Memorial Day

"Brad? Are you going to come out and help set up for the cookout?"

"Do I have to?" Brad asked poking his head out of the study. "I have to make it
through the final draft of this article for the journal before Wednesday and I
have way too much left to do. I promise to come out for dinner. But if I could
just work until then, I should have most of it revised today leaving two days
for checking all of my citations."

"Wow. This must be an important article. You are passing up a chance to make
fire, brat!" Toby teased while coming over to give his lover a kiss. "I'm fine
setting up this afternoon and getting the fire started. But, I will hold you to
that promise of dinner. I expect you outside in three hours ready and willing
to participate in the cookout." Toby said.

"I promise." Brad agreed, leaning in for another kiss. Toby could tell that
Brad's mind was already back on the intricacies of the federal statute he was
writing about and so Toby went ahead and set the alarm clock to remind his brat
about what time to leave the study.

Two hours later, Toby leaned into the house through the kitchen door and called
out a bit sheepishly. "Brad? Can you come here please?"

When no one answered, Toby called again a bit louder. "Brad?? I need you to
come here please."

Toby could hear the complaints drifting down the hall ahead of his lover. "Come
on, man, I've got a whole `nother hour before I have to go out and face them. I
was almost done with that section. I thought we had a …. What the hell happened
to you?" Brad exclaimed seeing Toby standing covered in charcoal dust almost
from head to foot.

"The charcoal bricks, the left over ash, and I had a bit of a row while trying
to start that damn fire!" Toby explained. "I can't get this thing started. I
know I promised to let you study, but PLEASE. Can you please tell me what I am
doing wrong in trying to start this fire?"

Brad started laughing at Toby's first words and had to finally sit down to get
himself back under control. "You are hopeless, you know that? You should have
emptied the old ash out of the grill bottom before starting the new fire and
then put the charcoal in the chimney starter. Give me a few minutes to save
this draft and I'll come clean it out and get it started for you."

"No, I can do this. Go back to work. Thanks for the tips. The chimney starter
is that round metal thingy, right?"

"You are not inspiring my confidence in your fire starting skills, sweetie,"
Brad said. "Yes, the 'round metal thingy' next to the grill pit is the chimney
starter. I can do it for you."

"I have this." Toby said, heading back out the door.

Brad shook his head, and went to start shutting down his work, knowing that he
would need to head back out to help in just a few minutes. "Toby may laugh at
my pyro tendencies, but when it's time to grill, he always appreciates it." Brad
thought to himself.

Less than ten minutes later, Brad heard his name screamed from the back yard and
he went running, knowing something had gone wrong. As he ran through the
kitchen to get to the back door, Brad could already smell smoke and fire, and so
he took an extra two seconds to grab the fire extinguisher they kept under the

Brad instantly noticed that there was a huge fire billowing out of the metal
trash can. Toby was about five steps away from the fire staring at it as if he
had no clue how it had started. The water hose was on and in his hand, but it
was clear to Brad that the shock of the fire had Toby forgetting to use the

Brad expertly used the extinguisher to put out the fire and turned to Toby.
"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. I'm not even singed. I'm fine."

Brad rushed over and grabbed Toby in a tight hug. "Thank God. I saw that fire
and how close you were and was sure you were burned."

"I'm fine. I was an idiot but I'm fine. I was trying to dump the ashes into
the trash can to clean them out and didn't realize that they were a bit hot from
my attempting to start the fire before. They caught the newspapers in there on

As Brad's heart rate slowed back down to normal and knowing that no one and no
thing was hurt, he started seeing the humor in the situation.

Brad swatted Toby on the butt. "How many times have you lectured me on fire
safety, Mr. Top?" Brad demanded, trying valiantly to hide his smirk. "You must
develop a relationship with fire. Trust it. Know it. Understand it. Love it.
It's like playing on Friday nights. Safe. Sane. Consensual." Despite his best
efforts, Brad could not contain his laughter.

"Brat!" Toby dug his fingers into his lover's side and Brad instantly doubled
over in laughter at the tickling.

"Toby!!!! Where's your top card? I'm almost positive that there is a 1-800
number printed on the card that I am suppose to call to report such untop like
behavior. You may have to even turn it in!"

Toby slid his hands around Brad's body and grabbed and pinned his arms to his
side. No matter how much Brad wiggled and squirmed, Toby didn't budge. "You
are so right, my little pyro. I promise to self report to the Top Authority
Board, but that means that you have to be the top when the guys come for the
cookout." Toby teased with a perfectly straight face.

"Wait, I don't think I want to do THAT! I was happy to be in my room studying.
How did this turn into me hosting and socializing today?" Brad stopped his

"I'm good that way." Toby said with a grin and one last dig of fingers into
Brad's ribs.

With Brad not fighting him, Toby relaxed his hold. Brad used the lightened hold
to slip out of Toby's grasp. Brad grabbed up the hose and turned it onto Toby.

"Pest." Toby shouted, as he tried to grab either the hose or his lover.

Brad dropped the hose and took off across the yard with Toby fast on his heels.
Brad felt himself lifted off his feet just as he crossed the threshold into the
house. Toby had just flipped Brad over to carry him off into the bedroom when
the front door bell rang.

"Saved by the bell, my brat." Toby said, swatting Brad on the backside. "I'm
gonna go change clothes and dry off. You, go answer the door and be nice to Mike
and the guys."

By the time Toby was dry and back outside, Brad had the charcoal bricks aflame
and everyone laughing at his retelling of the `fire incident'.

"Hey, no stories and no laughing at me!" Toby called out. "Or I will withhold
all beer."

Mike quickly held up his hands in surrender. "Promise, no laughing, as long as
you leave the fire to the pyro!"

Toby passed out beers to everyone, discretely nudging his lover in the butt as
he walked by, resigned to being teased.

Brad continued laughing and teasing Toby throughout the afternoon as they
grilled up the barbeque chicken on Brad's perfect fire.

As the day faded to night, Brad decided to start up a fire in their fire pit.
Feeling brave with multiple beers in him and friends spread out in the back
yard, Brad looked at Toby and in his best impression of a top voice said, "Toby,
please go stand on the other side of the patio while I start this fire. I don't
want you to hurt yourself."

Toby just grinned back at Brad, shooting him a look that Brad took to mean `wait
until everyone leaves, little boy, just wait.' Brad grinned back happy and
content as he watched the twigs and logs come to life with red orange flames.
Toby couldn't help loving how relaxed Brad was. Not worried about school or the
crowd in the yard or much of anything. While he wouldn't want to repeat the
fire, he was glad it helped Brad survive the party.

After making and eating s'mores, and enjoying each other's company for another
hour or so, Brad's and Toby's guests decided it was time to head home just as
the fire was starting to die down.

As he was walking out the front door, Mike called out to Toby, "Don't go
starting any more fires, Toby." The sentiment was teasingly passed on from the
others as they walked out also.

Toby took all the ribbing for the good natured fun joking that he and his
buddies always had with each other. As he waved goodbye, he dropped his arm
around Brad.

"I'm very proud of you tonight, Brad." Toby said with all the seriousness he
could muster. "You were amazing and wonderful tonight. You stayed and hung out
and built some amazing fires!" Brad started blushing and ducked his head at the
praise. "However, I am not going to listen to Mike. I do plan to start another
fire tonight."

As Toby grabbed for his lover, Brad slipped out from under his arm and headed to
the other side of the room, laughing like a loon.

Toby just grinned. He loved seeing Brad laughing, teasing, and joking, with the
stress of school and deadlines forgotten. To keep that laughter, Toby obliged
his lover by chasing him down the hall and back outside calling "Come back here
pyro-brat! We need to discuss how to respect your top in the presence of

"NO way," Brad shrieked and lunged through the back door into the living room.
"I know exactly how to treat you! You were the one who set fire to the

"Brat! Come here this instant," Toby hollered, clearly having trouble carrying
off a stern top voice while laughing so hard. He thundered up the stairs, close
on Brad's heels, his fingers almost nabbing the back of Brad's t-shirt.

Looking back, Brad couldn't tell whether he slowed down or whether Toby had an
extra burst of energy, all Brad knew was that as he cleared the top of the
stairs, he was spun around and swept up and over Toby's shoulder into a
fireman's carry. With a swat or two to Brad's upturned backside, Toby carried
him into the bedroom.

As he reached the bed, Toby gave Brad one last swat, which was more noise than
sting, and slid him down his body without releasing him. Toby sat down on the
edge of the bed and man handled Brad over his knee.

With Brad putting up only a token protest, Toby began alternately swatting and
caressing his Brat's backside through his shorts. Once a nice heat had risen
under his hand, and something else had risen on Brad's other side, Toby slowed
his swats and stood Brad back up.

"I guess I can set a fire better than you thought, my little pyro. Let's get
these shorts off of you before they catch fire."

Toby slipped his hands into Brad's shorts and boxers and slip both down quickly
while following them down onto his knees in perfect position in front of his
lover. Without another word, Toby leaned forward and engulfed his lover.

It wasn't long before Brad's knees could no longer support him and Toby pulled
back with a Cheshire grin. Brad pushed Toby back onto the bed and joined him
keeping the fire burning between them.

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