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WARNING this part contains material of an Adult nature, you have been warned read on at your own responsibility.
The beat was contagious, pumping in a way that caused people to move. You couldn't stop yourself, you just moved. Will moved. He bounded onto the chair, riding it down to the floor as he slid in his socks across to the front of the stereo and turned up the music, letting the sounds of the heavy base pound out of the retro seventies speakers Brody had rigged up as he charged off again.
He was in a good mood, actually enjoying himself for the first time in ages, it was nothing he could explain, and he was just... giddy. It didn't matter that he had such a long day. Nothing could change the fact that he was happy.
He had just gotten out of a shower and had chosen a pair of boxer shorts with a dizzying pattern on them that summed up his mood. He had every right to feel happy; he had been alone again that morning, Mrs. Casey still not making her presence known. He had used the time to teach his students more about Shakespeare and little Peter McCormick seemed to have grown out of his shell, which was rewarding for Will. He was actually making a difference. There was something liberating about teaching his sprogs, an intoxication about them actually responding to him. They were learning, and it was his doing.
"Alcoholic kind of mood ..."he sang in an off-key tone as he spun, stepping out with his legs as he grabbed ahold of the broom. He pulled it close and swept it back like a microphone as he stepped around it, bobbing and weaving in time to the bass, "Lose my clothes, lose my lube..."
"Cruising for a piece of fun" He stepped back, swaying as he tossed the broom aside, sliding in his socks again into the kitchen, pulling out a pot and filling it with water, "Looking out for number one ..."
He put it down on the stovetop next to where his frying pan was browning beef, and stepped backwards and forwards twice as he turned the burner on.
"Different partner every night ..." he sang as he turned again, reaching out for pasta and tossing the packet in the air as he punched with his hand to catch it, "So narcotic outta sight ..." he applied it to the water and bounded out of the kitchen.
"What a gas, what a beautiful ass.!"
He turned and stopped, seeing Brody standing in the doorway to the galley, looking like he was about to burst into laughter. And his heart sank and the smile on his face became forced, guilt and a wave of emotion crushing his mood instantly. He stood upright and crossed to the stereo and switched it off.
"Sorry, I was err... just..." he swallowed and lifted the pot lid to cover his boxer shorts, "...just going to get dressed..." "By all means, don't let me stop you," Brody said, his grin spreading as he remembered the ridiculous image of Will dancing. "I'm just going to grab a shower and go; I have a date tonight."
"Nikki, right?" Will asked, painfully aware that he was still in his underwear, but realizing that a mad dash for the stairs in his pants would only result in more teasing.
"No.." Brody grinned, "I'm meeting her at the club after supper. No, I have a date with Danielle first."
"Two dates?" Will asked in shock. "You're dating two women in the same night?"
"Actually," Brody gave a sheepish grin, "I'm meeting Kat for an after-hours party over at the exchange after the club."
"Three dates?" Will's mouth hung open doing his impression of a dead fish. Sometimes Brody surprised even him. There was no keeping up with his rapidly changing love life. Will had tried to compile a flow chart of it once, but had given up when he had run out of room on the Bristol board.
"Wha?" Brody asked, trying his best to look innocent as he started towards the stairs. "I didn't do nutin', they asked me out."
The door rattled and burst open as Jared struggled in carrying a cooler, Andrew in tow. Both young hockey players stopped short when they saw Will standing in the kitchen in just his boxers, concealing himself with a glass pot lid.
Jared shot Andrew a look, "I think that's your department."
Andrew reached up a hand to cover Jared's eyes, much the way a dad would shield the eyes of a child against something he wasn't supposed to see. "Hi," he said, his eyes traveling downwards suggestively.
Will turned bright red. "Get out of my kitchen," he demanded, grabbing the only thing that came to hand, the bag of pasta; he took a handful and lobbed it at the two boys. It scattered and bounced across the floor as the two ran for the relative shelter of the living room.
Brody shook his head as he went upstairs to continue to get ready. "You're cleaning that up," he chuckled.
Will stalked into the laundry room and, finding a pair of chinos, got dressed. He walked back up into the living room to find Andrew had stretched out on the floor and was channel surfing, while Jared was sitting in the loveseat with a beer.
Andrew smirked and motioned at the TV, "I missed cable, I forgot how many channels there were with nothing on." He surfed upwards till he found the music channel and tuned into it; setting the remote down on the coffee table he grinned, "What's for supper?"
Jared looked up. "Supper?" he looked hopeful.
Will sat down with his back resting against the foot of the couch. "It was going to be pasta," he said, looking over at both of them. "That was until you two showed up."
* * *
Will wasn't sure when they had both moved to the couch, probably when the pizza had arrived and been half devoured. They were both laughing along with a senseless movie TBS was showing in their movie slot. It was the best thing on at the time. Tonight had been a particularly violent and expressive movie, where Bruce Willis's lines were replaced with a more tempered dubbed version that barely sounded like him.
"We're gonna bury them funsters" and "you melon farmer"
Will roared with laughter, it was funnier than the original; in their attempt to carefully sterilize the movie for public consumption they had turned an action film into a comedy. He shifted slightly as Andrew moved himself around. They were both lying on the couch, completely at peace with the sudden intimacy of their position, neither really noticing how relaxed they were as Andrew shifted his arm to rest across Will's.
"I love this part," he said enthusiastically, his eyes bright as they focused on the screen, trying to convey his enthusiasm across to Will as he pulled another piece of pizza from the box.
Will watched the strange young man again, wondering at how comfortable he seemed inside his own skin. Like he had said back at the restaurant when he had first gotten back, he really was indifferent. There was nothing sexual about the way they sat, they were just two buddies watching a movie and sharing a moment. But Will wasn't about to write off the fact that Andrew was sharing his couch with him. They had long ago grown indifferent to the gender barrier that was supposed to exist between two men. Andrew was infectious.
Jared, who had earlier retreated down to the basement where the computer was kept, wandered up the stairs and stopped in the doorway to the lounge; he surveyed the scene with one of his bemused looks that said he knew exactly what was going on, even when the people involved didn't. Both Will and Andrew glanced at him.
"How do you do that?" he asked, wandering to the kitchen where he dried a glass from the dish rack with a tea towel before pouring himself some Kool-Aid from the pitcher in the fridge.
"Do what?" Andrew asked, rolling a bit to prop himself up on Will's chest.
Jared waved his glass to the pair of them laying in each others arms, "That."
Andrew looked down at Will, who in turn looked back up at him. "I think he means the fact we can just sit here and watch movies," Will surmised.
"Yeah," Jared said. "I've never had that with a girl." He looked troubled, and Andrew sat up, though his back was still pressed up against Will.
"You just haven't met the right girl, bud," Andrew said, pushing his hair out of his eyes. "What about this Cynthia girl who's coming tomorrow?"
Jared shrugged, "Yeah, just forget I asked..." He looked towards the door hesitantly, "I should jet."
It was Will's turn to sit up. "You've been drinking," he said matter-of-factly. "You're staying here tonight."
Jared looked down; it was getting close to two am and he looked exhausted. He shrugged, "Sure. Carter, you mind if I borrow some sweatpants and a tee?"
Will nodded, "Help yourself, mate, you know where everything is."
Will watched as Jared wandered about getting ready for bed, finally mumbling a good night as he shuffled his way upstairs. And to Will he seemed so alone and forlorn. Out of all of his friends Jared was the one who never seemed to be able to make a relationship work. Lisa and Brody, before their break up, had shared something that would have been love if either of them could admit the fact they loved each other.
What he shared with Andrew was special. You didn't get a love like that every day, and in a rare moment of emotion Will wrapped his arms tightly around Andrew's shoulders.
"You're affectionate tonight," Andrew said, still sitting upright. "Are you okay?"
Will shrugged, "A little embarrassed about being caught without pants earlier."
Andrew snorted as he tried to hide his laughter, "Those were... interesting boxer shorts."
Will grinned, "Oh yeah?"
"Yeah," Andrew said with a broad grin spreading across his face as he turned to reach down and unbutton the top button of Will's chinos.
"What are you doing?" Will said, crossing his arms.
"I wanted to see those boxer's again," Andrew said, fingers finding the zipper as he began to tug down on it, all the while looking with mischievous eyes on Will's.
"Did I give you permission to take my clothes off?" Will said, faking looking stern.
"I don't need permission, I'm your boyfriend." Andrew finished tugging down the zipper and spread the flaps of the trousers open exposing the garish patterned boxers. Technicolour...
Will reached down and closed his trousers, "Nope, not till I see yours first."
Andrew shrugged and stood up, going for the button on his khakis.
"Not like that," Will protested.
"How then?" Andrew asked, still grinning.
Will reached out a hand for the remote on the coffee table; he clicked off the television and discarded it, scooping up the other one next to it. And turning on the stereo player, he fiddled with the remote till he turned on a dance CD he had in there.
"You're not serious," Andrew said, his face falling in uncertainty as he looked over at the stereo pumping out a rhythmic base.
Will shifted himself into a comfortable position and gestured with the remote, "You don't get to see mine again until I've seen yours."
Andrew licked his lips and swallowed, taking a step back, hopping up onto the coffee table. He couldn't help himself and giggled, but suggestively undid his shirt, pulling it back and shaking it off his shoulders in time to the music.
Will's ears perked up and his eyes widened happily.
Andrew spun the shirt, tossing it aside as he un-tucked his tee-shirt, sliding up first one side then the other, showing off his tight abs. He let the shirt flap fall as he hopped to turn his back to Will, except he missed his footing and fell with a crash to the living room floor.
Will sat bolt upright, trying to see if Andrew was okay.
Andrew picked himself up and shook himself off, getting back into the music as he lifted the shirt up again, this time going higher. His hips swayed in time to the beat, pulling it up to reveal his chest.
Will swallowed. "Wow," he murmured.
The tee-shirt got stuck as Andrew wrestled with it, finally pulling it free. Embarrassed, Andrew blushed a bit flipping it down and between his legs. He pulled it back and forth a couple of times in a classic stripper's move, turning and tossing it over to Will, who didn't move as the tee-shirt landed across his head.
Will simply reached up and moved the shirt away from his eyes leaving it where it had landed. He swallowed again as Andrew reached for the button to his trousers, he was certainly beginning to enjoy this...
The trousers slid to the floor and Andrew kicked them aside, putting his hands on his hips as he turned and wiggled in the bright green boxer shorts. Hypnotized, Will cocked his head to one side, his eyes locked on the delicious curve of the...
The front door opened and Brody drew up short as he stared in stark surprise at the half-naked Andrew, who, also surprised, had stopped dancing. Brody coughed once, blinked and looked over at Will, as Andrew's tee-shirt slipped off his head.
Brody shook his head ever so slightly as he stood in the doorway looking disheveled. He walked into the living room, walking first around Andrew then back again shaking his head slowly.
Will stood up, still clutching Andrew's tee shirt; he opened his mouth to say something, offer an explanation that it really wasn't how it looked.
Brody held up a hand. "Nope," bidding Will back into silence.
He dramatically reached into his jacket pocket; drawing out his wallet he flipped it open, licked his finger and pulled out a bright blue new five which he tapped against his chin. He considered a moment before reaching out to a surprised Andrew and slipped it into the waistband of the green boxer shorts.
He turned and marched back towards the stairs still shaking his head as he made his way upstairs.
Andrew slowly pulled the five from his waistband and snapped it, his face still flushed from embarrassment as he flopped onto the couch beside Will. Andrew laid his head in Will's lap as Will smirked, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend, taking the five from him and holding it up.
"You know, I think we just found a way for you to make money from your natural exhibitionism."
Andrew snatched the five back, "You are so dead!"
"Well, I'm entertained," Will admitted, tracing his hands over Andrew's bare chest, feeling the silky-smooth texture of his skin beneath his fingers.
"Yeah, but you're easy," Andrew said with that amazing smile of his that brightened the whole world. He leaned forward and turned so that he was facing Will, "I love you."
"I know," Will replied with a shy smile, and his lips met Andrew's softly, just enjoying the pressure of those lips as they relented to let him in. At first the kiss was Will's as he slipped his tongue forward, enjoying the soft welcome he was given. But Andrew slowly came to life, returning the kiss; playfully at first but growing in intensity. This was the first time they had managed to be alone together since Andrew had come home.
Will moved off of the kiss, gently kissing his way to the nape of Andrew's neck, feeling the soft strands of Andrew's long bangs tickling his nose as Andrew leaned over him. Will sank back into the blue cushions of the couch as Andrew laid him back turning fully in his arms. Andrew pulled back, taking a deep breath as he smiled, pushing his hair back from his eyes and looking down at the young man beneath him.
"Hi there," Will said with an innocent smile.
Andrew reached down and removed Will's glasses exposing those warm hazel eyes that were always so filled with absolute trust. It was an unspoken trust, one that made Andrew pause in awe of it. That trust was his and his alone. That love was his and his alone. He felt so small beside that, and he brushed Will's cheek with the back of his hand as he just stared into those eyes for a while.
Will swallowed as he relaxed. Andrew always did that, stare down at him, and he often wondered what it was Andrew saw when he looked down at him like that. It was as if he could see straight into Will's soul, exposing everything to him. Will reached up and traced a finger down Andrew's chest, a light touch that caused Andrew to snap out of it. He exhaled in a sharp rush of air as Will's finger found the light dusting of hair that vanished beneath the dark green boxer shorts.
"You have me at a disadvantage, sir," Andrew said, faking a bad British accent.
Will smiled shyly, "I know."
Andrew chuckled, "Well, I can't be having that." He hooked the bottom of Will's shirt and pulled it up towards his head. Will grinned and arched his back to steal a kiss as Andrew swept his shirt up and off of his head before he tossed it onto the growing pile of clothes on the floor of the living room. He bent down to kiss Will's collarbone, moving down the smooth hairless chest towards Will's exposed nipples.
Will couldn't help but giggle. "Ticklish," he reminded, though Andrew knew that fact all too well.
Andrew glanced up, lifting himself to kiss Will again tenderly, "I missed you."
"I know," Will replied.
"I love you," Andrew said again.
"I know," Will replied by rote.
"You're such a goof." Andrew shook his head.
"I know." Will grinned, bouncing a little on the cushion; the motion touched their two tummies together and the electric thrill of the momentary touch brought their attention back to the moment.
Andrew returned his attention to kissing Will's chest as Will in turn ran his fingers through Andrew's hair. Andrew's mouth explored every inch of him, exciting him with the simplest and lightest of touches. He swallowed again as he shivered in pleasure at the touch. Andrew rose again, this time pressing his body against Will's and Will wrapped his arms around Andrew, running a hand down his back as they kissed again. They shifted again and they reversed their positions, Will finding himself on top of Andrew, sitting across his chest as he came up for air.
Will gasped lightly as Andrew's fingers brushed over his nipples again, sweeping down his sensitive sides. Will shivered again on the verge of writhing as Andrew drew lower still, running down over his thighs as he leaned up to kiss Will again, the hands roaming over the top of Will's chinos as they moved round, coming up to feel Will's excitement through the dark material. Both young men quivered at the same time, feeling so connected by the simplest of touches. And yet the material barrier between them frustrated both of the lovers.
Andrew moved the hand upwards roaming across his belly and chest, coming back down to press the belly button.
"Don't push the button," Will warned.
"But I want to push the button," Andrew replied, his grin getting broader, a hint of laughter to his voice. He pulled his finger back and poked the belly button as Will let out a fit of giggles.
"Stop it," he protested, half-heartedly batting Andrew's right hand away. The distraction worked, and Andrew's other hand swept in to nimbly snap the button of Will's chinos. Their earlier exploits had already pulled Will's zipper down, and so the two flaps of the trousers fell open revealing the gaudy boxer shorts in all their glory.
Will looked down in surprise, as his mouth fell open. "Hey!" he protested. "That's cheating."
Andrew shrugged as he kissed Will's exposed tummy gently. Their emotions and excitement once again rising, Andrew's hands roamed down again pulling down Will's trousers, and Will stood up to let the trousers fall free. Andrew, not willing to break contact, stood up with him, frantically kissing Will as they brought their bodies together. There was a need building within each of them to express the feelings both shared, and as they kissed both young men could share in each other's expression of that love.
Andrew pulled down on the technicolour underwear as Will lifted first one foot and then the other, stepping out of the shorts. Andrew came back up holding the underwear in his hands. "You know, there should be a law against these."
"You're the lawyer," Will replied, reaching to grab the boxer's back; but Andrew swept them behind his back, still grinning.
"I think that there should be a punishment for inflicting them on the world." Andrew had his usual twinkle in his eye indicating he was up to something.
Will grabbed for his boxers again, growing shy about the fact he was naked. Andrew chuckled and produced the underwear and still smiling, pulled them onto Will's head, the waistband becoming a headband as they flopped to one side like a bizarre hat.
Will craned his neck a little looking upwards at them as they fell forwards. "Now I just look silly..." Will suddenly gasped as Andrew's hand grasped him. They were kissing again a second later as Will pulled Andrew closer against him, his breath a little ragged as his heart beat faster. Andrew's hand was light and gentle, holding him and pulling him down onto the couch. Andrew pulled his face away again as he drew his hand up and down in long strokes, tightening his hand as Will straddled his chest again.
"You look amazing," Andrew said with full sincerity, bending forward and upwards to kiss his way up to Will's mouth, pulling Will down to him. The technicolour underwear flopped forward causing both the young men to break out giggling.
Will reached up and tugged the underwear off his head, letting them fall to the floor beside them. "Better?" he inquired.
His answer was when he suddenly felt Andrew roll and the two ended up on the floor on top of the pile of clothes, Andrew once again on top and squarely in control. There was a time for love and then there was a time for raw need. The fabric of Andrew's boxers was pleasantly rough against Will's smooth skin and there was no mistaking a hardness beneath the material as Andrew pushed himself against his lover. Those eyes were filled with an intensity that was for him alone and Will trembled as he arched his back a little.
"Andrew," Will murmured in such a quiet pleading tone.
Andrew leaned down again, pushing Will's knees up and apart, those blue eyes locked on Will's hazel ones. Andrew never closed his eyes in those moments; instead they seemed to drink in Will's love like a man desperate for water. They were both aroused, physically and emotionally and each could see it in the other's eyes. Andrew reached down to pull himself free of the green shorts. He looked to Will for one last confirmation of assent, which was given without hesitation and he pressed forward against Will.
Will's breath caught; he was still not used to it, he could count on one hand the number of times they had done that... He forced himself to relax, knowing what came next. When Andrew pushed in, Will gasped and fought against his urge to tense up at the intrusion.
Andrew knew Will, the times before burned into his memory giving him experience in knowing when to push and when to wait. He was never rough, only determined. He finally found himself buried inside his lover and gasped for air, realizing he had held his breath the entire way in.
Andrew remained still for a moment, his head bent forward and his eyes meeting Will's in that lock, refusing to break eye contact, refusing to let go of that connection that meant so much to him. They were one, mentally and physically, and Andrew could just get lost in that sensation. He had to remember where he was, and what he was doing. It was Will shifting a little to grab a pillow down from the couch that caused Andrew to shake himself back to the mission at hand.
Will positioned the pillow behind his head and sighed happily for a second as Andrew began to move. It was tender at first, and slow, as Andrew withdrew leaving Will with that instant sensation of loss, only to push it back flooding Will with a sense of oneness again. His entire body tensed, tingling unmistakably as it did whenever Andrew moved forward. Taking this as encouragement, Andrew moved again. Each pull back and subsequent thrust became more pronounced, more deliberate and every stroke caused Will to gasp in pleasure.
Will arched his back again, his head turning as he gritted his teeth. His body felt electric, an explosion of sensation that wouldn't stop detonating, wiping away thought. There was only them at that moment, each of them whole and complete; they were consumed by each other and the love they shared.
They were building towards climax, a burning intensity in each of them, Andrew pushing forward, still holding onto Will and timing the strokes to coincide. The pressure built within him, and in turn within Will, and threatened to release with a finality. When they came they both lost track of time.
Andrew was always fascinated by their differences. It was those things that separated them that ultimately brought them so closely together. Will was quiet, reserved, introverted. He possessed the kind of self-confidence that wasn't plainly apparent until Will started to talk about something he was passionate about.
The cultural differences between them always captivated Andrew. He only had to look down at Will naked in his arms to see signs of them. From the way he wore his hair right down to the fact he was uncircumcised--the latter being a source of much fascination to a good Canadian boy who had undergone a circumcision after birth so had never seen foreskin. Will was truly a beautiful man, so loving and full of life.
Andrew held him close to him remembering the first night they had spent together in the back seat of the Mustang keeping warm pressed up together. Andrew had noticed then how the slight upturn of Will's nose was so perfectly proportioned. How, when he breathed there was a slight wheeze of his breath rattling in his chest from a touch of asthma that Will refused to admit he had. How Will's skin felt so soft against his own that he couldn't control the urge to touch it. Even now his fingers lightly traced the contours of Will's body as he slept on the floor of the living room, the faint touches of dawn beginning to rise from the parking lot behind the house.
There was nothing he wouldn't do for Will, he realized at that moment. They'd been together for a year and a half, an eternity in their short lives so far. Each was the other's first, content in the knowledge that they were each other's only.
Andrew brushed a strand of hair out of Will's eyes. His Will, and despite what his mother said, Andrew knew he would always protect him. He grinned, leaning down to gently kiss Will's forehead, wrapping his arms around him as he reached up to pull the blanket that Brody always left draped over the back of the couch down to cover them both.
Jared blearily stared at the two on the floor as he scratched his black hair which was raising up above his head in a typical fantail of a man just recently awake. He shook his head as he stumbled towards where the coffee pot sat, trying not to wake them.
"Black, two sugars." Andrew propped himself up onto his elbow and looked over at him.
Jared turned back, "I'll make it, but I'm not bringing it to you until you put some pants on."
Andrew reached out to where his pants had fallen the night before and he slipped them on under the blanket. Will snored fitfully, pulling the blanket tighter around him as he rolled over. The boy could sleep anywhere.
Andrew got up and stretched, walking to the kitchen to lean on the counter. "Morning," he said cheerfully; the smile on his face left nothing to Jared's imagination.
"I'm glad I got the couch Scotchgarded," Brody observed, as he made his way downstairs to discover the sleeping Brit and the clothes laying about. He shook his head in a typically paternal manner as he walked through to join the other two in the kitchen.
Andrew felt awkward and pointed through to the living room, "Look, I'm sorry I..."
Brody snorted, "Just give me my five bucks back and we'll call it even."
Will awoke when Andrew stuck a mug of coffee under his nose. He cracked open a single eye and looked at the warm brown liquid that smelled amazing, and he closed his eyes again, a happy smile spreading across his face. The smile froze as a look of puzzlement replaced it, and Will opened his eyes again at the sun-drenched living room, the television going with the highlights...
"Oh god!" he said, sitting upright and pulling the blanket closer about him.
Brody and Jared were in the kitchen discussing the barbeque that evening, Brody jotting down a list on the back of an envelope with a pencil. Will glanced back at Andrew, a look of shock on his face, "We weren't supposed to fall asleep..."
Andrew coughed as he tried to hide a laugh, "Uh, you were the one who fell asleep. Typical guy; you get done and then there's no waking you."
Will snatched the coffee from Andrew's hand giving him a dirty look. "This is all your fault," he commented, hiding his own shy smile.
"Actually, I think last night was your fault, you started it." Andrew grinned still sitting on his haunches and looking at Will wrapped up in his blanket.
"Shurrup." Will blushed again feeling about for his underwear as he handed the half-finished coffee back to Andrew to hold for a second. "I need to take a shower," he said, getting up and bolting for the stairs wearing the ugly underwear. He made a silent vow never to wear them again.
Once he was clean and refreshed, dressed in a crisp white button-up shirt and a pair of black slacks, he was beginning to feel more human. He rolled up his sleeves as he walked around his bed to the window overlooking the back yard. Brody and Jared were poking at the rusted-out remnants of the barbeque. It had been a casualty of Ottawa's harsh winter and from the looks of it would put a serious crimp in the barbeque plans that evening.
Andrew entered the room behind him, and Will turned with a fond smile, putting the final roll in his white sleeve. "I see the grill didn't survive."
Andrew shrugged, "We're going to take a trip to Canadian Tire in a few minutes, buy a new one." He leafed through Will's wardrobe and selected a shirt that Will had been given as a gift by a nearsighted cousin who seemed to think he was a couple of sizes larger than he was. "Mind if I borrow this? I need to change, I feel..."
"Go ahead," Will said. "You can have it if you want, it never looked good on me."
Andrew slung the shirt over his shoulder and turned back to Will, his eyes sweeping appreciatively over Will's typically smart appearance. He reached back into the closet and pulled out a black waistcoat, tossing it over to Will.
Will caught it and slipped it on; Andrew was fast becoming one of those gay men with a sense of fashion. It always started that way: first came clothes, then the interior decorating tips and before you knew it they would both be in pink hot pants talking with lisps and sipping peach schnapps. Will shuddered.
"What?" Andrew asked, catching Will's shiver.
"Make me a promise?" Will asked. "Never wear hot pants."
Andrew digested that one, raising an eyebrow in confusion, "Uh...okay, I promise." He shook his head as he crossed the hall to the bathroom and the waiting shower as Will made his way downstairs.
He poked his head out of the patio doors and stepped out onto the wooden veranda that backed onto the house, resting his arms on the rail and watching his two friends desperately try to resurrect a gas barbecue that had long since given up the ghost.
"Andrew suggested we go to Canadian Tire," Will said, squinting up at the sun as it beat down on them. It was going to be a stifling hot day at this rate.
Brody leaned on the fence that separated the small back yard from the parking lot behind the house. "Makes sense," he said, pausing to nod to a pretty woman getting into her car. He was always on the game; like any great player, the game was never over.
Jared dropped the rusted lid of the dead barbeque and scrubbed a hand through his hair before tucking it back under his Condor's cap. "Yeah, she's dead," he pronounced like a doctor announcing the time of death. As if on cue some dead pine needles from the large evergreen in the center of the garden drifted down across the carcass.
Andrew emerged from the house a few minutes later looking refreshed, his sandy-brown hair combed away from his eyes even though it threatened to fall back into its usual place at the first opportunity. "So what's the plan?" he asked, resting a hand on Will's shoulder.
"Canadian Tire," Jared said in agreement. "We can pick up a new grill."
"We can't all fit into Brody's truck," Andrew pointed out.
"We can take my car," Jared stated, "follow Brody and give him a hand loading and unloading."
"Sounds like a plan," Brody said decisively, leading the troop of friends back into the house.
Will stopped long enough to grab his sunglasses before joining them, and hopped in with Brody, figuring it was preferable to being wedged into the back of a Toyota Tercel. Plus it gave him a chance to stretch his legs out a bit; after sleeping on the floor all night he was cramped.
Canadian Tire stores were carbon copies of each other across Canada. It was a one-stop shopping experience where you could indulge all of your DIY urges in one place. It had everything from screws through to washbasins; enough hardware to make Tim Taylor grunt with sheer pride. It was definitely a place of testosterone, men, and power tools, and Will rolled his eyes as he picked his way through the aisles behind the other guys, stopping once or twice when something interesting caught his eye.
Will was not, as most people assumed, well-versed in the whole do-it-yourself culture. He had tried to assemble one of those IKEA shelving units once by himself. It was only when the thing had collapsed on top of him the moment he put a single book on the shelf that he knew he was never destined to work in interior decorating. At least Andrew knew what an Allen key was, which was fortunate otherwise they would have to spend a small fortune in contractors.
There were entire sections of the great warehouse superstore that he had no idea what they were for. Rows of plugs sockets and fittings that made no logical sense to his mind, and they were opposite equally outlandish devices that served only to confuse him further.
"It's a heating element," Andrew said with a smile, relieving him of the strange metal object he had picked up curiously. "You know, for a stove?"
Will looked at it again, but again it just looked like a piece of metal to him. "Right," he said, sounding wholly unconvinced.
Andrew shook his head; putting a hand on Will's shoulder he guided him towards where the others were looking at the wide assortment of gas grills. Jared had managed to corner one of the sales associates and was asking him deliberate questions, no doubt trying to find the best deal. Typical Jared, he always seemed to be out for the best deal he could find; like his father, a natural salesman.
Will was sitting down over by the patio furniture not really paying attention to the negotiations; he was focused out of the sliding doors at the garden center. Gardening had never really held an interest for him; it was just too much work to maintain a garden in Canada's inclement weather, though he was thinking a couple of climbing vines might look nice wrapped around the porch.
Little Bobby McCormick breezed past him, running to the doors and pressing his face up against them making a face as he turned around. His mischievous grin was suddenly replaced with a look of guilt as he recognized his English teacher sitting at the patio table staring back at him.
Will blinked a moment standing up, looking about him and spotting Peter McCormick walking faithfully alongside a rather harried looking woman who was unmistakably his mother, something about the eyes giving it away. She was short, wearing worn jeans and an old tee shirt, pushing a cart, calling for Bobby not to run off.
Little Peter started when Mister Carter stepped around the patio display, staring in their direction. He touched his mother's arm, whispered something to her and nodded towards his teacher.
Mrs. McCormick angled her shopping cart as she pushed up to the thin man who looked entirely too young to be the teacher Peter couldn't stop talking about.
"It's Mister Carter, isn't it?" she asked cautiously.
Will nodded. "William Carter, Mrs. McCormick," he said, formally shaking her pre-offered hand.
"I've heard a lot about you," she sniffed, "but I expected you to be older."
"I get that quite a bit," Will admitted, glancing back over his shoulder. Jared was haggling over a scratch on the floor model, no doubt trying to buy it to save a few bucks. Andrew was watching Will, but keeping his distance.
"Well," Mrs. McCormick said awkwardly, "I just wanted to thank you; Peter's been really excited about your classes, in fact he won't stop talking about your lessons."
Peter shyly blushed and stepped back around his mother; hiding behind her much the way a small boy would do when shyness took over.
"Peter's a good student," Will replied, leaning a little to smile at Peter. "He's got a firm grasp over what I'm teaching..."
She seemed hesitant, looking down at Peter and then gently pushing him towards the doors where his brother was trying to activate the automatic doors by waving his hand. "Go keep your brother out of trouble, I want to talk to Mister Carter a moment."
Peter mutely waved goodbye to Will and darted off, his ears still red from Will's praise. Will watched him leave for a moment before he turned back to Mrs. McCormick, "What can I do for you?"
"I was wondering," Mrs. McCormick was a little agitated now, "if you knew anything about the bullying?"
Will frowned. "Bullying?" he asked.
"I'm a little worried," she admitted, staring up at Will with intense eyes. "Peter is such a quiet boy, and ... well... you know boys like that are always...well, picked on."
Will nodded, understanding her concern; he took a tight breath and sighed, "I haven't caught anything, but then I can't be everywhere at once. Has he said anything to you about bullying?"
"He hasn't," she said, sounding frustrated, "but Bobby said the other night that some of the other boys were picking on Peter, calling him names."
Will looked over at Peter, quietly standing watching his boisterous brother get into mischief; such a quiet little boy, entirely too pretty and lacking the rough and tumble attitude that would protect his brother from the typical bully's attention. Delicate and quiet, two fatal flaws for kids in Junior High.
It struck Will at that point, the curve of Peter's hand when he gestured, the shyness and the demeanor. He turned back and he saw that he wasn't the only one who had noticed what Will had just seen. Mrs. McCormick had a pleading look of worry on her face and Will felt compelled to say something, anything to make her feel better.
What could he say to ease that worry? How could he, a gay man himself, ease the worry of a parent that was just realizing her son was gay. They say mothers were always the first to know, an instinctual thing they could sense in their offspring. Will had been spared that burden, his mother long since abandoning him to his father's dictatorial grasp. He looked back at Peter, and the more he looked the more he recognized a reflection of himself at twelve. Had his father recognized it, only to dismiss it in typical paternal denial?
"I can keep a closer eye on him if you want," Will said, hoping it was enough that she knew at least someone at the school would keep an eye on her boy.
She clasped his hand, an intimate gesture, one of a common bond that had just been forged. He was the only other person to see what she saw and in a way that reassured her to know she wasn't alone with it anymore, but at the same time... "Thank you," she said sincerely.
Will nodded as she finally let him go, putting her weight into pushing the cart after her two boys, giving Will one last look of thanks as she left.
"You okay?" Andrew asked, coming up beside Will.
Will nodded, "I think so, just a couple of my students and their mother..." He wasn't sure why he didn't just tell Andrew exactly what they had discussed, but it was something he just had to work out in his own head before he could discuss the half-formed thoughts with someone else.
Andrew gave him a look of concern and clapped a hand around his shoulder, pulling him back to join the rest of them clustered around the newly-purchased barbeque.