Chapter Twenty-six

“I know you’re not too thrilled about still being laid up, Brodie, but I’m glad you are,” Thad commented as he cut another freshly peeled potato in half and dropped it into the large pot of water.

“Well it’s not that I mind helping out with the meal preparations, but it’s going on two weeks since I hurt my foot and you’d think I’d be able to get my boots back on by now. I mean how long does it take for broken toes to heal anyway?” Brodie silently admitted that having stubbed the foot on at least three separate occasions may have some connection to the healing process being prolonged. “I feel I might have left them short-handed in the fields,” he guiltily explained, allowing the conversation to distract him from the job at hand.

“Not really! It’s given Jordan a chance to work outside and he’s enjoying it, even though I secretly believe the kid kind of misses being in here with Walker and me. At least he’s getting to know some of the guys closer to his own age.”

“That’s true, just like you and I are learning more about each other and the things we have in common.” Brodie quietly concurred. “Besides, there will be plenty of rocks still requiring removal when I get back on my feet.”

Thad’s resulting laughter lightened his friend’s mood considerably, especially when he added his own joking comment. “You’re right. I can’t see there being a shortage of the blasted things any more than there will ever be a shortage of these.” He held up a partially peeled potato.

“Thomas was saying at supper last night that the planting is right on schedule, so I guess my not being available hasn’t slowed them down any.” Brodie grinned as he picked another spud out of the pile.

“Yeah, and it sure made my day when Aiden informed everyone the tree cutting would be complete as planned. Man, I can’t wait until we can start work on the lodge.” Thad tossed potato halves into the pot, splashing Brodie in the process. He smirked over at the other man. “Ah, sorry!”

“It’s okay. I’ll get even,” Brodie promised as he wiped water off his face. “You know maybe not having any rain since we got here is good for the logging crew, but it’s going to be needed soon for the seeds to grow and to test out that irrigation system some of the guys have been working on.”

“Hmm, Walker was saying the same thing. As far as he can remember this is just about the driest spring he’s ever seen. But then we don’t know anything about the weather patterns here.”

“True, but let’s hope it’s the hottest because it is one of the reasons the planting crew can only work the fields in the morning while those cutting trees can put in longer hours because they’re in the shade instead of the blazing sun.”

“But then all farm hands have to do other chores like chopping and stacking firewood, keeping fresh water on hand, washing and hanging mounds of laundry….”

“Don’t forget that stinky process of making lye soap. Ugh, the rendering down hog fat is putrid.” Brodie expressed his disgust by wrinkling up his nose. The other man’s laughter caused him to look up and grin, thereby taking his attention away from halving the just-peeled vegetable. “Ow!” he cried, as the sharp knife neatly slid through the potato and sliced the palm of his hand. He stared in shock at the blood dripping down and soaking into the ground. He threw down the potato as its juices added to the burning sensation of the opened wound.

Walker!” Thad hollered in panic as he grabbed a towel off the table and wrapped it around Brodie’s hand.

Walker responded immediately and quickly summed up the situation. “We need to get you over to the infirmary faster than you can hobble there, young fellow, so hang on.” With that, the big ex-magistrate put his extra height to good use and lifted the shorter man into his arms.

Within minutes, Walker was walking through the doorway of the infirmary with Thad trailing behind.

“Lakota!” Walker called out. “Someone here is in need of your medical expertise.” He gently deposited his burden on the examining table and looked up to see Yancey’s expression of concern.

“What happened this time, Brodie?” the nurse inquired as he started removing the bloody towel. He didn’t care for the lack of colouring in the young man’s face.

“Brodie has cut his hand rather badly and I think it’s going to require stitches,” Walker quietly answered.

“And he’s lost a lot of blood too!” Thad added from where he stood on the far side of the table, his pallor almost matching Brodie’s.

“Lakota left only moments ago in search of herbs. Maybe one of you can catch him before he gets too far.”

Picking up on Thad’s dazed expression, Walker volunteered and returned a few minutes later with Lakota accompanying him. He then took Thad’s arm and led him out of the tent. Walker knew neither the doctor nor the nurse would have time to care for a second patient should Thad pass out in there.

Lakota approached his patient with a gentle smile on his face.  “Well, Brodie, I hear you went one on one with a knife and lost.”

“Uh-huh,” Brodie nervously nodded.

“Let me go and wash my hands then we’ll have a good look at it, okay?” the doctor suggested.

Brodie tried to move closer to Yancey, seeking comfort while waiting for whatever was going to happen next.

“It is going to be alright, Brodie,” Yancey whispered reassurance as he smoothed back the damp, sweaty hair from Brodie’s forehead.

Lakota washed up thoroughly, drying his hands on a fresh towel before returning to Brodie’s side. “I’m just going to examine the cut and see how deep it is. I promise to be as gentle as possible,” he assured the young man.

Wide blue eyes stared up at Lakota as Brodie nodded. The young man appeared slightly dazed.

“Yancey, can you please bring me some gauze and sterile water so we can wash away some of the blood and I can better see the damage?”   

“Of course.” The nurse quickly filled the doctor’s request.

Lakota took the soaked pieces of gauze from his nurse and gently wiped away the excess gore from the wound. It was still oozing fresh blood but at a slower rate. He carefully noted the depth of the slash and knew it was going to require several stitches to close it properly.

The nurse exchanged a glance with Lakota and although nothing had been spoken, Yancey too knew what was required.

“Brodie, I know that this is hurting you, so I’m going to give you something to make it less painful. Then we’re going to take care of that cut.”

Lakota went to the drug locker and filled a glass syringe with a dose of morphine. He placed the items needed in a small basin so as not to be immediately visible to his patient.
Yancey talked soothingly to the young man as he rolled up Brodie’s right sleeve and tied on a tourniquet.

Brodie watched Yancey’s movements suspiciously. “What are you doing that for?” he asked, apprehension creeping into his voice.

“The medicine Lakota has for you must be given a certain way, Brodie.” Yancey didn’t want to frighten their patient, but he didn’t want to mislead him either.

“Brodie, I’d like you to make a fist with your hand for me please,” Lakota instructed. 

Finding reassurance in the older man’s calm approach, Brodie did as he was asked. Yancey stepped into Brodie’s sight path, preventing the young man from seeing what was happening.

“You’re going to feel a little pin-prick in your arm for a second. You need to hold still for me, please,” the doctor requested.

Lakota swabbed the arm with alcohol over the bulging vein and quickly slid the needle in.

Brodie whimpered but didn’t try to look.

“Good boy, you’re doing just fine,” Yancey murmured, offering encouragement.

Working a smoothly as possible, the doctor depressed the plunger to administer the drug and extracted the syringe.

Yancey took one of the swabs from the basin and applied pressure to the injection site.

“It is okay, Brodie, we’re done with this part. The medicine will work very quickly and you might feel a bit lightheaded or a little funny,” Lakota explained. “Just lay still for me, please.”

“Okay!” Brodie’s speech was already beginning to slur.

“Yancey, can you bring me the sutures, needle and iodine so we can get this done as quickly as possible?” the doctor whispered.

Again, Yancey efficiently carried out the doctor’s instructions and passed him the supplies.

"Brodie, Yancey and I are going to get this laceration fixed up now. I want you to close your eyes and try not to move.”

“Hmmm..” was the only response as the young man did as he was told.

Yancey stepped closer to the examining table, firmly took hold of Brodie’s left arm and gently held the injured hand opened to enable the doctor to see what he was doing.

Lakota quickly moved in to suture the gaping wound, pulling the skin closed with tiny stitches.

Brodie began to squirm when he felt the bite of the needle and the pull of the sutures but settled down when Yancey tightened his hold and spoke calming, reassuring words to him. Brodie was unaware of the tears slowly rolling down his face.

Lakota tied off the last knot and then cleansed the injury site with iodine, staining the skin surrounding it. “Gauze and rolled bandaging, please,” he asked his nurse and then proceeded to dress the incision.

“There we go, Brodie, all done. Yancey is going to help you to a bed in the back of the infirmary. I’d like you to lie down and rest until the medicine wears off.” the doctor instructed.

“Thank you, Lakota,” Yancey said, knowing Brodie was in no condition to express his gratitude. “I’ll straighten up in here after I’ve seen him comfortably situated in the ward.”

“That will be fine, Yancey. I know he is in good hands.”

Five minutes later, having washed the tear-tracks from Brodie’s face and helping him change into a clean nightshirt, Yancey was tucking his patient into one of the beds in the ward.

“It is hard to believe you’ve gone and hurt yourself again, Brodie. At this rate, your medical file will be as thick as all the others put together.” Yancey gently scolded once he had his patient comfortably settled.

“I told you I was accident-prone, Yancey. I think it’s a family trait because my grandfather seemed to always be sporting a bandage or two.”  Brodie smiled rather dreamily.

“Humph!” Yancey snorted. “I don’t completely go along with the notion of one person being more likely to have accidents than another. I’m inclined to think a great deal is strictly due to a lack of proper attention being paid to what one is doing.”

“Grandma said something the same,” Brodie giggled. “She used to say that either my nose was in a book or a book was on my mind.”

“Maybe the next time you allow your inattentiveness to result in bodily harm, I should spank you.” Yancey crouched at the side of the cot to get closer to the other man.

“Too late! My grandmother beat you to it years ago.” Brodie grinned at the other man’s raised eyebrow. “For all the good it did!” he cheekily commented and smirked.

“Then perhaps someone should darn well do it again.” Yancey couldn’t decide if he meant what he’d just suggested or not.

“Someone, huh? As in you?” Brodie surprised them both by throwing out the challenge.

Yancey found himself gazing into large, irresistible blue eyes. Unable to help himself, he leaned in and kissed Brodie’s slightly parted lips. As the older man backed away, Brodie latched on and returned the kiss, causing the nurse to let go of his professional demeanour and draw the younger man into his arms.

Settling his patient back against the pillows piled behind his head, Yancey tenderly caressed the scar running along the side of Brodie’s left cheek next to his ear. The slightly crinkled, pale discolouration extended below his jawbone and disappeared behind his shirt collar.

“How did this happen, Brodie?” Yancey quietly questioned.

“I wasn’t watching where I was going and bumped into my grandfather. He had a pan of hot bacon fat in his hand at the time.” Brodie shrugged in an attempt to appear nonchalant. Secretly, he feared being rejected because of what he saw as a deformity. “Some spilled on my shoulder, too. It was just an accident,” he murmured. Glancing up he was relieved to see only exasperated patience in Yancey’s kind, dark brown eyes. 

“Famous last words, Brodie?” Yancey teased. He reached up to push the still moist brown hair away from the younger man’s perspiring forehead. Using his thumb, he gently rubbed across the lines of pain furrowing his patient’s brow. Within minutes, the soothing touch had Brodie’s eyes closing as he drifted off to sleep.

Yancey bent down and lovingly kissed the now smooth forehead. “Rest, my treasure,” he whispered. “We will repeat this conversation when you are not so lethargic.” He knew Brodie had not been fully conscious of all that was said or the implications behind it. He affectionately smiled at the sleeping man and shook his head in wonder, then quietly left the ward. He found Lakota in the examination room, writing up his notes.

“Asleep, is he?” Lakota asked.

“Yes. I’m going to keep him here for the rest of the day so I can be within earshot, should he have need of assistance.”

Lakota nodded his agreement. “The noon meal will be ready in less than an hour and I have put my morning plans on hold. Maybe Gille will be free to accompany me on my herb gathering quest this afternoon.”

Yancey smiled. Both men were well aware of one another’s interests in two very special young men.

Wayne strained for release as Samuel worked his hand faster. He was trapped in between the older man’s massive thighs, his back against Samuel’s chest. The big man held him close with his left arm while his right hand performed between Wayne’s legs. With a cry, Wayne arched his back and shot over his lover’s fist. Samuel waited until Wayne’s breathing evened out before planting a kiss on his partner’s temple.

“Did you enjoy that, my pet?”

Wayne turned around and leaned his cheek against Samuel’s shirt. “Oh yes!”

Samuel rocked him, enjoying the feel of Wayne’s weight against his body. Wayne’s eyes were half closed and his lashes cast shadows on his pale cheeks. Samuel felt a stirring of tenderness and protectiveness over the slender figure in his embrace. All his life he had dreamed of having a young man he could pamper and protect.  Someone who depended on him like Wayne did. He never thought being exiled would bring him such a prize nor did he ever think he would one day be able to openly love another man without fear of exposure or recriminations.

Wayne rolled over and peered up at him lovingly while he began to undo the fly of Samuel’s pants. He playfully licked at Samuel’s chest where his shirt was open.

Samuel responded at once. He leaned back against the log, spread his legs further and moaned softly. 

It had been hard enough finding men of a similar disposition back home, much less have the opportunity to lay with them in this manner. The handful of times Samuel had been with another man, he had feared being discovered. The few encounters he’d taken part in had been filled with tension and peril. The fear had effectively robbed him of any real pleasure. Every sound made him jump and it was always a hurried affair. Heaven only knows they’d never risk spending a whole night together.

With Wayne, Samuel found a deep contentment he had never encountered before. Wayne was cute and intelligent. True, sometimes he could be a bit moody or stubborn and acted without much thought, but it all added to the charm of the young man. He instinctively turned to Samuel for answers and submitted to the older man’s authority and discipline. It was as essential for the older man to have someone who needed him in that way as it was part of his nature to be in charge. 

Wayne slid down on the grass and pressed his face into Samuel’s crotch. He began to lick, suck and stroke the engorged penis. Then he suddenly stopped, causing Samuel to open his eyes. 

“What, love?” Samuel whispered, his body aching with desire.

“Samuel? Do you want to ...”

Samuel looked down and understood immediately. “No, babe, this is fine. Finish what you’ve started, please.”

Wayne obligingly lowered his head and took Samuel into his mouth again.

Samuel would like to have intercourse with his young lover but, upon noticing the other man’s hesitation during their initial attempt at anal sex, had put his plans on hold. At first he had thought perhaps the lad was shy and had been totally unprepared for the way his young lover had tensed up and become distraught when he began to part his cheeks. Wayne had been bashfully apologetic, but the incident had totally deprived both of them of their desire to continue. 

When Samuel asked Wayne about his reaction, the young man had evaded answering directly by proposing they try again another time. However, when it happened a second time, Samuel firmly decided they’d not make a third. It was too upsetting for Wayne, who tearfully apologised once more.

“It’s alright, babe, we don’t have to do it that way. There are other ways in which we can physically love each other and find release together,” he had patiently suggested, and Wayne had nodded his head with a mixture of reluctance and relief.

Samuel grunted loudly as he came inside Wayne’s mouth. It felt so good. He gathered his lover into his arms after he had cleaned up. He could tell Wayne was tense.

“What’s on your mind, love?”  Samuel gently inquired.

“I am sorry.”

“For what?”

“Not being able to ...”

“Hey,” Samuel squeezed Wayne reassuringly. “Didn’t I tell you we don’t need to?”

“Forever?” Wayne asked in a small voice.

Samuel gazed down at the upturned face. He wanted to enjoy his lover in all way possible, but he also wanted to make it right for the young man. Could he be satisfied having a life-long relationship without anal sex?  He thought carefully before he answered.

“Wayne, I love you. That means I want what’s best for you. I hope one day we can have anal sex, but it doesn’t mean I love you less if we can’t have it. If you don’t like it, then we don’t do it.”

“I want to, but I am just scared. Something must be wrong with me.”

“No, my pet, there’s nothing wrong. Listen to me.” Samuel’s voice took on a commanding tone as Wayne buried his face deeper into the older man’s shirt. “Everyone is different, and every couple is different. There is no standard, so to speak.”

“But there is!” Wayne protested. 

Samuel’s strong arms surrounded Wayne, giving him comfort. “No, there isn’t. Because I say there isn’t and that’s all that matters.”

Wayne settled down and in a few minutes, his soft breathing told Samuel he had fallen asleep. Samuel stroked his partner’s back and thought about the situation. Truth of the matter was that he himself was not all that experienced in anal sex. He sure as hell did not want to do anything that would hurt Wayne. He had done it a few times with men who were already experienced. It had been easy as they knew what they wanted, and they knew his preference. He always penetrated, having no desire to be the one receiving.

He surprised himself with the sudden realisation that he could wait forever or live without it if he had to, so long as he had Wayne as his partner. At that moment, everything took on a simple clarity. He loved Wayne and would accept what he had to offer; no more was needed. The sensation was overwhelming.

But Samuel also realised Wayne was still hounded by doubts about this issue and that it would arise again in the future. And if unchecked, would manifest and eventually drive a stake between them. He would need to find a way to get it resolved; more for Wayne’s sake than for his own.

Shaking the sleeping form, he murmured, “Time to get up, my pet. I’m sure the noon meal is long over, and you are needed to help stack firewood that is being chopped. I also have to go back to the tree cutting. Come on, open your eyes.”

Wayne kissed him at the edge of the clearing and stumbled to meet up with the group of young men heading to the wood pile.

Samuel watched him disappear before turning in the opposite direction and heading towards the infirmary. He felt the need to seek professional advice.

Kelby hurried out of the mess hall to catch up to his friend. “Hey, Spyke, wait up a minute. I’d like to talk to you before we get involved in our afternoon chores, if it’s alright with you.”

“Sure, I’m in no rush to tote and heat water for the fucking laundry,” the young man scoffed. “I’d rather be piling wood but Troy, Seth, Levi and the twins lucked out with that chore.”

“Can we go to your tent so we can have a bit of privacy?” Kelby shyly requested.

The young men casually strolled to their destination, each immersed in their own thoughts. Spyke wondered what was on the other man’s mind, while Kelby tried to figure out the best way to introduce what he felt was a delicate subject.

Upon entering the tent, Spyke with his usual no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase methodology, bluntly inquired, “so what do ya wanna talk about, Kelby?” He threw himself down on his pallet and looked up expectantly at the other man.

“Well,’s kind of…hmm..” Kelby stumbled over his words, suddenly unsure of his decision to ask such a personal question. He sat down on the pallet next to Spyke’s.

“For shit’s sake, spit it out, man!” Spyke exclaimed impatiently.

“Okay,” Kelby took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “I know you are in a relationship with two men while I’m not in any. And even though I am very much interested in someone, I don’t know how to make the first move. How did you get together with your partners? Who instigated things?”

“I just asked Larry if we could be mates and together we decided we would share Aiden. Everything sure as hell worked out good when the big guy went along with our plans.”

“In other words, you made the first move, right?”

“Yeah, where Larry was concerned but it was Larry who approached Aiden.” Spyke turned serious for a moment. “But it doesn’t matter who does what first as long as you end up together,” he softly commented.

Kelby quietly nodded his agreement. “I just wish I was confident enough to approach him,” he whispered wistfully.

“So, are you gonna tell me who the hell we are talking about here or is it supposed to be a big secret?” Spyke had a pretty good idea but wanted confirmation.

“Ah, I’m not sure if I want anyone to know just yet,” Kelby hesitated.

“Oh, fuck it. It’s Quentin, isn’t it?”

“Have I been that transparent?” Kelby blushed in mortification, looking down with a small smile gracing his face at the mention of Quentin’s name.

“Hey, I’m a very observant guy!” Spyke grinned at his friend’s discomfort. “Now if you don’t have any more questions, I gotta get to work ‘cause there’s a ton of dirty, stinkin’ clothes to be washed.”

“No, thanks, you’ve already answered them all and I have to get to the supply tent where Quentin and I work together on updating the inventory every Friday afternoon.”


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