This story involves sexual contact and male/male relationships. This story is property of the author and is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without written permission of the author. All characters and plot lines are fictional. Any resemblance is strictly coincidental and should be noted as such.

Author's Note: It's time for a new one of these, I suppose. There's so much to say... I guess I'll start with Matt, since he's where this story started. He is the one who suggested I even try, and twenty-six chapters later, here we are, so to Matt, I want to say thank you for getting me to try and encouraging me. A lot of people have found some sort of happiness, hope, or comfort from the words I wrote, and I wrote them, at least at the beginning, because you thought I should try. To my mutual admirer... what to say? It's really something comforting, something amazing, to have someone I know will be honest, someone who knows what they're talking about, and someone with whom I have mutual respect and affection for there to listen and offer the confidence I sometimes lack, so to Steve, I'll say thanks for being you. To Rich, and my kids, who have heard, "hold on, I'm almost done," so many times I'm sure they've lost count; I appreciate your patience and encouragement, I love you guys. Thanks to a whole list of people who have taken the time to tell me how much they like this story for one reason or another, and who have taken the time to tell me what they think. There are too many to name, by far, but a special thanks to Steven and Toby. Joey, the guy who never wants anything, and does everything, thanks for always dropping everything to help me and never complaining once, even when I drag your ass out of bed for it. David... God, I don't know what to say. Odd isn't it? For me to not have the words, especially when it comes to you. I can say without a doubt, that this story would not be what it is without you. Sometimes I think you're as much a part of it as I am, and that makes me smile for all kinds of reasons. Thank you for everything, for all the help, and advice, and the praise, and mostly the love you give me every day.

Anyone else, have a good read. Feedback is always appreciated at or visit my site at

From Behind Those Eyes -- Chapter 26

Old habits die hard, or at least, that's what they say. Then again, given the proper motivation, it's rather easy to decide you'd like to adopt new habits, make some changes in your life, and just the thought of being with Jesse made me want to acclimate to something new, something fuller. I didn't hide my smile this time when I walked up to him in the courtyard at lunch today, I didn't look around to see who was watching; it didn't matter to me today. Today, I was Stephen Cooper, boyfriend to the hottest, out and proud, gay guy in school. Today, I was out and proud, I was me. Finally.

"Hey Jess," I said as I dropped a kiss on his cheek, smiling as I hugged him from behind. "I missed you."

He laughed, that smile that always conjured a matching one from me, shining brightly in the cool, last days of November. Even as the brisk air bustled around us, his cheek was warm against mine as he blushed slightly, melting back into my arms. "You just saw me last night," he reminded me, as if that mattered.

"I know, but I like seeing you," I said. "I like you right here," squeezing him tightly in my arms.

"I like it right here, too," he repeated, and to the average onlooker, it was just the two of us hugging, but what that person wouldn't see was the way Jesse had backed up against me, pressing back into me to accompany his current innuendo.

"Hey Coop," Bobby said dropping a quick hand on my shoulder before sliding past us to sit down across from Jules and Sean who were having a rather involved and quiet discussion that had her glowing and him looking like he knew something no one else did. "Hey, Jesse," he added looking up at us.

"Hi," we replied concertedly from above him.

Bobby rolled his eyes jokingly, and with a nod of his head at the people across the table from him, he asked, "What's with them?"

"I don't know man, I just got here, too," I shrugged.

"Something about Christmas, I think," Jesse supplied uncertainly.

"Whatever, I'm hungry," I decided. "You hungry?" I asked Jesse, already trying to decide what I wanted to eat in the twenty minutes we had left for lunch.

"Sure, always," Jesse shrugged. "Guess we'll be right back," he told no one in particular since Jules and Sean were still whispering and Bobby was chewing like someone should feed the guy more often.

We strolled across the courtyard together, something that, until today, hadn't happened once in the preceding nine-hundred or so days that we had attended the same school. Jesse was taunting me with the fact that he had come up with the perfect Christmas present for me, and as I was trying out various empty threats in order to get him to tell me, I threw my arm around his shoulders and pulled him up against me, smiling like only he could make me. It felt like... the perfect game. I had my teammates, Bobby, Jules, Sean, and most importantly, Jesse. I had my coaches, my dad, and Jules parents, and Jesse's family. If I got tired late in the eighth inning and made an error, my team was there to back me up; we were in this game together. I was on top of the mound, or the world, and this was my game. Finally.

There's nothing like it. I guess anyone who has always been totally and unconditionally accepted for who and what they are would never get the chance to feel like I felt, but this was my game and I was going to play it my way. I want to say it's liberating, but the truth is, the liberation comes way earlier in the game. Before the seventh inning stretch, before the fans need a second drink and are wondering where the hot dog guy is, long before you've got grass stains and red clay on your uniform, you had to suit up and walk out on to that mound and face that opponent. That is what's liberating, to stand up in front of all the people that show up and just take the mound, play with your whole heart, knowing that if you didn't have your team behind you, and your coaches in the dugout, you wouldn't be the same player you are, and this wouldn't be the same game.

It takes courage, faith, knowing that you're doing the best you know how to do. It takes heart, commitment, to be the best you can be even in the face of uncertainty and fear. It's a liberated soul that doesn't back down, that tries; not knowing what the final score will be after the last pitch is thrown, but still throwing every pitch as if it was the one that would win the game. It takes bravery to look inside and see yourself for who, and what, you really are, and to embrace that person as someone you love and respect enough to be true to yourself.

"You can do whatever you want to me, I'm still not going to tell you what it is," Jesse laughed as he struggled slightly against the strength of my arm.

"That sounds promising," I decided, smirking at him.

"Oh fuck! So it is true?" Justin commented loudly seeing Jesse and I together, arms around each other, laughing.

I'd been keeping my distance from him ever since he had pulled that shit outside the locker room after the game, scaring Jesse and me, even if it was for totally different reasons, but I just couldn't get myself to not be pissed at him, so instead, I stayed away from him.

"I thought... maybe we had misunderstood, that people were just talking shit, you know? ...Guess not," he frowned unceremoniously while Tim gloated silently from a step behind Justin.

Jesse looked at me cautiously, but I smiled reassuringly at him and held on tightly. I knew he was worried about what this would cost me, and sometimes confirmation made the gossip worse, but this was something I wasn't willing to hide from anymore. Besides, all the people I cared about already knew and they were happy for us; they were our friends, our families.

"Guess not," I shrugged my confirmation, watching to see his reaction. I didn't taunt him or evade, I didn't argue or deny it, I just agreed with him, and I think that confused him because he just stood there, his eyes flickering back and forth between Jesse and me.

"See, I told you it was true," Tim added, being unable to help himself from sneering in my direction.

"Why am I not surprised?" I asked rhetorically, rolling my eyes out of boredom with the same old situation.

"You're serious?" Justin asked ignoring Tim's gloating. "You're actually fucking serious, aren't you?" He wasn't shouting, in fact, it was said rather quietly, questioningly, disbelief still embedded in his mind.

I raised my eyebrow challengingly, "You have no idea..."

The implications accompanying my answer were likely lost on Justin who was lost in thought, his mind probably trying to figure out how someone who didn't fit any stereotype, someone who had been his friend, his teammate, someone who he had respected for his talent, as well as his personality, could be so different from the idea he carried around in his head. Nothing had changed though, not really, I was still the same person, but it seems that some people think they should get a vote when it comes to things like who you love, who you choose to spend your time with, who you sleep with.

We stood there waiting for his response; Jesse's gripping hand around my waist giving away his concern with the situation even as he stood tall next to me. My fingers fluttered lightly on his shoulder, an attempt at reassuring him without moving the focus of the conversation onto Jesse. It was time to settle this, once and for all, before things got out of hand and the season started.

"I have an idea..." Tim interrupted. "Since you'd rather catch for the other team, than pitch for ours," he prodded, "maybe you should take your queer ass and go play somewhere else."

"Alright, who told?" I asked in mock irritation.

"I did, man. Sorry, was I supposed to be keeping that quiet?" Bobby chuckled as he walked up trying to diffuse the situation, and as Tim and Justin looked over at him in confusion, I stole a glance at Jesse who seemed to be in a state of shock, the way his eyes seemed to widen with each progressive statement. It was rather clear he wasn't used to sticking up for himself and laying it all out there, which granted, if I wasn't who I was, I would probably find inconceivable, too.

Justin, realizing that this wasn't a joke, didn't know quite what to do. I'm sure it started out as some fact finding mission, a way to reassure himself that it wasn't true, that his team captain, the guy who led the way for him, wasn't gay, but now that it was becoming clear to him that it wasn't a joke at all, he seemed torn.

"So what's up?" Bobby asked, unnecessarily since he could clearly see what was going on.

"Oh, well, Justin was just coming to find out if all the gossip was true, and Tim was suggesting I quit the team," I answered bluntly as Justin's eyes widened and Tim sneered in my direction.

"Oh, is that all? Old news boys," Bobby commented. "So, Coop..."

"You're not quitting the team, are you?" Justin interrupted evenly.

"Do you think I should?" I asked, focusing on him and blocking everyone else out for the moment, not that I had any intention of giving up one of the most important things in my life, but it would be interesting to hear what he thought.

"I already told you, you don't play for our team," Tim chimed in backhandedly.

Justin started to look away, instinct made him want to look at the person who was speaking, but I stayed focused on him, even ducking a little and leaning sideways to maintain eye contact with him. I already knew what Tim thought, he made it clear every chance he got, but I was interested in what Justin thought now, so I watched him and waited, raising my eyebrow questioningly.

"Come on, Justin. Just tell him you don't want to play with a..."

"Shut up, Tim," Justin interrupted him before he could say anything further, and I sucked in my bottom lip, intrigued. It was Justin's move so I didn't say anything, but I gave him a reassuring shrug to let him know it was his choice how to handle Tim, and I'd back him up if he needed it, after all, that's what teammates do.

It was only a minute or two that we all stood there looking at each other uncomfortably and wondering what was going to happen next before I decided for him, saying, "As much as I'd love to stand here all day with you while you figure your shit out, I'm hungry, so we're going to go eat."

We walked away, Jesse, Bobby, and I, leaving Justin and Tim standing there with each other once more. I had hoped that we could come to some sort of understanding, find some resolution to the same old argument, and even if it seemed like somehow this afternoon we had taken a small baby step toward that place, we were apparently going to be fashionably late to the party. I just kept reminding myself that I had years to come to terms with who I was, and that maybe it would take other people some time, too, but it would be nice if not everyone needed as much convincing as I had. I felt bad leaving Justin standing there with Tim, looking like an asshole, especially after he told Tim to shut up, but I wasn't going to put my life on hold while I waited for other people to figure out they were ready to walk with me.

"Hey, wait up!" Justin called out as he jogged over to us. "You guys mind if I tag along? I...uhh... haven't eaten yet, either," the olive branch officially extended.

"Nope, there's always room for one more," I said, accepting his offer for all that it represented, smiling a silent thank you in his direction as we walked together across the courtyard

Justin smiled back, the brief, but genuine, upturn of his mouth saying he was okay with things as they were, before I looked over at Jesse. A mixture of skeptical relief washed over him, and I understood exactly how he was feeling, but added to that, was some small amount of pride and respect for my teammate and the play he just made.

"Hey, Coop?" Justin said quietly, reaching out to grab my arm as Bobby was trying to alleviate some of the anxiety Jesse was feeling by distracting him from the obvious.

"Yeah?" I looked over at him as we walked toward the cafeteria.

"I... I'm sorry about all that shit I said before... you know, that night. I was just..."

"It's not me you need to be apologizing to," I said, my forehead wrinkling in some sort of attempt at neutrality. "But, thanks," I smiled.

It impressed me that not only was he willing to step up for me, and away from Tim, but that he was also not afraid to admit when he fucked up, and that was something I admired. I stopped walking as the rest of them moved forward, and when they noticed I had stopped and turned around to find out why, I turned around and yelled, "Tim..."

He looked over at me as though he was still trying to figure out what had just happened, raising his eyebrows questioningly.

I shrugged in his direction, my arms spread open. I couldn't decide this for him, and I didn't envy his walk back onto the diamond, but I tried, "See you on the field..."

All week the weatherman had been predicting rain, and so far, he'd been wrong every day, but then, they usually are, so that wasn't at all surprising. In fact, it was almost more surprising when the rain finally did show up Friday night without warning. There was no slight misting, no sudden mask of clouds that blew in and took over the sky, just a drop on my arm, another on my cheek, and then a massive downpour that caused everyone to hustle under some rooftop or awning for cover. Slowly, one by one, dads started to run across the parking lot, splashing all the way to their cars, so they could drive over and pick up the rest of the unsuspecting and unprepared members of their families and head for home.

"Guess you should head on home, too," Wilson suggested. "Not gonna have many customers in this rain," he decided, searching the sky for nothing in particular.

"You're sure, Wilson? I don't have any place I have to be really. I don't mind staying," I offered, although he had a point, I thought, as we watched a mother rush to load her child in the back seat before promptly depositing herself in the front seat of their car.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Go on, get out of here," he huffed. "I'm sure you can think of a thing or two you'd rather do than stand out here all night in the rain with me."

My mind explored the possibilities momentarily, not that it was a far stretch to find something that I'd rather be doing, and I smiled at the thought as I shoved my hands into my pockets for warmth as much as for something to do with them.

"Uh huh, that's what I thought," Wilson laughed, his smile shining like the twinkle in my eyes. "See you tomorrow night, kid."

"You should head home, too," I suggested as he waived the idea away just as quickly. "Night Wilson," finally giving in, I pulled my hood up over my head and jogged over to my truck and climbed in out of the rain.

In the rain, it was a good twenty minutes until I arrived in front of Jesse's house, but I grinned in spite of the weather, as I parked out front along the curb. Pulling my hood up over my head once more, I left the shelter of my truck and made a run for the front door, holding my pant legs up in an effort to keep them dry as I sloshed my way up the front walk. I shook off my hood and knocked on the door as I wiped at my face with my sleeves. When the door swung open, I expected to see someone at eye level, but instead I had to look down to find Lily standing there to greet me, smiling like only a member of the Green family could.

"Hi Stephen, what are you doing here?" she asked out of surprise and not a lack of manners.

"Hi Lily," I said scooping her up and swinging her around once. "I'm here to surprise Jesse," I whispered in her ear as she sat in my arms.

"You are?" her eyes widened.

"Mmhmm," I grinned and winked conspiratorially in her direction.

"Can I help?" she wondered aloud. "I'm a good surpriser."

I looked at her with an evaluating gaze as she tried her best to look sure she was up to the challenge before I conceded. "Okay, if you think you can do it."

"I can," she assured me, nodding hastily.

"Okay, then here's what I want you to do..." I explained quietly till she understood, and then she ran off and I followed her quietly up the stairs so I could listen in.

She ran into Jesse's room without even knocking and I had to stifle a laugh as he said, "Lily... I told you about that. Go back out and try again."

"But Jesse," she tried to continue.

"Go on," he said and I heard her huff out in exasperation as she stomped back out the door and closed it behind her, rolling her eyes at me, not at all amused.

I winked at her as I held a finger up to my lips reminding her not to give the surprise away. She took a deep breath and knocked and when he asked, "Who is it?" we rolled our eyes in unison.

"It's Lily. Can I come in?" she asked and waited for permission before twisting the doorknob for the second time in as many minutes and walking in his room.

"Hi Lily," he said as if the whole previous fiasco hadn't even happened, and I could imagine the frustration on her face as she swallowed it to keep with the plan.

"Jesse, do you wanna play catch?" she asked perfectly.

"No, Lily, it's pouring rain outside. We can't play catch out there now," he answered as anticipated.

"Okay, I guess I'll go tell Stephen you don't wanna play then," she said right on cue as she turned and headed out the door, high-fiving me as she ran past. I needed to remember to thank her for helping; she really was a great surpriser.

"Wait, what? Lily, come back here," Jesse said as he stood up and ran out into the hall and right into my arms, ending up face to face with my big, mopey expression.

"You don't want to play catch with me?" I pouted.

"She didn't say it was with you," he tried. "I didn't know what she meant," he rambled on trying to explain away the frown I was wearing. He rubbed my arms with his hands until he let them rest on my chest pleadingly.

"Hmm," I mumbled with my hands shoved in my pockets, only to keep myself from reaching out and grabbing him and kissing him senseless.

"What are you doing here anyway?" he finally asked, his brain catching up with the situation. "I thought you had to work tonight."

"I did, but Wilson sent me home cause of all the rain, so I came to surprise you," I explained toeing the rug in the hallway pitifully.

"Oh, so... you have the whole night free now?" he asked slowly putting it altogether.

"Yeah, I don't know what I'll do now, though," trying my hardest not to grin, "since you don't want to play catch with me..." I sighed sadly.

His hands slipped down my body until they came to rest on my hips, his eyes meeting mine apologetically. "Can I change my answer?" he pouted, the lower half of his body brushing against mine briefly as he pulled me toward him. "Please?"

Even if I hadn't been playing a joke on him, I'd have been fully convinced in that one moment. There's just something about the boy you love making it clear that he wants nothing else but you. Whatever fears I had about actually doing it, and all joking aside, I wanted him, too, in the worst way. Just standing there in the hallway with him, his body against mine, his eyes apologetic above his pouty lips, it ignited something inside me.

"Tell me what you want to do tonight," my voice low, potent, powerful, as my hands found their way around his waist, pulling him firmly toward me. His eyes widened slightly, but whether it was out of recognition of my obvious excitement, or the way I was taking control of the situation, I wasn't sure.

"No jokes... no interruptions," he managed and he sucked in a sharp breath of air, his fingers gripping tightly at my waist as my hands gripped his ass tightly and pulled him against me again.

I decided I didn't care anymore which it was, and asked, "What do you want to do?" The words were quiet, my lips moving against his ear, and he groaned out in frustration.

"You, only you," he whimpered.

"Good, then get your stuff," I told him, releasing him abruptly from where he had been pressed firmly against me, immediately missing the closeness, the friction, but knowing that if I was ever going to get him home, I'd better stop now. I slumped against the wall in his hallway while I waited for him to be ready, certain that if I was in the same room with him and a bed, we might never make it to my house.

Twenty-seven minutes, another hug for Lily, and a quick goodbye to Jesse's parents, and we were standing in my room, our clothes wet from the rain. He put his bag on my dresser, and when he heard the door shut behind me, he looked over at me, the silence filling the space between us. I know it was twenty-seven minutes, because each minute that passed made me want this moment even more. Not the anticipation, or the awkwardness stemming from the unspoken expectations of the night, but the way that just looking at him and knowing that he was feeling the exact same thing I was this very moment, and the comfort and love I felt from that, made it clear that this was right for us, right now, right here.

"I'm wet," I said stating the obvious.

"Me too," he said reciprocally.

"I think I'm gonna take a shower," I decided, after all, I had just come from work.

"Okay," he nodded. "I think I'll get out of these wet clothes."

"You could come with me, if you want to," I suggested, liking the idea more and more.

"Yeah? Okay," he agreed smiling, pulling his wet shirt over his head, his blond hair framing his face as it cascaded down again over his ears and across his forehead.

"Okay," I returned the smile, pulling my own shirt over my head and dropping it in the hamper in the closet. I kicked my shoes off and emptied my pockets, watching him as he did the same thing, and when he reached for the button, and then the zipper, on his jeans, I gave up abandoning my wet clothes in favor of watching him instead. He was tugging the hem of his jeans, bouncing on one sock-covered foot, and looking absolutely alluring in spite of it all. I walked over and held his arm, my hand landing on the small of his back to help steady him as he wrangled with the wet denim, and when he was finally free from the tangle of heavy material, he looked up at me.

"Ready?" I asked, sliding my arms around his waist, pulling him closer. The question had more layers to it than just the obvious one, and I searched his eyes for affirmation. God, I wanted him, the way he looked at me, his senses battling each other for the top spot... love, or lust, and it showed in his eyes, but that was enough for me.

"Completely," he said as if he had never been more sure of anything in his entire life.

My teeth gathered my bottom lip in momentarily until the smile that his one word had given life to was too much to contain anymore. My forehead rested against his for one long, loving moment of appreciated comfort as my hands slipped to his hips. One fingertip slipped just underneath the waistband of his boxers and then followed the elastic around, tracing a line along his skin, as I walked around behind him. I savored the feeling of him shuddering beneath my touch, until my finger completed the circle and ended up back at his side where it had begun.

"Okay," I murmured from behind him, my lips right next to his ear, the warmth of my breath bouncing off his skin and hitting my cheek.

The elastic snapped gently against his bare skin as I withdrew my finger and headed for the bathroom, knowing he would be right behind me. The shower already on and the water warming up, and my pants and socks in a pile on the floor, he walked into the bathroom, and with a single acknowledging look, my boxers slid down my legs and I stepped out of them, adding them to the pile. I drew open the shower curtain and stepped inside, a promising look over my shoulder at him.

"Coming?" I asked needlessly and stepped underneath the warm flow of the water. It wasn't until he was standing in front of me naked, that he responded, causing me to lift my head and open my eyes.


I shook the excess water from my hair, and in one swift, but calculated move I had my arms around his waist and had turned him so he was under the water. His look of surprise was almost as entertaining as his look of confusion when I leaned into him, only to reach past him for the shampoo. He dropped his head back under the water, and I took his hand in mine, turning it palm up. I poured shampoo into it, before pouring some into my own, closing the bottle and putting it back on the shelf, and dropping a quick kiss on his lips while he had his eyes closed, his fingers working the foamy lather into his hair.

White streams of bubbles wove their way over his shoulders, and down his chest and stomach, as I worked to wash my own hair, and when I was ready, I stepped under the warm spray and rinsed the shampoo away. I offered him some soap and watched as he spread the liquid across his chest and arms, working it into a thick lather. Taking some more in my own hands, I rubbed them together.

"Turn around," I requested, drawing a line down his chest through the foam to his belly button.

My soap-covered hands ran along his shoulders, and then all the way down along his spine, working the muscles in his back as I washed it for him. The water dripping from his hair, and down his neck, as his head dropped forward and rolled back and forth tantalized me, and I sucked along the back of his neck, thirsty for more of him. It was warm, and someplace near ecstasy, when I slid up behind him, wrapping my arms around him, my hands sliding through the soap on his stomach. His head dropped back onto my shoulder as my fingers worked down past his navel and into the patch of hair below it. I stroked down over his thighs, my fingers dipping into the crevice where his leg meets his groin, cupping his balls, rolling them in my hand momentarily before gliding my hand over his dick.

"All clean now?" I issued the question as I released him, and as much as I didn't want to ever let go, I knew I needed to wait.

He mumbled something incoherent as I turned him around under the warm spray and made quick work of washing myself. I was ready to be done in the shower so I could touch him and not have to hold back anymore. I'd been doing that all night and I was through with that. I finished rinsing off and opened my eyes to find him watching me, an eager look on his face as his fingers fluttered down my chest. My hand found his and I pulled him to me, kissing his palm and setting his hand against my cheek, his fingers slipping behind my ear and into my hair, and my mouth closing over his. My hands slid down his back and over the curve of his ass until they were full, and I pulled him up against me. A low groan rumbled in the back of his throat as my tongue slid inside his mouth and my cock pressed against his, and I sucked his bottom lip in between mine, gently biting down on the plump flesh there.

I pulled my mouth away from his, even if I couldn't bring myself to take a step back from the delicious feeling of his cock against mine, and when he finally opened his eyes again to look at me, I was fairly certain that the look of barely controlled lust that he must have seen in my eyes was what made his eyes flutter closed momentarily. Whether it was to give his imagination some privacy, or to appreciate the feelings that look provoked inside him, I wasn't sure, but I turned the shower off while he explored them.

When he opened his eyes again, I asked him again, "Ready?"

"Definitely," he answered in a low tone, and I smiled, handing him a towel as he stepped out of the shower.

He stepped sideways towards the door to give me some room to get out myself before I grabbed my own towel, rubbing my arms and chest dry, and then throwing it over my head to dry my hair. I shivered slightly in the cool air as the water evaporated off my skin, and then there was a sharp, stinging sensation on my skin right above my hip bone that caused me to jump and clutch at the skin there.

"Oww!" I whined, pulling the towel off my head just in time to see his bare ass running down the hall, the delectable sound of his laughter trailing behind him.

I ran after him, still mostly wet, with my hair everywhere, and caught up with him just in time for him to fall on my bed. He was still laughing as my body crushed his into the mattress, obviously pleased with himself, and I smirked, a smile playing at my lips as I watched him enjoy his moment of triumph. It was a short moment though, as my hot breath brushed across his lips, claiming his attention once more, and as his smiling eyes met my smoldering ones, he actually blushed. Fantastic, knowing that something as simple as a penetrating look that left no doubt as to what I thought or felt about him, and this situation we were currently exploring, could make him feel such a thrill.

"I can't believe you snapped me with a towel," I said from above him.

"What? You think only jocks in locker rooms know that move?" he teased.

I dropped my forehead onto his gently, my eyes reflecting in his, "I love you, Jess... so much."

We lay there a moment, just watching each other from our close proximity, before he smiled and said, "I love you, too, but you better close the door if we're gonna do this."

It amazed me that he was so casual about it, but I think that helped to put my mind at ease some. "You're really sure?"

"Go close the door," he flirted, grinding up into me for added emphasis.

Have you ever been torn between not wanting to have to leave something so entirely flawless, and knowing that if you can make yourself give it up, just for a minute, that what you'll get as a result will be so much better? You almost feel greedy, like you couldn't possibly need anything more to make you utterly happy and fulfilled, but it's there for the taking, so you take it. That's what it felt like having to get up off the bed to go close the door, but as I turned around to head back to that bed, and Jesse, what I saw was... perfection, complete and thoroughly satisfying perfection. Jesse had turned over and was kneeling on my bed, rummaging through my night stand while he precariously supported himself on one arm, and I watched him lift a leg to counterbalance himself as I climbed back onto the bed behind him.

"Found it," he mentioned over his shoulder just as my lips landed on the back of his neck, the rest of my body coming into contact with his as I slid up behind him, my arm wrapping around his waist to help support him.

"Me too," I said, my voice thick as I kissed and licked across his shoulder and down his back. I pulled him back against me, kneeling in front of me, and my hands roamed his chest and stomach, and I, just for a split second, remembered how he looked that first night in his room, lying on his bed shirtless, while I was trying to look at him without getting caught, and appreciating how much I didn't have to hide it anymore, that I could openly and freely touch him, taste him, love him.

"What did you find?" he murmured in my ear as his head fell back on my shoulder.

"Everything I'll ever need," I told him, my lips moving against the skin of his neck as my hand closed around his cock.

He groaned out in pleasure, instinctually thrusting into my hand before settling back against me, my arm wrapping around his waist to hold him there. His hair tickled my nose as I kissed along his hairline, my fingertip tracing up and down his dick until I couldn't stand it anymore and stroked him again, just twice, once for me, and once for him.

"That feels really good," he insisted when I released his cock and went in search of something else to touch, to tease.

"You feel really good, pressed up against me like this," my own erection grinding against him.

"I want to touch you, too," he whimpered as his fingers clutched my thighs while mine found his nipples.

"Mmmm, I want that, too" I agreed. "Turn around," I said as I let go of the hold I had on him and sat back on my heels as he did as I had asked.

I sat up again, my cock brushing along his as I pulled him against me, and I thrust against him, groaning from that painfully pleasurable friction. My fingers slid into his moist blond hair, my thumb traced his slightly parted lips, and my tongue shot out to lick them. I wanted to taste him, all of him, I decided, as I kissed him deeply, guiding him downward until his blond hair lay on my dark green comforter. He arched his back, reaching underneath himself and retrieving the bottle he had dropped there earlier before opening it and grabbing my hand, squeezing some onto my fingers.

"You're sure, Jess?"

He grabbed my wrist and his gaze met mine, "Entirely," he answered guiding my hand in the direction he wanted.

I traced his hole slowly, and he seemed to like that as his eyes fluttered closed, pressing against my finger, wanting more, as I traced the tip of his dick with my tongue. His hips bucked upward with the added sensation, but then just as quickly, returned to where they started, wanting to feel it all, and as my mouth closed over his dick, my finger slipped inside him.

"Oh, God," he moaned and I wanted to smile, but my mouth was busy.

I explored the hot, soft inside of him, pressing in different directions, sliding in further, and then out again. His body clung to my finger, and I wondered if it would hold onto me even tighter when it was my dick, and not just my finger. My tongue circled once around, and as I swallowed him once more, I slipped another finger inside his warmth. I concentrated on sucking him until I felt him move against my fingers and then I pushed them in further, and out again, until he was meeting my strokes.

When I didn't push back in this time, he looked up at me questioningly. "Okay?" I asked him.

"Okay," he agreed, and with some more lube, I positioned myself at his entrance.

I pressed around gently, his hole feeling so small, and I wondered how this would work, but the pressure against my dick was exciting. He pushed up, meeting one of my soft pushes, and with that one small move, he gasped, and I was inside that exquisite, tight warmth. It was instinct, to want to just keep pushing into something that felt this good, but his fingers tightened on my skin and I froze, waiting for him to tell me he was ready for more. I looked at him, his eyes closed, and then slowly, his fingers relaxed and slid up my skin to meet mine, and he looked at me, ready for more. Tiny circles of movement at first, and then some larger ones, until I pulled back a little, pressing forward once more and once I was in, I stopped moving, waiting for him to relax and open his eyes and look at me.

He gasped out at the new sensations, and some sound that could only mean that there was almost nothing I could remember that had ever felt like this, this good and this perfect, escaped my throat. I leaned down and kissed him, my tongue next to his, as I started to make little pushes in and out, and as I got more confident, and he relaxed more, they turned to bigger pushes. I wrapped my hand around his cock and stroked him and when he thrust into my hand, I thrust into him.

"Oh fuck!" he cried out as I rubbed up against something inside him, and this time, I did smile as I tried to find it again.

He wrapped his legs around my waist, almost as if he didn't want me to ever leave him. I stroked his dick as I pushed in and out of him, my strokes becoming longer and stronger. His fingers tightened and released on my skin as he moaned out little pleasurable sounds, provoking me further.

"Oh my God, I'm gonna cum, Stephen," he moaned loudly, and when he did, arching his back off the bed, so did I. Watching his eyes shut tightly and his lips part slightly in ecstasy, my head dropped back as I savored the feelings rushing through my body and the heat I found inside his.

I shuddered against him, inside him, and then collapsed on his wet, sticky chest, breathing in large gulps of air, and feeling his chest rising and falling under mine. My lips found his, breathless, and then I kissed him ardently, lovingly, until our breathing had returned to almost normal.

"Jess?" I huffed out.

"Hmm?" he replied lazily, just as exhausted as I was.

"You okay?" I asked him.

"Perfect," he said, a smile playing at his lips. "Good, huh?" he joked, now that I knew what he had experienced before.

"So much better than good," I laughed, " much better."

Jesse laughed as I rolled over next to him, an exhausted groan escaping my lips as my head hit the pillow. "I thought so, too," he said contentedly, snuggling against me. "Stephen?"

"Hmm?" I mumbled out tiredly.

"I'm glad you closed the door," he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice.

"Me too," I said forcing myself to get up and grab the towel I had dropped on the floor when I ran in after him earlier.

"Where are you going?" he asked, though he didn't attempt to move at all.

"I'm not going anywhere, babe," I answered as I sat down next to him on the bed.

He looked beautiful, exhausted and content, with his arm thrown haphazardly over his eyes, as I wiped his chest and stomach clean with the still moist towel. He smiled, propping himself up on his elbows to watch me, and he grabbed my hand when it got close enough that he could reach it, pulling it up to his lips.

"I love you, Stephen," he said pressing his lips to my hand, and I could feel him smile against my knuckles.


I was looking at him, my head cocked sideways in thought, as I absent-mindedly chewed my bottom lip. I thought he might possibly never look more gorgeous than he did at this very moment, as tired as he was, with his hair disheveled, and utterly naked in my bed.

"What?" he asked, his cheeks flushing slightly under my attentive gaze.

"I love you, too," I said absolutely, a gentle kiss gracing his soft lips. Wrapped in each other, we fell asleep, me stroking his blond hair, his fingers gliding up and down my back.

My pencil scraped across the heavy paper, scratching as the dark charcoal rubbed along its surface, contrasting against the off-white background. Long lines to begin with, long strokes from the pencil gliding smoothly from where it sat in between my fingers, the gray dust collecting on the skin on the underside of my palm. The large pad was propped up against my knee as I sat sideways on the chair across the room, my other foot tucked underneath me as I leaned back against the large cushioned arm, and my hand paused as I looked up again.

In my bed, and lying on his stomach, his knee bent up away from him as he slept. His head rest on his own bicep, his forearm, and then hand, curving around his head leaving his fingertips to just brush his earlobe. The white sheet that gathered low around his hips created a stunning contrast against his skin, and I rubbed the line again with my fingertip to create a shadow where the sheet was pulled tightly around his hips. His fine hair feathered over his forehead slightly, I noticed, as I studied the way his spine sloped down from in between his shoulders, until it met the bunched material of the sheet.

We had fallen asleep an hour ago, wrapped in each other, but I woke up and had to pee. When I came back into my room, more than ready to slide right back into bed next to him, what I saw made me crave something else. The feel of the pencil in my hand, the smell of the paper, the sound of the charcoal rubbing across the paper, all of the things necessary to capture that moment forever. Jesse looked comfortable, uninhibited, sexy, the way the curve of his ass was tucked teasingly away under the tight, white sheet.

Slightly parted lips, eyelashes brushing his cheeks, the muscles in his back, there were so many things that deserved my attention, I decided, and I almost didn't know where to start. I suppose pencil to paper was as good as any, I thought, as I shaded the spot where his check rested against his arm. I noticed his eyes flutter open as I looked up again at his mouth.

"Don't move," I said as I concentrated on shading his lips.

"Why are you over there, and not over here with me?" he pouted.

"I'm drawing something," I told him, my pencil working diligently.

"You're drawing me?" his lips turning upwards into a smile.

"I said not to move," I laughed.

"I didn't!" he insisted.

"Yes, you did. You smiled," I said looking up at him, and smiling.

"I thought you liked it when I smiled," he teased.

"I do, babe. No one smiles like you," I assured him. "Now hold still."

"What time is it?" he wondered as I darkened the area along his spine.

"I don't know," I mumbled, concentrating on what I was doing. After a few more minutes, I held the pad out and looked over my drawing, and satisfied, I said, "There, I'm done. You can move now."

Jesse turned over and sat up, the sheet collecting at his hips. He smiled at me eagerly, running a hand through his hair to smooth down the wayward strands and it occurred to me again as he sat there, how perfect he looked in my bed, and how striking his smile was.

"Can I see it?" his cheeks flushing humbly.

"Sure," I smiled as I walked over and sat down in front of him. He'd seen the others I had done of him from memory, and this one was even better, having the real thing to look at. I offered the pad to him and chewed the inside of my cheek as he took it from me. It wasn't nervousness, exactly; more like the feeling that I was bare, and how I really felt about what I saw was out there in the open, forever recorded on paper.

A low whistle escaped his lips as he looked over what I had drawn, his eyes slowly moving across the paper. "Damn, does my ass really look this good?" he joked, laughing light-heartedly.

"You have no idea," I groaned smiling as I thought of how many times I had felt the pleasure of thinking that very same thing.

"It's amazing, Stephen, really. Sometimes I wonder if there's anything you aren't good at," he smiled, his fingers tracing over the curve of his drawn shoulder.

"Thanks, I just saw you lying there sleeping like that, and had to draw it. You looked so perfect," I admitted smiling.

"Oh, I have something for you. I was going to give it to you for Christmas, but I don't want to wait anymore," he grinned leaning way over to grab his bag off my dresser. He set it on the floor beside my bed and opened it up, and then looking back over his shoulder at me. "It's not wrapped or anything, but... I hope you can fill it with stories about us," he said as he presented me with a new black leather journal, silver foil lining the pages just as it did on my old one.

"Oh, Jess, this is so beautiful," I said as I took it from him, immediately opening it and turning through the blank pages. "It's perfect, thank you so much," I smiled widely, hugging him.

"You like it?" he wondered aloud.

"Like it? I love it, Jess. You have no idea," I squeezed him tighter against me. When I finally sat back, he got to see the smile on my face, and I hugged the new journal tightly to me. He smiled at that, and I kissed him softly through my smile. "I want to show you something," I told him as I reached over and grabbed my old journal, the one my mom had given me all those years ago, and handed it to him. "Look at the last entry."

Jesse opened the book somewhere in the middle, flipping through it, page by page, until he came to the last entry. He looked up at me, not wanting to intrude on my personal thoughts, "Am I supposed to read this?"

"You can if you want," I shrugged, "but I thought you might find its location more interesting."

He looked down again, trying to figure out what I was talking about and as he turned the page it dawned on him. "You only have one page left," he told me as if I was unaware.

I nodded, "Yeah, and I have been putting off writing anything on it," I admitted bashfully.

"Why?" he wondered aloud.

I shrugged noncommittally, "I guess I was worried that once I did, I would have nowhere else to tell her the things that are important to me."

"Really?" he wondered aloud as he flipped randomly through the pages.

"Yeah," I blushed. "Maybe that's dumb, I don't know," I shrugged.

"It's not dumb," he challenged. "I think it's sweet," he argued, his face taking on a tender look.

"Thanks, Jess, this really means a lot to me," I smiled affectionately, hugging him to me.

Journals and sketch pads shoved aside in favor of each other, we smiled and snuggled, a kiss here, something murmured softly there, until we fell asleep, warm and content against the other.

There's a place, somewhere between sleep and consciousness, where you hear sounds, or feel sensations. It's dreamlike in the way things are muted, perhaps it's the way your senses come to life slowly, one at a time. Perhaps, it's the way your body helps you to appreciate the differences between them, but it's there in that subdued reality, like some far off sound. Your brain cycles through its archives until it recognizes the sound, and then, once you've made sense of it, you try to decide if hearing it is something that seems acceptable, or if it should worry you.

I heard the front door close far off in the recesses of my mind, and wondered if that was odd in my semi-conscious state. That thought was brushed aside, as the warm body that was pressed against mine shifted, and the scent that belongs only to Jesse filled my senses. I debated opening my eyes, but then opted to appreciate the comfort and familiarity instead, as I snuggled closer to Jesse, my chest pressing against his back and my face buried in his soft hair. I stayed there as long as I could, until I couldn't wait any longer, and then I carefully moved away from him so I wouldn't wake him.

By the time I made it back to my room, Jesse had rolled over, and he was hugging my pillow in a way that made me envy its position. On the floor next to my bed were the two journals and I stooped to pick them up, my finger tracing the silver border on the cover of the one my mom gave me. My fingers itched to write to her, just as they had when I saw Jesse asleep in my bed, and I walked over to my nightstand in search of a pen. I settled down on my bed, my back against the headboard, just like it always is when I write to her, and with a look over at Jesse, I opened the cover of the new book. Inside the front cover, in Jesse's perfectly abrupt capital letters, was written:




Smiling at the possibilities, my fingers traced the grooves of his words as if they could absorb their intent, and I looked over at him laying there next to me. Asleep, naked, and absolutely beautiful, he was the one, the one who helped me want to be myself, the one to show me who that person was, the one that saw the truth in me. From behind those eyes, he had seen who I really was, allowed me to accept that person, and now, he was a part of me.

Hi Mom,

It looks like we have someplace new, just for us. The journal you gave me is full now, and just when I was wondering how I was going to be able to tell you anything, ever again, Jesse gave me this new one. Sometimes it surprises me how well he knows me, but I guess it shouldn't. I guess when you love someone, you want to know everything about them, you watch them and study them, and you just know.

I always wondered how you knew just what I was thinking, or how you could tell what I was up to without even looking at me. I remember the time you wanted to surprise Dad, and we came in from my game. Dad was a mess because we all jumped on him and he fell in the dirt around home base, all of us piling on top of each other, and him. As soon as we walked in the door, I ran up to you, I was so excited. I was shouting, `We won! We won!' and jumping around like crazy, and you just scooped me up and hugged me tight.

When you finally let me go, Dad walked over and kissed you on the cheek, and then, like always, he said he was going to take a shower, and I remember you looking over at me and winking. I wasn't sure why you were doing that, but then Dad was shouting `Laura!' and you just giggled and told me to go get washed up and to put on my new blue shirt. I didn't know what was going on, but I went and did what you told me to do, and an hour later, we were in the car and Dad was so excited. I remember thinking that I was pretty excited, too, but I couldn't decide which of us was the most excited, and then I decided it was you, because you had surprised Dad and he was happy.

The game that night was so much fun. I remember everyone else talking and then when the pitcher would take the mound, everyone was silent, and I kept wondering why. Weren't people supposed to be cheering and making noise? But then Dad explained that if the pitcher could just get through the last two innings with no runs, he'd have pitched the perfect game. I thought that was something to celebrate, but apparently I had to do that quietly, at least until we got to the end of the inning. That was the night I decided I wanted to be a pitcher.

I guess when you're a kid, you don't take the time to realize the little things like that about people, the things that make them smile, the things that are important to them, the things that are hard for them to deal with. You tend to figure it out somehow though, like when I'd bring you a flower from outside and you'd smile, or how you seemed like you got more happiness from watching me hang my spelling test with the big happy face on it up on the refrigerator, than I did. It never occurred to me back then, to want to try and get a perfect score to make you smile like that, I just tried my best like you always told me to. It also never occurred to me, that the reason you were smiling wasn't because there was a big 100% on my paper, but that it was because I had done just what you told me to do, and tried my best.

All you ever needed from me to make you happy was to know that I had tried my best, that I had been honest with myself, and made the best of things, and if I try, I can still see you smiling like that at me today. Sometimes I stare out into the future, and I'm not sure what it holds for me, but I know that I'm not running from it anymore. I'm not hiding from it, and I'm not hiding who I am. I think if you were here in front of me right now, you'd be smiling like that again.

I love Jesse, and having him love me, makes me the richest person I know. Having him by my side makes me feel like I can be anything I want to be, and that I'll never have to be anything less. I've waited a long time for this day to come, the day where I have no regrets, nothing weighing down on my shoulders, and nothing is black and white anymore. Although, those shades of gray that seem to provide me comfort, are the same shades of gray, I realize, some people don't see yet.

Sorta like Tim. I hope that he can get past whatever it is that's making him so... color blind. Whatever it is, I'm not going to let him decide what's right for me, especially since he doesn't seem to know what's right and wrong anyway. Hopefully he can figure it out before the season starts. It's my senior year, and I don't want to spend it fighting with him about the same thing over and over again. Besides, if he would pay attention to what's important, we could win championships this year. That would put him in a really good place for his senior year, with scholarships and scouts, but whatever.

Anyway, things are pretty great with Jesse now that things have calmed down and everything is out in the open. I'm excited about Christmas this year, but I still have to figure out what to get him, especially since he came up with such a perfect gift for me. He always does though, so I'm not surprised. Turns out, he's everything I've always wanted, and the only thing I needed. I think I'll take advantage of the fact that I've got him here next to me, the way he looks at me through those eyes, I'm so crazy in love with him.

Love you,


.: THE END :.