As always, if you're not supposed to be here, please leave. In other words, if men kissing,
fucking, or doing anything remotely sexual offends, disgusts, or angers you then you should get
out of here. This story includes sex between two men. But it is at heart, a love story. Plenty of
sap, romance, and professions of love. So be warned. This work is copyrighted and may not be
used without explicit permission from the author.

Comments, suggestions, complaints are all appreciated and welcomed at

Much thanks and gratitude to Ron, for editing and proofreading this chapter. His able assistance
is so very much appreciated.

And to Riley James for a much needed plot suggestion that set the wheels of this chapter in

The time periods are a bit off in this one. I've kinda backtracked a little so that I could make
mention of Dolly's performance and loss at the Oscars. I just had to address it.

"Full Circle" & "You Are" - Dolly Parton


Present Day

"And the Oscar goes too..."

I had my fingers crossed. I really did. I could hear Greggy muttering something under his breath.

"Come on..." he said impatiently.

As soon as Queen Latifah opened up the envelope, I knew who'd won just by her facial

"... It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

Greggy threw the pillow he was holding at the television and clicked it off.

I laughed. "What'd you do that for? I wanted to see what they said."

He glared at me. "Come on. How the fuck did she lose with that song. It was bad enough when
"Fame" beat "9 to 5."

I smiled. "It's alright." I said soothingly. "The woman does have like seven Grammy awards."

He laughed. "I need to find a man."

"Well..." I pulled him into a headlock. "... I wasn't gonna say anything."

He rested his head on my shoulder. "What would you say if I dated someone you knew?"
I shrugged. "Well that's a rather vague question isn't it?"

"Just answer." He said.

I laughed. "Are you kidding me Greggy? I want you to find someone. As long as it's not my
father, Issy's husband or Jack." I smiled. "Definitely not Jack."

He laughed. "What's this? Any new developments I haven't heard about?"

"Nah. We're just taking it real slow. I know he's frustrated. I can tell. But it's the best that I can
do right now." I said truthfully.

He sat upright and looked at me seriously. "Well if he was frustrated, then don't you think he
would say something to ya?"

I pondered that. "I suppose. I just... I don't want to be a cock tease either you know?" I
remembered what had happened on our last date. "The other night, we were walking home and I
grabbed his hand."

Greg's eyes shot up in surprise.

I laughed. "That's exactly what he did with his eyes."

"So what happened?"

"Well we finally got to his apartment building and he reached in for a kiss and..."

"You pulled away." Greggy said simply.

I smiled sadly. "Yeah. And I could tell that he got a little annoyed."

"Annoyed?" He asked me, skeptically. "I can't imagine him getting annoyed over something like
that. Specially with all he's been through."

I sighed. "I just... I wanna be able to give myself totally over to him. And I do try but I can't. Not
all at once."

He put his arm around my shoulders. "You're doing the absolute best that you can. I mean, come
on. You do realize how far you've come?"

I smiled. "I guess so." I remembered what we'd been talking about before we got into this topic.
"So..." I said nonchalantly, "... whose this person who you may or may not be dating that I

He laughed. "Why am I your friend?"

"Nice try."

I'd never seen Greggy nervous before. He had the whole diva act down to a science and he was
more than confident about himself, about his sexuality, about everything. I'd learned quite a deal
from him in that respect. But now he was fidgeting as if he were afraid to tell me who this
mystery guy was.

I looked at him strangely. "It is a guy right? You haven't gone all hetero on me have ya?"

That broke the tension.

He laughed. "Um no. In the words of Mikey, Ewwwww."

"So then who is it?" I prodded. "Come on. Now I'm intrigued."

He smiled shyly. "It's um... it's Matt."

I was surprised. I won't deny that. Greggy just didn't seem to be Matt's type at all. As far as
tastes and stuff like that went. Matt was butch, Greggy was a drama queen. Matt liked football,
Greggy couldn't tell you what field goal was.

"Well say something." He said, nervously. "You're mad. Right?"

I laughed. "Mad? No I'm not mad. Surprised? Yes. But not mad. When did this happen?"

He smiled. "He called me last week. Said he was thinking about me and wanted to see how I was
doing. We got to talking and well... one thing led to another." He smiled again, even wider this
time. "We have a date Thursday night." He looked down at his hands. "Tell me it's okay David."

"Okay?" I asked incredulously. "Why in the flying fuck do you want my permission. He's a
catch. He's handsome as hell. He has a fantastic job. He's smarter than anyone I've ever met.
And..." I smiled. "... well maybe I'll let ya find out the last one on your own."

He laughed.

I looked at him. "I'm happy for ya." I said seriously.

He smiled and pulled me into a hug. "That's why you're my best friend, Miss Daisy." he said,
imitating Morgan Freeman. He pulled back and kissed my cheek. "And I love ya."

"So where's he taking ya?" I asked.

Greggy shrugged. "Don't know. But we gotta go shopping tomorrow night. I need a fabulous
outfit to wear." He reached for the remote. "Let's watch her performance again."

I laughed. He insisted we TiVo the ceremony so we could see her performance anytime we

The song was actually really catchy, one of the best she'd written in awhile. The chorus was
infectious. And it had a great message. That we're all just travelin' thru here on earth. It'd make a
great story title too.

As soon as it was over, Greggy clicked off the TV again.

He yawned. "Wanna watch the rest tomorrow?"

I smiled. "Yeah."

He got up and stretched. "Thanks."

"For what?"

He smiled shyly. "For being there for me. Just so you know, I've needed you just as much as
you've needed me these past two years." He kissed my cheek and his smile widened.

"You've never let me down."


Chapter Eleven - Full Circle


           You've seen me naked, in more ways than one
          You've seen me done up, seen me come undone
      We've cried in the darkness, we've laughed in the sun
               We've been forever, yet we've just begun

"I really, really hate needles you know?"

The nurse laughed. She was this incredibly jolly woman with a heavy Irish brogue. Looks wise,
she reminded me very much of Louise Fletcher from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Personality wise though, she was more akin to Dolly Parton in "Steel Magnolias."

She looked down at Sammy and smiled.

"You're the only one on this floor who gives me trouble." She massaged his arm. "Look on over
at that hot man of yours and concentrate on all the sex he's gonna give when you get home."
Did I forget to mention that she was as blunt as she was sweet?

He blushed seven shades of red and looked over at me and smiled. "I love you," he mouthed.

I blew him a kiss.

We were back at that stage where we were like lovesick teenagers. It was quite sickening really.

She only smiled and proceeded on with her work, making sure she talked with him while she did

"Where's that adorable little boy of yours'?" She asked, looking over at me.

I smiled. "At school. He'll be here soon though."

She laughed. "I got a cupcake with his name on it."

Sammy looked over at her. "What about me?"

She pulled off her rubber gloves with a loud snap. "Whiners do not get cupcakes."

He laughed.

She retrieved all of her supplies and walked towards the doorway. "You send that little angel to
the nurse's station as soon as he gets here." She winked at me and closed the door behind her.

I laughed. "She's a real character."

I didn't get a response so I looked over at my lover, whose eyes were fixed on me, glazed over
with passion.


"Come here." He whispered forcefully.

I did as I was told.

"Kiss me." He said.

Being the dutiful husband I am, I did.

He moaned into my mouth. I smiled and pulled back. "What has gotten into you?"

He laughed. "Nothing. For two weeks. That's the problem." He pulled my face down again. "I
want you so fucking bad that it hurts." To show me how bad, he placed my hand over his rock
hard erection.

I couldn't help but laugh. Truth was I was just as horny as he was. Seeing him there in that tight
little hospital gown with no underwear on. Lord knows I certainly couldn't wait either. But we
both had to.

I smiled. "I hate to burst your bubble there babe but Matt said that even after you're released, we
still need to wait awhile."

He pouted. "Well I'm sure he doesn't know everything."

I laughed. "We'll see. Alright?"

"That's all I'm gonna get for now?"

I nodded. "I'm afraid so."

I sat down on the bed next to him. "I can't believe how good you look. You look... so much
freaking better than you did last week."

He laughed. "It's the Gloria Swanson in me. I made a return."

I smiled and peeked under his gown. "Honey, if Gloria Swanson was as hung as you are, I think
she would have been playing Norman Desmond."

At that instant, the door opened and Matt walked in. I quickly covered my husband up as we
blushed profusely.

Matt walked over with a cheshire cat grin on his face.

"And just what have you two been doing?"

I laughed. "Just discussing `Sunset Blvd'."

He smiled. "I'm sure that's all it was." He looked at Sammy. "You are regaining your spunk. Pun

At that we all laughed.

Matt picked up Sammy's chart and checked a few things. "From what I can see here, you're just
about ready to go home."

Sam looked up at him. "You're not kidding me right? That would just be too cruel."

Matt shook his head. "Nope. You're healing superbly. You've regained your strength. You don't
need the pain medication anymore. I'm really very pleased."

I smiled. "See baby. I told ya it'd be soon."

Sammy smiled at me. "Mikey will be ecstatic."

Matt laughed. "Of course he will." He made a few notations on the chart. "I just wanna check the
blood work from today and if everything is normal, we can have you out of here early tomorrow
morning." He walked over to the bed. "I need to change the dressing on the incision."

Sam nodded timidly. "Alright."

We'd gone over this countless times since he'd been in the hospital. He was so self conscious
about it. The incision that is. Because of the size of the tumor, he needed to be cut down his
stomach. It wasn't pretty but Matt, being the expert surgeon that he was, did a remarkable job.
The stitching was amazing and while the scar would always be evident, Matt assured him that it
would fade over time.

Matt closed the door and reached for a pair of gloves.

"You'll stay?" Sammy whispered, pleadingly.

I grabbed his hand. "I'm not going anywhere."

I've always been squeamish. Talking about blood makes me vomit so one can only imagine what
the sight of it does to me. But this was different. This was about Sammy. If I had to crawl over
hot coals or broken glass or see a little scar, it would certainly be well worth it.

Matt walked over to the bed. He pulled up the gown and began to remove the current bandages.

Sammy winced.

"I'm sorry." Matt said apologizing. "The skin is gonna be really tender there for quite awhile
even after the incision heals completely."

He removed the dressing and beneath it was a pinkish looking incision that ran from right above
my lover's belly button down to the area directly over his pubic area.

I won't lie. It wasn't the nicest looking thing in the world. But again, as sappy and maudlin as it
sounds, my Sammy could be covered with boils or be a leper and I'd still love him with every
single fiber of my being.

Matt had all of the dressing removed and he began to swab at his stomach with saline solution.

"How is it?" Sammy asked with his eyes closed. He tried to never look.

Matt smiled. "It's healing beautifully."

"Like you." I said, looking at Sam.

Matt laughed and Sammy opened his eyes.

I smiled at him and looked over at Matt. "Can I do that?"

He nodded. "Sure." He handed me a package of gauze. "You just do like I did."

Sam looked up at me. "You're sure babe?"

I leaned down so that our faces were touching. "I love you for who you are." I lightly tapped his
chest. "On the inside. That sweet southern boy who I met on the street years ago. The guy who
loved his brother so much, he took him to raise as his. The guy who weathered chemo treatments
and radiation and fought back. The guy I love." I wiped a few tears that fell down his face.

Slowly, and a little bit clumsily, I placed the new dressing on. I carefully taped the gauze over
the incision.

"What happens to you..." I said seriously, "... happens to us."

Matt looked at Sam. "God. Can I marry him too?"

That effectively broke the seriousness in the room.

He looked over at me. "You did a fantastic job David."

I smiled. "Thanks."

"You mind if I talk to your husband alone for just one second?" Matt asked me.

I found the request a little strange but I really didn't think much of it.

"Sure." I winked at Sammy. "I'll be right outside."

He grabbed my hand and brought it to his lips. "Thanks babe. For everything."

I smiled. "It's my job."



I never missed the sound of that word. The way he phrased it. The way he sounded when he said
it. That he was talking to me. Those emotions all welled up every time our son would call me

He was at the other end of the hall holding onto Isabel's hand. He took off running towards me.

I picked him up and blew a raspberry on his neck.

"Hey buddy!" I kissed his cheek. "How was school?"

He smiled. "I got to be the teacher's helper today."

I feigned shock. "You're kidding me. What'd she make you do."

He thought for a second. "I had to make sure all the kids were sharing. And look," he said
pointing at the sticker he had on his shirt.

I smiled. "I see that. I'm proud of you kiddo."

He smiled and buried his face in my neck. I inhaled that smell that only little kids give off.

"Can I see Dad?" He asked.

"You sure can. He's in with Doctor Matt now. But you can see him in a few minutes."

Mikey smiled. "Good. Cause I wanna tell him about it."

I looked over at my sister who was standing there smiling.

"You look nice today."

She smiled. "Thanks. I had a meeting with some bigwigs. Figured I'd show em some skin."

I laughed. "Well I'm sure it did the trick."

She looked at me seriously. "How is he?"

I smiled. "Good. Really good actually." I looked at Mikey. "Doctor Matt says that Dad can come
home tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" He said surprised.

I laughed. "Yep kiddo. He's all better."

As if on cue, Matt walked opened up the door and stuck his head out.

"Doctor Matt!" Mikey squirmed out of my arms. He ran over to Matt, who held his arms open.

"Hey there, bud." Matt said, kissing his forehead.

"Is it true? My dad can come home tomorrow?"

Matt smiled. "He sure can. But you gotta do some things for me when he gets home."

Mikey's ears perked up. Like any little kid, he loved it when someone asked him to do

"Ya gotta make sure that he gets plenty of rest." Matt said, smiling.

My son nodded dutifully.

"And make sure that he eats all of the stuff on his plate."

"Even the vegertables?" He always added an r in that word. Had to be that southern gene.

Matt laughed heartily. "Yes, especially the vegertables." He looked over at me. "I love this kid."

I smiled. "Can you bring him in? Tell Sammy I'll be right back? I'm gonna go get Mikey some

Matt nodded.

I looked at my sister. "Wanna come?"

She smiled. "Sure."

The cafeteria was two floors down and the elevators at the hospital were horribly slow so we just
used the stairs.

"How are you?" Isabel asked me as soon as we were in the stairwell.

I shrugged. "I'm alright. Happy now that it's all over." I sighed. "I just really wanna get on with
everything now."

She smiled. "I'm glad it all worked out."

"Me too. I think coming home will be a big step for him. It'll show him that he's gonna be
alright. Because I know he has his doubts."

She nodded.

That was odd. My sister wasn't her usual bubbly, wise cracking self.

"Something the matter Is?" I asked as we walked into the cafeteria.

She shook her head vehemently. "No. I'm fine. I'm just glad about Sammy. That's all."

I nodded. "You're sure?"

She fumbled with the flimsy styrofoam coffee cups. "I'm positive."

I shook my head. "Okay I guess."

I grabbed some things for Mikey and a few more just in case anyone else stopped by. I paid for
them and found my sister sitting at a table, staring aimlessly at nothing.

I scooted in next to her. "You either tell me what's wrong or I'll beat it out of you."

She laughed. "You beat me? I think not little brother."

I smiled and put my arm around her shoulder. "Come on. Tell me. What's the matter?"

She closed her eyes. "I'm pregnant."

Oh my!


"Alright kiddo. I love ya."

I kissed Mikey's forehead.

He looked up at me and smiled. "Daddy?"

I smiled. "What bud?"

"Dad is gonna be okay right?"

I nodded. "He sure is kiddo. He still has to take some medicine and go for some tests. But pretty
soon, he's gonna be good as new." I thought about why he was asking that. "Why bud?"

He shrugged. "It's just that this afternoon when Gramma brought me home from school, he was

That was odd. It'd been a week and a half since he'd come home from the hospital. I thought that
everything seemed to be going okay. At least I was trying my best to see that it did. Sammy
seemed a little withdrawn lately but Matt said that that was normal and I figured it was too.

I raised my eyebrows. "He was?"

Mikey nodded. "Yeah. He said he wasn't but I knew he was."

I smiled. "Is that so, you little know it all?"

I kissed him again. "Want me to stay with you till you fall asleep?"

He smiled. "Yeah."

I laid down next to him and ran my fingers through his hair. About five minutes later, he was out
like a light. I kissed him again and gave Fred a good scratch behind his ears before I went back
into the living room where Sammy was.

Or, where he was supposed to be.

"Babe?" I called into the kitchen.

No answer.

"Sammy?" I called again.

Still no answer. That was strange. And now I was getting a little nervous.

I walked into our bedroom. Still no sign of him. Where the fuck was he?

And then I heard it. A low sniffling sound coming from the bathroom in the bedroom. The door
was slightly ajar and no light was coming from it.

I tiptoed over and opened the door slowly to find my husband silently crying.

I flicked on the light switch. "What's the matter? What happened?" I asked, as concerned as ever.

He didn't say anything.

"Babe, what is the matter." I kneeled down in front of him. "Come on. Please tell me." I was
getting more nervous and more desperate by the moment. "Ya gotta tell me what's the matter
with you."

"It isn't the same." He said quietly.

"What isn't the same baby?" I was confused.

He looked up at me, his eyes filled with tears and pain. He was ripping my heart out with those
"Nothing. Nothing will ever be the same again." He said, his voice getting a little louder.

"But why babe? Why can't it be the same again." I placed my hands over his.

He pulled away abruptly and stood up, wincing because he was supposed to be careful when he
got up from sitting down.

I went to help him but again he pulled away from me, pushing my hands aside and he walked
past me into the bedroom.

I followed. "What isn't the same?" I asked again, this time a bit more desperately.

He turned around and looked at me. "Everything." He screamed loudly. "Nothing is the same
anymore. All because of this." He said, pulling up his shirt and exposing his stomach.

He didn't have to wear any type of dressing or gauze on the incision anymore since it had healed
quite a bit. It was still pinkish looking and not necessarily the nicest looking thing in the world,
but it was getting better.

I walked over to him. "But you're getting so much better babe."

He laughed bitterly. "No I'm not. That's what cancer does. It goes away for awhile and then it
comes back. That's gonna happen to me too."

"No it isn't. You're in remission." I said. "You're gonna get better."

He laughed again. "Oh give me a break David. How bout you come back down to reality here?"
He turned around and mumbled something I thought I'd made out but I wasn't sure.

"What'd you say?" I asked carefully.


I spun him around and held his arms. "Tell me what you said."

"I shoulda just died." He said with tears in his eyes. "It would have been so much easier for

I wanted to do so many things at that moment. Scream at him, hit him, wrap him in my arms and
never let him go. But I also knew my guy pretty well and I knew that he was about to crack.

And I was right.

Seconds later, he fell into my arms, sobbing uncontrollably.

"Shhh." I whispered. "It's alright. I'm here."

He looked up at me. "I'm..."

I cut him off. "Don't you dare apologize. There's nothing to apologize for."

I lifted him up carefully, placing his legs around my hips. He wrapped his arms around my neck.

I looked into my husband's eyes. "I don't ever want to hear you say anything like that again..."

He went to speak but I put my finger to his lips.

"... I'm not a psychic or a fortune teller or anything like that." I pressed my forehead to his. "But
what I do know is that you're fine now. Now." I kissed his softly. "And if it comes back. If," I
said, emphasizing the word, "... it comes back, then we'll just fight harder. That's all."

I leaned in and kissed him again.

"I think I need to see someone." He said quietly.


"And David?" He said quietly.

"Yeah baby?"

"I love you."


"Is he okay?"

Greggy was sitting across from me in the diner.

I shrugged. "I think so." I sighed. "I don't know. How could I have been so fucking blind?"

"Don't do that David." He said quietly. "Don't blame yourself." He took a bite of his sandwich.
"I was waiting for him to blow up like that. It was about time. He's been holding so much in."

I nodded. "I know. I just wish he woulda talked to me about. I mean here I am, thinking
everything is going hunky fucking dory and my husband's in a state of depression." I put my
head down.

It had been three months since the surgery and two a half since I'd found out the true toll that it
had taken on my lover's psyche. He was seeing somebody now. A psychiatrist that Matt had

It was helping. I could tell that it was. He was getting back to his old self again. Now and then
I'd see a rare glimpse of the man who I fell in love with.

Not that I'd ever fallen out of love with my Sammy. I never could. It just pained me to see the
hurt he was going through. How badly he felt all the time. But even more painful was the
realization that I couldn't do anything about it.

Of course I helped him as best as I could. I held him, kissed him, told him I loved him whatever
chance I got. I just hoped, was desperate for actually, that he would actually make the return that
I knew he wanted.

"Hey." Greggy said, interrupting me from my thoughts. "You'll get through this. Hell, this is a
walk in the park compared to what you two have been through in the last year."

"I guess. He's just so sad all the time you know? I want him back. I want my old Sammy back." I
said, sounding childish, but I really didn't care. I just spoke the truth.

Greggy smiled. "Slowly but surely David. He'll get there. I know he will. He's a fighter and he's
not gonna give up."

I nodded. "Yeah. You're right." I shrugged. "Let's change the subject here."

He smiled. "You talk to your sister lately?"

Shit! Why'd he have to bring up Is? She swore me to secrecy and lord knows I couldn't keep a
secret to save my life.

"Um... yeah. Couple of nights ago." I said nonchalantly.

He laughed. "You know."


"You know about it." He stated simply.

"She told you too?" I asked.

He smiled. "She kinda slipped actually. We went out for drinks the other night and I asked her
why she wasn't drinking."

"And she told you?"

"In a roundabout way, yeah." He smiled. "You Stanton's never can keep a secret."

I shook my head. "I guess not."

He stole one of my fries. "Imagine that. Your sister with a baby."

I laughed. "That's the thing. I can't imagine it."

"I know. Neither can I." He idly scratched his chin. "She told you about this Noah guy?"

I smiled. "She says he's nice."

He shrugged. "I guess."

I laughed. "Why, Greg Thomason. Are you jealous?"

He smiled shyly. "Not jealous... just... frustrated." He threw his hands up in the air. "But that's
another conversation for another time."

I frowned. "Why another time?"

"Because..." he said pointedly, "... you have more important things to be worrying about right
now than my sex life, or lack thereof."

I smiled. "Your sex life is very important to me."

He laughed.

"I'm serious though." I said. "I don't ever want you to feel that you can't come and talk to me
about stuff. I know that with Sammy being sick and all, my mind might be on other things. But I
want you to know you can always come to me. Cause after all... I will always love you." I

He laughed again. "Thanks Dolly." He sighed. "It's just that Is and me were always the two
single ones ya know. You and Sammy were the established married couple. And we... well I just
feel kinda left out."

I smiled. "You'll find someone. I know you will."

He shrugged. "I know. I just want to have somebody. Have something. The kind of thing you
guys have."

I smiled.

I was lucky. I guess I always knew that but at that moment, my realization became so much

After Sammy had finally broken down and I knew how terrified he was inside, my first thought
was to blame myself. And, of course, I did that. I just felt so stupid about the whole thing. I had
assumed, when he got home, that things would just go back to normal and that would be the end
of it.

I guess it was kinda like wishful thinking on my part. Trying to just forget all the bad stuff and
put it behind us. I just figured that he'd want to do that too. Not want to rehash all the bad shit
that he'd been through. And there was plenty.

But for Sammy, I guess he needed to. After the surgery and everything, he had so many doubts,
so many fears. And that was totally understandable. I just wanted to, needed to, dispel those
doubts as best as I could. Make him know that I loved him just as much as I always did, even
more so really. And like Greggy said, slowly but surely, it had been working.

"And he had a twelve inch cock."

I snapped out of my thoughts right away.


Greggy laughed. "I knew you were spacing out there."

I smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it." He said, shrugging it off.

I grabbed his hand. "I meant what I said earlier though. You're always there to listen to me. I
wanna be there for you."


I shot him a smile. "Not a problem."

Just then our waiter, our incredibly cute waiter I might add, appeared.

He handed the check to Greggy. "I couldn't help but overhear your dilemma."

Greg must have turned thirty four shades of red.

"You blush?" Cute waiter boy said. "I think that's adorable." He smiled. "I gotta get back to
work but if I can help you with your problem..." he wiggled his eyebrows, "... my number is on
there. Name's Brian." He winked and just like that he was gone again.

I looked over at Greggy, who had a rather stunned look on his face, and smiled.

"Things might just be looking up for ya bud."


I smelled it as soon as I opened the door. A smell that hadn't wafted through this apartment in
quite awhile. But who the hell could have been cooking?

I peeked in the kitchen and found no one but a very delicious looking chicken cooling on top of
the stove. It was obviously the handiwork of my Sammy. He'd made his trademark mashed
potatoes and gravy and without even opening the oven, I could smell his biscuits.

I took it as a good sign. It had to be. Sammy hadn't really been in the mood to do anything
lately, so obviously something good had either happened or was about to happen.

I tiptoed into the bedroom where I found the guy who had pretty much been in my thoughts 24/7
for the past four months. That was the way it should have been though. The way it always would

He had his raggedy old guitar propped up in his lap and he was just staring into space.

I smiled.

He idly scratched his neck and the back of his shirt rode up to reveal his milky white skin.

"My husband is gonna be home like any second so we have to make this quick."

He turned around and flashed me one of his thousand watt smiles.

"I see you've been busy today." I plopped down on the bed.

He laughed. "Well I just figured that I've been wallowing in my self pity for what? Three
months now. It's about time I try and live again."

He laid down next to me.

"I don't wanna be sad anymore David."

I kissed his cheek. "You don't have to be baby."

He smiled. "I know." He cupped my face in his hands. "I need you to know that none of this, my
whole little schizo episode, had anything to do with you."

"I just..."

He placed his finger over my lips. "Please... just let me finish." He kissed my forehead. "I was
never afraid of dying. Mama always taught me that when it was your time then it was your time.
I don't know when mine is. Hopefully not for many more years." He moved closer, snuggling
into me. "But I was afraid of something. I couldn't lose you."

"You won't." I said softly through the tears that had begun to form in my eyes.

He wiped them away. "I will someday. And that is what I started obsessing about. I resigned
myself to the fact that I was gonna go into that surgery and I wasn't coming out. It was as simple
as that. I was ready, scared, but ready." He smiled. "But I guess there were other plans in store
for me. When I... came out... when I... survived, I didn't quite know how to deal with it. Because
in my mind, in my heart - I'd told myself I'd never see you again. I didn't want to have to go
through that again."

"But why didn't..."

"I don't know." He shrugged. "I don't know why I didn't just tell you. Maybe in my warped
mind, pushing you away would make it easier the second time around. If this horrid disease did
come back, maybe it wouldn't be that hard again. It was the cowardly way out."

I pulled him to me. "Oh baby, you're not a coward. You were just scared. That's all."

"I know that now. That was the wrench in my ingenious plan. I could never stop loving you,
David. Never let my love for you diminish. Hell it grows and grows everyday."

"Longer than always." I whispered.

He smiled. "Yeah."

I thought of something. "You remember our honeymoon?"

"It's something I'll never forget. Why?"

I smiled. "That song you played for me. That first night. And we danced to it on the balcony.
You remember it?"

"Always." He said, smiling.

I got up and went over to the little CD player we had in the bedroom.

"I've been listening to it like nonstop." I pressed play. "It just speaks volumes to me. About love,
relationships, partnerships. It says what I feel about you."

He smiled. "You gonna sing it to me?"

I laughed. "Not a chance buddy. But..." I grabbed his hand, "... you're gonna dance with me."

He stood up and I pulled him to me as the music began to fill the room.

Sometimes I try to count the ways and reasons that I love you
But I can't ever seem to count that far
I love you in a million ways and for a million reasons
But more than this I love you as you are
I'll always love you just as you are

I pulled his shirt over his head. Like he had been around me since the surgery, he instinctively
covered his stomach, trying to hide the scar that he was so ashamed of.

I pushed his hands away and pulled him to me, letting the music again say what I was feeling at
that very moment.

You are my inspiration, you are the song I sing
You are what makes me happy, you are my everything
You are my daily sunshine, you are my ev'ning star
Ev'rything I'd ever hoped to find, that's what you are
Ev'rything I'll ever want for mine is what you are

I traced the outline of the scar with my fingers, placing light kisses over each crevice of his taut,
wounded belly.

You are my thoughts when I'm awake, in my dreams when I'm asleep
You are the reason for my smile, you are the words I speak
Every role I play in life you play the leading part
Ev'rything I'll ever want is what you are
The only one I'll ever want for me, that's what you are

I kissed my way back up his body. His neck, his chest, his face. I wanted to explore, to
rediscover the man I loved. I pulled him to me and we swayed as the song came to a sweeping

You are my inspiration, you are the song I sing
You are what makes me happy, you are my everything
You are my daily sunshine, you are my ev'ning star
Ev'rything I ever had in mind is what you are
The only one I'll ever want for mine, that's what you are

Lust should have taken over as the song ended. Lord knows we both wanted it. We hadn't had
sex since the night before the surgery.

But somehow, sex just wasn't first on my agenda that night. And it wasn't on his either.

We just stood there, swaying. The music had ended but it didn't matter.

There'd be more bad times. We were both sure of it. It was like an unspoken pact between us.

But standing there, the two of us, connected together again like we once were. Partners, lovers, a
couple. We had a newfound understanding of things that would lie ahead. Good things, bad
things. We'd weather them - together.

And that would make all the difference.


               You know the soft spots under my skin
           Deep down inside me, where no one has been
      We've sailed troubled waters, we've soared all around
         But time's only sweetened this love that we're in


Thanks again to everyone who sent in encouraging notes. The last chapter got an overwhelming
response. Just know that all of your notes are much appreciated.

As always, much thanks to Ron who is just about the best editor and proofer a writer can have.