This story is 100% fictional. The towns are real, but the people, locations, and business are made up. Any action or resemblance to any person living or dead is pure coincidence. Also please note that all work is the proprietary property of the author.

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*** Challenges Part 13***

*** Modern Day***

Justin pulled his case across the stone floor causing the wheels to pop on the grout lines.

"Hello Mr. Leary." The receptionist sitting at the round desk said with a smile.

"Hi Julie." Justin said with a smile as he pulled a card out of his pocket and passed it over the bar scanner. It beeped signaling that it accepted his identification. "One of these days I will talk Matt into getting retinal scanners. So easy to fool this machine." He winked at Julie who smiled. Julie had been working at LoriTech since it opened, so he had known her for a long time.

"Dr. Leary is waiting for you." she grinned and blushed a bit. Justin figured she still had the crush on him from the early days.

"Thanks." Justin walked towards the back of the lobby.

As he approached he noticed a white podium situated in front of the elevators.  He walked over to look at it and see what it said. He knew Matt used these for information flyers around the building, and sometimes they were more used for humor then anything else.

LoriTech Industries is pleased to announce the building of the Cody R. Lane Memorial Cancer Hospital, in honor and memory of Cody R. Lane who was a good friend, a great partner, and the inspiration for LoriTech Industries. We love and miss you Cody.


On the bottom was a picture of Cody from high school.

"Why did Matt not tell me?" Justin said in a whisper, and on the verge of tears. He ran his finger over the picture.

"He said you saved his life." A voice behind him startled him.

Justin jumped a bit not expecting someone to be there. He turned around and wrapped his hands around the man now standing there.

"Grayson!" Justin couldn't hold it back and started to cry. Grayson had grown into his body, and was no longer a scrawny boy. Grayson just held Justin tight and let him cry it out.

"I am sorry." Justin said pulling himself away from Grayson. "I have been thinking heavily about Cody recently."

"Going home tends to do that." Grayson moved over to the podium and rubbed his hand over the picture. "Matt wanted to do more to help people with cancer. Cody impacted him. Impacted me."

"Dr. Smith." Justin said wiped his hand across his face to remove the reaming tears off his face. "Nice sound to it."

"I did it because I wanted to save others." Grayson smiled. "I wanted to make sure that what happened to Cody, did not happen to others."

"You were a great friend, and companion to him." Justin put his arm around Grayson. "I know you meant the world to him."

Grayson walked with Justin to the elevator.

"Are you coming up?" Justin asked with a wink.

"Sure." Grayson smiled. "I am not due into my office for another hour. Matt said you were coming by, and I wanted to see you."

The elevator chimed and the doors slid open. Justin and Grayson stepped aside to let the two passengers off, and then entered. Justin pulled out his card and swiped it over the reader, and the doors closed and started to climb.

"So what did you mean I saved Cody's life?" Justin asked.

"Oh," Grayson said looking down at the floor. "Before things got really worse that last year, he told me about the night he came over, and he told you he was having feelings for me. He said that it was such a weight on his shoulders, that he was becoming depressed. He had been told his whole life he was going to meet this awesome girl, marry her, have children, and live happily every after. After he broke up with Shannon, he was constantly making his parents and everyone around him believe they were still together. Shannon played along of course, as she knew the truth."

"I did not know that." Justin said his roaming the elevator trying to think back to signs, but couldn't recall any that stood out.

"He was strong, but it was breaking him down. His parents were critical of you and Nate." Grayson paused as the doors opened on the floor they were to get off, and the both stepped off. Matt's office was down at the end of the hallway, so they walked, but this time slowly. "They were okay with it for the most part in front of you guys, but Cody said they were always belittling you guys, and talking about what a sinful life style you two were heading down."

"I think a lot of people were like that."

"True." Cody raised his left eyebrow. "Cody tried to stand up for you, and tell his parents that they you were not doing anything wrong, and that you were just enjoying each other's company, much the same way Shannon enjoyed his company." Grayson let out a bit of a laugh at the idea. "They of course said that he needed to be careful, as the `sin' would rub off and he would go down the same path."

"When he came by to see you, he was desperate." Grayson continued with the story. They had come to a large balcony that over looked the lobby they had just come from. Justin leaned against the railing and looked down the four stories. "He was contemplating suicide. He could not bare the idea of his parents disowning him, and sending him out."

"My God." Justin gasped. He thought back to the big man who had broken down and cried in his arms that night. How he had been so fragile. He never knew that he was the close to the edge. He thought about what would have happened if his mother had found out about what Cody was really coming over to talk about. What would have happened if had not said the words he had?

Grayson reached over and grabbed Justin's hand. "You gave him hope, and you saved his life. He loved you for that."

Justin felt his eyes swell with more tears coming, but he stood up and took a deep breath in. He had to hold it together.

"I love him still." Grayson said looking down at the podium. "I still dream of him, like he never left me." He kicked one of the railings and it gave a soft thud that reverberated up and down the balcony. "We had a good six years. It may be another 60 years for me, but I will get there some day. We will be together again."

Justin looked at Grayson with a new set of eyes. This man who had grown up to be a doctor to help save people, but still reserved himself for his one true love.

"Grayson," Justin said giving him another hug, "you are perfect."

They walked the rest of the way to Matt's office in silence.


As they neared the end of the hallway, there was another half mood shaped reception desk with two doors behind it. An older lady was sitting at the desk working on some paper work but looked up as the two approached.

"Dr. Smith and Mr. Leary." The woman said with a smile. Justin thought she looked a lot like the lady on the Grandma Cookie bags. "How are you boys?"

"Doing good Mrs. Johnson." Justin said with a smile on his face. "Is Matt available?"

"Yes." She went for the phone. "Let me tell him you are here."

"No." Justin said putting his hand up. "He deserves this."

They both approached Matt's office door, which was just as plain as everyone else's but had a large bronze sign that read Dr. Matthew Leary, CEO.

"Big ham." Justin said looking at the plate. "Last time I was here it said `Chairman of the Board'."

"I think for a while it said `Chief Inspector of Chemical Dyes'." Grayson laughed.

Justin reached for the door handle and pushed the door open as quickly as he could.

"What are you doing in there!" He said in the best imitation he could of when Matt would charge in on him and Nate early in the morning.

"Ahhh!" Matt said with a mocking sound as if he was surprised. "You caught me."

"Your no fun." Justin said walking in followed by Grayson.

"I have a camera looking outside my door." Matt grinned. "Gotta know when the ol' wife is about to come in. Get to the panic room."

"Hi Dr. Leary." Grayson bowed his head a bit. He was still shy around Matt, even after all the years he had known him, as well as worked for him.

"Grayson," Matt said with a stern look on his face. "I told you 100 times to call me Matt. I don't like the formal salutations around here anyway."

Justin just laughed. Grayson was still the same shy kid he was 16 years ago. He was more confident in his actions, but his words still seemed to fail him. He pulled his cart over to Justin's desk.

"I am going to set the laptops up here on the desk. " Justin unlatched the case he was carrying and pulled out a mini laptop and placed on the desk. He repeated the action 3 more times. "Does she know I am here?"

"Not to my knowledge." Matt sighed. "She is a pistol you know."

"Who?" Grayson moved to the couch that sat on the left side of the room.

"Katie Greenwell." Matt said watching Justin turn the laptops on, and wait for them to load.

"Head of IT?"

"Justin wants an update to the security system, but she had refused to do it." Matt said with a bit of bitterness in his voice. "She said the system needs to be removed and a new one put in."

"The hell we will." Justin seethed through his voice. "This system is far more important then she thinks. I wish you would fire her."

"For what?" Matt said moving back to his chair. This was a constant argument since he had hired Katie. Katie wanted to move to a new system for better security. Justin had balked the idea, and since he was technically in charge of the system, he had the final say. "Katie has not done anything totally wrong, except for being insubordinate on this update. Of course her reason for not doing it was she was uncomfortable working with your system."

"Incompetent clown is what she is." Justin finished loading the computer. "She thinks she is clever, but I will never let this system be replaced so long as I am in charge of them. Plus the staff likes the system."

"True." Grayson said. He loved the system. Anytime the staff needed a special update, Justin was willing to do it.

"Okay ready to go!" Justin said with a grin on his face. "Take that you evil bitch from hell." He pressed the enter key on each of the computers and a program started to run a set of code on the computer.

"Why are you using four laptops?" Grayson asked looking at each of the screens. They seemed to all be doing the same thing.

"One of the problems with the last major update I did on the system was that if someone wanted to access the program by hacking, they just needed to have multiple hacking attempts at the same time. Katie refused the update saying it would cause disruptions and wanted to include it in the scheduled updates in three months."

"She is kinda bossy when it comes to the computers." Grayson frowned. "You want on the internet, you might as well ask congress to pass some legislation in a timely manner."

Justin watched the computers. As expected they each shut down in the same order he started the program.

"Maybe you are wrong on this update." Matt said looking at Justin. "She apparently was able to stop all your attacks."

"Wait for it." Justin smiled and pulled out his phone. "Five… four… three… two… done!"

"I used my phone to get access to the program." He showed the phone to Justin. "I was using three other computers from another location."

"Clever." Matt said. "She is going to be pissed."

"She is going to be fired is what is going to happen." Justin said sitting next to Grayson on the couch. "So why did you not tell me about the new hospital in honor of Cody?"

"I wanted to surprise you." Matt said sitting behind his desk with his hand folded in front of him. "I also figured you were busy with Nate and you didn't need the stress of remembering Cody." Matt blushed and looked down at the floor as he realized he made it sound like Cody was more of a drag on the emotions.

"It's okay." Grayson said with a smile noticing how uncomfortable Matt had become. "I think Justin was thinking about Cody well before now."

Justin smiled and grabbed Grayson's hand. "I am just glad I got to see you while I am down."

Grayson smiled and started to say something, but was interrupted by the door opening.

"Dr. Leary!" a dark blond haired woman burst the door holding a tablet. She was not that tall, and she had a fiery personality that could only be matched by her mouth. "What the hell is going on? The system is going haywire."

"You don't say." Justin said without standing up. His mouth was nothing more than a think line.

"Mr. Leary." Kate said stopping and turning. "I did not know you were here."

"I came because you refused to do what I told you to do. Update the system."

"It is unnecessary, and as I told you it would be to difficult to install without you here, and it would cause everyone to have to stop work." Kate stood with her hands crossed in front of her. She was holding her ground well. "I am guessing you were the one who pulled this little prank?"

"My system, my rules." Justin said standing up and walked over to his laptops and closed them. "And for your information, the upgrade was necessary. I was able to break into the system, and upload the program. It is already being installed on all computers in the building."

"What?" Kate's face turned red. "You had no right…"

"I have every right!" Justin turned around and his face showed anger that both Matt and Grayson knew was the edge of him losing all control. "This is my system. You are my employee. When I say to do something you do it. If you fail me again, you will be out looking or another job."

"Dr. Leary?" Kate turned towards Matt. "I am not understanding?"

"Justin is over technology. All things are by his order." Matt shrugged.

"I am sorry sir." Kate bowed her head to Justin. "I did not know. I will make sure that the system is updated as quick as possible." She turned to Matt and also bowed her head. "If I may go sir?"

Matt nodded his head, and Kate walked out of the room. Justin turned to Matt with a tired look on his face.

"I am sorry Matt." Justin started to pack his laptops away. "I stepped out of line."

"It is your department after all." Matt leaned forward on his desk. "Like I said you should move back here and come back to work for us."

"You know I can't." Justin said with sorrow in his voice. "You know why I can't."


"I thought you and your brother were close." Grayson said as they exited the elevator on the lobby floor. He didn't really expect Justin to answer the question, so he ended it as a statement.

"Oh we are." Justin laughed. "I am talking about my other family members. I do not really wish to be around them for to long. My mother, who I do love, does not know how to always show her love."

"I understand that one." Grayson laughed as they made their way past the receptionist desk. Julie smiled as they walked by.

"Leaving Mr. Leary?" Julie asked with a smile.

"Yes Julie." Justin had to suppress a smile, as he did not want to lead her on. He also wanted to laugh but felt it rude. "I am meeting someone this evening and want to get some shopping done."

"Oh?" Julie frowned. "Some hot thing you are going to meet?"

"I suppose you could say that."

Grayson put his hand to his mouth as if he was trying to avoid sneezing, but in reality he wanted to laugh. He always thought everyone that worked at LoriTech knew Justin was gay, but apparently Julie never got the memo.

"Oh." Julie looked a bit heartbroken as she went back to her work.

Justin frowned and walked over to the desk and reached over to grabbed Julie's hand.

"Julie," he said with the most serious voice he could put on. He did not want to sound condescending or rude. "I thought you knew, but I am into guys."

Julie's eyes widened. "Oh!" Then her eyes feel back as she realized what he was saying. "Oh." Her eyes shifted back towards Justin and they grew big again. "Oh!"

"I am sorry Julie." Justin said smiling and patting her hand. "I thought you knew. I mean it wasn't a big secret."

"Well," Julie said, "At least I know it is not me that is keeping you away." She shrugged and went back to folding papers and stuffing them into envelopes. "I guess I should have known better. If you ever change your mind…" she trailed off.

"I will let you know." Justin grined and walked back to Grayson.

They continued to walk out the building where the heat of the New Mexico summer heat blasted them.

"I somewhat miss this dry air." Justin said squinting his eyes in the sun. "I like the rain, but I sometimes miss this."

"So how long are you staying?" They reached Justin's car.

"I think I will be here for another two weeks." Justin shrugged. "Depending on how long I can tolerate my mother. Nate was supposed to get married, and I ended up ending that escapade. Mom got made, and blamed me for spreading `the disease'."

"I heard he was getting married to that tart." Grayson leaned against the car and crossed his hands. "Who's this date with?"

"Oh a guy I met on the airplane ride over from Seattle." Justin leaned next to him. "He is this blond haired guy that has an earring."

"Wow." Grayson said with wide eyes and a sarcastic tone. "So not your type."

"I know right?" Justin said with the same amount of sarcasm. "Speaking of new people, are you ever going to find someone new?"

"Cody was my life." Grayson said with a heavy sigh. "I know it is silly, but I do not feel the need to move on, or the need to find someone else. I may someday, but for now I am happy."

Justin reached over and grabbed Grayson's hand. "You are a great guy. I think we were all lucky to have you in our lives. Cody was lucky to have you."

"I was lucky." Grayson squeezed back. "I think his life was short, but it filled my life with hope, love, and amazing sex."

"Beast." Justin laughed and pulled Grayson in for a hug.

Grayson hugged back hard and then pulled back. "I love you."

"I love you too." Justin smiled. "I hope to see you again before I leave."

"Sure." Grayson grinned. "I might be in Socorro visiting my parents this weekend. You said you would be down for two weeks?"

"Yea." Justin let go of Grayson and opened his car door. "Give me a call."

Grayson stood back as Justin got in the car, and drove off.


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Matt (Socks)