I sat up and yawned, and Gareth reached a long, big arm forward and pulled back a long stick. On the stick were hunks of meat mixed with vegetables, all of them roasted and smelling wonderful. He pointed the stick at a plate and used his knife to scrap e them off the stick, some slid down, others fell apart. “There you go.” he said to me. “Eat hearty. You slept through lunch, you know.”

I ate eagerly. “Where are we going now?” I asked him.

“Back to New Haven.” he said. I came here mostly to look around, check on Markham’s group."

“What’s New Haven?” I asked him again.

“A village.” he said.

“Huh?” I said to that. “But if we needed a village, why not just stay where we were?”

He stared at me, then laughed. “You really have grown up here, haven’t you? No, New Haven isn’t a village like the kind you grew up with. In New Haven, people actually live there.”

I was shocked. “But the Things! What do you do about the things?”

“Same as we’re doing right here. Fires. Plus a high wall. And they try things on us now and then anyway, but we’re not giving up.”

“Really?” I said, doubtful about this. The one time I had tried to spend a night inside a town, well, you know what happened with me and Joey. “Can they get in?”

“They do sometimes.” Gareth admitted.

I thought about Joey with the Thing holding onto his leg, dragging him out. If the Thing had gotten his leg outside, it would have started eating him! I shivered. “I don’t want them to get me.” I said.

“They won’t get you.” Gareth promised.

“Why not?” I asked, genuinely curious.

Gareth smiled gently. “Because I won’t let them get you.”

You can’t imagine what that promise meant to me. The Professor had always said that without the fire, the Things would get me. Markham had said that the fire was my job and if I didn’t keep it up, he’d let the Things get me. Again, the fire was my only protection from the Things. Joey’s protection hadn’t worked. No protection other than the fires.

Only now, I had another protection. Gareth and his blade.

Gareth just smiled when I went over and sat in his lap and put my arms around him. One massive arm curled around my back and formed my backrest.

“I’m glad I belong to you now.” I said.

“Belong to me?” he said.

“First I belonged to the Professor.” I said. “Then he died. Then I belonged to Markham. I didn’t like him and I left. Now I belong to you. I like you.” I said and I hugged him tighter.

“I like you, too, kid.” he said. “When they got you, the first thing you thought of was warning your friend to get clear. If you’d run the moment you realized what they were, you could have gotten away, did you know that? But you stood still and warned your friend and then tried to run, it’s why they got you, did you know that?”

“No.” I admitted.

“It’s why I like you.” he said.

“Good.” I said and snuggled in closer. Long as the fire was burning brightly, I didn’t need his long knife to take care of me. A bright fire gave us time to do other things.

I slid off his lap to sit beside him and my hand went up his thigh to under his tunic, and I found that he was using a trick of such garments, the bottom half was just leggings, there was an open space between, the material was only pulled together. Knowing this, I slid my hand right up between the leggings and found his manhood between, soft, warm, yielding, supple. My fingers were plowing through the almost formless mass, separating out the penis from the balls, they felt exactly alike to me, when I heard Gareth gasp.

Shock, surprise, his breath a hissing intake of breath. “Hey, hey!” He said to me and his hand came down to stop me, but he hit the top of his tunic and the stiff material prevented him from doing so, and then I had his prick in my fingers, still soft and almost flimsy-feeling, but I had a grip on it now.

I smiled up at him, his mouth an “O” of surprise, and said, “Feels good.” I said. “Clean, too, Markham’s was dirty and smelled funny.”

“What are you doing?” he said to me, his voice for the first time not at all assured and comfortable and easy and light-hearted.

“Feeling your dick.” I said. “If I belong to you, this is what I should do.”

“Belong to me?” Gareth said. “Hey, I said you could stay with me. I didn’t bring you here for this. No matter what Markham made you do.”

“You mean you want me to stop?” I asked him. His cock was firming up, getting nice and hard and stiff. Now my fingers had no trouble hanging onto it. “You feel bigger than Markham, too, I think.”

“But, but Charley...” Gareth said helplessly.

“Gareth.” I said to him intently. “I belong to you now. I got to belong to you.” I said urgently.

“But...but...shit!” Gareth said. “Charley, if we were back home, there’s no way you and me could do this. I’d be back in college, and you’d be in grade school, for chrissake!”

I knew what he meant by “back home.” “This is my home.” I said. “Always has been.

And I want to.” I began to pull his pud up and down, the thick foreskin velvety warm in my palm. “And there’s no going back home.” I pointed out. “We’re stuck here, both of us, forever and ever.” His cock was harder than ever. “I want to belong to you.” I said again.

Gareth closed his eyes and raised his face up to the sky, expelled a heavy breath. “Okay.” he said. “Okay.” he said again after a moment, and in that one word was a galaxy of relaxation.