"I just don't know what to do," Jesse said frankly. "I want to help him, but I never know what to say; I'm going through the same thing, but…"

"But not in the same way," Joey finished for him, nodding understandingly. "Pam was your sister, Jess. It was hard for all of us, and I don't think it was any less hard for you."

"I guess we all feel alone sometimes." Jesse ran a slender hand through his long, dark hair, cut in the fashionable mullet style.

Joey sucked up the last bit of his chocolate milk shake and leaned back against his end of the diner booth. "I know what you mean, buddy." He twisted his recently employed plastic straw around and around his strong hand. "What Danny and Pam had was really special…and it's horrible what happened, but at least he experienced that kind of love, you know?"

"Yeah," Jesse said, "just once, I'd like to feel that for someone."

They fell silent after that, just staring at each other. Joey had been such a comfort to Jesse over the last few months, Jesse reflected. How would I have managed without him? he wondered.

Across the table, Joey was wondering much the same thing. They pretended to antagonize each other, but really, it was all in good fun. They would not have survived had it not been for that firm friendship that had been established back in high school.

"You know," Jesse said slowly after a minute, "in a way, I sort of feel that way about you. I mean—not that I would want to go out with you or anything, but that I can always rely on you."

Joey cupped his soft chin in his hands. "It's true," he agreed; "I've never had with a woman what Danny and Pam used to have, but I've always felt a certain amount of…affection for you."

Both chuckled and fell silent again, contented with each other. Then, without warning, each of them knew—at the same moment—that the man across from him was thinking the exact same thing. Jesse started into his friend's deep, blue eyes, and saw the same passion, the same smoldering need, that he knew he himself was feeling.

"I—" he said, but Joey cut him off, moving a large finger to his suddenly moist lips.

"I know," he said.

Without a word, Joey rose and made his way nonchalantly to the men's room. Jesse waited five minutes, taking the time to polish off his half-eaten banana split; then, his hands shaking with an anticipation he knew he hadn't felt in years, left a few dollars on the table and followed his friend to the back of the restaurant.

When he entered the one-person restroom after knocking softly, he was nervous. The light had been switched off, and even though he had heard his friend summon him into the room, he was suddenly afraid that there had been some horrible mistake—that, perhaps, Joey was not there at all, that Jesse had imagined the whole thing. That he was just going insane with unsatisfied lust.

He relaxed, though, when Joey said softly, "Turn on the lights." Jesse let his leather Elvis jacket fall to the floor and obediently flicked the switch after fumbling for a few moments against the papered wall (his hands were still trembling, now with excitement rather than anxiety).

"Oh," he couldn't help ejaculating softly, when the fluorescent overhead lamp flickered on. What he saw in front of him made his heart swell with firey, choking love; made his manhood grow large and stiff and strain against his tight, black jeans.