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Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Mutt, Adam, Torren and the twins were sitting by the lake, enjoying the cool breezes and the sounds of the water lapping up against the shore when Mutt finally confessed his secret. He really needed to talk to someone and unloading on his best friends seemed like a good idea at the time.

He quickly decided that he'd been wrong.

"So, you knew, and you didn't tell us?" Jarrod demanded.

"Some friend you are," Little Jake added with a frown.

"I canna believe ye didn' at least gi' us a hint!" Adam said, a hurt look on his face.

"Yeah, Mutt! What's the story on that?" Torren asked angrily.

Mutt blushed slightly under the onslaught and replied quietly, "I promised I wouldn't tell."

"Bu' ye coulda told us! It's no' like we'd a told anyone else!"

Mutt looked his friends in the eyes and said, "There're lots of things I know that I don't tell anyone. Up to and including stuff about you guys. If you want, I'll just go to whoever and start blabbing. And some of you told me stuff in confidence. You want me to just forget that I promised not to tell anyone and put it all up on a bill board?"

The other young men had the good grace to look embarrassed.

"What... whadda ya know about me that I didn' tell ye meself," Adam inquired uncomfortably.

"Nothing that I'd tell anyone about, and the same went for Dean. Except... except I messed up and blurted it out right in front of Duke," Mutt said, smacking his forehead with the palm of his hand.  "You hadda see poor Duke's face. And Dean... man if he'd been my Top I wouldn't be sitting right now."

"What'd Jeff say?" Jarrod asked.

"He wasn't too happy with me at first, but then afterward he said he figured I was beating myself up enough for the two of us.  He put me in the corner and made me think about it for about a half hour but that's about it.  That's when he said I should stop eavesdropping on everyone."

"I told him I don't skulk around and it's not my fault what people say when they don't know I'm around. It's all timing, and I guess mine's pretty good."

"So," Little Jake said thoughtfully, "if you got mad at one of us you could just go and tell Eric or Shorty on us?"

Mutt was offended and said as much. "I'd never do something like that, and you know it." He added, "How long have we known each other now? Have I ever blabbed on you? And I've told you guys stuff... does that mean you're gonna tell on me if you get mad at me?"

The others promptly assured Mutt that they'd never do any such thing.  

"Well then, that's settled, isn't it?" Mutt said with finality, still a little hurt that his friends would think let alone imply that he might do something like that.

"So," Jarrod said with a thoughtful expression, "just how Toppy is Dean?"

Mutt's eyes narrowed, "I suppose just enough."

"What's goin' through tha' tiny lit'le pea brain o' yers?" Adam asked, catching on quickly.

"Well.... it's just that Dean is a Top and Duke is a Brat..."

"Yeah...," Torren said, drawing the word out slightly, not sure where Jarrod was going with his idea.

"I was just thinking we could give him a little field test..."

"Are you insane?" Mutt asked, stunned. "Are you trying to get our butts warmed?"

"Nah," Little Jake said, catching onto his brother's enthusiasm, "we won't get caught. We hardly ever do after all."

"You guys are plain old loco!" Torren offered, eyes wide with disbelief. "Just because we 'hardly ever' get caught that doesn't mean we won't, and it doesn't mean that Dean is so cool that he wouldn't tell Shorty, Jeff or Eric.” 

“I sure don' want Dean goin' Top on me, an' I sure's hell don't want 'im t' tell Eric on us."

"Or make us fess up on our own." Torren shuddered. "I know Eric says it's better if we tell him what's goin' on before someone else does, but that doesn't seem to make a difference when he takes off his sneaker and uses the sole on my butt."

"C'mon!" Jarrod argued, "live a little! We can just have some fun with him. He'll never even know it was us."

Mutt gave his friend a look that was almost Top-like and replied, "Jare, if one of us sneezes the whole resort knows about it within five minutes."

"But we're not gonna be sneezing," Little Jake grinned.  "Sure, as heck not when everyone can see and hear us, right Jare?"

Jarrod answered with a matching grin. "You got it little brother."

"So what," Mutt countered, "we're gonna play Ding Dong Dash or TP his bungalow? Really guys?"

"Nothing so crass," Jarrod replied, trying to look offended but not succeeding through the grin on his face. He looked around to see if anyone was near and seeing no one gestured his friends closer, whispering his plans into somewhat unwilling ears.

"Well, one thing we can do, something we did to Mom one April Fool's day, is take the powdered cheese mix from the mac and cheese boxes, and make them a container of 'orange juice'. Can you see their faces when they get a taste of that?! " Jarrod asked gleefully.

"Yeah, I"m sure they'll find it hilarious after they get done being sick." Mutt countered.  "Look, I don't want to know anything about this. I already got in trouble once for going into a bungalow without authorization and I'm sure as heck not going to do it again, for any reason. Especially not the home of a friend just to play pranks on him.  Count me out," he said as he got up to swipe the sand off of his jeans.

"C'mon, Mutt!" Jarrod pleaded, "Without your keys it's gonna be a lot harder to get in.  We won't do the cheese thing if that's what this is about."

"It's not about the cheese thing," Mutt replied. "It's about my job, and the wellbeing of my backside. Look," he continued, trying to sound reasonable, "promise me you're not going to do anything. See, if I know anything and Jeff asks me, well, I can't lie to him. It's like number one on his list of rules, but more to the point, I'd feel lousy for lying to him, even if it was to save your butts.  So, guys, don't do it. Promise."

Jacob and Jarrod hesitated for a while, as did Torren. Adam immediately agreed to keep out of any schemes.

Adam looked at his partner and scowled. "Maybe Mutt doesn' want t' tell on ya, Tor, but I sure as heck will if ya get involved in this. Got me?"

Torren scowled back.  "You're supposed to be my partner, Ad, not just in life but in crime as well."

Adam said nothing, merely looked at his partner meaningfully.

Torren said something in Spanish, glowering at Adam the whole time. Adam didn't drop his gaze like most people would. Finally, it was Torren who gave in.
"Fine. I won't do anything."

"You won't be involved in any way," Adam stated.

"Fine! I said I wouldn't do anything and I won't!" he replied angrily. "I'm outta here," he said, also getting up and wiping sand off the seat of his jeans before turning and stalking off.

"Go make sure he's ok, Ad," Mutt encouraged gently. "He'll get over it."

Adam nodded once and left to find his upset partner.

Mutt looked at the twins who were, as usual, looking at each other without saying anything and smiling devilishly.

"I said I won't tell voluntarily, guys, but if Jeff asks me outright..."

"Oh, don't worry, Mutt. We won't involve you in anything..."

"But just the fact that I know you're planning something makes me an accomplice! Don't you get that?" Mutt nearly yelled.

"Ok then, Muttinsky, we won't do anything. Without all of us working together it'd be no fun anyway," Jarrod replied, looking defeated.

Little Jake wore the same expression and Mutt was mollified for the time being. He really hoped that they would keep their word.

"Well, we've gotta be headed off too," Jarrod said,

"Yeah, we're supposed to be doing some grocery shopping..."

"And we want to have dinner ready for Shorty and Bo when they get home. Shorty has an appointment with Heath after work for a physical."

"So, we'll see you later right?"

"Yup," Mutt replied. "Setback night is still in full swing."

"We'll bring the chips tonight," the twins said in unison. 

"And dip?" Mutt wheedled.

"And dip," Jarrod laughed.  

"Just you make sure the soda keeps flowin',"  Little Jake said jokingly.

"You'll be in the bathroom more often than playing cards, I promise."

"Awright!" the twins cheered.  Taking Mutt's extended hands, they allowed themselves to be pulled up off of the sand.  They both jumped up and down a few times to dislodge the sand and went on their way.

Mutt's stomach still felt knotted even though he'd gotten the twins to promise. It wouldn't be the first time they'd made a promise and then conveniently forgotten about it.

Taking a deep breath to relieve the pressure he turned to head home to make dinner and with luck snuggle with Jeff afterward.  He really, really needed some snuggles right about now.


Little Jake and Jarrod were headed toward the store to pick up the groceries when Jarrod asked, "So what's the first thing you want to do?"

Without thinking Little Jake replied, "Well, we have to get the groceries, don't we? What do you want to make tonight?"

"No, dingbat!" Jare replied, "I mean about Dean. I have some great ideas."

Little Jake stopped in his tracks and stared at his brother as though he were insane, which it appeared was quite possible at this point.  "We promised Mutt we wouldn't do anything."

"I had my fingers crossed behind my back," Jare said, "C'mon Jakie Pie, let's have a little fun!"

"But we promised..."

"What Mutt doesn't know isn't going to hurt him, or the others. Besides, it'll just be a few harmless pranks."


"Stare down!"


"Stare down! I win we play a few harmless pranks and it's done with."

"Forget it, you always win," Jake groused.

"We'll cut cards then. High card wins."

"Jare we promised..."

"Never mind then," Jarrod said huffily, "I'll do it myself."

"Don't act like that," Little Jake pleaded, "you know I can't stand it when you're upset with me." 

"Remember our motto?" Jarrod replied.

"Double the trouble, double the fun, one for all and all for one," Little Jake replied wearily.

"Can't have double the fun if it's just me. C'mon, Jakie Pie, just a few harmless pranks and then we're done. Promise."

"On one condition." 

"What's that?"

"Stop calling me Jakie Pie."

"You got it, little brother!  Ready to start plotting?"

Little Jake grinned and said, "Since we're headed to the store now.... well, I have an idea."

"Can't wait to hear it. Let's get going. That physical isn't going to last all night, and Bo'll be home soon. We can talk about things on the way."


It took several days of plotting and planning but the twins finally came up with several ideas they found especially funny with the help of the internet.  Now it was just a waiting game, and the twins were nothing if not patient when it came to a good prank.  Timing was everything.

A few days later Dean called the maintenance office to report a leak in the bathroom. Normally he'd fix something like that himself but he didn't have the gasket that would be needed so he merely shut off the water to prevent any further damage.

Mutt assured him that someone would be right out to take care of it and called on Cary to fix the problem.  "It won't take long and then check in with me and you can get onto the other jobs that're waiting. Griff and Dean'll be there to make sure you get in alright but then they've got a job waiting for them." 

"You got it, boss," the big man replied with a jaunty salute.

Mutt sighed, grateful that the twins had apparently kept their word and given up on pulling pranks on Dean.  Turning his attention back to the work orders that were piling up in front of him he sorted them out in order of most pressing to least and called Torren, Tank, and Adam to see to some of them while he took the rest of the pile for himself and set off to work.


The next morning Griff and Dean were up early as usual.  After a long good morning kiss Dean, smiling, asked Griff what he'd like to have for breakfast.

"Whatever you fix'll be fine," Griff replied with a matching smile.


"Sounds good. More than good actually. Can't wait."

Dean gathered the things he'd need to make pancakes from scratch. Taking out several eggs he tried to crack them against the lip of the measuring cup. The shell cracked slightly but the egg didn't break as expected.

Trying again a little harder he broke not only the shell but the boiled egg that was inside.  He looked at the egg, not remembering having hard boiled any of them.

He asked Griff if he'd made the eggs but Griff looked confused and replied that if he had he couldn't remember having done so.

Dean tried several more eggs with the same result. All of the twelve eggs he'd just bought a day or so ago had somehow become hard boiled.   He knew that the store wouldn't have sold him a dozen cooked eggs and wracked his brain as to how they’d gotten there.

"Griff," Dean said finally, in a reasonable tone, "if you did do it, just tell me and it'll be ok."

"But I didn't!" Griff replied, somewhat hurt that Dean didn't believe him. "Why would I do that and then just put them all back in the holders?"

Dean drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.  He couldn't get angry with Griff who obviously knew nothing about it. Then he remembered that Cary had been in to fix the sink just yesterday. Would the young man have switched out the eggs? And why?  He'd have to ask when he saw him again.

"Well, since we have no fresh eggs, how do egg salad sandwiches sound?"

Griff wrinkled his nose. "For breakfast?  How about we just make up some oatmeal and save the sandwiches for lunch?"

Dean sighed. He'd actually been looking forward to pancakes this morning.  "What say we head to the lodge. I'm really not in an oatmeal mood."

With a matching sigh of relief, Griff agreed.  "I really didn't want oatmeal either. Thanks, Dean," he said gratefully.

At that, Griff and Dean put away the pancake ingredients before heading out for breakfast. 

Sometime later in the day Dean did run across Cary and asked about the eggs. 

Looking somewhat puzzled, the man replied, "No Dean, I didn't switch your eggs."

Studying the young man's face for a moment Dean decided that he was telling the truth. He honestly couldn't think of any reason why Cary would have done something like that in the first place.  Finally the older man smiled and clapped him on the back. "Well, thanks anyway."

"My pleasure, Dean. Holler if you need anything else done."

"Will do," Dean replied as he walked away, still trying to figure out the who's and the why's.

When Jarrod caught up with Little Jake later he high fived his perplexed little brother. "Great prank, little bro," he whispered.

"What prank?" Little Jake asked, puzzled.

"The eggs. Don't play games with me little brother, Cary told me all about it and this has your name all over it."

"I didn't do it. What eggs? What happened?"

"You don't know?" Jare asked, equally puzzled now.  Jarrod quickly updated his brother on the prank pulled on Dean that morning.

Little Jake grinned widely and whispered one word, "Torren!"

"Tor? You think he did that?"

"Well, it wasn't you and it wasn't me. Cary would never do anything like that. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Mutt or Adam after they made us promise not to do anything. It had to be him."

"You know, that's a great idea," Jarrod said thoughtfully.

"What is?"

"Whatever we're gonna do, we don't tell the others, this way if anyone asks we really don't know who did what for sure. And we can't give each other up no matter what. Deal?"

"Deal, of course," Little Jake replied with a matching grin. "And I have a great idea for the next time."

"Do tell," Jarrod replied with a wide grin.

"Can't, remember? Besides, if anyone sees us talking quiet like this they'll know something's up. I'll see ya later."

"Later gator," Jare grinned.

"In a while, crocodile."


A week later Dean and Griff were rudely awakened by their clock radio going off at top volume. The two of them jumped, and if anyone had been there to see them do it they'd have sworn it was the proverbial mile. Dean reached over and hit the button, hands shaking.

"What the hell..." Dean began to say, only to be interrupted by yet another clock radio going off somewhere else in the house, also at top volume.

By the time they'd hunted down the second one, a third and then a fourth went off. They spent most of their morning hunting down alarm clocks, twelve of them to be exact, which all went off at different times and all as loud as the volume knob allowed.

Dean put them in a pile and removed the batteries. He resisted the urge to take a sledge hammer to them. He was determined to find out who had done this and make sure they didn't sit for a good long time... once he could figure out who would do something like this to him and Griff, and why.

Several minutes later Griff called to Dean from the bathroom.  Thinking something had happened Dean ran to the other man to make sure he was alright.

"What's going on?"

"I was going to take a shower but the soap isn't... soaping. Is this something new?"

"No, same as always," Dean replied, looking down at the soap as if it would answer his questions. He went to the sink and ran it under the hottest water he could tolerate but the bar of soap didn't cooperate. If anything, it only seemed to become sticky. His hands felt as though he'd gotten varnish on them.

Tossing it to the side he looked in the cabinets for a new bar of soap. All of their bar soap was gone. He knew that he and Griff took a lot of showers but he didn't believe they could have gone through a six pack of soap already.

Finally giving up he said, "Here, take the hand soap. It's still soap and it'll do in a pinch."

Griff raised his eyebrows slightly but agreed that soap was soap. But when he squirted some out onto the wash cloth and began to scrub, the soap was a sticky mess. The washcloth actually stuck to him. 

"Dean!" Griff shouted in frustration.

Once again Dean ran in.

"What on earth is going on with the soap in this house?" Griff asked angrily.


"Look!" Griff said loudly, indicating the stuck cloth.

"Shhh, take it easy hon," Dean said soothingly as he pushed the younger man gently back under the shower spray. The hot water loosened the cloth which began to come off, as well as some of the stickiness, however even the hot water didn't make Griff feel completely clean and he wriggled uncomfortably, looking around for anything to use as soap.

Dean picked up a fresh washcloth and put some shampoo on it, sudsing it up and helping to wipe off the stickiness.  

Griff sighed in relief. He knew that if he'd had to go around all day with that sticky whatever it was on his skin he'd have gone insane.

Seeing that the latest problem had been averted, Dean went back into the kitchen to finish making their breakfast.  While it cooked, he studied the bar of soap. It was then that he noticed a bit of a sheen on it that had nothing to do with being wet.  He took a paring knife and began to shave the soap gently.  He was somewhat surprised when flecks of a clear substance began to come off, beneath which the soap felt normal.

He was so immersed in what he was doing that if Griff hadn't come into the kitchen when he did their breakfast would have gone up in flames.

"Dean?" Griff asked worriedly after he'd turned off the heat beneath the pans, "What's going on?"

"I have no idea," Dean replied, scowling at the bar of soap.  "It looks as though someone put a film of lacquer over this. And the liquid soap?  Some kind of syrup is the best I can come up with."

"Why is someone doing this to us? I'm pretty sure no one is mad at me, leastwise no one's said anything to me. How about you?"

"No one's come right out and told me they were angry with me, but I know someone who might have a bone to pick with me." Dean said through gritted teeth as he put the bar of soap aside.  He stood up and walked over to the phone, only to find that the handset was sticky as well. He sniffed and then licked his hand experimentally and tasted honey.

"That's it!" Dean said quietly. So quietly in fact that Griff became a little scared. 

Dean, seeing the look on his man's face, went over to him and hugged him tightly. "You know I'm not mad at you for anything, Hon," he said gently, rocking Griff a little bit to put his fears to rest. "But I think I know who's doing this and it's time I had a little talk with him."

"Duke?" Griff asked quietly, disbelief on every feature.  "I can't believe that he'd..."

"We haven't gotten around to our talk yet, he and I," Dean replied, still holding onto Griff until he felt the tension leave the other man's shoulders and back.  He pulled away from his man and smiled, "don't worry, Hon, we'll get this straightened out. Let's have breakfast at the lodge, since I seem to have burned ours beyond recognition. After I wash my hands again, that is." he added, wrinkling his nose at the sticky residue on his hand.

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