Dougal had had issues with his faith. He had always had issues with his faith. He didn't grasp the basic tenets of Catholicism. He didn't understand the church hierarchy. Ted doubted that Dougal believed in God at all. If it wasn't for the rote and repetition of a Catholic mass, Dougal would not have been functional as a priest.
But something had changed. Dougal stopped questioning. He stopped tittering to himself about the holy mysteries. He stopped asking Ted to explain about how the Assumption and the Ascension were different. In fact, he had started reading his bible and Ted caught him once actually saying a rosary.
What had changed? There was only one major difference in the priest daily routine that Ted could point to. It was a difference that made Ted blush with shame. Every now and again in the night, but thankfully not as often as Ted feared he would, Dougal would slip from his bed and slide into the sheets beside Ted. In Ted's bed he would snuggle against the older priest whispering raw words of need. He would practically beg Ted, looking up at him with large desperate eyes and pouting lips and Ted would capitulate. Then, gently, Ted would jerk Dougal off.
It had been going on for a few weeks now. Dougal only asked for it maybe twice or three times inside the week. Usually the younger priest would not ask right away but only later in the night, sometimes waking Ted from a sound sleep. Then it was the combination of Dougal's soft nuzzling and his whispered "Please, Ted" that would bring Ted to his knees. He would position the lad in the bed and push his pajamas out of the way. After tickling his nipples and touching his scrotum for a bit, Ted would get down to business on Dougal, grasping the young man's erection in a determined grip and setting a solid pace. He would stroke Dougal, watching him writhe in pleasure. There was a part of Ted that took pride in the things he could do to the young man. When he thought of how beautiful Dougal could look with his legs thrown open and his soft full lips wet and panting as his flushed and rampant member strained upward into Ted's touch, Ted could not help but smile a little. It was a glorious vision: A gift.
The very first night that it had happened, Dougal had looked at Ted in wonder and announce, "there really is a God!" Ted began to see the full scope of the implications of that new understanding. Dougal had never had a sexual experience before in his entire life. Ted could see how that might stymie someone's ability to grasp the concept of a divine and benevolent God. But now Dougal's sudden turn prompted on what Ted saw as a sinful act seemed a little contrary and ironic.
Nevertheless, Dougal seemed more in tune and aware of his faith as he never had before. Ted didn't try to analyze the sudden change too hard. That was he didn't try until he decided to attend the Saturday evening mass. It was the only mass Ted required Dougal to say. It was the obvious choice as it was only attended by elderly Mr. Cagney and a few of the island teens boys who's parents wanted them to go to mass but didn't require them to come with the rest of the family Sunday morning. Usually these few young pubescent tuffs hung in the back and spent more time talking among themselves than paying attention to Father Dougal and his mumbled version of the mass.
It was the first time he had ever heard Dougal say mass with more than a passive and somewhat plastic voice. Dougal actually looked out to his parishioners, looking to make eye contact as he spoke the word of God. His Gospel reading which was Luke24:36-63. he spoke with conviction. But it was his homily that nearly knocked Ted to the floor. After years of listing to Dougal ramble on about things that made no sense at all, it was an utter shock to listen to the young Priest make logical arguments for faith.
"You see, the thing about those apostles there was that they *knew* what it was to feel God's grace. They just wanted everyone else to know it too. It's like if you hear a really good song on the radio and you know your friends haven't heard it yet, you try to tell them about it. Why? It made you feel good and you just want others to know that feeling too.
"You can praise God by feeling good. And when you spread that good feeling, you are helping spread God's word. And how does God's grace feel? Well if you ask me, I think it feels like sex."
That brought up all the young heads lining the back row of pews in the church. Ted was stunned in disbelief.
"It feels like that. It is pleasure. And how could you not want to spread pleasure?"
Godallmighty! Ted thought as he thought of all the angry phone calls from concerned parents he was about to receive that night. At least it got the youngsters to pay attention to the rest of the mass. Loony Father Dougal who seemed not to be all there most of the time was definitely in the house as far as they were concerned this Saturday evening.
Ted sat in his pew dumbfounded till sometime after the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. He shook himself out of his daze as Dougal said the words, "let us proclaim the mystery of faith."
Back at the parochial house, Ted waited till supper to try and gently breech the subject with the young priest. Dougal bounded down the stairs dress as usual in his collar and a knitted tank. He looked at Ted with a pleasant expression as he seated himself before his meal. Before Ted could speak, Dougal crossed himself and bowed his head to pray over his meal. Ted waited respectfully. It was a bit unusual to see Dougal praying over his dinner without Ted first reminding him that he should. However, the initial shock was starting to wear off. Dougal had been at this for at least two weeks.
"Dougal?" Ted began carefully. "About your homily…"
Dougal looked up from cutting his veal into bit size pieces. His large eyes proclaiming his puzzlement.
"Do you think perhaps comparing God's grace to sex might be a little… say… inappropriate for a priest?"
Dougal continued to stare in blank confusion.
"Do you think that it might be offending at all?"
Dougal's confusion seemed to clear for a moment. "How could it be offending. Being touched by God is great, Ted. It like when I'm touched by you!"
Ted's eyes went round in shock but he caught hold of his amazement and shushed Dougal.
"Shhh!" He cautioned sternly. "Dougal! Nobody can know about that… not even Father Jack and certainly not Mrs. Doyle!" He looked about the common room. Mrs. Doyle was back in her kitchen and Old Father Jack was still in a deep snooze, his dinner plate untouched.
"That is between you and me…"
"And our Lord," Dougal interrupted with a sweet simple smile.
Ted felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as he thought about the terrible sin he was committing before God, but he answered Dougal after swallowing down the bile. "Yes, and our Lord."
Ted caught a hold of his composure as curiosity reasserted itself on him. "Dougal, why exactly do you think God's grace is like sex… I mean, when did this notion come to you?"
Dougal sat back in his chair with a troubled look on his face that alarmed Ted at first.
"It's okay, Dougal," he cautioned. "That's a personal question, anyway. None of my business, really."
"No," said Dougal. "No, Ted. I should tell." He leaned forward in his seat slightly. "It was the dreams."
Ted knew about the dreams. For a short time prior to his initial seduction (?) of Dougal, the younger priest had seemed to be experiencing what Ted had assumed were nightmares. In retrospect, Ted realized that Dougal had only experienced erotic dreams that had disturbed him so profoundly that they had unnerved him as badly as a nightmare. With a glance, Ted encouraged Dougal to continue. Of course, that was not enough and Dougal simply stared at him with large eyes and a confused expression.
"How so, Dougal," Ted sighed out exasperated.
Dougal looked about himself as if now he knew he had to be careful who heard what they were talking about. It was strangely inconsistent to Ted but he said nothing.
"Well, Ted, in that dream it's you and me on the couch there and you are holding me. Your arms are about me and you are rocking me like a baby," Dougal confided.
"Um-hm," Ted hummed thoughtfully.
"Then I hear this voice… but it's like… I dunno… It's inside my head and I know you can't hear it."
"And I know it's suppose to be God an all and I feel scared."
"Yes," Dougal said with round eyes. "I think I'm going mad."
"That's happened to you a few times before," Ted replied in a matter of fact fashion. "But what does the voice tell you?"
"It tells me that we should take care of each other. You've always taken good care of me, Ted."
Ted nodded feeling a bit humbled by Dougal's admission. He looked away from the young man. "Well, it's sort of my duty as the pastor of St. Caimnech and… You are my friend…."
"You're the Pastor now?" Dougal looked surprised.
"Yes, Dougal," Ted replied. "I have been for years."
"And I always thought it was Father Jack," the young priest chuckled. "I guess I'll have to change that answer."
Ted couldn't imagine whom Dougal had been misinforming with the idea that senile Father Hacket was the pastor of St. Caimnech and it really didn't matter anyhow. Ted had finally got Dougal to talk about The Dream. He wanted to know as much about it as he could.
"So the voice tells you that we should take care of each other?" Ted prompted.
"Yes… and it's kind of sad even so," Dougal replied.
"I think it is sad for us," said Dougal. "Well, mostly for you, Ted."
Ted looked at Dougal. "Why is that?"
"I think God knows you're lonely," Dougal said with a sincere lightness that was still gentle.
Ted looked down and away from Dougal again, feeling the sting of truth in his words. Ted was a very lonely man. He was alone on an island in a sea of his own guilt and misery. He figured that he got what he deserved, being stuck on Craggy Island with Dougal and Old Jack.
"Then God sort of…," Dougal hesitated. The blush on his cheeks increased. Ted could almost feel a palatable heat rise from the younger priest. "He… I felt his grace move through me and… and…."
"It felt good?"
"Oh God, Ted," Dougal sighed emphatically. "Every time I felt it. I came awake with my lad standing on end!" Dougal blushed harder and Ted wondered if Dougal was arousing himself now just remembering it.
"So it made you…." Ted fumbled for a word as he watched Dougal blush. "A-aroused."
Dougal didn't answer and Ted was not sure if it was embarrassment or confusion that held Dougal's tongue. Ted didn't push it. He was amazed that he got so much from the younger priest. It was enough for now… except one thing.
"Dougal, do you understand that by doing what we have been doing, by allowing ourselves this… pleasure… we have broken our vows and place ourselves in a grave state of mortal sin?"
Dougal's eyes went round in alarm. He blinked at Ted for a moment then finally spoke in a voice that cracked. "But, Ted, God wants us to know his grace."
Ted saw the raw confusion on Dougal's features and felt genuinely sorry for him. It would be so easy for temptation to lead such an innocent, unworldly creature as Dougal McGuire astray.
But then again, who was to say Dougal was wrong?
Ted was use to sleeping with Dougal. Long before that first night of touching, Ted had long since grown accustomed to the soft weight of the lad against his back, the warm whisper of his breath as he breathed out answers to dreamed questions, and the rich smell of his youthful wind-sweet musk. He had silently cherished the sensation and held the desire deep within a locked place in his mind. It wasn't good for a priest to feel these feelings. It wasn't right for a man to want a man. It had been so easy in the beginning. Dougal's childlike qualities and near imbecilic simplicity had kept Ted's lust at bay. Now it wasn't enough to see Dougal confounded over something as simple as depth perception and size, or hear him confuse the simplest of things, or even watch him grow flustered over a recitation of what is a sin.
It was too late now. Dougal was a sexual creature to Ted. With that realization came the ache of a lust unsatisfied every time Dougal climbed into his bed. Ted had begun to dread Dougal's nocturnal visits with each passing day. The sin of it added on to itself as the pain of it quadrupled every time. It wasn't fair.
It really wasn't fair that Dougal should feel salvation while Ted should suffer the sin of it all. Every time it happened, every night that Dougal would nuzzle against him with a simple smile, so full of joy and gratitude, Ted felt his soul diminish just a little more. He was wasting away in his own lust, a prisoner of his guilt, unable to do more than yearn.
That night, as he lay in his bed remembering Dougal's distress at his denouncement, for the first time Ted felt himself wishing for Dougal's presence in his bed instead of dreading it.
*Please Dougal! Come on then, lad. Don't let it stop you. What if I'm wrong?*
He lay awake, cold beneath a layer of blankets. He was angry, alone and frustrated, more so than most other times. Ted had to admit he did make his own luck. It was poor judgment that brought him here to Craggy Island. Regardless of what he thought he was doing, it had been wrong to move the charity money even though he knew he could triple it and he had every intention of splitting the profit with the charity. He was a fool then and he was a fool now. Forlorn and forsaken, years of a vocation blown away by one thick-headed moment, this was where Ted Crilly would die, laying alone in a cold bed on a desolate and forgotten island in a falling down parish. To top all that off, his only companionship was old Father Hacket, a cantankerous if not senile old priest, and Dougal McGuire, God own special enigma sent to place the final screw into Ted's already bleak existence.
Ted couldn't sleep. He stared at the walls. He listened to Dougal's breathing. No dreams about game shows and no tossing about like he was running a marathon. Dougal was unnaturally still. Ted began to wonder if Dougal was even asleep. It was hard to say. Sometimes Dougal slept soundly after the dreams finally departed, but Ted did not recall Dougal having dreamed yet that night. It was very unlike the lad to do so without the talking and the thrashing.
Maybe Dougal was awake, Ted thought. Maybe he should say something to him. Nothing came to mind as Ted. He knew he wanted to talk to him, but he just couldn't put words to all the conflicting emotions flowing through his conscious.
"… we should take care of each other. You've always taken good care of me, Ted."
Dougal's words of that evening tormented him. They tore into his soul. Was he taking care of Dougal or satisfying his own perverse needs. Yes, he had not masturbated again to thoughts of Dougal's youthful form since the one time after his birthday present of spandex cycling shorts. Nevertheless, Ted knew that he was still guilty of stealing some small amount of sensual indulgence from watching the younger priest writhing in pleasure beneath his control. So many times Ted had let his lips brush the soft skin of Dougal's neck and had wanted to place kisses against the pulse point beneath the curve of his jaw. So many times Ted had let his hand indulge in the silk smoothness of Dougal's erection. Ted had allowed the sensations of its heat and solidity to stimulate his desires.
Damn it! He was only human!
A pitiful excuse for a priest, Ted thought. He closed his eyes and berated himself between Hail Marys. After a while he gave up on the prayers but continued the berating.
Ted awoke when a weight dipped the mattress of his bed. He opened his eyes to the pre-dawn gloom and half-light that made everything, including the bright and garish wallpaper of their bedroom, a dull gray tone. Dougal was sitting beside him, looking down on him silently. Ted wasn't sure when he had finally found sleep but he was not feeling refreshed by the little he had achieved. He blinked at Dougal at first, confused.
"What is it, Dougal?" he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. He was prepared for Dougal. He was ready to hear the usual silliness and to tell him to go back to bed. Ted had pushed aside the fears of the past few days and made a firm decision. No more. It had to stop. It stopped today.
"It's not wrong."
Ted blinked again and looked at Dougal, unsure he had heard correctly what the lad had said. "Pardon?"
"It's not wrong, Ted."
Ted pushed himself upright to look Dougal in the eyes. Dougal moved to make room but he was still unusually close, Ted noticed. The younger man's eyes were wide and alert as they often looked when Dougal seemed upset or concerned. His full lips were turned down in worry. It wasn't often that Dougal fretted and Ted found himself particularly concerned this time. It was all Ted's fault. He should never have touched the lad.
"I know you feel that what it is you are feeling is God's grace, but it's not…"
Dougal shook his head. "It's not wrong," he repeated softly.
Ted sighed. It was often useless to argue with Dougal. One could hardly argue with a creature of very little sense like Dougal McGuire. It was far too early and Ted was far to tired to go into the lengthy, dumbed-down explanations that it would take to explain his point. Instead he looked Dougal in the eye.
"Go back to sleep, Dougal."
Dougal looked down. His large eyes were shining in the dim predawn light. Ted felt the guilt reassert itself.
"But I love you, Ted."
Hearing those whispered words was the death of him and Ted wanted to scream in anger at Dougal for saying such a thing. *Don't love me you, great idjit! Please don't love me!*
Ted's voice rough when he spoke again. "Go to bed, Dougal."
"God wants us to be happy." Dougal looked up at him again. Ted could just make out the flecks of green in Dougal's dark eyes. The light of dawn was increasing.
"We are priest," Ted countered. "We need to find our happiness within our vocation."
"It's not enough…"
"I know," Ted whispered.
It was just then that Ted ceased to fight. It was when Dougal touched his face, slowly tracing his lips with his fingertips that Ted understood. It wasn't enough. They were only human. God's first desire for his creation was happiness. Ted Crilly existed in a purgatory created by Bishop Brennan to hide his biggest embarrassments. Ted wasn't a bad priest. He was misguided and thoughtless at times. He was a victim of his own over planning. He could be a hopelessly poor gambler. But there had to be a reason so many people liked Ted Crilly.
Ted felt the pain of his guilt come back fresh and in a new direction. His jaw clenched as the guilt choked him with tears held in check. "I don't deserve this."
Ted's eyes closed as he fought against the anguish that shook his soul. He was not prepared when he felt Dougal's fingertip be replaced by the soft brush of lips. Ted's eyes flew open in surprise. His first thought was irrelevant. He was never aware that Dougal could or would kiss. He had never seen the lad do so before.
"It's okay," he whispered, and Ted was surprised by the very assured tone that he spoke with. "I know what to do."
Dougal's kiss was soft and shy. His lips touched Ted with a demure hesitation mixed with a budding excitement. Ted fell hopelessly into the sweetness of it. He reached out to pull Dougal closer. His fingers carded their way into Dougal's thick, dark auburn hair as Ted captured Dougal's mouth into a deeper kiss. From there it spiraled out of control.
He wasn't sure if Dougal had pushed him back on the bed or if he had pulled Dougal on top of him. All he knew at that moment was the sweetness of his cinnamon lad's kiss. Ted found himself kneading the smooth flesh of Dougal's buttocks with one hand. Tenderly, Dougal's lips parted and he drew Ted's lower lip between his own. Ted's breath caught with the sensuality of the act. Ted opened his mouth to Dougal, his tongue tickling the lad's full lips. Dougal responded, allowing Ted entry.
Ted was drunk on the sensations, and on the captivating beauty that he held and kissed. The world went away for that moment as he rolled his sweet lad. Carefully aware of the edge of his narrow twin bed, Ted moved Dougal on to his back. Ted pulled Dougal tighter to him, shifting his hips until Dougal's legs fell open. Ted's body moved in the slow, inborn, and rhythmic dance of lust.
It was not enough. With each stroke, Ted could feel Dougal's erection, thick and firm beneath layers of clothing. Ted's own member ached to be freed, to touch the warm flesh of the younger man. Fingers fumbled impatiently with buttons. Clothing was pushed hurriedly aside. Carefully he began to skim down Dougal's pajama bottoms. Dougal cooperated beautifully, arching into the caress as the clothing slipped past his hips. After a little negligible, awkward maneuvering, Dougal was naked before him.
Soft and yielding, Dougal nuzzled himself wantonly against Ted and Ted was totally lost to the lust he had held so resolutely at bay for so very long. It still was not enough and Ted halted long enough to pull his own pajama bottoms down until they lay loosely wrapped about his ankles. A moan of pleasure escaped Ted as naked flesh touched at long last.
The urgency of the feeling consumed Ted's reason. His vocation no longer existed in the reality he was falling into. Here, there was only Dougal: Dougal's soft touch, Dougal's innocent kiss, and Dougal's naive passion. Ted's hips rocked lightly against the lad once more. He shuddered as he felt his erection align against Dougal's. He could feel the texture of it against his own sensitive flesh. Ted released the kiss to groan helplessly as he was enveloped in sweet pleasure.
His hips moved faster. His breathing went from a wild pant to guttural moans that punctuated the push of his hips, driving himself with abandonment against Dougal's youthful, firm form. Ted lowered his head to Dougal's shoulder, his lips brushing pale soft skin. Against his ear he could hear Dougal's breathless whispers urging him on.
"Yes, Ted! Yes!"
But it was Dougal's hand, that stroked his head with such tenderness and love, that nearly broke Ted. There was no grief. There was no guilt. There was only this simple grace that filled Ted; that filled the room, as they both climaxed, one after the other.
Ted sighed. The last of the orgasm's tremors finally spent out of his limbs, for a moment he lay against Dougal, listening to the younger priest's rapid heartbeat. Dougal's chest expanded in a sigh of contentment and Ted rode the small wave of Dougal's satisfaction. Dougal's hand still tenderly carded Ted's hair.
"I told you there is a God."
"I know, Dougal."
There was silence for a little while then Dougal spoke again in a far sleepier tone.
"You don't suppose Father Jack needs to know?"
Ted's head popped up off of Dougal's chest, his eyes round in horror. The image of Dougal offering himself sexually to the lecherous old priest immediately came to his mind.
"No, Dougal! He's good for the faith."
"Right so, Ted."
Ted laid his head back down on Dougal's chest with a relieved sigh. "Right so…"