Chapter 13: Recovery

It was Tuesday, October 15; two days before Jake's twenty-first birthday. I really wanted it to be special; you only turn twenty-one once. I had originally planned a huge party for him with all of his Marine buddies this coming Saturday, but with Sean laid up and Jake playing nurse I didn't know if it was the right thing to do. I figured I'd ask Sean about it. I walked back to his room and knocked on the door frame.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Mike! Hell yeah, come on in!"

I went in and sat on the edge of his bed. I reached down and put my hand on his arm and rubbed it a little. "How're you feelin'?"

"Not bad. Just hangin' out, lookin' at the walls. Speakin' of, can we do a different color in here?"

"Yeah, sure. Why?"

"Well it looked really good just seein' it once in a while, but fuck, dude, staring at it all the time gets a little disturbin'." He looked up at me and grinned.

"I bet. Yeah, we can change the color."

"Cool. So what's shakin' bacon?"

"I was thinking about Jake's birthday party. Do you think we should still go ahead with it?"

"Why wouldn't we?"

"Well with you on your back." He smirked and grinned at me. "Shut up; I didn't mean it that way, smart-ass. I meant with you laid up and Jake playing nurse Ratchet 24-hours a day, it just might not be the right thing."

"I think it's just what he needs. He needs to quit hovering over me; he's driving me crazy. He needs to see that I'm OK and life's back to normal. You can't cancel this party, Mike."

I sighed. "OK. We'll have the party as planned. I just hope he likes it."

"He's gonna fuckin' love it! Quit worrying so much, dude; you're gonna get an ulcer. Then you'll just have him hoverin' over you all the time; and it's not as much fun as it looks, believe me."

"That bad, huh?"

"It's like he morphed into my mother. Kinda scary if you think about it that way." He shivered and I smirked.

"I could get him a hot, little nurse's uniform if you think that'd help you out."

He started laughing and grabbed his stomach. "Oh fuck! Don't make me laugh like that; it hurts. That would be fuckin' priceless though. But I don't think that would do it for me. God knows I love him, but I think the nurse's uniform would do more for you than me." He grinned at me.

"No... I like him all man. The cammos do more for me than any nurse's uniform would."

Sean smiled up at me. "Yeah, he is a cute little fucker when he's playin' soldier."

"Yes he is." I sat and thought for a minute.

"You're picturin' him right now, aren't you, you perv?"

"No... I really wasn't. I was just thinking about things. About how my life has changed so much since I met you guys."

"For the better I hope."

"Oh, God yes, Sean; much better; better than I could've imagined."

"Good." He smiled at me again. I snapped myself out of my reverie and smiled back at him.

"You need anything? I can grab you a soda or somethin'."

"No Mike, I'm fine. You don't have to wait on me hand and foot. I'm a big boy."

I winked at him and gave him a lewd smile. "Well OK, Big Boy... If you need anything just holler."

"Will do. Now let me give you a hug and then get the hell outta here."

I bent down and he wrapped his arms around my shoulders and neck and hugged tight. I hugged his head to me and we just held each other for a minute. He released me from the hug, smiled at me and told me to get out.

I walked back to my office and sat down at my computer. I had a few more things to plan for the party and also a little research to do. I wanted to know more about PTSD. I was becoming more and more convinced that both of them had it. I couldn't even begin to image what they witnessed that day, but they were both spending so much energy hiding it from the world and themselves that some day they would break. I wanted to know how to be prepared for that day. I found several good articles about it, but still didn't think I was ready to handle it by myself. I had to wait until Sean was back on his feet anyway; now wasn't a good time to open that can of worms.

Jake got home around twenty after five. He'd been riding his mountain bike to the base; he didn't want me leaving Sean alone; even long enough to run him to the base. We had dinner with Sean in his room; Jake didn't want him hurting himself by walking to the dining room. I could see what Sean had been talking about. My stud Marine had turned into a mother hen. I cleared all the dishes away when we were finished and decided I'd just throw them in the dishwasher and let the guy's just hang out together. I hadn't seen much of Jake since Sean had been home; he was too busy with his nursing duties to notice me. I missed him. I grabbed the book I'd been reading and went and curled up on the couch to read. There's nothing like a nice, quiet evening at home; alone. A few hours into my book and I fell asleep on the couch. The next thing I knew Jake was touching my shoulder, waking me up. It was morning. Apparently I'd slept there all night unnoticed.

"Mike, wake up. I'm getting ready to leave for the base. Did you sleep here all night?"

I looked up at him. Duh, I thought to myself. "Yeah, I guess I did. I must've passed out while I was reading. It's cold as hell in here; didn't anyone turn the heat on?"

"I guess not. You always take care of that so I didn't even think to do it."

"You didn't notice it was getting a little cold in here?"

"I guess not."

I'd woke up on the wrong side of the couch and I was starting to get angry; and just a little hurt that he hadn't even noticed I'd been missing since dinner.

"Well I guess that makes sense; there's a lot you haven't noticed lately."

"What do you mean?"

"Well for one, you didn't even notice I'd been MIA for thirteen hours. The last time I saw you was at dinner, and you never even noticed I was gone after that."

"You weren't gone, you were out here reading. I saw you when I got a glass of water outta the kitchen."

"Didn't you wonder when you went to bed how long I was going to stay out here reading?"

"I guess not; I just figured you'd come to bed when you were ready."

"OK, I guess you don't see it, so there's no point in having this conversation. Go ahead and go to the base; I'll look after Sean. See ya tonight."

He stood there looking down at me with a hurt look. I didn't care. Well I did, of course, but I was feeling hurt too and didn't feel like dealing with his.

"Why are you angry with me?"

"I'm not angry. I'm hurt. I'm feeling left out. I'm feeling abandoned. I'm lonely. But I'm not angry." I just looked at him; looking for some sign that he got it.

"I'm sorry. Sean needs me to take care of him."

"Sean's been home for three and a half days; he's doing fine. He's not gonna get hurt while he's in his room. You really... Never mind. Just go. Go to work. I'll take care of Sean while you're gone." I got up and walked around him heading for the bathroom.

While I was standing over the toilet there was a faint knock on the door, followed by a quiet Jake. "I'm sorry, Mike. I Love you. I'll see you tonight. Bye...."

"I love you too..."

When I finished in the bathroom and came out, Jake had gone. I walked down the hall towards the kitchen to see if there was any coffee; knowing there wouldn't be because I'm the one that `usually took care of that'. I got the coffee started and decided I'd better go check on Sean; God forbid he was alone for more than three minutes. I got to his room, looked in and knocked lightly on the door frame.

"Hey, Mike."

"Hey, Sean. You OK; you need anything?"

"Just like you told Jake, I'm fine. Don't worry about me."

"You heard that, huh?"

"Yeah... You were right to tell him. You need to tell him when he hurts your feelings; don't let him get away with that shit."

"Maybe, but I don't know if it accomplished anything."

"You never know; maybe it'll snap him outta this shit. He's driving me crazy and he's hurting you. He needs to realize it."

"I just don't want him thinking he's doing wrong by taking care of you and ignoring me; that he's not doing the right thing. What he thinks he needs to do, if you know what I mean."

"I know what you mean, but he is doing wrong. He doesn't need to ignore you to see that I'm OK. He doesn't have to spend every minute with me. I know he's scared and I know he blames himself for me getting hurt, but he still needs to realize that you're here too and you need him sometimes."

I sighed. "I'm supposed to be a big boy and able to take care of myself; I did it for an awfully long time. I just miss him."

"I know. You haven't lost him, Mike. He's just temporarily out of order, I guess." He smiled up at me.

I smiled back at him. "Nice..." We both grinned. "I've got coffee brewing; you wanna cup?"

"Sure! Make mine a double. Thanks."

"Anytime. Thanks, Sean; for listening."

"Anytime." He thought for a second. "Dude, you need to remember that we love you just as much as you love us; there's nothing Jake or I wouldn't do for you. Keep that thought in your mind every time you're feelin' blue; it's what I do and it helps."

"Thanks, Sean. I will."

I walked back to the kitchen to see if the coffee was ready; it was. I poured two cups and took one to Sean. He was reading something and just took the cup absentmindedly so I left him to his own devices and went to take a shower. When I was done and dressed I looked in on Sean then went to find something to do. I started cleaning. It was actually pretty good therapy and it made the day go by. Sean and I had lunch together in his room and just bullshitted the whole time. He gave me shit about cleaning and told me I should be wearing a maid's uniform. After lunch I continued my cleaning gig and got dinner started. Before I knew it the clock read 5:18 p.m. and I knew Jake should be home any minute. I had my head stuck in the fridge when Jake walked in the door; he came up behind me and rubbed my butt. I guess this was his way of making up. It wasn't a bad one either. I pulled my head out of the fridge to pull him into me and when I got my arms around him and looked over his shoulder, Sean was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, fully dressed. I was kind of shocked; he really wasn't supposed to be up and about just yet. Jake felt me tense up, looked at my face and saw I was looking over his shoulder; he turned to see what I was looking at.

"Sean!! What the fuck're you doing?"

"I'm hungry. I came out for dinner."

"You're not supposed to be walking around. What the fuck are you doing? I'll bring you your dinner."

"I'm tired of being waited on. I wanted a waitress with bigger tits, but that ain't gonna happen around here so I figured I'd just come out and eat with you guys."

"You can't do that!! You have to stay in bed. I'll bring your dinner in to you!"

"Fuck that! I want to eat dinner with my family! You see me standin' here, don't you?" I knew what he was doing, I just didn't know if was going to make things worse; for all of us.

"Sean, you can't be up and around! You have to heal! You have to get better!" Jake was starting to freak out. He had long ago walked around me and was standing in front of Sean.

"Back the fuck off, Jake! I'm a grown man and I don't need you hovering over me 24-hours a fuckin' day. Let me eat dinner with my fuckin' family!"

Jake just stood there, shocked. I felt bad for him. I felt bad for Sean too; I knew it couldn't be easy for him to say that to Jake. I doubt he'd ever spoken harshly to him the whole time they'd known each other. I decided I had to step in.

"Sean, don't do this... I know what you're doing; don't do this. You said it yourself; he'll come around when you're better."

"I'm not doing anything! I just wanted to eat dinner with my family, at the goddamn table, like normal people do! I don't need a nurse maid to spoon feed me my fuckin' food."

Jake had tears streaming down his face. Sean looked at him and then closed his eyes. This was not a good scene.

"Sean, Jake's just trying to help. But OK; fine. Let's eat. I'll get dinner on the table and we'll have a nice family dinner; the three of us together." I turned around and started getting dishes out.

Jake stood in front of Sean just looking at him. "Sean...? Why? Why are you being mean to me? I just want to help. I want to make you feel better."

Sean looked back at Jake and felt the pain he'd caused his best friend. "Jakey...? I... I just wanted to have dinner with you guys; nothing more. I know you want me to get better and I know you're just trying to help. And you have; I do feel better. But Jake, you can't just dedicate your whole life to me. It's not fair to you, Mike or me. We have to move on, brother."

"But you're not healed yet; the doctor said at least two weeks. You're not ready. I just want to help, Sean; I need to help you."

"Brother, you do help me; you always have. But Jake, you can't just worry about me; you have to take care of yourself and Mike too. Mike needs you too, Jake."

"Mike understands. He knows you have to get better; he knows I have to make you better."

"No, Jakey, he doesn't know that. And no, it's not up to you to make me better. This isn't your fault; you didn't do this. You don't have to make up for anything. This was just an accident, Jake; you didn't hurt me and you don't have to make me feel better. I'll feel better soon; I promise, Jake. I've never lied to you. I promise I'll feel better. But you can't do this anymore; you can't feel responsible."

I was just sitting in one the dining room chairs watching; tears running down. Hell all three of us were making a river by then.

"But Sean, you need me to help. I want to help. Just like before, brother; I'm here. I'll always be here."

"I know you are, Jake; I know. But this isn't your fault; just like before, this isn't your fault, and you're not responsible. You didn't do this, Jake..."

Jake stood and looked at him, his eyes pleading with him to let him help. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry. I was just trying to help you, Sean."

"You do help me; all the time. I couldn't make it without you. But you have to take care of you and Mike too. You just need to throttle back a little, dude; it doesn't just have to be all or nothing. I love that you care so much. I love that you want to take care of me. I love you with all my heart and soul, Jakey. I just want you to chill a little. Will you do that for me? Please?"

"You know I'd do anything for you."

"I know you would, and I love you for that; more than you realize. So do this for me, OK?"

Jake nodded his head, but I don't think he was convinced. He was just doing it because Sean said he wanted it. Sean walked up to him and pulled Jake into a hug; both of them starting to cry. I was still sitting on the chair, my heart in my throat, making my own puddle on the floor.

They held each other for about five minutes, both of them crying it out. Sean finally broke the hug and looked into Jake's face. He gave him a small smile and then turned to look at me.

"What are you still doing way over there? We love you too; get your ass over here."

I got up and walked over to them and joined in a nice three way hug. When we finally broke it up and made sure everyone was feeling better, Jake and I helped Sean sit at the table and I got dinner ready to serve while Jake set the table. We did have a nice family dinner together. It was a little quiet at first, everyone was still kind of emotional, but we finally relaxed and started to enjoy each other's company again; just like we always did. We just sat and talked after we'd finished eating and I'd come up with a plan of sorts that might make Jake feel better and get Sean out of that damn room more often.

"I have a plan guys. Hear me out and tell me what you think."

"Lay it on us, baby." Jake smiled over at me.

"Why don't we just set up a bed for Sean out in the living-room? That way Jake can keep an eye out, we can spend some family time together and not be cooped up in that bedroom. Sean will have a change of scenery when he needs it, and also not have to be cooped up in that damn room all the time. You already said that the walls were starting to make you nauseous."

They both sat there and thought about it for a minute, and then both of them, grinning from ear to ear, looked at me. Sean spoke first.

"Goddamn, I knew we kept you around here for more that your sexy body and good cookin'. Why the fuck couldn't we think of that four days ago?" We all laughed.

"That's a great idea! I love it. I get to spend more time with both of my guys, and still be able to do stuff to help out around here. And like you said, Sean, it's only going to be for a few more days. This should work!"

Jake looked happy for the first time in a week. Sometimes the most insurmountable looking problems have the simplest solutions. If only I'd come up with it four days ago.

We all started talking at once about where to put the bed, how to set everything up and how great it would be to live like we used to. Jake and I both jumped up from the table and started moving shit around in the living room. Sean offered to help, but after a look from Jake, thought better of it. The dirty dishes just sat on the dining table and none of us gave a damn. We got everything set up in about twenty minutes, grabbing the twin sized bed out of the garage we had originally bought for Sean before we figured out he should have a bigger one. Jake had Sean's new bed made in less than two minutes, with military precision. I walked over to it, pulled a coin out of my pocket and bounced it off the bed. They both howled with laughter. God, it was nice to see them both happy again; especially Jake.

"Damn, Jake, you do nice work." I looked at him with big grin on my face.

"Thanks." He smiled at me. It looked so good.

I had a thought they might both enjoy. "So who gets to strip Sean so he can check out his new bed?"

Sean looked at me with an evil grin. Jake lit up. I laughed when I saw him. But he surprised me yet again.

"You do. It was your idea."

I looked back over at Sean and he winked at me. Jake walked over to me, hugged me quickly then shoved me over towards Sean. I walked up to him and held my hands out. He looked up at me and smiled shyly.

"Come on, stud, this won't hurt a bit." He laughed and put his hands in mine.

I pulled him up and then led him over to his new bed, turned him around facing me, the bed to my left. I reached down and pulled the covers back, having to tug a little to get them free. I stood back up, facing him. We looked each other in the eyes for a moment, just kind of getting lost. I put my hands on the side of his face and pulled him to me, our lips meeting, our mouths opening and our tongues searching each other's out. I'd never really kissed Sean passionately before. Sure we'd kissed, but it was only during sex; not just a nice, slow passionate kiss. We melted into each other, our mouths hungry for the other. Sean had his arms around my waist, my hands still on his face and we just held the kiss for about a minute. When we broke the kiss and pulled back from each other a few inches, Jake started clapping and cheering. Sean and I both turned red but then started giggling. We both turned and looked at Jake, a little chagrinned.

Jake was beaming at us. "Finally! Fuck, I've been waiting four months for you two to do that!" We both looked at him like he'd lost his mind. "What? You needed to do that; you needed to show each other how much you love each other."

Sean was still holding my hips and I had my hands resting on his neck. We turned back to face each other. We looked into each other eye's for a moment then separated. I stepped back from him a few more inches then reached for his shirt to pull it out of his jeans. He started to lift his arms up like usual, but I shook my head no. He wasn't supposed to stretch like that just yet. I got the shirt up to his arm pits, then pulled his arms through the holes one by one and then lifted the shirt over his head. I turned and threw the shirt at Jake and he caught it and laughed. I looked down at Sean's waist and noticed he was wearing a pair of the 501's I'd bought him several months ago; they were nice and faded and soft now. I looked back to his face and he winked at me and smiled. I blushed and he giggled.

He spoke, barely above a whisper. "I wore `em for you. Every time I wear `em it's for you..."

I almost burst out crying. I caught myself and just gave him a quick kiss instead. I looked back down at his waist and started to undo the buttons. I got the last button undone and pulled the material aside a little so the jeans would slide over his hips. He was wearing his usual tighty whiteys and his cock was rock hard inside of them. This wasn't a time for sex, but I took a good long look anyway. I then lowered myself to my knees and tugged his jeans down to his ankles. When I got down there I untied his tennis shoes and pulled them off his feet, one by one, leaning up and throwing them to Jake. I stood back up and then ran the palm of my hand all the way up the shaft of his cock, starting with his balls. He shivered and moaned. I then stood back and took his hands in mine again and turned him to his left so his butt was facing the bed. I looked him in the eyes again.

"I'm so sorry, baby; you don't know how much I'd love to please you, but not now, not tonight. You're not supposed to be having sex. And I would never do anything to hurt you."

He nodded and smiled at me. I held his hands while he sat on the bed, still looking up at me. Once he was sitting I lowered myself back to my knees and pulled his jeans off his legs, one at a time, then reached around and threw them to Jake. I stood back up and touched his face softly.

"I do love you, you know."

"I love you too, just as much."

I pulled my hand away from his face and smiled at him. I reached down and held the covers up for him and he spun his legs in and got in bed. I pulled the cover up to his waist, coving that beautiful cock of his, and stood back up. I turned and looked at Jake. I was a little worried he might think we'd gone too far with all of that. I was met with a beautiful smile; the kind I remembered getting from him and had missed so much lately, and a nod of his head. I smiled back at him.

We spent the rest of the evening talking and laughing. Being the family we'd been just a week before. The dishes never did get washed that night, but oh well... We stayed up and talked `til about midnight, then Jake and I helped him up and led him to his bedroom. Jake went back into nurse mode and made sure he was alright and all tucked in and ready for the night. When he was done he just looked at Sean and then whispered to him. I was standing at the door but I still heard what he said.

"I told you he loved you as much as I do. Don't ever doubt that again."

Jake kissed him on the forehead then stood back up and reached to turn off the bedside lamp. "I love you Sean. Goodnight."

"I love you too, Jakey. Sleep well. I love you Michael."

"I've never doubted it. I love you too, Sean. Sweet dreams."

Jake and I went to our room and got ready for bed. We had no intention of having sex tonight, it was too late to start and it'd been too much of an emotional day. Jake and I climbed into bed and wrapped each other up in our arms.

I looked at him and smiled. "I think we have our family back together, baby."

He grinned at me. "Yeah we do. I couldn't be happier."

"That goes double for me."

He laughed and then kissed me. He pulled back from the kiss and looked at me.

"I love you, Mikey. I'll never stop loving you. Even if it seems like I'm far away sometimes, know that I love you."

"I never doubt your love for me, baby. I feel it all around me every day. I do get scared when you go far away, but I always know you love me."

"Don't be scared anymore. Sean and I will never leave you alone; never."

"I know, Jacob. Believe me; I know it in my heart. I love you, baby. Sweet dreams."

"Sweet dreams"

We both closed our eyes and fell asleep quickly.

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