I want to thank everyone who has read the story. I also want to thank those who have emailed. It means a lot hearing from you. Please continue reading! There is a lot more to come. I own all rights to this story.

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None of the characters are based on real people nor are they meant to resemble any living or dead people.

This story contains some adult language as well as sex, or some hints of sex. I cannot promise that there will be sex in each chapter, but if you find my writing to be offensive or distasteful in any way, you're visiting the wrong website and need to move on.

Copyright 2013, 2014, 2015

Love Me

Chapter 10 - Dream of Home

It's been 3 days since Caden and Riley moved in with Jared, and Caden already wants his own place. Caden's desire to find his own place has nothing to do with Jared, because he's a good friend and a great person. How many people would open up their home to a friend and his disabled brother? Jared has always been a great friend to Caden, and unless Caden really messes thing up, he'll continue being a great friend. The problem is Caden feels like he's freeloading, and he doesn't want to be that friend, the one that mooches off his friends. Course, it doesn't matter that he bought extra groceries and gave Jared money to help cover all of the utilities. The situation would not be so bad if Riley wasn't with him, but he is, so what is a big brother to do. One thing is for sure; they cannot stay here forever, so Caden is determined to find a two-bedroom house or a two-bedroom apartment. They need their own space so that his friendship with Jared is not affected by their presence.

***

The day has moved rather quickly and now all three of the guys are hungry and ready for lunch. Jared isn't working until later in the day so he can spend time with Caden and Riley. The longer he's around them, the more his feelings for Caden grow and the more he wants him in his life. Either time will assist him in winning Caden over or it will make Jared a loser in the game of love. The guys have decided that lunch is going to be at a Mexican place. This restaurant is one that Caden and Jared frequented while they were in college. Riley is excited because he loves tacos, but to be honest there isn't much that he won't eat. Caden has been lucky thus far not to have to worry too much about his brother's diet. During his time in the hospital, Riley lost a little bit of weight, but he gained it back and, so now, Caden just needs to help monitor his weight. When they make it inside the restaurant, the hostess greets them and gets them seated quickly, gives them their menus, and then moves on to another group of customers who came in behind Jared and his crew. In a few minutes everyone in Caden's party are ready to order.

"Can I take your order please?"

Caden looks at Riley and waits for him to speak, which sometimes can be a struggle, because he has a hard time getting the words to come out.

"I...I want ta-cos, please."

"Would you like beef, chicken or pork?"

"Beef."

"What would you like to drink?

"Coke."

She looked at Caden and then waited for him to give his order.

"I would like the chicken mole and I'll have a sprite to drink."

It's Jared's turn to place his order and he's all business when it comes to his food.

"I'll have the chicken enchiladas dinner, and a coke."

She read back the orders to confirm them and then walked towards the kitchen. About three minutes later, she came out their drinks as well as chips and salsa to go around for everyone. Riley said "Thank you." but she didn't respond, which did not sit well with Caden or Jared. Riley seems to have blown off her bad manners. A little later, the food is brought out and the guys are drooling over their food. Riley takes the first bite of food and a sigh of relief leaves his mouth, and soon everyone else is enjoying their food as well. With their first bites already consumed, they can feel their hunger being satisfied.

***

Between bites of food, Jared wants to get a feeling of where Caden wants his life to go and if Jared is in those plans.

"Caden any luck finding a place to live? By the way, I am not trying to rush into moving out."

"No, I have not found anything that I like, but I know what I am looking for so that certainly helps me out."

He wants to find out what exactly Caden is looking for in a home, whether it be a house or an apartment.

"I know you just broke up with Ethan, when do you think you'll start dating again."

The mention of the word "dating" grabs Riley's attention and he begins listening to the adults' conversation. Caden thinks about the question for a minute since Jared caught him with food in his mouth. Jared is hoping that Caden will hint at dating him. Finally, with his last bit of food swallowed, Caden looks at Jared and frowns.

"Riley's well-being comes first and whoever comes along has to accept that or there is no chance of it working out."

`I'm already doing that you blockhead. I've taken you and your brother into my home, what more do you want?'

Jared is beside himself, he wants Caden to see him for himself.

"Maybe your next boyfriend is closer than you think."

"Maybe but I'm not really looking for someone right now."

Jared's heart drops at the words that came out of his friend's mouth.

"What services will Riley need at school and moving into the future?"

The question catches Caden off guard, but it's something that he's thought about a lot in the last few weeks.

"I want his physical therapy to continue, plus speech therapy, occupational therapy, and of course educational support."

Jared loves the idea of Riley having support, and looks forward to assisting with the therapy at home. He has seen progress from Riley since the days following the attack. The meal is over and Jared can't think of any more questions, and so they pay for their meal and head back Jared's place.

***

On the way home, Jared is thinking over the options for Caden in regards to housing. He actually knows of a house that is available but he also knows that Caden cannot afford it. His grandmother had a beautiful home built for her only son, Jared's dad. The only problem was his father did not want a handout, and so he rejected the house. The home was then offered to Jared but he has the same beliefs that his dad has, and that is to live your life modestly yet comfortably. Caden may or may not want it, but maybe it will allow Caden to see him as the caring friend that he is and always will be. The home offers a lot of space both inside and out, which will give room for Riley, Caden and Jared space of their own if need be. One thing he doesn't want is for Caden to see the home as a gift because it's not , it's Jared's home to someday claim as his own. He just needs to keep his plan from his best friend, so he can be sure that everything is going to work out. He wants Caden to see the home not only as place to live but as an opportunity.

***

He also realizes that Caden's goals don't include him and that hurts. Jared has been there since college as a shoulder to cry on and to offer an ear for listening.

`Caden is missing the obvious, he needs to love me.'

It stings a little bit to have a friend not see you as someone who is already there for them. He needs to just stay focused and then make plans to ask Caden to be not only his friend but also his live in boyfriend.

***

The guys are home doing their own thing currently, and enjoying themselves. Caden is in the backyard going over stuff from work, and Jared and Riley are in the living room. It dons on Jared that he's heard about Riley for as long as he's known Caden, and yet Jared really knows little about him. Apart from being up at the hospital, the two guys have not spent a lot of time together. He'll take advantage of the time that Caden and Riley are living here to spend time with the teen. Riley is looking at photo album of his brother's, so Jared moves next to him.

"What are you looking at Riley?"

You can see in his eyes that Riley can't believe that Jared does not know what he's looking at it should be obvious.

"It's...it's a photo album. It's Ca...Caden's book."

Jared is sure that he's seen the photos before but it doesn't stop him from looking at the album with Riley. The two guys spend at least an hour looking through the book, and Jared learns a little more about Riley and Caden.

"You like looking at the photo albums?"

"Yes, they...they help...me"

Riley points to his head trying to get an idea across to Jared, and Jared picks up on what the young man is trying to tell him.

"The albums help you remember things?"

"Yes." Riley says with a smile on his face. Jared wishes that he would have known Riley before the attack, before the disability. On one of the pages of the album is a photo of Riley on his skateboard. Riley's face changes from being happy to a look of sorrow. Riley is very much aware that it is him on the skateboard, and he knows that he cannot do that anymore, and that makes him frustrated and unhappy. It's painful to see the expression on the young man's face knowing that he may never be able to ride the skateboard again.

"Riley do you want to stop looking at the album?"

Riley looks at Jared and gives him a look that screams "No", so the guys continue looking through the book with occasional pauses.

***

With four pages of the album to go Jared's house phone rings and he picks up the phone and retreats to his office.

"Sorry Mom, I didn't want anything I say being overheard. What's up?"

"Your father is at work, and I'm hungry so I thought I would ask if you and your guests had plans for dinner."

Jared thinks over their schedules before saying anything to his mom.

"Nope, we have no plans for tonight so we can be do dinner. I'll need to grab some money for us."

"Absolutely not, I'll pay for everyone . It would be rude if I didn't."

Jared could pay for everyone in the house, but he knows Caden wants to save some money, so going out to eat may be in the budget.

"Okay, so where are we going?"

Jared's mother is quiet while she picks the restaurant.

"How about that nice Chinese buffet over by your place?"

"Sounds like a winner, I'll let Caden and Riley know. Oh, who's driving Mom?"

"Will you have room in your car?"

"Yes Mom, I'll have room for you. See you in an hour."

"That works Jared; I cannot wait to see everyone."

With that, he ends the call; leaving the office, he heads towards the backyard to see Caden, so he can tell them what the plans are for this evening.

"I know you're busy but my mom invited us out to eat, and I have to pick up at 5:00 so we need to leave around 4:45."

"I guess we need to clean up." Caden says

He stands up and walks towards the house, so they can get ready. Caden and Jared enter the house and head towards the living room. Much to Jared's surprise, Riley isn't in the living room and Caden is already starting to look upset.

"Caden relax, I'll find him and get him ready."

Jared finds him sitting in his room staring up into the eyes of a drawing he did of a male model in art class a year ago.

"You hungry?"

It's a stupid question because this kid is always hungry just any other teenager.

"Yes, is...is di-nner ready?"

"No, Riley dinner isn't ready. My mom is taking us out to eat for dinner. We have some time before we have to leave so plenty of time to get cleaned up."

Riley doesn't need a shower but he decides to take one just to be on the safe side. Grabbing some clothes from his dresser and his closet, he heads towards the shower with Jared right behind him. Jared usually is not involved in this part of Riley's day-to-day routine.

"Hey Caden, your brother wants a shower, does he need any help?"

"Yeah."

Jared decides to help with the shower, rather than disturbing Caden.

"You okay if I help you out with your shower?"

He can tell that Riley is a bit unsure about having him helping. Caden appears at the bathroom door to help his brother, but Riley has decided to put his trust in Jared. Riley looks at Caden and motions for him to go away. Caden retreats to the living room and waits for Jared and Riley to come out of the bathroom. Riley is all about getting into the shower and begins to take matters into his own hands. The awkwardness of having someone else seeing him naked wore off while he was up in the hospital. Still, it is different since Jared is helping, but it's okay. Jared on the other hand is nervous because he does not want Riley to freak out. Riley begins to undress and straight away there are problems.

"Help...me...with my...shirt."

It is stuck at this neck and covers his entire head, so Jared helps him remove the shirt.

"How are we going to get your pants off?"

The young man points to the toilet but first he unbuttons and unzips his pants. He then pushes the pants down to his knees, and then Riley sits on the toilet.

"You...you need to...to help."

Jared is not sure how to help at first, but after a few seconds, he figures out what he needs to do. He gently tugs the pants down and then reaches for the underwear but Riley brushes his hands away.

"I...I...do this."

With that said Riley stands up and drops his briefs, and stands naked in front of Jared, and does not seem to be bothered by it. Jared loves seeing the independence in the teen. Now, he just needs to get into the shower. Riley gets into the shower using Jared's arm to help balance him until he can grab the shower bar. Jared is still close by just in case Riley loses his balance, and it seems to be keeping him calm. Before long, Jared asked for help to wash his hair and to do his back as well and, with help rinsing, is done and all that is left is getting out of the bathtub and dressed. Jared has no problem helping Riley step out of the shower after having helped him to get into the shower. Getting his deodorant on and getting him dressed is not to bad once he got it going.

"Call...Cad-en...to...do...my hair."

Jared leans out the bathroom door and yells for Caden, so he can do his brother's hair, but he doesn't bother telling him what he wants. Course, Caden comes running to the bathroom thinking that his brother fell.

"What happened?"

"Nothing happened, relax. Your brother wants you to do his hair."

Caden sighs as he grabs his brother's comb from off the shelf, and proceeds to fix his brother's wild hair. In a flash, Caden has his brother's hair looking perfect.

***

The guys head out to Jared's mom house, but Jared is a little worried that that something will happen to turn her off Caden. As they near the house, Caden is surprised at the size of the home; the house is beautiful but very modest considering the family's money. The house isn't even close to the house that is in Jared's name. Jared's mom has put a little money into the front yard's flower garden and in the backyard's vegetable and herb garden. Jared stops the car, gets out, and heads up the sidewalk towards the front door. He knocks loudly making sure that his mom can hear him at the door, because if she in the basement, she may not hear. In a few minutes, she opens the front door and greets her son with a kiss and a hug. She is excited to meet Riley because for her it's like meeting an adopted grandchild. Jared opens the car door for his mom, which Caden notices and loves it, because he likes seeing someone treating their mother right. Once Jared and his mom are in the car and their seat belts are on, Jared gets ready to introduce everyone.

"Mom, you already know Caden but this guy is Riley, Caden's young brother, and Riley, this lovely lady is my mom."

She looks at Riley and Riley looks back displaying his smile and his dimples.

"Hi...Hi...Jared's mom."

She immediately picks up on his stuttering, but it does not even faze her.

`Wonder if Caden and Jared will ever wake up and start dating.' Jared's mom is all for her son and his best friend forming a relationship, but Jared is unaware that his reservations are groundless.

"Is everyone hungry? Because today's dinner is on me so make sure, you eat your fill at the buffet. This is my favorite Chinese buffet, the Bronze Lion. What are you waiting on Jared? Let's go, I am hungry."

When his mom is done speaking, he starts the car and off they go to the buffet.

***

As they pull up, Riley sees the bronze-colored statues on either side of the entrance.

"Pic...tures of...them Cad-en."

Caden waits for his brother to get between the lions and then he immediately snapped the photo. Caden was not sure why Riley wanted him to snap a photo of the lions. While Riley's ability to write is still hampered by the brain injury his drive his creative ability has not been affected. Early attempts to draw met with massive failure, but he'll be able to draw again or at least that is the hope. If Riley didn't have his disability this photo might be used to create a sketch of the lion. Seeing Riley's smile made Caden smile but it also made Jared smile because he loves to see Riley smile. Caden's simple act of taking the photo for his brother is enough to lighten Jared's smile. Jared seeing Caden do simple things for his Riley makes Jared love him even more.

***

As they're eating, Riley notices that Jared is starring at Caden. Jared is trying to catch Caden's eyes and maybe convey his interest.

`I...I wonder if...if Jared likes my...my bro-ther.'

His smile catches Jared's attention. It shows that Riley is paying attention to what is going on around him.

`I wonder if Riley could help me land Caden.'

Jared silently thinks it through and then he comes to an obvious conclusion. He can't involve Riley even if it's for a good cause i.e. dating Caden. Riley sees everything on Jared's face and it does make him happy.

***

Back at home, Caden is going through his brother's bedtime routine. They're in Riley's bedroom and Caden is sitting on the bed beside him. The photo album is closed and is sitting on Caden's lap. It's also time for Caden to head to bed but this time is important for him and even more important for Riley.

"Ca-den have I...I always be-en hu-rt?"

The question catches Caden off guard, because Riley and him have discussed this topic with before and Caden thought Riley understood what happened. Caden now has two choices, ignore the question and go to bed or take the time to answer the question. He decides its best to go ahead and respond. Riley might take offense if the question is not answered.

"No, you haven't always been hurt. Do you remember how you got hurt?"

You can see pain in Riley's eyes and that hurts Caden.

"I...I think D-ad hurt...me."

A weak smile broke out across Caden's face because he's happy that Riley actually remembers who hurt him.

"Yeah, Dad hurt you."

A few tears are coming down Riley's face, and this leads to Caden shedding a tear or two. Caden stays behind with Riley until he falls asleep. Once Riley is asleep, Caden gets up and heads starts his bedtime routine.

***

Around nine o'clock in the evening, Caden's cell phone starts to ring. When he looks at the display, he recognizes the number as Ethan's. He ignores the call but a few minutes later, the symbol for voicemail pops up. He dials into his voicemail so he can hear the email.

"Hey, you left at a bad time, it was just before the rent is supposed to be due and the bills are coming due as well."

`It would serve him right if I refused to pay my half the rent.'

Still, he was living there for a part of the month so, he's decided to pay for his part of the rent and bills. He goes ahead and calls Ethan hoping that maybe Ethan will not answer.

"Hi Caden, did you listen to my message?"

"Yes, I did and I'll write out a check for the rent and then I'll pay the bills as we agreed to while I was living there."

Ethan better be okay with this arrangement otherwise, it's just too bad.

"I can tell your feeling generous."

Caden didn't respond to Ethan's comment, because he knows it was meant to start a fight. Ethan didn't get the satisfaction of getting into an argument going so he just ends the call. It is a little rude for Caden to at least not say goodbye. Talk about feeling good; there is something about no longer hearing Ethan's voice that just feels good.

***

At ten o'clock at night, Caden is finally ready to get to bed, so he lays down on the couch to go to sleep. In no time, he's fast asleep. Jared walks out of the office and peeks into the living room, and he sees Caden fast asleep and wishes that his friend was sleeping in his bed. He could sleep in the living room curled up in a sleeping bag, but that would just be a little weird.

`What would Caden say if he saw me sleeping near him?'

Jared decides not to rock the boat and just forget about it. Retiring to his bedroom, Jared starts getting ready for bed and then lays down in his bed.

***

The next day, Caden has a meeting at nine o'clock in the morning so Jared agrees to watch Riley.

"Riley, I need grocery shopping and I need you to come with me and help me out."

"O...o...okay."

Jared expected some resistance from Riley but instead the young man stands up and walks to the front door. Jared opens the door and together they walk out to the car. Jared reaches the car door and unlocks it, and he moves over to the passenger side and helps Riley get inside the car. Riley gets inside the car and reaches for the seat belt, he grabs it, and tries his best to buckle it but he cannot get it. Jared closes the door on the passenger side, and then opens the driver door, and gets inside and closes the door.

"Okay buddy let's get your seat belt around you."

Riley knows it shouldn't take this long to get ready to go. He starts to feel bad that he's wasting Jared's time, and he should not be so worried about it. The seat belt clicks and Jared smiles at Riley, and Riley is happy that Jared is not bothered by Riley's worry. With that, Jared puts the key into the ignition and soon they are headed out for the store. Once they start traveling images of Jared staring at Caden flash in Riley's mind. Curiosity is taking a hold on the images.

"Jar-ed, do...do you li-ke my...my brother?"

Jared doesn't know how to respond to the question that has been a struggle over the last couple of days. He can lie and take a chance on breaking Riley's trust or tell the truth and take the risk of Riley telling his brother that he likes him. It's a risk that Jared is willing to take right now, and it wouldn't hurt if Caden found out from Riley.

"Yeah I do like your brother but don't say anything to him, okay?"

"Okay."

`I don't know why I am so worried about Riley saying anything; he may not even remember my question.'

"You...you tell him?"

"I didn't think that I needed to tell him, because it should be obvious."

After thinking about it for a few seconds, he realizes that Caden has a lot on his plate, so maybe he is not thinking right. The excursion to the grocery store takes 35 minutes today. It might have taken longer expect that Jared is the most organized shopper ever, he writes out his list based on the aisles at his favorite grocery store.

***

When the duo gets home, Jared disappears into his office to call his mom. His mom answers the phone within one or two ring, while his body begins to feel the effects of anxiety.

"Hi Son, what's up?"

"I need some advice."

Jared pauses to gather his thoughts, because he doesn't want his mom to be confused or for them to get off the topic because he decides to talk about something else first.

"Mom, I have liked Caden for a long time, but I always find a reason not to ask him out. With him living here, it's just making things harder on me. I have helped him with Riley, been a friend, and I've even taken them into my home. I sat with him while he was in the hospital with Riley, so why can't he see me?"

"Honey, I know you want him to notice you, and to love you, but maybe the time just isn't' right. I mean, he's been through a lot these past few months."

He does not want to hear any "buts" or other excuses, he just wants to talk thing out, and so it makes sense to him.

"I want him in my life but I don't want to lose our friendship."

"It seems I've heard this a million times before and the person who says that always ends up losing them to someone else who comes along before they were brave enough to say something to the person they liked. You deserve to be happy Son, so find your courage and ask him out."

He has not mentioned what Caden said to him when they went out to eat with Riley. The statement still bothers him, because it was a tad painful too.

"Mom, he told me that he isn't looking for a boyfriend."

He waits now for his mom to answer, and while he waits his anxiety, level rises.

"Caden is like any guy; he says one thing but means another. You need to tell him what's on your mind."

Jared can do it if he gets passed the idea of keeping it locked up out of the fear of losing Caden's friendship.

"Thanks Mom, I'm going to try and tell him."

"Good, you need to tell him, this guy is a keeper."

His mom makes a very valid point, and Jared knows it, but he needs to just do it. All he has to do is follow through on what he told his mom, and then hope for the best.

"Bye Jared, I love you."

"Bye Mom, I love you too."

Now, how is he going to get it done and get Caden to finally get his thoughts across to the man who loves him.

***

Jared decides to take Caden out for dinner but he needs someone to sit with Riley. Jared needs to find someone who is willing to come stay with Riley. Leaving his office, he passes through the kitchen. Grabbing a glass, he turns to the refrigerator, and sees a list of phone numbers. The list is written in Caden's handwriting and meant to be used by Jared. Scrolling through the list, he finds a number, the name Ryan, and the word "Babysitter" across the same line.

`Please let this Ryan guy be free tonight.'

He sets his glass down and takes his cell phone out of his pocket so he can call Ryan. He immediately enters the number into his phone and clicks send. It rings a couple times and instantly, the person on the other end of the phone speaks up. "Hello?" a male voice says with some uncertainty. Ryan has no idea who has called him and he almost did not answer.

"My name is Jared Gunther and I'm Caden Bishop's new housemate. I am wondering if you would be willing to stay with Riley, while I take Caden out to dinner?"

It did not take long for Ryan to answer simply because he wants to see Riley.

"Yeah, I can sit with him. What time and where do you live?"

"If you would be at my place around four-thirty this afternoon that would be awesome. Do you have pencil and paper for the address?"

"Yes, I have paper and pencil so whenever you are ready."

"It's 2350 Woodfield Rd, Tylerville. It's a red house with two vehicles in the drive way one is a red suv and the other is Caden's car."

"Wow...I know exactly where you live. One of my best friends lives near you. I'll see Riley when I get there."

"Thanks Ryan, you're a life saver."

"It's cool but I need to run."

"Thanks again."

Jared ends the call, leaves the room, and then he walks into Riley's bedroom.

"Hey Riley, I'm taking Caden out for dinner."

Riley looks at Jared as if he is asking what about me, and he doesn't look happy. Riley does not know it yet, but his crush is going to be here with him, and it is all good luck.

"Sorry Riley but you aren't going with us. You'll have someone here with you."

"Who?"

"Some guy named Ryan?"

All of a sudden, Riley's face lights up and it does not take Jared long to figure out why the teen is so happy. Not wanting to upset him, Jared decides to keep his suspicions to himself.

***

As Caden pulls up to the house, another car pulls into the driveway. Getting out of his car, Caden waits for the other driver to step out of their car. Jared comes out of the house dressed as if he's going out for the night. Approaching Caden, he beams as he waves his keys in the air, and Caden just smiles as he shakes his head.

"You have two minutes to get into my car."

"Um...what about my brother?"

Caden is not going to leave his brother home alone just because Jared wants him too. Ryan steps out of his car and Jared points to the teen and Jared smiles at Caden and again points to his car.

"Ryan here is going to be with your brother."

Caden just shrugs his shoulder and gives Jared a confused look because of Ryan's sudden arrival. Jared opens the doors to his car and then looks at Caden again with that same smirk on his face.

"Please can we go now. I have someone to be with Riley, we won't be out any more than an hour and a half, I promise."

Since arrangements have been made to ensure his brother's safety, Caden decides to go along with whatever Jared has planned.

"Okay, I guess we can head out."

Jared waits for Caden to get inside the car before closing the door behind him. When he gets into the car, Jared receives a strange look from his favorite man. There is tension in the air between the guys, but it appears to be only Jared who can feel it.

`I want to kiss you so badly.'

For a second Jared looks into Caden's eyes and a smile breaks out across Caden's face, but there are no signs that he wants a kiss from Jared.

"Seriously, you are freaking me out, can we go so I can get back?"

"Anything you want my friend."

Jared starts the car and heads out towards their destination. When they arrive at the restaurant, Jared parks the car, clicks the seatbelt and removes it, and then opens the door and steps out. Walking around the car, he opens the passenger side door and smiles at the handsome man inside the car.

"Hope you're hungry because this place has great food."

Caden can feel hunger pains coming on so, he removes his seat belt and gets out of the car. Closing the door, Jared and Caden start walking up to the doors. Once they are inside, Jared is greeted by the hostess who acts as if she has known him all his life. She leads him to a quiet table in the back of the restaurant and seats them without handing them a menu.

"Is it ready?"

"It should be ready in just a few minutes."

Again, there is a look of confusion on Caden's face.

"Sorry, I pre-ordered us a pizza. Trust me, you will like it. I knew you would be hungry and I knew you would want to get home as soon as possible."

"Okay."

It is hard to tell if Caden is agitated or not.

"How was your day?"

"It was okay. We had a new kid show up at the shelter."

Jared's face is filled with concern because he does not like hearing about parents kicking kids out or things being so bad at home that they have no choice to run.

"Why isn't he at home?"

"Mom remarried and the stepdad is a jerk. There was a mention that the stepdad is an alcoholic or a druggie. He left home two weeks ago."

"Did you get a lot done at work otherwise?"

"I went in today to get some fundraising done, I got stuff picked up, and some data for a report that is due at the end of the week, so yeah I got a lot done."

As they were talking, Jared's friend brought out the pizza and they immediately started to devour it. Jared wants to tell him right now but as he goes to say something, Caden sees something that upsets him. A car pulls up with a family inside of it. The mother is holding a little boy who has to be at least one year old on her lap. No one is saying anything about it, but it is pretty clear that now is not the time for asking time for asking important questions. When the pizza is done, Jared left a nice tip with the bill, and the duo left.

***

Let's go back in time while the guys are driving home to the point that Ryan walks into Jared's house. As Ryan enters the house, Riley greets him with a huge smile, and it makes Ryan feel great.

"Hi...Hi Ryan."

"Hey dude, what's up?"

Ryan isn't sure why he likes spending time with Riley, but he likes being around him.

"I have...missed you."

Hearing those words coming from Riley made him feel good and even made his heart flutter just a bit.

"Ca-den and Ja-red...are...on a date."

Ryan smiles because he can see how excited his friend is over his brother being out with Jared.

"Cool, do you want to do anything?"

It takes a second or two for Riley to respond, but Ryan is patient with him.

"Can...can, we...go for a...walk?"

"Yeah, we can go for a walk, but I don't have keys, so we can't be out long."

With that said Riley and Ryan head to the front door, opening the door and the screen door, Ryan steps out first and helps his friend out the door and down to the sidewalk. The duo walks down the sidewalk together hand in hand. It does not bother Ryan to be seen with Riley nor does it bother him to be seen holding hands with him. As they are walking, Riley pauses and his facial expression becomes all business.

"You okay Riley?"

He didn't answer Ryan, and started to walk again.

`What was that about I wonder?'

Five hundred feet away they stopped, Riley looks at Ryan and then removes his hand from his friend's hand.

"Ry-an, I...I ne-ed to ask you...you a question,..."

Riley looks frustrated because he's having a hard time getting the words to him.

"...I...I me-an, I need to...to tell you...that...that I...I li-ke you...you."

Ryan smiles as he reaches a hand up on Riley's back, and gives him a pat on the back.

"I like you too Riley."

He reaches out for Riley's hand but Riley pulls his hand away.

"Do...do...you...lo-ve...love me? I...l...love you...you...Ryan."

Ryan feels like a bus has hit him, and of course he likes Riley and it would be easy to fall for him, but is it fair to say yes to him. Would Riley and Ryan have met if Riley weren't hurt?

`If I say no, it's going to crush him, but if I say yes, will Caden keep us apart?"

Riley's heart is now in Ryan's grasp, and Ryan does not know if Caden will be okay with them liking each other. Out of nowhere, Ryan answers "Yes" and he wishes he could take it back. There is something inside of Ryan's heart, but there is also fear. Ryan thinks that Caden needs to know what is going on and he needs to him how they feel.

"I...I want...I want to go home."

"Okay, Riley we'll head back to Jared's house."

Ryan thought for sure that Riley would be glowing, because right now he feels like he might be starting to glow. Thing are quiet between them until they reach Jared's place.

"Ryan, do...do you know...I-I have not been hurt, I...I mean this...this"

Riley starts to cry out of frustration, so Ryan pulls him closer and hugs him. The tears stop after a few minutes and then Ryan opens the doors for Riley, and then closes them once Riley is inside. Riley sits on the couch and hopes that Ryan will join him, but Ryan doesn't sit down, instead he goes into the kitchen. He gets two glasses and puts ice and water into them, then brings them into the living room. He hands one to Riley and then sits down next to Riley on the couch.

"Riley, what's going on? You have tried to tell me something but each time the words seem to get stuck."

A worried, young man looks at his friend as he tries to gather thoughts so maybe the words will not get lost as he goes to speak them. He does not remember if he told Ryan his tale of how he ended up being disabled or not.

"Ryan, I...I can't re-mem-ber if...if you know, why I...I...have prob-lems. Did..did...I...tell you?"

Ryan decides to just let him retell the story, it must be important for him to get it out.

"Go ahead and tell me."

"I...I...told my...my parents that...that I'm gay...and...and Da-Dad hit...hit me. I...I...fell and hit...hit the floor. I...I...did not wake...wake up. He...he dumped...dumped me out-side. I...I...have...a...a brain, a brain injury."

Riley almost didn't get the words out, because of the emotions that it stirs inside of him. Now, he is waiting for Ryan, he doesn't want to lose him because of injury and how it has changed his life. Hearing Riley speak those words brought tears to Ryan's face, and his face shows his sorrow.

"I'm sorry, Riley. I wish it was me and not you."

"NO!" Riley had the most serious and the most loving expression on his face as he spoke.

"You...you don't. I...I...can't talk right. I...I...can't do stuff."

Riley starts to cry and it breaks Ryan's heart for the second time today, he pulls Riley close to him and holds him until the tears stop. Sometimes in trying to do things or getting the words out of his mouth, Riley gets frustrated and cries, but this time the tears fell out of a mix of emotion; a remembrance sort of the day his life changed and also because he is upset with Ryan.

"My...my in-injury cha-changed me. I...I..am not the...the same. I...I...lose too...too much."

Ryan knows exactly what Riley is saying even if no one else understands it. He gives Riley a peck on the cheek and all the frustration just melts away from his "boyfriend". A car pulls into the driveway and in a few minutes Jared and Caden walk into the house. "Hey guys." Ryan and Riley both tell Jared and Caden "hey" at the same time. Jared pulls out his wallet to pay Ryan but Ryan pushes the Jared's hand away.

"Thanks for letting me spend with Riley. I won't accept money for spending time with my buddy."

It's a bit of surprise to Jared and Caden that Ryan would pass up the money.

"Thanks Ryan, we appreciate you helping us out here."

Ryan gives Riley a sly little smile as he looks into his eyes.

"Bye Riley, I'll see you later."

"Bye...Bye, Ry-an, you...you come...back?"

"I have to come back."

Riley's smile says it all and everyone could see that spark in his eyes, that is if they had been watching.

***

The next day, Caden gets up early and gets on the computer. He wants to find an apartment or a house for rent, so that Riley and him could move. There have been a few houses that look really promising even some of the apartments look promising, but with his money all he can really afford is a one bedroom and that won't do. There are a few he wants to check out in person but first he has to find the time.

`I need to head out to work and grab some files.'

Getting up his grabs his keys and heads out to the center.

***

Jared decides to work from the living room so he can watch Riley. Prior to this, he got some paper for him and gave him a few pencils too. Towards ten in the morning, Riley decides to attempt to write his name. It does not go unnoticed either, and Jared is impressed. It shows that Riley is still fighting and will continue to fight against his injuries. A little later, Riley gets a book off the shelf sits next to Jared. Thumbing through it till, he comes to page that has beautiful farm on it. Riley sets the book down and gets up to grab his pencil, some paper, and a notebook. Riley holds his pencil as best as he can and tries his best to sketch what is in the book. He spends almost an hour working on his sketch, but it's not up to par with is older stuff but Jared give him credit for working on it.

`I need to call Caden and talk to him about Riley.'

Riley ends up getting frustrated, and gives up on the drawings, but instead of crying, he ends up falling asleep on the couch next to the man destined to be his brother's boyfriend.

***

Caden comes home to find Riley asleep on the couch and Jared busy on his laptop.

"Anything exciting happen while I as gone?"

Jared grabs the page that Riley was doing his writing on as well as the paper with the sketch on it.

"This is what your brother was doing while you were gone. I can't tell what some of the letters are but I think that I can make out some of the words." Jared says as he lifts the second page with the drawing on it, and he proudly displays as if he were a proud daddy.

"What do you think; it's not too bad is it?"

Truth is, it was hard to tell what the sketch is exactly, but it did sort of resemble a house.

"Well, all things considered, it's not bad I guess, but it's hard to see what Riley was trying to draw." Caden said with a huge smile on his face.

If Riley were awake he would be so happy. In truth, occupational therapy and physical therapy will help him with his pencil holding skills.

***

Caden is home for only twenty minutes when his phone rings. The number shows up on the display as belonging to Ryan. Accepting the call, he is a little scared that this call is bad news.

"Hello Ryan, how can I help you?"

"I need to tell you something about your brother?"

The feeling of ill omen he had before answering the phone now is doubled because he thinks there might be something wrong with Riley.

"Today when I was watching Riley, he told me that he likes me and then he told me that he loves me."

"Oh!" Caden isn't sure what to think of the information that Ryan just shared. He cannot expect his brother not to have feelings for someone eventually, and it would seem that it's come sooner than big brother wanted it too. It could just be a crush that Riley has, and maybe it is confusing him. He wants to say no to this budding relationship due to his brother's disability. Caden is about to say no, when suddenly Riley sticks up his head and says "I..love..you." to him. His brother reminds him of the fact that he has suffered enough, and if he loves Ryan then so be it.

"It's fine you guys have my blessings."

"Cool, I guess that I have my first boyfriend."

He can hear the excitement coming from Ryan's voice. "Thanks again!" Ryan now has another reason to hang out with Riley.

"If it's okay, I need to hang up guy."

"It's cool thanks, Mr. Bishop."
Riley is going to be impossible to live with now that he has a boyfriend.

***

Later that day, Riley and Caden are in Riley's bedroom. Caden is working with his brother on putting his laundry away. When the lesson is over, Riley springs a question on his brother.

"Are...are we mo-ving?"

Caden is stunned, he has not even picked a place let alone went to look at one.

"Eventually, we are moving but not right now okay?"

Riley grabs a book and starts to look at it, as Caden strips the bedding off the bed so he can wash it.

"Is...is Jar-ed mo-ving with...with us?"

"No buddy, it's just us."

Riley knows a move without Jared is not a good idea; a move without him would remove any chance of Caden and Jared becoming boyfriends.

"Why...why not?"

Caden can tell that his brother's attitude is changing; he's a bit anxious.

"Jared has his own house, and we need our own home. Don't you want our own place to live?"

Riley looks defeated as if Caden has ruined his entire life.

"No...no..., I...I li-ke it here. I...I stay."

Riley is angry with his brother for wanting to move away from Jared.

"Not a chance Riley, if I move you move."

Caden refuses to discuss the matter anymore with his little brother. Rather than discuss it, Caden walks out of the room and heads towards the clothes dryer. He doesn't know what will happen when they move, but one thing is certain any move is going to upset Riley and Jared.

***

Hey, Chuck here, if you liked this story (or even if you didn't), feel free to email me at: Hnstskr4@aol.com. I will do my best to answer all emails in a timely manner.

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