Journey to Love
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
The attack on the aquatics team and on Jeremy and Jayden had come in early October, less than six weeks into the semester. Since then I had dreamed often of the time Jayden would be back home and everything would be back to normal; that is, as it had been before the attack. Actually I knew better, but my emotions didn't want to accept the fact that things would never be 'normal' if by normal I meant as they had been.
My own body told me that I had a long way to go physically to reach the fitness level I'd had before the attack. Perhaps more to the point, emotionally and psychologically I was fragile and knew it. I had nightmares most nights and even more unsettling was the fact that I was jumpy when awake. A sound, a voice, a face which reminded me of the attack sent me into a panic.
I was still having physical therapy; I was on a very strict diet because of my need to replace muscle loss from inactivity and I became tired very easily. Before the attack, I could swim laps as long as I wanted, now I tried to add a lap every day or so, but one of the APFC's middle school swim team members could swim rings round me in endurance and speed. I wasn’t diving because Dr. Estaban had strictly forbidden diving until he was sure everything inside was healed. As a result, I spent an hour a day in the pool swimming, but I had to rest during the hour. I was working hard on my physical well-being, but had done nothing toward mental health.
Even given my own state of health and wellness, I still was not prepared for how weak Jayden was. He would walk with support, but I was afraid I was not adequate. I wanted backup. Jeremy was finally out of his cast, but was not sure enough on his leg to take on the task. I gave some thought to finding a nurse for Jayden, but Levi and Telvin would not hear of it. They each set aside an hour a day to spend with Jayden, helping him exercise and walk. In addition, he had a physical therapist come for an hour to work with him and provide the exercises he was to do on his own—with help from his friends and me. He was still too weak to go in for therapy. He was definitely making progress, but it was slow.
A week after Jayden came home, Levi and Telvin came over and they with Penny and Jeremy came upstairs. We were talking about school when Levi said, “Look, Telvin and I suffered much less severe injuries than you guys. We are so far behind and find really working to get caught up so hard, we are seriously considering dropping out. Far be it from me to tell you guys what to do, but I don't think you stand a chance of doing the work needed to pass courses this semester. Of course, you can take incompletes, but the work still must be done. A group of us who were injured met with the dean today and told him we thought we should just be given a 'do over' for the semester. We still had to pay our living expenses, but I don't think we should have to pay the college for the semester.”
“What did the dean have to say?” Jayden asked.
“He actually seemed to like the idea. I guess he thought he was getting off easy.”
“So, you and Telvin are dropping out for the rest of the semester?”
“We are. As soon as we are able, we are going to travel. Since Penny is running your house, Jeremy isn't interested in running around ...”
“He’d better not be!” Penny laughed.
“So I am leasing a motor home and Telvin and I are hitting the road next week.”
“You sure you are up to that?”
“We both have been discharged and told we can do anything we feel like doing.”
“Well, I don't think either Derek or I will be doing much for awhile, but I agree. No way I could keep up my therapy and school,” Jayden said
“I feel the same way and I am in better shape than Jayden,” I added.
“All you need do is just write the dean a letter accepting his offer,” Telvin said.
After the others had left, Jayden and I talked at length about our situation. It was obvious he had a long way to go physically, much further than I. He hesitantly suggested that I was physically far ahead of him, but not psychologically. I was ready to raise an objection when he asked how often I had nightmares. I didn't know Jayden was aware of what had become an almost nightly occurrence. Had I needed convincing that I needed help, I got it that night.
Our love making had been pretty limited since Jayden got home—making out, lot of passionate kissing and stroking off our lover, but when we went to bed, Jayden said, “Derek, I want you in my mouth.” He didn't have to ask twice before we were in a sixty-nine and both doing wonders with mouth and tongue. I'm sure we both would have liked for it to last longer, but soon we were giving each other our gift. Jayden had never tasted so good. After we had licked each other clean, we wrapped our arms about each other and after a soft kiss, drifted into sleep.
The next thing I knew, I woke up and Dr. Estaban was standing beside my bed. “Ah, you are awake, Derek.”
“What are you doing here, Doctor? What's going on?”
“Derek, you have been so involved with Jayden and with your physical being that you have neglected your mental health. Jayden tells me you have been having almost nightly nightmares, but you have ignored them. Tonight, your mind made sure you took note. You woke the whole house with your screams before curling into a fetal position. Jayden chose to call me rather than 911 and fortunately I was at the hospital and only minutes away. If I followed the usual protocol, I would have you admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital. Such is out of my field, but I think I have come to know your friends and you can be better served here among them than there. You do have to promise to begin therapy immediately—tomorrow in fact.”
“I promise,” I said.
“You can be sure he will,” Jayden said.
Had there been any question about returning to classes, that episode settled it. I was given the option of swimming for an hour twice a day instead of going to rehab and had chosen to do so. Now I had an hour a day with Dr. Carrigan, a psychologist, and an hour a week with Dr. Browne, a psychiatrist. While Jayden was able to get around on his own with the help of a cane, he had two rehab sessions daily, so we were very busy without classes.
I reluctantly agreed to take something to help lower my anxiety level, but said I would not take it long. Both therapists agreed. Jayden was making excellent progress. If he had psychological problems from his experience, they were well hidden. Levi and Telvin left, headed south. They planned to be gone until next semester. Penny and Jeremy had finally admitted what all of us knew and he moved in with her, leaving a room at Levi's place vacant. When Levi checked in a week after they had left, Jeremy told him that and suggested he do interviews. Levi told him to go ahead and to take the money for rent since the room was his as a part of operating the house.
I had talked to Dr. Carrigan about having two dads and how much they meant to me. She was not surprised, then, when I asked her about spending Thanksgiving with them and maybe time before and after. We talked about that and she said she'd do some checking and we'd talk about it next session—I was only seeing her twice a week now and seeing Dr. Browne once a month.
When I went in next, Dr. Carrigan told me she had contacted a friend who had a practice in Waynesville and if I wanted to begin sessions with him, she thought going back home would be a good idea. “I talked with Drs. Estaban and Richardson and both agree. Jayden would have excellent treatment at the hands of one of your dads and I think having them supporting you would be great.”
“When can we leave?”
“Whenever you are ready. Just give me a couple days to make definite arrangements with Dr. Winston in Waynesville.”
Jayden was as excited about going to Grace House as I was. I gave the dads a call and they, too, welcomed the idea. “We both know Dr. Winston and think highly of him. Jayden, of course, goes to the top of my list,” Sam said.
“And we expect you both to put in time at the Center. Have you called your mom?” Brad asked.
“Not yet. Wanted to check with my dads before we made any definite arrangements.”
“Just let us know when you're arriving.”
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, we had planned to leave in a couple days for home, but when we heard the weather forecast. It called for cold rain with the possibility of a wintry mix of rain, sleet and maybe snow late the next afternoon. We got busy and got everything ready. Jeremy helped us pack the car and we were ready to go. The day dawned bright, clear and a bit warmer than usual for mid-November and we were in high spirits as we said goodbye to Jeremy and Penny.
We took our time going to Grace House, stopping several times to stretch and get the kinks out, something we never would have considered before the attack. When we reached Waynesville, we looked up Dr. Winston's office so we would know where it was. Dr. Carrigan had suggested we both go in for the first session and we had agreed to do so. We had called Sam when we left Richmond, having neglected to tell him we were arriving early before we left Norfolk. He was much relieved since he was worried about us traveling in bad weather.
We stopped by the Center before going on to Grace House. Brad insisted on getting a profile on us which took awhile especially since Jayden had to do a lot of resting along the way. That was finally completed and we headed for Grace House late afternoon. We had picked up some seafood in Hampton on the way, but did not go all out as we had done once before.
Sure enough, the next morning was a mess—cold rain and sleet. After breakfast and the dads had gone to work, Jayden and I lay on the floor in front of the fire and made out. Once again we had been joined in a sixty-nine with the expected results. The fire was warm and we were relaxed and sated, so it was not surprising that we drifted off to sleep. We had not bothered to get dressed after making love and I awoke, a bit chilly as the fire had died down. I got up, put a couple logs on the fire and lay beside Jayden, admiring his beauty, my heart filled to overflowing with love for him. I seldom allowed myself to think about what might have been, but for some reason I suddenly realized how close I came to losing him. Tears of gratitude started running down my face. I finally leaned over and kissed him softly and whispered, “Jayden, my Beautiful Navajo, I love you more than life itself.”
Jayden opened his eyes slowly and said, “If this is not a dream, I am a very lucky Navajo,” and kissed me. Our kisses became more and more passionate and finally, Jayden said, “Derek, I want you inside me.” Our love making was tender and as prolonged as we could make it. Jayden was exhausted when I finally slipped from inside him, both from our loving making and my having stroked him to a climax while inside him. We cleaned up as best we could in the half bath off the library since even though I could have made it upstairs, Jayden could not and I could not carry him.
When we sat down for dinner, Sam asked, “Which of you thinks he is toast?”
“Toast?” I asked and when I glanced at Jayden he was blushing.
“Yes,” Sam laughed. “I saw someone had dipped into the butter.”
Jayden laughed uproariously and Brad sprayed water across the table. I blushed.
“In case you have need of lube again,” Sam said, “leave my butter alone. There are condoms and lube in the table by both recliners.”
“You still used condoms?” Jayden asked.
“Sometimes, especially when it's spur of the moment as we're not exactly ready if you know what I mean.”
“We do,” I said and blushed again.
We quickly settled into a routine. Jayden spent an hour with Sam each morning. Since I was starting with a new doctor, even though he had my records, Dr. Winston suggested I see him three days a week for a few weeks, after I dropped off Jayden for a session with Sam. The mornings I saw Dr. Winston, Jayden finished with his therapy almost a hour before I was back. At first he just hung around Sam's office waiting, but when a frightened kid came in one day, he talked to him and soothed him. After the kid's therapy session, he asked Jayden to take him back to his room and soon Jayden was spending his waiting time on the children’s ward—playing games, telling stories, rocking small ones and generally being a friendly face in a bewildering world.
The second week he was on the children's ward, he met Dr. Davis, a pediatrician. They talked about what Jayden was doing, why he was not in school and what he hoped to do in the future. She suggested he might go into the field, but he told her he expected to be where he couldn't specialize in children. “My husband plans on medical school and then living and working in an underserved area. I do want to go into therapy, but I probably will have patients of all sorts and conditions.”
“Your husband! What do you mean your husband?”
“Just that. I'm married to a pre-med student who plans to serve in an underserved area.”
“Your husband! You are sick, sick, sick. Get off this ward! You should not be allowed around children, you pervert!”
As Jayden told Sam what had happened, tears streamed down his face. While Brad was well-known for his temper, Sam was always calm, cool and collected—or so everyone at the hospital thought. He was anything but calm, cool and collected when he stormed into the hospital administrator's office. I don't know what went on inside as Sam didn't say, but I do know Jayden had an official invitation to continue on the children's ward and Dr. Davis was no longer around.
When he told us about the incident, Jayden was still very angry, uncharacteristically angry, but also resigned to the fact that there would always be bigots around. “I just wish we could really be married,” he finally said. “I want the elder to marry us.”
“Does he ever leave Arizona?” Brad asked.
“Sure. He has a master's in social work from the University of Nevada and has lectured all over the southwest.”
Levi and Telvin called mid-morning to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. Both were doing great. I was more than a little surprised when they said they were spending Thanksgiving in Arizona at the Pueblo. They had driven into Chinle to call. Philip and Peter called shortly after from Richmond. Philip announced he was transferring to Virginia Dominion in Richmond next semester.
Penny and Jeremy came for Thanksgiving dinner. Sergeant Major did not come since Mrs. Willoughby was now bedridden and had developed other problems, most related to her arthritis. There seemed to be something different in Penny and Jeremy, but I couldn't put my finger on it. DeAngelo came home for the day and Angelica was with him. They seemed to be very happy and planned on getting married as soon as DeAngelo finished his degree. Because of the semester he really screwed up, he had to take a couple courses to complete his degree. Joe had gone home with Katrina with the objective of planning their wedding.
“Weddings all over the place except mine!” Jayden said. “Derek says so far as he is concerned we are married, but he didn't have to listen that bitch at the hospital!” Jayden left the table, tears streaming down his face. The emotional outburst was so out of character, I was shocked and worried. I ran after him and found him balled up in a chair in the living room, crying his eyes out. I wrapped him in my arms and held him close. “Why can't we be like any other couples in love? Why can't we be married? Why can't we have a family? Have kids?”
I just held Jayden as his body shook with his sobs. When he finally got control of himself, he gave me a furious kiss. When he broke the kiss, he said, “Derek, I love you so very, very much. It all was just too much—the attack, that woman at the hospital and then all the couples looking forward to being married as if it were just something they were due, but we can't have that.”
“I promise you, Babe, before next Thanksgiving, we will be married. I promise.”
We went back inside and Jayden started to apologize, but was stopped by DeAngelo. “Jayden, I guess I never realized how you, because of whom you love, are denied something we all take for granted. You and the man you love have been beaten and then treated like you are less than human, even a threat to children. You have a right to be upset. No apology due.”
“Right,” Jeremy agreed.
A couple hours after dinner while the men were all watching football, the Kirkville guys showed up and asked about swimming. “What? You're not watching football? People will think you're gay or something,” DeAngelo laughed.
“I am gay AND something!” Afton laughed.
We left the rest of the guys pinned to the TV and headed for the pond. Angelica, Katrina and Penny chose to go with us. They begged Speedos and T-shirts from us, but laughed and said they guessed they wouldn't be any danger if they went skinny-dipping and did.
The first week in December, we drove back to Norfolk so I could meet with Drs. Bailey and Levey to plan the next semester. When they started talking about the summer, I told them that was already decided. “Jayden will spend the summer at the Pueblo continuing his quest toward becoming a Navajo Elder, medicine man, shaman. There's really no way to talk about it from our cultural perspective. If you think it's all hocus-pocus, talk with Dr. Richardson at Santara Norfolk. I will be spending some time at the Pueblo and, I hope, working with an elder there. Physically, I am well on my way to full recovery. Emotionally and psychologically? Far from it. My therapist seems to think I have reached a block of some kind and I guess I have because I am not making any progress.
“I have seen Jayden twice in situations in which he should be deeply scarred psychologically—the whole trauma of being out on the street and all that followed and being beaten to near the point of death—and I can tell you he is in far better mental health than I am. I want to find what he knows in the very core of his being. I think I can find that in the desert. If not, it will just be a summer wasted—maybe. This lost semester puts me behind where I would have been, but I am still ahead of my entering class. Jayden has three more years after this and I'll be with him regardless of how long it takes. I don't know whether or not you realize it, but we nearly lost each other to a bunch of religious bigots. If you have ever come close to losing someone you love, you realize how precious every moment you have together is.”
“Well, I once again feel compelled to warn you ...”
“Don't even think it, Garrett!” Dr. Levey said and Dr. Bailey just looked stunned, but said nothing.
I knew Jayden had planned on being at the Pueblo this summer, but I hadn't thought about where I would be until the moment the summer was mentioned and I knew at once what I would do. Of course if Kathryn didn't want me, I'd have to make other plans, but I didn't think that was even a remote possibility.
Fortunately the university was large enough that first semester courses were often repeated second semester. That was true of the chemistry, biology and math courses I had started first semester. There was a wealth of courses I could choose from to complete a full load. I took a second level psychology course and for my humanities, a creative writing course. “I'll probably regret that choice,” I told Jayden, but he said we'd make a go of it and revealed he had enrolled in the same course and section. We also had enrolled in the same sociology course. It was heavy load, but I’d not be diving, so I thought I could handle it. If not, I’d drop something.
Back at Grace House, we resumed our routine and with Sam and Brad's watching our diet and Sam's cooking, Jayden and I were quickly gaining back weight. Brad and Sam also made sure that weight wasn't fat. Jayden still had a long way to go, but I had reached the point where progress was slow. Even slower was my progress toward mental health. I still suffered from nightmares—while not as frequent as they had been, they were too frequent to just dismiss. I was also still skittish. Jayden's outburst at Thanksgiving was unexpected as he seldom got extremely upset. I, on the other hand, found I was much like Dad Brad these days. In looking back, I was extremely surprised that I hadn't really loosed the big guns on Dr. Bailey. Yes, I needed time in the desert.
I went Christmas shopping with Jayden and we bought most gifts together, but we hadn't shopped for each other. Friday, two weeks before Christmas, Sam suggested we go shopping for our partners next day. “Let's go to Richmond. Brad, you go with Jayden and I'll go with Derek when we get there.” Christmas shopping didn't take precedence over the dads' playtime Saturday morning, but neither did getting breakfast take precedence over mine and Jayden's. After giving each other the gift of our man's seed to end a grand session of sixty-nine, we drifted off to sleep again. I was in the midst of a beautiful dream of Jayden going down on me only to find that it was far more than a dream. I was as hard as I had been before our joyous sixty-nine and when I looked, so was Jayden. I reached down and lifted his mouth from my cock and said, “Jayden, I want you buried inside me.”
I soon got my wish as I felt the wonderful fullness of Jayden's cock buried deep in my ass. It didn't happen often, but when it did, it was pure ecstasy. Jayden's thrusting deep inside me sent me over the edge even though neither of us had touched my manhood.
After we had showered and dressed, we went downstairs and found Sam piling the last pancake atop a huge stack, a stack which disappeared rather quickly. After we cleaned up from breakfast, we got in the Jeep and headed for Richmond. I had decided to get Jayden a ring for Christmas. Maybe we weren't officially married, but that didn't mean we couldn't wear wedding rings. When I told Sam that, he said, “Derek, I agree, but you want the ring to be special, to have a day of its own. Besides, I think that is something you want to select together.” Made sense to me.
In a jewelry story, I picked out a lovely white gold neck chain for Jayden for Christmas. I also wanted to get him a fine real fountain pen. Jayden loved using a real pen, but was never able to afford a nice one. I staggered at the price, but bought one anyway.
Christmas Eve found us all at church in Waynesville where we were joined by Jeremy and Penny, DeAngelo and Angelica and Sergeant Major. The late night Christmas Eucharist had come to mean Christmas to me and I was so thrilled that I was sharing it with my beloved. At the Peace, DeAngelo and Jeremy gave their beloved a quick kiss on the mouth and I felt like doing the same just as Jayden's lips brushed mine. “Merry Christmas, my Beautiful Dark One,” he whispered.
“Merry Christmas, my Beautiful Navajo.”
It was indeed a merry Christmas after a horrible episode in our life together.
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