Chris sat hunkered on the edge of the peer, mulling over the days events. He was bone-weary and more than thankful that his shift was finally over. Chris was particularly thankful that he had managed to make it through the night alive. //Well, kinda,// he thought, sardonic humor twisting his lips. He needed to get out, get away for a little while, so he drove to his place where serenity often found him. Except, it didn't seem to be working anymore. Not since he'd taken Toby there.
His thoughts mocked him. Chris sat staring out at the water, trying hard to forget about the man who was asleep in an apartment not far from where he was. //This shit can't be healthy. Healthy, shit, *nothing* about yer life is healthy.//
He hadn't eaten anything all day, preferring instead the warm glow of intoxication. It was a good thing he had already paid the rent on his old place before he ran into Beech. It gave him enough breathing room to get things caught up.
His thoughts kept returning to him. Naked and vulnerable. Golden and beautiful. Chris fought hard to choke back the emotions that were closing off his throat, making it difficult to breath. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get Toby out of his mind. The same day he had more or less spit in his face and told him he wasn't good enough to make love to him, and all Chris could think about was how was Toby going to get around with him gone. How was he going to get to the bank without a car?
Chris didn't even know why he bothered, or even cared, but he had called around and arranged for a friend of a friend to sell Toby a nice car, cheap. //Well, not cheap on yer end. It's gonna be worth it, tho. You won't have to worry about Toby no more. And seein' that it's a nice car, he won't be embarrassed to drive around his little rich friends.//
Chris hung his head, miserable, and allowed the tears to roll unchecked down his face. //You'll prob'ly be bending over for that nasty fat fucker for an eternity, trying to repay him.// Chris heaved an ironic snort. No matter how things stood between them, he just couldn't stand the thought of Toby being trapped there with no way to get around. //It's yer fault he's here in the first place.//
Chris drew in the last swallow of beer then reached for the next one. //Game plan, Chris? You always got a game plan.// He sat there quietly for a moment, mulling over possibilities before he settled on one. //Get totally rip roaring fuckin' drunk, and wit any luck at all you'll fall in the water and drown.// He raised his beer in a silent toast to the horizon and chugged it.
No matter how hard he tried to force Toby from his thoughts, his treasonous mind repeatedly strayed back to him. Chris shook his head sadly. //I can't believe he didn't even call after he found out that I took my shit and left. Well, he'll be gettin' a car soon so maybe.... Yeah right. Wake the fuck up, Chris.//
Toby laid there, staring at the door for what must have been an hour, trying to figure out why Chris had walked out on him after making earth shattering love to him. He knew Chris would be upset about his not wanting to bend over for him, but surely there were other ways two men could make love without doing *that.* Toby laid there until he knew he wouldn't be back anytime soon, then pulled himself up and got dressed. He could still smell Chris on his skin and didn't want to take a shower, just yet.
Toby stepped out into the hall to find the door to Chris' room slightly ajar. His spirits lifted. He was probably in there sulking and waiting for him to come to him. Toby pushed the door open as he began speaking.
"Chris, I'm sorry I...." His voice trailed off when he saw the dresser drawers open and *empty.* Toby felt his world crash down around his ears. Chris had left, for *good.* //Oh no.// Helpless with grief, Toby slid down the frame of the door and crumpled into a ball. He laid there in the floor and cried himself to sleep.
Later that night, a sharp pain shot through his back bringing him around. Toby glanced around him. //What the hell am I doing in the floor?// He sat up and looked around and suddenly remembered. Chris had left, and he wasn't coming back.
He repressed the sob that threatened to claim him as he jumped up to check the clock. //Hopefully he'll be at work by now.// Toby grabbed his cell phone and sat down at the kitchen table, forcibly calmed himself, and dialed the number. He held his breath as he listened to the phone ringing on the other end.
"Dino's, ‘s Johnny. Can I help you?"
"Yeah, uh, Johnny, this is Toby. Can I speak to Chris, please?"
"He's busy right now. Can I give him a message?"
"Would you tell him I'm sorry, and that I want him to come home?"
"I can pass it along, but he's smartin' pretty bad right about now, so I don't know what good it'll do. See, he ain't never fell in love wit nobody before and he don't know how to handle it. Much less deal wit being told he ain't good enough to be wit."
"What? I never said that. Wait a minute. What do you mean, in love?"
"You didn't know? You must be one of the dumbest fucks on the planet. You think he acts like that wit everybody? Well, he don't. I've seen how he's treated some a' his girlfriends. Shameful. I think it would be best if you gave him some room to breathe before you tried to talk to him. He cried like a baby on the way back to his place this afternoon."
Toby sat there, stunned into silence. Could what he said be true? Did Chris really love him? What would he do if he did?
"Would you just let him know that I called? Let the next move be up to him?"
"Yeah, all right."
Toby let two days go by before he tried to call again. This time he waited until Chris was about to get off.
"Yeah, hi. I was calling to speak to Chris please."
"He's already gone. Left about five minutes ago."
"Umm, is this Johnny?"
"Are you and Chris, uh, I mean, are you two together now?"
"Did you tell him I called?"
"Nope. He got enough shit on his mind wit'out me addin' to it. I don't think you're any more ready to be wit him now ‘n you were before. So I suggest you leave ‘im be."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean, Chris wants a relationship wit you, you dumb fuck. And bein' the uptight little virgin that you are, you won't be able to give ‘im what he needs. The commitment or the sex. So you should just leave ‘im be."
Toby heard the click explode though his head like a cannon blast. //He didn't tell him I called. No wonder I haven't heard from him yet!//
Toby didn't actually have any money in his possession and couldn't get anyone to take him on his word, so he was pretty much trapped in his apartment, and he only had enough food left to last him two or three days at the most. *Fuck!* How could Chris do this to him? Didn't he know that he didn't have any way to get around? He had hurt his feelings rather badly it would seem, without even meaning to, but still....
Continued in Part 8