The following is a work of fiction. The story may contain profanity and
references to gay sex. Any relation to similar events or persons, fiction
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Have you forgotten all I know, and all we had?
You saw me mourning my love for you
And touched my hand
I knew you loved me then
I believe in you
I'll give up everything just to find you
I have to be with you, to live, to breathe
You're taking over me
Taking Over Me © by Evanescence, 2003
Control. It's extraordinary the tactics people employ to obtain it. Some
rely on deception while others engage in outright trickery. Then there are
those who resort to extortion. Why do we fight so hard for control? Because
we know to lose it is to put our fate in the hands of others. And what
could be more dangerous?
© by Marc Cherry, 2005
Leaving Ben's house was almost agonizing. It was such a warm feeling being in a house with that much adoration and commitment for each family member, particularly for the parents. Whenever Ben would speak of his mom or dad I could easily detect the highest level of respect he had for the two, even when his stories involved him not getting his way. He was no spoiled brat. He understood the reasons behind his sometimes disappointed requests and the like. And spending time with his mom only made me feel guilty. She was so happy and eager to please. She loved to feed her family, and shower them with affection. It reminded me so much of Tyler and how he loves to cook for his family, for me.
For the past several days I've toyed with the idea of moving back in with my family, into my home, where I belong.
In the afterglow of our passion behind the barn, Ben and I had a very candid talk. I was almost in tears and it felt so foolish to be in such a vulnerable state. But Ben was genuinely supportive. He let me talk about everything I had gone through over the past few months; the break up with Trevor; then him and Keegan betraying me; Tyler and Jared selling the house I sort of grew up in; moving out; being on my own. He just sat next to me on the wooden bench, his arm thrown over my shoulders holding me close. His warmth was soothing almost to the point of tranquilizing. He gave me some words of advice, but his most important piece of advice was to cherish the family moments.
"Nothing is more important than family. Nothing."
I knew he was right. I loved my family. Tyler and Jared provided me with more than I ever could have hoped for. Living in our broken foster system almost made me believe happy endings only happened in stories. But then my brother and I were adopted by two men who proved to me that you don't have to have amazing fortune to have a happy ending. You only have to have the power of family. They would die for me, for my siblings. When you have that feeling, that knowledge of that kind of commitment, you almost feel invincible. You start to take things for granted. You might even feel suffocated, like I was beginning to because I didn't understand it. Now living with a stranger it's clearer than it's ever been to me: I have to stay with my family.
Florence saw me out with a bag of leftovers to "put some meat on my bones," as she said. Poor Ben must be tired of being fed like a pig. His metabolism must be through the roof for him to burn off so much of this comfort food. He walked me to my car, giving me a good night kiss. I didn't want to leave, but I knew I had to. I knew I had much to do the next day.
And that's how I've come to be in my old home, sitting in the kitchen watching Tyler prep dinner. I've been hesitating to admit I want to come back home. Not because he'd be arrogant, but because it almost seems like I failed to be alone. Although looking on the whole experience it's sort of not a failure. I managed to pay rent to someone who wasn't a family member and could continue to pay if I wanted to. I don't have to move back home. I want to. So, no, it isn't a failure at all. I'm not in trouble. I didn't lose my job. I can afford it.
But still . . .
Something is nagging at me that says I've failed.
"The housing market is on the rise now. That's good news for us if we want to sell the house for as much as we can." Tyler said absentmindedly.
"That's good," I replied back. "It's weird seeing the sale sign in the front yard. Is Jared freaking out because it's messing up his grass?" The thought of him having an anxiety attack because his perfect lawn now had a giant post in it was amusing.
"He was at first," he chuckled. "But he got over it. Not like we could get around that. We've been looking at houses to buy, but this area is so inflated."
"So move out of the area."
"You know it gets less safe and desirable outside of this area. We want to move to a similar neighborhood. There hasn't been any drama, no police, no weirdos."
"That's because in this neighborhood we are the weirdos."
"You've got a point there. We just want a simple house in a decent neighborhood. It shouldn't be too hard to find, right?"
"One can only hope."
"Anyway, enough about the house crap. You're almost done with this semester, then you have summer break to look forward to. Or are you planning on taking summer school?"
I got up to get a glass of juice and said, "I don't know. I don't really want to, but it'd probably be a good idea so that I can stay on track." They only had apple juice, the heavily processed and sugared kind. No thanks.
"Jared and I always took summer classes. We just wanted out of college as soon as possible. We wanted to start our lives together. Our differing schedules made it hard."
"My problem is they don't offer much variety in their summer courses. It's a lot of basic stuff, not really anything too specific. I'm starting to need the specifics, especially now that I have a major."
"You could probably sub a few classes, you know? I had to do that with quite a few classes myself. I remember one quarter my college only offered one class that I actually needed. So I took courses in other subjects that pertained to the course I was subbing it for. The head of the history department had to approve them first and then I was set."
"I think subbing science classes is a bit harder than history," I said cryptically. "And I wouldn't mind working this summer to make more money. Without studying getting in the way I could request even more hours and make millions!"
Tyler laughed. "I don't think working there is going to make you millions of dollars, man."
"No, no, no. Not money, Tyler. Drinks! Millions of drinks!"
We shared a laugh at the foolishness of my proclamation. I was starting to feel more and more used to the idea of telling him I want to move back in. That feeling of failure was also fading rapidly.
"You're such a dork. You'll make a great husband someday." Jared came in through the garage with two bags of groceries. "God knows that if Jared wasn't such a dork I couldn't handle him."
"Huh?" Jared asked as he set the bags on the island.
"Nothing, babe," Tyler said passively. "Did you get me the right cheese this time?"
"Yes I did," said Jared in a mocking tone. "I got you sharp cheddar, not mild."
"Hey, it makes a difference!"
"Cheddar is cheddar. Throw a piece on a burger and I'm happy."
I grimaced. "No more salads for you, Jared?"
"Funny, Sundance, funny."
"Don't you just miss me?"
"You know, I can't seem to recall that I do at the moment."
"Jared," Tyler groaned. "You bought bread crumbs! I said panko!"
Jared threw up his hands in defeat, shaking his head wildly.
"Well make it work, babe. I'm not going back to the store again."
Tyler slammed the container of bread crumbs on the counter and glared at his husband. I could feel the animosity coming off of the both of them. So much for being madly in love.
"Fine." Tyler relented.
Always seeming to have to have the last word, Jared muttered, "Fucking Christ." He went into the living room and plopped down on the couch.
"Everything okay in paradise?" I asked softly so Jared wouldn't hear.
Tyler didn't face me when he said, "This short sale has been stressing us both out. Things are getting a little better, but we fight a lot more."
"At least you know the cause of it. Everything will get better. You guys just need to learn to relax. You both let things stress you out so easily."
"Trust me," he chuckled, "I know it."
"Then why do you always let it happen?"
"Not always!" he countered.
Watching him prep his food I let my mind wander and fantasize about the future. Suppose I do move back in, what then? Will Keegan and I remain civil? I'll never forgive him for his ludicrous betrayal, but to save money and be a part of the family again civility wouldn't be too difficult a concept. Moving back in, I'd also be able to reduce my hours at work. That would have to be a carefully crafted decision, though, because I certainly don't want to be making too little money now that I'm used to bringing in a decent amount.
School would be easier if I could lower my hours, too. Not that I'm struggling now, but it sure would be nice to not have to stay up studying until midnight after getting home from work at 9:30. Since I've been focusing so heavily on work and filling the rest of my time with studying my health has been neglected. Moving back home would allow me to pick up where I left off—better food, more exercise, less stress. I just have to work up the nerve to ask Tyler and Jared if I can move back in. They'll for sure let me, but I still feel the need to ask. With the house for sale it may cause more trouble than it's worth moving back now.
Jared stumbled back into the kitchen. He seemed to have calmed down a bit. His bare feet softly padded across the tile floor. "Want a drink, babe?"
"No, I'm fine," Tyler said flatly.
Jared popped open a bottle of beer and sat next to me.
"So no work tonight, huh? How do you plan on paying your bills?"
"Jared, do you have to be such an asshole?" Tyler said angrily.
"Everything is just fine." I said quickly, hoping to squash any argument that may have been building. "Work has been busy lately." I reached for the beer and took a small swig, taking note of Tyler's reaction as well.
"That's good, especially since they built that new Starbucks near the mall. I'm surprised you didn't try working at one of those instead, you little hipster."
Rolling my eyes, I said, "None were hiring and I am not a hipster. I like the café better anyway. It's more fun and the menu is easy."
"How's Daryl or Dave or whoever you live with?" Jared smiled, taking another drink.
"Dan is fine," I replied. "Him and I have gotten pretty close actually."
He hummed. "Good, good. What about school?"
"It's great," I said. "Everything is just great."
"Something isn't right here," Jared said skeptically. "You usually explain, give details. What's going on?"
Damn him! He can read me like a freaking book!
"Nothing's going on!" I shot back.
"I smell bullsh—"
"Jared," Tyler interjected, "he said nothing is going on. There's no need to dredge things up."
Throwing up his hands in defeat, he said, "Okay, okay."
Then I felt bad. There is something going on. I just don't know how to bring it up. Ugh, there is no need for this anxiety. They'll obviously let me move back in. Come on, Travers, you can do this. You're not a loser. You're not a quitter. You're not weak. You're not a failure. What you are is a college student who is slipping on his studying because the job you work at to pay rent is taking up most of your time and energy.
Jared finished his beer and grabbed another one from the fridge. Tyler remained silent standing over the stove frying up chicken. He said earlier that they had been fighting more, so perhaps now just isn't the right time to talk about me moving back. I don't want to stress them out even more than they already are. Damn this inner monologue!
"I want to move back in!" I suddenly blurted out.
Tyler turned from his food smiling. "Okay."
"Hey," Jared mumbled, "I was right. There was something going on!"
Tyler scoffed and chuckled. "Just drink your beer, stud."
"Why do you want to move back in? It hasn't been that long since you left."
"School isn't getting any easier, and working so many hours a week is taking its toll on me. I need more time to study and do my homework. These one, two in the morning study sessions are awful."
Jared nodded acceptingly. "I remember those. God, those really were just awful. The only positive things were the blow jobs Tyler would give me during breaks."
"Jared!" Tyler shouted.
I laughed at their ridiculousness. Only Jared would be so brash as to spit out his sexual exploits. "So, can I move back in or not?" I asked as I calmed down and caught my breath.
Jared coughed, "Of course."
"Well good, because I have some of my stuff in the car."
"What if we said no?" Tyler questioned.
I slid off the barstool and started walking out of the kitchen.
"I knew you wouldn't."
"So, how'd your roommate take the news?" Claire asked as she tossed an empty can in a trash bin. The two of us were heading to the cafeteria to have an early lunch. I had found out from a classmate that our history class was cancelled for the day so I was feeling pretty mighty. No matter how much I enjoy a class, who doesn't love a day off?
"Dan didn't take it badly at all, actually. He even told me the room would probably still be available if I ever wanted to move back in." I grabbed her can from the trash and dropped it in a recycling bin. "You know those exist, right?"
"It's all trash. It all ends up being squashed either way."
"No, it's not—" Cutting myself off, I recalled many of these same arguments between us. For the sake of my own sanity letting it go would be best. "Right, so, I figured we could do some studying after lunch. I'm struggling with this new stuff Sylvester is going over."
"Yeah, for sure. Oh! Wait, Olivia wanted me to meet her in the quad so we could exchange some notes."
"Okay," I said. A quick social call wouldn't hurt. Besides, I haven't seen Olivia in quite a few days. It'll be nice to catch up.
We headed over to the quad and sat on a bench to wait for our friend to show up. Claire was chittering about her dude she's been seeing. She seems to be growing more fond of him and, considering he's a catch, isn't a bad thing. Truth be told, though, I've yet to meet him. I've never even seen a picture of him.
Olivia approached us from behind, scaring Claire. She seemed particularly unenthused about being snuck up on, but a little fright never hurt anyone.
"Come on," I said, catching my breath from laughing so hard, "that was funny."
"Ugh," she exhaled. "Here. Here are the notes. I highlighted the important parts so pay special attention to those."
"Thanks, Claire!" Olivia gushed. "I cannot believe how hard this stuff is." She quickly scanned through the notes, appearing weighed down by the amount of writing Claire had done.
"It's all the terms that make it hard. I managed a B in the class last semester, though. And if I got a B there's no reason you shouldn't."
"Hey, we're gonna grab some food from the café, then have a study sesh. Hungry?" I asked Olivia. "My next class was cancelled and I don't really want to go home yet."
"Yeah! I'm down, but can we run to my car really quick?"
"Sure," Claire and I said together.
We began walking in the direction of Olivia's car. Almost there, someone suddenly spun me around, scaring the life right out of me. I was ready to defend myself, but then I saw who grabbed me.
"What the fuck are you doing? Are you seriously going—" Trevor's lips mashed against mine, painfully. Erotically. Longingly. My eyes closed on their own. My heart was thumping like a drummer marching into battle. Even though we were in the middle of campus it felt like we were floating in air. The sparks, the fireworks, the connection—all were there. Again.
He pulled away too soon. Much sooner than I wanted him to. Damn him, disappointing me yet again!
Trevor looked awful. His hair was a mess. Dark, puffy eyes overshadowed his pale face and a scabbed scratch on his cheek. But before I could ask—no, demand—what the hell was going on he fled, almost sprinting to a parking lot. I turned back towards my two friends who looked as confused and . . . dazed . . . as I felt.
What was that about?
Merry Christmas, readers! The next installment. Finally! My schedule is slammed, which leaves me mentally drained. I cannot say for certain when the next chapter will be out, but be aware there are only a few chapters left! My website, Delfino Plaza, is still a work in progress, but I'm much more concerned about Taking Over Me than I am with updating other stories on there. Visit the site, take it all in. Enjoy the holidays. Eat. Drink. Love. Laugh. Cheers!