Hope Among the Deserted


"Well, maybe it took a while for the function to return. You could try again."

"Right now, with you here watching me?" Will grinned at Lucas.

What did that grin mean? Lucas was completely unable to figure Will out.

"No, of course not! I'll leave you alone to try."

"Oh hell no! You're my lucky charm, buddy, and you're not going anywhere. But no touching, okay?"

"Promise. Should I look the other way?"

"Nah, you were watching this morning when it happened, so you can watch again. Wouldn't want to jinx it."

Lucas shook his head in disbelief. The stuff this guy comes up with.

* * *

Will pulled the covers off, revealing his cock in its seemingly perpetual slumber. He gingerly wrapped his fingers around it, teasing it with his fingertips, rubbing gently over the head and down the long, soft shaft. Lucas was rapt as he studied the technique. Will increased the tempo, and varied the stroke, and did everything he could think of, to no avail. He slowed, clearly disappointed.

"Well--" he began.

"Wait! I know!" Lucas turned to the nightstand and grabbed a bottle of lube he kept there. "Try this!"

Will looked at the bottle, then at Lucas. He nodded.

Lucas opened the bottle and squirted a bead of lube up the length of Will's cock.

"You could have just put it into my hand," Will said, teasing.

"Sorry, I just got a little excited," Lucas replied.

"Let's hope it's catching."

Will's hand moved slickly up and down his shaft, the lube crackling. His cock, stubbornly, refused to perform. He tried for several minutes, and slowed as he realized it was not going to happen. He turned to Lucas, his face etched with despair. Then he turned away, and lay still, staring at the wall.

"Will? Will, it's not as bad as it might seem. There are still things we can try."

Will grunted. "What do you mean, we? This isn't your problem."

"The hell it ain't! As a gay man, I take a limp dick in my bed personally."

Will laughed under his breath. He turned back to Lucas.

"You are something else," he said. "As bad as it gets, you just keep coming back. A guy can't stay depressed around you."

"That's what friends are for, right?"

Will thought about that, and about how Juliet would have reacted to what had just happened.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm glad you invited me to stay. I know I still have problems to work on, but you make me feel like I can take them on."

He looked down at the limp member that had betrayed him so.

"You know, it's funny. When you're young, you take hard-ons for granted. You think you'll always have one handy, and you even get them when you don't want them--like when you have to stand in front of speech class. You never think you're going to face something like this. I had this friend in high school," Will recalled, "who was obsessed with finding out how many times he could come in a row. So he started working on it, and then he tells us he can come seven times in an hour. Well, we don't believe him, because, you know, ouch--who would do that? But he insists that he did it, and he's going to prove it. So we go to his house after school one day--all five of us guys--and go up to his room, and he just flops down on the bed, whips off his pants, and starts beatin' it. Damndest thing I ever saw. And he shoots within like 20 seconds of starting, which was kind of surprising. But he just keeps whackin' it, and pretty soon there goes another one. This goes on for almost an hour, and he's just about to do number seven when we hear his mom pull into the driveway. We scatter, and he tries to get cleaned up and dressed before she gets into the house, but he ended up with big wet spots on his shirt where he still had cum on his chest. God, that was funny."

Lucas just shook his head. "The stuff straight guys do, I tell ya. It's like a different world."

"What, you gonna tell me that you never did a circle jerk or anything?"

"First, that wasn't a circle jerk--that was a live sex show. Second, no. I mean, a bunch of guys standing in a circle, watching each other wank? That's weird, and frustrating. If I can't touch, I might as well be watching porn."

"You don't stand there looking at each other."

"Where do you look, then? And are the rules written down somewhere? Because I would love to read that."

"You're a funny man--a regular comedian. And the circle thing is not weird. I guess you have to have experienced it to understand."

"Is that an offer? If you could scare up a couple of friends as hot as you, I'd be up for giving it a try."

"You know, the worst thing about being paralyzed is not being able to kick your ass. But I am going to make that a physical therapy goal." Will grinned.

"That's the spirit. Now up and at 'em, big guy. Let's get 5 miles in before breakfast."

Back from their run, Lucas made breakfast while Will made coffee--it was satisfying for him to be able to do something on his own, and Lucas's house was set up for it. After breakfast they sat and talked--it had become Will's favorite thing to do, as he found Lucas intriguing. Lucas, for his part, simply found Will to be the man of his dreams--with one significant disability. His straightness. No one's perfect, right?

"So, tell me," Will said, wiping the last bit of egg off his plate with a corner of toast, "Is cooking school part of the mandatory gay training?"

Lucas just stared at Will, momentarily stunned by his cluelessness.

"I mean," Will continued, "Do all of you do it this well?"

"Of course. It's one of the things we all learn at Gay Camp." Lucas got up with the plates and set them on the sink, perhaps a little too roughly.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you."

"You didn't. It's just that for such an open-minded guy you seem to have very little beyond stereotypes to work with. Did you really get to know any of the gay people you've met?"

"When you're in a combat situation, you get to know people really well really fast. But you get to know things that matter: does he shoot well? Can she fly us out of this valley? Does he really have my back? We didn't exactly have the leisure to cover cooking and decorating and all that. And, no, I haven't really known any gay people outside of the ones I met during my tour. So perhaps some of my ideas are a little stereotyped. I'm sorry, I'm doing the best I can."

"It just seems funny to me that you are so accepting of gay people, and yet you don't really seem to know what being gay means."

"What it means is that you should be treated exactly like everyone else. That's what America means. That's what I joined up to defend."

"You should wave a flag when you say that." Lucas smiled despite himself, intrigued by this patriotic side of Will.

"Shut up. I love my country, even when it does the wrong thing sometimes. Don't Ask Don't Tell was a fucking joke, and we all knew it. And we all are happy to see it go. I'm still proud to live in a country where we can acknowledge our mistakes and move on without having a coup or something. America is pretty durable, and I think that's awesome."

"You sir, are a patriot," Lucas announced, in his most dignified voice, and he raised his coffee mug in salute.

"So, now, tell me about this Gay Camp."

"Shut up, dickwad."

"See, now, that's just what a straight guy would say. Are you really sure you're gay? They find out you're talking that way they might cut up your membership card."

"Would a straight guy sit up all night watching your cock?"

"Would a gay guy sit up all night watching my cock and not touch it?"

"Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm going to grope you when you're unconscious."

"Yeah, but look at it from my point of view. You say you're gay, you tell me I'm hot, and then we spend all night naked in bed and you don't even cop a quick feel? How could I not be insulted?"

Lucas just stared at Will, his jaw slack. What the fuck?

"Will, I wouldn't do that. You're straight, and I'm not really interested in complicating your life by mashing on you. And what would happen if I did? Where would it lead?"

"Relax, dude! I was kidding. Mostly. I think. Look, here's the deal. I'm trying to figure out if I have any sex life ahead of me at all. Going through this, I'm starting to think that I'm just never going to be a sexual being at all any more. I mean, the woman who vowed to love me in sickness and in health took a good look at my sad, broken junk and got the hell out of Dodge. Now, I respect that you are gay, and I trust you not to do anything that might threaten my sexual identity or whatever. But you have to understand that for someone who thinks his sex life is probably over, sleeping with a gay guy who's not even interested in him is kind of a blow."

Lucas was stumped again. No words came to him at all. Will tried again.

"Look, I know this is incoherent. I don't want you to do anything sexual with me. But I want you to want to do something sexual with me. Does that make any sense at all?"

"Actually, it's the first thing you've said that makes sense," Lucas replied.


"I mean, it's stupid, but it makes sense."

"Gee, thanks for your support."

"Think about what you're asking me to do: tell you that I want you, but not to actually touch you. Or to touch you while you're sleeping and then, what? Tell you I touched you? Lie to you and tell you I wanted to touch you, but didn't? This is all pretty much around the bend, Will."

"Well, when you say it that way it doesn't really make much sense. But honestly, I don't know how much sense sex makes even under ideal conditions. Women say no when they really mean yes, except when no means no, except that no should always mean no, except that it sometimes means yes. I don't know what I want anymore, except that I know I want to be able to have sex again, and maybe I'm not all that particular about what kind."

"So where does that leave us?" Lucas asked, a little dizzy from the twists and turns this conversation had taken.

"I don't know. If you could fix my cock, I'd let you do anything you wanted."

"But what could I do that Juliet couldn't?

"Oh, come on. Everyone knows gay guys are better at that kind of thing."

Lucas's jaw was becoming used to dropping open.

"What, now?"

"That's what just about every guy in my unit would say. If you want love, marry a nice woman. You want a good blowjob, find a fag."


"I would take it as a compliment."

"Would you, now?"

"Sure," Will continued. "Having straight guys acknowledge that you're good at what you do? Why isn't that a compliment?"

"Because blowjobs aren't what I do. I'm an actual person, not a walking stereotype."

Will sighed in exasperation.

"Okay, let me try to spell this out for you. I didn't mean for this to be a whole conversation on gay identity and stereotype and whatever the hell else we're talking about. I was just trying to tell you you're an amazing cook, and I love what you make. And you're an awesome therapist, and I love what you've done with my body. And you stuck by me when no one else would, and I love you for that."

"You love me?" Lucas gasped, sounding far too much like a middle-school girl.

"Yeah, I do. You took me in, you helped me, you were there for me when no one else was. Of course I love you. And I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you've done for me."

"Well," Lucas said, trying to keep on an even keel, "I have to say in return that it's been great to have someone in the house with me again. And I am inspired by your spirit and determination. And I ... um ... I ... love--"

"I know, I know. You don't have to say it. Geez, you gay guys are sure awkward with your emotions," Will laughed as he wheeled out of the kitchen.

* * *

Afternoon found them on the porch again, watching squirrels cavort in the trees.

"So, should we get you moved into the guest room for tonight?" Lucas asked.

Will looked at him, clearly taken aback by the question.

"You really must think I'm hideous," he sniffed. "Can't even stand to be near me, huh?"

Lucas grumbled under his breath. "Look, you have to stop doing that. I've been honest with you; you know that I find you insanely hot, and I would be all over you if it's what you wanted. But you don't want that. So why put on the big mopey act when I ask about moving you to the other bed? You can't keep doing this, Will."

Will looked hurt.

"I don't mean to be that way. I just meant--" he was stopped by the sudden appearance of tears in his eyes. He sniffed, and wiped his eyes. "I just meant that I don't think I'll ever be attractive to anyone again. Knowing that you find me hot is about the only thing that is keeping me going right now."

"Will, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap. I can't imagine what this is like for you."

"A big pile of hell, is what this is like."

"So, we sleep where we've been sleeping, and same rules apply?" Lucas asked. He wanted to be sure the rules of engagement were clear.

Will turned and looked out at the purple smudge where the sun had set. "No," he finally said, almost too quietly to be heard.

"What did you say? I didn't hear that."

"I said no."

"No what?"

"No, I don't want the same rules to apply." Will turned to face Lucas. "I want to see if you can do it."

"Do what?"

"Make it work."

Lucas was lost. "I don't mean to be dense, but what are we talking about?"

A smile played around the edges of Will's mouth. "What we're always talking about. My dick."

"Are you saying that you want me to try to help you get an erection?"

Will blushed--a first for him. He looked down.

"Yes. That's what I'm saying. I want you to try. I need to know."

Lucas was silent for a moment.

"I don't know, Will," he finally said. "I'm not sure that's a good idea."

Will looked up at him, clearly surprised.


Lucas sighed in exasperation. "Because it crosses a line, that's why. And once we cross that line, I don't know what happens. To us."

"I don't get it. Remember when I got the new chair, and my shoulders were all out of whack because of it? And you massaged me for an hour, every day, for month? You made it possible for me to use this chair. How is this different? You'd just be helping me regain something I've lost. That's what you do, isn't it?"

"But that was part of my job. This isn't." What he didn't say was that the VA only allowed for a 20-minute massage twice a week for two weeks; the rest of the time he'd been working off the clock to rub Will down.

"So, you're not even going to try? This is a line Juliet wouldn't cross either, you know. The uro team told her something she could try, and she freaked out. I'm out of options if you say no."

"I want to help you, but it's a huge risk."

"Hey, if it works, great. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. I haven't lost anything."

"That's not what I meant."

"What, then? What's the risk?"

"Us," Lucas said, quietly.

Will cocked his head, trying to figure what he meant. He waited for Lucas to continue.

"You know those 'fags' your buddies talked about, the ones who know how to give blowjobs?"

"Lucas, I said that that was something we joked about, but--"

"How many of them, do you think, were friends with the fags who blew them? Once the cum dried, do you think they went out and got a drink? Hung out on the weekends?"

"I don't--"

"I'll tell you. No. No, they weren't friends. They never saw those guys again. Because the only way for them to stay manly men was to never, ever lay eyes on the little fag who blew them. If they did, that would mean they were fags too, and they can't have that, can they?"

Lucas was shaking with silent rage, and something more--something that was causing tears to well up in his eyes.

"So that's why I can't do it, Will. I won't risk that. I won't have you get up out of my bed, and roll out of my house, and never look back. That would kill me. I won't ... I can't ..." His voice broke into small, quiet sobs that he tamped down as best he could.

Will looked stricken. He studied the pain-wracked face of his friend, trying to see what lay behind the tears.

"Who was he? Who did this to you?"

Lucas jolted. He tried to imagine how this strange, beautiful man seemed to be able to read him so clearly. He saw Will's eyes welling with empathy, his eyebrows raised in open attention. He looked down at his hands.

"Jason. His name was Jason. We roomed together when we started with the VA. Oh, god, Will, he was gorgeous. From the first moment I saw him I was done--head over heels. For months, we did everything together--dinner, movies, camping trips--we were together 24/7. He was straight, and made it clear to me that there was no wiggle room on that at all. But I was too young and stupid to listen to him, and I kept at it. I would do things for him, try to get him to see how much I wanted him. Finally, one night, he let me touch him. I don't know why--maybe he was just all pent-up and between girlfriends. I don't know. But that night, he let me. And I was so excited. I thought my dreams were going to come true. I went at him like a flock of starving hookers, and he loved it. I blew him three times that night, until he was exhausted. He even held me as he fell asleep. I was in heaven."

Will nodded, rapt.

"And then in the morning I woke up and he was dressed and out the door before I could say anything. That was it for us--he never spoke to me again if he could avoid it, never spent time in the room when I was there. He put in for a transfer that day, and was gone for good within a month. Never a fucking word. It was over."

Will put his hand on Lucas's arm. Lucas looked at him, right into his eyes.

"I am so sorry."

"I can't let that happen to us, Will. It's like a poison is released, and it's over. I don't want to lose you that way."

"You won't lose me."

"That's what you say now, but you can't know what will happen. I do."

"How can you ever know what will happen when sex is involved? I mean, I've been with women who seemed perfectly normal and then went completely ape-shit once we hit the sheets. Next morning it's all sideways and you have no idea what the hell happened."

"This is a little different, Will."

"Why? I know women all react differently to sex--are you saying that men are all guaranteed to do the same thing? How can you know what will happen?"

"Because straight men don't fall in love with gay men. It can't work. At least not for long. Sure, maybe I could have sucked Jason off every night for the rest of the time we were on that rotation, but it would have ended. I would have wanted to have a real relationship with him, and he would have been trying to find Ms. Right. No happy ending possible there."

"So you don't think people can switch teams? We can only do one thing?"

Lucas looked at Will in disbelief.

"Are you really sitting there trying to convince me that perhaps the next straight guy I manage to finagle into bed with me may suddenly realize that he loves my cooking and my decorating sense and decide, what the hell, he might as well start being gay too? Is that seriously what you are suggesting? Where I live--you know, in reality--that just doesn't happen."

"Why not?"

Lucas was pretty much at the end of his rope. Again.

"Think about it, straight guy. How likely are you to wake up tomorrow and decide that you're going to be all into--what was the word you used? Oh yeah: guys' 'stuff'? What are the odds on that one?"

Will was silent for a moment. studying his lap. When he spoke, it was almost inaudible.

"It would be easier."

"What?" Lucas could not trust his ears.

"I said that it would make a lot of things easier."

"What the hell does that mean?"

Will swallowed. "It means that if I could wake up tomorrow and realize that I loved you--not in the best friend sense, but really loved you--my life would be great. I mean, you are the kindest, sweetest guy I've ever met. You've opened your house to me, not to mention your bed, and treated me like I really matter. It would be heaven to stay here, and eat your cooking, and laugh at your jokes, and go to bed every night knowing I would never be alone again because you know everything that's broken on me and you love me anyway. I would be happy, really happy, for the first time since all this started."

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