Chris had been awake all night, unable to push the pain far enough inside of himself to find sleep. He had finally given up and gotten dressed at five-thirty. His throat was sore, and his head was pounding from the hours of soul-shattering tears that had left him weak and spent. He grabbed his last clean outfit and headed out the door.
//No use leavin' him a note. He'll figure out I'm gone when he comes in to rail at me in the morning.//
The pain that sat in the middle of his chest threatened to crush him as he stared lovingly at the helmet he had purchased for Toby. He caressed it gingerly, as if it were Toby's cheek, then picked it up and put it on as he left. That was a mistake. All he could smell was his scent that was locked into the fibers of cloth inside the helmet. He spun around and promptly returned it to the small table next to the love seat where Toby had left it.
Toby sat up and blinked at the harsh light that radiated through his bedroom window. //What time is it anyway?// He reached under his pillow for his glasses then strained to see the clock. //Holy shit! It's three in the afternoon! Why in the world would Chris let me sleep so long?//
Tobias paused in the middle of reaching for his pants. //Oh, yeah. He knows there's something that we need to talk about and he *doesn't* want to hear it. That would be why he went straight to bed then cried himself to sleep, you asshole.// Toby pulled himself out of bed and finished dressing slowly, not wanting to rush the confrontation anymore than Chris evidently did.
"Chris?" Toby knocked at his door, but there was no answer. "Chris, I'm coming in." He pushed the door open and walked in. //Huh. He isn't here.//
Toby walked out to the front room and glanced around for him. The bathroom door was open, so he knew he wasn't in there.
//If he isn't in the kitchen, then ....//
Toby's thoughts came to a screeching halt, then resumed.
Toby walked in and dropped into the love seat to wait for him to come home and eventually fell back to sleep.
"Fuck! Out of trash bags," Chris spat out in frustration. He grabbed his keys as he was leaving and made a concentrated effort of thundering down the stairs toward his bike, giving it a little extra effort because he knew the guy in the downstairs apartment hated it when he did that, hopped on his bike and sped away.
Making a mental checklist of things that he would need to pick up kept his mind off of Toby, briefly. //Trash bags, a cheap mop and broom and some type of sanitizing shit.// Chris snorted at that. He had been thinking of leaving everything in there just days before, and now here he was preparing to clean it before he left. //Fuckin' Beech rubbing off on me.//
He rolled to a stop in the doorway of one of the small department stores. He hadn't caught the startled glance of the woman behind the counter when he entered, but as he browsed around the place looking for anything that he might be able to use, he caught her watching him.
Chris was surprised to realize that he hadn't had this happen in the last few days. To his chagrin, he realized it was because he had been with Beech, who radiated truth and light, so no one ever gave the thug that walked in with him a second thought. "*Fuck.*" Chris was just pissed enough about everything to confront the woman the next time he caught her staring.
"Can I help you wit somethin'?
"Ah, no, sir."
"Then why you starin' at me? I know I don't look that good."
She lowered her eyes and walked back to the counter to wait for him to check out.
Once it was said and done, he spent almost $30 on various cleaning supplies. //Beech would be proud a' you.// He felt the tears spring to his eyes as he was gathering his bags off the counter. The woman must have noticed the emotion on his face, because she apologized.
"I'm sorry about watching you. It's just that... We just don't have many customers that... look like you."
"It's a'ight. I'm used to it. Or I was. My best pal looks like a boy scout, so when I go places wit him, no body hassles me. This is my first time much of anywhere wit'out him."
Chris felt his emotions rising, effectively ending the conversation. He gave her a nod and walked out to head back to his old place.
It didn't take him long to bag up the rest of the things that he was throwing out after he had separated what he was keeping into a separate pile. The garbage pile was three times bigger than the keep pile. //*Shit.* You gonna have to get some new clothes.//
Chris was carrying the trash out like he was in a hurry to be done, and then it suddenly struck him as funny because he still had over five hours before he was due to be at work. //What the fuck are you gonna do for five hours?//
Chris let his mind wander as he cleaned until finally coming up with a solution as how to use the extra time. He'd have Johnny run him by to pick up some lumber and drop it back by their place. He should, after all, check in with Toby before he disappeared on him for the next day and a half.
Chris knew Toby might need some groceries if he decided to stay gone longer, so he'd stop and grab some while he had Johnny's truck to carry it back in. Toby would be all right for a while without him around. Might even miss him.
Standing at the payphone waiting for Johnny to answer, Chris absently played with the phone cord, so lost in thought he almost missed the answer on the other end.
"Oh, yeah, Johnny. Chris here. You feel up to doin' me a favor?"
"Depends. Do I gotta sweat or get blood on me?"
"Sweat, maybe. No blood. I need to pick up some lumber for a little project for Beech. I gotta swing by and measure it off first. Then I need a way to haul it. Gonna cover an entire wall."
His long and low whistle made Chris nervous. A straightforward yes or no would have been easier to take.
"Yeah, all right. Where you want me to meetchu?"
"My old place."
"Be there in a few."
Chris hung up and drove back to the old place. He almost pulled out in front of one car and rear-ended another before he managed to make it back. //Man, yer mind is *totally* fucked. If you don't wreck and kill yerself, you'll prob'ly let some hyped up junkie do it for you at work. Who would miss you anyway?//
He got off the bike and locked it up, praying that Johnny would show up and get him the fuck out of there soon when he remembered the tools. Chris sprinted up the steps to retrieve his tool box then thumped back down, grinning for all he was worth. He could still enjoy some of the simpler pleasures in life. John was waiting on him when he came back out the front door.
"Come on. I've got to be at work before you do."
Chris climbed in the truck and tried to force a smile.
"Shit. This kid's really got you turned out, Son."
"I know." He answered miserably.
"Maybe you should move on." The look Chris flashed him almost made him laugh. "Or make him think you have. Jealousy makes the heart grow fonder."
"I thought that was *absence* makes the heart grow fonder."
"Yeah, that too. Spend a few nights at the old place. Give him some room. He'll tackle you when he sees you again."
"How am I s'posed to make him think I moved on?"
Johnny flashed a wicked grin. "He's never met me."
Realization dawned. "Or, I could let him think you're an on again off again fuck."
"That would work even better."
"Whatcha gonna do?"
"Dunno, but whatever it is, try not to look too surprised."
Chris genuinely laughed at that.
They pulled up out front to make their way inside, Chris with the groceries and Johnny carrying his tools. Chris saw Toby's sleeping form sprawled out on the love seat when he pushed the door open. He stage whispered for Johnny to be quiet, hoping it would wake him. He rattled the paper bags as much as he could without looking obvious. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Toby stir and knew it was working.
Chris met Johnny coming out of the kitchen. The look on his face put Chris on guard as he reached out to take the tool box from him.
"Where's the bedroom?" Came Johnny's stage whisper as he stepped to the side and gave Chris' ass a very slow, sensuous caress in full view of the now wide awake young man, who was staring at them.
"We're not here for that. Would you stop before you wake him up." Chris admonished, struggling to keep a straight face.
"I'm sorry. It's just been soooo long."
It was all Chris could do to make it into Toby's room without completely losing it. "I almost decked you when you grabbed my ass!"
"I told you to be ready. He *did* see me by the way. I could see him blush when I side stepped to give him a better view."
"Good." Chris sat his tool box down with a thud then removed his tape measure. "Here, take that down to the far end of the wall. I need to see how long of a base I'm going to need, so I know how to partition it off." Chris heard Toby approach behind them and gave Johnny a look to let him know.
"So, who's the kid on the couch?"
Chris didn't need to perform for the next few moments. The pain and anguish in his voice were 100% authentic. "Somebody who don't want nothin' to do wit me." Chris got the measurement and let his end of the tape go slack while he scribbled on a notepad.
"You ever had him?"
His breath caught in his throat as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. "Nah. He ain't like me. He's perfect." Chris wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his coat then moved to measure the height at various points along the wall.
"Shit. He know how you feel?"
"Yeah. I tell him every day a dozen times a day."
"Honey, you gotta let him go. You just gonna end up hurtin' yerself if you don't."
"I know, Johnny. I know." Anguish and raw passion were evident in his barely audible words.
"You know, if it's sex you need...."
Chris almost laughed at that, almost. The fact that Johnny was the poster boy for Heteros R Us made it an almost unbearably funny moment, if he hadn't been so... sad. He managed a smile and sincerely thanked him for the offer. Then told him he would think about it.
Toby heard the key turn in the lock. Chris was home! He struggled to shake off the last dregs of sleep when he heard someone's voice, a man's voice ask where the bedroom was. //What the fuck? Is he bringing home some piece of ass while I'm here? Nah, you got to be mistaken.//
Toby kept his eyes closed and feigned sleep to hear what was going on. He risked opening his eyes just enough to get a look at the guy and immediately wished he hadn't. //He's pawing Chris like he owns him. Motherfucker! What was he talking about? What could have been so... Oh no. An ex-lover?// Toby felt his stomach turn. //I'm going to be sick.//
He waited until they disappeared into, //What? They went into my room! Oh this is *so* not going to happen.// Toby shot up off the love seat and stormed over to the door but paused to listen before he barged in.
"So, who's the kid on the couch?"
Toby froze, holding his breath, waiting for his answer.
"Somebody who don't want nothin' to do wit me."
The pain Toby heard in Chris' words tore at his heart. //You are such a shit. Why can't you just love him back?//
"You ever had him?"
Toby's breath caught in his throat. Would he tell the truth or brag and lie?
"Nah. He ain't like me. He's perfect."
Toby almost choked on the emotions that were raging inside him. Chris thought he was perfect. More profoundly, Chris thought of himself as *less.* That part hurt the most. It wasn't like he was helping Chris' self-esteem any. //You're a fucking cowardly bitch, Tobias.//
"Shit. He know how you feel?"
Toby squeezed his eyes shut and nodded, yes, as the single tear slid down his cheek.
"I tell him every day a dozen times a day."
Toby's heart ached with unshed tears when he realized the truth of the words he had just spoken.
"Honey, you gotta let him go. You just gonna end up hurtin' yerself if you don't."
Tobe wanted to scream, shout, //Don't listen to him, Chris!// But his nerve deserted him.
"I know, Johnny. I know."
//No no no no no. Don't bail on me now, Chris.//
"You know, if it's sex you need..."
//What the fuck? Fucking vulture. Guy pours his heart out to you and you're trying to fuck him! Think about it? You gotta be kidding me, Chris. What's there to think about?//
He listened until he couldn't stand it anymore. Then he pushed the door open and walked in.
"Tobe, did we wake you? I was trying to be quiet." Chris hung his head, unable to meet his gaze anymore. "I'm sorry."
"Nah, it's all right. I fell asleep, waiting for you to come back home." Toby walked over to where Chris stood, using his index finger, he tipped Chris' chin to meet his eyes. "I was worried."
Toby saw the pain flash across his eyes. He leaned in and kissed Chris soundly on the lips before he had time to evaluate it. It was long and slow and sweet. Toby felt his resolve melt away as he deepened the kiss.
Chris pulled him closer and intensified the kiss as he ground his hips against Toby's. He heard more than saw Johnny step out of the room. //No need to go far. Won't take long for him to pull away and run.//
Chris kissed Toby with all the pent up tension, raw need and raging desire that he had been sitting on ever since he'd met him. He maneuvered the younger man toward the bed; if anything would snap Toby out of it the mattress against his back would. Chris knew he was gonna bolt and run so fast they wouldn't even see him go. Chris just didn't give a fuck this time. He was gonna take it as far as Toby would let him.
He felt the mattress against his legs and knew if he leaned into Toby just enough, his weight would carry them the rest of the way down onto the bed. Chris steeled himself for the inevitable. Any moment Toby would pull away and bolt.
Chris felt Toby's hands slide up his back and pull at his shirt. He pulled back and removed his shirt, giving the smaller man the perfect opportunity to escape. Instead, Toby wrapped his legs around his waist and pulled him back down on top of him. //Ohhhhhaaarrrrggggg!// Heat shot straight through to Chris' groin making him cry out, "Toby, please...."
His breathing ragged and his control slipping, Chris allowed Toby's response to pull him deeper into the maelstrom of passion that shook his body . The dark man lowered his hand and gently stroked the Toby's nipples through his shirt until they tightened, reveling in the noises he was making in the back of his throat. He pulled away far enough to remove Toby's shirt then lowered his head and gently bit the hardening nubs, teasing him with the flick of his tongue, gently sucking and nipping until he felt Toby writhing, straining beneath him.
Chris trailed his hand down the shivering body and paused to stroke him lovingly through his jeans. Toby's hips rose up to meet the stronger man's touch as his thrusts grew more frenzied while Chris' attacks on his sanity escalated. The dark man dropped hot kisses across his lover's pale chest and trailed them down to his stomach, nuzzling, kissing and tasting the softness he found there, pausing only long enough to unzip the slighter man's jeans.
Chris hesitated for a moment, waiting for Toby to stop him, but was allowed to continue. Chris pulled away and removed Toby's pants in one deft movement. His breath caught in his chest at the beauty that lay revealed before him. Soft golden hair scattered sparsely across his chest and down the abdomen to the thighs, and oh yes... Heaven. Toby was staring at him through hooded, passion-dazed eyes wondering, no doubt, what was taking him so long.
Chris knelt at the foot of the bed between Toby's legs and leaned in to drop kisses down the lean thigh and nuzzled the soft, honey colored hair that was found there. Carefully, the larger man moved around the swollen length, deliberately not touching, pushing the smaller man's limits, testing his resolve. Chris stroked his lover's thighs and ran his hands up the soft furry belly, gently trailing down the side to cup his hip. Chris' feather light caresses aroused and tormented the small blond man as he strained to meet the maddening touch, shuddering at the intensity of the emotions assailing his senses.
Chris smiled as he lowered his head to take his balls into his mouth, sucking gently while caressing the sensitive area that ran between his bottom and his balls causing the blond man to jerk at the slight contact. //Direct hit!// He replaced his mouth with his hand then moved up to let his hot breath bathe Toby's aching cock. His reward, a palatable shiver, that wracked Toby's small frame, who whimpered as he battled to maintain his senses against the current of the emotions and desire that stormed out of control through him.
Chris had toyed with him long enough. He lowered his head and took him into his mouth. The gasp and cry that escaped Toby's fevered lips were almost more than Chris could bear. Softly, gently, reverently, he began to move up and down, increasing his pressure and tempo to match the thrust of Toby's hips. When he felt him getting close, he pulled back and lightly licked around the head of the throbbing cock. Teasingly, lovingly, he traced the vein from bottom to top. Toby's body jerked in response. Chris gently nipped at the head, lapping up the precum like a kitten with a saucer of milk.
Toby's cries were driving him mad. He had to finish for both their sakes. For the first time in his life he was actually getting hot listening to anyone enjoy what he was doing. Chris had never gotten his own satisfaction by giving it to someone else before. He pushed the thought aside, unwilling to think about what it could mean.
Chris worked harder, wanting to make the first time special, something that Toby would *never* forget. He felt his heavy scrotum tighten in his hands. Toby was close, so close. Chris had almost forgotten that he was making love to an innocent. He stroked Toby incessantly bringing him to the brink of madness then pushed him over the edge into oblivion. He heard him whimper softly as he came.
Chris stroked Toby's thigh lovingly, allowing his caresses to travel across the soft plains of his stomach as he continued to swallow every precious ounce he gave him. He gazed up at his face, wanting to memorize every line, every expression that crossed his face, lit in his eyes. He wanted to tuck it away deep inside his soul where he could hold it forever.
Chris wondered vaguely as he nuzzled the soft flesh of Toby's furry belly if this was what it felt like to be in love. He heard the music playing and his heart pounding and his blood humming. //By hell, if this ain't love, then it don't exist!//
Chris wrapped his arms around Toby's waist and held onto him, tight, afraid that any moment he might sit up and tell him that it had all been a mistake.
He held his breath and prepared for the worst.
"Come up here." Toby was pulling at his arms. "Please."
Chris complied. He crawled up between Toby's legs and braced himself on his hands and knees, staring down into the beautiful face of his...love?
"What can I, um, ah, do for you?"
"Let me love you." The words came out before he could stop himself. He watched as Toby's eyes searched his face for meaning.
"How do you mean?"
"Just let me make love to you," Chris offered, hoping that he wouldn't guess at what he had really just said.
"I... I can't. Not, not that."
Coldly, Chris replied. "You think you're any more equipped to do what I just did? Can you take me in yer mouth?" He had meant it as a slap in the face but he must have missed it. He knew Toby wouldn't be ready for him to be inside him yet and hated himself for needing it, for needing him. He hated Toby for not being able to give it. He knew the idea of taking him in his mouth would be out of the question. Toby was still too new to everything, yet he had asked him anyway, hoping for a different answer.
"Not really. Is there, ah, anything else we could do?"
Toby watched as the light drained out of Chris' eyes and felt him pulling away from him, not physically, but emotionally.
Angry, growling, Chris whispered in his ear. "Yeah, there is, but I'm not going to be the one to teach you."
Chris pushed himself up off the bed violently. More hurt than he had ever been in his life, he stooped to pick up his discarded shirt, forgetting his coat that had disappeared in the heat of their passion, and stomped out the door. He almost doubled over with relief to see Johnny's truck still there. //You would have really been fucked if he would have left you here without a ride.// His thoughts slowed just enough for him to remember that he needed a change of clothes. Chris spun on his heels and headed toward his room.
He opened the door quietly, although he longed to rip it off its hinges, walked in, and impulsively packed what little bit of clothes he had there and walked back toward the front room. //Oh yeah, one last thing.// He pulled his apartment keys out of his pocket and tossed them on the table next to the helmet. Maybe his next boyfriend would have a bike, too. He snorted and turned and walked out of Toby's life for good.
Chris threw his duffel in the back of the truck and climbed in.
"Where's your shirt?"
Chris looked down at his still naked chest.
"*Shit.* I think I packed it with the rest a' my shit. Don't matter. Least of all now."
Chris rode back to Dino's with Johnny and sat around with him, drinking heavily, trying to kill the pain and emptiness that he felt churning inside him.
"Better lighten up on that stuff, Kiddo. You do gotta work tonight."
"Yeah, I know. I'll make this my last." Chris sat silently for a moment then asked, "When's May comin' in?"
Johnny glanced at his watch. "Any minute now."
Chris walked over to the jukebox and started playing some of his favorite songs. Why not deepen the depression that he *knew* was coming?
He turned his bleary eyes to meet hers. "May-bel. Need to talk to you." His voice cracked.
May's look of jubilance soon faded. "All right, let's step into my office."
A joke that usually got him to smile bombed dismally. She cast him a worried glance as she held the door of the storage room open for him to proceed her.
"What's on your mind?" Her voice was soft, but she couldn't mask the worry.
Chris turned to face her as he leaned against a shelf. "Toby."
May held her silence, waiting for him to continue.
"I'm in love wit him."
"Oh, Chrissy!" May heard the astonishment and pain in her words and flinched. "Sweetheart, didn't you tell me that he was a virgin?"
His voice was barely a whisper, "Yes."
"He's never been with a woman, so I seriously doubt that he could even be close to an attraction for..." She left the rest unsaid as realization came too late to stop the pain her words unintentionally inflicted. "Oh, my God, Baby. I'm so sorry." She folded him into her arms and held him tight.
Chris pulled her away and walked her toward some boxes in the corner where they sat for the next few minutes. He recounted his story of what had happened, including Toby's involvement in it, as May sat transfixed by the newest development.
"He *wanted* to? Are you sure?"
"May, he kissed me like a whore."
"Chrissy!" She admonished at his baseness.
"Well, I'm sure. Okay?"
"Well, now what?"
"I think I should stay away from him for a while. Move out."
"Isn't that a bit... extreme?"
"No. I want something he can't give me. Why should I put both of us through this? Me wantin' him, but unable to have him. Him wantin' me, but ashamed of it and not willing to admit it." Chris threw his arms up in the air in a gesture of helplessness.
"My stayin' won't do either of us any good. He's not ready and I can't live like that hopin' one day I'll get lucky *if* he ever comes around. Nah, can't do it."
Chris thought for a moment before he continued, trying to phrase his words correctly so she would understand.
"May, he's ashamed of his feelings. He's ashamed of me. He don't want to be... like me. Toby don't want to be wit me. And the sex, it's all good as long as he don't have to do nothin' to compromise his beliefs. It's like, �If I don't do this, then I ain't a fag.' It's insulting and it hurts."
Chris hung his head at the admission. He'd never allowed what anyone felt matter to him before, and now that he had, he was suffering for it.
"It just pisses me off, you know? To know that he wants it as much as I do but is too uptight to do anything about it. I mean, if I would have pushed him, tried a little harder, he would have caved. But I don't want it like that. I want him to *want* to do it. See?"
"Yes. I understand." She sat there and held him while he cried, waiting for the storm to pass. Once his breathing slowed and his sobs subsided, May tipped his chin to look into his eyes. Eyes that had seen so much. A man that had lived so much, all in such a short time.
//It's about goddamned time for him to have something good happen to him for a change. If only Toby would wake up and see what he has...//
May promised herself that she would try to get to know Toby better. Maybe understanding him would help her help Chris. At any rate, anyone Chris loved as much as he loved Toby would be worth the effort.
Continued in Part 7