Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Thanks to Richard for the edit.
"This porch is really big," I said aloud to no one. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, a white plastic back yard chair that you could buy from any store in any town, anywhere. My arms rested on the railing of the big upstairs wrap-around porch. My back was comfortably slouched, as I lay my head on my folded arms. In my hands was a huge tumbler full of ice water. The sun was setting, and the glare from its brightness was going directly into my eyes. Everything had a yellowish tint to it, making it seem like the world, at that precise moment, was as perfect as it looked.
"I used to come out here a lot when I was young too," Dad said from behind me.
I look up from my arms, feeling groggy, and turned to watch as him walk from the sliding glass door, to the space next to me. Dad, who I had always seen as the perfect picture to what a man should be, was starting to seem hollow to me. It was odd watching him in this setting, in this house where he had grown up. I had seen him here a million times; I guess the odd part was we both knew that Grandma and Grandpa were not going to come out any second and demand quality time from us. They wouldn't ever be here to do that again.
"It's nice," I commented, then looked more closely at him. He was ageing before my eyes, and it scared me. I quickly looked away and back down to my hands. My water rushed around in the glass, making the ice tinkle against the edges. I tried to concentrate on that sound not wanting to break down in front of Dad.
"How are you holding up?"
"Well, besides the urge to knock the shit out of Wes, as well as can be expected," he nodded.
We were a nodding family, Mom, Dad, Wes, and I. I don't really know where it came from, but we seemed to always be nodding at everything. He moved his huge dark brown eyes down over the railing.
"When did they get a pool?"
"Mom didn't know about it either, so it can't be more then a year old, because she was out here last June," I said, but I was not sure if he was even listening. I felt helpless all of a sudden. Like there was something I should be saying or doing, but I was in the dark about what that was. I was in the dark about a lot of things most of the time. I was the baby, so it is a feeling you get used to.
People constantly trying to keep things from you so you do not get hurt, it was kind of nice sometimes, knowing that your family cared about your feelings that much, but other times it just plain sucked.
"Hmm," he supplied finally.
He patted my back before returning inside. My gaze followed him as he walked through the sliding glass door again. His tall thin frame was slouched, his eyes glued to the ground. I had never seen him look so defeated before, so utterly torn apart, but then again, this was the first time someone in his life had died. I wished there was something more I could do, but I knew there wasn't.
The sun was hidden, almost completely now behind the mountains, bringing the world into twilight. A cool breeze pushed my hair over my eyes, irritating me. I stood and looked over the railing, lifted my glass, and poured it into the pool water below. I followed Dad's sign of goodbye and patted the old wood that made up the porch before returning into the house, and shutting the glass door.
I love that word. It fills me with total worth and love from old memories of growing up in a home, not a house. I had been out in the country for the last week with my parents and my older brother, Wes, trying to help them with the after affects of Dad's parents dieing. It had been hard for me to look at their house, knowing they weren't in it. Wes had been everyone's stronghold though. He had taken over the preparations for the funeral for Mom. He had sat with Dad for hours, just waiting for him to finally get everything in his head at a point where he could cry, or scream, or talk. For me though, Wes had pushed me around. He'd bullied me, yelled at me, and argued with me until I couldn't take it anymore and broke down. Somehow, Wes had always known how to take care of me, and everyone else in our now smaller family, even though his tactics seemed horrible sometimes. I had been close to my grandparents, even as I got older. I had had a phone date with them every Thursday night since I had been old enough to use a telephone by myself. I hardly ever got to see them because I didn't know how to drive. To tell you the truth, learning how to drive scared the shit out of me. I always saw them on holidays though, and sometimes when Wes went up to visit, I would tag along.
It was a huge surprise when we got the call from the police, saying they had flipped their RV on the I-15 Freeway twenty miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. Mom had called me, her voice tight and high, I could hear the tears as they fell. She didn't give me all the detail as to why they'd been all the way out there; I was still in shock that they were gone at that point. I remembered later the phone call I'd shared with Grandpa last Thursday.
"I'm taking your Granny to Vegas to renew our wedding vows Sport." He always called me Sport; mainly I think to make fun of me. The only sport I had ever been involved in, beside the football and soccer games I played with friends, was the swim team. Grandpa said swimming wasn't a sport, and the only reason to exercise the skill was so you didn't drown. This from the man who loved to watch figure shaking; though I highly doubt that had been for the sport of it.
"Las Vegas huh? I'm sure she'd love it there, it's a desert."
Grandma despised the country. She'd always complain about the snow, the leaves, the rain, and the sun. She was the one who taught me all the bad words I knew.
"Exactly. I have it all booked; just need to get the old bird in the car."
I loved the old sayings Grandpa had always said. When I was younger, hearing him call Grandma a bird used to send me into a fit of giggles. I'm really going to miss those talks. I know it's horrible of me, but the whole week I'd been out there in their house, all I'd wanted was to go home. I wanted to be alone. Now I was home, a small studio apartment I shared with all my belongings. I missed my family though. I wished I hadn't left so quickly, leaving them to pack up Grandma's cloths, and Grandpa's books.
I dropped my bags into the living room and sat heavily on the huge blue couch I couldn't get rid of; the couch I mean; I loved laying on it. I'd had it since before I was born. I know most kids have stuffed animals or blankets that they carry with them throughout their lives, but I had a couch. It'd been in my nursery when my parents brought me home. Mom had tried the rocking chair thing with Wes when he was a baby; but she always ended up on the living room couch, rocking him and her-self back to sleep. I think, in her head, it'd been easier to just get one and put it in the room so she didn't have to go down the stairs at night. In any case, it'd stayed in my room until I turned seventeen and moved out, taking it with me. I'd had my first kiss, given my first blowjob, and came inches away from having sex for the first time on it; it was part of me.
I sighed, picking the cordless phone from its cradle on the side table, and dialed Tim's number. Tim and I had been seeing each other for three months. He'd been great to me so far, and all my weirdness. Even thought I left the country to be alone, I really didn't want to be; I needed someone around right then. I just hoped Tim was free.
"Mm hello?" someone that wasn't Tim asked.
I pulled the phone away from my ear, checking the caller I.D. just to make sure I had the right phone number, I did.
"Hi, can I speck to Tim please," I said.
I'm too polite, I should have been demanding to know who the fuck this guy was.
"He's kind of busy," the guy said and giggled.
"Busy doing what?" I growled.
Not another one. Tim was my third boyfriend that year; the other two had been cheating on me. Tim had seemed so different then the other guys I'd dated and I knew I was falling for him. Please God, not Tim.
"Sucking my dick, what the fuck is it to you?" the guy screamed into the phone. I heard the phone drop, more giggles, and then Tim came on the phone giving a horse hello.
"I'm sorry," I said, I always started apologizing when things go wrong, even when they weren't my fault.
"Oh my god, Reed, um--you see, that is," he stammered along like that for a few more seconds.
"It's okay, bye." I said as I hung up.
I put the phone on the floor in front of the couch and pushed my back against the huge cushions. My vision started to tint with gray, making everything look foggy: like it was about to start raining right there in my living room.
Seriously. There had to be something wrong with me. Why did everyone that I care about have to leave me? Or use me? Or only stick around because they were obligated by blood? Note to self: get over the love thing it never ends well.
When I opened my eyes the next morning everything was still gray. The walls, the blue couch, even my own skin. It singled a horrible day ahead, but I felt ready for it. After a very long shower, and breakfast of corn Chex, I pulled my jacket on and walked the three blocks to my office building. I worked for a newer company. I had only meant for it to be a temporary thing, a favor for a friend of a friend of a friend, or something along those lines. The owner, who was only a few years older then me, need some major help in the ways of a secretary, and
the temp agencies weren't cutting it. I was between jobs, having left my old job because they couldn't handle my gayness, and was living off my savings. So I agreed, thinking I would only be there until he, the owner, found someone else. That was three years ago, seems he never got around to placing that ad.
Wes teased me about having a crush on my boss, Seth Myers, because in all honesty there wasn't any other reason for my staying there so long. The pay was crap and I felt like I was carrying a workload that needed four more people. I loved it though, I felt needed, so I stayed.
"I'm here," I called out when I entered the small office.
"Reed, great, finally," I heard Seth yell.
He came out of his small office, looking worried. His blonde hair was hanging in his eyes, like always, and he was dressed in slacks and a polo shirt. Beautiful as always.
"I got a call from Tim last night, are you alright?"
Did I mention that Seth is the one that hooked Tim and me up? Well he did, Tim was his best friend.
"Oh?" I really didn't want to talk about this with Seth. Okay so I was harboring a tiny crush on him, well not tiny... more like huge, and I had always felt somewhat weird talking about my love life with him. Not that that fact ever stopped me. The moment he would ask about someone I was seeing, it would all come right out.
"Yeah, he was really upset."
Seth sat at the end of my desk, one leg hitched up, making the cloth covering his thigh tighten. Note to self: do not stare at bosses thighs, or fantasize about them naked.
"Well, I guess being interrupted in the middle of giving someone head does that to a person."
I took off my coat and hung it over a hock on the wall. Seth had put it there for me once he realized I had been stuffing all my coats under my desk as storage. Seth was like Wes in a lot ways, taking care of me in small ways that all added up into a hugeness that made up my life, a life in which I obviously can't take care of myself. Okay, I needed to stop the pity party now.
"Yes I'm sure... Wait, you mean he was giving you head when you hung up on him?"
He had to be shocked, I mean who ever wants to find out that his best friend is a cheating asshole?
"No, I called him after I got back home, and I hung up on him after I realized he was in the middle of giving someone a blow job."
All this talk about oral sex had me thinking about Seth's thighs again. "Could we not talk about this? It happened, it's sad, but we move on. I just wish he would have waited a little longer to start doing that shit, I mean, my Grandparents just passed away, and I didn't need this on top of that."
"I'm sorry Reed, Tim truly isn't like that normally, I swear. I don't know what came over him. Maybe he was just drunk?"
I waved his words away. I knew what got into Tim, and it wasn't alcohol. I knew he had a slight problem with my wanting to keep my virginity for love, but I had thought he would wait for me to be ready. That's what he'd told me at least. I booted up the computer on my desk and sat down. Seth stood and turned to me. He knew of the guys in my past; that all of them had cheated on me. He knew the only reason I allowed him to set me up with Tim in the first place, was because it was his friend, and I trusted Seth more then anyone I've ever known. He was more then a boss to me, he was probably my best friend, seeing as how I only ever talk to him outside of my family members. I lost all my friends when I came out in high school.
"Reed, I feel so responsible, can I do anything to make it up to you?"
I looked up into his dark green eyes and smiled. The only thing I wanted from him was never going to happen. I shook my head and returned my gaze to the computer screen.
It had been two weeks since my return, but I was still working at catching up on everything while trying to stay abreast of the new stuff that came in. It was extremely easy for me to lose myself in work. Between half my family being gone, the other half still in the country, and that bull shit with Tim I had too much on my plate. Tim still wouldn't stop calling me; I think Seth told him to try the "drunk" card with me.
"Come on Reed, I'll buy you a beer," Seth said, startling me out of my daze.
I stood and stretched before nodding, a beer sounded good. He held out my coat, helping me into it before we exited the office. There was a bar half way between my apartment and the office that quickly became our favorite a year back. After we had been sitting in a booth for a while, drinks in hand, I noticed Seth staring at me more then usual. He had always stared at me, but I'd chalked that up to him thinking I was crazy a long time ago.
"Do I have something on my face?" I asked and whipped at my cheeks with my sleeve.
"No," he said laughing.
When he didn't start to explain why he had been staring at me, I shrugged and scanned the room. It was full with the usual people you can find at any good bar: the wrinkly old bicker chick playing pool by herself; The old American Indian looking guy sitting in the last booth staring off into space; the college kid crowd and the businessmen, all in the same suit, same hair, all talking about porn.
I smoothed my hand over the glossy wood table sitting between Seth and me. It had burn marks from cigarettes, names scratched into it, a few "fuck you"s writing in magic makers. I brought the bottle in my hand to my lips; it was so cold I could almost taste the frost of it.
"Reed, I need to ask you a question," Seth said.
I set my beer down and gave him my full attention.
"Why have you and I never dated?"
If I had still been drinking, I would have spit my beer all over the table.
Excuse me?" My head was reeling.
"Honestly, why haven't we ever tried it?"
"Um, I'm sorry, you never asked," was all I could get out.
That was true he hadn't ever asked me out, but I also always assumed that I wasn't his type; reason number one I hadn't ever asked him out either. Most of the guys I saw him with before had been tall and manly, like he was. I was five foot ten to his six foot two and I could never see myself as the macho type. I didn't act girly though; I was just me.
"Well, do you want to go out sometime?" Seth asked a huge smile played across his lips.
I ducked my head and looked down at my beer bottle nodding.
"Great," he finished simply then stood.
I looked up, watching as he leaned over and placed a kiss on my cheek.
"See you tomorrow." His voice had slipped into a more horse sexy tone.
I shivered slightly and, again, nodded. I watched him walk to the door as I finished the beer left in my bottle in one swallow; his ass was perfect in those slacks.
After going through the death of both my grandparents and then that evil Tim shit, I was scared things where going to keep turning black. My vision had grown steadily darker as the weeks went on, ever since the night that Tim turned into a monster in my head. The last time that happened was back in high school when my secret got out. Yeah; I had kept my homosexuality secret, and one by one everyone I had held dear for my entire school career distanced themselves from me. I woke up one morning and I couldn't see anything but black. It was like I was in a very dark room, or like I couldn't get my eyes to open. It went away after a while, when I realized that even thought my friends were gone, I still had my family. Mom, Dad, Wes, Grandpa and Grandma had known about my gayness since I hit puberty.
I laid a few bills on the bar as I past it to leave. Seth had already paid for the drinks, but I liked to leave large tips. I had waited tables for about a year and the tips really were what you lived on. I remember having to pay rent one time with a huge wade of one-dollar bills. The manager had just laughed, but I had been so embarrassed I made sure I had a check for him every time after that.
I walked the block and a half to my apartment and slipped in after punching in my code for the door. I unlocked my front door and came face to face with my blue couch, it was brighter, and I couldn't prevent the smile on my face. Seth Myers wanted to date me! After three years of pining for him, I had a shot. I never thought that it would happen; had never even considered it possible. It wasn't as if I had been waiting for it though you know. I had gone out with Tim, and about seven other guys, since I had started working for Seth. But there was always that hope in the back of my mind that maybe one day he would find something about me that he liked, and maybe I would get to be with him, even for a little while.
I dropped my keys on the kitchen's counter and opened up the frig. Grabbing a bottle of water, I made my way to the blue couch and turned on the TV. I'm not a big television watcher but it was Friday night and some stations play standup comedy shows around that time. I love stand up; ever since my Dad took me to a show on our trip to Las Vegas ten years back.
Picking up the phone, I dialed Wes's cell number. I had called him the night before, and he'd informed me that he'd be back into the City around noon. Mom and Dad would be coming home that weekend. I was happy Wes was back, I missed him.
"What's up, little bro?"
There was music in the background so I knew he was in his car.
"Just called to talk," I said and smiled, knowing that he was probably on his way over here.
"Mmhm," he murmured and I heard the faint sound of his blinker clicking.
"So you are coming to see me right?" I asked and laughed.
Even if I hadn't been right, that maybe he was on his way somewhere else, I knew he would come here now. Wes is a very odd person, he changes a lot, but he's always the same with me. I remember when we were young my father had yelled at him to "make up your mind about one thing in your fucking life" and Wes simple said, "The only constant thing in life is change Dad, get over it". From that, point on he was my hero. That had been one of the few times Dad had yelled at either one of us, and it's been about the millionth time Wes had talked back.
"Yeah, yeah," he griped. "I'll be there in a few minutes. Want me to pick up something to eat?"
"Chinese food please."
He mumbled an okay and hung up. He mumbles a lot when he's on the phone; almost any other time he's right in your face.
"So you have a date with Seth? That's great Reed I'm glad for you," Wes said after I told him what happened. "Do you think maybe it's too soon though? You and Tim just ended a few weeks ago."
"I think it's fine timing. You know my rules about sex; we were barely making it to second base. I have to fully trust someone before I take that step."
I'd always told my family that I wasn't going to have sex with someone I didn't trust; my reasoning for still being a virgin at twenty-four. Wes lost his virginity at eleven. But the real reason, the only thing that was holding me back, was that I wanted to be in love when it happened. The truth of the matter? I'd never loved any of the guy's I dated; I don't even think I liked them very much. I hated being alone though. Tim had been the only guy so far who'd come close to getting my heart.
"Bro, have you ever trusted any one of your boyfriends?"
I shook my head no, wanting to change the subject. It wasn't as if I had lied to them, not really; you have to fully trust someone to be in love with them. At least in most cases, right? I knew Wes would see it as a lie though, and I hadn't ever told him an outright lie before. I felt bad, but I was always too embarrassed to fess up to it.
"Well you can trust Seth, right? You have known him for a long time, and he knows you're all about serious relationships. I don't think he would have asked you out if he didn't intend to stick around."
I smiled happily at him; maybe his words had truth. I did trust Seth. I'd never let myself think about whether or not I loved him though. Maybe after he and I had been together for a little while I'd know if it was love or just infatuation.
"Maybe," I agreed then looked around to see if there was any more food left. There wasn't. I started to clear off the food containers, chopsticks and fortune cookie wrappers from the coffee table where we had eaten.
"So when's the big day?" Wes stood and went to the frig for a beer.
"Yeah, the date. When are you going out with him?"
I stuffed everything from the table into the trash and then looked at him.
"Um, he didn't really tell me a day," I squeaked out.
Wes hissed slightly, but I wasn't sure it was from my words or the beer being cold.
"Is that a bad sign?" I asked hurriedly.
Wes had been dating since he was five years old; he knew the ins and outs of relationships better then anyone I'd ever heard of. It also explains why he's still single.
"Well, normally yes, but you do see him everyday, so he might have just wanted to wait till he could look at his day planner. He is a busy man you know."
"Yeah, okay, that makes sense."
We watched a movie on HBO before he left, telling me not to worry, and that he loved me. Later that night, lying in bed, I willed myself not to think about anything at all. My mind kept rushing around though; thoughts about how easily I knew I could fall in love with Seth, a man who had been such a great friend to me for so long. And thoughts about how it was also extremely possible that I'd made the whole thing up in my head. It wouldn't be completely crazy, knowing myself, but it would suck a lot more then I could say.
"Hello Reed, how was your night?" Seth called from his office.
Usually when I got there he would come and meet me at the door, refill his coffee cup and offer me some, even thought he knew I hated coffee. However, that day, he didn't come out. First time in three years.
"Good, Wes came over for a while; we watched Mall Rats."
I was so nervous, that maybe he'd forgotten about asking me out or something, but I walked over to his open office door anyway. He looked up when he saw me standing there. Seth suddenly felt like a different person to me. Like now, somehow, it was okay for me to imagine what his wavy blonde hair would feel like to touch.
"How is Wes?"
Seth had become like a member our family long ago. Mom would call him every few weeks, and invite him to major holidays. He didn't always go but it was nice when he did.
"Good." So when are you going to set a day for our date, I thought. He got up and looked at me smiling. This is it, I bubbled happily to myself, smiling back. He walked right past me and over to the small corner table, just out side his office that held the coffee maker and refilled his mug.
"Could you send those files from yesterday to my computer please?" he gestured toward my computer. I nodded.
With that, he moved back to his office. Okay maybe that wasn't it. Maybe he wanted to wait until the end of the day, like on the way out or something. Maybe he's going to invite me out to lunch with him that would be nice. Lunch came and went; he didn't leave his office once. When five o'clock rolled around, I heard him moving around his office, as I too got ready to leave. I usually wait until he leaves and lock up after I make sure he shut down his computer, since he forgets to do that sometimes.
"Have a good night Reed," was all he said when he rushed out the door and on to the street.
A fuzzy gray tint set in to objects as I moved to close his office door. "Too good to be true I guess," I said to the now locked front door.
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