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The Conquered - Chapter 8: Hard won ground!

***** Taylor *****

God I ached. I ached from head to toe and every inch in between. There was a scratchy, tight itch that twinged as I stretched. That itch was low, between my cheeks, and it brought me back awake instantly. "Andrew." He wasn't in the bed. You'd think after a guy had torn me open that I'd want nothing to do with him. You'd be wrong. No, I didn't want a repeat of last night, but up `til the last bit, it'd been everything I'd ever wanted.

I moved like an eighty-year-old man as I pulled on a large Tee and made my way to the living room. I wasn't sure what I'd find. To my relief, I found Andrew sitting on the couch. A half dozen of my mother's scrap books were on the coffee table, and he was looking at the one he'd seen the night he'd gotten drunk. He didn't look like he'd slept at all. I was just glad he hadn't left.

"Did you get any sleep?"

He looked up. No, he definitely hadn't. His bloodshot eyes met my gaze and I could see he'd cried himself out. All I wanted to do was comfort him. I was at war with myself over that. Part of me wanted to be there, holding him, and letting the hurting kid know that I still loved him. Part of me wanted him gone; he'd hurt me and I didn't want to face that. The last part wanted him to hold me, ravaging me again like he had last night. It took me a moment to go back through it all. My eyes went wide as they held his pained gaze. I loved the damn gorilla.

"I'm sorry."

"I know." I tried to sit down, but the moment my ass hit the cushions, the itch became a burning sensation that caused me to flinch.

Andrew looked about to throw up. "Are you bleeding? Do you need ice?"

I nodded to both questions. I didn't want him to know how bad it hurt. Of course, that was what got me into this condition in the first place.

He came back from the kitchen with some ice in a bag, hand towels, a cup of water and Advil. I gave him a grateful smile as he tried to figure out how to give me the stuff without touching me.

I positioned the ice pack and took the Advil. Two tablets would have me loopy in no time. I could get sleepy on aspirin. "Thanks for staying."

He blinked back the tears. "I... God, Taylor. Why didn't you let me take you to the ER? Why didn't you let me call the Police? I... I raped you."

I glared at him. "No one raped anyone, Andrew." He wouldn't meet my eyes. "Look at me." He didn't. "LOOK AT ME!" His eyes snapped to mine. I held them. "Did I tell you no?"

He swallowed, his eyes never leaving mine, and he shook his head.

"Didn't I ask you to fuck me?" I closed my eyes, remembering how I'd felt before it'd all gone badly. "Didn't I beg for it?" My voice was a little breathy. I could remember it... how badly I'd wanted it.

He nodded as I opened my eyes again.

"I didn't tell you it hurt, Andrew. I didn't tell you that it was too much."

He looked away. "I should have known." He closed his eyes and swallowed. "It was your first time... you're fucking first time..." He struggled to keep the bile down. He did, and he looked back at me. "I never wanted to hurt you."

I wanted to comfort him, but I ached too much and was too tired. I met his eyes. He was in so much pain. I think he was in more pain than I was, and I was the one who'd been torn up. I needed to do something that would ease it, at least a little, for both of us.

"I'm too tired to deal with this right now, Andrew." I swallowed and tried to figure out how to say what I wanted to say. "Could you do something for me?"

He nodded.

"Tell me you meant what you said last night."

Andrew just looked at me blankly. "What?"

God, please don't let it have just been a line. "Tell me I'm still more than just a fuck, Andrew. Please."

He sank down, looking at me with those scared, guilty eyes. He wasn't going to say it. We both just stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Finally, he found his voice. "You were never just a fuck to me."

I leaned forward, my eyes closing as I tried to get some tactile confirmation that he meant it. He met me half way. His lips were salty, warm and desperate as his hands came up and he held my face to his. He trembled, and I shifted to try to get into a better position. The dam bag of ice shifted. I winced.

He pulled back immediately, looking torn between wanting to help and wanting to run. "Can I do anything?"

I nodded. "I don't think I could go through this alone."

He swallowed. "You want me to stay?"

Nodding again, I ignored my screaming ass as I slid forward, wrapped my arms around his neck and tried to pull myself into his lap. I wasn't ready for sex, hell I probably wouldn't be for a while, but I needed the comfort I felt when he held me. Last night, on the couch, when he'd just held me and kissed me, had been one of the safest, most fulfilling moments of my life. "Just hold me. I'm so fucking tired, and I know I'm safe."

"Taylor..." his arms held me so gently, like he feared I'd break.

"Just hold me, Andrew. We'll talk later... but between the ache and the pills, I'm not going to be up for conversation for a while."

He pulled me with him on to the couch and lay back. I could tell he wasn't used to comforting anyone. He couldn't seem to decide where it was safe to put his hands or what he should do. In a way it was amusing. I actually chuckled as I felt the pills begin to take effect. "You've already had your hands everywhere, Andrew. Just find a comfortable spot."

One hand ended up at the base of my neck, the other at my low back. I felt his lips brush my hair as I started to drift away. He whispered into my hair just as I nodded off. "I won't ever hurt you again."

I think I mumbled, "I know."

***** Andrew *****

As I lay back against his couch, holding Taylor in my arms, a moment of peace washed over me. I'd cried myself out last night, sitting up, staring at old pictures of him, and trying not to lose my mind. I'd barfed so many times, my belly and throat ached, but at that moment, it was okay. I cursed myself. It wasn't okay. It would never be okay. What I'd done... just the memory of all that blood and seeing Taylor curled up on himself, withdrawn from me and the world made me want to hit something, preferably me. If I could have kicked my own ass, I would have.

I spent a long time feeling his warm weight pressed into me, and the cold chill that had taken over my body started to retreat. His hair was fragrant from the shampoo and all I could do was sniff it, run my nose through it. Before I realized it, I kissed his hair, brushing my lips across his brow. My hands never moved. I let the warmth of his body fill them.

Someway, somehow, I drifted to sleep. After a few hours, I woke, cramped from staying still for so long. Taylor stayed conked out on top of me. I wanted to shift, to bring him closer. I didn't move for fear that if I jostled him, he'd wince again, and the sight of him in pain made my stomach roil. I didn't understand, would probably never understand, why he grabbed the phone out of my hands when I tried to call the police. After a few more minutes, Taylor started to rouse and I found myself kissing his brow again, running my hand away from his neck, down his back as if I were trying to quiet him.

Taylor woke and stared sleepily in my eyes. Without even thinking, I lowered my lips to his and kissed him gently. Don was my first kiss, but it had nothing compared to the power of kissing Taylor. Not that I threw a bone over a simple lip lock, after last night, I doubted I'd ever get hard again. But that moment, when our lips touched, was like coming home. It was warm and filled with everything I had, but I got so much more out of it, because I realized he was giving me just as much, and the sharing brought tears to my eyes. When I pulled back, the words left my lips before I could stop them.

"I love you, Taylor." I doubt I'd ever said the words before, except to my mother and sister. I expected to feel panic, but there was none. When he didn't respond, I shut my eyes tight, trying to hide my disappointment. Of course he didn't feel the same, after last night, I'm surprised he hadn't taken a knife to me. In my heart, I knew I'd never have stopped him either. I didn't deserve him. Plain and simple, he was better than me and we both knew it.

***** Taylor *****

I just stared at him, stunned. Had he said that? I knew Andrew. I knew him probably better than I knew myself. Those words were something that even after last night I hadn't expected to hear. I'd seen it. I'd seen it last night or we'd never have made it to the bed. I couldn't have let myself go if I hadn't.

He closed his eyes and I could feel him retreating. Open your fucking mouth, Taylor.

"I love you too..." Fuck, there went all my strength and masculinity. Not because I was telling a man I loved him, but because I fucking squeaked. He was the one with the major issues, the pain, and the rape. He'd said the words with such strength, such conviction. All I'd managed was a damn squeak.

His eyes opened and he looked at me. I could see the confusion, the hope, and the conflict in there. I found my voice before he could question it. "I love you, Andrew. I'm so stupid in love with you that I wanted you regardless of how bad it hurt."

He flinched, but at least he didn't let me go. "How can you, after last night?"

I shrugged. I realized I'd loved him long before last night. I had to have, or last night would have never happened. "Life isn't perfect, and it isn't fair. I tell my kids that the trick is to make sure the joys outnumber the pains. You've brought me a lot more joy than pain, Andrew."

He pulled me up, kissing me hard before pressing his forehead to mine and clenching his eyes shut. "I don't deserve you."

I kissed his forehead, his eyelids, and his cheeks. "Yes you do, Andrew. You deserve to be happy." He looked at me doubtfully, and I grinned. "It isn't like I'm getting the short end of the deal, you know. I've got every gay man's fantasy telling me he loves me."

"I'm not..."

I shushed him, putting my fingers to his lips. "Yes you are, Andrew. You're mine at least."

He sighed, pulling me to him as he stared at the ceiling. "How the fuck did it happen?"

I smiled, knowing exactly how it happened. "You let me in. You let me in and I got to see the man behind the walls and the anger." I stroked his arm, closing my eyes. "I fell in love with that man, Andrew. It's just that simple."

He didn't say anything, but he shifted a little and sank back into the couch. He had made no move to get me off him. I let his warmth and his scent soothe me. Andrew loved me. He'd said it. I'd never asked for it and I'd never expected it. All the ache, itch and soreness didn't mean a thing. I'd have gone through anything to feel what I felt at that moment. Someone finally loved me; I would deal with the rest of the shit later.

***** Andrew *****

The words he'd said to me, the honest outpouring of his feelings had me tearing up. It was all too much. Yesterday, last night, and this morning had been nothing but an emotional journey. When the first tear fell, Taylor propped his hands on my chest and rested his cheek against them, staring at me, running his fingers lightly through my chest hair. His eyes were so wide, concerned, and filled with more love than I deserved. The words started pouring out.

"When I saw all that blood..." I had to swallow hard, to keep my stomach from heaving, lost to memories. "I'd seen it before. I... I... I knew what had happened."

Taylor nodded at me, as if he knew what I was saying before I said it. "What happened, Andrew?"

"I sprouted up so early. The coach was trying to help me bulk up, not be so clumsy. I started staying after school. All was good for a few months. My body started toning and filling out. I felt so special. I was special." My eyes couldn't face his. "It changed in November."

Taylor didn't speak. I shut my eyes. "Coach came up to me after I'd showered and grabbed me by the hair." Waves of humiliation ran through me, but I didn't stop talking. "He pulled my face against his crotch. He rubbed my face against his dick." I swallowed hard. "I may be large, but this man was huge. He took that thick, ugly monster and shoved it in my mouth until he could force it down my throat."

I told Taylor everything, how I'd choked on his cock, how tired I was, and how scared. When I told him how he flipped me onto the bench, pried my ass apart, and then impaled me on his cock, I almost puked again. That's what I'd remembered when I saw the blood... the tearing agony of being split in two.

I was near hysterical with tears. I kept choking and sobbing on my words. "I'm so sorry. I'm so fucking sorry!"

Taylor's voice was so calm. "How old were you?"

I sniffed hard, trying so hard to calm myself. "Thirteen."

I looked in his eyes, rage and anger in them, but not at me, never at me. I knew that rage, the impotent fury of being helpless. "Did it only happen that once?"

I nodded. I never went back, not ever. I refused to be alone with that bastard ever again.

"Did you tell anyone, Andrew?"

I looked away, but he pulled my face back to see his eyes. "No. I couldn't. No one would believe me; at least, that's what he told me."

His mouth formed the words, but no sound came out. I never expected to see someone look at me with such pain and concern. When Taylor could finally speak, his voice was low, barely controlled. "Andrew, you were raped. If he was as big as you say, there would have been lots of evidence."

"I know that now. But I was scared."

His face was so full of emotion. I could tell he was fighting his own tears. "You know it wasn't your fault, don't you?"

I nodded at him. He lowered his lips to mine and kissed me gently, making me melt. I didn't feel dirty or wrong, just loved.

Later, we got up and I made some food for us. Neither of us ate much, but it felt good to be doing something positive. I no longer felt the need to leave. I wanted to stay, to help Taylor. Later that afternoon, after lying together, cuddled on the couch while watching TV, I knew that I never really wanted to leave at all. I felt like I was home.

"Andrew? Could you run to the store for me?"

I didn't even think, I just grabbed my keys and got up. "What do you need? More potato chips?" I tried to tease, but the look in his eyes was much too serious.

"I need you to get me a stool softener. I think I'm going to need it."

I again had to swallow hard to keep from getting sick. "Anything else?"

He frowned. "Maybe some broths or non-chunky soup."

While I stood in the pharmacy aisle at the store, trying to decide what to buy, I knew that this was serious. What had happened was so bad, but I wasn't going to run. I couldn't.

I stayed with Taylor that night, holding him against me, cuddled to him. The next day, he called in sick and I left for work around noon. When I left, he thanked me for staying with him. Guilt slammed my gut hard, but I tamped it down, kissing him lightly before I left. I got through work somehow, not really focusing. All I could think about was Taylor. When I showed up at his place after work, I think I shocked him.

I looked in his eyes and spoke from my heart. "You didn't think I would show up did you? I'm here as long as you need me, no matter what."

He gave me a tired but grateful smile, and then we went to bed, to cuddle some more.

***** Taylor *****

I hobbled my way in to work Tuesday morning. My ass was still sore, but the cream I'd had Andrew get Monday night was helping. I was thankful that no emergencies had happened over the weekend; well, none but my own. I was catching up on my paperwork when there was a knock at my door.

I looked up to see an amused Becca grinning at me, holding a picnic basket. Glancing at my watch, I realized lunch was only a couple minutes away. I smiled, happy to see a friendly face.

"Hey, beautiful, what are you doing here? Lunch with Larry?"

She shook her head, laughing as she stepped into my office. "Nope, already gave him his food and told him to get lost. I'm having lunch with the hottest assed man in school."

I winced, knowing she had no idea how "hot" my ass felt at that moment, and smiled. "I bet he wasn't all that thrilled at the fact he didn't measure up."

She grinned. "Oh, he measures up, but I didn't marry him for his ass."

"Touché," the bell rang as I replied, and I got up slowly. "So, I take it we're going somewhere to be social in private?"

"That was the idea, Mr. Fifth Place."

I grinned, feeling a little chagrined about not staying for her finishing time. "How'd you do, Mrs. Mermaid?"

"Fifteenth." We walked out of the counseling offices and toward the playing fields. There were some benches with some shade at the far side of the baseball field. We generally ate there when Becca wanted some private time.

I settled onto the bench, wishing to God that it was padded, while Becca pulled out some sandwiches, potato salad and ice tea. "God, Taylor, you're moving like an old man."

I grunted, having to agree with that assessment. I felt like an old man. "Overdid it this weekend."

Becca started laughing and I shot her an "eat shit and die" look. She, of course, ignored it.

"I don't think I'll need to guess what kind of overdoing you did." She grinned at me, and I shifted uncomfortably from more than the soreness of my ass.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I grabbed a sandwich as she finished peeling off the plastic wrap.

"Don't give me that, Mr. Madison. You and I both know you and that big, hot trainer of yours went to celebrate after the race."

I blanched. I'm sure I looked like a deer in the headlights. "I'm not gay, Becca."

She shrugged, taking a sandwich of her own. "And this changes the facts how?"

"You know, if I were most other guys, I'd be offended and pissed at that assumption, Becca." I bit down on my sandwich, hoping my stomach would stop doing flip-flops.

"Yeah, well, I think I know you well enough to know you aren't either." She chewed down another bite and then took a sip of her tea. "Are you going to sit there, shifting on that tight ass of yours, and deny it all lunch, or are you going to come clean and admit that you and Andrew are a bit more than trainer-client?"

I frowned. "Where do you come up with this shit, Becca?"

She shrugged again, taking another bite. That was one thing I loved about Becca. She was a beautiful woman who knew how to use her feminine wiles, but she could also hold her own with the boys at the bar. "I guess it's the puppy dog expression Andrew has any time he looks at you, and the way you smile when I mention his name, even if you try to cover it up with that fake scowl of yours."

I couldn't help it, I grinned. Andrew had held me as I slept for the past four nights. I couldn't get his fucking scent out of my head or the incredible sense of belonging I felt while being held. I looked at Becca and she just raised an eyebrow at me. "Ok, alright, you win."

Her grin broke into a full power smile. "I knew it!"

She dropped her sandwich on the plate and gave me an enthusiastic hug. The added weight of her body didn't go well with the inflexibility of the bench. My ass complained and I flinched. She pulled back, her eyes clouded with worry. "You okay?"

I nodded, shifting to get a little more comfortable. "Let's just say I'm not a virgin anymore. Now I know what my girlfriends felt like."

She laughed, taking up her sandwich for another bite. "Oh boy, you must have it bad."

I blinked at her. "What the hell does that mean?"

She grinned. "Any guy you'd bottom for has to be special. You're one of the most subtly macho men I know. I can't see you on the receiving end, size difference or not, without it being a forever thing." She shrugged, taking another bite. "Hell, according to Shelly and Teresa, you wouldn't even give them a ride until the fifth date."

She was right. As much of a sex pig as I was once my motor was running, I wasn't a cock hound or pussy hunter. Every person I'd ever slept with had been someone I'd hoped would become something more. Until Andrew, it hadn't happened. I just shrugged.

"So, when do I get a real introduction?"

I sighed, remembering the waiter Saturday night. "Becca... I'm not ready to be 'out' yet, okay?"

She nodded, finishing her sandwich and picking up the container of potato salad. "I figured as much."

I washed down another bite of sandwich with my ice tea. "Does Larry know?"

She shook her head. "What do you think I am, stupid? I wouldn't mention something like this to Larry without knowing for sure." I think she saw the worry in my eyes because she set down the salad, reached over and squeezed my hand. "Hey, I'm not going to tell anyone, okay? I had a cousin who was 'outed' by a friend. It was really difficult for him for a while. The way I see it, it's your life and you'll decide who and when."

"Thanks, Becca."

She shoved the potato salad my direction and reached back into the basket, bringing out a plate of brownies. "Ok, enough serious talk. We're in post race recovery. I need my chocolate."

I laughed, knowing full well there was a huge bag of potato chips waiting for me at home. I also realized there would be a strong, loving man there to hold me and help me sleep. I wondered if I should call Andrew at work and offer to go over to his place tonight. My bed really was too small for him.

***** Andrew *****

Each day while looking in the mirror, the haunted look faded. The very thought that I had injured Taylor made my stomach twist into knots, but I finally believed that it wasn't intentional. Tuesday after work, I showed up at Taylor's, with three bags of potato chips and two cartons of Ben & Jerry's. I couldn't help laughing when I found Taylor lying on the couch, bag of chips already in hand. Without even thinking, I reached down and picked him up into my arms, turned facing the television, and then slid onto the couch on my back, so he rested against my belly. In only a few short days, this had become our favorite lazing around the house position.

While we laughed through some inane sitcom, I nuzzled his hair with my nose, taking in his scent. When the show broke for a commercial, I turned his face to mine and kissed him lightly. "How was your first day back?"

He squirmed a bit, burrowing into my chest a bit more. "It was okay. It hurt to sit on hard surfaces, but it was okay."

I wanted to see him smile, so I tried to make light of it. "How many hard surfaces did you have to jump off of?"

"Becca and I had lunch out in the field bleachers. There is no padding."


He chuckled. "Don't. It was very... eye opening."

"What do you mean?"

He curled so we were belly to belly, propping his chin on his hands. "Let's just say that Becca is happy for us, but wants to know when the housewarming is."

I snickered hard. "Well... when do you want it to be?"

"I'm not sure. This is pretty new. I love you, but I want to take it slow for a bit."

Rather than be hurt by his words, I decided to play it smart and ask for clarification. "So... is it me that makes you want to slow down?"

"Christ no! I'm just not sure who I'll tell and who can go fuck off." I let out the breath I didn't even know I was holding. "Does that bother you Andrew?"

"No. I've always figured it was their problem if they had a problem with it." I kissed his forehead. "I've never given a shit over what anyone thought about me. At least not until I met you."

Watching Taylor's eyes melt as the words registered was probably one of the most erotic things I could have ever seen. It thrilled me to know that he felt the same things I did. It wasn't one sided, and the revelation made me want to shout for joy. Whoever it was that moved, we were kissing each other deeply, slowly, tenderly. Before Taylor, I had known what a kiss was, but it wasn't until I actually got to kiss him that I knew what it was really meant to be. The slow, gentle movements of our lips and tongues went on for long minutes, when we finally pulled away I was achy, but not urgent.

When Taylor couldn't stifle a yawn, I picked him up and carried him to his bedroom. I stood him before me and slowly removed his favorite, worn tee and sweats. As the tee left him, I couldn't help but run my hands along the soft, sleek skin and caressing the firm muscles. When his sweats were pooled at his feet, I dropped to my knees so I could free the elastic bands from around his ankles. My lips found the inner recesses of his knee, licking and slowly kissing him until his legs trembled and his voice got throaty. "Andrew."

I pushed him back onto the bed. Never before had I thought the sight of a man in his underwear to be attractive. But seeing Taylor in nothing but tented, tighty whities made me drool. I pulled them off him and stared at the beauty of him. With a slight, almost non-existent flick of my tongue, I tasted how excited he was. Despite his feeble protests, I continued moving over him, taking him in my mouth, flicking him with my tongue. I kept moving on him as his hands fisted in my hair, taking him closer and closer to the edge until he teetered over it, crying out loudly. When his spasms stopped and his moans faded, he melted on my tongue and I rose above him, to share his flavor.

After a long, lingering kiss, I lay beside him, wrapping an arm around him, trying to fight my own need, but it was no good. I needed him to touch me. "Please touch me, Taylor."

He looked at me, drowsy and sated, mussed from how he'd rolled his head back and forth. "Okay."

He rose above me gingerly, taking a nipple in his teeth as he pulled at my boxer briefs. When I was free, his hand took hold of me, squeezing once. I cried out. Between the fire that had become of my nipple and the feel of his hand on me, I knew it wouldn't take but a few strokes and I'd explode. Saturday night I hadn't been able to complete what I'd started, and until tonight, wasn't sure I'd be ready to make love again. With his hand on me, stroking me gently, it was as if the last few days melted away. My arm clamped around him, pulling his chest over mine. His nipples were hard and beaded and dug through my body hair, electrifying everything they touched. He rose up to kiss me as his hand began moving faster over me. Like when we lay on his couch, making out Saturday night, this was whole new territory for me. Sure, I'd had guys stroke me off before, but this... this was so much more.

The spiraling sensations grew tighter in my belly and my arms began to tingle. Before I knew it, my shaft grew so rigid it hurt before my body exploded into pure ecstasy. My loud, hoarse cries filled the room, bouncing off the walls. My whole body shook as I cupped his face, kissing him so deeply nothing could intrude. Except something did; there was a loud banging on the wall behind us. Before I knew it, we were both rolling, laughing hard. Wiping tears of mirth from my eyes, I kissed his forehead before saying, "Well somebody obviously isn't a fan."

Taylor's snort made me laugh even harder. "That bitch. When her man gets home from his naval tours, they keep me up all weekend long." He nipped at my chin. "Fucking hypocrite."

I pulled my underwear off my ankle and used it to wipe up Taylor's hand and my belly. I couldn't get it all; there was four or five day's worth of spunk in that load. I dropped the shorts to the floor and curled my body around Taylor's. His bed was too fucking small, but it did force us to cuddle close. That was the only thing I liked about it. When I had a bit longer to think about it, I knew I'd be asking Taylor to move into my house with me. With no doubts in my mind for once, I slipped off into sleep, wrapped around my man.

In the middle of the night, the same old memories came back, the coach pinning me to the bench and tearing me apart, but there was some one else there. I couldn't see him, but I could feel he was nearby. I was still being raped, but I wasn't stuck in the moment. I had become an observer in my own dream. Not that I woke per se, but I know I wrapped my arms tighter around Taylor and settled into sleep.

The next day at work, whistling and smiling, I saw Lee at the counter. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear he looked down. Realizing that my attitude had sucked recently, and that despite all that had happened, I knew I needed to make a stab at apologizing to Lee. We'd been... well... friends I guess. Once.

When I got to the counter, no one was nearby, so I leaned down and asked him what had got him so down.

"Tyron's off for a few days in Chicago."

"Are you okay?"

He looked up at me then, with a bewildered look on his face. "Yeah, I'm just a little blue whenever my man's away. Thanks."

I swallowed, never realizing how tough this would be. Now I knew what Don felt when he came up to me to apologize. "I know I've been a shit. I'm sorry."

Lee's grin was wide and infectious. "I knew I was right."

"Right about what?"

His smile grew wicked. "That there was a decent guy down inside you." He punched me on the arm. "So what brought this about?"

Just then, someone came in to check in for the day. I asked Lee if he wanted to go grab a bite during our lunch hour. Charlotte had hired Kim, so we didn't have to cover the place by ourselves. She was also a good trainer. Lee agreed.

After some grueling, monotonous workout plans with some very uninterested, cruising guys, I finally was able to break away for lunch. We ended up at an all you can eat salad bar place. It wasn't my usual fare, but with how bad my diet had been the last few days, I bit back my grumble.

Once seated, Lee looked at me. "So... How are things with you and Taylor?"

After I stopped choking on my soda, "What makes you think we're together?"

"He was frantic to find you when you disappeared."

My grin was silly and dopey, and I could care less. He'd searched for me, frantically. "Yeah, we're together. But he isn't 'out' yet. So... keep it quiet."

"Why do I think you aren't happy about that?"

"I'm okay with it. I understand. Honestly."

"Good." After a few bites of lunch, he continued, "So why were you gone for those two days? Charlotte was really pissed. I'm surprised she didn't fire you."

I snorted around a bite of lettuce. "She probably wanted to, but it would have taken too long to find two trainers to take my place."

His chuckle made me raise my head from my meal. "Still conceited, but it looks good on you. You are a hardworking trainer."

I rolled my eyes. "Asshole."

His laugh was a little sad. "I've missed this Andrew."

"Me too." It wasn't a platitude. I really had.

After a bit more to eat, I looked at Lee, who spent a lot of time checking his cell phone. So that's what I had to look forward to? I couldn't wait. "You miss him huh?"


"Look, Lee. I'm sorry I didn't understand. It took a long time, but I finally got it."

His smile was strong. "I knew you had it in you." He touched my arm. "So how are things with you and Taylor?" He waggled his eyebrows and I knew he wasn't talking about anything but sex. I shifted in my seat and cleared my throat.

"It was the best I've ever felt. Honestly, I never knew how good it could be."


"I hurt him. I hurt him so damn bad." My eyes flooded again and I sniffed deeply. "He's so small, and I'm so... well, you've seen me. He was bleeding."

Lee took my hand in his until I looked at him. "Did you mean to hurt him?"

"No. Fuck no!"

"Of course you didn't. Did you go slow? Lots of lube?"

"Yes to both."

"Did he tell you to stop?"

I shook my head. The emotions were still so raw.

"Then you couldn't have known."

Some of the weight left me. Not all of it, because I'd always be guilt ridden over what had happened, but Lee did make me feel better. His next question brought me out of my musings.

"So what happens between you now?"

"What do you mean?"

"Sex stupid."

"Well... I've gone down on him and he jerked me off last night. That was really good. Jesus."

"That's good. But what happens next? Are you gonna try to fuck him again?"

The very thought had my lunch rumble in my belly. "I don't know. Probably not."

"Why not?"

"I'm fucking huge! He'll never take me."

"Are you going to let him fuck you?"

That made me pause. I loved to be ridden. I loved being pounded. But... it was always a game of domination. Who could beat the big bad top? Now I wasn't so sure. At my confused look, Lee punched me in the arm again.

"Listen up you macho shithead. There is a very fine line between giving up your ass and bottoming. You're still you if you enjoy and get off on having a guy fuck you."

"I know. Lee, you were there with Don, he fucked me through the floor."

He shook his head. "That isn't what I mean and you know it. All three of us fucked like mad that night, it didn't matter who was inside whom. This is an honest, open-minded choice to receive. Can you do it?"

The thought made me pause. Normally, I wasn't into it, giving in. But I knew Taylor, trusted Taylor, and believed in him. He'd always protected me, always been there. My grin spread across my face, big and bright. Of course I could do it. "Thanks Lee."

"I'm glad I'm not your man, I have a feeling poor Taylor isn't getting out of bed this weekend except perhaps to piss or eat."

That sobered me up. "No, he's still too sore." Then the smile returned. "But once he's healed..."

***** Taylor *****

Andrew was grinning from ear to ear when I came in to the gym on Friday. It was my first day back on my routine. Yeah, my ass was still sore, but there'd been no blood in my movements since Wednesday. I was confident I was in the clear. I raised an eyebrow at him while he crossed the gym to greet me as I signed in. "You, Mr. Jackson, look like you're about to bust."

He slid an envelope to me. "Got some good news."

"Oh?" I asked, while flipping the blank envelope over and pulling out the papers within. Blood test reports? I looked up at him. "What's this?"

He leaned in so close that for a moment I thought he was going to kiss my neck. I'd have only minded a little. I still wasn't comfortable with public displays. Hell, a week ago we were "just friends". "My tests came back negative. No leftovers from my Russian Rolette days."

I blinked for a few moments, and then impact of it hit me. He'd told me he'd gone for the tests, but I hadn't realized the worry had been eating at me. He wasn't sick. I wasn't going to lose him to some stupid choice he'd made before we'd met. My eyes clouded and I pulled his face down and chewed on his lips until he gasped, surprised at my actions. At that moment, I didn't care who saw. He was safe, and I planned to keep him that way.

Andrew pulled back, a bit breathless. "What was that for?"

I shrugged, trying not to get too emotional. "For not being sick... I don't know. I guess the not knowing was getting to me."

Lee rolled his eyes at me. "You're coming out of that closet fast."

I laughed. I really liked Lee. "No choice. This gorilla doesn't fit in my closet."

There was a strained cough from the office door, and I turned to see Charlotte, her glasses down to the end of her nose, frowning at us. "This is a gym, not a bar, Andrew."

Something about her tone made me flinch. Not that Charlotte bothered me at all, but the edge to her voice held a lot more behind it than a single kiss should have inspired. I looked back at Andrew apologetically, but he just shrugged. "I didn't think kissing my boyfriend was against gym rules, Charlotte."

"Keep it behind closed doors." Turning away, Charlotte walked back into her office. "I run a fitness facility, not a dating service."

Lee chuckled and shook his head at Andrew. "You vanish one Friday and tell Charlotte you're dating a client the next. You're cruising for a bruising if you keep that up."

"What's the bitch going to do, fire me?" He draped his arm over my shoulder and glared at the closed office door defiantly.

Lee shrugged. "I wouldn't push it, Andrew, not right now. You know she's been itching to make changes for a while."

"Yeah, well, she can bite my hairy ass if I'm going to deny my man when he wants a kiss."

I patted his back, pulling out from under his arm. "Ok, let's go do the workout. I can get groped for free you know."

Andrew looked at me in mock shock. "What? You mean I'm not being paid for all the extra time I'm putting in?"

I walked past Andrew and replied, "Hell no. Anyone can see that I'm being paid for my out of gym attentions. They'd never believe an ape like you would snag a prize like me anyway."

I paid for that comment when Andrew got to my place. He'd held back a bit on the intensity of the workout, worried that I needed time to recover from the weekend. However, I knew I was in for it when I opened the front door. He stood there, sweaty, pumped and ready for red meat. Closing the door behind him, he pulled me to him and kissed me weak. My knees actually gave out.

"I couldn't win a guy like you, huh?" His bravado was pretty good, but it didn't carry to his eyes. Not to mention, the need in that kiss was too real to ignore.

"You've won me, Andrew." I nuzzled his neck, feeling the tension in him as my hand slid down his back. Shit. How long would it be before we could joke about the relationship? "You know that, right?"

He nodded into my hair, letting out a slow breath. "Sorry. I guess I wasn't up to being teased. I mean, the tests came out great, but I feel like I've been holding my breath forever."

I nodded, kissing him briefly before pulling away. "I guess I've got to look into vaccinations."

Andrew blinked. "What do you mean?"

I laughed. "What do you mean: what do I mean? Come on Andrew, you've got to know there are a lot more dangers to man-sex than just HIV."

He looked a bit pale, so I pulled out the envelope I'd felt tucked in his back pocket. "Come over here. Let me show you." I smoothed out the reports on the counter. "You're clean, but see these other tests they did?" I pointed out a few negatives. "Hepatitis. Just because you don't have it doesn't mean you can't get it later."

Andrew still looked puzzled, and I leaned over, nudging him with my shoulder. "Reaming, bud. You know, that thing you did that had me begging last week?"

He flushed. "Oh."

"Yeah, oh." I folded his reports back up. "It's pretty much a given I won't object to that again, Andrew. I'll also probably want to try it out myself. That means we either play it safe with barriers, or we get vaccinated." Grinning, I moved around the counter and slid the beef into the oven to broil. "We don't have the best track record with 'barriers'... I'd rather forgo if it's an option."

When I looked back at him, Andrew was blinking away tears. "I love you so fucking much."

Smiling, I came back around the counter. "I already knew that, you big ape."

He shook his head, pulling me into his arms and dropping his forehead to mine. "With what happened, I can't believe you can just talk about it all like this." His voice wavered a little. "I never want to hurt you."

God. You'd think he'd been the one torn up. "You wouldn't have last time if I hadn't been a macho shit-head and told you it hurt." I met his eyes. "It was as much my fault as yours, Andrew. We'll work through it." Grinning, I stepped back and smacked his arm. "Not to mention, you're supposed to be the macho shit-head in this relationship."

Andrew laughed. I loved his laugh. It resonated through me more each time I heard it. He needed to laugh more. "I'll take the job if you promise to love me in spite of it."

I looked away, turning my attention to the onions and mushrooms I was sautéing before he'd arrived, and mumbled, "I probably love you because of it."

After a few moments, his hands slid around my waist and he nuzzled my hair while I tried not to burn our food. Cooking with an irresistible man stuck to me like a second skin was slow going, but I wouldn't have given it up for anything. It was great to be loved.