The next morning was miserable. He called at six thirty to wake me up, just saying get up and he'd be here at seven-thirty to pick me up and then hanging up. I had my usual killer beer hangover; throbbing headache, queasy stomach and several impassioned pleas to God to either kill me now or at least let the things I said and did last night be nothing more than a bad dream.
I made it out of bed and into the bathroom to throw a piss and then spending a little time with my head in the bowl, talking to the Tidy Bowl man. I drug my ass over to the shower and got in, still wearing my shorts and t-shirt and tried to wake up. While I was in the shower I just kept thinking about all the stupid things I said and did last night. He's gonna hate me. He's gonna think I'm nothing more than a queer boy trying to get in his pants. That wasn't true though. Yes, I would love to get in his pants, but it was more than that; I'd let myself fuckin' fall for him. I fell for a damn straight guy. I tried to quit thinking about it; about him. I finally managed to get my clothes off and get washed, spending four or five minutes trying to wash the taste out of my mouth. Once I was done with my shower and had taken enough naproxen to kill any headache I managed to get dressed and look half-way presentable for work. I looked at my watch. Fuck, he'd be here in five minutes. Well, maybe less; he's knocking on the damn door. I walk over and open it, finding him standing there looking the same as he did when he showed up yesterday; awake and alert and not hung-over. Fucker...
He grins at me. "How's the head and stomach?"
"Both revolting; in every sense of the word. Why aren't you hung-over?"
"I'm not a light-weight. Are you ready to go?"
"No, but I guess I'm as ready as I'll get today. I almost called in sick but I can't today; I have two more servers to get setup by five. Fuck..."
He chuckles. "Bet you won't do that again on a school night."
"Oh hell no."
"Do you want me to take you to your car or just take you to work? You don't really look like you should be driving yet."
"You may be right. I guess work. Thank you. Thank you, Mark. I appreciate it."
"No worries. Let's go."
We get in his truck and I turn to look at him.
"I'm so sorry about last night. I feel mortified for the things I said to you. I had no right to come on to you and I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I embarrassed you."
He looks at me, a small grin edging the corners of his mouth. "I doubt I'm anywhere near as embarrassed as you are. Don't worry about it, Brian. Like I told ya last night; don't kick yourself in the ass for telling me what's on your mind."
"Sure. There's a hell of a difference though, between saying what's on my mind and coming on to you. I had no right to do that and I'm sorry."
"Give yourself a break, dude; I `m a big boy and I can handle having a guy come on to me. Let me ask you. Were you being honest?"
I blush and turn away for a moment. "Drinking has a nasty habit of making my tongue say what my head is thinking, so yeah."
"That's all I'll ever ask from you; that you're always honest with me." He grins. "You do get really flirty when you're drunk, though; damn, dude. I thought I was gonna have to pry you off me."
I flush crimson. "Oh man... I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, Mark."
He laughs. "Don't be sorry; you were just expressing what was on your mind. You were being honest with me. I respect that." He starts the truck and pulls away from the curb. When he gets to the stop sign he turns to me and grins again. "And see, I'm not like all men; I didn't leave you on the curb." He chuckles, watching me turn red again and makes the turn onto the main road. We spend the majority of the ride in silence; my head hurts too much to talk and he's being his usual careful self on the road. When he pulls up in front of my job he looks at me and grins.
"What time do you get out of here?"
"Usually at five."
"I'll be here and then we can go get your car. Have a good one."
I smile at him. "You too, Mark. And thank you. I appreciate this."
"Hey, I'm the one that got you drunk; it's the least I can do." He smiles.
"Yeah, sure; you were forcing the beers down me. Bad man." I smile again. "Thanks, Mark."
I get out of his truck and go inside, dreading the day ahead of me. The naproxen hasn't kicked in yet and my head is throbbing.
I've managed to make it through the morning without my head or my stomach exploding and by lunch time I'm actually starting to get hungry. I'll have to see if a co-worker will grab me something for lunch since I don't have my car and there's nowhere close by to get food. Just as I'm thinking this my cell phone rings. I look at the caller ID, not recognizing the number and answer the phone.
"Hey dude, how's the head?"
"Better, Mark; thanks for askin'. The drugs finally kicked in."
He laughs. "They never work as fast as you want `em to. Hey, I was callin' to ask if there's any way you can have someone from work give you a ride to your car. I'm on a job site and it doesn't look like I'll get out of here until after seven or so. If not, tell me and I'll make an excuse to get out of here."
"Don't worry about it. I'll find someone. We can't piss your boss off anymore than he is. I can't afford two house payments and child support."
He chuckles. "Yeah, no doubt. Thanks for understanding."
"Please. You've shown me more understanding in the last sixteen hours than I've shown my entire life."
"Are you still beating yourself up about last night? Stop that shit. It's not a big deal; let it go."
"If you were inside my head you wouldn't say that. I'll try though. Thanks for letting me know in advance though; that's sweet of you. Sorry, cool of you. The gay slipped out for a second."
He laughs. "Dude, you've gotta calm down about this. I'm really okay with everything; don't sweat it. And yes, I have my sweet moments, no matter how few and far between they are. I'll talk to ya later, Brian. Have a good day. And hey, call me back if you can't get a ride."
"I will. Thanks again, Mark. Don't work too hard, and keep your boss off your ass."
He chuckles. "I will. I wouldn't want him to damage it; seeing as how you like lookin' at it."
I flush red. "Oh man... You're fuckin' with me and that's not nice."
"I am. I'm sorry; I'll be good. See ya later, bro."
After I end the call I go in search of one the hotties I work with. Now I have two favors; lunch and a ride to the steak house. Luckily he agrees to both and brings me a sub and a coke. We eat lunch together out on the front steps and bullshit for a little while; him telling me about the night his wife surprised him on his birthday in her birthday suit. It was corny but a funny story and I laughed where I was supposed to. Around two I would've given my left nut and part of my right one for a nap but I managed to stay awake and actually get both servers setup and connected to the network; a successful day regardless of my physical condition. It was my emotional condition I was more concerned about; I'd spent the entire day thinking about and daydreaming about Mark. I gotta get over him; at least that way. We're friends and nothing more.
I got my car from the steak house and headed home, thinking of nothing more than another shower and my pillow. I wasn't really sleepy but I was sure as hell tired; my body felt like I'd run a marathon. When I walked in the house I thought I'd be a nice guy and call Mark to tell him I got my car and got home. He answered on the first ring.
"Hey, dude. Just wanted to let you know I got my car and made it home without my head exploding."
He chuckles. "That's good to know. Is your head still hurting?"
"Nah, it's much better now. Now I'm just tired and wishing I were asleep. I can't go to bed now though; I'd be up at two."
"Yeah, no kidding. Hey, I'm gonna be outta here in about an hour; how about some food?"
"Sure. I'll fix you dinner."
"That's really nice but not what I meant. Why don't I just grab some takeout on the way and we'll chow at your place?"
"I'll agree to the second part. Listen, I have a package of sirloin patties I got from the butcher that need to be eaten before they go bad. Let's just throw `em on the grill and we'll kick back on the patio and watch the smoke billow over towards your house. I can throw a salad together to go with `em and we'll call it dinner."
"Hell yeah. I never turn down home cookin', even if it's barbeque. I should be home around seven."
"I'll see ya at seven."
Be home? That sounded so good to me. I knew what he meant; hell, he only lives down the street, but it still sounded really good me. My man was on his way home. I have to stop this; I'm driving myself crazy.
By the time Mark gets to my house at a quarter after seven I've taken a shower, shaved, made a salad, diced, shredded and cried condiments (onions) and I have the fire going in the grill, waiting for the stupid things to turn white so I can cook. I'm in the kitchen finishing my prep when he walks into the garage. My heart jumps into my throat and I'm immediately happy just seeing him.
"Yeah, in here; come on in. I'm just getting ready to take the burgers outside."
He walks in the door and smiles at me. "Damn... Nice. You're kitchen actually looks like a kitchen; mine's more like a storage room. I can get to the fridge and microwave."
I laugh. "It's one of my few gay traits; I like to cook and bake. Come in and make yourself at home. Wanna a beer or something non-alcoholic?"
He grins. "I'll take non-alcoholic. I'm not ready to start on the beer again; too soon."
"So you weren't as not hung-over as you looked this morning."
He grins. "Not really; I just hide it better than you. I wasn't as drunk as you though. I get the impression you don't normally drink a whole lot."
"It's not as much a question of volume as of frequency. I don't drink very often but when I do I tend to get way past feelin' good."
"Smart-ass; that's what I meant."
I grin at him. "OK dipshit. The fridge is over there; help yourself to whatever you find to drink in there and let's head out back."
He laughs. "What'd I tell ya about callin' me dipshit?"
"That you'd eventually take it personally. Quit callin' me smart-ass and I'll quit callin' you dipshit."
He grins. "I can't do it; sorry. I guess you'll have to call me dipshit." He laughs.
"You thought you were the only one?"
I smirk and grin. "I knew better. Grab a drink and let's go watch the coals turn white."
He laughs. "Damn, you're my kinda date; easily entertained."
I grin at him. "That's me; cheap and easy."
"Really?" He smiles.
I grab the plate holding the patties and walk out the patio doors, him laughing his ass off behind me. He joins me out on the patio, looking around.
"Damn... This is nice, Brian."
"I'm glad you like. I can't take credit for this though; this was all Chris. He hated being indoors and did everything out here to make it an outdoor living space."
"He does good work. Is he a contractor?"
I laugh. "No. Other than this the boy never held a hammer in his life. Nah, he's another computer dude; a network engineer."
"Ah. I'm guessing you two met in college?"
I smile. "We did. I was in my sophomore year; he was a junior. After the first couple of months we got an apartment together and a year later we bought this house together. He sold me his half of the house when he took off with Bieber."
Mark laughs. "I'll never be able to look at Bieber the same way."
I turn and look at him. "You spend a lot of time looking at Bieber, do ya?"
"Shut up. Jared went through a Beiber stage; I was forced into it. Now put those things on the grill; the coals aren't gonna get any whiter."
I smirk. "Don't get used to it."
He laughs. "Why not?"
"It's reserved for a select few."
I blush. He smirks and grins. "Bosses and the man I'm in love with."
"Ah. But you told me last night that you've fallen for me; doesn't that mean I rate?"
I turn as red as the tomatoes I'm standing in front of. "Please don't tease me about this. I'm honestly fighting like hell to not fall in love with you. I've done nothing but think about you all day and it's not an easy battle."
He looks in my eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure how to respond to what you just said, but I promise not to ever tease you about it again."
"Thanks. Can you watch the burgers for a minute; I gotta take a piss?"
I walk into the house and head straight for the bathroom off my bedroom, closing the door and leaning up against it, fighting for control. Goddamn, why does he have to be straight? He's perfect for me. He's the one I want. He's the one I've been waiting for since Chris left. I've never been one to back down from a challenge but this one's gonna kick my ass. How do I be his friend and control my feelings for him? Maybe it'll level off after a week or so; maybe I just have a crush on him right now and it'll go away. It has to; I have to maintain control. I don't want to fuck up our new friendship. I don't want him to leave my life.
I push myself off the door and stand in front of the toilet, letting my bladder take over. Once finished I spend about two minutes just washing my face with cold water; trying to hide whatever he might see there. When I walk back out to the patio he's pulling the burgers off the grill. Damn, I must've been in there longer than I thought. He looks at me.
"That was some piss. Are you alright?"
"Yeah. They're done, huh?"
He nods. "Yeah; probably medium to medium well if that's OK."
I smile. "Perfect. Sorry about leaving you with the cooking. Let's eat. I'll get the salad outta the kitchen."
"Hey Brian, are you alright?"
"I'm good. Be right back."
We're about half-way through dinner when he looks at me. We haven't said a whole lot during dinner and I guess he's wondering about the uncomfortable silence.
"Tell me what you're thinking, Brian. You said you'd be honest with me."
I look at him and sigh. "I'm thinking I really hope I just have a crush on you and it'll pass in a week or so. I don't want to lose you as a friend because I can't keep a lid on my feelings. I guess I'm just really hoping you'll be patient with me and let me work this out. But don't leave me."
He smiles. "I'm not going anywhere. I like you a lot, Brian; you're the first person I've met in awhile who I like to be around. You're real. You're honest with yourself and with me. You told me last night that I should be flattered, and I am. I really am. It's actually kind of amazing to me that a guy, anyone, could develop feelings for me so quickly and so profoundly. I won't lie; it's kind of an ego boost. I'd feel a lot easier about it if you had nice tits and hair down to your ass, but I'm still flattered."
I smirk. "Gee thanks. I could probably grow the hair but the tits are outta the question."
He laughs. "Eh, I have a hard time imagining you with either. Believe me, Brian, if I were gay I would feel like I was damn lucky to have you, and I sure as hell wouldn't leave you for Beiber. I'm sorry I can't return your feelings but that doesn't mean I'm gonna just walk out of here and never talk to you again. We'll get through this. Maybe it is just a crush. It'll pass in a few days when you discover what I'm really like. Then you'll be beggin' me to get away from you." He grins.
I grin. "I can't imagine that happening, especially considering where I'm at right now, but I hear what you're sayin'. I hope it is too. And I'm sorry to lay all this on you. Hell, we just met yesterday and I'm already making your life hard."
"You're not making my life hard. Damn, dude, when are you gonna quit being so hard on yourself?"
"When my life is how I want it and it all falls into place."
"Hey, if you can accomplish that, tell me how you do it; I wanna know the secret. My life is nowhere near the way I want it, but I'm not nearly as hard on myself as you are. Relax, dude; it's just life. We make it the best we can with what we're dealt and then we die. You can only do so much."
"Wow, you're just a fountain of positive good will."
He laughs. "I tell it like I see it."
I look in his eyes. "Tell me what you see?"
"I see a man who's still pissed at the world for what his boyfriend did to him. I see a man who's learning to trust again. I see a man who's tired of being alone. I see a man who's very frustrated that his life took a sharp left when he thought it was on track. I see a man who somehow managed to fall in love, with a straight man no less, after having the rug ripped out from under him. I see my new friend."
I look at him with tears in my eyes. "Why the fuck can't you be gay? At least a little crooked..."
He smiles. "Then life would be fair and everyone would live happily ever after; where's the fun in that?"
I close my eyes for a moment and then look at his. "What's so bad about happily ever after? Isn't that what you thought when you got married? This is happily ever after?"
"A lot changes in sixteen years, Brian. Reality sets in; especially when your entire life picks up and moves out, leaving you behind. You know that as well I do."
"Yeah, but does that mean we stop trying to find it? Once burned, twice shy? I'm not talking about you and I, but about love in general; about finding that person that puts you back on track."
"Is that all your want outta life; to be on track?"
"No! I want to share my life with someone that gets me; with someone that I get. I want to wake up every morning next to the man who's my reason for getting up. I wanna see what he sees, through his eyes. I wanna be wrapped in his arms and told that I'm loved and that everything will be OK. I want to spend my life with him, growing old together and calling him a dipshit when he acts like one and being called a smart-ass when I'm acting like one. I want... Fuck..."
Mark looks at me, looking a little taken-aback. "My God... You still believe in love, don't you?"
"Yes, dammit! What's so wrong with that?"
"It doesn't last and you get your ass kicked."
"Bullshit! That's the easy way out. So what, you're planning to spend the rest of your life alone, getting laid a few times a year with some strange and call it good? That's not living, Mark, that's that day to day bullshit people tell us to live our lives by."
"Day to day is the only way to live; you don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring. One day you have a wife and son, the next you have squat. You have an empty house, an empty life and an empty heart. Why put yourself through all of that again?"
"Possibilities... Love. Hope. Sharing your life. Then the house is full, your life is full and your heart is full again. Then you pray and hope like hell that it doesn't all go the way the last one did. But if it does, you pick yourself up by your fuckin' balls and try again. You never give up. At some point you'll find the one. You'll find the one who makes all the bullshit before seem like nothing more than a bad dream."
"Do you honestly, truly believe everything you just said?"
We sit there for a few minutes just looking at each other, our dinner pretty much forgotten. He takes a drink of his soda and looks back at me.
"And you honestly, truly believe you've found all of that in me?"
"You don't even know me, Brian. How can you be so sure?"
"My gut is telling me and my gut's never let me down."
"Did your gut warn you about Beiber?"
I grin. "No, he was a surprise. Well him, specifically; I had a feeling about six months prior that all was not right in our little world. But yeah, Beiber was a surprise."
"You're one up on me; the whole damn mess was one huge, fucking surprise." He looks in my eyes again. "You think you're in love with me?"
"I know I am."
He closes his eyes for a moment and then looks in my eyes again. "I'm not gay, Brian."
"I know... I wish with everything in me that you were, but yeah, I know..."
"I'm sorry..." He sighs. "What the hell do we do now?"
"Just like we said. I get control of my feelings for you and we go on as friends. I know this is a lot more than a crush, but I will find a way to get over it and move on."
"I don't understand why but that makes me feel like shit. I feel like I'm hurting you."
"Don't feel bad, Mark; please don't. Either way I'd have to get over you. If we decided to call it a draw and go our separate ways I'd still have to deal with the feelings. If we stay friends I have to deal with the feelings. I'd much rather stay friends."
"Like I told ya, I'm not going anywhere. We're friends, Brian. I'll help you with this however I can."
"I know you will; thank you. See, that's just another reason I know you'd be the right one."
"Let me ask ya this. Did you know this fast that Chris was the right one?"
"No. My initial attraction to Chris was purely physical; I thought he was the hottest guy I'd ever seen. And as it turns out, he wasn't the right one. I mean, yeah, I loved him with everything I had but it started out as nothing more than hooking up with a hot guy."
He grins. "Not to sound arrogant again, but maybe that's all this is. You told me you think I'm sexy. Maybe you just want in my pants." He grins again.
"I thought that might be it too, but then I thought more about it. You are incredibly sexy but to be honest, in all the times I thought about you today, not one time was it sexual. I haven't pictured you once today without your clothes on."
He grins again. "So you've pictured me before without my clothes on?"
"Yeah. Yesterday, actually; about two hours after our argument at the quickie mart."
He laughs. "Really? So I'm standing there yelling at you to move your car and you're stripping me down in your mind? That's fucked up, dude." He laughs again.
I smirk and grin. "Dipshit. I said two hours afterwards. I was thinking about what had happened and then I started thinking that it was also the first time I'd ever seen you standing up. I got a mental image of what you looked like and then that morphed into what you looked like without the jeans and shirt."
He grins. "Perv. I can only assume your mental image of me was a lot better than the real thing, Brian. OK, so yesterday you're thinking of ripping my clothes off; what'd you think about today?"
"Everything else. I thought about last night; before I got drunk, and what a great time I was having with you. How easy you are for me to talk to. How much you made me laugh. How thoughtful you are. And I see that every day while we're going to work too. How contagious your smile is to me. Every time you'd smile last night it made me smile; it still does. What it would feel like to be wrapped in your arms..." I blush a little after saying that.
He blushes and grins. "Oh man... It was easier to accept you picturing me naked; easier to understand. Being horny and turned on is simple; what you just said isn't so simple."
"No, it's not. I wish it were just physical. Hell, I could beat off and go on with life. You've got my attention. Now I just have to figure out what I'm gonna do about it; how I'm gonna get past it. I can't let this fuck up what promises to be a great friendship. That's all I thought about this morning when you called to wake me up; that I'd fucked everything up and you'd hate me."
"Don't. I don't hate you. You didn't fuck up anything."
I smile at him. "Good. I'm really glad about that."
He grins. "Me too. You're right, Brian; this promises to be a great friendship."
Mark stayed for another hour, helping me with clean-up and then the two of us sitting outside and bullshitting. We mostly talked about work and other non-threatening topics. By the time he left to go home we were both yawning constantly and decided the few hours of sleep we'd gotten the night before hadn't been enough; it was time for more. He thanked me several times for dinner, gave me a really quick bro hug, turning our handshake into a quick one handed hug and then walked out to his truck. I wanted to watch him drive home but decided that was a little much and just closed the door and got ready for bed.
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