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The Conquered - Chapter 5: Chaos

***** Andrew *****

Reality slowly intruded as the sun rose higher through the blinds, shining on my face. I had no clue as to where I was. The bed I was on was much smaller than I was used to. I didn't want to open my eyes, my head was throbbing and my tongue tasted like I'd been licking a sidewalk. My nostrils were filled with a familiar scent, and I knew where I was, remembered what had happened the night before. A groan escaped my lips as I though about Taylor and all he had done for me.

He'd been so kind to me. It was blurry, but I remembered crying. I remembered being ill. Oh God! What had I done? I opened my eyes slowly, hoping my head wouldn't come off. I was alone in a nice bedroom with a soft, thick comforter over me. I stood and realized I was only wearing my boxer briefs. Where were my clothes?

I walked out into the living room, looking all over for my clothes. The need to run was heavy; I was panicked by what had happened the other night. I was never weak. Never! I stopped my search for my clothes when I saw Taylor on the couch. He lay on his belly, sprawled slightly with his arms over his head, one leg dangling off the sofa. His blanket was pooled at his feet and all he wore were some simple white cotton briefs. What an ass. My God, the man had a beautiful, high and tight ass. I felt myself plumping up in my underwear.

I must have stared for a few moments, because Taylor flipped over onto his back, sprawled with his arms up, showing off a slim torso, but so compact and strong. He had great lats and strong flat pecs. Even though he was all but hairless the view made me drool. His belly was so flat. As my eyes trailed down, I saw his cock, over his hip, hard, pushing against the cotton, trying to break free. He wasn't my type, not in the slightest, but he had a nice, thick cock and powerful legs. I had to shake my head several times then panic slammed my heart against my ribs.

Without a backwards glance, I went in search of my clothes, only knowing the need to run. I figured he must have washed my clothes, I know I got sick. I was searching for the laundry when I knocked into the kitchen table, knocking a spoon off, hearing it clatter against the floor. I was picking it up, knelt down with my ass in the air when I heard Taylor behind me.

"Good morning, Andrew."

I shut my eyes, willing my blush and arousal to go away. I stood, not looking back. "Mornin'." All I wanted to do was get out of there.

His voice was filled with mirth, but it was laced heavily with sincere concern. "How are you feeling today?"

His concern was my undoing. The concern and compassion in his voice made me turn around, raging hard on or not. "I'm a little shaky. My head hurts." I looked down, feeling sheepish. "I'm sorry, Taylor."

He walked up to me, standing before me, still hard. It forced me to raise my eyes to his. "I'm glad you're okay, Andrew. And you don't have anything to be sorry for."

Just like that, all my fear and embarrassment fled from me. "Thank you for taking care of me. I should have told you I'd never had alcohol before."

His smile was very warm and filled with something I couldn't quite identify; I'd never seen it before. "Does your stomach feel up to breakfast?"

Breakfast. That was something I could do. It would also give me something to do. "Yeah, I do. Why don't you go take a shower and I'll make breakfast?"

His eyebrows rose. "Are you sure? I don't mind cooking."

This man could make me blush more than anyone else could. "Please? I need to make breakfast for you."

His chuckle was warm, but he nodded and showed me around the kitchen. After he was done, he left to shower. I found some ham, eggs, cheese and a few vegetables. Within moments, I had ham, onions and peppers sautéing in a skillet as I washed up the dishes from last night. When Taylor returned, I'd put a large skillet of scrambled eggs, cheese, the ham and onions, toast and some orange juice, on the table. I was smiling, even whistling a bit as I told him to sit down.

He was wearing an oversized tee and baggy sweat shorts that did nothing to compliment the compact body I'd seen earlier. Without his glasses, and his hair all wet and kind of slicked back, I could see the model that was a fuzzy memory from all those pictures. My pulse raced as I realized how very attractive Taylor actually was. I stomped on that idea and sat across from him at the table. I wasn't going to let my dick fuck things up again. "Let's eat."

***** Taylor *****

"Jesus H. Christ," I thought as Andrew turned around. The glimpse I had gotten of him in the shower hadn't prepared me for the telephone pole that was tenting his boxers. I knew it was just a morning hard-on, just like I had, but seeing how big it was nearly had me stepping back. Ok, he wasn't "hose-dick", but I certainly wouldn't have wanted him to try to put that thing into me.

He looked like a caged animal trying to find an escape route. Poor guy. His first drinking experience had ended in a safe but miserable way. I knew he probably wasn't used to being at the mercy of others. There was a part of me that just wanted to pull him into a hug and tell him everything was going to be okay. That part of me, however, listened to my reason, and I knew that was an unreasonable impulse. We were a long ways from that kind of trust.

I was a little surprised by his desire to cook, but shouldn't have been. A guy who was as built and dedicated to his health as Andrew had to know how to cook or his life would have been a culinary misery. You just couldn't buy healthy, prepackaged meals when you wanted a body like his.

"Thank you for taking care of me." Those words repeated themselves while I showered. I'd heard similar things from my kids, but never from an adult; especially not from a guy like Andrew. It was almost like both the man and the kid inside were looking to me for confirmation that they hadn't fucked up. I'm such a sucker for a scared kid.

He surprised me again with the giddy, happy noises he was making as he served up breakfast. I almost laughed, but I didn't want to make him self-conscious. I also found the idea of having a big, masculine man cooking me food while only wearing boxers to be fun. It was such juxtaposition.

"Let's Eat."

I think he cooked enough to feed a small army. There was no way I was going to get through a quarter of what was on the table. I ate a reasonable, if a bit large, portion and then watched Andrew polish off the rest. My God, how the hell could he afford the grocery bills?

"That was one hefty breakfast there, Tex."

Andrew grinned, and I swear he blushed. Why he'd blush I had no clue, but it was adorable. I think something about me brought out a little bit of that kid he was hiding within that hulking exterior. Maybe I was "safe to play with." Whatever the reason, I liked it. I liked seeing a side of the man that wasn't business or hunting for hot sex.

"I burn through a lot of calories."

I laughed. "Oh, by size ratio I think our portions were about right. I'm not exactly a slow metabolism either."

He was looking at me. It wasn't that "hungry look" he had for hose-dick that first night, but something about it definitely made me a little uncomfortable. Maybe it was just he was trying to figure me out and I wasn't ready for him to know I was anything other than a nice, safe, unavailable guy. I was snapped out of my thoughts by his next question.

"Where are my clothes?"

I laughed again. Andrew really wasn't all that funny, but something about his behavior, and its stark contrast to his appearance, just made me laugh. "I have an "over-under" in the hall closet.

"Can I use your shower?"

"Sure, you cooked; I'll do the dishes. I'll put your clothes on the bed. There should be plenty of towels under the sink in the bathroom."


I set the dishes in the sink as I heard the shower start up. I knew there was one problem with the apartment that usually wasn't an issue. The hot water was temperamental. If any other appliance or faucet was turned on to use the hot water, the shower went ice cold. I'd had more than a couple "sudden shocks" when I'd set the dishwasher to run and then had stupidly taken a shower at the same time.

I grinned as I turned on the hot water to rinse off the dishes. The response wasn't immediate, but it was loud. Andrew's bellow of shock had me busting up.

"Sorry!" I yelled as I turned off the faucet.

I was met by a dripping, towel enwrapped Andrew as I dropped his clothes on the bed.

"You did that on purpose." He glowered at me, but something told me he wasn't so much mad as surprised and feeling off balance.

"Think of it as payback for making me clean cranberry stains out of my carpet."

He growled. "Bastard..." then looked a bit sheepishly at me, his voice getting soft, "It isn't ruined is it?"

"Nah, I was in a fraternity in college where puking your guts out was a competitive sport. I learned all the tricks to cleaning up after a binge."

He looked so shamed faced, but there was also a small smile on his lips. I think he liked being teased. "I guess I should get dressed."

"I assume you don't need help this time."

He shook his head. Damn if he wasn't blushing again. "No."

I left him to figure out which limbs went through what holes. I had faith he'd be able to do it without assistance.

***** Andrew *****

After I was dressed, I realized there really was no reason to stay. Taylor looked a little disappointed.

"You sure you're okay?" He handed me my keys and wallet.

"Yeah." I paused as I slid my wallet into my jeans. "Thanks, Taylor."

That brought a smile to his lips. He'd put on his glasses while I'd dressed, and his hair was reverting to its usual chaos as it dried. I could still see the attractive man I'd had breakfast with. "You're welcome."


He nodded, his smile reaching his eyes. "Monday."

What surprised me was how much I didn't want to go. Not that I'd enjoyed getting drunk and barfing all over the place, but the morning was nice. The feeling was new; it had been safe and fun. Taylor had a great way of letting a person be comfortable around him. I found myself grinning through most of my day.

That night at work, the Fire Hose was there. I found thinking of him as "an appendage" was no longer comfortable. His name was Francis, though Leon had called him Frank. He wouldn't meet my eyes; hell, I couldn't meet his. That pissed me off. I was the one who took his cherry ass, and I was feeling uncomfortable about it. His workout was for shit and he left quickly.

The last two times I'd had sex, I'd basically served no other purpose than to be a sexual toy, an aid to satisfaction. The whole thing kind of disgusted me. But seeing the look in Frank's eyes... well, it made me feel ashamed and vaguely uneasy. I decided to swear off men for a while. It wasn't like I would have to worry about finding it when I needed it. Besides, the idea of spending some quality time with just my hand was appealing.

I felt more comfortable with myself, Saturday night, than I had in a long time. Taking time out from hunting for ass just felt right. The dreams didn't stop though. In fact, they got worse. It was harder to force the images away. I wasn't sure what it all meant, but I knew that I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to know what it was I got snippets of.

I'll never really know when the shift happened, but by Monday, I found myself looking forward to seeing Taylor. All through school and my adult life, I'd never really had a friend. It may have sounded odd, but I was a horny guy with a libido that wouldn't quit. Any guy I'd meet I'd want to fuck, not become friends with. And women... well, I never really understood them. I love my sister, but even she's a mystery to me. You can't be friends with someone you can't understand. I didn't really need the friendship, at least that's what I thought until I met Taylor. There was something really great about having this person who I could talk to, hang out with, and cheat on our respective diets with. It wasn't about sex, and that was comfortable.

Monday, Taylor was all smiles at the gym. It was measurement day. In the past month, he'd really shown a great improvement. He'd put on only 3 pounds, but we weren't going for more mass. What was important was with the drop in his body fat, he'd actually put on about five pounds of muscle and lost a couple pounds of fat. He was leaner and stronger than he was when we started. When I congratulated him, he just smiled bigger.

"I entered the Tri-county race at the end of the month. I've got four weeks to get my act together." Taylor rolled his eyes in mirth. "Now you get to see how insane I can get."

I laughed as I clapped him on the shoulder. "That's great man. Like I promised, you'll be in the single digits this time."

His smile was kind of doubtful. I think it was the first time I'd ever seen him anything less than confident. "Would you care to come and see your hard work pay off?"

I started chuckling. "Are you kidding? I'm gonna be there cheering you on to victory!"

Perhaps being a friend wasn't all that tough. This seemed fairly easy. That night I went home, indulged in some deep double chocolate ice cream, then crawled under the covers, gloriously naked, shifting my legs a bit, letting the cotton rub against me, feeling an almost violent rush of pleasure as my flesh thickened and hardened. I grabbed hold, moving my hand slowly, leisurely up and down my shaft, playing with my balls, and occasionally moving up to tweak my nipples. My mind was wonderfully blank, letting me focus on only the sensations.

After a few minutes, I was squeezing the head of my cock and I let out a deep moan. For a split second, I could do nothing but wonder what Taylor sounded like when he was being pleasured. That thought led to wondering if he was a fast and furious, or slow and leisurely kind of guy. Before I knew it, my mind was filled with the memory of him in his briefs, and within seconds I was blasting spunk up my chest, crying out in release. When I had calmed and cleaned myself up, I sank back into the mattress, wondering where the hell those thoughts had come from.

That night, I woke up screaming from the nightmare.

***** Taylor *****

"Five pounds of muscle." That was really all I could think about as I left the gym after my first month of training with Andrew. That may not sound like a big thing, but for a guy who'd never seen 150, that was a huge gain. Silly as it was, I stood in front of the full-length mirror on the bathroom door, in my briefs, and flexed. It wasn't the ridiculous, primping poses you see guys doing to show off. I was concentrating on seeing what had changed.

I was more defined, which I hadn't thought possible and still gain weight. My arms were bigger, as were my shoulders. What I really noticed as my back. Between my morning swims and the concentrated work Andrew had been doing with me my back had really widened. It wasn't all that noticeable when I just stood around. Hell, both of my lats couldn't fill the space of one of Andrew's, but when I'd reach up, like doing a freestyle stroke, the wings came out.

The whole thing had me lengthening in my briefs. That was new. As attractive as I'd been told I was; by family, by friends, by girlfriends, by the modeling agents, I'd never seen it. Oh, I knew I looked good, but I didn't find the skinny-boy look appealing. I got into the shower and my hands wandered over myself as I washed. Normally, I just washed and was done with it. In my mind, I could feel the larger muscles. With my eyes closed, I could imagine them being gripped and worked by big, beefy hands.

When I got to my ass, I gripped it hard. The one feature I had that I actually liked was my ass. I was firm, shapely, and tight; too damn tight to ever get a cock up there. I shuddered as my soapy fingers slide into my crack and brushed my hole. I found myself with my cheek and shoulder against the shower wall while my I worked my ass with more soap. I hadn't done this in a long time. Not since the last time I was driven to hit the clubs. I'd never managed to get more than a couple fingers in, and not very deep; still, the feeling was so damn good.

My brain was filled with the sensations of a hard, muscular body against mine. My fingers were gone and I was being fucked raw and loving it. A huge, calloused hand was gripping my shaft and stroking me. I cried out, pumping ropes of jizz against the shower wall as I came back to reality. I'd managed to get my fingers past my second knuckle. I think I may have actually hit my prostate. I wasn't sure. Hell, my brain was still trying to reboot.

I went to bed, my ass tingling, and I dreamt about sex. Not the garden-variety sex. It was rough, almost painful, and totally freeing. I wasn't some guy's bitch. I was an equal partner. I was able to match the man stroke for stroke, thrust for thrust, and blow for blow. I didn't have a wet dream, but damn if the sheets weren't soaked with precum when the alarm went off at 4 am. I groaned both from the images fading away at the back of my brain and at my own insanity. I had morning swim at 5 am. I needed to hit the sack by ten each night or my life was going to be one long, sleep-deprived hell.

As I got out of the school pool, Coach Jones grinned at me. I liked Larry. Though he was a big, muscular guy, he'd always treated me with respect and dignity. We also had something in common; his wife was a triathlete too.

"You doing the Tri-County at the end of the month?"

I laughed. "Think I'd be here, taking up lane space, if I weren't?"

He eyed me critically as I toweled off. "You change your training? You're looking rugged."

I laughed. Rugged was not a word I'd use to describe myself. "Thanks, and yeah, I got myself a personal trainer."

He was distracted for a moment by some rough housing at the other end of the pool, but he picked right back up with me once he'd barked out orders to his kids. "Well, the guy must be good if he can put some meat on that skinny ass of yours."

I grabbed my ass and chuckled before I started for the office. "Now I know you're talking shit, Larry. I've always had a fine ass. Just ask Becca; she wants me for my ass."

He snorted. "Does not."

I winked. "Does too." This was an old argument. Larry's wife, Rebecca, had commented once that at least she got to see some very fine ass when we were in the same competitions. I'd never let Larry live it down. "The coach's shower open?"

"Yeah, enjoy." He turned back to his duties, and I went to get cleaned up for my day.

I walked past the boys on the team as I headed for my shower. I received a couple hidden, appreciative looks. I ignored them. I'd never been interested in boys. Even when I was a teen, my fantasies had always turned to bigger, more mature men. It was kind of a charge, though, to think that at thirty-three I could garner a little attention from horny teens.

I was ready to be worked hard on Wednesday. When I got to the gym, Andrew looked like shit again. He had dark circles under his eyes and his expression was vaguely haunted.


I pulled my eyes from Andrew and smiled at Lee. "Hey, Lee."

"Andrew told me you're doing the race?"

I smiled. "Yeah, time to see if all this good money and time will pay off."

"Of course it's going to pay off." I turned to see Andrew coming to the front desk. He was smiling at me and it looked like a little bit of the haunted expression was gone. "He's going to show the rest of us over-built jackasses what an efficient, compact body can do."

Normally I hated having my body compared to others, especially muscle men, but the honesty in his voice kept my insecurities from rising. I grinned. "You're just trying to convince your client you're worth the bucks."

Andrew's smile wavered. "I don't say shit I don't mean, Taylor." He turned after grabbing a water from the cooler. "When you're ready, I've got some new routines for you."

I looked at Lee, wondering what I'd said, and he shrugged. "He's been short with everyone, Taylor. To tell the truth, I'm getting worried; Charlotte's fed up."

I looked at Andrew's retreating back. "Maybe someone should find out what's wrong."

Lee snorted. "Andrew doesn't talk to anyone about anything personal. Believe me, I've tried..." His eyes wandered back to Andrew and he shrugged. "I just can't seem to get through to him anymore."

The regret in Lee's voice caught me. "You're pretty good friends aren't you?"

His smile wasn't very happy, and he shrugged again. "I thought we were, but I don't think Andrew knows what a friend is." He paused, like he was trying to figure something out, then shook his head and flashed me a trademark Lee smile. "He's a good guy, Taylor, under all the posturing and bull shit. We can just hope at some point he'll let the rest of us see it."

"If he doesn't?" I had the feeling there was more behind Lee's statement.

"If he doesn't, I'm worried he may lose more than just his friends."

I just nodded and followed after Andrew. Damn it if "Mother Theresa" hadn't stepped in again. Maybe Andrew needed a counselor, but I think he needed a friend more; a friend he could recognize. I remembered my promise to the drunken, curled up man who'd been asleep and helpless on my bed. Damn it to hell; I always kept my promises.

***** Andrew *****

By the time I next saw Taylor I was haggard. Sleep was harder and harder to come by. When I wasn't waking up drenched in sweat, I was wandering my house, pacing back and forth, lost. I got pissed off at one of my other clients who did nothing but whine through a workout, then complained that I wasn't doing enough for him because he wasn't getting the results he wanted. Finally, after listening, I lost it. I pushed him against the wall, and let him have it. Verbally, I shredded the man. All I could think about was how Taylor came in and did the work and never once bitched about it. The guy before me, when I first saw him, had made my cock twitch and it really wanted to say `hi.' That attraction fled. Give me a man who could work hard all day and not complain about it. That's what I wanted.

When I saw Taylor come in for his next workout, I almost sighed with relief. Someone who would get it. Someone who would understand. I overheard him talking to Lee about the competition. I was so proud of him. I was proud of all my dedicated clients, but not like this. This was a warm, good feeling. I tried to make light of it; joking with him. Then he said, "You're just trying to convince your client you're worth the bucks."

His comment shouldn't have hurt, but it did. God! I was turning into some emotional, namby pamby ninny. Jesus. I walked off, trying hard to put it all behind me, but I was so fucking tired. All I wanted was a solid night of sleep. No dreams, no insomnia, just sleep. I got Taylor through his new exercises, things to limber and strengthen him. Again, he did everything without a bit of complaint. Someway, somehow, all my hurt, all the pain, all the confusion flooded away. "Taylor, thank you. For everything."

He smiled at me, kind of confused looking, and I knew I couldn't explain it. "Hey, no problem. I'm not sure what I did, but you're welcome."

I laughed, probably the first genuine laugh since I woke up at his place. "You do a lot. A hell of a lot more than most."

He shook his head, still bemused. "Would you wanna hang out tonight? Go back to my place, maybe pig out with me? I think we both deserve it."

I thought about it for maybe a half a second. Then I agreed. As I was wiping stuff down, getting ready to lock up, I was still smiling from it. I wasn't so much shocked, as pleasantly surprised. This was easy. Having a friend wasn't so bad. After I had locked the door and turned to my truck, I paused. Sitting on the bumper was Don.

***** Don *****

I hadn't been ready to deal with Andrew last Friday. I certainly wasn't ready to have Seb come face to face with the man I'd cheated on him with. I was actually feeling a little sick as we ducked out, leaving Andrew with his client, and got to the car. I couldn't meet Seb's eyes.

"That's, the, Andrew?"

I nodded, feeling like dirt. "Yeah... I'm sorry, Seb."

I'll give it to Sebastian. He was a hell of a lot stronger than I was; emotionally at least. His fingers hooked my chin, pulling me to meet his lips. Damn him. He knew kissing me was the surest way to shut my brain down. Jackson had even commented on the fact that Seb could have taken me down any time he wanted just by kissing me. He'd kissed me the other night, at the school, as soon as the students had left. I'd literally melted against the wall and my brain had shut down.

Jackson had given us a warning cough before crossing the room. He was grinning at Seb as my brain rebooted. "You've got him completely whipped, don't you?"

Seb grinned; sliding his hand in mine and helping me pull myself off the wall. How could a guy smaller and younger than me have so much power over me? That was a stupid question, actually. It was because my world, for better or for worse, revolved around a strong, loving, latin man who happened to be able to kiss me to mush.

"He's got me whipped too, but he's too much of a gentleman to melt me in public."

Jackson laughed and winked at me. "He's got your number."

Seb had more than just my number. Friday night, after we'd gotten back from dinner and had fucked hard and heavy for over an hour, Seb curled up against my side and waited for my breathing to return to normal. God I loved being fucked by that man.

His fingers played with my chest hair as he talked. "Did you see Andrew's reaction tonight?"

I tensed. Why was he bringing Andrew up after we'd just made love? "No, not really."

"Don," he rolled up to look at me, "What actually happened that last time?"

I blinked. "I told you."

He shook his head. "I know, but please, this is important. You told me that you couldn't even enjoy it `til you were imagining it was me."

I nodded, not wanting to think about what I'd done to try to prove I didn't need the man I loved so desperately. "Yeah."

"Was that it? Did you just think about me?"

I was confused. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, did you say anything? Say my name? Anything at all?"

I closed my eyes and tried to remember. It wasn't all that hard. Though I'd pushed away the memory, it was whole and very complete. I don't think I'll ever forget that night. "I said something like 'Sebastian, I need you...'" I could feel the tears slipping past my closed lids.

Seb kissed them, then slid back into his spot between my arm and my chest. "I think it hurt him, Don. I really think it did."

Seb's words haunted me for the rest of the weekend. By Tuesday, I was so guilty and ashamed that I could hardly think straight.

I came straight over from class tonight. I had to square things with Andrew. It wasn't that I wanted to patch things up, but I needed the man to know he was more important than a faceless fuck.

Andrew didn't look at all happy to see me. I didn't blame him. I wouldn't have been happy to see me either. I pushed off the bumper of his truck as he came over.

"What do you want?" God, he sounded bitter and tired. I think his tone made me really look at his face. He looked like shit.

"To say thank you."

That caught him off guard. I guess I was using the equivalent of a verbal sucker-punch, but I really wanted to get my point across.

"I also wanted to say I'm sorry."

His eyes hardened. "Sorry for what? You don't owe me shit. You were a good fuck, if a bit loose these days."

That was fucking low. "Yeah, well, I guess I've gotten used to a twelve inch dick from hell." I snapped out of it. I wasn't here to raise my hackles and compare cocks. "I'm not sorry for that, Andrew. You didn't seem to mind it at all the last time."

"Yeah, well I wasn't the one fucking you last time was I?" I don't think he'd planned to say that. The Andrew I knew would never have said that. God he looked tired. I think it was his inability to keep from lashing out that started worrying me. He was a man on the edge.

I held his eyes. I wasn't going to shy away from what I'd done. "No, Andrew, you weren't the guy I was fucking. You were just a substitute. That's what I came to apologize about."

He flinched and looked away. "It was just a fuck."

"Maybe for you, but it was something I needed to show me what I really wanted."

"Yeah, a skinny shit spick with a big dick."

I didn't even have time to think. My fist lashed out, and Andrew's head snapped back. He hit the pavement, stunned.

I flexed my fingers as I growled at him. "Don't ever call him a spick, or anything other than his name, Andrew. He's the man I love and I'll be damned if anyone is going to say shit about him."

Andrew licked his lip. I'd split it pretty well. The blood caught my attention. "When was the last time you got tested?"


"HIV, Andrew. We didn't use condoms. We never did. I tested clean before I met Sebastian. He's clean, but we didn't use them last time either. I'm going to get tested anyway, just to be sure, but I thought I'd ask."

He snarled, pushing up off the ground and looming over me. "You use me as a fucking sex toy, you rub your new dick in my face, and now you're wanting to know if I'm a fucking diseaser?"

"No, Andrew. I'm here trying to tell you that I've met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, and if it hadn't been for you, I'd never have had the guts to meet him. I want to say thank you and I want to let you know you were always more than just a fuck for me." It felt stupid, but I held his eyes. "You were my first, Andrew. Like it or not, that means something to me."

He looked like he wanted to hit me. Andrew was a lot of things, but stupid wasn't one of them. He knew I could hurt him in ways he'd never imagined. Yeah, he was bigger and stronger than me physically, but it was obvious that his core wasn't there. Mine was. It may have only come to me recently, in the form of the man waiting for me back at home, but it was there and it was indestructible. After a few moments of staring at each other, he backed down.

"Fine. Anything else?"

That was it? Fine? Damn he was a stubborn, arrogant, egotistical, pig. I was about to tell him exactly what I thought of his attitude, but I caught a glimpse of his eyes. Oh fuck. I recognized that look. God, I knew it so well. What the fuck had happened? I knew it wasn't the fact that one of his fucks had called out someone else's name. This was a lot deeper, a lot older. It was an old fear; one that all you could do was run from. At least, that was all you could do `til you had someone to hold onto. I don't think Andrew had anyone.

"No..." What the fuck was I going to say?

"Then get off my truck, I've got somewhere else to be."

I stepped away from the bumper as he yanked open the driver's door and threw in his bag. I couldn't let it end like this. "Andrew?"

He snarled at me. "What?"

"If you ever want to start over as friends, it would be weird, but I'd be proud to consider you one." He looked stunned as I stepped further back to give him space. "Lee has my contact info." I turned, got a few steps and then had to say it one more time. He hadn't moved. "Thank you."

I left him there, with the door open and an odd look on his face. I'd done what I'd said I would do. I closed an old chapter and tried to wipe the slate clean. Whether Andrew was part of the new chapter was up to him. I'd left the door open.

***** Andrew *****

I stood by my truck, staring at Don's retreating back for a long time, long after he'd driven off. I rubbed at my forehead, wondering what the fuck was going on. All the warm, happy, content feelings I'd had with Taylor were gone. At that moment, all I wanted was to see Taylor, to get that feeling back again. Please God, let that feeling come back. I got in my truck and drove away.

My mind was filled with swirling doubts and petty fears. Don looked so fucking content. Frank and Leon had the same look about them too. Why didn't anyone look at me like that? Did I want anyone too? A month or two ago, I would have said no, but now... now I wasn't so sure. That crack about being tested threw me too. I only plucked cherries. I fucked around, but except for Leon, Frank and Don, there hadn't been anyone in a while. Don had been something more. I hadn't really pressed for anything else from anyone. Jesus! I mentally adjusted my calendar, knowing tomorrow morning I'd head over to the men's health center where I knew I could get tested. It made me uncomfortable, but I realized at that moment I'd been playing with a loaded gun for far too long. The thought made me nauseous. What had I been doing? Fuck!

I got to Taylor's apartment, hoping to God that perhaps I'd calm down, perhaps he'd make things right in that way that he had. It was my only hope. I think I was losing it. No, I'm sure I was losing it. When he answered the door, he was all smiles and instantly, I calmed down, smiling broad. My smile must have been too broad, because my lip cracked open, dribbling blood down my chin. The look of horror on his face would have been comical, if it weren't so damn sincere.

"What happened?"

I wanted so badly to shrug it off, lie and say it was nothing, but I couldn't. "Don was waiting for me outside." My voice got really small. "I egged him on."

His understanding smile came out, the one that normally made me want to run, but I didn't. He pulled me inside and got a towel, which he used to dab at my cut lip. "Perhaps you should duck next time?"

Just like that, I was laughing again, smiling. He was so good to me, and after this evening, I wondered why. Before I could stop the words, they came out of my mouth. "Am I a bad person?"

I think I surprised him almost more than I surprised myself. All the macho bullshit that I normally would have spouted left me. I wanted to run, but couldn't make myself do it. I felt so fucking vulnerable and weak before Taylor, but I couldn't make myself leave before I heard his answer.

***** Taylor *****

Oh God. How many times had I heard those words from my kids? I don't think I could count them all. The horror that rose in me was a lot worse than I was used to. Was it because this was a man, a real, fully grown, masculine, powerful man who was asking the question? No. It was because it was a small, scared, confused, kid.

How old was that voice? Twelve? Fourteen? It wasn't the voice of a child. I don't know if I could have handled that. It was still too young, too fucking young for the pain in it. God, how old was Andrew? Twenty-eight? That would mean that voice, that hurt, confused, desperate voice, had been crying for over half his life.

All I wanted to do was hug him and cry. Cry for the hurt that had been missed. Cry for the man who never had a chance to grow up. Cry because some bastard got away with it and probably hurt more kids who suffered in silence. There were too many of them, and too few of me. I didn't hug him. I didn't pull his face to my shoulder and try to rock the fears away. We weren't there yet. I let my fingers slip along his jaw, feeling it tremble at my touch, and I brushed my thumb under that swollen, fat lip of his.

"No, Andrew." I held his eyes, trying not to let mine mist too much. Why couldn't I keep the distance? That was a stupid question. It was because he was here, as a friend, not a client, and you can't do that to a friend. "You're just in a lot of pain, and maybe it's time you let a little of it go."

I didn't want him to run. I didn't want him to get out that door in a panic. Kids were hard enough to keep calm. How the hell do you keep the kid and the man feeling safe? The things I would do for a twelve or fourteen year old would be too invasive for a man who'd spent so many years trying to protect himself from showing weakness. I tried to smile, to let him know it was okay not to go any further than he was ready to.

"I don't know about you, but I need something nutritionally awful to fortify me for all the hard work ahead of me." I dropped my hand, giving his bicep a reassuring squeeze. His eyes still had that cagey, worried look. I let down my guards, just for a moment, and hoped seeing someone who cared would help. "You haven't let me down in the gym, Andrew. I won't let you down out here."

I let him chew on my words while I stepped around the counter and pulled open the fridge. I grabbed two Ben & Jerry's pints. I hadn't been sure what he'd have wanted, but I gambled on anything with lots of -stuff-. "What's you're poison? New York Super Chunk or Cherries Garcia?"

***** Andrew *****

Nuts do not belong in ice cream. I really appreciated Taylor sharing with me, but the cherries won, hands down. As I was spooning another luscious, creamy bite into my mouth, Taylor sat down beside me with a bag of potato chips, munching noisily on them. I was hoping to avoid the whole `am I bad person' scene. No such luck.

"Why do you think you're a bad person?"

If it hadn't been said with such sincere wonder, I probably would have dumped my ice cream on top of his head. "Well... I said some things to Don I shouldn't have. He pissed me off."

He kind of raised his eyebrows in a `duh' motion. "Ex-lovers can do that to each other, believe me."

I rolled my eyes at Taylor. "I'd hardly call us lovers. We only hooked up like three times. Except for sex, we didn't do anything else."

I thought maybe I'd shocked Taylor, his eyes sort of glazed over a bit. "If it was just sex, why'd you let it bug you so much?"

Now I actually squirmed. No one had been able to make me do that since my first grade teacher. Normally, I'd have told him to `fuck off' then run out the door. He was honestly curious about it though. He wanted to talk to me, just me. "The last time we were together, he shut his eyes while I fucked him. When it was over, he kissed me then said, `I need you, Sebastian.' It threw me."

His hand rubbed my bicep. He did that a lot. Rather than testing me or my strength, it was a calming gesture. "I bet that hurt."

I tried to shrug it off. "Nah. Not really. If he wanted to use me as a sex toy..." I couldn't do it. Bravado, the thing I'd lived by for years, fled me. "God damn! It hurt a lot. But what hurt the most, is the look Don had in his eyes for Sebastian." I barely heard the words leave my mouth. "No one's looked at me like that."

I looked away, absolutely mortified when I saw the compassionate look in Taylor's eyes. Fuck! Like I wanted him to see me like that. Shit. What was I doing here? I was getting ready to leave when Taylor flipped on the television. The way he just stared at the screen, flipping through the channels made me pause. What was this? It was as if what I said didn't matter. Oh, he took me seriously, but it was like he didn't care that I wussed out on him. After a couple of moments, when Taylor had found some WWE, I sat back and ate the rest of my ice cream.

For the next few hours, all we did was laugh at the over-the-top maneuvers, commented on the physique of one athlete or the other, and shared the quiet time during commercials. This was like nothing I'd ever done before, but I quickly realized I was starved for it. There was companionship and warmth. When we were both yawning, the ice cream and potato chips gone, and wrestling over, he walked me to the door and said good night. I went home that night with a smile on my face. I woke up screaming at four. There was someone standing over me, tall, hairy, and fucking huge. He had jammed his fingers up my chute and his cock down my throat. All I remember was tearing pain, utter terror, and begging for it to stop.

***** Taylor *****

The kid talked to me, ignoring Andrew's masculine need to appear strong and invulnerable. Sure, Andrew would take the reigns back every so often, but the struggle was going full force: desperate, needy kid versus the scared, hurting adult. Then the kid went one step too far.

"No one's looked at me like that."

Andrew yanked back the reigns and looked like he was about to leave. I tried to figure out what to do. Consoling him wouldn't do any good. Telling him something flippant or trite would have diminished the significance of his admission. He needed to hold onto his pride. He'd seen I cared; best way to get past an uncomfortable situation was to ignore it.

I flipped on the TV and tried to find something both entertaining and brainless. We just needed something to occupy time and maybe make us laugh. WWF, that was always something I could enjoy and laugh at. Ok, watching men in various stages of undress getting hot, sweaty, and pumping testosterone like an oilrig was also just plain fun. It was something that could appeal to both the men and the boys in us. It was great to hear Andrew laugh.

At least I sent Andrew home with a smile on his face. I looked at the clock as I crawled into bed and groaned. "Eleven-thirty." It was going to be murder getting up for my swim.

Larry eyed me as I got out of the coach's shower and started dressing. "You look tired, Taylor."

I nodded absently. My dreams had been a bit too vivid to let me have a restful sleep. Something about big, muscular wrestlers and being strung up on the ropes and fucked `til I blew, multiple times. I'd woken up to very slimy sheets. Again, not wet dreams but very close. What they were was exhausting.

"Had a friend over last night and didn't get to sleep till far too late."

Larry wiggled his eyebrows. "And what's her name?"

I shook my head. "Not that kind of friend, Larry, and -his- name is Andrew."

Larry sighed. "Man, you haven't had a woman in what, over a year?"

Shrugging, I tucked in my shirt and zipped up my slacks. "Yeah, I'm a bit blue balled at the moment but my hand's pretty good. It just never seems to work out."

"I liked Trish."

I smiled. "Yeah, but she wasn't ready for anything more than being friends with benefits, Larry. The sex was great, but I'm not a kid any more. I want what you have. I want someone to come home to."

Larry's smile was whimsical. "Yeah, I can't imagine what it'd be like without her."

I loved Larry and Becca. They were two very solid friends. Their kids were adorable too. I wasn't sure I wanted kids, but I loved being an "Uncle".

"Yeah, well, I'm keeping my options open and hoping for the best."

"Oh, Becca wanted to know if you wanted to go with her to check out the race route this weekend. She hates running unfamiliar routes alone, and someone has to keep an eye on the hellions."

I draped my jacket over my arm and grinned. "Two and four... what a lethal combination."

Larry shuddered. "I love the brats, but sometimes they have too much of my attitude and Becca's energy."

"I'll be happy to run with her. Saturday? 7am?"

"If anything changes, I'll let you know."

I nodded and left to find some coffee before facing another day of issues. I wished it were Friday. The workouts with Andrew always helped. If I'd been a bit more self aware, I'd have realized I really wanted to know how Andrew was doing. The situation with him was eating away at the back of my brain. Something was about to give, and I had to be there to help him through. Damn "Mother Theresa" and my inability to turn away a hurting child.

***** Andrew *****

By Friday, I was so damn tired I was almost falling down. I had totally given up on sleep. The images from my dreams were getting sharper and clearer, and I couldn't face them. Whatever it was scared the hell out of me.

When I saw Taylor, I actually breathed easier, for the first time since the last time I'd seen him. What was it about him that could calm me? I had no clue, I was just grateful that it happened. When his workout was over with, I didn't want him to go. I practically begged him to let me go jogging with him. He stayed until I could close, then we set off, jogging through the night, towards his place. I liked the pace that he set. I could run all night at that pace. Before long, my mind blanked and I could move without thinking. Which is probably why I was so surprised when we got to his condo.

Once inside, I availed myself of as much water as I could drink, then plopped on his couch. God! I knew he must be tired and he had mentioned that he had somewhere to be the next day early. But I couldn't get up and leave either. I tried several times, but the slightest thing kept me on his sofa. After Taylor had hidden his third yawn, I knew that no matter how comfortable I felt, I had to leave. I trudged my way towards the door, but couldn't bring myself to open it.

"Thanks Taylor. It helped to forget for a bit." I cursed inwardly. Why had I told him that?

"Andrew?" His voice was so damn kind.

"Forget it. I'll leave you be. I'll see you on Monday." But no matter how true the words were, I still couldn't open the door. Before I knew it, I felt Taylor behind me. He slid his arms around me, hugging me gently.

"It's ok, Andrew. You don't have to go if you don't want to."

For a second, I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. After a couple of minutes, the warmth, that caring feeling seeped into me and I clung to him.

Before I could stop myself, I was blabbing all about how I couldn't sleep and that the nightmares were keeping me awake. He had me sitting on the couch, where I talked. Not really what I saw, but why it scared me. Before I knew it, my eyes were drifting closed. I was so embarrassed, but I think I conked right out.

The nightmare started all over again, with the big, hairy, older man standing above me, naked, with his drooling, uncut, fat, ugly cock dripping as he slapped it against my face.

***** Taylor *****

He was leaving again. Not that I didn't need to get some sleep, but I could see the damn kid behind his eyes. He was pleading with me, silently, not to make him go away. Adult Andrew needed his space, his independence, his pride. Little Andrew, the one that kept looking at me, needed help. I'd never turned a kid away, and I never would.

The hug was probably a mistake, but I couldn't think of any other way to reassure the big idiot that I wasn't turning him out. I don't think, other than possibly from his family, Andrew had ever had a real hug. For a moment I thought he'd jerk away, but then I felt all the resistance and most of his body melt. I've had kids melt against me when they needed the physical relief, but having a man that size melt, feeling all that power and strength give way and hug me back felt incredible. It wasn't sexual, not in the least, but it was comfortable as hell. I could imagine going to sleep that way.

Andrew didn't go into the specifics of his dreams. I don't think he could face them. Did he know he'd been raped? Could he remember it? The more he talked, going around the central issue like someone lost in a maze, the clearer it became. How ever long ago it had been, he'd repressed the experience. He'd tucked it away and had lived his life trying to keep it hidden while probably being controlled by it. Was that why he was such a sexual predator? Was that why he seemed drawn to big, strong men as sex partners? Probably. Now it was coming back. Something had unhinged the secret and it was coming out.

He was mumbling, not wanting to give in to the exhaustion, his head drooped toward me as he tried to keep talking. "I'm so fucking tired..."

His voice was slurring a little, and it was just above a whisper. I slid my hand up, letting my fingers make small circles at the base of his skull. That was always a magic button to sleepy, exhausted people. Andrew just sort of leaned in, and he sank down against me, mumbling a few incoherent words before he shuddered and gave into sleep.

It was maybe an hour later, I'd finally been able to shift into a comfortable position and was snoozing, when I realized something was wrong. Andrew's breathing had changed and he was restless. Snapping awake, I shifted, trying to get a better view, and Andrew's arms wrapped around me. His movements were getting more agitated and he was whimpering. I couldn't make out the words, but his voice was so small and soft that it tore at me. I think most of the words were "no, please, stop".

I rubbed his back, whispering to him softly, trying to still his fears, trying to let him know he wasn't alone.

"I'm here Andrew. He can't hurt you. I'm right here."

He gripped me tighter. Ok, his grip got almost painful, but his breathing slowed a bit. With a quake, his woke, disoriented and sweating. I'm not sure what he was thinking at that moment, but the boy was there, the hurt, scared, unheard child was staring me in the face. I would never be able to turn that boy away, ever. I brought my hands to his face, holding his dream filled eyes, and promised.

"You're safe. I'm here. I won't let him get you."

I don't think Andrew was really awake, but it didn't matter. The lost, frightened kid had heard me. I could see the question in his tear filled eyes: You promise? When I nodded, and he sank back in against me, his arms wrapping around my back and his cheek pressed against my chest. The trust and need in that simple act melted me. I was crying silently as he fell back into sleep, a sleep I hoped would give him a little rest and comfort. How long had he been waiting, alone and scared, for someone to hold him and tell him it was ok? Ten or fifteen years?

I don't think I would have survived that long. I think I would have given up, given into drugs or other self destructive habits. I probably would have died. I fell asleep with a twenty-eight year old child in my arms. A child nearly twice my size and who needed me. I fell asleep not knowing how I'd be able to protect myself from that need. Andrew the man no longer scared me, but Andrew the hurting child scared me in ways I wasn't ready to think about.

My watch was beeping that annoying, incessant, maddening tune that could not be ignored. As I woke, I realized my back was not going to be ignored any longer either. Having a man who weighed over two hundred pounds, pressing you into the arm and pillows of the couch and refusing to let go might have been an erotic way to wake up. That was, if he wasn't just a friend whom you'd held through nightmares that night, and if your back wasn't lodging protests and threatening to go on strike. The combination of pressure, warmth, the rhythm of his breathing, and the uncomfortable tightness in my bladder had me far harder and twitching than I was happy with.

Andrew was coming awake from the alarm. Thank God. He'd pinned my other arm and I'd been unable to shut the damn thing off.

"Morning," I breathed in relief as he sat up. The poor guy looked so confused. It'd have been adorable if there wasn't the nervous energy of a caged animal in his movements. "How'd you sleep?"

Andrew looked at me for a moment like I had two heads. His eyes met mine for a moment and I swear something hitched in me. I'm not sure if it was the intensity, or what, but that brief look had me both wanting to run and wanting to pull him back into a hug and tell him everything would be alright. They were both looking at me at that moment. I think they were thinking the same thing, which was what made his eyes so dark, but I wasn't sure what the thoughts were.

He looked away, down at his hands, and mumbled. "I'm sorry, Taylor."

All I wanted to do was muss up his hair and tell him it was cool. As I stood up, trying to stretch the kink out of my back, I decided there wasn't really a reason I couldn't. I slid my fingers in his hair and mussed it up something horrible. He had the worst case of bed-head known to man when he looked up at me, confused.

"It's cool, Andrew."

I swear the grin was that of a kid who was so happy he was going to burst. I grinned in return.

"I've got to get my ass over to the lake to meet Becca. I can drop you off at the gym on the way, or you can ride over with me and after the run we can get some breakfast. Right now I've got to piss." I left him thinking about it while I answered a different desperate need.