Camp Refuge

Chapter 21 - Camp Refuge

 June 15, 2018 (Friday, 2:13 AM)

Orson awakened to the sensation of the bed shifting as a skinny little body carefully tried to sneak under his blankets. He kept his eyes shut and managed to avoid a smile.

After Elias had pushed onto the free tiny slice of the bed and covered himself, Orson put his arm around the boy. Then he scooted back and pulled Elias with him, away from the edge of the bed.

"You okay?" Orson asked, his voice a whisper.

Elias nodded. "Sorry. I had bad dreams."

Orson squeezed him a little. "It's okay. You can sleep here if you want."

Elias sighed. And within minutes the boy had dropped off to sleep.

Orson lay and through his arm across the boy's chest he realized he could feel Elias' heart beating.

"I'm sorry he hurt you," Orson whispered. He breathed, the moment one of those rare instances where we are actively conscious of their preciousness. "But he won't ever again. Nobody will."

Orson settled in and pulled Elias tight against his chest.

And he rested, a wounded guardian of a broken little soul - one that was a little less broken now that he had entered Orson's life.

___________________________________

June 15, 2018 (Friday, 5:07 AM)

Clay woke to a bristly chin as it rubbed against the back of his neck. Greg hadn't shaved in a couple of days, and Clay found he liked the sandpapery feel of it on his skin.

He growled. "If you're waking me up you'd better have a reason." He sounded gruff, but he grinned and stretched languidly against Greg's body behind him.

Greg was awake in more ways than one. "I have a reason." He rubbed his erection against Clay's rear. "And it's one you liked quite a bit last time."

Clay arched his back and turned his head. Greg kissed him, and his hips continued to slowly grind against the big man. Clay made a growling noise deep in his chest while they kissed.

The kiss ended, and Clay breathed rapidly. "You'd better stop teasing me, or I'm going to roll you over and take a turn on you instead."

Greg chuckled. "Promises Promises." He still hurried things along and reached for their lubricant. Clay could tell that Greg was in the mood to screw vs. the other way around. And that suited him just fine.

A liberal amount of lube found its way onto Greg, and then his warm, slippery fingers rubbed the stuff slowly against Clay. Greg pushed a knuckle into Clay's opening, and he pulled on Clay's trunk, pressing his chest against Clay's back. "Is this what you want?" He whispered, and the pressure on Clay's rear increased.

It felt amazing, and Greg knew it. Clay huffed with desire. "Don't fucking tease me, god."

A chuckle from Greg told Clay - yes, he did know it. He positioned himself against Clay, and his hands gripped Clay's shoulders.

Greg seemed to know what Clay felt, from his sounds and the way Clay's body tensed and relaxed. When the pressure started to turn into pain, Greg would back off. And when Clay could take more, Greg would provide it.

They were syncing up, physically. It became easier and easier for them to know what it is the other liked and enjoyed. And right now, as Greg slid inside Clay, both of them knew the other enjoyed what was happening.

Clay moaned, and Greg disappeared into his body. He went slowly, and he was patient. Clay was still relatively new to this, and Greg wanted them both to enjoy every moment of it.

As Greg began to move his pelvis, Clay gripped him. "That feels awesome." His hand squeezed Greg's hip. "You're amazing, Greg."

Greg leaned forward and kissed the back of his neck. His hand also reached around the front of Clay and wrapped around his thick, hard cock. "You make it easy to be. I want to be amazing for you."

Clay loved the sensations Greg provided. Everything the man did pushed him forward, toward his finish. Greg's tempo increased, and Clay felt that first warning - that his orgasm was approaching.

Clay's body began to lock up, and he breathed heavily through clenched teeth. Greg made a lustful, sexy sound behind him. "I'm going to come, Clay." He whispered it. Clay didn't answer, but he was seconds away himself.

Clay beat him to it. He arched and his body released. He had tossed back the covers, luckily, but he still shot all over the sheet in front of him. He felt his lover shudder inside him, then Greg continued to pump his hips until he too was finished.

They stayed together, both sweating, smelling of sex, and lost in their shared moment. Finally, Greg leaned forward and kissed his neck. Then he smiled. "We're gonna be husbands."

Clay chuckled. "It's a trip, isn't it?" Greg slipped out of his body and Clay turned on his side so he could see Greg. "We can do it whenever you like. But, I want us to do it here. At the campground, at our home.

Greg grinned and put a hand on the side of his face. He looked into Clay's eyes in the meager light of the early morning, and he nodded. "Sounds good. We can talk about the date. But the venue sounds great to me."

Clay looked at him and felt a powerful realization. He swallowed, and he rubbed Greg's stubbled face with one big hand.

Greg saw the shift in his expression. "What is it?"

Clay smiled. "I … I just," he took a breath, "I had no idea I still had this part of my life left." He frowned, and gently shook his head. "That, I still had a love like this to look forward to." He tried hard not to lose it.

Greg smiled, and his eyes glittered. "I thought I would be alone, Clay. And then you came here, and after that first night, I knew I was going to spend my life with you." He shook his head. "It wasn't even a question. I just knew."

Clay laughed. "Well, I'm glad." He put his face at Greg's neck and pulled the man close. "Because I was gonna keep seducing you until you figured it out." Then he grinned. "Not like that was too hard to do."

"Hey!" Greg pushed him away, his manner playful. "Are you saying I'm easy?"

Clay shrugged and wore a rakish smirk on his face.

What started as a sweet moment devolved to two men wrestling in semen streaked sheets. As Clay allowed Greg to pin him, and when Greg bent to kiss his panting partner, Clay would have it no other way.
___________________________________

June 15, 2018 (Friday, 7:15 AM)

"Good morning, Elias," Greg said as they approached the patio table.

Orson walked alongside him. The boy slowed his gait so Orson could keep up with him on his crutches.

Elias nodded at Greg. "G'morning."

They took seats, and Greg smiled. "You guys sleep okay?"

Elias blushed, and Orson laughed quietly. The black-haired man patted Elias' back. "It's okay, Elias." He reached for the ever-full French press. "I woke up early this morning to a young man crawling into bed with me."

Greg grinned. "Sounds like he did you a favor. It got chilly last night."

Elias still had his head down, embarrassed, but he smiled a little.

Greg stood up. "Elias, do you want some hot chocolate?"

The boy looked up and nodded.

Greg entered the Airstream and started a pot of half water and half milk. Then after it was steaming hot, he poured it into a mug. It was one of the cups Elias made. The boy was inexplicably talented with pottery. And every time he came to the campground he made a few of them, or bowls or plates.

He tore open a packet of instant hot chocolate and mixed it into the contents of the mug. Then he went back outside.

Elias had pulled his chair next to Orson's, and the two sat with their knees nearly touching. Greg knew their closeness would be a point of concern for anyone who wasn't familiar with them both. But he also didn't care. The campground was a safe place for them. And he knew that Orson was the best thing to happen to Elias, perhaps ever.

"Here you go." Greg put down the drink in front of him on the patio table.

Elias' eyes lit up when he saw the mug. "That's my cup!" He picked it up, grinned and turned to Orson. "I made this!"

"Wow!" Orson seemed truly impressed as he examined the mug in the boy's hands. "You did really good, Elias!"

The boy seemed immensely gratified at the praise, and he took a sip of his beverage. Orson turned his head slightly and looked at Greg. He silently mouthed, "WOW!" and then turned back to Elias. He really was impressed.

A few minutes passed in peace. The day was going to be a warm one, and there was some talk of trying the river today. Greg wasn't sure it'd be up to par to swim yet, but Orson wanted to give it a shot. And wherever Orson was Elias would follow.

Mason and Clay were off on a shopping run and errands in town, while Jeremy had his regular work at the clinic. Though, the redhead planned to spend his nights with Mason in the campground. Greg worried about Clay's reaction to that, but for some reason, the big man was now okay with them. He didn't quite know why, but he was thankful.

Right now it was just Greg, Orson and Elias at the campground. And Clay wasn't due back for a little while. That's why it was a mild surprise to hear a car enter the loop.

They all looked over at the entrance, and an old, rusted, multi-colored pick-up rolled slowly along the pavement. An older man with a short gray beard and sparse gray hair on his head looked at their group. He pulled over in front of Greg's truck, out of the way.

Greg stood up and went to meet the fellow.

The man opened his door and stepped out. He threw up a hand in a wave. "Hello." Greg watched as he looked at the patio table. "I just wanted to make sure the young fella there made it here safe."

Greg looked over his shoulder at Orson and Elias. The boy smiled a little at them. He turned back to the man. "He did. You had something to do with that?"

"Yeah, I picked him up outside Crescent City. Took him to Hiouchi." He stuck out his hand. "My name's Gary Flemming. Nice to meet ya."

"Greg." He shook Gary's hand. "Thanks for helping our little buddy."

"No problem."

Greg jerked his head toward the table. "Come relax for a bit. Got some fresh coffee already made."

Gary made an approving face. "I see it in that press. I love coffee made that way." He grinned. "Can't turn down an offer like that."

They walked over to the patio table. Introductions were made all around, and Gary sat with another of Elias' mugs filled with hot coffee.

He held it up and looked at the mug. "This is a nice piece of work. But it doesn't belong to any of the local folks I know. Where'd you get it?"

Orson smiled and pointed at Elias. "This one makes them."

Gary looked taken aback. "Really?" He examined the mug again, and then his eyes flicked back to the shy boy. "Son, you could sell these."

Elias frowned. "I'm just playing with clay." He seemed to dismiss the idea. "Nobody would want to buy them."

Gary laughed. "Tell you what. You make a dozen for me - whatever design you want. I'll price them for $15 each, and give you $12 for any that sell. I own a little shop in the city. I specialize in local artists' work. So when I tell you they'll sell, I know that they will."

Elias blinked, then he looked at Orson.

The black-haired man smiled at him. "Did you wanna try it?" He patted Elias' knee. "Sounds like Gary helped you out. I think you can trust him, Elias."

The older man nodded. "You can, but there'd be no need to rely only on trust. I'd draw up a consignment agreement, between him and me. I'll send a stock count every week and pay out what he sold. I'd like to keep a dozen on hand, all the time."

Greg watched Elias' face. He could tell the young man was intrigued. "So, that'd be my money?" He looked at Orson. "Really mine?"

Orson nodded. "Of course. If you do the work and people buy it, then it's your money."

Greg's heart broke a little for the boy. It seemed a revelation to him that he could keep the money he earned. Elias thought, then he turned to Gary. "Okay." He nodded.

Gary smiled and stuck out his hand over the table. "Let's shake on it until I can draw up a consignment agreement."

Greg drew in a breath, ready to explain the boy's reluctance to touch people - anybody apart from Orson. But after only a moment Elias reached and put his hand in Gary's. "Deal." They shook, Elias solemn and severe, Gary smiling and affable.

Orson's mouth twitched in a smile, and he glanced at Greg. They shared a grin but didn't say anything.

After they shook hands, Gary slid a business card across the table. "Here you are, young man." Elias took the card and examined it. Then he looked up at Gary. He gave the man a single tight nod and the card disappeared into his pocket. "When you get a batch made, let me know. I'll come and pick them up, or send someone out."

"We often go into town for supplies, so we can just make it a point to stop at your shop." Greg offered, and Gary nodded.

"Sounds great to me." The man turned his eyes back to Elias. "Now, the reason I came by was to make sure you're doing all right here. You look a lot better off than you did the first time I saw you, but I don't want to assume anything."

Elias grinned and nodded. He looked at Orson. "Orson's my friend, and he's taking care of me."

Gary seemed to know more was left unsaid but Greg could tell he approved of Elias' manner and mood. "I'm glad, son." He looked at Greg. "You the owner?" He turned his head to take in the campground. "You've done a tremendous job here."

Greg nodded. "I am. And thanks. Though my partner and his son had a lot to do with that."

"You'd just about have to have a partner to help with this big of a project." Gary shook his head. "I saw the condition of this place before you fellas started on it. It was a wreck."

Greg smiled in agreement. "True. But the potential was there. Just took time and work to bring it out."

"Well, it was about time. The place looks great." Gary sipped his coffee and didn't seem to be in a rush. He looked critically at Greg. "I've heard a rumor about the place, and I wanted to know if it's true."

Inwardly Greg tensed up. "Oh? And what's the rumor?"

Gary looked openly at him, no judgment or malice in his manner. "I heard it's geared toward gay folks. Is that true?"

Word was beginning to trickle out, likely from their interactions with Ranger Greene. Greg set his jaw, and he nodded. "Sort of. It's a place for everybody. And it's a place where anybody can feel safe and protected."

Gary looked at him, then slowly nodded. "I like that. The name makes sense now." He took a breath. "I wish I could tell my son about this place." He smiled, but the expression was a sad one. "But, I already burned that bridge. We both did."

Elias chimed in. "Why can't you tell him?"

Gary shook his head. "Ah, because I was a very different person … oh … what has it been? 15 years ago." He sighed again and looked down at his coffee. "Harlan and I had a falling out. He confided in me that he was bisexual, and I wasn't ready to accept that." He blew out a rush of air. "One thing led to another, and we've not spoken since. Last I knew, he headed to Italy for some job."

Greg drummed fingers on the table. "You know, Harlan is a pretty uncommon name. I bet you could find him."

Gary nodded. "Yeah, I probably could." He shrugged. "But he knows where I am. And if he wanted to contact me, he could have. The way he left, the ball's in his court." He frowned down at his hands, and then he chuckled. "Sorry. You didn't want to hear about my family problems." He stood up and downed the last of his coffee. "Fellas, thanks for the hospitality." He pointed at Elias. "You and I will be in contact. When I've got the agreement drawn up, I'll come back, and we'll get to business. Sound good?"

Elias smiled and nodded.

Gary left the campground.

Orson looked over at Elias. "Well, how does it feel to be in business for yourself?"

The boy grinned. "Weird!" He laughed, the sound so rare from him. Then he became quiet, and he bit his lip. "Everything's better here with you." He shook his head. "I don't want to go back."

Orson looked to be at a loss. They had no legal rights to Elias, and as soon as his mom reported him missing, they would have to take him to the police station. Then subsequently she would be investigated for her part in Elias' troubles. The guys told Jeremy what happened, and as a mandatory reporter, the redhead was the one to report the abuse. This ended in Danny's arrest. So, truly, they should already have taken the boy to the authorities.

"Elias, I don't know if we can keep you here." Orson put his arm around the boy's shoulders. "Your mom is going to be investigated for child endangerment, and when that starts, you'll become a ward of the state." Orson squeezed him. "If I could, I'd adopt you. I've already looked into it. But the likelihood of them allowing that is low for someone so new to the state, and in my condition."

Elias looked miserable. He had been through this before, and he had no love for the foster care system.

Greg rubbed his jaw in thought. "You know," he smiled at the two, "I just might have an idea about that."

__________________________________

June 15, 2018 (Friday, 11:17 AM)

The visit came, just as they all knew it must. A state police car pulled slowly into the campground, and it stopped alongside Greg's truck and Clay's van.

There were two men in the car, and they got out. Clay saw them from the kitchen, and he wiped his hands on a rag. "Mason, go get Elias and Orson."

The lanky young man looked at the officers and sighed. Then he loped down toward the river trail.

Clay started on his way to the men. They had noticed him, and they stopped by the patio table to wait.

"Hello, officers." Clay reached to shake their hands. They seemed a little surprised, but happy to share a pleasantry with him. "I'm Clay Jameson," Greg just exited the Airstream and Clay jerked his thumb toward him, "and that's my partner, Gregory Hanson."

"Officers Wells and Anderson." The taller of the two, Officer Wells nodded at them. "We're looking for a young man, Elias Pennington. We heard you guys might know where we might find him."

Greg pointed, and the men turned. Mason led Elias and Orson from the river. They were both wet. They had gone swimming and spent a few hours together before this moment came.

They approached, and Officer Anderson, a man who looked to be in his mid-thirties, stepped in front of Elias. "You're Elias, right?" The boy nodded, his expression flat. "Hello, son." He knelt, his eyes were kind and his voice held in a quiet, understanding tone. "I'm Officer Anderson, and this is Officer Wells. We heard you're having a rough time, and we're here to help you. Do you understand that?"

Elias nodded again, and water continued to drip from his nose. He looked up at Orson then back to the officer. "I know you have to take me away. But, can my friend Orson come with me?"

Officer Anderson smiled and glanced up at Orson. He refocused on Elias. "If that's what you want, yes. He can come with us."

While they talked, Clay motioned to Officer Wells. The two stepped out of earshot.

"Thanks for coming here. We appreciate that you fellows are helping our little buddy," Clay started.

Wells nodded. "That's our job." He looked Clay over, and then glanced at Greg. "You guys ex-military? Cops? You seem the part."

"Retired police. Us three are at least." He pointed at Orson. "Our friend, Orson lost his leg in the line of duty."

Wells' eyes widened. "From your accent, and his injury … were you guys in that shooting? The one in Huntsville, where the cop was shot in the leg? Was that him?"

Clay was only mildly surprised that Orson's actions were known this far from home. When an officer was killed, or when they got press for incredible acts of courage, other departments across the nation took notice. It was a way to honor the men and women who wore the badge.

"That was us. We were partnered up at the time." Clay looked at Orson as the man put his hand on Elias' back. "And I'm gonna tell you, he has been amazing for that kid. I know you can't discuss the reason you're taking him, but we already know - we're the ones who found him after Danny attacked him."

Officer Wells looked from Clay to Orson and Clay could see the regard and pride on the man's face. The officer nodded. "Thanks for telling me." He then turned and stuck out his hand again. "Thanks for your service, sir."

Clay shook it and gave him a warm smile. "And thank you for yours, officer."

The two of them walked back over to the group. Orson smiled slightly at Clay and Officer Wells. "We'll get changed, and be right back out."

Officer Wells stepped in front of him. "Before you go," he stuck out his hand, "I just wanted to thank you for the work you did in Alabama. You've got my respect, Officer."

Orson seemed taken aback, and then smiled broadly. He shook Wells' hand. "Anybody would have done the same."

"I'm inclined to disagree." Wells turned to Anderson and jerked his head at Orson. "This is the guy who saved that Huntsville Councilwoman a few weeks back."

For a moment things evolved into the two officers grinning and gently clapping Orson on the back for his work. Mason and Greg both smiled at the black-haired man. Orson was a bit embarrassed, but Clay could tell he was pleased by the attention.

Clay looked at Elias, and the boy stared up at Orson. He smiled as if he already knew Orson was a hero, and only now did others appear to realize it.

'That went far better than I could have hoped.' Clay fought the urge to grin like a fool as the officers talked to Orson.

After a few minutes, Orson and the officers finished up, then he and Elias went to his cabin to change into dry clothes. Greg had washed Elias' dirty outfit they discovered him in, and though the clothes were worn, they were at least clean.

While they were inside the officers chatted with the men. The campground itself came up, and Anderson looked over the place. "This is a pretty nice campground." He frowned at the lack of campers. "I'm surprised it's not filled up. It's getting to be the season."

Greg made a face. "Well, I think maybe that's because I've not advertised at all." He shrugged. "Honestly, we only want a certain type here. Folks who will show a respect for others who might be different."

Greg went on to explain the purpose of the place. The men seemed to mull it over. "So, it's not limited to gay folks, but you need to be decent if you're not," Wells said.

"Or even if you are gay, you still need to be decent," Clay said and nodded.

Anderson made a noise. "I'd love to have my family out here. It's peaceful, has river access," he looked at the two of them, "and we'd be supporting you guys."

Greg grinned. "Sounds great. We're open. So anytime you like, drop on by."

Mason nodded. "It'd be nice to have more campers. I don't have much to do otherwise."

"Mind if we spread the word at the station? There are a few there who love to camp, and I don't think they'd have an issue with the focus of the place." Wells shook his head. "And if they do, screw, 'em." Mason chuckled at that last comment. Clay could tell he approved of Wells' attitude.

Greg lit up. "Yeah. That'd be awesome. By all means, let folks know."

Orson and Elias rejoined them.

"Okay, guys. I'll call when I need to come home. Does that work?" Orson stood by the police car and looked from Clay to Greg.

Anderson chimed in. "No need. We'll bring you back out, no issue there."

Officer Wells stowed Orson's crutches in the trunk, and Clay leaned to speak to Orson after he got in. "You got the notes Greg wrote up?"

Orson nodded and patted his phone in his pocket. "Yep. Transferred all of them this morning so I wouldn't lose them."

"Good." Clay reached and patted Orson's shoulder and lowered his voice. "Go over it a few more times with Elias. He's gonna have to be the one to sell it." He grinned. "But after this visit, I think it'll probably go our way if our two officers here get to give any input." He winked. "Can't hurt to let it slip what we have planned."

Orson smiled back at him. "Yup. You got it."

He straightened from the cruiser, and he, Mason, and Greg waved as they pulled around the loop. Soon they had turned onto the highway, headed back to Crescent City.

"Do you think they'll go for it?" Clay asked, and reached for Greg's hand. They turned to one another.

Greg sighed. "Not sure. A kid really has to show he can stand on his own if he is going to go through the process of emancipation. But, that visit went really well. So we'll see."

Mason took a breath. "They've gotta know we're going to help him. He's not gonna do this alone."

Clay grinned. "They know." He kissed Greg, and then he looked at Mason. "Come on. Let's finish up lunch." He smiled. "And let's make sure there's enough for Orson and Elias too." He nodded slowly.

"They might be late, but they're coming home."


Author's Note:

Please let me know your thoughts on the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

And thank you for reading! 

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