You're always hungry. Let's go in the kitchen, and
I'll make you something to eat."
"Thanks, Pop. I've missed your home cooking. Meals on
a spaceship just can't compare." Even the food prepared on Base left much
to be desired.
We walked up the steps to the porch and into the house. I
left my bag by the stairs that led to the second floor and followed Pop through
the dining room to the kitchen.
"Can I help?" She'd taught me early on how to put
together a good meal. I was looking forward to dazzling my lover with my
"No, you sit there and talk to me." She took a
package of bacon and a carton of eggs from the refrigerator.
This was it. I swallowed and picked nervously at the crease
in my uniform trousers.
"You know I was on that flight to Mars?"
She gave me a look of amused exasperation. "Tinker, we
do have radio and television and newspapers here in Blanchardville."
"Sorry. Well, we were going to bring Colonel
"I'm aware of that. Tinker, there's been a blackout on
any news regarding the Defender." She stood before me and tipped my chin
up, forcing me to meet her eyes. "Is something wrong, sweetie? What's going
I took a deep breath. "Pop, you know how you always
wanted me to fall in love?"
I never thought I would meet Colonel Edward Carruthers face
to face. After all, I was just a rock hunter who happened to be a lieutenant in
the Air Force, while he was a hero, the first man to go solo into space.
I'd been drawn to him from the time I'd seen him in a
newsreel at the local movie house. After that I looked for anything I could find
about him, the newspaper pieces that lauded his accomplishments, accompanied by
grainy pictures, the magazine articles about him, with their glossy photographs.
The one that struck me the most was of him on his return, standing proudly
beside his rocketship, his helmet tucked under his arm; that was the one I'd
tacked up onto my wall.
I hadn't understood what those feelings were; I took them
to be hero worship. In the town I grew up in, guys thought of those girls in the
centerfold of Playboy when they jerked off. I steadfastly refused to acknowledge
that my most intense orgasms were when I found myself staring at that photograph
of Captain Carruthers, as he'd been at the time.
He'd received one promotion after another and had gone on
to lead the first expedition to Mars.
The expedition to the red planet ended badly, with his
entire crew brutally slain by… something. He alone made it back to his
broken-backed ship to radio a frantic message reporting the deaths.
Of course, no one believed him. All the great scientific
minds insisted Mars was uninhabited, which was why they wanted to claim it for
the Earth. Circumstantial evidence decreed that, as the sole survivor, the
Colonel was the culprit.
A task force of biologists, physicists, medical doctors,
and engineers had been put together. A geologist was also needed, and I'd been
Under the command of Colonel Van Heusen, we would lift off
in the Defender from
In the photograph, he'd been attractive, but in person, his
dark hair and blue eyes took my breath away. How could this man be responsible
for the deaths of nine men?
As it turned out, he wasn't.
We did what we'd come to do and then lifted off, leaving
behind the shattered hull of the
But *it* had
reached sexual maturity before *it*
had been destroyed, and had impregnated Dr. Eric Royce.
However, more happened on that trip than our battle with
the creature who absorbed the fluid *it*
needed by osmosis, who survived on carbon dioxide, who planted embryos in our
hapless crew members.
Colonel Carruthers and I became lovers.
He was my first lover. He was not the first person I'd had
sex with, that would have been my wife. I'd married right out of the Academy,
but that youthful union didn't last. I wasn't what she wanted, being too wrapped
up in rocks, and she… Well, my Pop had taught me that a gentleman didn't kiss
Nor was Carr the first man I'd had sex with. That dubious
distinction went to Colonel Van Heusen and had been such a disaster that I'd
been on the verge of swearing off sex for the rest of my life.
But Carr… he not only made love to me, he loved me.
Of course, I couldn't tell all that to the woman I'd called
'Pop' since I'd learned how to talk. Some of it was classified, and the rest of
it… True, she had told me about nocturnal emissions and that it was all right
to masturbate, that I wouldn't go blind or wake up one morning to find my palms
covered in hair, but how could I explain to her that I liked having Carr's cock
up my ass?
Pop was quiet for a long time after I finished talking. I
watched her face intently, but this time she was the one toying with the crease
in the slacks she wore. Finally she raised her eyes to mine.
"This won't be easy, you know, Tinker." She
wasn't going to order me out of her sight. I released the breath I'd been
holding. "If you're found out, it could result in both of you being
"I know, Pop."
I'd worried about that. I hadn't told Carr, but there had been nights when I'd
lain awake, my lover's warm, solid form curled at my back, and wondered if he
would be better off without me. "We'd have to be really careful, but… but
Carr has a house off-base, and maybe I could stay with him on the weekend?"
She said nothing.
"Maybe… maybe once in a while?"
The expression on her face was so sad.
"Pop, please, I don't want to give him up."
She sighed but still said nothing.
My shoulders slumped, and I scrubbed my hands over my face.
My cheeks were damp. "You're right. I could live without going back into
space, but I don't think Carr could. The Air Force has been his life forever.
When… when I get back to Base I'll tell him we're through." My throat
felt as if it was closing up. "I'll tell him that… that once we got back
to Earth I realized it was just… just prox… " My voice cracked. I
cleared my throat and finished. "… proximity."
"You gave up Angelica very easily."
"I'm sorry, I'm not following you." Why was Pop
bringing up my former wife?
"When she told you she wanted the marriage annulled,
you shrugged and didn't challenge her. But with Colonel Carruthers… Tinker,
you've been Air Force mad since you were in kindergarten. If you're willing to
give it up for him, perhaps… perhaps the two of you just might be able to find
a way to make it work. Talk to him about this, and see what he thinks. But, oh,
sweetie, please don't lie to him. I know… " She looked away. "Never
mind. Just promise me you'll tell him what's troubling you."
"Okay, Pop." Something was troubling her, but I
knew from experience that she'd tell me when she was ready, and not a moment
before. "I wish… I wish you could meet him."
"Well, why on earth couldn't I? Bring him home with
you the next time you have leave."
"You wouldn't mind?" She rolled her eyes at me,
and I grinned. "Thanks, Pop. I will."
Abruptly, we both realized the kitchen was becoming foggy
with smoke. We'd lost track of the meal she'd been preparing, and it had burnt.
She muttered a mild swear word and scraped the mess into
"Let me help." I took out a clean frying pan and
started frying the bacon while she sliced the bread. "Tell me what needs to
be fixed around the house."
Pop was handy, but there were some things it was easier for
two people to do, and she began enumerating the chores.
It had been almost a year since I'd been home, and I was a
little surprised that there weren't more.
After three days, Pop could see how jittery I was getting.
"Tinker, I think you need to see your colonel. Go back
to the Base, get Colonel Carruthers, and bring him home to meet me."
I hugged her, called the airport to make sure there was a
flight out, then called Ernie to drive me there.
Once I returned to the East Coast, I learned that Carr's
court martial was underway; it had never been pushed back. I reached the
courtroom with barely enough time.
It all came out, courtesy of the
So they said.
Those of us who had managed to survive the journey back to
Earth, Mary Royce, Major Perdue, Lieutenant Calder, myself and Colonel
Carruthers, boggled at their idiocy. Who were they intending to act as living
incubators for *its* lethal
offspring? The only answer we could come up with made us sick to our stomachs.
The Defender was launched back into space with *it*
still aboard; I flew my little fighter beside it and fired the missiles that
blew it to smithereens, and Earth was once more safe.
General Cameron, our commanding officer, gave surreptitious
approval to my relationship with Carr, and I brought him home to meet my Pop.
Up until that point, Carr thought Pop was a man. I should
have told him the truth before I took him to Blanchardville, but I'd done that
the first time around and had been stunned by the hostility exhibited by my
I was relieved when Carr just raised an eyebrow at me,
smiled at Pop, and shook her hand. He chatted with her in the kitchen while I
brought Sunday dinner to the table, startled to find it had been set with the
"Only the best for your 'fella', sweetie," Pop
told me, and they sat down on either side of me and proceeded to get to know
And then General Cameron contacted us. We were to catch the
first flight out and report to an Air Force Base in
The Earth was under threat of an alien invasion.
However, the threat of Martians landing in
On the flight back from
"Even though General Cameron will look the other way,
we still need to be discreet. We could get together on the weekends, if that's
okay with you?"
"I've got a better idea. I can use the high cost of
off-base housing as the reason for you to move into my spare bedroom."
"You want me to live with you?"
"Andy…" He couldn't kiss me – although the
plane wasn't crowded there were still too many people on board – but the
heated look in his eyes told me he wanted to.
"I'll explain to General Cameron that it's easier with
the two of us sharing the expenses. Only you won't be sleeping in that spare
bedroom. If that's all right with you?"
I could hardly catch my breath. I hadn't dreamed of
actually living with him, sleeping with him in the same bed, every night.
"That's more than all right with me!"
"Yeah?" I straightened from the microscope I'd
been bent over and rubbed the strain out of my eyes. "Frosty. What's
"Time for you to get home, buddy." James Frost, a
fellow officer who was also my friend, had shared bachelor quarters with me
until I'd left for that trip to Mars.
I dug my fists into the small of my back and arched to get
the kinks out. The last mission to the Moon had brought back some nice specimens
of rock, and I'd spent the last twelve hours examining them under a microscope.
I looked at the time and bolted upright off my chair.
"Holy Hannah! Carr's gonna have my ass for not
calling. He'll think something's happened!"
"Nah, he called to see what was keeping you, and I
promised to send that ass of yours on its way." Frosty looked at the clock
on the wall. "When does your leave start?"
"About half an hour ago." I groaned. This was
going to be our first Christmas together. "Damn, I hope we won't be late to
"You're going home to see your Pop? Well, give her my
best." There seemed to be a touch of sadness in his eyes. I'd known that he
had feelings for me, but as much as I'd liked him, I hadn't loved him. No one
can dictate where their heart will lead them; mine had lead me to Colonel
"Frosty, come with us. You know Pop loves seeing
His own family had refused to have anything to do with him
once they'd learned about his liking for men.
"No can do, Andy. The General has plans for me."
He saw my dubious look and grinned, his smile a slash of white across his dark
face. "Something's cooking in the
His last assignment had seen him in the
"What is it this time? Not more bloodshot eyeballs
crawling around in the clouds, I hope."
"No, something called Yeti."
"Yeti?" He just shrugged. I put away the
microscope, rock hammer, and Moon rocks. "Well, make sure you watch your
"Always do, buddy boy."
"Listen, we'll be in Blanchardville until the New
Year. If you're done before then, I'll expect you."
"Thanks, Andy. Maybe. If we get things wrapped up
early…" Again that sadness in his eyes.
I hoped that maybe on this mission he would find someone
who'd take one look at his deep brown eyes and chase the sadness from them. He
handed me my anorak.
"Look, get out of here, will you? The Colonel said
he'd hold dinner, but he's going to think I've kidnapped you if you don't get a
"Frosty," I lightly punched my friend on the
shoulder, "take care, buddy, and don't let the Abominable Snowman get
"Right." His smile was wistful. "Merry
I paid a quick trip to the men's room, then went out to the
lot where I'd parked my Edsel Pacer convertible. The crew of the Defender had
been given a performance bonus, and Carr had suggested I spend mine on a new
She was a beauty, the sweetest thing on four wheels, with
self-adjusting brakes, a miles-per-hour dial that would light up in red if I
exceeded the speed limit Carr had programmed into it, and a switch on the
instrument panel that would let me unlock the trunk without leaving the car.
Unfortunately, that evening, no amount of cranking the
ignition key would persuade her to start. I raised the hood and studied the
engine. It took me a minute to realize that the problem was with the battery: it
was dead. I was swearing at it – I'd need to call the motor pool to have it
towed – when I heard my name called.
I would have said no, but Frosty said Carr was holding
dinner for me, and there was still packing that needed to be done. If I called
Carr to come and pick me up, we'd wind up so late it would be touch-and-go
getting to the airfield on time for our flight.
"Thanks, Johannsen. Dunno what's wrong with the
battery. It was fine when I drove her in this morning."
He just shrugged and waited while I walked to the passenger
side of his beat-up Desoto and got in. The conversation on the drive into town
was less than riveting. We had nothing in common. He didn't care about the moon
rocks I'd been analyzing, and I didn't care that his girlfriend was pressuring
him to get married.
I was not going to talk to him about the man with whom I
lived, although he tried a couple of times to steer the conversation that way.
"I appreciate the offer, but I'm going home for the
holidays. And no one has me on a leash."
"Sorry, I must have heard wrong."
"I guess you must have." I stared out the side
window and made an idle remark about the decorations on the houses we passed.
"You're a lucky devil." There was envy in
Johannsen's voice. "If I could get that transfer out to the West Coast, to
"At least you don't have to snap to attention if you
run into a senior officer when you're coming out of the bathroom in your
skivvies," I said mildly.
"Yeah, there is that." He laughed, a sour sound,
and muttered, "Maybe you aren't so lucky."
I pretended I hadn't heard him and pointed out the left turn he needed to make, and finally he pulled up in front of the house I shared with Carr.
"Thanks for the ride." I didn't bother wishing
him a merry Christmas. I shut the car door and strode up the front walk. It
wasn't until I had my hand on the doorknob that I heard Johannsen gun his engine
and take off into the December evening.
I let myself into the house and stood in the foyer,
thinking furiously. It wouldn't be good if Johannsen's envy caused him to look
too closely into my relationship with the Colonel; he could very well discover
that I never slept in that spare bedroom.
General Cameron liked me – I'd gone to the Academy with
his son – and he liked Carr. Maybe he'd find a way to expedite Johannsen's
"I'm home, Carr." I hung my anorak up on the
coat-tree in the corner. I didn't like the idea of paying Danegeld, but I liked
even less the thought of my lover being discharged dishonorably. I'd find a way
to take Johannsen out of the picture permanently first.
I took a deep breath, and the tantalizing aroma of tomato
sauce made my stomach rumble. I followed my nose into the kitchen.
"It's about time, Lieutenant." Was it my
imagination, or did Carr sound tense? A rectangular blue box was on the counter.
He took the spaghetti out of the box, broke it in two, and dropped it into the
pot of boiling water.
The table hadn't been set yet, so I went to the cabinet
that contained the dishes. I couldn't help myself. I sang, "'R-o-n-z-o-n-i
is how you spell
He turned to face me, and he was smiling. "That's not
going to get you off."
"Sorry, sir." I must have been mistaken about
what I thought I'd heard in his voice. "Are you going to put me on KP in
order to make up for it?"
"No. It's going to take more than washing some dishes
or peeling a few potatoes to get you off the hook."
My mouth went dry, and I licked my lips and set the dishes
down carefully on the counter.
"What will it take, Colonel?" I clicked my heels
together and threw him a salute. "I'm at your command."
He walked toward me, tipped my chin up, and kissed me. It
was a leisurely kiss, licks, nibbles, and sucks, but it quickly changed to
wanting and needy. When he finally released my mouth, he was breathing heavily,
and I was shaking.
"That's just a starter." His voice was hoarse. He
ran his lips over my cheek and jaw, and his free hand petted my flank, traced
the crevice of my buttocks, and I moaned and offered my mouth for another kiss.
"Your lips are cold."
"It's the middle of winter." I peered down at his
hands. "Carr?" My tie was hanging loosely; he had unknotted it..
"I'm sorry, baby." His navy eyes were hot and
filled with passion. "I thought I could wait until we got to
Blanchardville, but I can't."
"You don't have to wait, Carr." I threaded my
fingers through his hair, letting the soft, thick strands sift through.
"You never have to wait… "
The heel of his hand pressed against the front of my
trousers, and he made a sound of approval as he found my cock swollen to full
arousal. He unbuckled my belt, undid my fly, and my trousers slid to the floor.
Carr sank to his knees and yanked my boxers down my legs.
I was so hard I ached. He leaned into me and licked the
My cock quivered and then was engulfed in the wet heat of
his mouth. His tongue curled around the head of my cock and tugged.
One hand reached up and cupped my balls, while a finger
pressed firmly against the sensitive skin behind them. The other hand caressed
the curve of my ass. His palm was warm and calloused.
He let my cock slip from his lips and nuzzled the hair that
covered my groin, giving a huff of laughter as another finger slid into my
lubricated hole. I'd prepared myself in the men's room on Base before I left for
the evening, the same as I'd done every evening.
My knees went weak, and I collapsed over his shoulder. The
warmth of his skin radiated through the shirt he wore. The shirt kept me from
his skin, but it didn't keep me from digging my fingers into the long muscles of
his back, kneading them through the material.
I smiled against his back and wriggled under his touch,
then straightened. "Do me, Carr."
He nipped my hip and surged to his feet, his hands working
his belt buckle and fly. "The table, Lieutenant. I want you braced and your
My lover's cock slid out of me. He'd shoved my shirt up out
of the way, and now he licked a patch of skin over my shoulder blade and nipped
it, then backed away. I could hear the rustle of his clothing as he righted his
I eased off the table, leaving a smear of come across the
top. I couldn't prevent a groan as I bent to draw my shorts and trousers back up
"Did I hurt you, baby?"
"You never hurt me, Carr." He always left me
feeling well-loved. He pulled me back against him. "I like being in your
"I like having you in them." He planted a brief
kiss on the hinge of my jaw. A hissing from the stove caught our attention, and
he let me go to check on dinner. "Damn. This spaghetti is… Talk about
limp noodles. Sorry, Andy." He emptied the pot's contents into the sink,
put fresh water into the pot, and put it back on the gas burner of the stove.
"I don't have any objections." I tucked my shirt
into my trousers and zipped up my fly.
"Lieutenant Frost called to tell me you were leaving,
and I was sure I'd have this ready for you."
"Well, you did have it ready." I took a rag from
the sink and wiped off the table.
"And then you come strolling in, and I *know*
you've taken the time to get yourself ready for me, and I lose track of whatever
"Are you saying I'm a distraction?" I paused and
grinned at him.
"How can you be anything but? Not that I have a
quarrel with that."
"That's why I always hurry home to you."
"You know something, Andy? I really like you thinking
of my house as your home."
"Oh." My thoughts disintegrated; I felt my cheeks
heat up. "Oh..." And I couldn't think of anything to say.
His brows furrowed. "Andy, how come I didn't hear your
"The battery was dead." It was my turn to frown.
"I'll need to take it back to the dealership and have it checked out."
"That battery is as new as your car. You shouldn't be
having any problems with it." The water was boiling again, and he dropped
the spaghetti into it and turned the flame down so it wouldn't boil over.
"I know. I had to catch a ride with Johannsen."
Carr became still. "You should have called me, Andy. I
don't trust him."
"I don't trust him either. He mentioned something
about wanting a transfer to that Air Force Base out in southern
"Maybe because it never rains there? I'll talk to
General Cameron about it when we get home."
"Yes. So will I." His index finger traced a line
from the point of my chin, down over my adam's apple, to the hollow at the base
of my throat. "You need a shave."
"I'll take care of it before we leave. I'm sorry I
lost track of time."
"I had a feeling you were going to get carried away by
those rocks. It's your one weakness."
"Except for you."
Carr smiled and kissed me again. "Get washed up. I'll
have the dishes ready by the time you're done."
"Yes, sir!" I saluted smartly and started to
leave the kitchen, when the phone rang.
"Carruthers. Well, hello. How nice to hear from
you." His voice was much too friendly, and I turned around to listen
unashamedly. "I'm well, thanks, and you? That's great. No, you're not
interrupting anything." I raised an eyebrow, but he just grinned. "We
were just going to sit down to dinner. Oh, we have time, our plane doesn't leave
for another hour. Yes, I'm looking forward to it too." He listened for a
moment, then said, "He's right here. I'll put him on. Yes, I'm looking
forward to seeing you again, too. Good-bye."
He handed me the receiver, not giving me a clue as to who
was on the other end. I scowled and took it from him. "
"Pop? What's wrong?"
"Why would anything be wrong?"
"You're calling now, and we'll be seeing you around 10
"Tinker, I didn't want you to come home and not find
me and worry. I'm going to spend a couple of days away."
"But Pop… it's Christmas."
"Not for a few days, and I'll be home in time to make
dinner on Christmas Eve." She knew me well enough to know I was about to
get stubborn. "Besides… Sweetie, wouldn't you like some time alone with
He raised an eyebrow, his expression amused, and my face
grew heated. I never called my lover by his given name, and it always took me a
few seconds to recognize it.
I cleared my throat. "Yes. Right. Edward."
"Now, there's a steak in the refrigerator. You can
have it for your dinner tomorrow night. Just don't forget the vegetables."
"The Christmas tree is on the back porch; I thought
you and Edward would enjoy setting it up. You know where the decorations are in
the attic. I've left Benjamin's
phone number on the cork board by the telephone in the kitchen. I think that's
"Benjamin?" Please don't let it be…
"Benjamin Hamilton. You remember him, don't you?"
"Yes." The scion of the town's wealthiest family.
He had been a few years ahead of me in Blanchardville High, but seniors and
freshman didn't mingle. "What will his family say?"
"He's an adult, Tinker. He has his own place now, on
He was spending Christmas with us? Even if Pop told him
about me and Carr, how was he going to deal with the fact that the man I was
bringing home with me was my lover?
I hoped Pop didn't notice my hesitation. "Okay, Pop.
But if you need to come home for any reason, come home!"
"You worry too much, Tinker." She blew a kiss
into the phone. "I'll see you and Edward in a couple of days."
"Okay. But be…"
"… careful. I will." There was laughter in her
voice, and a hint of excitement. "Bye, sweetie."
"Bye, Pop." I hung up the phone. "I'm going
to wash my hands; I'll be right back."
"Something wrong, baby?"
"No. Yes. I don't know." I left the kitchen
before he could question me. I spent as long as I could in the bathroom, even
taking the time to shave, but if I thought he'd let it go, I thought wrong.
As soon as I came back into the kitchen, Carr remarked,
"I gather Geraldine won't be home when we get there?"
"No. She'll be at Benjamin Hamilton's."
"I don't seem to recall you mentioning him."
"Why would I? I barely know him. Damn." I ran my
hand through my hair. "I should have told her to call me when she got to
his house. It's only about five minutes away by car; we'd still be here."
"She's a grown woman, baby."
"I know, but…"
He stroked my cheek, "You shaved," then placed
his arm over my shoulders. "Come on. If we don't eat soon and leave, we're
going to miss our flight."
We sat down at the table and spread our napkins.
"Why don't you tell me about it, Andy?"
I stabbed at the spaghetti with my fork. "Ben Hamilton
graduated from Blanchardville High a few years before I did. What's Pop
"Did it ever occur to you that she might be
I opened my mouth to hotly refute that, then shut it as
realization struck me. "No. It's been just the two of us since my mother
died. I never thought… "
"Don't you think she deserves to have someone who
loves her?" He raised his hand, stopping my words. "I know you love
her, baby, but it isn't the same thing."
"No, it isn't. But damn, Carr, Benjamin Hamilton isn't
even thirty yet! Pop's fifteen years older than he is."
"Andy, I'm almost fifteen years older than you
"Yeah, but I'm not gonna leave you because you can't
have my babies."
"Ah. That's what you're worried about?" He
twirled his spaghetti on his fork. "You may have a point."
"Yes." I was miserable. "I remember him from
school. The girls fell all over themselves to get his attention. He could have
his pick of any of them, and he went through them like Kleenex."
"That was what? Ten years ago? Don't you think he
might have matured?"
"How the hell would I know? The last time I saw him
was just before I left for the Academy." I suddenly remembered that day.
Pop had been seeing me off at the bus station, and
'Can I give you a ride, Miz Anderson?' He'd flashed those perfectly even, perfectly white teeth of his, and his blue eyes seemed to rival the sky.
'Thank you, Benjamin, but I'll be waiting until Tinker gets
on the bus.'
'I don't have anywhere in particular to be. I can wait if
you want, and drive you home.'
'That's sweet of you, but I have my car.'
'Well, if you ever need a lift...'
'Thank you, but I always drive.' She'd tilted her head.
'I'm surprised to see you here in Blanchardville. I thought classes at the
university had already started.'
'Had to come home for Homecoming.' He shook back his curly
black hair. 'I'll drive back Sunday night.'
'Your mother must be disappointed that it's such a short
'Yeah.' It didn't sound like he thought she'd be
disappointed. "I'll be home again for Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll see you
The bus had pulled in before Pop could turn him down. I'd
kissed her goodbye, given
And he'd leaned down; I'd caught my breath, certain he was
going to kiss her, but it had simply been to say something that made her laugh.
It couldn't have been going on since then.
Pop had never said anything about him, he was never around
when I came home, and he'd been nowhere in sight when I'd brought my bride home.
My face felt frozen. "I'm telling you, Carr. If he
hurts my Pop, I'll kill him."
"All right, Andy." Carr looked into my eyes, his
own eyes steady. "Just give me some time to come up with a plan to hide the
I reached across the table and rested my hand on his. There
was no wonder why I loved this man.
Carr had packed for the two of us while he'd been waiting
for me to get home, and we'd sent the gifts on ahead, so once dinner was
finished and the pots and dishes washed and put away, we locked up the house.
We were in Carr's Chevy, which was parked to the side of
the house, when I thought I heard the phone ringing. I looked to Carr, but he
was putting the key in the ignition and didn't seem to hear anything. I shrugged
– it must have been someone else's phone – and forgot all about it. I
slapped my palm down on the door lock, and he drove to the airfield.
We made our flight with minutes to spare, and our plane
picked up time not only because we crossed a couple of time zones, but because a
tail wind practically pushed us all the way there.
It was starting to snow as we disembarked and trotted
across the tarmac to the terminal. We were going to have a white Christmas.
In Blanchardville, the first snowfall was generally around Thanksgiving. Carr looked at the snow that was piled all along the runway. "I don't think we'll be able to walk this time, Andy."
When I'd brought him to Blanchardville in the spring to
meet my Pop, it had been a beautiful May day. No one had answered the phone at
Ernie's house, so we'd walked the two miles from the airport to town.
"No. The snowplows will be out by morning,
though." The Chevy Suburban was sitting outside the terminal, and I tapped
on the window. "Ernie!"
"Hey, Tinker!" He bounced out of his taxi, and we
shook hands. "It's good to see you again."
"Same here. Colonel, this is Ernie Allen, a friend of
mine, and the best damned cab driver in Blanchardville. Ernie, this is my
colonel, Edward Carruthers."
"I'm the only cab driver in Blanchardville."
Ernie grabbed my lover's hand and pumped it vigorously. "It's a pleasure to
meet the first man in space, Colonel. I heard about your visit last spring, and
I've been hoping Tinker would bring you back sometime when I was around."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Allen."
"Call me 'Ernie'. Mr. Allen is my dad."
"Nice to meet you, Ernie."
"What are you doing hanging around the airport?"
I'd been positive I'd have to call his house.
"Miz Anderson asked me to come pick you up. And she's
already paid the fare, so you just keep your wallet in your pocket." He
hurried on before I could ask him if he'd known about Pop seeing Benjamin
Hamilton. "I was sorry I missed your return trip last spring."
"Pop said something about a family gathering?"
"You know Sylvie's family. They were having a reunion
that weekend, and I had to drive up to
"'Miz Anderson?'" Carr had been following the
conversation with interest. "Is that Geraldine?"
"That's unusual, isn't it? What are the odds that the
woman who was your mother's best friend would have the same last name?"
Why did the man remember everything I told him? "Uh…
I'll explain later, okay?" And I prayed he would forget about it. He had
accepted that my Pop was a woman. How would he react if…
Fortunately, Ernie was rattling on. "So, Tinker, how
long are you here for?"
"We fly back to the Base on the 2nd."
"That's great! Maybe we can get together for New
Year's Eve." He went to the back of his station wagon, unlatched the
tailgate, and let it drop open. "Stow your
bags inside, hop in the back seat, and I'll get you home before this storm
really hits us."
On the ride to town, Ernie remarked casually, "I see
you didn't bring your girl with you."
"You told me last spring you'd bring her the next time
you came back to town."
"No, I didn't." If he told me, 'Yes, you did,' I
was going to haul off and sock him. We were too old for that grade school
Instead, he floored me by saying, "Hah; I get it! You
broke up! Gaye's gonna be thrilled to hear that. Y'know, it's not too late for
you to ask her to be your date for New Year's Eve. I bet she'd accept in a
Why was everyone trying to set me up with a date?
"Ernie, I really don't think…"
"Oh, you're worried the Colonel will be lonely? I'm
sure Sylvie can find someone to keep him company."
"Uh… " I offered my lover a half-hearted smile,
afraid he'd be upset. But Carr was looking amused.
"I'd suggest Miz Anderson, but she's seeing…"
Ernie suddenly started choking, hunching over the steering wheel.
I leaned forward and whacked his back. Did he really have
something in his throat, or did he know more about who Pop was seeing than he
wanted to let on?
"I'm okay, I'm okay." He finally caught his
breath, and he said, "Hey, you remember Dave and Mitch?"
"What were you going to say about my Pop?"
"Huh? Uh… Dunno. Can't remember. Slipped my mind.
So, Dave and Mitch?"
I decided not to press the issue. "How could I forget
them?" I turned to tell Carr, "They were on the staff of the senior
yearbook and badgered every store-owner in town to take out an ad. They sold
more advertisements than the entire graduating class combined."
"Yeah," Ernie agreed. "Well, you knew they
"How about that?" If I recalled correctly, Dave
and Mitch had been best friends since they'd met across their backyard fence. I
wondered if they were sharing an apartment for the same reason my lover and I
Carr's grin broadened at my innocent tone. His hand was on
the seat between us, and his fingernail surreptitiously scraped against my
Ernie leaned forward and rubbed the glass to see better out
of the windshield. The snow was coming down harder, and the wipers were
struggling to do even a marginal job.
I used the motion of the cab as it swung wide on a turn as
an excuse to rest my hand on my lover's.
Carr turned his hand over, and our hands were palm to palm.
Ernie's words faded to nothingness.
It wouldn't be long before we'd be home, in the house I'd
grown up in, just the two of us. I lost myself in the fantasy of him bending me
over the nearest available surface as soon as the front door was shut behind
A squeeze of his hand brought me back to the present.
"… and we're all meeting on Hobbes' Hill Christmas
Eve afternoon to go sledding."
I remembered the lot of us dragging our sleds up Hobbes'
Hill, singing, 'Lightly flying o'er the
snow with a hey-ha-ha, with a hey-ho-ho, with sleigh bells ringing, gaily
singing, merrily we go,' the words coming faster and faster until we
collapsed in laughter at the top of the hill.
"You're still doing that? Aren't you all a little too
old to go sledding?"
"Nah. Most of the gang is bringing their kids. Why
don't you join us?"
"I don't have any kids."
"Don't be an ass, Tinker. Colonel Carruthers, you
outrank him. Order him to go. You're invited too, if you'd like to come."
Ernie's tone clearly stated that he thought Carr was too old to handle a sled.
"I think it will be fun, Lieutenant." The look in
his eyes told me that wasn't the only thing that would be fun, and it wasn't
because the old Suburban wasn't cranking out much heat that I shivered.
"Very well, sir. If you're sure."
"I'm sure. We'll be there, Ernie."
"Neat-o!" He pulled up in front of the house, we
all got out, and he unlatched the tailgate.
Carr and I took our duffel bags, and I turned to my friend.
"Be careful driving, Ernie. The road looks like it's
getting slick. I know you've been driving these roads all your life, but…
"Damn straight. No need to worry about me." He
looked up at the sky. "Good thing I'll be heading for home, though. It is
getting nasty. I'll see you day after tomorrow, yes?"
"Yes, Ernie. The usual time?"
I grinned at him. "All right. See you at two."
Carr and I watched as his taillights disappeared in the
heavily falling snow, then turned to face the house.
Carr caught his breath. "This is so beautiful, so
peaceful," he murmured.
"Yes." I sighed in contentment.
Snow covered the front lawn and drifted in mounds to the
porch that wrapped around the house. The oaks in
the yard were bare of their leaves. Their branches were raised to the sky, like
skeletal limbs, shrouded in the snow that clung to them.
Strings of lights outlined the peaks of the gabled roof and
framed the porch.
Pop had a thing about heights; she'd never been too happy
about stringing the lights up on the roof, and usually got one of the neighbors
to give her a hand with them. I wondered if Benjamin Hamilton had helped her
The light above the door was on, and more light spilled
onto the porch through the glass panels on the front door.
"It was thoughtful of Geraldine to leave the lights on
We hefted our duffel bags onto our shoulders and made our
way up the snowy walk.
"We should have brought our boots. I'm sorry, I
forgot," I said.
I'd had so much on my mind, and Johannsen's subtle
blackmail was the least of it. Pop was bringing someone else in to share
Christmas with us. Had she even told him…
It fell on me like a ton of bricks. I'd have to tell Carr.
How was he going to react to Pop being…
"They're in our duffels, Andy."
"Excuse me? Oh, yes. The boots. I guess that's why you
wear the eagles."
"I didn't think we'd need them already."
"This is the mid-west." We climbed the porch
The door was locked, and I pulled out the chain I wore
around my neck. It held not only my dog tags, but the key Pop had given
to me when I'd graduated from the Academy. It was engraved, 'Always
remember I love you. And the road leading home.'
We entered and stamped the snow off our shoes. "We
really should have gone around to the mudroom."
"We can wipe up the mess in the morning. Andy, do I
have the same bedroom?"
"Yes." Last spring we'd come home to an empty
house. I'd taken him upstairs and shown him the front bedroom, then led him
through the adjoining bath into my room. I'd told him I wouldn't be locking the
door that night, and we'd wound up making love on my bed.
"Am I going to sleep in it this time?"
"Without a doubt." I winked at him. "And so
am I. The double bed will be more comfortable for the two of us than my
I took off my heavy jacket and hung it on the coat tree,
and Carr followed suit. The homey warmth of the house enveloped us.
"I just need to go down to the cellar and check the
furnace. It'll only take me a couple of minutes. Pop taught me that no matter
what, I should always do that before I went to bed."
"She's a smart woman. I can only imagine how difficult
it must have been for her to not only take care of a small boy but a house this
size as well."
I opened my mouth to say something, then shut it.
He didn't notice. "Mind if I keep you company?"
"Not at all." I led him through the dining room
to the kitchen and across to the door that opened on the stairs that went down
to the cellar.
"Hmmm?" I looked over my shoulder. "Oh,
that's the pantry." I hit the switch at the top of the stairs and the light
"A pantry? That's a room in itself!"
I shrugged. This house had belonged to Pop's family. To say
they were wealthy was an understatement. They'd wanted neither the house nor
Pop, and had been only too pleased to give it to her. I'd never met them, and
the one time I'd asked Pop about them, about why all my friends had grandparents
and I didn't, she'd turned white and left the room. I never brought it up again.
"Y'know something?" There were thirteen steps to
the bottom, and I counted each one. "When I was little, I used to be scared
stiff to come down here."
"Yeah. It's dark down here."
"And now? It's still dark."
"True, but I've got an Air Force colonel with
He laughed and patted my ass, and followed me. The cellar
was a labyrinth that went the length and width of the house and had numerous
walled-off spaces, each with its own illumination.
Fortunately, we didn't have to go that far into it. The
furnace was just beneath the kitchen, in what had always been called the boiler
room. Beyond that was a small room where the coal that fueled the furnace was
I made sure there was enough coal in the furnace to keep
the house warm for the night, then dusted off my hands. "All done."
"Good. It's been a long day, baby." Carr slung an
arm over my shoulder, and we went up the cellar stairs and walked to the front
of the house. "What do you say we go to bed?"
"That sounds like a good idea. I'll just shut the
lights." I pressed switches, and the Christmas lights and the light above
the front door went out. The moonlight reflected off the snow, and it was almost
as bright as daylight. "I love nights like this, Carr." I drew in a
deep breath. "Can you smell the scent of Christmas in the air, even though
we're indoors?" I gave a sheepish laugh. "Sorry, I'm being
Carr rubbed his knuckles under my chin. "What better
time than Christmas, baby?"
"Yes, I guess so."
We went up the stairs, dragging our duffel bags behind us.
There were two light switches at the top of the stairs, and
I flipped them both. The lower floor was engulfed in darkness at the same time
the upper hallway was illuminated by the warm glow of the overhead light. We
went into the front bedroom.
"I never did get around to showing you the house.
There are three other bedrooms on this floor alone, aside from this one and my
old room, and a playroom as well. Remind me tomorrow." I dropped my duffel,
then folded the blankets back. The sheets were cool, but I knew they wouldn't be
that way for long. I unbuckled my belt and pulled my shirt out of my trousers.
"I'd like to see it." He dropped his duffel
beside mine, and I watched over my shoulder as he loosened his tie and began
unbuttoning his shirt. "Andy, are you going to tell me how it comes about
that Geraldine's last name is the same as yours?"
For a split second I froze. Then I turned to him, smiling
and running one hand over my hair and the other over the front of my trousers.
"Later. You can have first shot at the shower." I
licked my lips, a blatant attempt at seduction.
"No." He wrapped his fingers around my arm and
dragged me after him into the bathroom.
I stripped off my clothes and left them in a heap on the
floor, then reached in to turn on the water. When I turned to him, Carr was
watching me, his eyes leisurely tracing every line of my body – the hair that
dusted my chest, wandered down over my flat belly and flared over my groin, the
nipples whose erection matched the one below my waist.
In a relaxed, unhurried manner he removed shirt, trousers,
underwear that wasn't Air Force issue. His cock was hard, the head dusky and
glistening with precome. My mouth went dry, and I couldn't catch my breath.
I forgot all about distracting him from questions about my
Pop, and reached for him, needing the feel of his mouth on mine. We were
plastered together from chest to groin, our cocks aligned. I licked his lips,
and when he parted them for me, I licked at his tongue.
He pulled back slightly and ran his hand up my arm to my
shoulder. "Andy. Baby."
His eyes were like blue fire, and I couldn't look away.
Blindly, I stuck my hand under the water. It wasn't hot, but it was warm enough,
and I took his hand and pulled him into the tub with me.
Carr turned me and pushed me up against the tiles. He
spread my ass cheeks and slid a soapy finger into me, testing my readiness.
My body had grown used to the presence of his cock inside
me every night, and it didn't take much to prepare me. The broad head of his
cock pushed against my hole in a steady, persistent motion until the ring of
muscle yielded to its firm demand. I groaned and shook as every hot inch of him
His cock was thick, and it burned and stretched me. I
squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on the heat of his possession.
I tried to grip the tiles, but they were too slippery for
me to gain purchase, and the only thing that kept me upright were his hands on
my hips. The easy rocking quickly changed to a hard, fast pounding that drove
against my prostate.
I braced my legs apart, and angled my hips, and every time
he hit that spot inside me, fireworks went off. He made me whimper and moan,
sounds no one had ever wrung from me.
His voice was hoarse as he growled in my ear, hot, dark sex
words that told me how much he wanted me, how much he enjoyed what he was doing
to me, what I was doing to him, the feel of my inner muscles clenching around
the bulk of him. He nipped my ear, then ran his teeth along the side of my neck,
and my cock quivered and oozed a steady stream of precome. He reached around my
hip to gather the drops, and then stroked my cock.
It was a combination of the touch of his fingers on me and
the feel of his cock in me that made me explode. I came hard, spraying the tiles
with my semen.
Carr held me against him. He shuddered, breathing heavily,
and I sagged bonelessly in his embrace.
The shower beat down upon us, and he turned so the
still-warm water rinsed us off.
"But… but you haven't come yet!"
"I did. I just didn't ejaculate. One of the bonuses
that comes with experience."
"Holding out on me, Colonel?"
"You learn to control ejaculation. It's simple. You
just have to exercise the right muscles."
"Might I ask when the Colonel was going to let me in
on which muscles needed to be exercised?"
"You're young. Your recovery time is phenomenal, Andy.
But next time you have to pee, try stopping in the middle and holding it for a
few seconds. Do that often enough and you'll be able to have multiple orgasms.
Now, c'mon, baby." He shut off
the water. "Let's get out and dry off. I'm not done with you yet."
It was difficult; I had to let him go, and I didn't want
to, but eventually we got out of the tub. We stood chest to chest again, licking
the drops that ran along cheekbone and jaw, using the thick towels Pop liked to
keep in the linen closets to wipe the moisture from our backs.
Carr paid special attention to my cock, and by the time we
were dry, I was hard once again.
"Y'know something, Carr?" I murmured, petting the
erection that nudged my hip. "You're the sexiest, most vital man I've ever
met." I let him lead me into the front bedroom, and he tumbled us both onto
the cool sheets. As I suspected, it didn't take us long to heat them up.
Carr let himself come this time, and afterwards, he took a
corner of the sheet and dried the semen from my torso. He reached down to pull
the blankets over us and whispered words in my ear that I was too exhausted to
I fell asleep sprawled on my stomach, with his cock still
buried inside me.
It was some hours later when I woke with a start. It took a second before I realized that I was in my childhood home.
I lay on my side, shivering, as the nightmare of that time
in the Defender before *it* had been
destroyed gradually faded. A heavy, familiar arm
draped over my hip, and warm fingers curved loosely around my cock.
Carr snored softly, his breath warm on the back of my neck.
He mumbled something and tightened his hold on me, and I sighed in relief and
stroked the arm that pillowed my head.
All was right with my world. I fell back to sleep.
When we came down late the next morning, the old house had
grown a little chilly, so while Carr poked around the kitchen, I went down to
the cellar and threw a few shovelfuls of coal into the furnace.
We had a leisurely brunch, and then he followed me out to
the back porch. I noticed that snow had drifted in front of the double doors of
the garage; I'd need to shovel that as well as the driveway before Pop came
"It's still snowing." Carr leaned against one of
the posts that supported the roof of the porch and looked out over the backyard.
"Yes. It will probably continue on and off for the
next few days."
To the left of the garage was a pear tree. One summer when
we were about twelve, Ernie and I and the rest of our gang had raided it; the
pears were too green, and we'd wound up with the world's worst belly aches.
Beyond the pear tree was the vegetable garden. It was
fallow now, and hidden by the snow. Pop told me that it had been there forever,
but she had refurbished it for my mother before I was born. The path that
normally wound around it to a bird feeder was buried by the falling snow. I'd
put my boots on after we finished with the tree and clear the snow off the
feeder and make sure it was filled with fresh seed.
I approached the six-foot tall Blue Spruce that was waiting
to be brought in and took hold of its trunk, about to shake it to remove the
snow that had drifted under the porch roof and settled onto its branches.
"What the…? Well, shoot!"
"Look at this!" The tree sat in a large wooden
container that was filled with soil and topped with reindeer moss. "The
root ball is still attached."
"Maybe Geraldine intends to plant it after the
"Well, yeah, but why? The last time we did this… See
that Blue Spruce on the other side of the garden?" Toward the edge of the
property, it must have been about eighteen feet high by now. Its branches
drooped under the weight of the snow. "That's my mother's tree! Pop let me
help her plant it the first Christmas after Mom died. Why would Pop want to
plant this year's…" A thought occurred to me. "Oh, damn."
"You've got an idea?"
"Yeah. And it doesn't fill me with Yuletide
"I think… Fuck." I could see I'd startled my
lover. I seldom used profanity. Pop had walloped my backside the first time I'd
used a naughty word in her presence. "Suppose she's planting it for
"Andy." He came to where I stood and held me,
stroking my back. "Don't turn yourself inside out over this. We can call
her, if you'd like."
"No, I don't want her to know… Damn, I hate feeling
like this, Carr. I want Pop to be happy, I really do."
He kissed my temple. "Then we'll just have to bring it
up casually in conversation when she comes back tomorrow. Now what do you say we
bring this tree indoors? I'm not used to this cold any more."
"Yes, sir, Colonel." I nipped his ear and stepped
out of his embrace. "You take that side, and I'll take this one. And watch
the top of the doorway. I don't want the top of the tree to hit it and snap
"How about we tip it toward me? Then we'll just need
to make sure the lower branches don't get snagged."
We maneuvered the tree successfully into the kitchen.
"Hold on a second, Carr." I kicked the door closed with my heel, and
then nodded. "Lead on, Mac--Carruthers."
He gave a snort of laughter. "Where, Andy?"
"Sorry. I forgot you haven't been doing this with me
forever. The parlor, please."
We got it through the dining room and across the hallway
into the parlor. Pop had already cleared the area, moving the occasional table
that held a vase of fresh flowers no matter what the season.
"In front of the bay window, okay, Carr?"
"Oh, this is going to look wonderful."
"Just wait until we get all the decorations on
it." The tree was set down in the spot where trees had held pride of place
every year, and I pulled back the curtains so it could be seen from the street.
Once the lights and ornaments were on, it would be breathtaking. "Now,
let's go up to the attic."
The door to the attic was on the second floor. It opened to
a narrow stairway, and we climbed up single file. Carr took the opportunity to
make sure I was steady by propping his palm against my backside. I grinned and
I didn't bother with the light; floor to ceiling windows in
the gables on each side of the roof let the wintry sunlight spill into the vast
expanse of space.
There were trunks that contained not only my mother's
clothing, but the mementoes of her courtship by my father, the dried corsage he
had given her when they'd gone to their prom, the dress she'd worn the night he
had proposed, ticket stubs from movies they'd gone to, a spray of mistletoe.
Pop told me that the first time my father had ever kissed
my mother was under that mistletoe. They had been fifteen.
Beneath the eve toward the rear of the house was a trunk
that held all that my father had left behind. Pop had opened it for me once. I'd
examined the pocket knife, the baseball that had been autographed by Murderer's
Row, the 1927 Yankee line-up that boasted Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a mitt,
other things of his. It wasn't until years later that I realized my father had
been very young when he'd married my mother.
He'd been even younger than I was at the time I got married
when he'd left to…
I pushed the thought out of my mind and pointed out a
steamer trunk. "We keep the decorations in there."
"Interesting trunk. It looks antique."
"That belonged to Pop's grandparents. They came over
"A lot of names were changed in
Damn. And there was no shower to lure him into. "Wait until you
see my trains. I have some fantastic sets of Lionels. There's a village of shops
and houses, a little forest and a lake. Pop would give me a new car or a part of
the village every Christmas. The tracks run behind the Christmas tree and
through the entire parlor..."
"Andy, is Geraldine related to your real father in
I breathed out a sigh. "Yeah, that's it."
"Why were you so reluctant to tell me?"
"Uh… Pop was born on the wrong side of the
blanket?" All I could think of on the spur of the moment, but *damn*!
I shouldn't have let the end of that sentence sound like a question. I cleared
my throat. "That is to say, Pop was born on the wrong side of the
"You know what small towns can be like, Carr. You were
raised in one."
"Yes, that's true. But…
"Look. It's something I'm not comfortable
"I understand, Andy, but Geraldine is a good woman,
and the circumstances of her birth certainly weren't her fault."
"No." I opened the trunk. "What do you say
we get the decorations out of the trunk? It's going to take a few trips to get
them all downstairs."
"All right, baby."
And so the afternoon passed, in putting up the lights on
the tree, the silver tinsel, the decorations, until finally all that was left
was to place the star on the top and the manger and Holy Family under the lowest
We knelt on the floor and put together the tracks, skirting
the tree and winding around the room and weaving through the legs of the couch.
Then we set up the village with its trees, street lamps, and people, shops and
houses, the bridge over a mirror lake, the trees that formed the forest, and
placed the sleek, silver cars on one set of tracks, and a freight train on the
The snow continued to fall even as the sunlight dimmed. I
plugged in the tree lights, turned on the Lionel transformer, and we stepped
back to admire our work.
Carr's arm was around my shoulder, and he pulled me close
to him. "I've missed this, Andy. Having Christmas with family."
I knew he'd been alone for a long time. He was an only
child. His father had died in the war, and his mother had died of grief. I
leaned against him. "You have family now, Carr."
"Yes, I do, don't I?" His grip tightened. "I
don't know about you, but I'm starved."
"I'll get dinner started."
It turned out that the steak Pop had left in the
refrigerator for us wasn't all he was starved for. While I stood at the sink
scrubbing a couple of baking potatoes and getting them ready to be bearded with
salt, Carr lounged against the kitchen table.
He unzipped his fly and freed his cock.
I forgot about the potatoes. "Carr?" My voice was
hoarse, and I swallowed.
"Want an appetizer, baby?"
It was a good thing I was only cooking for the two of us. Dinner was late that night.
The phone downstairs rang and rang, disturbing the early
morning silence. I rolled out of bed, barely taking time to grab my robe. I
shrugged into it as I bolted down the stairs and into the parlor.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. I woke you, didn't I?"
"That's okay, Pop." The adrenalin rush faded, and
I yawned. "What's wrong?"
"Have you noticed that every time I call you lately,
you ask me what's wrong?" She sighed. "Everything is fine, sweetie.
I'm happy, and I want you to be happy for me."
"All right, Pop. But if everything is hunky dory, why
are you calling at
on Christmas Eve morning?"
She laughed softly. "I forgot to take the roast out of
the freezer." We always had a pork loin for dinner on Christmas Eve.
"I already took it out. I was surprised to still find
it in the freezer when I went looking for some… uh… ice cream." I
wasn't going to tell her I'd gone into the freezer for an ice cube that I'd
sucked on it for a few seconds before I'd kissed Carr.
"Thank you, Tinker. I've been a little distracted
lately, and it completely slipped my mind."
"That's one big roast, Pop, even taking into account
"I'll have three hungry men to feed."
"I told you I wanted you to get better acquainted with
Benjamin. He'll be spending the next few days with us. Now, he and I will be
going to the grocery store to get a few last minute items, and then we'll stop
at Mr. Armstrong's butcher shop to pick up the turkey he's been holding for us.
I'll be home in plenty of time to cook dinner."
"Pop, how serious is this -- this whatever-it-is you
have with Ben Hamilton."
"What I have with Benjamin is a relationship, and it's
very serious, son. I've told him."
"Ohhh, Pop," I groaned, "was that a good
idea?" I remembered how my bride…
"Something wrong, Andy?"
*Damn* it! Carr
had come down and I hadn't even been aware of it. How much had he overheard?
"No!" I covered the receiver. "Uh… Pop's
bringing someone for dinner, that's all. I wasn't sure if we had enough for an
extra guest, but Pop's going to stop at the grocery store. Uh… do you need
anything? I can ask her to pick it up while she and Hamilton are there."
"No, I'm good." He gave me a thoughtful look.
"I'll get the coffee started."
"Thanks, Carr." I waited until he left the room.
"I'm sorry, Pop…"
"No, Tinker, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have sprung this
on you; I should have told you before."
"How long have you been seeing him?"
"We got to know each other after you left for the
Academy. I missed having you around the house, Tinker, and when he was home from
the university, he'd come visit. He helped me with chores. For a long time it
was strictly platonic, but then after what happened with Angelica… "
"That was my fault, Pop." I knew my former wife
had hurt Pop, even though Pop had insisted she was fine. I gritted my teeth. If
Angelica was in range, I'd willingly wring her neck. Her reaction had set Pop up
to fall into
"He began asking me out; I always turned him down.
Then, just after you left on your mission to Mars... I had such a bad feeling
about that mission, Tinker."
"When… when did you tell him?"
"As soon as I realized how serious he was about me. I
knew nothing short of the truth would be fair to either of us. Tinker, he
doesn't care, it doesn't matter to him."
"What about babies, Pop?"
"You mean because I can't give him any? I'm 45; I
wouldn't be able to give him children anyway. He says it isn't important. This
is our worry, Tinker. We'll work it out."
"Pop, if he hurts you ..."
"He won't hurt me, sweetie. Benjamin cares for me very
deeply, even though … Well, you know. Now, is there anything you need from the
"I haven't looked in the pantry. Do we have enough
honey and colored sprinkles?"
"Of course we do. And oil also to fry the dough. And
I've got flour and eggs on my list."
"Then we're good."
"Tinker… you'll give Benjamin a chance?"
I took a deep breath. Pop had never asked for anything of
me that was so important to her. "I'll try, Pop."
"Thank you, sweetie. We'll be there sometime in the
afternoon. I know you're taking Edward sledding with your friends; I ran into
Ernie, and he told me. You don't need to change your plans for us."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. And Tinker, perhaps you should tell
I felt goosebumps run up my spine. "You saw what
happened with Angelica."
She sighed. "You're right, but don't you think Edward
will take it better? After all, he's more mature than Angelica. And he's…
"I was going to say he's in love with you, but his
sexual orientation might make him more sympathetic. However, it will be your
decision, Tinker. I have no objection to his knowing. Give it some
"Okay, Pop." But it felt as if I'd done nothing
but think about this situation since Pop had told me she'd be spending a few
days with Ben Hamilton. "Oh, before I forget, Frosty sends his best."
"James? How thoughtful. Will he be paying a visit this
"He said if he could, but I… I don't think he will,
"I'm sorry. I liked him; he was always a good friend
"Yes. Listen, I'd better go."
"All right, Tinker." She sounded sad. I was never
the one to terminate our phone calls.
I made my voice cheerful. "Carr and I need to get a
move on if we're going to have the driveway shoveled out for you."
"You don't have to do that, sweetie."
"It's okay. I don't know how you managed to get the
car out. The driveway has to be under at least two and a half feet of
"You don't need to shovel the whole drive."
"You won't be able to get the car back into the
There was a slight hesitation, and then she said,
"Tinker, the car is in the garage. Benjamin drove me to his house."
Pop never let anyone drive her, not even me. That told me
more than anything how deeply she felt about Benjamin Hamilton.
"O… okay, Pop. I'll shovel enough so his car can get
"You're a good son, Tinker. You've always been a good
son. I love you very much. I'll… we'll see you later."
My throat was clogged. "I love you too, Pop.
Bye." I hung up the phone and went into the hallway. The hardwood floor was
cold, and my toes curled.
Carr came out of the kitchen. Under his bathrobe he wore
pajamas, and he'd taken the time to put slippers on his feet.
"Carr, I'm going to put my pajamas on. I'm getting a
"Good idea. I've already put some coal in the furnace,
so the house should warm up soon."
"I'm making bacon and eggs for breakfast. If we're
going to shovel the drive, we'll need something substantial in our
"Yeah. Uh… we won't need to shovel the entire
"Pop didn't take the car out."
"Well, we'll still need…"
"Excuse me, I'm freezing." I turned and ran up
the stairs before he could say anything else.
The bed had been made and my pajamas folded on the pillow,
but I left them there. I sat on the edge of the bed and buried my head in my
hands. I pictured how Carr would react if I didn't tell him about Pop, if he
thought I was keeping something else from him.
'Penny for them,' he'd say.
'Your thoughts. You're a million miles away, baby.'
'Sorry. I was… I was just wondering if it was a good idea
to go sledding.'
'Are you ashamed of me, Tinker?'
'What? What are you talking about?'
'It seems to me you're less than enthusiastic about me
meeting your friends.'
I'm not… It's just…'
'I've been expecting it, you know.' And I'd remember the
tension I'd heard in his voice when I'd come home late from the Base.
'Don't play me for a fool, Lieutenant. When were you going
to tell me?'
'Carr, you're not making any sense. Tell you what?' I'd ask
'I really expected better from you.' He'd look at the clock
on the wall. 'No flights will be going out of the airport at this time on
Christmas Eve. You'll have to put up with me for another thirty-six hours at
'Carr, what are you talking about?' His eyes would be so
distant; I'd never have seen him look at me like that, and my chest would start
to hurt. Would he have called the airlines, to know none of them would be
flying? I'd grab his arm and shake it. 'Please. Tell me.'
'It's obvious, isn't it? I'm a good deal older than you, I
did have that slur on my record. What was last night? Goodbye sex?'
'Carr, you have to know I'd never leave you!'
"Why would I *have*
to know this? Your actions for the last few days have been odd, to say the
least. It was like pulling teeth to get you to tell me why Geraldine's last name
is the same as yours. And then there was the fact that you mentioned children,
for the first time since we've been together, and you made it very obvious that
you didn't see us raising a child." He'd be breathing heavily.
'Look. Carr. I love you, and I don't want you to leave,
But he wouldn't let me finish. He would give me a look that
would break my heart and walk out of the room. For the rest of his stay, for
however long that would be, he would avoid me, and I'd know I had ruined a
relationship that meant more to me than my life.
I pictured how Carr would react if I told him about Pop.
'She was *what*?'
I'd repeat my words, and his eyes would widen, as
Angelica's had. And then, much as Angelica's had, they'd grow cold. His back
would stiffen, his lip would curl in a sneer of distaste, and he'd say …
"Andy?" Carr stood in the bedroom doorway.
I jumped, but didn't look up. I couldn't meet his eyes.
He sat down beside me on the bed and turned my face toward
him. He ran the heels of his hands over my cheeks, wiping away the moisture.
"Tinker, nothing can be that bad. Please, tell me what's bothering
"Is something the matter with her?"
"No. She's fine. I think she's happy with
"Then why are you sitting here with tears on your
"I… I have to tell you something, and I'm so scared
that you'll leave me when I do."
"Oh, baby, why would I ever leave you?"
"I'm not Angelica."
I was too unhappy to pay any attention to the firmness in
his voice, and I went on as if he hadn't interrupted. "We stood before a
minister, and she promised to be beside me in good times and in bad. But when I
brought her to meet Pop, she broke that promise."
"Tinker, I can't stand with you before a minister, but
I'll promise you, right here and now," he took my left hand and held it
tightly, "that I will be beside you always, and I'll love you for as long
as we both live."
I freed my hand and rose, and went to stand before the
windows, moving the curtains aside. Frost edged the glass like a picture frame.
It had stopped snowing, but the sky was still gray and
overcast, and there was no doubt that we would have more snow before the day was
out. There was a thin layer of packed snow in the street. A battered Ford, a
remnant from the war years, chugged slowly past.
The sounds of the plows coming by through the night had
roused me from a light doze. I'd rolled my lover's body onto his back, nuzzled
my way down to his cock, and suckled it gently. He'd given a soft moan, but
hadn't wakened and didn't come, and I fell back to sleep with his cock in my
I realized I couldn't put off this discussion any longer,
and I turned to face him.
"I've lived in this town all my life, and Pop and my
mother had for some time before I was born. It was their choice that I call Pop
'pop'. If anyone in town thinks of it at all, they simply think it's like a pet
name – I really couldn't call two women 'mom'. It would be confusing to say
"That's what they *think*?" The emphasis on the
last word was so mild I nearly didn't hear it. Carr rose and came to me, and
pulled me against him. He slid a hand inside my robe and stroked my back. His
palm was warm.
"Yes. Maybe you had to be born here to accept it
unquestioningly, but Carr, you weren't born here, and yet, when you realized
that my Pop was a woman, you just smiled and went along with it. Why?"
"Andy, considering how close she and your mother
were…" He tightened his hold, rocking me gently. "Actually, I
thought the truth of the matter was that Geraldine preferred women."
"Well, obviously I was wrong, since she seems to be
very involved with this young man. So tell me, baby. Why *do* you call her 'Pop'?"
I drew in a deep breath, then released it. "Because
she's my father, Carr."
He became very still, and I started to shake. I eased out of his embrace and
stepped back from him. I knew I had to explain before I lost my nerve. And him.
"Pop was born Gerald Anderson, the youngest of three
children." I wanted to turn away so I didn't have to see my lover's face,
but I forced myself to meet his eyes. "Gerald grew up knowing that he was
different, that something was 'wrong' with him. As a child he would sneak into
his sister's room and try on her clothes and play with her dolls. She caught him
one day and tattled to their mother, and he'd tried to explain that he felt more
comfortable in girl's clothing and doing girl-type things. His mother was
horrified and told his father, and he'd been beaten so severely he'd missed a
week of school."
My lover made a soft sound, but I continued as if he
"Gerald realized that if he wanted his parents to love
him, he'd have to deny his real self, so he did. He dressed in suits and ties,
played baseball, and went hunting with his father and brother, his uncles and
his cousins." My chest tightened and my hand clenched in a fist. "And
he tried to commit suicide when he was thirteen."
"Andy!" Carr tried to embrace me, but I held him
off. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep talking if he touched me.
"A young girl found him, found the empty bottle of
aspirin next to him, and she stuck her finger down his throat to make him vomit.
He was terrified that she would tell his parents. The bottle hadn't been full,
Gerald wasn't in danger of much more than exacerbating the ulcer he already had,
but he knew if they found out, they'd have no qualms in having him
institutionalized and telling all their friends that he was in
"The girl promised she wouldn't say anything, and that
was the start of their friendship. Her family wasn't high on the social ladder,
in fact they were barely on the ladder at all, but Gerald's parents were so
relieved that he appeared to be taking an interest in girls at last that they
"Carr, my grandparents are very wealthy. Oh, yes,
they're still alive." I had never met them and had no desire to do so.
"This house was just one of many properties they owned. If they had wanted
to, they could have made life unbearable for the girl's family. Instead, they
barely waited for Gerald and her to graduate high school before they pushed them
into marriage. And then the pressure to produce a grandchild, to prove their son
had the balls to do it… They didn't need another grandchild. Their oldest son,
Roger, had a houseful. But they pushed and pushed and… "
I caught myself and drew in a steadying breath. When I had
myself under control, I continued.
"Finally, Gerald couldn't take it any longer. He told
his parents what he was going to do, have the sex reassignment surgery. The
girl, my mother, stood by him. Her people didn't understand, but she was a
married woman and had to live her own life. But his parents… When they
realized there was nothing they could do, nothing they could say to stop him,
they gave him this house and turned their backs on him."
"They disowned their own child?"
"More than that. They told everyone he'd been in an
accident and died." I used the sleeve of my robe to dry my cheeks.
"Anyway, Gerald went to
"I understand, baby." He put his arms around me, ran
a soothing hand up and down my back while his other hand held me, and kissed my
ear. "It's all right."
"I… I told Angelica that Pop was a woman. When she
met her, she said something about Pop being tall for a woman. I told her the
"And she walked out on you."
"Yes. She was shocked and disgusted."
"I'm not, Tinker. Geraldine is a good person. Whether male or female, she loves you, and that's the most important thing." His grip on me tightened, as if he was trying to absorb me into his body. "Baby, you could have told me that Geraldine was Jack the Ripper, and I'd still love her and be grateful to her. Because she's your Pop, Tinker, and because she raised you to be the man you are."
End Part A
To Part B