“Where are we going?” asked Derek.
Austin and Derek had been working at the IGA as bag boys all summer long. Derek was saving up for a car and while Austin’s Uncle George had covered the insurance on the truck Chase had passed down to him, he was responsible for his own gas money. It had been a long day at the store and when they clocked out at 7pm, Derek looked forward to going home, ordering a pizza and kicking back with his Hamster. Austin clearly had different plans as he passed the turn for Derek’s house and kept driving.
“Your dad’s still at the store, right?”
“Yeah, he’s closing,” said Derek.
“But Chloe’s home?”
“Yeap, currently between boyfriends.”
“Well, we can’t go to my house because Uncle George and Aunt Carol are home and we can’t go to yours because your sister’s there. I thought I’d take you somewhere special,” said Austin as he turned off the asphalt and onto a dirt road.
“What is this place?” asked Derek when the truck stopped in front of a dilapidated building.
“The ruins of the sanitarium,” Austin explained. “Chase told me he and Kale used to come here when they needed a little, er, privacy.”
“Oh, I get it.” Derek grinned.
“Come on,” said Austin, as he jumped out of the truck.
“We’re not doing it in the truck?”
“Hell no! Lu charged me fifty bucks to get Linc’s juice stain out of the backseat, God knows what he’d charge to clean our sploosh,” said Austin.
“Poor Lu, you wouldn’t really get him to clean it.”
“I want my fifty bucks worth.” Austin snickered as he pulled a heavy down sleeping bag from the back seat.
He took Derek’s hand and led him behind the ruined building. The sun was setting, there was a pink glow in the sky and once Austin had the sleeping bag spread out he and Derek quickly shed their clothes. Austin was a step ahead of Derek as he peeled off his form fitting boxer-briefs; Derek took every opportunity he could to watch Austin move. He lifted weights every so often and Robin had talked him into joining the wrestling team last semester but Derek couldn’t explain Austin’s body. He wasn’t ripped, he was lean and hard, he had the best abs in their grade and it all seemed to be the result of genetics more than any regular exercise routine.
“Are you coming?” asked Austin as he lie naked on the sleeping bag.
“Yeah, sorry,” Derek shook his head and shed his boxers.
Derek lay down beside Austin and Austin rolled him onto his back. They kissed, he ran his fingers through Derek’s rich brown hair while Derek ran his hands up and down Austin’s back, his hands coming to rest on Austin’s pert bottom. Austin kissed his way down Derek’s body, when he got between Derek’s legs he wasted no time kissing the head of his cock and opening wide to take it into his mouth.
Derek had been saying for months that the principal reason he wouldn’t top Austin was he didn’t want to hurt him. Austin told him it was silly but as he struggled to take Derek into his mouth, he had to admit, he was larger than other boys. Not that Austin had all that much experience. The only other boy he’d ever been with was his ex, Cole, and while Cole had a rather nice penis, as penises go, he was no Derek.
When Austin had his fill of Derek’s cock, he sat up on his knees and reached for his work pants. He fished out a condom and a small tube of lubricant. Derek spread his legs expectantly but his eyes widened in surprise when Austin put the condom on him instead.
“What are you up to?”
“Enough is enough,” said Austin as he opened the tube of lube and began to apply it to Derek’s erection. “I’ve been wanting this for a long time and you keep saying no, but today is the day.”
“Austin, stop,” said Derek. He sat up and took his boyfriends wrist, pulling his hand away from his penis.
“Derek…” Austin started to whine.
“I just don’t want to hurt you. I love you Austin, I’d feel terrible if I hurt you.”
“I know you love me, Derek. That’s why I want to do this. I know you won’t hurt me.”
“Just lie back,” said Austin, gently pushing Derek back down on the sleeping bag.
Austin placed a significant amount of the lube on his anus and then straddled his boyfriend. He could feel Derek pressing at his opening as he moved himself into position.
“Promise me you’ll stop if it hurts you?” asked Derek with pleading eyes.
“Just relax,” Austin smiled confidently.
Austin sat up straight over Derek and began to ease himself down on his boyfriend. The pressure was intense as he felt Derek’s head pushing at his opening and then it slipped in.
“Ah,” Austin exclaimed, drawing in a sharp breath.
“Stop, stop, it’s too much,” said Derek.
“Shhhh, it’s alright,” said Austin, reaching down and stroking Derek’s cheek. “It’s alright, we’re just going to go slow.”
Derek remained tense until he felt his sparse pubic hair tickling Austin’s bottom. Every moan that escaped Austin’s lips worried him. The last thing he ever wanted was to cause him pain or discomfort of any kind.
“Wow, you really are a big boy.” Austin laughed breathlessly when he bottomed out.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah, it feels, I don’t know, hard to explain.”
“Yeah, that’s a good word for it,” said Austin. “Just relax, I’m going to try riding you now.”
“Don’t worry.” Austin smiled.
He started slowly but with every bounce on his boyfriends erection Austin felt himself opening up, accommodating the large penis. He was beginning to wonder why he’d been so curious to try this when Derek touched something inside of him. It was like an electric shock surging through his body.
“Ahhhh,” Austin moaned.
“I’m fine, that felt good,” Austin assured him as he bottomed out again. “Ahhhh, God, Derek, so good.”
“Yeah, you’re so tight,” Derek panted, finally starting to get into the groove.
A few moments later Derek filled the condom. Austin collapsed against him after his workout and Derek rolled him onto his back. Fucking Austin had felt better then he’d expected, especially once he relaxed and got into it, and he was eager to bring his boyfriend to his own climax. He licked Austin’s balls for a moment and then took his cock in his mouth. Once he swallowed Austin’s load the boys snuggled under the moonrise.
“So, what’s that thing?” asked Derek a few minutes later once they’d come down from their sexual high and began to dress for the ride home.
“What thing?” asked Austin as he put on his socks.
“On your left nut, there’s a little bump.”
“Yeah, you didn’t know?”
“No,” said Austin as he unzipped his pants and slipped his hand into his underwear. “I don’t feel any…wait, yeah, there it is.”
“A bump, right?”
“Maybe you should get it checked out,” said Derek.
“I just had a physical a few weeks ago,” Austin reminded him. He’d come down with a nasty case of the summer flu and when Uncle George took him to the doctor, the doctor had gone ahead and given him a full physical. “The doctor didn’t say anything about it then.”
“Well then it’s probably nothing,” said Derek. “Anyway, did you like it?”
“You know.” Derek blushed as he buckled his belt.
“Oh! Yeah, of course I loved it,” said Austin, leaning over to kiss him. “We’re definitely doing that again.”
“Aww but I like it when you do me,” Derek whined.
“Yeah and now I know why, you selfish prick,” Austin teased.
“I am not!” said Derek, agape.
“I know, you’re wonderful and I love you,” said Austin.
They kissed again and then Austin drove him home. They made out in the truck for half an hour outside Derek’s apartment before finally calling it a night.
When Austin got home Aunt Carol had him take out the garbage and then he sat with Uncle George for a few minutes to talk about the book they were reading. Uncle and nephew usually enjoyed science fiction novels but a friend had talked Uncle George into reading Game of Thrones and Uncle George had passed it on to Austin. Austin had just gotten to the part where Varys convinced Ned Stark to confess his crimes and take the black. Austin was eager to find out what happened next so he went up to his room to take a shower.
He stripped off his clothes, put on his bathrobe and padded across the hall to the bathroom. The shower in the upstairs bathroom was his favorite thing about the Dudley home, especially after a long day at work. He turned on the various showerheads and enjoyed the water massage until his fingers began to prune. Finished with his shower he dried off and looked in the mirror. He felt his balls again and tried to angle them to get a look at the lump in the mirror but all he saw was skin. He shrugged it off, it was probably nothing to worry about, and went back to his room.
Once in his pajamas he snuggled down on his bed and began reading his book. He absentmindedly slipped his hand into his underpants a couple of times, the lump on his balls a curiosity. He shook his head and laughed at himself when he realized what he was doing and read his book up to the part where Joffrey orders Ned’s beheading.
“Nothing to worry about,” Austin yawned as he checked his balls one last time and turned out the bedside lamp.
The next morning Austin got up and drove over to the Kirkwood’s. His brother/cousin, Chase, was in Europe, finally honeymooning with his husband, Kale. Linc, Chase and Kale’s son, was staying with Kale’s parents while his daddies were away and Chase had asked Austin to look in on him from time to time. Having grown up an only child, family was important to Chase and he wanted his son to have a strong bond with his Uncle Austin.
When he got to the Kirkwood house, Austin parked the truck and walked around to the back. It was still rather early and he knew he’d find the family having breakfast when he knocked on the French door. Austin was more than a friend, he was Linc’s uncle, he was family, and Mrs. Kirkwood greeted him warmly when she waved him in the door.
“Good morning, honey, breakfast?” asked Evelyn.
“Oh, no thanks Mrs. K, I had some cereal before I left. Coffee would be great though,” said Austin.
“Cream and sugar?”
“Yes ma’am,” said Austin.
“Have a seat and I’ll pour you a cup.”
“So, where are the twins?” asked Austin as he took a seat next to Robin.
“Still sleeping,” said Robin. “You’re pretty early.”
“Yeah, I wanted to come see Linc before work. Where is the little guy?”
Judge Kirkwood put his paper down and pointed towards the family room with a bemused grin. Linc was sitting in front of the TV in his pajamas watching a rerun of Bear in the Big Blue House with a stuffed bear that had once been his Uncle Jamie’s.
“Hey buddy!” Austin waved.
“Mmmm,” said Linc, not taking his eyes off the TV.
“You could run through the house with your hair on fire and he wouldn’t notice as long as Bear in the Big Blue House is on,” said Judge Kirkwood.
“It’ll be over in about fifteen minutes,” said Evelyn as she handed Austin his coffee. “Here you go, Austin. What are your plans for this morning?”
“I thought I’d take him to the park and play on the swings for a bit,” said Austin.
“I’m sure he’ll love that,” said Evelyn.
“Is Derek working with you today?” asked Robin.
“Yeah, I have to pick him up before our shift in a couple hours.”
“Bummer, Lucien and I are going to run out to Port Crane this afternoon, you guys could have come with us,” said Robin.
“Maybe next time. What are you guys going out there for?”
“Some guy’s selling a water pump on Craigslist. He’s not asking much and Lucien want’s a back-up since we had such a hard time finding one for the bus,” said Robin as he finished his cereal.
“So he’s going to horde parts just in case?”
“You know how he is; he’d make a great boy scout, always prepared.”
“He reminds me of your brother that way.”
“Who, Kale?” asked Robin.
“Yeah, Chase has mentioned his checklists a few times.” Austin chuckled.
“No, Lucien’s prepared, Kale’s just anal retentive.” Robin giggled.
“Are you two making fun of my baby?” asked Evelyn, giving Robin a smack on the shoulder.
“Ouch, I’m your baby too you know,” said Robin, exaggeratedly rubbing his shoulder.
“Yes, you’d think you’d have seen that coming.” Evelyn grinned.
“You see what I have to put up with, Hamster?” Robin rolled his eyes. Austin giggled, he liked Robin’s mom. She was so…maternal.
“Sure, you’ve got it so rough,” Austin teased. “Anyway, can we talk for a bit?”
“Yeah, I’ve gotta get dressed, come on upstairs,” said Robin.
“I’ll get Linc dressed as soon as his program’s over. You can take him whenever you like,” said Evelyn.
“Thanks Mrs. K.” Austin smiled and then followed Robin up to his room.
“So what’s up?” asked Robin. He shut the bedroom door, shimmied out of his gym shorts and started digging through his dresser for a clean t-shirt and jeans.
“Derek and I had sex last night?” said Austin cheerfully as he took a seat on Robin’s bed.
“What else is new?” Robin snorted.
“Hey, want me to make a crack about you and Lu being sex fiends?” Austin retorted.
“Whoa, big difference. When Kale and Alec pick on us they’re just being mean to me and my baby. I, on the other hand, think sex is a beautiful thing. Derek’s about the sweetest guy in the world and he’s cute too. You’d be crazy not to give him all the sex he wants.” Robin giggled.
“Yeah, well, he gave me something I wanted last night.” Austin grinned from ear to ear.
“Oh yeah, did he…wait,” said Robin, examining Austin’s grin. “Did he top you?”
“Does it still count as topping if I rode him?”
“Yes! Dude, that’s awesome,” said Robin. “Did you like it?”
“Not at first. I was starting to wonder what the big deal was but then he hit my prostate and…whoa!”
“I’m happy for you.” Robin giggled. “I know you’ve wanted it for a long time and it was a big step for Derek. Gives me an idea…”
“Don’t tease him. It was really sweet; he was so concerned he was going to hurt me.”
“That is sweet and I wasn’t going to tease him. I was just thinking, I’m going to have to get Lucien on top of me on the way back from Port Crane.”
“Always thinking ahead, or with your head, the little one I mean.” Austin laughed.
“Shut up.” Robin snorted. “Anyway, did Derek enjoy it?”
“Yeah, once he relaxed and realized I could take it, he had a pretty good time.”
“Is he a really that big, I mean was it hard to take?”
“Um, well, there was a moment where I thought I might split in half but I didn’t tell him because he’d have made me stop and I was pretty sure I could take it. It was slow going though.”
“Wait till he actually screws you,” said Robin. “If he’s as good as Lucien you’re in for a treat.”
“Is Lu really that good?”
“You wouldn’t think it looking at him with those glasses and conservative clothes; he looks so sweet and innocent, but let me tell you about Lucien, that boy can fuck!”
“He’d be mortified if he heard you say that.” Austin laughed.
“Nah, he’d appreciate the compliment on his prowess.” Robin smiled. “He’s incredible.”
“Uncle Hamster!” Linc exclaimed when Austin and Robin came back down stairs. Mrs. Kirkwood had him dressed in a blue polo shirt that brought out his eyes, khaki shorts and little blue sneakers. With his blond hair and that outfit he looked like Mini-Chase dressed as Mini-Kale.
“Hi bud,” said Austin. He got down on his knees so he was at eye level with his nephew and then gave him a big hug.
“Soft.” Linc giggled as he reached up to pet his uncle’s hair.
“Yeap.” Austin smiled. “You wanna go play on some swings?”
“Great, let’s get going,” said Austin. He stood up and took the little boy’s hand. “We’ll be back in about an hour, Mrs. K.”
“Take your time, honey. I have some errands to run; if I’m not home Jamie and Sean will look after him.”
With that, Austin and Linc headed out the door bound for the park down the street. Austin had a sinking suspicion that Chase had asked him to spend time with Linc to tweak his mom. He knew family was important to Chase and Chase wasn’t happy when he learned Aunt Carol didn’t trust him alone with Linc. Austin tried not to let Aunt Carol get to him, she really was trying to be nicer to him, he appreciated that, but alas he was sure they’d never be close.
Linc was another story. He loved his Uncle Austin and reveled in the time they spent together. Austin adored Linc, he was Chase’s son and Chase meant the world to him. He’d given Austin a family, not just Uncle George and Aunt Carol but all his friends who were like brothers. As they walked along the sidewalk, Linc holding his hand and chattering a mile a minute, Austin couldn’t help thinking how much like Chase Linc was. It was a thought that brought a happy smile to his face.
When they got to the park, Linc led Austin to the play structure and had his uncle push him on the swings. When he’d had his fill of the swings, Linc took Austin’s hand and dragged him to the monkey bars and then down the slide. It wasn’t enough for Uncle Austin to watch him play; Linc insisted that he go down the slide with him. Austin felt silly going down the slide but it was worth it for the smile on Linc’s face.
When the hour was up, Linc took Austin’s hand and they walked home together. Back at the Kirkwood’s they hugged goodbye and Austin promised Linc they could stay at the park longer next time. After that Austin hopped in his truck and headed home to put on his green IGA polo before heading over to pick up Derek.
“Hey, Austin,” said Derek, when he hopped in the truck. They were running a little late so Austin texted Derek when he got to the apartment and had his boyfriend come downstairs. Derek kissed Austin on the cheek and then put on his seatbelt. “How’s my Hamster today?”
“Great.” Austin smiled and put the truck in gear. “You?”
“I’m good, great even.” Derek grinned. “Last night, I still can’t get over it.”
“Yeah, I’m still kind of riding high,” Austin agreed.
“I’m sorry I made you wait so long.”
“It’s ok,” said Austin, he reached over and took Derek’s hand. “I know you were nervous, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous too, but I want us to be equals in our relationship and now we are.”
“Austin, I didn’t need to fuck you to feel like your equal,” said Derek.
“I was talking about me.” Austin grinned. “I know you like it when I’m on top; you get this look on your face. I wanted to feel it too.”
“And did you?”
“Oh baby,” Austin groaned.
“You’re such a shit.” Derek giggled and squeezed Austin’s hand.
The next couple of days were busy ones. Derek and Austin had work and when they weren’t working they were with their friends. It was almost a week before they got any time alone. It was Friday night, Mr. Pellegrini was closing the store, and Chloe was hiding out in here room so Derek and Austin got themselves a pizza and kicked back in the living room.
They snuggled up on the couch after dinner and while the TV was on it was only providing background noise. Both boys were engrossed in their books, they read for a few hours until Austin yawned and dog-eared his page.
“Tired?” asked Derek.
“Yeah, long week,” said Austin.
“Tell me about it,” said Derek. “I’m actually looking forward to school starting so we can get a break from the store.”
“It’s not so bad,” said Austin. “It beat’s working at Flubberbuster’s.”
“What’s the difference?”
“You don’t smell like a grease ball after bagging groceries and stocking shelves.”
“That’s a good point, I hadn’t considered that,” said Derek.
“The money’s not bad either.”
“True, speaking of, wanna go back to school shopping next week?”
“Sounds like a date,” said Austin.
“Great,” said Derek. He leaned in and kissed his boyfriend, paused to look in his eyes and kissed him again. “You’re so damn cute.”
“Thanks.” Austin blushed.
Derek kissed him again, they started making out and then Derek unbuttoned and unzipped Austin’s jeans.
“Whoa, Derek, what are you doing? Chloe’s right down the hall,” Austin reminded him.
“Relax, I just want to check on something,” said Derek.
“What are you going to…Mmmmm,” Austin moaned as Derek reached into his underwear, his hand brushing gently along the shaft of Austin’s cock.
Derek cupped Austin’s balls gently and began rolling them around with his fingers.
“I’m just looking for…wait, Austin, it’s bigger.”
“Hmmm?” said Austin. He’d closed his eyes and leaned back against the couch, purring like a kitten while his boyfriend manipulated his genitals.
“The lump, it’s bigger then it was before.”
“Let me see,” said Austin. Derek removed his hand and Austin slipped his into his boxer-briefs. Derek was right; the lump on his testicle was indeed larger than it had been. “Shit, you’re right.”
“Haven’t you been keeping an eye on it?” asked Derek.
“I figured it was nothing and I guess I forgot about it.”
“Austin, baby, you should probably go see a doctor.”
“Oh God, that’s a conversation I want to have. ‘Hey, Aunt Carol, can you take me to the doctor? Derek found a lump on my balls.’ I can just see the disapproving look on her face now.”
“Then talk to your uncle.”
“I don’t think he’ll be all that thrilled either.”
“Then don’t tell him I found it, smart guy, tell him you noticed it in the shower or something but, babe, you need to get it checked.”
“Let me do some research online and if it’s a big deal then I’ll talk to Uncle George about the doctor, ok?”
“I guess, but don’t waste any time, it’s already bigger then it was.”
“I won’t.” Austin sighed.
“Hey, I love you, ya know?”
“Of course, I love you too.”
“Then take care of this, it scares me.”
“Why?” asked Austin, pulling Derek into a hug.
“It could be cancer. You could…it could be cancer.”
“I’ll look into it when I get home and if it’s serious, I’ll talk to Uncle George.”
“Ok,” said Derek, as he leaned in for a kiss.
“Aww that’s so cute.” Chloe giggled. The boys hadn’t heard her door open and were surprised to find her leaning against the door frame.
“Damn it Chloe.” Derek whined.
“Oh relax, I saw you guys kiss, big deal.” Chloe rolled her eyes.
“Did you need something?” asked Derek.
“Nope, just passing through to get a drink,” said Chloe as she started across the room. “Oh, you look good in red, Hamster.”
“What’s she talking about?” Austin whispered once Derek’s sister was gone. He was wearing a gray t-shirt, not red.
“Um,” Derek blushed and pointed down.
“Shit,” Austin swore. The entire time Derek had been talking to Chloe, Austin had been sitting there with his jeans wide open exposing his red boxer-briefs. He quickly pulled his pants up and zipped them.
“Could be worse.” Derek giggled. “I walked in on her once while some dude was motor boating her.”
“You’re kidding!” Austin laughed.
“I wish, took me months to get that mental picture out of my head.” Derek giggled.
“Still, I should get going home,” said Austin.
“Alright, but remember what you promised.”
“Don’t worry, I will,” said Austin, kissing him goodnight.
Austin didn’t sleep much that night. When he got home he went online and did a little research like he’d promised. He read about symptoms such as lumps and cysts, dull ache in the groin or abdomen, pain in a testicle. He thought back over the last week and he’d experienced all of those symptoms at one point or another. He’d shrugged them off at the time, even forgetting about the lump, but now the symptoms all led him to the same conclusion: testicular cancer.
He tossed and turned all night unable to keep the worst thoughts from running through his mind. Less than two years ago he probably wouldn’t have cared about getting sick. Sad as it sounds, his life was going nowhere, he didn’t see any kind of bright future ahead and living with his mother wasn’t really living at all; it was simply existing. Now things were different.
Chase had given him a family and while Aunt Carol could be a pain in the ass, he loved his Uncle George. Uncle George had been cold at first but once he discovered his nephew’s love of books they’d really hit it off. It didn’t stop there; Uncle George was also Dr. George Dudley, DDS and when Austin expressed an interest in his work, Dr. Dudley had taken his nephew to the office and let him observe a few procedures. It had been fascinating and the lonely boy from the trailer park who didn’t know what hope looked like before now had dreams.
When Chase got into Cornell University Austin began to consider following him there. Cornell had a great dental program and Austin figured if the cousin he looked up to and admired like a brother could get in there maybe he could too. Austin attended the nightly study group because he loved spending time with his friends but also because of the secret desire he had to make something of his life. Chase had taken him in and given him a new life and it was up to Austin to make something of it. It was a challenge he’d accepted quietly and without comment but that he worked toward with every step he took. Then he met Derek.
Cole Darby was the first boy Austin ever dated and while he was sweet and cute, there hadn’t been any spark there. Austin didn’t really know what to call it at the time but something wasn’t quite right and he’d ended the relationship. When Derek came along Austin approached him slowly. He’d just broken up with Cole a few weeks prior and was reluctant to rush into anything but once he learned Derek was a reader, things just snowballed. They spent more time together, they talked about their lives and the things they had in common and something clicked. It almost came as a surprise to Austin when a small voice in the back of his head started whispering, 'I want this boy.' The voice grew louder and louder and before he knew it they were a couple and it felt right. It wasn’t like his relationship with Cole, it was different: it fit, it fit like a glove.
Now Austin’s dreams weren’t just of dental school but also of a life after school with Derek. He dreamed of a home with the guy he loved and maybe a few kids of their own. Chase’s marriage to Kale opened Austin’s eyes to those possibilities. If his cousin could do it, so could he. Now it was all in jeopardy because of a small lump on his testicle.
Austin gave up on sleep at 7am when the rich aroma of coffee wafted up the stairs and into his bedroom. He walked down to the kitchen and poured himself a cup then headed for the study. Uncle George was an early riser, he enjoyed the solitude that engulfed the house before sunrise, and Austin knew he’d find him in the study, a cup of coffee in one hand and a paperback in the other.
“Uncle George?” asked Austin when he knocked on the frame of the open door.
“Oh, good morning buddy, you’re up early,” said George, pleasantly.
“Yeah, I kind of had something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Grab a seat, let me just finish this paragraph and I’m all yours.”
“Ok.” Austin made himself comfortable and waited patiently. He hated being interrupted when he was reading so he didn’t blame his uncle for finishing his paragraph.
“Alright,” said Uncle George as he dog-eared his book and sat it on the end table. “What’s on your mind?”
“Well, you see, I was showering the other night after work and I, uh, noticed a little lump,” Austin began.
“Oh, I see,” said Uncle George. “Where was it?”
“On my ba…er, testicle.” Austin blushed.
“Austin, you don’t need to be embarrassed.”
“Yeah, well, I noticed the lump was a little bigger last night so I went online and looked up a few things and well…”
“You scared yourself?”
“Kinda. I read about a couple related symptoms I’ve experienced and everything points to testicular cancer.”
“I see, that would scare me too,” said Uncle George, leaning forward and patting Austin’s knee. “But buddy, you can’t read a list of symptoms on the computer and draw conclusions from them. You need to see a doctor.”
“Can you take me?”
“We’ll make an appointment first thing Monday morning,” George assured him.
“Thanks but isn’t there anything we can do now?”
“Fraid not, it’s Saturday and you know doctors,” said George. “But I don’t want you to worry; even if it were cancer it doesn’t grow or spread overnight, you’ll be ok waiting a couple of days.”
“Ok.” Austin sighed.
“I mean it. I don’t want you worrying about this until there’s something to worry about. Things like this happen to boys your age all the time, likely as not it’s nothing, so don’t let it upset you.”
“I wish it were that easy.”
“I know,” said George, sympathetically. “Tell me about the book you started, maybe that’ll take your mind off of things.”
“Well, I finished Game of Thrones and I really liked it so I downloaded the second book in the series…”
“Oh, no spoilers, I haven’t started it yet,” said George.
Austin decided to take his uncle’s advice and not dwell on what was probably nothing. Sure he was a dentist but Uncle George was still a doctor and if he wasn’t worried, Austin didn’t think he should be either. He spent his time hanging out with his friends and working but unfortunately he didn’t see Derek. He and his boyfriend worked different shifts on Saturday and Sunday so they did little more than text.
“But why can’t you take me?” Austin whined Monday morning.
“The only appointment Dr. Price had available was at 10am and I’ve got a procedure,” Uncle George explained. “If it were just an office consultation I’d reschedule but the patient is on blood thinners and has been off them all weekend so I could operate this morning. I’m sorry bud.”
“Can’t we just go later in the week?”
“You need to get it checked out,” said Uncle George.
“You said not to worry…”
“Yes and I stand by that, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see the doctor at the earliest opportunity,” Uncle George rationalized. “Carol’s going to take you.”
“Oh.” Austin sighed.
“Don’t sound so thrilled,” said Carol, pouring herself some coffee into a travel mug.
“No, I, uh, just didn’t want you to have to cancel any of your appointments,” said Austin.
“Mmmhmm,” said Carol suspiciously. She was a certified public accountant but hadn’t held a desk job until Chase started high school and she began doing the books for local businesses. Now she had an office on Main Street and had expanded her business into financial planning. “I guess you’re in luck then, I don’t have anything scheduled this morning.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Austin.
“Go get dressed,” she ordered. “We’ll need to leave soon if we’re going to make it to Binghamton by ten.”
Austin padded out of the kitchen but as he started up the back stairs something held him back. He was about to shake off the feeling and head up to his room when Uncle George’s voice caught his attention.
“Be nice to him today,” said Uncle George.
“I was perfectly nice.”
“You know what I mean, Carol. He’s scared, don’t make it worse.”
“You said there was nothing to worry about, what’s he afraid of?”
“I said that because I don’t want him worrying until we know there’s something to worry about but he’s a sixteen year old boy and he’s got a lump on his testicle, that’s a big deal to a kid his age.”
“I understand that,” said Carol.
“So be sensitive to it. Think how you’d feel if it were Chase.”
“That’s a low blow, Dudley,” said Carol. “No mother want’s to think about her child experiencing something like that.”
“I know, that’s why I said it,” said George. “Austin’s been our son for over a year now, act like it today.”
“Yes dear.” Carol sighed.
Overhearing that conversation made Austin feel even more uncomfortable with Aunt Carol taking him to the doctor. He knew she was trying to be nicer to him, and she had been for the most part, but he’d never known Uncle George had to pressure her into it.
The ride to Binghamton would have been tense but Austin was used to long silences when he was alone with his aunt. As soon as she pulled out of the driveway she put the radio on NPR and listened to Bach as she wove her Volvo station wagon in and out of traffic. Austin didn’t care, he was too busy thinking about the appointment that lie ahead to worry about his Aunt or her mood.
When they arrived at the doctors’ office, Carol checked Austin in and gave the receptionist her insurance card. She and Austin took seats in the waiting room and while she worked on her tablet, he was surprised to find a copy of Sidetracked Magazine on the table. Dr. Price had been the Dudley family’s physician for years and as Austin thumbed through Kale’s pictures of the Rickshaw Run, he wondered if the magazine was his cousin’s handiwork. He’d taken Linc to Dr. Price for his school shots before leaving for Europe; he could have left the magazine there.
“Austin Hamilton?” called a nurse, sticking her head through the door.
“Do you need me to come with you?” asked Carol, not looking up from her tablet.
“No ma’am, I’ll be fine,” said Austin, getting up from his chair.
The nurse led Austin to an examination room where she took his temperature and blood pressure. She said his vitals looked perfectly normal then told him the doctor would be in shortly.
“Hello there, Austin,” said Dr. Price when he walked in a few minutes later. He was an older man, just north of sixty, with thinning gray hair and a prominent spare tire around his waist. He was also an incredibly kind man as Austin learned the first time Dr. Price had treated him. “Boy, you look more like that cousin of yours every time I see you.”
“Yes sir.” Austin smiled. He treated any comparison to Chase as a high compliment.
“How’s he doing anyway?”
“Fine, sir, he’s in Europe with his husband right now. They’re finally on their honeymoon,” said Austin.
“Well, isn’t that nice. He’s getting to be quite the world traveler.”
“Yes sir.” Austin smiled.
“Alright then, your uncle told my nurse you’re concerned about a growth on your left teste?”
“Yes sir, I noticed it while I was showering a few days ago and it seems to be getting bigger. I looked up some stuff online and I’m worried it might be cancer,” Austin explained.
“Bah, the internet. I don’t know why I spent so many years in medical school when I could have just waited forty years for the internet to diagnose everyone’s problems.” The old doctor winked.
“Yes sir.” Austin chuckled.
“Alright then,” said the doctor, putting on his half glasses and sitting down on his footstool. “Drop your drawer’s and let’s take a gander.”
Austin unbuckled his belt, opened his pants and pushed them and his underwear down past his knees. Dr. Price slipped on a pair of latex gloves then cupped his balls and began moving them around until he found the lump.
“Ah, there it is,” said Dr. Price.
Austin had never felt more embarrassed in his life. He’d had physicals before but that had always been a quick grope and cough, now Dr. Price held his ball in his hand. Derek and Cole were the only people to ever touch him so intimately until that point and Austin would have been happy to limit the list to the two of them.
“Does that hurt at all?” asked Dr. Price as he gave Austin a gentle squeeze.
“It’s a little tender,” Austin admitted.
“Hmmm,” said Dr. Price as he made a notation on Austin’s chart then examined his abdomen and lymph nodes. “Alrighty, we’ve confirmed the mass is there but if it is cancerous there’s no sign of it having spread.”
“I checked your abdomen and lymph nodes, that’s usually the first place testicular cancer goes when it spreads but I don’t see any signs of swelling. Now we’re going to run some tests and see what we can find out about the mass itself. Go ahead and pull up your pants and I’ll have my nurse come in and draw some blood.”
“Ok,” said Austin nervously.
The nurse came in a few minutes later and drew several vials of blood. While they waited for the phlebotomy technician to run the tests, the nurse took Austin down the hall to have an x-ray. After that he waited in the lobby with Aunt Carol until the nurse called them back to the doctor’s actual office.
“Well, we’ve got the test results back and I’ve looked at the x-rays,” said Dr. Price.
“What do they say?” asked Austin.
“Inconclusive,” said Dr. Price.
“What’s that mean?” asked Austin.
“It means we need another test to determine whether or not this mass is cancerous.”
“Ok, do you need more blood?” asked Austin.
“No son, the only way to be certain one way or the other is to take a sample of the growth and biopsy it.”
“How do you do that?” asked Aunt Carol.
“You’re going to take Austin down to Dr. Molina’s office over on 5th. He’s a general surgeon and he’ll take the sample,” said Dr. Price.
“Surgeon…I’m going to have surgery?” asked Austin nervously.
“It’ll be real simple, Austin. You’re going to get a shot to numb the area and then Dr. Molina’s going to take a very small sample of the growth so we can test it. In and out in an hour,” said Dr. Price.
Dr. Molina was a general surgeon who specialized in small outpatient procedures that he performed in his downtown office. Austin was nervous as he laid naked, save for a hospital gown, on the operating table waiting for the procedure to begin.
“Just relax,” said Dr. Molina. He took a long needle from his tray and inserted it into Austin’s pubic mound to administer a local anesthetic. “Well give that a few minutes to numb the region then we’ll begin.”
“Ok,” said Austin timidly.
He’d been scared the other night when he’d read about testicular cancer on the internet now he was border-line terrified. He didn’t understand why the other tests had been unable to determine the cause of the lump and now he was lying on a cold, metal table waiting for a doctor to cut open his scrotum and take a part of his testicle. The fear was overwhelming and as he thought of all he had to lose if he died of cancer it became too much. He sniffled back the first tears but then they began pouring from his eyes and Dr. Molina noticed his crying.
“Austin, it’s going to be just fine,” said Dr. Molina, patting him on the shoulder.
“Ok.” Austin sniffled but the tears wouldn’t stop.
“Beth, you want to go out to the lobby and get his mom?” asked Dr. Molina.
“Yes Doctor,” the nurse replied and disappeared.
“She’s not my mom,” said Austin. “She’s my aunt.”
“Well, I’m sure she’ll be a comfort too you.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it.” Austin cried harder.
Before Dr. Molina could reply, the door opened and Beth breezed into the room with Aunt Carol in her wake. She looked annoyed through Austin’s tears but, as she took in his face, something strange happened. Her features softened and he saw concern, genuine concern in her eyes.
“It’s going to be alright,” said Carol taking his hand.
“Y-yes ma’am.” Austin snorted.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” said Carol, gently brushing the blond hair off his forehead.
She continued to hold his hand and look at him with those compassionate eyes. For the first time in their relationship Austin drew comfort from his aunt. He didn’t know what the catalyst for the change in her demeanor could be other than simple human compassion but that was something he’d always thought his aunt had been born without.
“All done,” said Dr. Molina.
“Wait, that’s it?” Austin exclaimed as he sat up.
“I told you, a very simple procedure,” Dr. Molina smiled.
“But I didn’t feel anything!”
“Would you feel better if it had hurt?” Dr. Molina winked.
“No, no sir,” said Austin.
“I won’t have any results for you until tomorrow afternoon. You can get dressed and go home now. We’ll call you as soon as we know anything,” said Dr. Molina.
“Come on,” said Aunt Carol, patting him on the back. “Get dressed and we’ll get out of here.”
The ride back to Sanitaria Springs was as quiet as the ride into Binghamton. Austin still didn’t understand why Aunt Carol had treated him so kindly at the surgeon’s office but he was reluctant to ask her about it. His aunt didn’t like to be questioned; she always suspected he had ulterior motives.
When they got home and Carol pulled the car into the garage, Austin opened his door and made to get out until she put a hand on his arm and stopped him.
“When Chase was twelve years old he broke his arm while George and I were in New York City. He and Kale have been friends since the first grade and he was staying with the Kirkwood’s while we got away for the weekend,” said Carol. “We came back as soon as Evelyn called us but for three hours all I could think about was my baby in some hospital, scared and alone, wanting his mommy.”
“Oh,” said Austin, unsure where this was going.
“When I walked into that operating room and saw your face…” Carol sniffled.
“I reminded you of Chase?”
“No, you remind me of Chase every time I look into your eyes,” Carol admitted. “This was different. You looked so scared and helpless and…I know I’m hard on you. I know I promised to work on that and haven’t done a very good job of it but I want you to know, I do love you and whatever happens, you’re not going to be alone.”
“Thanks Aunt Carol, I know you’re trying,” said Austin.
“None of this is your fault. My mother died when I was three and your dad had to take up a lot of the slack raising me. He was only ten years old and he resented all that responsibility. We never really got along. He started drinking in high school and you know how I can be sometimes, he slapped me around a bit,” said Carol.
“I had no idea,” said Austin, shocked at his aunt’s admission.
“Of course you didn’t, you couldn’t, but I guess I’ve always looked at you through my relationship with your dad. It’s not fair, you’re not Terry, you’re nothing like him. I need to give you more credit for that.”
“Why are you telling me this now?”
“I saw your face and…just be patient with me, ok?”
“Can I have a hug?” Carol sniffled.
“Yeah.” Austin smiled and reached over the console to hug his aunt.
It was still early afternoon but Austin was exhausted by the stress of the tests he’d endured. It was also stressful thinking about what the outcome of those tests could be so he did his best to purge them from his mind. He slept until 4pm when his phone buzzed on his nightstand. He had a text from Derek.
Hey, you weren’t at work today. Dad says you called in sick?
Doctor’s appointment, remember? Austin replied.
Duh. Everything ok?
Waiting for results.
Are you ok?
Talked to R, L, G and D. Going back to school shopping. Coming?
Sure, Austin replied with a smiley face.
He got out of bed and crossed the hall to the bathroom to freshen up. He washed his face, which was still stained from his tears, raked his hair back into place and gurgled with some mouthwash. He went back to his room and saw Lu’s bus pulling into the driveway through the window so he immediately headed downstairs. The medication Dr. Molina used to numb his groin had worn off and he found he was a little sore as he walked downstairs.
“Where are you going?” asked Uncle George from the living room when he saw Austin bound for the front door. Uncle George had come home after his last procedure of the day and had just gotten the full update on Austin’s doctor’s appointment from Carol.
“Back to school shopping with the guys.”
“Are you sure you’re up for that?” asked George.
“Yeah, I’m a little sore but no big deal. Hanging out with my friends helps keep my mind off of it,” said Austin.
“Ok, I guess,” said George.
“Here, let me give you some money,” said Carol, grabbing her purse.
“Oh, no, that’s ok Aunt Carol. I have my grocery store money…”
“And you need that for gas,” said Carol, handing him a few hundred dollar bills from her purse. “We’re your parents, clothing you is our responsibility.”
“O-ok,” said Austin. He and Uncle George traded surprised looks. She’d never referred to them as his parent’s before.
“Don’t be out too late,” said Carol as Lucien honked his horn impatiently.
“Yes ma’am.” Austin smiled.
“Geez Hamster, about time,” Lu complained when Austin slid the back door open and hopped in. “I was afraid we’d have to knock. You know how your aunt hates my bus in her driveway.”
“Yeah, sorry,” said Austin. “We were having a family moment.”
“That can’t be good,” said Robin from the passenger seat.
“No, it’s fine. Aunt Carol just wanted to give me some money for school clothes.”
“Seriously?” asked Derek as he scooted close to his boyfriend.
“Yeah, we had a breakthrough I guess.”
“Are you ok?” Derek whispered in his ear.
They’d agreed to keep his lump a secret unless it became something serious. They didn’t usually keep things from their friends but it was in such a private area. Austin was beginning to understand why Griffin hadn’t wanted them there to support him at Royce’s preliminary trial; all that personal stuff could be tough to share.
“Yeah,” Austin whispered back. He put his arm around Derek and drew him close, then returned his attention to the front seat. “Anyway, I thought Frodo and Sam were coming?”
“They said something about a ring…” Robin snorted.
“We’re picking up Devyn and Griffin at Griff’s house,” said Lu. “Your place was on the way.”
“Hey Griff,” said Derek, when they stopped at the Douglas’s house and Griffin and Devyn jumped in back.
“Hi guys,” Griffin greeted his friends cheerfully. Devyn waved enthusiastically.
“Where’s your little brother?” Austin smirked.
“Who?” asked Griffin, puzzled.
“He means Philip,” Devyn signed.
“Oh.” Griffin laughed. “I left him out of this trip. I understand he and Austin have a bad history with malls.”
“If you’d warned me I’d have just put on an extra pair of underwear for protection.” Austin laughed.
Before Austin knew it they were at the mall and he lost himself shopping with his friends. There was nothing better for taking your mind off a problem then spending time with Lucien, Robin, Griffin, Devyn and of course Derek. They spent a few hours shopping for all the in’s and out’s they needed to start the new school year, then they had dinner at the food court. After dinner they headed for Macy’s where they broke into couple’s to finish their shopping. Austin and Derek had everything they needed but had saved underwear for last.
“Ok, briefs or boxer-briefs?” asked Derek, holding up a package of each.
“You usually wear boxers,” Austin reminded him.
“Yeah but you look so sexy in boxer-briefs, I thought I’d upgrade to something sexy for you,” Derek admitted.
“Hmmm, if you want to switch your underwear for me, what about those?” Austin grinned wickedly as his eyes darted to a package of skimpy bikini briefs.
“Are you kidding, those would go right up my crack,” Derek exclaimed. “I’m not trying to floss my butthole.”
“Hey, maybe if you did it would taste minty fresh when I kiss you down there.” Austin teased.
“If you don’t like the flavor, stick an Altoid in there,” Derek retorted. “Those bikini’s, well, they’d give me a yeast infection.”
“Oh my God.” Austin laughed. “You have a sister, how has she not explained to you that boys don’t get yeast infections?”
“Maybe she has and I just wanted to make you laugh?” Derek grinned.
“Mission accomplished.” Austin smiled and pecked Derek’s lips then whispered in his ear, “Go for the boxer-briefs; that big cock of yours is going to look huge in them.”
“Done,” Derek kissed him back.
“If you two need lingerie, the lady’s section is over there.” Griffin chortled as he and Devyn caught up with Austin and Derek.
“Is that where you buy your panties, little fella?” Derek teased.
“I looked but they didn’t have anything crotchless, so Devyn said no,” Griffin retorted, putting his arm around his boyfriend’s shoulders. Devyn for his part, face palmed and shook his head. He was used to Griffin’s humor by now.
“Dev, you wild man.” Austin grinned.
Devyn just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
“Anyway Der, if you head over there I’m sure we can find a training bra in your size,” said Griffin as he reached out and twisted Derek’s nipple, then made a run for it.
“Ah! You’re dead, you little shit,” Derek exclaimed as he chased after his friend.
“I think we should look into day-care for the two of them,” said Austin as he put his arm around Devyn’s shoulders.
Devyn pulled out his phone and tapped a message, “I doubt we’d find a day-care that would be willing to change them regularly.”
The store management didn’t seem to mind Derek and Griffin running around like a pair of idiots but they did finally get thrown out when Derek caught Griffin and put a pair of panties on his head. Austin and Devyn found Lucien and Robin making out in a dressing room and once they came up for air they left the store and found Derek and Griffin sitting on a bench and sharing a giant pretzel.
“Hi guys,” Griffin waved as he and Derek stood to greet their friends.
“What are we going to do with you two?” Robin shook his head.
Griffin opened his mouth to speak but yelped instead when Devyn swatted him on the butt.
“What was that for?” Griffin exclaimed.
Devyn wagged a disapproving finger at his boyfriend and signed, “Naughty, naughty.”
“Yes mom,” Griffin laughed and hugged Devyn.
“Alright, break it up,” said Lucien. “The mall’s getting ready to close, we better head home.”
It was quiet in the van as they sped towards Sanitaria Springs. Robin and Lucien were whispering quietly, Devyn and Griffin were cuddled up and asleep, and Derek was resting his head against Austin’s shoulder while absentmindedly stroking his hand with his thumb. Austin had a great time with his friends but as he sat quietly, basking in their love, it brought back to him just how fragile life was and how his hung in the balance. Like at Dr. Molina’s office, it started with a trickle and before he knew it a torrent was falling from his eyes as he cried.
“Austin, what’s the matter,” asked Derek.
“I’m so scared,” he sobbed.
“It’ll be alright,” said Derek as he threw his arms around his boyfriend and hugged him tight.
“What’s going on?” asked Lucien, his voice dripping with concern.
“You want me to tell them?” asked Derek.
Austin buried his face in Derek’s neck and nodded his head.
“Lu, why don’t you pull over at that Starbucks over there,” said Derek. He hugged Austin again and started wiping the tears from his boyfriend’s eyes. “It’s going to be alright, you’ll see.”
Lucien pulled into the Starbucks parking lot and as soon as he shut off the engine, he and Robin climbed in back with their friends. Griffin and Devyn had just woken up and while they yawned and stretched Derek tried to comfort his boyfriend.
“What’s going on?” asked Griffin once he’d blinked the sleep from his eyes and saw Austin in tears.
“Hamster just started crying,” said Lucien. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“I’m sorry,” Austin sat up and wiped his eyes.
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for,” said Derek, rubbing his back.
“Austin, you’re scaring me,” said Griffin, reaching over and patting his friend’s hand. It hurt Griffin to see Austin upset, he was the bravest boy Griffin knew, he’d stood up and protected him from Royce, not once but twice. He didn’t think the mighty Hamster was afraid of anything.
“I’m scared too,” Austin sniffled.
“Someone please tell us what’s going on?” asked Robin. He was scared too. In all the time he’d known Austin he’d seen him deal with some pretty rough situations but never saw him cry.
“Derek, could you…” Austin started but began to get choked up.
“Yeah,” said Derek, taking Austin’s hand and giving it a squeeze. “So, about a week ago, Austin found a lump on one of his balls, the other night we noticed it had gotten bigger.”
“Oh, God,” said Lu, drawing in a sharp breath.
Griffin patted Austin’s shoulder again and Devyn’s face was a mask of quiet concern.
“What does that mean?” asked Robin.
“He went to the doctor and had some tests today,” Derek continued. “Babe, you want to tell us the rest, we didn’t really get a chance to talk about what the doctor said.”
“Yeah, uh, Dr. Price ran a bunch of tests but they didn’t tell him anything so I had to go see a surgeon and he…he took a piece of the growth so they could test it,” said Austin.
“You had surgery?” Derek exclaimed. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“It all happened so fast and I was scared, then you asked me to come shopping and I didn’t really want to share this with everyone. But being with you guys tonight, it reminded me how much I love you, all of you, and how much I’ve got to lose if I…If I…” Austin broke into fresh tears.
“My poor Hamster,” Derek sniffled and hugged him close.
“Jesus,” said Robin, struggling to hold back tears. He hadn’t experienced this kind of concern for a loved one since Kale had his heart surgery.
“You are not going to die,” said Griffin, firmly. “I forbid it.”
“Griffy…” Devyn began to sign but Griffin grabbed his hands and stopped him.
“No, absolutely not! You aren’t going to die,” Griffin exclaimed.
“Griff, calm down,” said Lucien.
“He can’t die. He protected me from Royce; he’s the bravest guy I know. He’s not going to die from some shitty little…”
“Ok,” said Austin, sitting up and dabbing at his eyes. He gave Griffin a weak smile. “I won’t.”
“That’s better.” Griffin sighed and let Devyn hold him.
“Look, I’m sorry I upset all of you…” Austin started.
“Bullshit, we’re upset because we care about you,” said Lucien.
“I know, I just didn’t want to worry anyone until there was something to worry about but, guys, I’m really scared,” Austin admitted.
“What did the doctor say about the test they did on the growth?” asked Derek.
“They’re going to test the sample from the biopsy, he’ll have an answer for me tomorrow sometime,” said Austin.
“Ok, so tomorrow morning we meet at Hamster’s and wait this out together,” said Lucien.
“Thanks guys,” Austin smiled weakly.
“Whatever happens, we’re going to be there for you,” said Robin.
After that everyone hugged Austin and Lucien started up the bus for the last leg of the trip home. When they reached the Dudley’s and Austin got out, Derek hopped out with him.
“Thanks Lu, we’ll see you guys tomorrow,” said Derek as he waved goodbye.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m spending the night, you’re not going to be alone,” said Derek.
“I don’t know if Aunt Carol’s going to like that…”
“Tough shit, I’d like to see her throw me out.”
“Whoa,” Austin exclaimed. He’d never heard Derek put so much steel in his voice.
Derek took Austin’s hand and they walked into the house. Aunt Carol and Uncle George were waiting in the living room.
“Austin, is that…Oh, Derek, I didn’t think we’d be seeing you this evening,” said Carol.
“Mrs. Dudley, Dr. Dudley,” said Derek politely. “My boyfriend is nervous about his test results. I don’t want him to be alone tonight, I’m staying with him.”
“Oh…” Carol began.
“That’s very nice of you, Derek,” said Uncle George. “Thank you.”
“Sure,” said Derek. He was a little taken aback; he’d expected some sort of confrontation.
“Are you ok, buddy?” Uncle George addressed Austin.
“Yeah, just a little nervous,” said Austin.
“Alright well why don’t you guys get some sleep?” said Uncle George. “I’m sure this will all be over tomorrow.”
“Thanks Uncle George, Aunt Carol,” said Austin, then he took Derek’s hand. “Come on Der, let’s go upstairs.”
“That was easier than I thought,” said Derek once they were in Austin’s room.
“I told you, Aunt Carol and I had kind of a breakthrough.”
“Yeah,” said Derek as he put his arms around Austin’s neck and kissed him. “So, what do you want to do?”
“I’m really tired, would you just hold me?”
“You bet.” Derek smiled and caressed his cheek. “You get ready for bed and I’ll text dad so he knows where I am and then we’ll call it a night.”
Derek texted his dad and a few moments later the guys were under the covers in their underwear. Derek spooned behind Austin and wrapped him in a loving embrace.
“Will you still love me if they have to cut my balls off?” Austin sighed.
“Of course I will,” said Derek.
“And if I have to have radiation therapy and lose my hair…”
“Austin, don’t be silly, I’ll love you no matter what happens.”
“I know; I just wanted to hear you say it.” Austin sighed.
“I love you,” said Derek as he kissed him on the cheek.
The next morning the guys woke to Lucien jumping on Austin’s bed.
“Wake up, wake up,” Lu chirped.
“Fuck Lu,” Austin swore. “I’m not going to have to worry about nut cancer if you give me a heart attack first!”
“Come on Der, you too, wakey, wakey, hands off snakey.” Lucien giggled.
“You really need a lock on that door,” Derek rolled his eyes.
“Yeah,” Lucien agreed. “It smells like sex in here, you guys are just asking to get caught.”
“We didn’t…” Austin started but as Lu started giggling he knew it was a joke.
“Come on, Robin and the guys are downstairs,” said Lu. “You’re Aunt Carol’s telling them that joke she knows.”
“Joke? She doesn’t know any jokes,” said Austin.
“No shit so we better hurry.”
“Good one,” Derek giggled.
The guys dressed quickly then took the back stairs down to the kitchen where they found Aunt Carol serving the guys coffee and juice.
“Good morning, would you like some breakfast?” asked Aunt Carol when she saw them.
“Um, no that’s ok Aunt Carol, I’ll get it…” Austin started.
“I got it,” said Carol as she pulled out bowls and cereal. “Derek, toast?”
“Uh, sure,” he replied. “Thanks.”
“Dude, what did you do to Chase’s mom?” Robin whispered when Austin sat next to him. “She’s being…nice.”
“I don’t know.” Austin shrugged his shoulders.
“Guess she finally got that operation,” said Robin.
“What operation?” asked Austin as he took a sip of coffee.
“You know; the one to remove that stick up her ass.” Robin grinned and Austin nearly blew hot coffee out his nose.
After breakfast the guys settled in the living room to wait for the test results. For the first few hours they talked about funny Hamster moments like Little Phil trying to snap a picture of his dick at the mall, or Chase springing Cole Darby on him at the country club. Eventually they ran out of things to talk about as the hour grew later and the tension grew thicker.
When the phone rang just after one o’clock, the living room was as quiet as a tomb. Carol answered the phone in the study and as she spoke to the caller, Derek took one of Austin’s hands. Griffin saw what Derek had done and took Austin’s free hand. Soon the guys were holding hands in a circle each hoping and praying Aunt Carol was getting good news.
“Austin, that was Dr. Price’s office. He got the results of the biopsy from Dr. Molina. Would you like to come into the study and talk about it?” asked Aunt Carol, her face ashen.
“We can talk about it here,” said Austin as he squeezed Derek and Griffin’s hands. “I want my friends with me.”
“Alright,” said Aunt Carol, taking a deep breath. “The test came back positive, the mass is cancerous…”
“Oh shit,” Austin sucked in a sharp breath. He knew it was a possibility but nervous as he was he’d held out the hope the growth would be benign.
“Oh God,” Derek exclaimed and threw his arms around Austin.
The guys sat in shock, Griffin’s lip began to quiver and Devyn pulled him close.
“Hold on, hold on, let me finish,” said Aunt Carol. “Yes, the mass is cancerous but they don’t believe it’s had a chance to spread.”
“So what does that mean?” Austin choked.
“We need to leave for the hospital right now, Dr. Price was adamant about that. You’re going to have surgery to remove the testicle, they’ll run some more tests and if all goes well that will be that.”
“I’m coming with you,” said Derek.
“Yeah,” said Austin. “I need you. I need all of you.”
“I’ll call George and tell him what’s going on, have him meet us there,” said Carol as she disappeared into the study.
“It’s going to be alright,” said Derek.
“Yeah.” Austin sighed.
“I texted mom,” said Robin. “She’s going to call dad and they’ll meet us at the hospital with Linc and the twins.”
“Rob, they don’t have too…” Austin started.
“Family, Hamster, get it through your head bud,” said Robin.
“Thanks.” Austin smiled.
“Good,” said Lu looking up from his phone, “Alec and Sasha are coming too.”
“So are dad and Chloe.” Derek smiled.
“Just so you guys know, you’re the best friends I’ve ever had, the best friends anyone’s ever had,” Austin choked up.
“Alright, George is leaving now, we better get going,” said Aunt Carol when she came back into the room.
“I’m riding with you,” said Derek.
“We’ll be right behind you,” said Lu.
“Ok,” said Austin. He got up and started for the door, when he passed Carol she grabbed him and pulled him into a hug.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” said Carol.
“Yes ma’am.” Austin gave her a weak smile.
Austin parted from his friends when they reached the hospital; it was family only beyond the lobby doors. Uncle George and Aunt Carol stayed with him while the hospital staff prepared him for surgery and until they wheeled him into the operating room.
“Hi,” Derek smiled and took his hand when Austin woke.
“Derek,” Austin smiled dreamily.
“Yeah,” said Derek. “Your aunt and uncle just stepped out to the lobby to give everyone the good news.”
“Everything went fine. The doctors said the cancer hasn’t spread, it’s all over,” Derek assured him.
“Thank God.” Austin yawned. “I was afraid I’d have to leave you.”
“You heard Griffin, you’re not going anywhere mister.”
“How do you feel?”
“That’s ok,” said Derek. “Sleep now, I’ll be here - we’ll all be here when you wake up.”
“One day I’m going to marry you,” Austin muttered as he drifted off.
“Damn right you are.” Derek kissed his forehead.