Chris looked around the room trying to gauge how much of a dent they had put in the stack of boxes that lined the walls of Toby's room.
//Almost done! Thank God.//
He was already bone weary. Last night's shenanigans had caught up to him a half hour into the search for the perfect TV set. //Well, we did find a kitchen table in no time, so Toby would have to take forever to pick out a set.// Chris remembered the unadulterated glee that played across Tobias' face when he finally found what he wanted. //There it was, that feeling again.// Every time he thought about Toby, a nagging feeling plagued his system, skating just outside the edge of his comprehension.
//What the *fuck* is that about anyway? Need to get a grip, man. Fallin' for a straight guy is about the dumbest thing you ever done.//
He let his eyes travel across the room looking for and finding Toby bent over riffling through a box. He walked over to help him hang up the last of his clothes then walked over to retrieve another box.
"Chris, those are all books. They'll have to wait until I can get a shelf big enough for them."
"I could build you one."
Toby blinked at him, clearly impressed.
"You know how to do stuff like that?"
"Yup. Where would you want it?"
Toby indicated the wall that the boxes were lined up against. He nodded, already mentally constructing it. He would have to get Johnny to run him by his old place and pack up his tools and anything else worth keeping and pitch the rest. He was half tempted to leave it, but his landlord knew where he worked, so he'd come in and bust his balls in front of everyone. He'd do that tomorrow night after work.
"Want something like you used to have or somethin' different?"
"As close to the original as you could get would be nice. I really loved that shelf. Just the right size."
Chris nodded. That would be easy enough. "Well, if that's it. I got someplace I'd like to take you." He studied Toby's gaze to gauge his reaction. He couldn't read what was going on behind those beautiful eyes, so he held his breath and waited.
"Yup. It's just about dark enough. Another half an hour or so..." Chris allowed his voice to trail off secretly, seductively, unable to help himself. Toby didn't wince like he usually did. He didn't even blush. He just smiled and nodded. //Shock value musta worn off.//
Chris wanted to be awake for this. He headed in and took a shower and picked out his best outfit. The one he'd been wearing the night Tobias Beecher fell into his life, or more appropriately, the night *he* fell into *his* life. Chris paused to check his reflection in the mirror.
"Not too bad."
His hairline was already receding. //Damn the Old Man and his fucked up genes anyway. About the only thing you got going for you is yer body and what little intelligence you managed to gain over the years. You ain't got nothing to offer Toby. But I'd die for him. Live for him. *Love* him. Isn't that enough?// The one thing that Chris was more certain of than his faults was that he wanted Toby more than he wanted his next breath.
//Speaking of which –.// Chris opened the door and almost toppled over Toby coming out of the shower, the sight of which caught his breath in his chest. //Man, he smells soooo good. *Down boy!*// Chris mentally shook himself.
Toby smiled at the look that crossed his face at his close proximity and said, "I'll be ready in a minute."
He watched as Toby disappeared into his room and stood there, transfixed, until he emerged a few minutes later. Toby didn't even look surprised to find him leaning against the wall where he'd left him.
He was wearing a pair of rather expensive looking jeans and an oxford type shirt. He looked like the model yuppie. Chris had to force himself to shrug off the dark thoughts that his mind conjured up. Toby wasn't like the rest of them. He'd seen that much already for himself.
Chris smiled at the enthusiasm he heard in his voice. He hoped that he wouldn't feel let down after he'd taken him out there. That would hurt.
"Don't get your expectations up. I'm taking you to a place that I like to go when I've got no where else to go. It's quiet and beautiful, but that's all it's got goin' for it."
Toby heard the emotion barely contained in his voice. Chris was worried that he wouldn't be able to appreciate the gesture.
"Hey, any place that's special to you is going to be just as special to me. I'm touched that you want to share it with me." Toby knew he'd said what Chris had needed to hear when he saw the brilliant smile flash across his face.
Chris held out his hand, out of habit, to Toby. "Come on, Baby. Let's go."
Toby took his hand and allowed Chris to lead him out to the bike. Chris hadn't even thought about the unconscious gesture until he had to let go to get on the bike. His head snapped up and met Toby's face as he felt his color drain to be replaced by a rather hot blush.
"Sorry, Tobe. Just a reflex I guess."
Toby smiled at him. "Don't sweat it. I didn't bite you did I?"
"Nah, but you're bein' real cool about my slips. I'll try harder, ‘kay?"
Toby smiled and nodded, not completely sure that he wanted him to stop. "Okay."
It was only a five minute trip to the pier. Toby's surprise registered on his face when the darker man pulled to a stop next to the dock and hopped off the bike. For once he was grateful for the helmet. Chris might have misinterpreted the look, had he seen it.
Chris dismounted and held the bike steady so Toby could get off without tipping it on the uneven ground. The taller man started to walk toward the pier when he felt the small blond man press his hand into his own. Chris almost doubled over with the intensity of the emotions that flooded though him. //Maybe there's a chance for us after all.// He leveled a gaze at Toby designed to convey the depth of his emotions as he guided him down to the edge of the pier.
Toby watched as the intense man sat down and patted the empty spot next to him, a silent invitation to sit close. He sat down where Chris had indicated and moved closer, honestly hoping that he would put his arm around him. The small blond man gazed out across the water and watched the waves and how the light from the moon played across them. The moon was only a sliver in the sky so the amount of light was limited, creating an even more romantic effect than he could have ever intended. Toby smiled warmly at his musings but allowed it to fade as he found himself wondering why the bigger man hadn't put his arm around him yet. He leaned his head over on Chris' shoulder and whispered in awe.
"It's beautiful, Chris. Thank you." Toby held his breath, hoping, praying that Chris would do something, anything. He wanted to... what? Not sex. He knew that much. He just wanted the... intimacy. He wanted to feel Chris next to him, wanted to know he was cared for.... Still, he did nothing.
//He must be scared to try anything after all the shit I've given him. You're going to make me ask, aren't you, Chris? *Shit.* Never have been able to ask for anyone's affection, have you, Tobias?// He felt his heart constrict. //Not even your parents.// He wiped the tear away before Chris saw it. //Hold your breath and jump in, Tobe.//
His voice sounded small in the vast darkness that surrounded them.
"Hold me. Please."
Chris was crushing him against his chest before he even finished. Toby buried his face in Chris' neck and inhaled the scent that was uniquely his own – the scent that filled Toby's nostrils even after Chris left to go to work. He heard himself groan.
//No, Toby. Go easy. You don't want him to think you want to have sex.// Toby slid his hands up his back loving the feel of the muscle under his hands. Heat, he needed to feel his heat. Toby pulled at Chris' shirt and slipped his hands underneath. The shock of heat hit his system, powerfully erotic, as Toby felt his own need rising. He felt Chris kiss his neck, licking and sucking gently, taking him in.
//Aaaahhhh ooooohhhhh waaaahhhh, Chriiiiiis.// Toby felt the heat searing his skin, spiraling out of control. //Feel it all the way down to ..... Ohhh!. Not that far!// Toby felt the now-familiar sense of shame descend on him as he twisted away from Chris to buried his face in larger man's neck while he fought to force his breathing back to normal.
"Please, just hold me."
Chris was so hot his pants were ready to burst at the seams, but he wasn't going to rush him. It would just be that much better when he came to him asking him to make love to him. Chris would want to make it last all night but they probably wouldn't even be able to last ten minutes. He was so hard he could cut glass.
"Okay, Baby. Okay."
Chris held him and nuzzled his ear. //*Awww, fuck.*// He wanted this too much. //Please, God, please don't let me fuck this up.// He repeated the prayer over and over inside his mind. Hopefully he would be heard, this time.
They sat there for what seemed like hours while Chris held Toby tight and whispered words of praise in his ear. //My beautiful baby, my golden angel.// The desperate man told him everything except how he felt about him. He couldn't do that. Pride and fear of rejection held back the confession. //Scared, Chris? You should be. He's got you and there's nothin' you can do about it. Nothin' at all.// The knowledge shook the very foundations of his soul. Before there was a chance to further deliberate on the revelation, Chris heard Toby's voice calling him back to reality.
"What was that, Honey?"
"I was just asking if we could come back tomorrow night."
"I'd love to but I gotta work." Chris couldn't repress a smile when he saw the disappointment flood his face. He actually wanted to come here and spend time with him. Chris' heart was so full he was afraid to breathe, afraid it would burst, taking his hopes, dreams and plans for the future with it.
"Next time I'm off, I promise." He leaned in and kissed the tip of his nose like he would have a child, yet it shot lightning bolts of desire spinning out of control through his body. White-hot, raw need fueled the response in his jeans. Chris stood abruptly.
"Come on, Baby. Let's go home."
He held his hand out for Toby to take it, and he did, reluctantly. Toby felt the pent up desire radiating through Chris' body. His own raged almost as strong, but he wasn't ready to take that step, not yet. He didn't know if he ever could be. The pain in his heart overshadowed the ache in his groin leaving an empty, hollow feeling that threatened to overwhelm him. He wanted to, but he couldn't. And he really did want to. The thoughts of his friend's and family's reaction was enough to banish the hard on in his jeans.
//You're going to have to tell him when you get home that you're not ready for sex. It's a risk, but one you've got to take. If he really cares about me, he will wait. Won't he?//
Chris felt the shift in his mood almost instantly. He was becoming better at reading his feelings to judge when an endearment might be given without offense. He could feel it, strong. A sense of dread spiraled out of control effectively wiping out the precious moments they had shared just moments earlier. //*Fuckfuckfuckfuck!* This can't be good.// Chris held the bike for Toby to get on before he swung his leg over and climbed on to drive them home.
He couldn't have this conversation tonight. He wouldn't. He'd retreat into his bedroom and hide until tomorrow, then leave early, before Toby got up, then spend the day sorting through the shit at his old place until he had to go to work. By the time he'd get home tomorrow night Toby should be asleep. Even if he wasn't, it wouldn't matter. Johnny would be with him helping him unload what he decided to bring back and would have to drop him back by his old place to pick up his bike.
//Fuck it. Might as well spend the night there and put it off a little bit longer. Shit, you could postpone it another day if you take a change of clothes in your saddle bags. Fuck yeah.//
If he could put two days between them, maybe Toby wouldn't wreck the tiny bit of paradise that he had managed to build for himself inside his mind. Chris pulled to a stop outside their building and dismounted silently. He was already in bed before he heard the door close behind Toby and listened intently as he crossed the room and headed toward their bedrooms. //Please, please don't push it. Not tonight.// Chris held his breath and fought back the tears that were stinging his eyes. //Please, no. He heard Toby pause outside his door. OH NO!// Chris felt the relief wash over him. //Sweet Jesus!// Chris almost passed out from the relief when he heard his bedroom door swing open then close.
Chris covered his face with his pillow and cried, hard, for the first time in his miserable life. He cursed himself relentlessly for being stupid enough to hope, even for a second, that he might have had a chance with Toby.
Toby sat up in bed straining to hear what had awakened him. It sounded like.... No. Couldn't have been. But almost, almost sounded like... someone crying. Chris?! Toby slid out of bed, eased his door open and crossed the hall to listen at his door. Oh no. He *was* crying. Toby felt like an ass for playing with his emotions then shutting down on him like that. He was worse than any female he had ever heard his friends talk about. //Talk about a cocktease. Man, this is all your fault, dickhead.// He would have to apologize for his behavior in the morning. Right before he ripped his heart out by telling him he didn't think he would be able to go through with...sex. That he didn't want the stigma, the label that came with it.
Toby closed his eyes and silently willed his love through the door. Love? Was he in love with Chris? Couldn't be. He wasn't a fag! Toby returned to his room to climb back into bed. He hid his head under the pillow more out of remorse for the pain he had caused than the need to block out the sound of Chris' tears. He tossed and turned until he was finally able to find sleep, again.
Continued in Part 6