What's The Difference Between Me and You?
Chapter Twenty Seven
"Hello?" Nick said as he picked up the phone.
"Hey Nick," he heard Taylor say in the other end, the sound of his voice making Nick's heart skip a beat.
was starting to get a sexy feeling as the thought of possibly being alone with
Taylor ran through his mind while they were talking about the gifts they had
opened the day before. Nick tried in vain to mention everything he had gotten
"I got a new bike," Taylor bragged over the phone. "Do you want to see it?"
"Sure," Nick said, his heart practically skipping a beat at the prospect of Taylor riding his new bike over to see him. "Will your dad let you though?"
"He will," Taylor answered happily. "I'm sure."
Nick smiled broadly as he hung the phone up and carried it to the charger. Once it was on its base, he scrambled up the stairs to find his best presents so he could show them off to his friend. He carefully set everything out on his bed, desk, dresser and nightstand so that they looked like merchandise on the shelf at a store. Then, for good measure, he snuck back down the stairs and quietly slipped into the kitchen, where he found a medium sized bowl and carried it up to his room, careful not to be seen by his dad or James.
When he made it back safely, he went into his nightstand and pulled out his full stocking, pouring its contents into the bowl, filling it to the top. He placed the bowl on his night stand and made sure it looked just right, then he looked around his room at all of his new possessions, making sure that they were all on display the way he wanted them to be. When he was confident that he could do no more to make his stuff look good, he rubbed his hands together and walked out of his room, closing his door behind him.
back down the stairway, he heard the sound of the back door closing and voices
on the other side of it, coming from the backyard. In the family room, there
was a warm blaze in the fireplace and low music coming from the speakers of
Jim's stereo. Nick was a little surprised that his dad was still playing the
Instead of joining them on the patio, Nick opted to wait inside so he could hear Taylor when he showed up. He took a spot on the love seat, which faced the patio, and watched as his family seemed to be having a casual discussion about something. Big Nick said something to James, and as he replied, Jim reached over and put his hand on James' shoulder, giving it a squeeze. James turned and gave Jim a loving smile, then turned back to Big Nick and said something.
As the scene unfolded silently in front of him, thoughts of how James had become such a huge part of their lives ran through Nick's head. He was a member of their family, blood related to Nick, but it meant more than that to him. The only person Nick had ever seen his dad be so affectionate toward was him, and Nick knew that the thought of James possibly having to go back to Tennessee had been tearing Jim apart.
For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, James seemed to follow Jim everywhere he went. At the dinner table, he took a spot next to Jim and clung to him the whole time. At one point, he looked helplessly up at him with a spoonful of hot, steaming mash potatoes. Without a word, Jim leaned down and blew on it for him. Things James would have normally done for himself, like buttering his roll or cutting his ham, were suddenly tasks he asked Jim to do for him.
That morning when Nick woke up he went downstairs, expecting to find his papu awake and watching the news alone. Instead, he walked into the family room and found his dad and James on the couch. James was still half-asleep and curled up with his head on Jim's leg while they surfed channels. Nick had felt a little jealous at first, but he decided that he wasn't going to make a fuss out of it because he wasn't too sure what was happening with James' parents.
A knock at the door brought Nick out of his thoughts and he got up to answer it. When he opened the door, Taylor was standing on the other side with a new bike that was splattered with mud.
"Hi," Nick said sweetly as he stepped out onto the porch to check out Taylor's bike. Taylor responded by smiling shyly at his friend and stepping away as Nick made his way around the bike, admiring the sleek silver color.
"Do you want to ride it?" Taylor offered.
"Okay," Nick said excitedly as Taylor handed him the handlebars. He hopped on and rode it down the driveway, then out into the street, where he popped a wheelie right away, then brought the front tire back down as he proceeded down the block. When he reached the end of the street, he turned around and pedaled as fast as he could to his driveway. As he rode up, Jim, James and big Nick were walking around from the side of the house to the front.
"Boy, please tell me you didn't come out here without a coat," Jim snapped as soon as he spotted Nick on the bike.
dad," Nick said nervously, not wanting to find himself in any trouble so close
need to either go back inside or get a coat on," Jim said in a calmer voice.
Nick was getting off, he handed the handlebars back to Taylor as Jim inspected
it. Just as Nick was walking through the front door, he heard his dad give a
long, loud whistle that let him know that he was admiring Taylor's new bike. He
quickly put his coat on and went back out front, where he saw James riding off
on Taylor's bike. Taylor was thanking Jim for the presents he had given him for
When James rode back up Jim opened the garage door to do some work under the hood of his Bronco , and Taylor put his bike in the garage next to Nick and James' bikes. When it started getting too chilly, Nick and Taylor went inside to stand in front of the fireplace and warm up. As they walked in through the laundry room, the door coming in from the garage closed, pushing in a blast of cold air that swept over them both from behind, causing goose bumps to form on Nick's arms and the back of his neck
Standing in front of the fireplace next to Taylor made Nick feel a little romantic. He gazed over and saw Taylor rubbing the palms of his hands together swiftly and blowing into them. He realized then how cold Taylor looked, so he moved closer and wrapped his arm around him and smiled as Taylor rested his head on Nick's shoulder. He felt Taylor's arm move in between them and go up his back until it found a comfortable spot, then he felt Taylor give him a small squeeze.
"Are you still cold?" Nick asked quietly as he watched Taylor bat his eyes a few times at him.
"A little," Taylor answered, so Nick reached around with his other arm and turned to face him so he could wrap him in a hug.
"I missed you," Nick said, pulling Taylor's head down onto his shoulder with a cupped hand.
Without an answer, Taylor gazed into Nick's eyes and smiled sweetly with his head still resting on his shoulder. After a long moment of silence that Nick was enjoying, Taylor spoke.
"I missed you too," he said softly as he lifted his head from Nick's shoulder and put himself face to face with him. Nick responded by leaning forward and pressing his lips to Taylor's, then turning his head slightly and pressing his tongue into his mouth. Taylor opened up and allowed Nick's tongue in, but he looked a little surprised and even nervous as his eyes shifted from side to side. Still, Nick felt Taylor's tongue slide along the top of his and into his mouth, and from there, he enjoyed the kiss.
want you to see what I got for
they got to his room Taylor marveled at all of Nick's new things. Nick
reluctantly let go of Taylor's hand so he could play with the toys Nick got for
"I built us a house to live in for when we grow up," he said as he set it down in front of Nick and crawled onto the bed, taking a spot next to Nick and picking it back up to show him.
"I love it," Nick said sweetly as Taylor turned it from end to end, showing him where the living room was and where the kitchen and bathrooms were.
"Here's our room." Taylor said shyly as he pointed to a spot on the house he had just built, then he pointed to another spot and said, "Here's where our kids' bedrooms are."
"Do you want to spend the night tonight?" Nick asked hopefully. "My dad already told me you could."
"I don't know if my mom and dad will let me," Taylor said sadly.
"Let me go talk to my dad and ask him to call them," Nick said with a smile. "I bet he can get them to say yes."
With that, Nick hopped off of his bed and practically ran down the stairs, down the hall, through the laundry room and out the door, where his dad and his papu were under the hood of his Bronco.
"Dad," Nick called out as he approached his father. "Can Taylor spend the night?"
Jim shrugged and said, "I already said yes, son."
"I know, but can you call his house and say it's okay?" Nick asked hopefully.
"Did his dad already tell him no?" Jim asked pointedly.
"No, but he hasn't asked yet," Nick said coyly, leaving out what he and his dad already knew. Charles didn't want Taylor to stay over while they had a guest, but Nick didn't consider his papu a guest. He was family, and as far as Nick was concerned, so was Taylor.
Jim let out a long sigh and said, "Go get me the phone."
Nick smiled and dashed into the house, grabbing the phone off of its charger and bringing it back out to his dad, who carried it to the steps leading from the garage to the laundry room and took a seat. Nick waited patiently as his dad slowly dialed the number and put the phone up to his ear, then he heard it ringing. After catching his dad's part of the conversation, Nick's heart sank.
"I'll bring him home," Jim said. "Okay, see you in a bit."
With that, Jim set the phone down on the workbench and stood up without a word, yawning as he stretched out and cracked his neck. When he finished stretching, he picked the phone back up and handed it to Nick and said, "Here son, go put this back on the charger."
"Yes sir," Nick said sadly as he took the phone back from his dad and started to walk back towards the door.
"Hey," Jim said. "When you're done with that, tell Taylor to get his coat on and grab yours too. We have to take him home so he can get a change of clothes."
"Really?" Nick asked, still not sure he heard his dad right but wanting to believe it.
"Well of course, silly," Jim said with a smile. "Now hurry up. It's cold and papu's getting cranky without his dinner. The sooner we get back the sooner we can eat."
ran back inside excitedly and did as he was told. Taylor couldn't believe it
when Nick told him the news, and as soon as Nick had his coat on, they were
back in the garage and in the car. Big Nick stayed behind to work on the
Bronco, but James went with them. When they goy
there, Nick and Taylor dragged James up to Taylor's room where he showed them
all of his
As Nick was playing, he noticed that Taylor went into his closet for something, so curiously, he followed him. He watched quietly as Taylor pulled something out off of a low sitting shelf that was against the wall and put it in his coat pocket. Nick assumed it was his pocketknife, so he just shrugged and went back to playing with the various new toys in Taylor's room.
Cindy came upstairs a few minutes after Taylor was done in his closet and helped him finish packing. When she was done, she carried his backpack downstairs for him while Nick and Taylor followed her. Walking into the living room, Nick rolled his eyes when he saw that James was sitting in between Jim's legs on the couch, watching the television. Taylor didn't even seem to notice them as he walked up and gave his dad a hug and kiss goodbye.
"I love you sport," Charles said. "You be a good boy and I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"I love you too daddy," Taylor said as he broke away from his dad's hug and walked to Cindy, who was waiting with her arms wide opened.
"I'm going to miss you tonight, honey," she said as she wrapped him up in a hug and planted a kiss on his cheek.
"I'll miss you too," Taylor said in a small voice. "I'll see you tomorrow, mommy. I love you."
"I love you too, honey," Cindy answered, planting several more kisses in a row on Taylor's face before Charles spoke up.
"Good god, dear," he said with a chuckle. "He's spending the night, not the month."
Cindy said sarcastically. Nick made sure he gave Cindy a hug before they left,
too, and that he thanked Charles and Cindy one more time for the gifts they
gave him for
When they got home, the garage door was closed and there was a light on in the kitchen.
"It looks like your papu couldn't wait for dinner," Jim said in a lighthearted tone as they got out and walked up to the front door. When they walked in, big Nick was in the kitchen, proving Jim right. He had a sandwich in one hand a cup of hot coffee in the other as he sat at the breakfast island and read the newspaper.
Nick, Taylor and James ran up the stairs to wash their hands and faces, then they went back down to the kitchen, where Jim was warning up leftover ham, turkey, mash potatoes and rolls. They all sat patiently at the table and watched eagerly as Jim prepared the food one dish at a time in the microwave, then he brought it all to the table and told them to get what they wanted.
Taylor and Nick followed big Nick's example and tore open a roll, stuffing it full of ham and turkey and served themselves some mash potatoes and gravy. Jim brought them all Coke's and set them in the middle of the table for everyone to grab. As they were getting ready to eat, Nick heard his dad speak up.
"Do you need daddy to make your plate, buddy?" Jim said as he wrapped his arm around James, who hadn't moved to serve himself at all. James looked up and nodded, so Jim slid his own plate out of the way while he made another one up for James. Nick glared across the table, but again, he thought the better of saying something. Jim had to go down a list of everything that was at the table, asking James if that was what he wanted or not. Then, once his plate was made, Jim grabbed his Coke and opened it for him.
"Do you want me to pour it in a cup for you?" Jim asked.
"No thank you," James said in a small voice as he picked at his food. Nick just shrugged and went back to his food, eager to finish so he and Taylor could go back to his room and play with his new toys. As they ate, though, it became harder and harder for him to concentrate on his food, especially when he looked across the table and saw his dad using a fork to cut the ham on James' plate up, then poking some of it with the fork and holding it up for James to take a bite.
"My mash potatoes are hot, dad," James said in an almost helpless tone as soon as he had swallowed his bite of ham.
"Here son," Jim said, using the fork and stirring them around on his plate, then scooping them up and blowing on them before he offered them to James. As Nick was finishing his plate, he noticed that Jim hadn't even been able to start on his dinner because he was too busy tending to James, who was no longer doing anything but taking bites that Jim was feeding him.
As soon as Taylor was finished, Jim excused them both from the table and told them to get ready for bed while everyone else ate their dinner, then to come back downstairs for dessert.
When they got to Nick's room, Taylor went to his backpack and unzipped it, searching for his nightshirt. While he was taking it out, Nick was stripping down to his undies and going into his drawer for a pair of pajamas. He got them out and turned just in time to see Taylor dropping his trousers and pulling his shirt off almost simultaneously. Nick blushed when Taylor flashed him a smile, smiling back and tossing his pajamas on the bed. Taylor held up a long Scooby Doo shirt and grinned, then he slipped it over his head.
Nick sat down on his bed and unfolded his pajama top, sliding it over his head. Once it was on, he tugged at the bottom of it to make it fit right, then he stood up and shook loose his pajama bottoms loose. Nick slipped them on and sat on his bed while Taylor fished for something in the pockets of the pair of pants he had just changed out of.
"I have something for you," Taylor said as he dug through his pockets, finally pulling his hand out and closing his fist around the object in his hand.
"What is it?" Nick asked as Taylor sat next to him and opened his hand to show Nick what he had. When he saw it, Nick gasped quietly and smiled at Taylor, who handed him a small red heart with a magnet on the back of it.
"I got it for you," Taylor said shyly. "I hope you like it."
"I love it," Nick said, feeling a little speechless at Taylor's show of love for him.
"Really?" Taylor asked.
"Really," Nick answered as he took it and held it up to his heart and hugged it to his chest. He leaned over and gave Taylor a peck on the cheek, then he wrapped both of his arms around him and hugged him.
"I love you, Taylor," Nick said, holding the heart in his hand as he held on to him with all of his might.
"Can we be boyfriends right now?" Taylor asked shyly.
Nick nodded his head in reply when they broke the hug, then he leaned forward and planted a kiss on Taylor's lips that made his body quiver with excitement as Taylor pushed his tongue into Nick's mouth.
"Have you been gay all day?" Taylor asked when they broke the kiss.
"I'm always gay now," Nick told him. "I'm never straight anymore."
"Did you tell anyone yet?" Taylor asked.
"No, not yet," Nick said. "I want to tell my dad and James, but not till after my papu leaves."
As soon as Nick said that, the sound of footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs, so they quickly broke their embrace and got off of the bed, opening the door and heading out to the stairs to see who was coming.
It was James, and to Nick, he had an especially bratty look on his face, but he didn't mention it. Instead, he waited for James to go by, then he took Taylor's hand and walked down the stairs and to the kitchen, where Jim was sitting at the table eating his dinner. Nick couldn't believe that his dad was just getting to his food, and wanted to ask him why he was spoiling James like he was, but he didn't.
Big Nick had gone back to the family room to watch the news, so Nick and Taylor took a seat at the table and waited for Jim to finish his food. When he was done, he got up and took out an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and a sweet potato pie. As Nick and Taylor ate, James came back into the kitchen for his dessert. He had gotten ready for bed, too, and Nick wondered how he didn't freeze without a shirt on.
"Do we only have pie?" James asked when Jim asked him what kind of pie he wanted.
"What else do you want, babe?" Jim asked as he stood at the counter in front of the pies he had laid out.
"I want chocolate chip cookies," James said, and from the tone of his voice, Nick knew he was being difficult on purpose. Nick knew that there were no chocolate chip cookies in the house, and he knew that James knew that too. Jim's reply floored him.
"I don't think we have any of those, buddy," Jim said softly. "But I can call Lori at work and see if she'll buy some at the store before she comes home. Would you like that?"
"Okay, dad," James said, sounding hurt by Jim's answer.
"Do you want a piece of pie?" Jim offered.
"What kind are you going to have?" James asked.
"I'm going to have pumpkin, son," Jim answered.
"I don't want a whole piece," James said. "Can I just have some of yours?"
"Sure buddy," Jim said, slicing an extra huge hunk of pumpkin pie for himself, then taking an extra plate down and slicing one for big Nick. He carried the pie and a cup of hot coffee into the family room and returned to the kitchen, taking his piece of pie to the table and sitting next to James with it.
Nick watched jealously as his dad shared his piece of pie with James, once again feeding him bites. For his part, James seemed to be soaking all of the attention he was getting from Jim up like a sponge. When they were done with dessert, Jim got on the phone just like he said he would and called Lori to ask her to pick up some cookies.
"Okay, boys," Jim announced as he got off the phone. "It's time to go brush your teeth and get back down here for your vitamins."
All three of them raced up the stairs and brushed their teeth in the sink, then they tore back down and went straight to the kitchen for their vitamins. After they chewed them up, they all went into the family room to settle down. Nick and Taylor sat on one side of Jim while James took the other side, but Nick noticed that he had eventually managed to end up sitting in his dad's lap and leaning up against his chest as Jim gently ran his hand over James' cheek and gave him a kiss.
"I love you son," Jim said as he gave James a small squeeze.
"I love you too dad," James replied, resting the back of his head on Jim's shoulder and smiling.
"Come give me a hug, Nick," Jim said as he reached out with his other arm, prompting Nick to lean into his dad and hug him. "I love you buddy."
"I love you too daddy," Nick said as he glared jealously at his cousin, who he felt was in his spot.
"And I love you too Taylor," Jim said with a warm smile.
"I love you too Mr. J," Taylor answered. "Thank you for letting me spend the night, sir."
"You're welcome to spend the night here anytime, bud," Jim assured him.
"We're going upstairs to my room, dad," Nick said.
"You're ready for bed already?" Jim asked.
"No, but we want to play with my toys, and then we'll go to bed," Nick answered.
"Okay, I'll come tuck you in," Jim said, then he looked at James and asked, "What about you, babe? Are you sleepy?"
James shook his head and said," Uh uh."
"Well, why don't you let dad get up so I can tuck Nick and Taylor in, son," Jim said as he scooted James off of his lap. James grumbled and pouted when Jim stood up, but Nick still paid him no attention. Instead, he walked behind Taylor up the stairs to his room where Jim closed the door and sat on Nick's bed, patting the two spots on either side of him.
"Boys, I wanted to have a talk with you about something," Jim said in a serious tone. "You've both been really good tonight, and I'm proud of you guys. Here's what I need, though. I need you to be extra nice to James right now."
"Why's he acting that way, dad?" Nick asked, feeling frustrated about the way his cousin had been clinging to his dad.
"He just needs to feel loved right now, son," Jim said. "He hasn't had a lot of that in his life, and it's not going to kill us to give him some extra love right now."
"Does he miss him mom and dad?" Taylor asked. Jim smiled sadly and nodded, then he looked back at Nick.
"You've made me so proud, son," he said. "I know it's hard for you, but you're doing the right thing, son. He'll be okay."
"Yes sir," Nick said respectfully as Jim got up from the bed.
"I don't want you two to stay up all night making noise and keeping your papu up," Jim said as he opened the door.
"We won't," Nick said as he got up and followed his dad to the door, waiting until he was on his way down the stairs, then closing it. As soon as he closed the door, Taylor grinned at him shyly and got in the bed. Nick walked over to the foot of the bed and pulled his pajama bottoms off, tossing them into the laundry basket. He crawled in to the bed next to Taylor and pulled the covers up over them. The coolness of the sheets made them shiver a little bit, so Nick immediately snuggled up to his boyfriend and wrapped his arms around him. He felt Taylor's warm breath on his cheek, so he decided to steal a kiss. He lifted his head and when he did, he saw Taylor's lips, already in position and waiting for him, so he moved in.
As soon as their tongues met, Nick's body started to tingle hard in anticipation of what he knew he wanted. He let his hand travel down to Taylor's stomach, where he felt the warmth of his body temperature rising and his heart rate increasing. He could feel Taylor's hands running up and down his back, and as his fingertips traced Nick's spine, his body continued to tremble with excitement.
When the kiss ended, Nick rested his head on Taylor's shoulder and sighed, a feeling of contentment and love spreading all over his body. Taylor wrapped his arms around Nick's torso and held on tight, giving Nick a safe feeling that he felt he wouldn't be able to derive from any other source. It was a different feeling of security than the one he had when he was with his dad, but at the same time, it felt just as fulfilling.
"I have to go pee," Taylor whispered into Nick's ear, followed by a soft kiss on the cheek that made Nick smile.
"Me too," he answered, feeling Taylor release him from his embrace as he rolled off of him. They got up and held hands as they made their way out of Nick's room, down the hallway, and to the bathroom.
As they made their way back down to his room, Jim was walking up the stairs carrying James, who was sleeping with his head on his shoulder. Nick immediately felt guilty about how jealous he'd been feeling of his cousin, and he decided to try to avoid his dad altogether. For the first time that day, he felt a little heartened to see James clinging to Jim, knowing that he was safe from whatever horrors his parents had put him through. The look of love on his dad's face was evident as they passed each other in the hallway, and he could see the same look on James's face, even though he was sound asleep. He waited by his door and said goodnight as his dad walked past him. Jim carried James to the bathroom door and set him down in front of it, turning him and steering him into the bathroom and telling him to come to his room when he was done.
Nick made a point of going down the hall to meet his dad and telling him goodnight one more time. Jim smiled when he saw Nick approaching him, so he knelt down and held his arms out.
"I love you buddy," Jim said with a smile.
"I love you too, daddy," Nick sighed as he wrapped his comparatively small arms around his father's neck and squeezed.
"Where's your jammie bottoms?" Jim asked quietly.
"We're hot," Nick said. "We were going to open the window a little, but it's too cold outside," Nick said.
"Yeah, don't open your window," Jim agreed. "If you want, daddy can turn the heater off."
"Okay," Nick said with a happy nod, then he turned and padded back down the hall to his room, where he knew Taylor would be waiting to hold him throughout the night.
When he closed the door, he hopped back in bed with Taylor and curled up to go to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night he felt Taylor moving so he opened his eyes and in time to see Taylor sitting up, gathering the covers and arranging them over the two of them. The temperature had dropped in the middle of the night and Nick was freezing under his covers, so when Taylor crawled back in bed with him, Nick curled up with him again.
"I'm freezing," Taylor complained.
"I know, I'm sorry," Nick said, feeling bad because he had kicked the covers off at some point when he got too hot. Taylor moved closer to him and wrapped his arms around him as he fell back to sleep.
Early the next morning, Nick got up and had to practically run to the bathroom to avoid wetting himself. When he finished and came out, he noticed that James' door was wide opened, so he looked in his room and saw that his bed was empty. The door to Jim's room was opened too, so he walked in and saw that his dad was already up too. He rubbed his eyes and glanced at the alarm clock next to Jim's bed and realized that it wasn't even six in the morning yet, so he decided to see what was going on.
He crept slowly down the stairs and peeked around the corner into the family room, where he saw James and his dad in the recliner. James looked upset about something, and Jim was soothing him. Nick noticed that his cousin was crying quietly and Jim was rocking him and telling him that everything was fine, and that he'd always be there for him. Rather than intrude, Nick decided to go back to his room and try to get some more sleep, but he knew that after what he had just seen, it wasn't going to come easily.
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