[Home | Quicksearch | Search Engine | Random Story | Upload Story]

When I uploaded Promise You yesterday, I didn't realize the whole story was not in the file. My apologies. It's been too long since I've worked on stories!

Promise You (the second half)

by Anne

Part 5

Now it was Ty's turn to look shocked. "No fucking way."

"Yes, Ty. I was born the day Chris Keller died. You wanna see my license?"

But Ty wanted to see something else more urgently. He looked through Beecher's file to see if there was similar information but no date of death was provided. "Why doesn't it say when Beecher died?"

"I don't know. Wanna ask Hendrickson?"

Ty opened the door to the conference room and called out to Hendrickson. "Keller's file gives his date of death but Beecher's doesn't. Can you tell me why?"

Hendrickson walked into the room and glanced at the file in Ty's hands. "Oh, I see. It's because he didn't die in Oz. See? It says he was paroled in 2004. He might even still be alive. You could probably contact the family for that information," Hendrickson said.

"He has family nearby?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Let's see here. He had a daughter who visited him in prison. Hmm. She would probably be in her 40s. She would know."

"And there's a son. Harry," Ty said, reading from the file. We should try to find them."

"I'll look up their names on my computer. Be right back," Hendrickson said.

"Your brother-in-law must be some great guy. This Hendrickson is bending over backwards to help us."

"Yeah, well, too bad he doesn`t treat family the same way," Christian said, sounding a little annoyed.

Ty nodded sympathetically. "But he did contact this guy for you. So he can't completely hate you."

"Yeah, I guess. I think he was kinda surprised to find out I was almost done with my degree. Maybe that had something to do with it. Who knows?" Christian said bitterly.

"I'm sorry."

"So what did Toby go in for?"

"You trying to change the subject?"

"No, just curious."

"Uh, it says here DUI, vehicular manslaughter...Oh, man. He killed a 12-year-old girl!"

"Come on, Ty, he was in jail. What did you think he was in a maximum security prison for? Petty theft?"

"But a child? He killed a child."

"You sound like he was your best friend and he betrayed you or something."

Ty looked at Christian. "Wow. Yeah, I guess I do. It sort of feels that way. Weird, huh?"

"Well, don't feel bad. Keller was in for a lot worse."

"Yeah? What?"

"Oh, let's see. Where shall I begin? Robbery, kidnapping, DUI, resisting arrest and oh, one more thing. Murder."


"Yeah. Turns out he killed the clerk at the store he was robbing."


"Oh, there's more. It says here the FBI suspected him of murdering three young men in 1998. They were gay."

"What? The victims?"


"That makes no sense! If he hated homosexuals, why would he be lovers with Beecher?"

"Unfortunately, the file does not come with such an explanation," Christian said flippantly. "Maybe it was just, ya know, prison sex."

But Ty shook his head. "No, no, that can't be. It was not just prison sex, Christian," Ty said, his tone huffy.

"What are you getting all defensive for? What the fuck difference does it make?

"I just know how Toby felt when Chris was dying in his arms. He was devastated. They loved each other."

"Fine. It was true love," Christian mocked.

"Why do you feel the need to belittle this relationship?"

"I don't. Why do you feel the need to elevate it?"

"I'm not! You wait until we find out more. You'll see. Besides, you're the one who said you wanted to see what bonded these two men together."

Christian sighed and looked at Ty. "You're kind of cute when you get all huffy."

"Shut up."

They went back to reading their files silently.

A few minutes later, Christian exhaled loudly. "Jesus Christ."

Ty looked up. "What now?

"It says here that Chris confessed to breaking Toby's arms. It, uh, happened in...1998, not long after Chris arrived." He looked back up at Ty, expecting to see surprise on his face.

But Ty just sat there, looking at him passively. "I know."

"You know? What do you mean, you know?"

"I had a dream about it."

"What? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because we weren't talking to each other at the time. I'd just found out you were stalking me, remember?" Ty snapped.

"Jesus, Ty," Christian said and looked down at the file again, his mind wandering back to that time when Ty avoided him. "Is that why you..."

Hendrickson walked back into the room. "I have a phone number and address for Toby's son, Harrison Beecher. He lives about an hour's drive away. Couldn't find anything on Toby or Holly, though. Holly is probably listed under her married name. You could ask Harrison, if you reach him." He handed the piece of paper he was reading from to Ty.

"Thanks," Ty said.

"Does Keller have any family?" Christian asked.

"I don't know. Did you find anything in his files?"

"There's no mention of children. It seems he had three ex- wives who visited him while he was at Oz, though."

"Can we use your phone?" Ty asked.

"Sure, there's one behind on the table," Hendrickson noted and left the room.

"Should we do it? Call the son?"


Toby picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hello, is this Harrison Beecher?"


"Hello, my name is Tiberius Bartholomew. I'm a student at the University of Michigan and I'm doing a research project for my corrections class. I came across your father's name and I was wondering if I could meet you and ask you some questions."

There were several moments of silence. "Mr. Bartholomew, I wasn't even a year old when my father went into prison. And I was just six when he got out. I have virtually no recollection of the time he spent in jail. I only visited him at Oz once or twice before he got out. The person you want to talk to is my older sister, Holly."

"I can't seem to locate her. Can you help me?"

"Her married name is Buskin. She lives in Sterling," he said and hung up the phone.

Sure enough, there was one Stuart and Holly Buskin listed in Sterling, which was only about two hours away from Oz. Ty called and gave the same speech he had given Harry. She agreed to meet them early in the afternoon in her home.

"Should we try to find any of Chris' ex-wives?"

"After we talk to Holly Beecher, okay?"

Christian nodded and they headed out to the car.


When Holly opened the door to greet the two young men, she was startled to see one of them looked a lot like her father. She stood there silently for a moment.

"Hello, My name is Tiberius Bartholomew. We spoke on the phone. This is Christian Kelso."

"Um, hello, how do you do? Please come in." Holly opened the door to let them in.

They stepped into the hallway and she led them down the hallway into the living room of her modest home. "Can I get you gentlemen anything to drink?"

"I'm fine,`' Christian said, but Holly was looking pointedly at Ty.

"Yeah, me too," he said and sat down in one of her matching chairs. Christian took the other. Her walls and mantel were decorated with lots of pictures. Her children? Her nieces and nephews? Her grandchildren? Is she old enough to have grandchildren? Toby wondered.

"So, tell me why you're here," she asked as she sat on her couch.

Ty launched into the whole criminology project story. As he spoke, he noticed that she was studying his face very closely. Almost as if she were looking for some kind of clue there.

"Can I ask -- is your father still alive?"

Holly closed her eyes as if warding off some kind of distant pain. "No, he isn`t. My father died when I was 22. Harry had just turned 18. I guess he felt he'd done all he could for us and he just slipped away. He was 50 years old. He left us quite comfortable financially." Using the information in Toby's file, Ty figured Holly was about 44 years old. But she looked older; weary. Her blond hair had more than it's fair share of gray strands.

Toby took a deep breath. He knew it but it saddened him nonetheless. "Um, do you, by any chance, recall the date of his death?"

"Yes, of course. It was May 15, 2015. Why is that important? Oh my, are you alright, Mr. Bartholomew?"

Ty was as white as Christian had turned in the state office. "Um, yes, I'm fine. I just need a glass of water."

"Certainly. I'll be right back."

"Ty? Is that your birthday?"

Ty nodded.

"This is starting to get a little weird."

"No shit."

Holly returned then, with water for both of them.

"Thank you."

"Sure. What else do you need to know?"

"Can you tell me about his relationship with Chris Keller?"

"Well, if you've read the files, you know they were lovers, although they had a very volatile relationship. Still, they somehow managed to work things out. After my father was paroled, he went back to Oz every week to see Chris. He even took Harry and I along a couple of times.

"The day Chris was killed, my father was in the visiting room waiting for him. When Chris didn't show, my Dad asked the C.O. to find him. It took awhile but they found him in the copy room, bleeding. He'd been stabbed several times. Knowing he was going to die, they let my father go in to see him. Chris died in his arms."

"I know," Ty said quietly, not even aware he had done so.

"What do you mean, you know?"

"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize I said it out loud."

"Why did you say that?" Her voice was slightly tense.

"I've had dreams about your father. Well...more like dreams where I was your father."

Holly looked both surprised and stricken. "What do you mean?"

Ty sighed. "I see things that happened in Oz from ... your dad's point of view. I dreamt of the day Chris died in his arms. I could feel everything your Dad was feeling."

"Oh my God,`' she said and covered her mouth with her hand. After a few moments, she regained her calm. "You know, you bear him a bit of resemblance. I noticed it when you arrived. At first I thought it was just my imagination," she said and stood up. She walked over to a bookshelf and pulled out a photo album. "Here are some pictures of my father."

Ty took the album and opened it. He knew without asking, who Toby was. He looked like an older, more sophisticated version of Ty. He looks more like me than my own father, Ty thought. There were several photos of him with Holly and another boy who looked older than her. "Is this Harry?" he asked, confused. I thought Harry was younger.

"No, that's Gary. My older brother. He was murdered when my father was at Oz. Didn't you read Toby's file?"

"I didn't get through the whole thing yet. I'm sorry about your brother."

Ty remembered a dream where he -- or Toby -- was crying; mourning really. At first he had thought it was for Chris but then Chris appeared in the dream. Toby had felt a lot of guilt. He recalled thinking "It's all my fault." Could that have been about Gary?

"Did they ever catch your brother's killer?"

"Yes, but he was freed on a technicality," she said softly, her voice cracking with emotion. "I was with him," she whispered.


"I was with Gary. We were both kidnapped by the son of a man who was my Dad's enemy in Oz - Vernon Schillinger. Hank, his son, lured us into a car using Pokemon cards."

"Poke -- what?"

"Never mind. We got in. Well, I got in. Gary tried to stop me but I..." Holly stopped speaking and began to weep quietly. Ty moved close to her and put his arm around her shoulder instinctively. He suddently felt fiercely protective of this woman who was old enough to be his mother.

After a few minutes, she took a deep breath and continued. "Gary followed me. Hank took us to a run-down old house and fed us McDonald's. The next day, he tied me to a radiator and took Gary away and killed him. I never saw my brother again. When Hank came back, I thought he was going to kill me, too. But he brought me back to my grandparents' home."

Ty closed his eyes. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that."

Holly nodded. "Hank's father is still alive. He's at Oz. I went to see him once."

"He's alive?"

Holly nodded. "He killed Chris, too." Vern. The man in the gym, Toby thought, remembering the dream about Toby getting his arms and legs broken.

Christian, who had been quiet throughout the conversation, gasped audibly. "Why?"

"Well, he claimed it was because Chris confessed to ordering a hit on Hank."

"Hank is dead?"

"Yeah, he was found dead several months after the kidnapping."

"And Chris had him killed?"

Holly let out a loud breath. "I don't know for certain but I don't believe he did. He was exonerated almost a year after confessing. I think my father ordered the hit and Chris took the blame to protect my father. But Dad would never talk about it, even when I asked him."

"And you think Schillinger knew your father did it?"

"Yes, I do."

"Then why would he kill Chris?"

"To punish my father a little more. It was his specialty."

"Why did he hate your father so much?" Ty asked.

"I don't know the whole story. Some of it's probably in the file. I know he broke my father's legs and tried to have him killed. Dad didn't really like to talk about him."

Ty nodded. "Are there any pictures of Chris in here?" he asked, flipping through the pages. But before Holly could answer, he found one. Chris was standing in what looked like a visitor's room; wearing a white tank top and gray pants. He had a heart-stopping smile on his face.

"Yup, that's him. My Dad took that on one of his visits. I think it's the only one there is. Dad treasured that picture. He had a few copies made and always carried one with him. We buried one with him."

Ty handed the album over to Christian, who stared at the picture. "Holy Christ," he whispered. Ty nodded at him.

"Is there anything else you can tell us about your Dad and Chris?" Ty asked.

"Well, after Chris died, my father lost all hope. He was depressed for a long time. He went to therapy for awhile and got better but he never got over Chris. He stuck around long enough to see Harry and I into adulthood and then he just kinda gave up on living. It was quite sad. I never really knew my father very well. My grandfather, Harrison, was more of a father to me than Toby ever was."

"I'm sorry if we brought up painful memories. I appreciate your taking the time to see us."

"Sometimes it's good to talk about things, even if the memories are sad. If you find out more about this, please let me know. Maybe you could send me a copy of the paper you're writing."

Toby nodded, feeling a bit guilty about that lie.

"And I'd like to hear more about your dreams. Have you ever had any dreams about me as a little girl?"

"Well, I've only had a few dreams and some of them repeat. But I'll let you know."



"That is one sad story," Christian remarked as they headed back to car.

Ty nodded. "I just don't get why *I'm* having his dreams."

"I don't know, Ty. But you have to be wondering if this is some sort of weird cosmic fate -- the two of us meeting, looking so much like Toby and Chris; being born the same days that they died."

"I don't believe in fate," Ty said, his chin set stubbornly. "And by the way, *we* didn't meet. You started stalking me," he huffed.

"But we ended up in a circumstance where we could meet. Both of us ended up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That's gotta mean something."

"What, exactly, does it mean? That we're meant to be friends? Or lovers? Cause you can forget that. I'm not into guys."

"Why do you keep saying that? Have I ever done anything to make you think I do?"

Ty blushed. "Well, um, no, I guess not," he stammered.

"I did notice you checking me out after my shower yesterday, though," Christian said, a smirk on his face.

"What are you talking about? I was just uncomfortable finding you like that. I was *not* checking you out." Oh, but Ty, you most definitely were.

"Okay, if you say so."

"I do."

"Fine. Still, we found each other. I don't know what it means but it has to mean something. You know we clicked really fast when we chatted over the messenger. Even you have to admit that."

"Yeah, okay. I admit that. We did. So then maybe we're meant to be friends. But that's *all*."

Chris smiled. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks. "So, what's next? Back to Oz? Back to the hotel? Back to Ann Arbor?"

"I kinda want to talk to this Vern Schillinger. I heard that name in one of my dreams. That might be the guy Toby and Chris fought about," Toby said.

"I'm game. Let's head back," Chris said, opening the car door and slipping in the driver's seat. "I guess we're staying over one more night?" It was already after 2 p.m.

Ty sat down but avoided looking at Chris. "Yeah, I guess so."

They stopped at a phone booth and called Hendrickson, asking if he could arrange for them to visit Vern Schillinger in Oz. Hendrickson said he would make the phone call. Ty agreed to call back in 15 minutes to see if it was okay.

Christian and Ty went into a diner nearby to have a late lunch. After they ordered, Ty opened up his notebook and started reading through his notes.

Christian stood up. "Going to the john," he said.

Ty made some notes about Gary and other things Holly had told him. If we get in to see this Schillinger guy, I'm going to ask him about why he killed Chris.

When Christian came back, he had a phone book with him.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking up Chris' ex-wives."

"Oh. Okay." Ty went back to his notes.

The food arrived a few minutes later and they began eating. Christian finished in just a few minutes and headed off to call Hendrickson back.

"So what'd he say?"

"We're in," Christian said, grinning. "Gotta ask to see the warden. Some guy named Sinead Murphy."

"Sinead is a woman's name."



"Ok. Let's roll."

They paid for their meals and headed over to Oz, arriving around 4 p.m.


"How do you do? I'm Sinead Murphy. I'm the warden here at Oz," she greeted them when they were escorted into her office. She was tall with dark, wavy hair and pale, freckled skin."

"Thanks for letting us come," Ty said, shaking her hand and sitting down.

"I never met such an attractive warden before," Christian said, oozing the charm. Toby glared at him but Christian ignored him.

Murphy smiled at him. "Thank you, Mr. Kelso, but I'm afraid after all my years working with male prisoners, it will take a lot more than that to charm me," she said bluntly.

Christian's smiled deflated and he sat down. Ty covered his mouth with his hand, trying not to snicker.

"How long have you been the warden here?"

"Only five years, but I worked as a guard for 10 years before that." Ty thought she looked around 40, 45 years old.

"What would make a woman want to work with prison inmates?" Christian asked.

"My dad was a guard here for 20 years."

Ty nodded. "So, Vern Schillinger agreed to see us?"

"Well, he hasn't had a visitor in years, so he`s a bit curious. But, I gotta warn you. He's very belligerent and difficult. You probably won't get the information you're looking for. He likes to play mind games."

"Isn't he like 80? I think we can handle him," Christian said.

"If you say so."

Murphy asked one of the guards to escort Ty and Christian down to the visitor's room and then he went to get Schillinger. Fifteen minutes later, an old man with virtually no hair stepped into the room. His movements were fairly agile considering his age. His face looked like well-worn leather.

The C.O. pointed towards Ty and Chris and Vern walked over to them. "What the fuck do you two want?" he asked. Ty and Chris sat back instinctively. Ty felt a trickle of fear run up his spine.

Part 6

"Mr. Schillinger, I'm Tiberius Bartholomew and this is Christian Kelso. We wanted to talk to you about your relationship with Tobias Beecher and Christopher Keller."

Schillinger groaned and sat down. "This again? Why does everybody want to keep bringing this shit up? They've both been dead for years. Why can't we just let the fuckin' thing lie? Who are you anyway?" he squinted his eyes and focused on Ty. "Are you his son?"

"No, sir. I`m a college student and I'm doing a research project."

"You're not Beecher's kid?"

"No, sir."

"You look a hellava lot like him. You his grandson?" he asked. He looked up at Christian and studied him. "What about you? You related to Keller?"

"No, sir. We just wanted..."

"What the fuck is going on here?" Vern yelled suddenly, causing the C.O. the look at him. He seemed suddenly confused.

"Nothing is going on, Mr. Schillinger. We just wanted to ask you some questions. That's all."

Vern eyed them both warily. "Seems a bit of a coincidence that you two prag-lookalikes come waltzing into Oz and *just* wanna ask me some questions. Let me see some I.D."

Ty looked at Christian and reached for his wallet. Christian did the same. Vern looked at their licenses, one at a time. "I'll be damned," he said and handed them back.

He eyed them warily again, not sure he wanted to continue this conversation. But he hadn`t had any visitors in years. At least it would kill some time. "What do you want to know?"

"Well, let's start with Tobias Beecher. His file chronicles several incidents of violence against you and vice versa. Can you tell us why he hated you so much?"

"Who the fuck knows? Fuckin' nutball prag."

"Are you saying these attacks were unprovoked?"

"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying," Vern said, leaning forward. "Beecher's problem was he didn't understand the rules and chose not to learn them."

"Rules? Like what?" Christian asked.

"Like paying a debt and shutting the fuck up about it."

"A debt? Beecher owed you something?"

"Yes, he did. I saved his ass from Adebisi. Beecher owed me his gratitude and servitude. He decided he didn't like the terms of the contract and he broke it."

"Who is Adebisi?" Beecher asked, while taking notes.

"What?" Vern looked distracted, as if his mind was wandering off. Maybe into memory? Ty wondered.

"Who is Adebisi?"

"A big, dumb nigger who wanted to rape him."

Ty flinched at the image the harsh words brought to mind. "I see. So you saved Beecher from Adebisi. What were the terms of this contract?" Ty asked.

"Oh use your imaginations, boys. I'm sure you've seen enough prison movies."

"You mean you raped him?"

Schillinger glared at Ty, who instinctively moved back. "I mean I protected him. And he owed me. Wasn't no raping about it."

"How long was he...um...under your protection?" Christian asked.

"Not very long. He wouldn't stop taking the goddamn drugs, so I threw his ass out. Then the nutball gets high on PCP, swings a chair at the pod and breaks the glass, sending fucking shards into my eye," he said stroking the damaged skin around his eye. "Never was able to see right again."

"According to Beecher's file, you two went back and forth for several years getting various forms of revenge on each other. Why didn't you just let it go?" Ty asked.

Vern was silent for a few minutes and Ty thought his mind might be wandering off again.

"Mr. Schillinger? Why didn't you let the animosity between you and Beecher go?"

Vern`s eyes looked up sharply at Ty. "Let it go? I tried that. Believe me. But that prag killed both my kids!"

"Both? I thought only..." Ty started and checked the notes he had made. "Hank was killed."

"Yeah, well, not everything is in the files. My oldest son, Andrew, came to Oz in...oh, let's see...'99, I think. Then Beecher, fucking manipulator that he was, talks that asshole McManus into letting Andrew..."

"McManus?" Christian asked.

"The liberal dimwit in charge of EmCity at the time. He let Andrew bunk with Beecher! The man who'd smashed my head in with a weight, who shit in my face; the man who manipulated me into taking a contract out on his life, screwed up my parole. Let that man take my son under his wing."

Ty was scribbling madly as Schillinger spoke. "And then what happened? How did Beecher kill your son?"

Schillinger looked off in the distance. "Andrew died of a drug overdose."

"Beecher gave him the drugs?"


"Who did? I don't understand."

"Never fucking mind. What do you two want from me anyway?"

"Just background, Mr. Schillinger."

"Well, I've had enough of spilling my guts to you two."

"Wait, please. Just one more question."

"Fine. Get it over with."

"Why did you kill Chris Keller?"

He looked at them both coldly. Ty felt a shiver of fear run down his back. "To punish Beecher," he said, his voice quiet but hard. Christian, who sat quietly listening, shivered at the cold tone.

"So, then you knew that Keller was not responsible for Hank's death?"

Schillinger stood up. "You said one more. That's enough. You happy now? Guard!" he yelled. A guard appeared. "I wanna go back to my cell."


"Is there anything more you can tell us about Schillinger that's not in the Keller or Beecher files?" Ty asked Murphy when they got back to her office.

"Well, he was on death row after he killed Keller back in 2004. Then about 10 years later, his sentence was commuted to life by the governor."

"Why was his sentence commuted?" Christian asked.

"I don't have a clue. I wasn't around then. I could call my father and ask if he remembers."

"Would you?"



She slid Schillinger's file across the desk to Ty and Christian, so they could look at it. "Not a word from this file can go into your report," she whispered while listening for the phone to ring. They nodded their agreement and began pouring through the thick file. Ty took half the contents and handed them to Christian, while they heard Sinead's voice drone on in the background.

She waited for them to look at her. "My Dad said that in 2012, a liberal governor was elected. I guess that would have been Raisler, if I know my history. Anyway, Raisler issued an executive order commuting all death row sentences to life. Then the legislature passed a law following his lead. There was a big ruckus and the death penalty was reinstated a few years later, but only for new convictions."

"I guess that explains it. Is Schillinger a problem prisoner?"

"No, not anymore. After he got his sentence commuted, he was moved into Solitary Confinement. Been there ever since."

Ty stood up and Christian followed. "Well, thank you for your time and the information."

"You're welcome. Please be sure to send me a copy of the paper." Ty nodded and walked out to the car with Christian.

"Looks like we're going to have to write that paper after all."

"Knowing you, you probably will," Christian teased him.

"What does that mean?"

"Just that you'll feel guilty if you don't."

"Will not."

"Will too."

"Will not."

"Okay, if you say so. So what's next?"

"Back to the capitol and then to dinner, I guess."

"Should we call Hendrickson before we head back?"

"Yeah, I did have a couple more questions for him. Hopefully we can catch him before he leaves the office." Ty pulled the car over and headed to the phone booth.


"God, I'm stuffed," Ty said, leaning back in his chair at Alma's Diner.

"They were pretty hearty helpings," Christian said, smiling. Ty nodded. "I guess you don't have any room for dessert?"

Ty grimaced. "I think I'd explode."

"So, back to the hotel for a good night's sleep? We have a long drive tomorrow."

"I think I need to walk a bit. My stomach feels like it's got lead in it."

Christian nodded. "The hotel has a gym. We could do a workout. Or a swim in the pool. It's heated."

"A swim sounds better."

By the time they got back to the hotel and changed into their swim trunks, Ty felt considerably less bloated but still needed to burn off some excess energy.

They walked down the pool together. Christian dropped his towel down on one of the poolside chairs and dove right in. Ty sat down on the edge and dipped his feet in for a few minutes before sliding his body into the water. They both swam laps in peace. No one else was in the pool.

Ty was just finishing his 12th lap when he turned to see Christian rising from the water. The swim trunks clung wetly to his ass, which was unbelievably voluptuous. Ty could see the firm muscles moving as Christian climbed out of the pool and he tried to pull his eyes away but they were riveted. His face flushed with heat. What the hell is wrong with me?

And still he kept his eyes on Christian; on the long, sleek back and the hard, thick muscles of his legs. He was beautiful. There was just no other way around it. Stop. Stop. Please stop. Ty finally closed his eyes to shake the image away and began to swim again.

Five more laps and he finally calmed down enough to get out of the pool and face Christian without, hopefully, giving anything away.

"I'm heading up for a shower," Christian said, grabbing his towel.

Ty nodded but waited a good 15 minutes before heading back to the room himself. He didn't want to hear the sounds of Christian showering and getting dressed. Didn't want to think about the way he'd reacted in the pool tonight; his growing feelings for Christian. No, he told himself firmly. I will not let myself go there.

After Ty finished his shower, he put on a t-shirt and boxers. A few minutes later, he heard a knock on the door. "Yeah?"

Christian opened it. He was wearing the same combination as Ty. "Wanna hang out for a bit? I'm still a bit too wound up to go to sleep just yet."

"Yeah, sure."

"Which room?"

"Here is fine," Ty said and carried his damp towel back to the bathroom. When he came out, Christian was lounging on the bed and drinking a beer that he'd apparently gotten out of the minibar. The t.v. was on, but Christian was looking at him. Ty felt self-conscious as he walked through the room, feeling Christian's eyes on him. He wondered how Christian saw him; if he was attracted to Ty. Stop that, he chided himself.

He took out a beer for himself and sat on one of the chairs.

"I don't bite."

"What?" Ty asked, startled.

"You can sit next to me. I don't bite," Christian said. "That is, unless you want me to." He gave Ty one of those stunning grins.

"Why do always do that?"

"Do what?"

"Say shit to try and shock me."

Christian shrugged and took a pull on his bed. "I guess cause I know it'll work." He grinned devilishly.

Ty got up and sat on the bed with one knee bent in front of him. He was facing Christian, who was leaning back on his elbows. He had a serious look on his face, as if he was trying to figure out how to say something. "Christian, are we friends?"

Christian sat up. "Yeah, sure. Why?"

"Why are we friends? We don't really have much in common."

"I don't know. Where is this going?" Christian asked and studied Ty's face. He didn't reply. "Wait a minute. Does this have something to do with Chris and Toby?"

"A little, I guess. I mean I've read some stuff about reincarnation and they say that the same souls tend to gravitate toward each other in each new lifetime. Do you believe that?"

"I don't know, Ty. But I think I'm starting to," Christian said, moving closer to Ty.

"And if that's true, what does it mean? For you and me?" He asked.

Christian's heart started to pound faster. "What do you want it to mean, Ty?" he whispered.

But Ty wasn't looking at him and he sounded agitated. "Are we going to make the same mistakes that Toby and Chris made? Hurting each other? Wreaking havoc on the lives of people we love?"

"Ty, it doesn't have to be that way."

"But it's already started. Hasn't it?" he asked, looking into Christian's eyes. He thought about the way he'd met Christian in the library and how betrayed he'd felt about being followed. And how he'd pushed Christian away. Still, somehow, he'd managed to forgive him. And then there was Gwen. How did she figure into this equation? Ty knew he was holding back from her. Was it because of Christian, he wondered.

"What do you mean, Ty?" Christian asked, puzzled. Ty stood up and started pacing. He took a sip of his beer, then put it down on the dresser.

"Everything that's happened so far. The way you...you found me. Watched me. How upset I was when I found out. How I pushed you away. I know I hurt you when I did that. But I was so damn confused and afraid. And now, there's Gwen..." He was waving his arms as he spoke, his voice rising.

"What about Gwen?" Christian asked. He knew Ty needed to get this out, but he wasn't quite following Ty's train of thought.

Ty stopped pacing and looked at Christian, whose expression was so earnest that is nearly broke Ty's heart. "Nothing. Nothing. It's not really important. Let's just forget I ever brought this up."


"I just don't want to talk about it anymore, okay?" And Christian could see that Ty had just shut down and trying to change that would be pointless.

"Okay, Ty."

"Look, I need to get some sleep, okay?"

"Uh, sure." Christian got off the bed, taking his beer with him. Guess I'm getting the brush off again, he thought, disappointed and a little hurt. "Goodnight, Ty." He walked through the adjoining door and shut it.


A loud bang woke Christian abruptly and he looked around the room groggily. No one there. Silence. Then he heard mumbling through the wall. Must be Ty dreaming again. Then another thump hit the wall. He slipped out of bed and across the room. Checked the interconnecting door. It wasn't locked. He opened the door slowly, not wanting to startle Ty, in case he had woken up.

"Ty?" he whispered.

"Chrissss........" Ty said, his voice heavy with longing. "I've missed you so much." He opened his arms, reaching.

Christian shook his head, thinking he was hearing and seeing things. He walked closer to the bed and saw that Ty's eyes were wide open. Am I dreaming this?

"Ty? Are you okay?" Christian asked when he stopped by the side of the bed.

"Chrissss," Ty said again, reaching toward Christian. "I need to touch you. Come here."

A spike of heat shot straight to Christian's groin. This cannot be happening. Either I'm dreaming or he is. But his eyes are opened. Can people dream with their eyes open? "Hey, Ty, I think you're dreaming, Buddy," Christian said and placed his arm gently on Ty's shoulders, shaking him a little.

"I thought I was dreaming, but you're here. In the flesh and I am aching to touch you, to taste your skin," he whispered seductively and pulled on Christian's arm. Christian shivered at Ty's words and before he knew it, Ty had snaked his other arm around Christian's neck and was pressing their lips together. Christian had to use his arms to brace himself on the bed.

Ty's lips were soft and inviting. He parted them slightly and let his tongue slip out, brushing it along Christian's lips. Christian shivered, uncertain of what to do. He ached to take Ty in his arms and make love to him, but he couldn't in good conscience take advantage of a sleeping man. But was he really sleeping? His eyes were practically pleading with Christian.

No, I can't do this. He started to pull away, so he could stand up and walk out of the room, away from this too heady temptation, but then Ty pulled him hard down on the bed and rolled over on top of him.

"Ty, I..." he said breathlessly before Ty plundered his mouth again and began caressing his face. He could feel Ty's aching erection against his thigh. Oh, Jesus, am I in trouble now.


Ty saw Chris walking into the pod and felt his heart start to beat faster. Where had he come from? Was he a dream? A vision? Ty's heart was bursting with joy, love, lust, nervousness. He just wanted this man he loved in his arms.

"Chrisss," he said, still stunned to see his lover in the flesh after so many months apart. "I've missed you so much." He held his arms out to Chris. "Chrisss, I need to touch you. Come here."

And then, finally, Chris was there, in the flesh. Ty touched his arm and could feel Chris' pulse beneath his fingers. It vibrated with life; warmed him and excited him. He pulled Chris' toward him for a heart-stopping kiss, one born of months of deprivation. He kissed Chris as if his very life depended on it and Ty felt as if it did. Too long. We've been apart too long.

Then Chris was telling him he was dreaming. How could he be dreaming when he could feel the softness of Chris' skin, the beat of his heart? No, it only felt like a dream because they had been away from each other for so long.

He pulled Chris down onto the bunk and then rolled over on top of him, covering his mouth again; his kisses hungry and full of desire. He felt Chris' skin against his and Ty's entire body was on fire. He instinctively began moving against Chris, the feeling of their groins pressed together too good to stop, despite the boxers that separated them.

"Chris, I want you so much. So much. I...I...can't. I just...I don't..." his voice trailed off before he plunged his mouth back onto Chris and began to respond to the will of his pleasure. They moved together like liquid, as they had so many times before.

Ty managed to reach down and quickly wriggle out of his boxers and then helped Chris do the same. All the while, they kissed like they were starving for each other; like they needed the other to breathe. Chris held him close, his hands brushing over Ty's skin, setting his nerves ablaze. Ty moved faster, his hot skin brushing against Chris, increasing the friction and the pleasure.

His breathing heavy, Ty clasped Chris' hands and arched his back, gasping as he came. Deliciously spent, he fell asleep.


Christian felt Ty trembling as he came and his own emotions were in turmoil. Part of him felt horribly guilty for allowing this to continue when he believed Ty must be sleeping. But most of him was gripped by the heady sensations of Ty thrusting against him.

When Ty's warm come spurted across his belly, his skin, Christian's resolve collapsed and he gave in to the flood of pleasure, allowing his own climax to flood his body. Ty lay across Christian, lightly kissing his neck, making sounds of contentment. Christian took deep breaths until his body calmed.

Now what? Christian wondered. Ty moved off of him a moment later and Christian got off the bed to grab a towel to hastily wipe both of them of. Ty smiled as Christian cleaned him. "Stay with me," he whispered and patted the bed beside him. Christian slipped back into the bed and spooned his new lover, figuring he would leave once Ty was quiet again. But the feel of Ty's warm skin against him lulled Christian.

Part 7

The sun penetrated Ty's eyelids and forced him out of sleep. What the fuck? He opened his eyes and immediately had to squint. The sun was shining brightly through the hotel's sheer curtains. He lay back on his pillow trying to wake up. He felt groggy and disoriented, almost as if he had a hangover.

His belly itched. He reached down to scratch and felt the mostly dried come. Did I have a wet dream? Then he remembered his nocturnal romp with Chris Keller. Damn, that was one vivid dream.

And before he had time to ponder just what that meant, he became aware of movement to his right. He turned and opened his eyes. Christian! How the fuck did Christian get in my bed? Ty sat up abruptly, knocking the sheet off of Christian's shoulders. But the sleeping man did not stir. He just lay there, bare-chested, looking like some kind of mythical god. Jesus, look at his arms, Ty thought as his eyes roamed over the muscle mass in Christian's biceps and chest. His brief glimpse of Christian's body yesterday morning didn't really prepare him for the beauty of his perfect form. He was sculpted perfection. He put Michelangelo's David to shame. I think I need to start going to the gym more often.

He didn't know whether to let Christian sleep or wake him up and throttle him. Is it possible that my dream about Keller wasn't a dream at all, but Christian? Here? Doing...what...he...did...to...me? Fuck! How was this possible? Curious, Ty lifted the sheet, which was bunched at Christian's waste. A curve of hip and a shadowed cock. Ty dropped the sheet. Shit. He's naked. And I'm naked. What the hell is the explanation here?

Ty slipped out of bed, looking for his boxers. He slipped them on and walked around the bed to where Christian lay. He tapped him gently on the shoulder. No response. He pushed his shoulder harder and he started to stir but still wasn't waking up. Finally, Ty gave him a hard shove and called his name loudly.

"Wha? Huh?" Christian said groggily as he turned, looked for the source of this intrusion into his peaceful slumber. As he moved, the sheet shifted again, revealing his narrow hips, flat stomach and full cock.

"What the fuck are you doing in my bed?!" Ty shouted, his voice wavering nervously.

Christian looked at Ty and smiled. "You're joking, right?"

"No, you smug bastard, I'm not."

"Come on, Ty. You invited me."

"I most certainly did not!"

"Oh, I beg to differ."

"Did it ever occur to you that I might have been dreaming?" Ty asked, sarcasm in his voice. He picked up Christian's boxers and threw them at him.

"Actually it did," Christian said, getting out of bed and slipping into the boxers. It took all of Ty's willpower to keep his eyes focused on Christian's face. "I mentioned it to you, but you insisted you weren't. And your eyes were open."

"You liar! You raped me!" Ty yelled, his hands clenched at his sides. He looked like a child having a temper tantrum.

"Rape?" Christian asked, incredulous. "Jesus, Ty, you yanked me down on the bed and rolled on top of me. If anybody was raped here, it was me," he said, teasing.

"You fucker! You could have moved me. You outweigh me by about 30 pounds!"

"Yeah, well, I kinda got carried away. And so did you, by the way."

What the fuck does that mean? But he didn't voice it. He didn't want to know. Didn't want to think about what had happened between them. "Get out," he said, pointing toward the door.

"Fine, Ty, I'll go. But remember that we have a long drive ahead of us today. I didn't do anything you didn't want. Maybe you were sleeping, but you wanted me."

"Ha! That's where you're wrong. I was dreaming of Chris Keller, not you!" he said spitefully, wanting to hurt Christian and he could see that he hit his mark. Christian's face crumpled for a second, before he recovered himself.

"You keep telling yourself that - that this is all about Toby and Chris. But it's not. It's about you and me, even if you don't want to face it yet," Christian said, his voice barely covering the hurt.

"You're wrong, Christian."

"Am I?" he asked and then opened the door to his room, walking inside.

Ty picked up the closest thing to him, a thick tourist magazine, and threw it across the room in frustration. "Damn it!" He was not attracted to Christian. He wasn't. Sure, he's an attractive guy; he has a great body but I am not attracted *to* him. We're friends. That's it. That's all, he tried to convince himself. "Then why did you have the best orgasm of your life last night?" he whispered to the empty room. He shook his head. It was the dream. That's all. He was experiencing Toby's feelings for Chris; nothing more.

I need to stop thinking about this, he decided and went into the bathroom to shower. As the water cascaded over his tense body, Ty thought about all the things they had learned about Chris and Toby through his dreams and his research -- their research -- his and Christian's. Toby and Chris had had one of the most volatile relationships he'd ever heard of. Yet, somehow, they still loved each other. How was that possible?

If someone I loved broke my arms, I don't think I'd ever be capable of forgiving them. So how did Toby do it? He grabbed the shampoo and began washing his hair. And then he accused Chris of killing his son. How did Chris get past that? They had done so much to hurt each other. What kind of way was that to live? To love? It isn't, he decided. Going from heartbreak to heartbreak was just no way to live.

After finishing the shower, he got dressed and started packing his clothes. He listened for noises coming from Christian's room, but didn't hear any. He walked up to the adjoining door and knocked gently. No answer. He tried the knob but it was locked. This is going to be a long ride home.

He finished gathering his stuff and headed down to the lobby. There was no sign of Christian. He walked up to the desk and checked out. After signing the slip, he asked the clerk if Christian Kelso had checked out.

"Yes, he did. About 10 minutes ago."

Hmm. Where'd he go? He wouldn't have left without me? He was pretty mad, but still. He walked outside and looked in the parking lot, trying to locate the car Christian had rented. No sign of it. Shit. He was gone. Left him there. Stranded. That fucker.

Just when he was about to go back inside and figure out how the hell he was going to get back to Michigan, Christian pulled up in the car. He popped the trunk and waited while Ty put his luggage inside. Ty slammed the trunk shut and opened the passenger door.

"Where the fuck did you go?"

"To get gas, Ty. Why? Did you think I'd left you here?" he asked with a straight face, but Ty knew he gloating underneath.

"Well, you seemed a bit pissed off when you left my room. I wouldn't put it past you."

"You might want to leave the snippy attitude behind. I'm not going to put up with this shit all the way back to Michigan," he said and pulled out of the parking lot.

Ty looked at him, his mouth hanging open in surprise. "You're not going to put up with me?! That's a good one."


"Meaning that you're the one who snuck into my room last night and took advantage of me. If anybody is putting up with anyone, it's *me* putting up with you."

"You're a fucking hypocrite, you know that? I came into your room because I heard a hard bang against the wall. I just wanted to check on you. You are the one who called me over to the bed. *You* are the one who grabbed and yanked me onto the bed. *You* are the one who flipped over on me and started humping me like a cat in heat..."

"Called you to the bed? What are you talking about? I never did any such thing."

"You did, too!"

"What did I say?"

"You said, `Chrisssssssss. Come here,' `' he said, imitating Ty's breathy whisper.

"Ha! Chris. I said Chris. Not Christian. I was talking to Chris Keller. Or Toby was. I was not calling you."

"Well, half the people I know call me Chris. I thought you were calling me. Besides, I tried to pull away from you when I thought you were dreaming and you wouldn't let me go."

"You did not."

"I did, too. I said, `Ty, I think you're dreaming.' And you said, `I thought it was a dream, too, but you're here and you're real.' Or something like that. Then you started kissing me and yanked me onto the bed."

Ty turned beet red as Christian recounted his behavior because he was remembering their encounter - at least as he had dreamt it. He - or Toby - had been very aggressive in making love with Chris. Had he really been that forceful with Christian in reality? Jesus. He remembered, in the dream, that he - or was it Toby? God he was so confused. He remembered that he had slipped off their boxers so that their flesh would touch. Had he done that to Christian?

"Did I..." he started to ask, but couldn't finish.

"Did you what?"

"Did I...um...How, uh, did we end up, you know, um, naked?" he asked awkwardly. Christian had to hide his smile.

"You don't remember?"

"I *remember* what happened in my dream. But I don't know if those things actually happened."

"Do you really want to know?"

"I wouldn't ask if I didn't."

"Yeah, you would, but that's beside the point. You, uh, undressed both of us. Rather quickly, I might ad."


"See, I told you!"

Ty didn't respond, but sat there in stony silence, unable to look at Christian.

Christian reached a hand over to Ty, resting it on his arm. "Hey, it's alright. You don't need to be embarrassed. I got a little carried away myself."

Ty shook him off. "I don't need to be comforted by you! I'm not embarrassed. I was dreaming. You, on the other hand, took advantage of me while I was sleeping! You're the one who ought to be embarrassed; ashamed even!"

Christian clenched his teeth, trying to keep his anger in check. He knew Ty was angry at himself and was taking it out on Christian. Plus, his feelings were hurt and he wasn't about to let Ty see that.


"Whatever?! That's all you have to say?"

"Might as well be. You're not listening to anything else I say. I'm sorry about what happened. I'm sorry you were sleeping. I'm sorry you feel guilty about what happened. What the fuck do you want from me?"

"I do not feel guilty about what happened. It wasn't my fault."

"Okay. Fine. Can we drop this subject now? I'm getting a headache and I need to concentrate on driving."



Most of the remainder of the trip had been spent in silence. They only spoke out of necessity to discuss eating and bathroom breaks or to discuss who's turn it was to drive. Ty used up his time fighting off memories of the night before.

Christian dropped Ty off at his dorm late on Wednesday evening.

"I'll see ya," Christian said, as Ty gathered his luggage from the trunk.

Ty nodded but didn't speak.


"Look, would you just drop it? I don't want to fight about this anymore," Ty snapped. He paced the length of Gwen's dorm room, his hands resting on his hips.

"Who's fighting? I'm just talking," Gwen said defensively. "What is going on with you, Ty? You've been in a mood since you got back from your trip over a week ago. Did something happen?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Why not? If you can't talk to me, who can you talk to?"

Ty paused, thinking. Maybe it was time for that talk with Matthew that he'd been putting off. He'd been back from the trip for 10 days and he couldn't stop thinking about Christian, about what had happened between them. About what it meant for him. As if my life isn't complicated enough.

"Ty?" Gwen prompted.

"I'm sorry, Gwen, but I just don't want to talk about it." This thing with Gwen was going nowhere fast. As much as he cared for her, he just didn't see this developing further. He wanted out. Plus he felt guilty about not telling her about his sexual encounter with Christian. But even weirder, he could not bring himself to make love to her because he kept thinking he would be betraying Christian. And I'm not even speaking to the bastard! How fucked up is that? "Listen, Gwen, I do need to talk to you about something. Can you sit?"

"Shoot. This doesn't sound good."

Ty sighed, then took a deep breath. "I think we should stop seeing each other."

Her face fell. "What? Where did this come from?"

"It's been brewing for awhile. I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you."

"Well, you are," she said, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

"I know and I'm sorry. I really am. But this just isn't right between us. It doesn't....work."

"How could it?" she asked angrily. "You've hardly given us a chance. You never want to be alone with me. You won't make love to me. I don't understand."

"Well, that's part of the problem. The, uh, intimacy thing."

"You're not attracted to me?" she asked, her mouth opening in shock.

"It's not that," he said and sat next to her on the bed, rubbing her arm. "I am. I am. That's why I started flirting with you that day in January, remember?"

"Yeah, so what's changed since then?"

"I don't know. I can't really put my finger on it." He sighed. Nothing made sense anymore. He couldn't bear the thought of making love to Gwen while Christian was still consuming his thoughts. And it wasn't fair to her to wait while he sorted through all this shit. "I just know that we can't move forward until I figure out what's going on in my head. I am horribly confused right now."

"Is there someone else?"

"No," he said, too quickly.

"Who is she?" Gwen asked angrily.

"There is no `she.' Trust me on that, okay?"

"Then what?"

"I don't know how to explain it right now. But I do know I need to let you go right now. It's not fair to you. I can't ask you to wait for me to figure myself out."

"Ty, I care for you. I do. I would wait if you asked me to." Tears were trickling down her cheek now, but she wasn't sobbing. Thank God.

Ty shook his head. "I can't do that."

Something must have happened on the trip, she told herself. Maybe he got in a fight with his friend.

"Did you have a fight with your friend?"

"His name is Christian. And that has nothing to do with you and me, Gwen."

Maybe he met a girl on the trip. No, that doesn't make sense. Besides, he said there wasn't another girl. Was he lying? Maybe Christian met a girl; someone Ty was interested in? This doesn't make any sense. Gwen's mind was awhirl with all the possible reasons he wanted to end this.

"Are you sure nothing happened between you and Christian?" She saw him blanch. What the hell? Must have something to do with Christ....Oh My God. "What, Ty? You're as pale as a ghost. This does have something to do with Christian, doesn't it? That's what you said the night you made love to me! You called out his name, didn't you? My God, Ty, are you gay?"

But Ty was shaking his head and backing toward the door. "No. No. No. No. You've got it all wrong."

"Do I, Ty? I don't think so," she said, advancing toward him. His hand reached the doorknob.

"I have to go," he said. He turned the knob and fled.


"Hey, Ty."

Ty looked up from the floor, noticing Matthew standing in the doorway of his room. "Oh, hi."

"What's up, man? You look like you haven't slept for days."

"Yeah, well, something like that."

"Is it school? Been working on a paper or something?"

"I wish it was that simple."

"Aah, must be something to do with your love life then. You still seeing that cute brunette?"

"We broke up last night."

"Oh, wow. Sorry, man. Is that why you're down?" Matthew walked into the room then and sat down on the bed.

"Actually, no. Strangely enough. Um, I've been meaning to come and talk to you for a few weeks now and I just kept putting it off."

"What's up?"

"Uh, well, I wanted to ask you some questions about...um...you know?"

Matthew looked at him, puzzled.

"About being gay," he managed, his voice strained.

"Oh, okay. Shoot."

"Uh, well, when did you know that you were gay?"

"Hmm, I guess I was in middle school, so about 12 or 13."

"Did you ever second guess yourself? Hope it was a phase? Try to fight it?"

Matthew laughed. "All of the above."

"And when did you know, for sure, that there was no question?"

"I guess when I was about 15."

"Is is possible for someone to find out later than that? Like 22?

"Ty, what's this all about?"

Ty took a deep breath and shook his head.

"I don't under...Wait, are you questioning your sexuality?" Matthew asked, surprise in his tone.

"I don't know. Maybe."

"I have to hear this, Ty. Please tell me why."

"God, this is a long story and I don't even know where to begin."

"The beginning is usually the easiest."

"Well, that's where it gets a little strange. The beginning of this story goes back to 1998." If it weren't for Toby and Chris... he thought.

"What the heck are you talking about?"

Ty sighed. "Never mind. That's too much. I'll just fast forward to last December. I got a messenger on the computer from this guy named Christian..." and he told Matthew the entire saga of the dreams and the road trip.

"Wow, Ty, that's quite a story."

"I know. And it's all true. Although I have a feeling you doubt some of it."

"Well, I'm not sure I believe in reincarnation but you and Christian obviously have some kind of strong bond."

Ty stood up and started pacing the room. "And I can't stop thinking about him. That's why I broke up with Gwen. I figured it wasn't fair to her. I can't even, you know, fuck her. Does this make me gay, Matthew?"

Matthew chuckled. "Hell if I know, Ty."

"Oh come on! Ya gotta help me out here."

"Are you attracted to other men?"

Ty thought for a minute. "I don't know. I mean, I see men that I think are attractive. Does that count?"

"When you see a man you think is attractive, do you mentally strip him and imagine doing hot, kinky things to his body?"

Ty gasped. "No!"

Matthew laughed. "What about Christian? Do you imagine it with him?"

Ty blushed and nodded.

"Yeah?" Matthew asked, grinning. What he wouldn't give to hear those fantasies voiced aloud.

"But here's the thing. It's more than just the sex thing. I mean when I see a gorgeous woman, I can do the fantasy thing and just leave it there. When I think about Christian, I miss the chats we used to have. I miss how great he always made me feel. I miss....his presence in my life. Like there's this void."

"Sounds like you're in love, Ty," Matthew said seriously.

"Yeah?" he asked, smiling sadly. "Yeah, I guess it sorta does. But I worry that the dreams have somehow influenced me. The whole Toby-Chris saga was pretty powerful. Could I just be imagining these feelings I'm having? Could it be transference?"

"I doubt it, but I'm not a professional shrink. Maybe you should go talk to someone at the counseling center."

"But I'm talking to you."

"I'm not an expert, Ty."

"Well you are - at least about coming to terms with your sexuality, you are."

Matthew nodded. "Okay." They sat in silence for a few minutes, each thinking about what they'd discussed. "Hey, Ty."


"What do you want to do about all this?"

"I don't have a clue."

"Well, I don't mind playing counselor if you need someone to talk to, but I would recommend someone with some actual educational credentials."

"I'll think about it," he said and stood up, holding out his hand to shake Matthew`s. "Thanks for listening. If there's ever anything I can do for you."

"Well, maybe sometime you could share those fantasies with me," Matthew joked.

Ty narrowed his eyes in a question. "Really?"

Matthew nodded. "Oh yeah."

"Uh, gosh. Well, I mean..." he stammered, embarrassed.

"That's okay. I was only half-joking." Ty grabbed his backpack and walked out into the hallway. Matthew stepped back and waited while Ty locked his door.

"Maybe I'll write'em down and email you," Ty said.

"Okay," Matthew said, watching him walk down the hall.

Part 8

Ty walked down the hall toward the visiting room. He heart was racing madly. Holly was here. She was alive and healthy and he needed to see that for himself. God, he had almost lost her again when Hank's body had been found. If it hadn't been for Chris, he thought, and felt a sob catch in his throat.

He opened the door and saw Holly sitting there, drawing a picture for him. She was so young, so beautiful, so innocent. He had almost hurt her again with his actions. He ran to her and scooped her up into a fierce hug. Over her shoulder, he saw his father standing, watching grim-facedly.

"You're sure she's out of danger?"

"Yes. Schillinger gave me his word."

His father scoffed. "And that's worth something?"

Ty nodded. It would have to be. He couldn't bear the thought of never seeing his daughter again.

"Why would he do such a thing?"

"Chris," he said, setting Holly back down.

"Daddy, I drew this picture for you." He looked at it. It was a picture two people. A little girl and a man. Behind the man was a building. "It's me and you."

"What's this?" he asked, pointing at the building.

"The prison. It's the day you get to home and leave this place behind."

"Oh, Holly, it's beautiful."

"When will you get to come home?"

"Soon, I hope."

"Chris?" his father interrupted.

"Chris confessed to...uh...taking care of Hank. To protect me. To protect Holly."

His father's face showed astonishment.

"Now do you believe he loves me?"

His father only nodded.

"Daddy, will you help me make another picture?"

"Sure, sweetie." Toby sat down at the small table with her and picked up a crayon. His hands trembled. He knew the only reason he was even here; the only reason everyone in this room was still breathing was because of Chris. The enormity of Chris' sacrifice hit him again and wished there were some way he could tell Chris; show him how much it meant to him.

"What will happen to him?"

"They moved him to Massachusetts to stand trial. He'll probably spend the rest of his life in Cedar Junction."

Harrison grimaced. "I'm sorry. son."

Ty shrugged, not wanting to show his father the depth of his emotion. "At least they don't have the death penalty."

Ty woke then, quietly, remembering the dream and feeling all of Toby's emotions fresh in his heart. I'll have to write Holly a letter, he thought. Then his mind went to Christian and Ty wished he could call him.

What did the dream mean for himself and Christian, Ty wondered. Was it supposed to be another sign that he and Christian were supposed to be together? Was Christian as giving as Chris? Am I as selfish as Toby? He knew he needed to talk to somebody, but who?


"Why are you here?"

"I don't know," Ty answered.

"Oh, I think you do. You wouldn't have made the appointment otherwise." The counselor they assigned him to was a woman. She was tall and slim. Probably in her 40s.

"Yeah, well, it's hard to talk about."


"Because it's kind of embarrassing."


Ty sighed and sat back in the chair. He looked around the office. It was sparsely furnished and had a few knick-knacks, a bookshelf, a couple of plants. It was more brightly lit than he imagined most therapist's office to be. The walls were pure white and there was huge window letting in lots of sunshine. No sign of woodpaneling anywhere, like in those old movies. He chuckled to himself.

"Something funny?"

"Oh, no. I just...I'm nervous."

"Why don't you tell me why."

Ty stood up. "This is a waste of time."

"You're leaving so soon?"

"I can't talk to you."

"You haven't really tried." Her name was Dr. Barbara McCreedy.

He sat back down. "It's too hard."

"Start with something easy." She seemed very patient. I guess she'd have to be in this job, Ty thought.

"Okay. Um, I recently broke up with my girlfriend."

Dr. McCreedy raised her eyebrows. "When?"

"About two weeks ago."

"Do you want to talk about why?"

"Well, it's hard to explain. We just weren't clicking, ya know? She didn't really get me. She was too hard to please."

"How so?"

"Well, she always wanted me to spend all my free time with her. She hated it when I hung out with my friends."

"I see. So that's why you broke up with her."

"Yes. Well, sort of. We just weren't clicking."

"What do you mean `clicking?' `'

"The chemistry wasn't there, ya know?"

"How long were you with her?"

"About 6 weeks, I guess."

"And the chemistry was never there?"

"Well, no. It was. At the beginning. When I first saw her in the Diag. She had this pretty smile. And she was kind of shy."

"What happened?"

"I don't know. She got so demanding."


"I told you. She wanted me to spend all my time with her."

"And you didn't want to?"

"No, not all of it. I have friends, you know. And he...they are special. I can't just drop them for her."

"Of course not."

"It's not like I didn't want to spend time with her. But she always wanted to go places where we could be...alone."

Dr. McCreedy nodded but didn't speak.

"All the time," he continued. "She was relentless."


"Being alone with me." He looked at her pleadingly, as if wanting her to say the words he couldn't.

"She wanted the two of you to be intimate?" she guessed.

"Yes!" Ty was relieved she was finally getting it.

"And you didn`t want that."

"It's not that. I just wasn't ready. She wanted it to happen too fast. I really didn't expect that from a shy girl. She sure didn't stay shy very long."

"So you like shy girls because you think they will be more accepting of a slower pace towards, uh, intimacy?"

"Yeah. That's right."

"It's very noble of you to want to wait for intimacy, Ty. But isn't each relationship different? Perhaps, your girlfriend just wasn't the right person for you. Have you had sexual experience with other women?"

"Yes!" He sounded indignant.

"Then there was no fear of the unknown. Was there someone else you were interested in?"

"No!" he said quickly and vehemently. His face flushed red.

Dr. McCreedy waited.

"There wasn't," he insisted.

"Okay. If you say so."

"You don't believe me?"

"If you say it's true, Ty, then I believe you." Her voice didn't sound convinced to Ty.

"I don't know what's true anymore."

"Why is that?"

"Everything I believed about myself has been turned around over the last few months."

"Why don't you give me some examples."

So he told her about Christian. The long chats. The dreams. The trip to Michigan. He told her about the fight, but left out the lurid details.

"It's my fault. All of it. I know that. I just don't know how to get my friend back."

"Have you apologized to him?"

"I haven't even spoken to him. He hates me."

"If you want the friendship to continue, you have to go find him and apologize."

"He'll laugh in my face."

"You won't know until you try."

He nodded.

"Will you come back to see me after you do? I think you need to talk about Christian some more."

He hesitated for a moment, but he knew she was right. "Okay."


Ty walked up to the house at 303 N. Division. It was quite large and beautiful. And old. He wondered how Christian could afford such a huge house. Maybe it was his parents' home and he inherited it. He knocked on the door.

Christian opened the door and saw Ty standing there. He did his best not to react. "What do you want?" he asked. Ty stood there for a moment just absorbing the sight of Christian. It had been almost three weeks since they'd seen each other.

"Nice house," Ty said, not really meaning to say it, but the words came out.


"Was it your parents' house?"


"Has a lot of room, I bet."


Ty heard footsteps behind him and two young men, his age, walked around him and into the house. They greeted Christian. "Who are they?"

"What do you care?"

"Jeez, man, I'm just curious."

"They're students. I rent half the house to a group of students, okay? Now what do you want?" His tone was hard and impatient.

Ty opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He felt a great heaviness in his chest and he couldn't seem to find the words he wanted to find. "I miss you," he finally said.

Christian let the hard mask slip away for a second and Ty caught a glimpse of his shock -- and hope, perhaps? Then the mask was back up. "Yeah? So?"

"I'm sorry about the things I said in Michigan before we left and in the car. You were right about everything. I was...scared. I know that's no excuse, but I don't know any other way to say I'm sorry; to make it up to you."

"So, what are you saying here, Ty? What do you want from me?" xx "More than anything, I want your friendship back. I miss talking to you on the messenger. I miss seeing you. I feel..." he started but couldn't seem to finish his thoughts.

"Friendship, huh?" Christian asked skeptically. "I don't know if I can be friends with you again. Your friendship isn't exactly unconditional. You hurt me, Ty, and I don't really want to go there again."

"It'll be different this time, I swear. I won't lie anymore. I'll tell you exactly how I feel when I feel it. Can't ask for more than that, can you?" he asked, smiling sheepishly.

"Actually, I think I can ask for a lot more than that," Christian said, not a trace of humor on his face.

"You want me on my knees begging?"

"You could start there."

"Come on, Christian. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find the courage to come here?"

"This isn't about you. It's about me, remember? And it's about how you hurt me. And how selfish you were. Not to mention arrogant, condescending and a complete and total asshole."

Ty nodded. "You're right. You're right. I was all those things and more. I'm very sorry. I am. Will you forgive me? Please?"

Christian considered it. "I'll think about it," he said and shut the door in Ty's face.

Ty stood on the doorstop, stunned, his mouth hanging open. He could not believe that Christian had just slammed the door in his face. He didn't know whether to scream or weep. The shit he had gone through to get here and Christian showed no fucking appreciation whatsoever. Careful, Ty, he warned himself. You`re doing the asshole thing again.

He was tempted to knock on the door; have it out with Christian. But he was pretty sure that wouldn't do much good. He wasn't ready to give up, but he knew he had to do something to prove his sincerity to Christian. Something that would let Christian know how much he meant to Ty.

He started to walk down the street, trying to come up with a plan. It had to be something that would knock Christian's socks off. It has to convince Christian that I...well...love him. I do. There's just no getting around it at this point. The thought made him smile.

Part 9

A week had passed and no word from Christian. Ty was incredibly busy studying for finals, which were starting next week, and worrying about his summer internship. He didn't want to go back home for the summer but he would have to if the internship didn't come through.

Part of the reason he wanted to stay in Ann Arbor was his desire to fix his relationship with Christian. Almost every minute he wasn't studying or worrying about his internship, he was thinking about Christian. What was he doing? Was he thinking about what Ty had said? Did he want to call Ty but held back for some reason? It was driving Ty crazy not knowing.

And he still hadn't come up with any great ideas for convincing Christian how sorry he was. To let Christian know how much he meant to Ty. There was too much to think about these days and it was all weighing him down.

Ty woke up early that 3rd Saturday in April and did his usual run. It helped him think. Got his blood flowing. As he ran, he thought about Christian, his finals and his internship. Well, he couldn't do anything about his internship. That would just have to take care of itself. No sense worrying. He would hear when he would hear and that was it.

He had already started studying for his finals. Gwen had even agreed to help him. They were meeting on Sunday in the med school library. He had called her one day last week to see how she was doing, to apologize for the way everything had happened. It seemed like that's all he was doing lately. Apologizing.

Today, he would allow himself a break from the studying. Maybe he'd walk around campus, do some browsing at Borders - the original Borders on Main Street. Not one of the many chain versions, thank you very much. Then he might stop for lunch at his favorite restaurant and bar - Dooley's. Maybe kick back and have a couple of beers. Relax. He deserved it.

And then he saw himself sitting at said bar with Christian. Drinking. Talking. Laughing. Hey, he thought, I should call Christian and ask him to join me. I could say it's part of my attempt to win back his faith in me. Yeah, that`s it.

Ty picked up his pace heading back toward the dorm, eager to finish his run, take his shower and call Christian. Please, let him say yes. He thought the conversations they'd had on the messenger and in person while on the trip. He remembered Christian's voice -- the soothing timbre of it. Damn he needed to hear it again without the anger and recriminations. Maybe hear him talk about his own plans and goals for school and work. Or his sister. He always got the most protective, yet sad, tone in his voice when he talked about his sister. It was so touching. Ty felt sad that Christian hadn't seen his sister in so long. He didn't deserve to be treated that way after all he'd done for her.

Wait a minute. His sister. That's it. His sister. I need to find a way to get him together with his sister again. Something. How do I do that? He hadn't a clue but he was excited about the idea of trying. That would be his penance, he decided. He finally reached the dorm, sprinted up to his room, grabbed his stuff for the shower and cleaned up, all the while thinking about what his next step would be.

He called Christian as soon as he got back to his room. He waited four rings and was ready to hang up when someone picked up the phone.


It was him! "Christian?"


"It's Ty."

Silence reigned for a good 20 seconds before Christian finally said, "Yeah?"

Ty let out a sigh of relief. At least he hadn't hung up.

"Listen, I was wondering if you'd like to grab some lunch with me today. I was going to take the day off from studying. Hang out at Borders for awhile. Then get some lunch at Dooley's," he rambled on, not wanting to let Christian reply before he said everything he wanted to. "It could be a sort of apology lunch. Or first-step-toward-repairing-the-friendship lunch. Or just a two-guys- getting-together lunch or whatever you wanted it to be. Doesn't have to be a big deal. It doesn't have to mean you forgive me or anything. Just, you know, a first step..."

"Okay," Christian said, interrupting him.


"I said okay."

"Really? That's, uh, that's great. I mean, I didn't expect..."

"Ty? You really need to learn when to shut up," he said and Ty started grinning. "I'll meet you at Dooley's at 12:30."

"Great!" Ty hung up the phone and swung his arms up in the air in a solo sign of victory. "Yes!" Now I just have to kill the next two hours at Borders without driving myself absolutely bonkers.

He stopped to check his mail on the way out. A catalog, a school flyer and an envelope. Probably a letter from Mom, he thought as he flipped it over to look at the return address. Then he felt his heart stop. It was from the internship office. He tore it open with clumsy fingers, letting the envelope fall to the ground as he unfolded the paper. His eyes scanned the words. We are pleased to inform you....

"Yes!" he shouted, raising his hands high in the air for the second time that morning. "I got it!" He ran back up to his room to call his Mom in New York and then his Dad in Connecticut. They were excited for him, but also concerned about his not coming home for the summer. He told them he would stop home for a visit before the internship began and that seemed to appease them. He'd have to find a way to shuttle between the two homes inside of week but he'd worry about that later.

He finally arrived at Borders around 11. He spent the first half-hour picking up books, flipping them over and pretending to read the descriptions on the backs. He couldn't retain a thing. He kept thinking the next one would grab his attention, but it didn't. He wandered over to the magazine section and began browsing through them. At least he could look at pictures without having to concentrate. He checked his watch every 5 minutes. He couldn't wait to tell Christian his good news about his internship.

He picked up a copy of Vanity Fair, flipping through the ads until he could find the table of contents. It always irritated him that they had so many damn ads before you could find out what the heck was in the magazine. His eye caught a photo of a thin, but muscular man who was shirtless but wearing form-fitting jeans. His back was to the camera and only the profile of his face was visible. He had longish, black hair, loose and messy around his head. His back was long and lean, almost sculpted. The jeans were slung low and Ty found himself wondering how firm his ass was.

Whoa, whoa. Hold on a minute. His ass? Since when am I thinking about men's asses and how firm they are? Well, there was Christian, of course, but this was the first time he'd noticed some other man's ass. Does this mean I really am gay? Is this what Matthew meant when he asked if I checked out guys? Have I been suppressing all this until now?

He needed to know more; needed to read more. He looked around until he found a section of magazines geared toward gays and lesbians. He picked up a few and then head over the gay book section. He selected one how-to type book, with medical and related information, and a collection of erotic gay stories to see if they might turn the old button on. He sat down on the floor and started reading some of the stories.

The first one, about a nameless encounter in a restroom, did nothing for him. But the second story about two best friends who fell in love made Ty feel kinda tingly inside. It made him think of Christian and he smiled. He felt a little disconcerted by his reaction, but he also knew it was time to stop running from it. He gathered his purchases to bring them to the register. Before he could turn from the bookshelf in front of him, Ty felt someone walk up behind him. Then he felt hands covering his eyes.

"Guess who?" the voice said at the exact time Ty shrieked and dropped his armload of books and magazines. He turned to look at Christian standing there with a huge shit-eating grin on his face.

"Jeez, Ty, a little jumpy?" He asked, smiling, then bent down to help gather the fallen objects and looked them over as he did. He looked up at Ty, surprise on his face. "Gay Erotic Stories? Loving Men?" Christian said, reading the covers. "What's going on here, Ty?"

Ty was still standing there, stunned to see Christian; thrilled that he was happy and in good spirits. Then, when he realized what Christian was asking, his whole face bloomed red. "I, uh, I was just, uh..."

Christian handed him the pile. "Just what?" His tone was both curious and cautious.

"Just doing some educational reading. That's all. What are you doing here? I thought we were meeting at Dooley's." He started walking through the store and Christian kept pace with him.

"Yeah, well, I got here early and thought I might still catch you here. Course I didn't expect to find you perusing the gay and lesbian section. Educational reading, huh?"

"Yeah. You know. To find out stuff."

"Stuff," Christian echoed him, still sounding surprised. "I thought you weren't interested in this stuff, as you so eloquently put it."

Ty put his books on the counter and handed the clerk a credit card. "Yeah, well, maybe I changed my mind."

Christian shook his head and chuckled. "You do keep surprising me, Ty."

They walked over to Dooley's and were seated at one of the tables near the giant t.v. screen. There was a basketball game on, but they didn't really pay any attention to it.

"So, any dreams since the trip?" Christian asked when they sat down.

"Not as many, but yeah. They never seem to go away. Just had one about Holly as a little girl."

"Really? Are you going to tell her?"

"I was thinking of writing her a letter."

Christian nodded and looked at his menu. Ty followed suit and they were both quiet for a few minutes. A waiter came over and asked for drink orders. They both ordered draft beer and sandwiches.

"So how's school going?"

Ty sighed. "Finals next week. I've been studying my ass off."

Christian smiled. "Oh, I don't know. Looks like it's all still there."

Oh my God. He's flirting with me. He smiled back. "Cute."

"Nah. I usually hear `devastatingly handsome' or `sex god,' `' he said, tongue-in-cheek. "Cute, though, that definitely works for you."

Ty blushed then, looking down at the table. His whole face was hot, as if he'd just come in from running.

"Sorry, Ty. Didn't mean to embarrass you."

"It's okay. Really," he said, looking up at Christian with a goofy smile still plastered on his face.

Christian cleared his throat then and Ty looked up to see the waiter walking up to their table with the drinks.

"Thanks," Ty told the waiter. Then he looked back at Christian. "So, how about you? Are you finish up your class yet?" He took a sip of his beer.

"Yeah, actually I turned in my final paper for it today. No test, so I'm free and clear."

"Lucky you. Are you taking any classes over the summer?"

"Yeah. One in the spring semester and one in the summer. What about you?" Christian took a swallow of his beer.

"No, but I do have some pretty good news."

"Oh yeah? Do tell."

"My internship came through. I got a letter in the mail this morning."

Christian's face lit up. "That's great, Ty. Where is it?"

"At the University Hospital. Starts in two weeks. So I get to go home for a few days after my finals and then I'm here all summer."

"Guess we'll be able to hang out, then."

Ty blushed a little at the promise and cleared his throat. "I was, uh, counting on it."

"Looks we both have something to celebrate," Christian said, raising his glass and waiting for Ty to do the same. "Cheers." They clanked glasses and took large swallows.

The sandwiches arrived then and they ate them silently, occasionally looking at each other and smiling. Ty was very aware of Christian's proximity despite the fact that they were on opposite sides of the table. His leg brushed up against Christian's and he could feel the heat radiating off of him. He was amazed how good it felt now that he was allowing himself to enjoy it. His whole body and soul were humming with happiness. Is this what being in love feels like? he wondered.

After they finished their lunch, they grabbed their beers and went upstairs, where it was quiet and dark and they could see the whole bar over the railings.

"I'm glad you came."

"I'm glad you called."

"Yeah?" Ty asked, grinning again. "I wasn't sure if I should, you know, after you shut the door on me. I thought, maybe, that was it, ya know?"

Christian nodded. "I was still angry, but I was also happy you came by. In fact, I think I was a little mad at myself for being so damn happy," he said shaking his head. Then he looked right in Ty's eyes. "You really hurt me, Ty."

Ty felt his face flush with shame. "I know I did and I'm sorry for that. I really am. I just...freaked out, which is not an excuse, but that's what happened."

Christian reached across the table and put his hand over Ty`s. "Tell me," he whispered.

And Ty knew instantly what Christian was asking of him. "I wanted you. In Michigan. I couldn't keep my eyes off of you. You're beautiful. Inside and out," he said, his voice choking a little on emotion.

Christian smiled sadly, his eyes shimmering. "Let's get out of here."

They walked away from campus and the downtown area, heading towards Christian's house. They walked as close to each other as they could without touching. Ty could feel the heat radiating off of Christian's skin. Their hands accidentally brushed a few times, sending sparks up Ty's arms. He could tell from Christian's face that he felt it, too.

When they got to 303 N. Division, Christian unlocked the door and invited Ty in. This was the first time Ty had ever been in Christian's house. He escorted Ty into the living room and offered him a drink.

"Just water," Ty said as Christian headed into the kitchen, giving Ty a chance to look around.

It looked like a busy bachelor lived here. Worn furniture, probably from when Christian`s parents were still alive, scattered papers and clothes decorated the living room. The walls were bare of decoration with the exception of one small photograph over the fireplace. Ty walked up to it to see. A young man, about 18 or 19, posing next to a child - a girl about 10 years old.

`You and your sister?" Ty guessed when Christian came back with the water.

"Yeah, about a year after Mom died. It was on Cassie's 11th birthday. It was the first time we began to feel like a real family after Mom was gone."

"It's nice." Cassie, he thought. I have to remember that.

"Thanks. Wanna sit down?"

Ty nodded and sat on the couch near the fireplace. He shook his head and patted the spot next to him, inviting Christian to sit next to him.

"I, uh..." Ty said at the same time Christian started speaking.

"You go first," Christian said.

"No, you." Ty's throat suddenly got dry and his hands started to sweat. He picked up the water and took a sip without taking his eyes off of Christian.

Christian sat there silently, but the expression in his eyes spoke volumes about how he was feeling. His eyes penetrated and seared Ty with their frankness. He knew, without question, that Christian desired him, cared for him, maybe even loved him. How could I ever have been afraid of this? he wondered. No more running. No more fear.

He reached out to touch Christian's face, his hands braced on the stubbled cheeks. Ty moved toward Christian at the same time he pulled the older man to him. Their lips met halfway and the shock of it spread a jolt through Ty. He was kissing a man and it felt...amazing. His closed lips brushed against Christian's tentatively. He tilted his head to the side to get a better angle and then it suddenly felt like something just popped into place for him.

Ty's hand slipped around the back of Christian's head and pulled him closer. He wanted to taste more of this man. His lips parted slightly and he let his tongue caress Christian's lips. Christian gasped and grabbed Ty's arms, pushing him back. He was still breathing hard when he spoke.

"Ty! Wait. Hold on,`' he said, taking a coule of deep breaths. "Look, Ty, I'm glad you called, but..."

Oh God, this is not going to be good, Ty thought.

"...I don't think we should rush into anything."


"I...uh...I'm not sure what you..."

Christian took hold of Ty`s hand for the second time that day. Ty felt tingles shooting up his arm and his stomach was flip-flopping like a fish out of water. "I care about you, Ty. You know that. I don't want us to rush into something and have it blow up like it did on that road trip. I pushed for something too fast. You have finals next week and then you're going to see your folks." He stopped speaking and took a deep breath. "This, uh, exploration...the books, wanting to see me again...it's new isn't it? I mean, a few weeks ago you were fighting it and you've only recently decided to accept you have feelings for me, right?"

Ty nodded.

"You need time to adjust to that. To think. To read those books you picked out," he said, chuckling. "When you come back, we'll see where we go from there."

Ty's face fell. "But, I know..."

Christian put his fingers over Ty's lips to shush him. "If it's right, then waiting won't hurt anything. Okay?"

Ty nodded, unable to say anything with the lump in his throat. Christian brushed Ty's jaw with his finger, studying the skin there for a moment and then stood up, holding out his hand. Ty shivered, still feeling the touch on his face. He looked up at Christian and grabbed his hand, pulling himself up.

"Thanks for lunch," he whispered, pressing his mouth close to Ty's ear. Then he pulled back with a big grin on his face. Their hands were still clasped together. Ty nodded, still mute. His emotions were traveling some sort of wild rollercoaster and he couldn't think straight. He felt both bereft and strangely hopeful.

"I'll walk you to the door," Christian said, seeming to understand something of what Ty was going through. He opened the door and kissed Ty on the forehead, quickly. "I'll see you when you get back."


The next two weeks passed too slowly for Ty. He studied, took tests, thought about Christian, slept little and studied some more. He even skipped his running most days. By the time he finished his last exam, he was bleary-eyed and cranky. He came home, crashed for 12 hours, and then packed for his trip.

He headed off to his mom's place in New York for four days, trying his best not to piss off his stepdad. They had never gotten along very well and Ty basically tried to stay out of his way. He spent his free time reading the books he'd picked up at Borders and thinking about Christian. Every time he replayed their last meeting in his mind, his stomach would roil and his emotions ranged from giddy to forlorn.

Ty daydreamed about what he was going to say to Christian the next time they met. He looked forward to that meeting with both excitement and trepidation. He knew, with certainty, that he loved Christian; wanted to be with him. But the physical part? Well, that was a bit more tricky. He read the gay stories, finding a little bit of a thrill in the tales of males coupling. He found the stories that had a long build up to making love more stimulating than the ones that were about instant attraction and fucking.

Then he'd read the how-to books and cringed at the thought of pain. He was uncertain he'd be able to go through with some of the more crude - as he thought of them - aspects of male-male sex. In the stories, there was little pain, and if it was mentioned, it was a desired part of the mating. The need to feel the burn and so on. Ty was pretty sure he would never desire the need for pain in his ass.

And, sure, he knew gay sex was more than just anal penetration. But that was big enchilada and it was always there, even if you didn't do it or talk about, like the proverbial elephant in the living room. Still, these thoughts did not put him off or make his upcoming reunion with Christian any less desirable. He just had to convince Christian that he was ready to pursue an intimate relationship. He prayed that Christian was willing to go slowly on the physical part.

He wrote Christian letters that he never mailed. Just wrote them and stored them in his journal, wondering if he might one day share them with Christian. Some of the letters were angry. Who do you think you are? Sending me off like some child? Telling me I need to think? That's all I've done is think! I know what I want!

Others were sappily romantic in a way he never thought he'd be. I miss you. I think about you every day, all day. I don't want to be here. I want to be in Ann Arbor with you. He nearly cringed when he'd re-read that one a few days later and almost threw it away, but feared his mother - or worse yet, his stepfather - might find it in the trash.

He kept himself busy going to the beach with friends from high school and making calls to Los Angeles. He wanted to have everything settled before he headed up to his Dad's house in Connecticut. Didn't want to have calls coming in after he'd left his mother's house.

Ty had only been at his dad's house three hours when he thanked God the visit would only be three days. His father spent their first evening together grilling Ty about his courses for his last year of school, his plans for after graduation and criticizing his last semester's grades. His stepmother kept interrupting them, hoping to distract Ty's father, but he was a determined man. Ty finally got tired of the third degree and headed off to bed early.

The second day, he got roped into baby sitting his little brother, who was only 2, while his parents went off to some business thing. They didn't even ask him if he would. They just told him. Sometimes he really hated his father. It's like I'm some kind of puppet, having to perform at his command, he thought.

He took Andy to the zoo and ended up having a great time. Ty pushed Andy in his stroller and the toddler was only too happy to giggle at everything Ty did or said. Andy especially liked it when Ty did imitations of the animals. By the time the day was over, Ty felt like a big brother for the first time since Andy had been born.

The third day of his visit, Ty avoided his father by taking Andy down to the local playground and then to see the latest Disney movie. Andy could barely sit still through it, but anything was better than listening to his father drone on about Ty's directionless life.

Unsurprisingly, his farewell the next day was abrupt and unemotional. The only one he would miss was Andy. The child hugged him fiercely and started to cry. Ty got a little choked up but he just thought of Christian to keep his sad emotions in check.

Ty realized on the airplane ride back that he'd not had any dreams of Toby since he'd left Michigan. Not that they'd been very frequent for awhile, but he had never gone more than 3 or 4 days without one since they started back in December. He wondered what that meant, if anything. Maybe the dreams had initially come to set something in motion and now they were no longer needed, he thought. Guess I'll find out when I get back.

Arriving at the dorm on Friday evening, Ty dumped his bags on the bed and jumped in the shower. He changed clothes and headed over to Christian's. He decided not to call, thinking that Christian might try to talk him into waiting until tomorrow. It was almost 10 p.m. when he arrived. He lifted his hand to knock and became aware that he was sweating nervously. So much for that shower, he thought ruefully.

He knocked loudly three times and took a deep breath while waiting for a reply.

"Coming!" a voice said from the other side, but Ty was uncertain if it belonged to Christian because it was muffled. The door finally creaked open and Ty held his breath, praying that the prize he wanted would be behind door number one.

Part 10

Ty didn't realize he'd been holding his breath until he let it out the moment he saw Christian's face.

"Ty! You're back," he exclaimed, opening the door wider.

"Yeah, just got back about an hour ago." Despite his relief that Christian was home, his stomach was still doing flip flops. What was supposed to happen next?

"And you came to see me? You could have waited until tomorrow."

Ty was shaking his head. "No. No, I couldn't." And then he was walking through the door, not waiting to be invited in. Christian stepped back in surprise. Ty didn't care if he was being rude. He just needed to get inside and be here with Christian. Alone. "Sorry, sorry," he mumbled and stepped into the vestibule.

Christian saw that Ty looked distressed. His face was all scrunched up as if he was in some kind of pain. "Ty? Are you okay?"

"No, I'm not." He reached out and Christian could see he was shaking.


"Can I..." Ty put his hand on Christian's shoulder. "Can I kiss you?"

Christian smiled and held out his arm. Ty rushed forward and buried his face into Christian's shoulder. He inhaled his lover's scent. His lover. His *lover*. Christian was his lover. Michigan had not been a fluke or a mistake. It had been magical. He could admit that now. He wanted to feel it again. He wanted...oh God, he wanted so much. He placed his shaking hands on the sides of Christian's face and pulled their lips together.

The kiss was desperate, almost painful at first. Ty's lips were pinched and he fumbled with his hands, feeling woefully inadequate. All through it, he heard Christian murmuring soothing words. "It's okay," or something like that. But he was trembling and whispering things that made no sense into Christian's mouth. "I need...I don't...I want..." and then he felt Christian's hands on his biceps gently urging him back.

"Hey. Hey," he said softly. "It's okay. We don't need to rush into everything all at once."

"But...but I want it to feel the way it did that night in the hotel."

And Christian's eyes opened wide at this admission. "You do?" Ty nodded and Christian exhaled loudly, surprise registering on his face. "That's...Wow. That's great, Ty. I'm glad to hear that. I really am, but it doesn't change the fact that you're wound up tighter than a drum and you're scared."

But Ty was shaking his head. "No. I'm ready. I am."

"Maybe you think you are, but that is not what your body language is telling me."

"Well, maybe I'm nervous, but I want to be here. I want to...touch you. Please don't tell me to go home. I think I'll just scream if you tell me to go away again."

Christian chuckled. "Don`t worry, I won't tell you to go away, but we are not rushing into this, okay?"

Ty nodded.

"Why don't you come in and sit down. You look like you could use a drink. Or 5." Ty laughed at that, trying to sound calm, but it came out as nervous laughter.

They walked into the kitchen together and Christian grabbed two beers out of the fridge, handing one to Ty. He twisted the top off and took a long pull on it.

"So, how was your trip?" Christian asked, pulling himself up to sit on the counter.

"Oh God, you do not want to hear about that," Ty said, leaning back against the counter, just a few inches from Christian.

"That bad?"

"Worse." He told Christian the abbreviated version of his father's rant and the rest of the miserable trip.

"Sounds pretty bad."

"That wasn't even the worst part."


Ty felt his face overheating and wondered if he could say the words.


"The, uh, worse part was not being able to see you," he said, looking down at the floor. "I thought about you every minute I was gone."

"Aw, Ty, come here." And then he was enfolded in Christian's arms, holding him tightly, his face buried in Christian's sturdy neck. "This is all gonna work out. We just have to take it a step at a time."

"I know. I know. I'm just so...amazed to be here. So glad you forgave me," he said, his voice thick with emotion. He pulled back and looked at Christian. "You did forgive me, didn't you?"

Christian chuckled and rubbed the junction between Ty's neck and his shoulder. "You wouldn't be here if I didn't."

Ty nodded.

"Hey, whaddya say we bring our beers into the living room and see what's on t.v.?"


"I think the Tigers are playing in Oakland tonight, so the game should still be on."

"Oh, like that's not going to be painful to watch," Ty joked, referring to the Tigers' current losing streak.

"Hey, watch it! You can't go in with that attitude."

"Okay, okay," Ty said, still laughing. They settled on the couch with their beers and Christian found the game, which was already well into the 5th inning. As expected, the Tigers were losing.

Christian spread out on the couch, draping his legs over Ty's, making him smile. Ty untied Christian's sneakers and slid them off. Then he started massaging Christian's feet and toes. Christian sighed and leaned back. "Anyone ever tell you ya got magic hands?"

Ty grinned mischievously. "Oh, maybe one or two people."

"Yeah? Well, aren't they the lucky ones." Christian was quiet after that. He relaxed completely into the massage, letting his head fall back on to the couch. He wasn't even paying any attention to the game.

He was very nearly asleep when he looked up and saw Ty kneeling over him.


"Would it be alright if..." he started and then started to blush. "Never mind." He sat back on his haunches.

"No. Tell me."

"You'll think it's silly."

"Try me."

"I wanted to, you know, lie next to you," he said, his eyes closed as if bracing for a rejection.

Christian touched his face. "Ty, look at me." Ty opened his eyes. "After everything we've been through together, you don't even need ask me that. Get down here." Ty settled in the tiny nook between Christian and the back of the couch, resting his head on Christian's shoulder. He lay his hand in the middle of Christian's chest, feeling his heat through the shirt.

Ty sighed and took in Christian's warm, intoxicating scent; the press of this man`s solid body against his. All of the memories of that night in Michigan came back to him in vivid intensity. Still, it felt like a dream and he wanted it to be real.

He lifted his head off of Christian's shoulder and looked into his eyes.

"What, Ty?"

He swallowed thickly, wanting to say something that had been on his mind. His blue eyes were glowing with suppressed need. "In Michigan," he started, then stopped.

"Yeah?" Christian prompted. He moved the hand trapped behind Ty to rub little circle's on his back.

"I was, uh, attracted you even before that...that night. When you accused me of checking you out that first morning, you were right. I was amazed at how gorgeous you were. And then I was shocked at my own reaction.

"That night, when I touched your tattoo, I think I subconsciously wanted you to get excited," he said and took a deep breath. "I knew you were hard," he whispered; his face scarlet.

"Oh, God," Christian groaned and moved his free hand to cup Ty's head and pull him in for a bone-melting kiss. Ty shivered and tried to pull himself closer to that heated mouth. When he finally aligned himself comfortably atop Christian's body, it felt like coming home. They were in the same position they'd been in Michigan that special night.

Ty moved his head over Christian, tasting and licking his lips; kissing the man for all he was worth. He never knew a kiss could be so erotic; so sexual. I've obviously been kissing the wrong people, he thought. He used one hand to hold Christian's head, while he continued to devour his luscious mouth; the other hand braced some of his weight.

As their kiss deepened, Ty felt Christian relax into it, letting his legs fall open. Ty's body slid into the opening, causing his growing erection to come into more direct contact with Christian's. They both groaned at the onslaught of pleasure this caused and then Ty felt Christian's hands on his ass, holding him still so he thrust up against him.

Ty saw stars. "Jesus," he whispered. "Can we move this to your room?"

Christian raised an eyebrow in surprise. For someone with little experience with me, Ty was quite aggressive. Christian decided he liked that. "Are you sure, Ty?"

He grabbed Christian's hand and moved it to the bulge in front of his jeans. "What do you think?"

Christian grinned at him and pushed Ty off of him, so he could stand up. "Boy, once you're over that hesitation thing, you`re a little horndog, aren`t you?" he teased.

Ty smacked him on the behind in mock anger. "Smart ass."

" Come on," he said and grabbed Ty's hand, leading him upstairs. They passed by a couple of doors before stopping at Christian's room. It looked like he'd had the same room since he was a boy. There were remnants of childhood here; some vintage toys on a high shelf and a few dusty football trophies. Ty wondered why he didn't move into his parents old room. Too many ghosts, probably, he guessed. Luckily, he'd bought a bigger bed at some point, Ty thought and then laughed.


"This was your room as a kid?"

"Yeah. Couldn't bear to stay in my parents room after they died. So I just bought a new bed, some stuff." The cowboy sheets had been replaced by tan plaid and the Farah Fawcett poster had been exchanged for a framed photograph of waves crashing into a lighthouse.

"Nice picture."

"Thanks. I took it."

"Really? Ty looked closer for a photo credit and found none.

"Yeah. In Maine. Two summers ago. Went out there for a vacation and got totally hooked on the lighthouses there. I went up and down the coast trying to photograph as many as I could. This one was taken off the tip of Southport Island during a storm."

"It's a great photo. Looks professional."

"Nope. Just a hobby, although one I'm very serious about."

"You ever submit any to magazines?"

"A couple of times. I've always been so busy with work and school, that I never had time to do more than that."

Ty nodded, still studying the picture.

Christian put his hand on the back of Ty's neck, feeling the curls there tickling his skin. "So, where were we?"

Ty turned to see Christian looking at him heatedly. His pupils were dilated and his lips were red and swollen. Me, he thought giddily. That look is for me. Ty moved into the curve of Christian's arm wanting to taste him again. The anticipation made him feel as if he was in slow motion and then, finally, their lips met. Ty sighed and wrapped his arms around Christian. This is right, he thought.

The hand that wasn't on Ty's neck had possessively claimed a spot on his hip and held him there as the two men pressed closer. Christian licked a path around Ty's mouth, nibbling on a lip and then sucking on his tongue. All the while he made noises of pleasure, sending delicious vibrations against Ty's skin.

Christian's mouth found his way to Ty's neck, while his fingers were busy unbuttoning his lover's shirt. He moved over Ty's chin, reveling in the masculine roughness and dipped his tongue in the deep hollow at the bottom of his throat. Christian's nimble fingers carried out their work, slipping the shirt off Ty's shoulders and letting his tongue continue a trail along the collarbone and down to find a nipple. Ty gasped at the contact.

Christian worked at getting Ty's pants off as he sucked. All Ty could do was stand there and moan, his hands combing through Christian's short, dark hair. The bristles tickled his palms and sent more sensations through him.

Christian finished undressing Ty, his hands brushing quickly against his aching cock. Ty shuddered and let Christian guide him over to the bed. He sat on the edge, both literally and figuratively. He waited impatiently as Christian undressed himself; watching the impromptu striptease that was not at all meant to arouse, but did anyway. Ty's body hummed with anticipation and anxiousness.

When he was finished, Christian looked as spectacular naked as Ty remembered from his brief glimpse in that hotel room. Smooth, warm skin over long, sleek muscles. A few scant hairs around his peaked nipples, Christian's body was built for love. He was utterly beautiful and Ty could not take his eyes off him.

Christian knelt on the floor between Ty's legs, placing his hands on the blond's face and pulling him in for a kiss. Before he had a chance to savor it, Christian had moved down to his nipples again, sucking one and teasing the other with his fingers. Ty sat there, splayed out, his cock screaming for attention and the only contact between them was Christian's mouth and fingers on his nipples. He felt like he was being played by some exquisite sexual torture machine. He was on the precipice of something mind blowing; wanting more, yet not being able to give up what he was feeling right now.

"Oh God, Christian, I...please...I..." he whimpered as his lover continued to torment him with slow licks and nibbles. His hands rested on Christian's shoulders and he could feel the smooth, heated skin beneath his fingertips. He felt frozen, unable to move; unable to do anything but absorb wave after wave of sensation traveling from his nipples down to his groin.

Without warning, Christian pressed his teeth together over Ty's nipple, biting down gently but firmly. Ty cried out and, acting on instinct, slipped his hands around Christian's back and pulled his lover hard against him. Christian's firm chest slammed into Ty's leaking erection. Ty thrust once against him and came in one long gush. After the tremors stopped, he let go of Christian and collapsed backwards on the bed, still panting.

"Jesus fucking Christ," he said softly and covered his eyes with his forearm. He heard the bed creak and sensed Christian kneeling over him. He moved his arm and looked into his lover's face.

"You are so fucking hot when you lose control, Ty," Christian said and leaned down for a kiss, devouring Ty`s mouth with his own.

Christian pressed himself full length on top of Ty, using his lover's spent come as a lubricant. He shimmied and undulated along Ty's stomach and groin, building friction. His punishing kisses never stopped and Ty found himself responding again to Christian's passion, even though he wasn't recovered enough to get hard again.

Ty shifted his hips up in time with Christian's thrusts, wanting to make it as good for his lover as it had been for him. He let his hands wander over his luxurious skin. It felt like silk over steel. His palms slid over Christian's magnificently muscular ass, squeezing and kneading. Christian groaned at his firm touch.

His fingers strayed to the crevice between the plump globes and Ty was stunned at Christian's enthusiastic response. He moaned, pushing his ass back toward Ty's fingers.

"Yes, Ty, please," he whispered into Ty's mouth. Then grabbed his hand, putting it between their bodies and rubbing it in the juices there. Then he moved it back to his ass, sliding it into cleft. "Do it," he said hoarsely.

Mesmerized by the promise in his thick, husky voice, Ty obeyed, sliding his finger gingerly into his lover's opening. Christian gasped and thrust his hips back, impaling himself and Ty's finger. "More," he choked out and Ty added a second digit. His own ardor was reviving quickly at Christian's passionate response to his touch. They moved into a mutually pleasurable rhythm; Ty meeting each of his lover's forward thrusts with an upturn of his hips, followed by Christian's a backward slide onto Ty's fingers.

Their kisses grew hungry and urgent. Ty felt raw and vulnerable, yet completely free. He wanted to be here, making love with Christian and finally admitting who he was.

"Deeper," Christian urged, his strained voice sending shivers along Ty's spine. When he moved his fingers deeper, hitting a bumpy protrusion, Christian grunted, threw his head back, and thrust hard against Ty. Then he held still, pumping out his completion all over his belly, their juices now intermingling. He took a couple of deep breaths, waited for Ty to remove his fingers, and then lay back on the bed next to Ty.

"That was amazing, Ty." Ty grinned shyly at him, lightly stroking his renewed erection. "Come on, let's go get cleaned up and then I'll take care of that."

A quick shower, which involved a lot of kissing and wet, slippery touches, refreshed them. After they dried off, Christian discouraged Ty from getting dressed by tugging him quickly back to bed. "No need for modesty, now, is there?"

Ty felt his face heat up. "No, I guess not."

"Will you stay tonight?"

Ty smiled and looked at the clock. It was almost 1 a.m. "Looks like I already am."

"Good," Christian said and gathered Ty close for some sweet, languorous kissing. Ty's erection, which had flagged a little after the shower, was surging back to life again.

"You know, this is quite a nice ass you've got here," Christian said as he stroked the part in question.

"Well, it's not a work of art like yours," Ty retorted.

"I beg to differ," he said and began to squeeze one of the globes as if he we were judging it for some contest. "Meaty, firm, and deliciously round, with soft, baby fine hair. I'd definitely give it a prize."

Ty laughed. "You're a nut."

"Yes, but I'm your nut."

Ty's breath caught in his throat. "Are you? Mine?"

Christian nodded. "If you want me."

"I do. I really do," Ty said, smiling and leaned in for another heart-stopping kiss.

"Ty, do you trust me?" Christian asked after their kiss broke.

"Yeah. Why?"

"I want to do something to make you feel good and I want you to trust me."

Ty swallowed nervously and had visions of painful ass invasions. "What?"

"You gotta trust me. Turn over."

"I...uh...I don't..."

"It's okay, Ty. I'm not gonna fuck ya. Not today, anyway," he said, winking. "I just wanna make you feel good. Trust me, okay?"

Ty nodded and rolled over on his stomach. He grabbed a pillow to rest his head on and tucked his arms under it.

"Now, just relax and let go of everything," Christian said, his voice turning seductive again. Who could resist that, Ty thought.

He took a few deep breaths and let himself relax. He felt the air currents in the room skimming over his skin. After a minute, he felt Christian's hands on his shoulders, massaging the muscles there. Aah, he thought, this is something I can definitely handle.

After a few minutes of loosening his shoulder muscles, Christian moved down Ty's back, using his fingers to draw circles on the sensitive skin. Ty began to squirm a little from the pleasurable sensations. He lifted his left leg and bent it the side a little to make room for his burgeoning erection.

The sensuous touches made Ty feel erotic in a way he had never felt before. His body was open and needy. It desired and demanded Christian's touch. He undulated his hips, feeling his weeping erection brush against the sheets. Christian groaned his pleasure at the sight.

Ty was aware of Christian's hands traveling further down Ty's back at the same time he felt light kisses on the back of his neck. He sighed his pleasure and squirmed on the bed. Christian licked a path down Ty's spine, stopping here and there to suck on the heated skin.

When he got to the bottom of Ty's spine, his hands firmly took hold of his lover's ass and parted the luscious globes. Ty anticipated what was coming next and his whole body clenched up. "No," he whispered.

"Yes. Just trust me, Ty. I promise you, you're going love this."

Ty took a deep breath and nodded. He relaxed back into the pillow until the first touch of Christian's tongue sent him lurching forward. He didn't know what he was expecting -- a finger, maybe -- but it wasn't this...this wet heat sending a million zings across his nerve endings. "Christ! Warn a guy, would ya?"

Christian laughed and grabbed Ty's hips, pulling him back in position. His wicked tongue went right back to work, rimming Ty's now responsive hole. He licked a path down Ty's perineum and around his tightly drawn balls. He sucked each one gently into his mouth, drawing more moans from Ty, who lifted his hips up to give his lover better access. His heavy cock hung in the air, largely ignored. For the moment, Ty could only concentrate on the nerve endings from his ass to his balls, which were erupting with every stroke of Christian's tongue.

With his ass in the air and his legs stretched wide, he felt splayed open and sexy in a way he never had before. He was amazed at the versatility of Christian's tongue and the variety of different licks. Ty was heaving and panting into the pillow. He heard his own muffled voice saying, "More," and "Please," and "Just like that that," in a full, breathy voice like some chick in a porn film.

Just when he thought it couldn't get any more interesting or feel any better, he felt Christian's hand slide over his cock and begin to pump. The double sensation was maddening and thrilling at the same time. He began to moan louder and thrust his hips back and forth, not caring it was making things more difficult for Christian. He just needed to come and when his lover's tongue breached his body, he did just that, letting all of the tension flood out of his body in a torrent. "Fuck! Oh fuck!" he gasped as his body convulsed and fluttered.

"You okay, baby?" Christian asked, stroking his ass, still high in the air.

Ty rolled over on his back, he breath still coming in heavy gasps. "What do you think. Jesus, Christian, where'd you learn to do that?"

"I take it you liked it?" Christian asked, smiling mischievously.

Ty smirked at him. "Yes, I did. When are you gonna do it again?"

Part 11

Ty woke slowly as the room filled with peaks of sunlight. He kept his eyes closed and stretched his long limbs, smiling. He felt wonderfully happy this morning and he was trying to remember why. A good dream, maybe? Perhaps a dream about Christian.

Wait, he thought. Christian. He opened his eyes and realized suddenly where he was. He shivered with sudden panic and looked over to his left to see Christian sleeping peacefully; the sheets barely covering his splendidly naked body. Ty took a deep breath and willed his heartbeat to calm down. Everything's okay, he repeated in his head.

He knew, of course, that everything was okay. It's just that the last time he'd woken up next to Christian things hadn't gone so well. My fault entirely, he recalled, but that didn't completely abate the fear. He had never really been good with mornings after. Not that he'd had too many of them. With Gwen, he'd only felt the need to bolt.

Despite his momentary knee-jerk panic, Ty felt oddly calm. Calmer than he had in a long time. He was deliciously sated. He smiled and felt his cock stir sleepily at memories of last night. Okay, maybe not completely sated, he thought and chuckled quietly to himself. I definitely wouldn't turn down another roll in the sheets with Mr. sex-personified over there. A song popped into his head then. Something he'd found on an old CD of his grandmother's. "Boys like sex in the morning. Sex in the morning when I'm half asleep."

He smiled at the thought and turned to see Christian looking at him, a devilish grin on his face.

"Hey," Ty said quietly, almost shyly.

"Don't be giving me that innocent look, Ty," he teased and glanced down at Ty's sheet-covered erection. He rolled over so he was on his side, facing Ty. "What are you thinking about?" he asked and flicked the covers off of his lover, pressing his palm against the heated flesh.

Ty hissed in surprise and pleasure, arching his back a little. "Uh, yeah, that's...that's good," he said breathily as Christian began to stroke him to full hardness.

"This is what you were thinking about?" he asked, deliberately making his touch light and teasing.

"Uh, yeah, you know, generally speaking, it...it certainly...oooh...fits into the same category." Ty tried to thrust up into the teasing hand but Christian loosened his hold.

"And what category would that be?"

"Mmmm...uh, you, me, you know, naked, touching. That...oh god...kind of thing," he gasped as Christian's hand encircled his shaft picked up speed and pressure.

"Naked touching sounds good. Anything else you want to share?"

But Ty couldn't answer because Christian's mouth was on his and thankfully the hand hadn't stopped moving. His tongue explored Ty's willing mouth.

"You want to come in my hand?" He asked a few moments later.

Ty just groaned in response. He'd be happy to come just about anywhere right about now.

"That's not an answer, Ty."

"Hmm? Oh. Uh..."

"Or maybe you'd rather come in my mouth?" Christian asked, his eyes gleaming with mischief and heat. Before Ty could answer, he leaned over and took Ty's cock in his mouth.

Ty lifted his body off the bed in surprise, groaning loudly. Christian pressed his hips back down and put his mouth to work. Ty was amazed at how good it felt. Better than when Gwen made her clumsy attempt at it; acting like she was about to gag at any minute. Christian let him slide in deep and fast. And the noises he was making! Sounded like Christian was enjoying this as much as Ty and that was impossible. Wasn't it?

Christian slipped one hand under Ty's ass, squeezing the flesh. Ty opened his legs wider, pressing against Christian's hand and squirming around. Every time Christian moved his head, Ty would squirm a little over his hand like it was a patch of ice.

Christian lifted his head. "Are you trying to tell me something, Ty?"

Ty blushed and nodded. He was breathing pretty hard.

"Then say it already."

"Your fingers," he said quietly.

"What about them?" Christian prodded with a grin on his face.

"Would you put them inside me?" he asked and felt his heartbeat jump.

"Was that so hard?"

"Yeah, I'd say it's pretty hard," he joked, earning him a smack on the leg from Christian.

"You like having your ass touched, don't you?"

And licked and penetrated by those long fingers of yours, he thought. "God, yes."

Christian grinned and went back to his task, mouth and fingers working in conjunction, sending Ty into orbit. Ty was amazed at how much he was enjoying this. He'd had more anal play in the last 12 hours than his whole life before that. He was really going to have to rethink how he approached this whole penetration thing. He never knew he had nerve endings there and now they were quivering under Christian's touch.

And to make it all the more incredible, Christian had this amazing suction thing going on with his dick, causing Ty's brain cells to melt into a giant puddle. He couldn't put two words together now if his life depended on it. The only sounds coming out of his mouth were incoherent groans and grunts.

Christian lifted his head again, but kept his hand moving on Ty's shaft. "Do you want me to finish you like this?"

Ty looked at him like he was speaking in tongues. "Wha?"

"You heard me. Do you want me to finish you like this?"

"What else did you have in mind?" He asked when his brain started functioning again.

"Something mutually pleasurable, maybe?"

Oh God. He knew this was going to keep coming up. "I, um, don't know if I'm ready for that yet, Christian."

`Obsess much?" Christian asked sarcastically. "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about us sucking each other."

It took a few seconds for that to register in Ty's head. "Oh. Oh. *Oh*."

"So?" Christian asked, still holding onto Ty's dick, stroking it intermittently.

Wow, Ty thought. Can I do this? Guess I better find out. "Okay. Sure."

"Don't sound so excited. I might get an inflated ego."

"It's not that. I just...well, I've never done that before. I'm not sure I know how."

"Just pretend you're teaching someone how to suck yours the way you like and you'll do fine," Christian said, maneuvering his body so they lay head to toe.

Ty felt his heart rate speed up from nervousness as he saw Christian's thighs and penis come into view. Then he noticed a mark on Christian's left thigh. "Oh my God!"

"What?" Christian asked, looking down at Ty.

"I found your other tattoo," he said, excitedly." I guess it was too dark last night for me to see."

Christian smiled. "You like it?"

Ty ran his fingers over the small mark. It was upside down from his angle so his turned his head to look at it better. It was a quarter moon surrounded by four tiny stars at the top center of his thigh, just inches from his balls. "I hope not too many people have seen this one," Ty teased. "When did you get it?"

"Late last Fall. Just before I saw you for the first time."

"Why'd you pick this?"

"I dunno. I was standing in the tattoo parlor and saw it in one of the books and it just kind of grabbed me."

"It's nice," Ty said, caressing the mark again.

Christian shivered at his light touch. "So's that."


"The way you're touching me."

Ty sighed and closed his eyes.

"You okay with this?"

Ty opened his eyes and looked at Christian. "Yeah. I think so. I just, well, maybe I could, uh, map out the area a little before we begin."

Christian chuckled. "Whatever makes you comfortable, Ty."

He pressed Christian onto his back, brushing his hands over the slightly hairy, strong legs and narrow hips. He studied the thick shaft, his eyes darting over the length and girth, wondering what it would feel like in his mouth; wondering how his lover would taste. He stroked the length of it with his fingertip, feeling the skin ripple. Christian gasped at the touch and lifted his hips off the bed.

Waiting until Christian settled back onto the mattress, Ty leaned over and touched his tongue to the slit. It was slightly wet already, so Ty licked the escaping juice. A deep groan escaped Christian's throat, as his flavor exploded over Ty's tongue. It was slightly salty and bitter and purely Christian. Ty knew he wanted more. He sucked the head into his mouth, moving down a little more and then sliding back off. Then repeating the motion. Oh yeah, I can definitely do this, he thought.

Christian was making really sexy panting sounds, which encouraged Ty to move his mouth faster. He had a rhythm down, if not the exact mechanics of it. Christian slowly shifted onto his side, forcing Ty to adjust his position. Then he felt his own cock engulfed in wet heat and was suddenly hard pressed to concentrate on his own task. Plus, he now had to bend his neck at an angle.

Still, nothing beat the feeling of his cock slipping in and out of Christian's mouth, sliding past the teeth and brushing against his agile tongue. Ty felt Christian's hands on his ass, squeezing and kneading and it was all he could to keep Christian's dick in his mouth. Too much. It's all too much.

Then Christian's probing fingers were back inside him, hitting that oh-so-incredible spot. Ty's brain melted and he gave up; gave in and came without even warning Christian he was going to. Jesus Christ, he thought, as his body shuddered with aftershocks.

The next thing he knew, he was flat on his back and Christian was straddling him, pistoning in and out of his slack mouth. He was so relaxed, he didn't even gag. His hands moved up Christian's sturdy flanks, over that incredible ass. He wished there was some way he could see what it looked like -- Christian fucking his mouth. He imagined it looked pretty fucking hot and then Christian was flooding his mouth; drowning him with hot semen. He struggled to swallow it all.

"Fuck," Christian said as he moved off of Ty and lay down next to him. They were both panting. "You okay?"

Ty swallowed again and nodded. Christian turned himself around so they were face to face again. "That was fucking incredible, baby."

Ty smiled. "I like it when you call me that."



"Was it okay for you?"

Ty nodded. "I think I need a little more practice, though."

"Anytime you want," Christian said, his husky voice resonating along Ty's nerves.

"Nap first, okay?" Ty said sleepily

Christian laughed and slipped his arm across Ty's chest. They both fell asleep five minutes later.


"Uh, what time is it?" Ty asked, blinking his eyes as the mid-morning sun streaked across the bed.

Christian looked at the clock. "10:22."

"What? Oh shit," Ty said, hopping off the bed and gathering his clothes. "I have something I have to do," he said, pulling his pants on.

Christian watched him skeptically.

"Hey, this is not me panicking. I swear. I really do have something I need to do," Ty said and leaned over the bed to kiss Christian's almost pouting mouth. He pressed his hand against his lover's cheek. "I'm glad I came over last night. I wanted it to happened. It was wonderful. And I will be back," he added and saw Christian's lips slowly upturn into a smile. "In fact, the reason I need to go is to get something for you."

"For me?"

"Yeah, a surprise." Ty slipped his shirt on.

"What kind of surprise."

"Uh, uh, uh. Not gonna tell," he said, grabbing his socks and sneakers to slip them on.

"Can't it wait til later?" Christian asked, rubbing his hand over Ty's back.

"No. There's a kind of a...time thing involved."

"How mysterious," Christian said sarcastically.

"Now, don't be like that. It's going to be a great surprise. In fact, it's going to be *such* a great surprise, you're going to fall in love with me," Ty teased, before he realized what had come out of his mouth. Then he winced. Oh shit.

Christian looked at him without the hint of a smile.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

"Too late. I already have."

Ty's eyes opened wide with astonishment. "Yeah?"

Christian nodded. "Yeah."

Before Christian could say another word, Ty launched himself at his lover and began covering him with kisses. I suppose I could stay a little longer, he thought as Christian started peeling his clothes off again.


By the time he'd left, Ty had just enough time to get to the airport. He had planned to go back to his dorm, take a shower and change his clothes, but now he just hoped Cassie wouldn't be able to smell the sex on him. Oh well, he thought and then decided he liked the scent of Christian on him. I should have let him jump me months ago.

Cassie was still waiting for her luggage when Ty arrived at the airport. He was relieved that she hadn't been waiting at the curb. He recognized her by the red cap she promised to wear and by the prominent nose when she turned to greet him. She was tall for a woman, although not quite as tall as Christian. She had regal air about her, Ty thought.

"Hi. You're Tiberius?" she asked, when he patted her on the shoulder.

"Yeah. Well, Ty to my friends."

"I'm Cassie."

He smiled. "I was guessing that."

"So, Christian still doesn`t know I`m here?"

"Nope. It's going to be a surprise."

"What if he doesn't want to see me?" She kept watch on the luggage carousel out of the corner of her eye.

"Oh, trust me, that is not going to be a problem. He talks about you all the time. He really misses you."



"Oh, here's my bag." She grabbed it, but Ty took it from her.

"I'll get that. Let's go."


"So, how'd that project go?" Cassie asked once they had headed out of the airport.


"Yeah. The one Jack helped Christian with. You guys went to visit some prison out east."

"Oh yeah, that. It, uh, it went pretty good."

"What was the goal exactly?"

Ty drew in a breath, recalling their story. "It was about prisoners who died while incarcerated - what were the circumstances of their deaths and how fellow inmates were affected." He didn't have to fake it this time. While he'd been visiting his parents he'd actually written the paper and mailed it off to Holly Beecher. He'd felt guilty the weeks after returning from his visit.

He had done some additional research when he got to his Mom's house so he'd have more than Toby and Chris in the paper. He slapped it together quickly and mailed it off to Holly. The quality was pretty bad; he just hoped Holly wouldn't notice. Still, he felt like he'd kept a promise.

"Must have been some road trip with Christian," Cassie said, startling him out of his thoughts.

"Uh, yeah." If you only knew, he thought.

"So, how long have two known each other?"

"Since last December. We met through the internet and then in person a month or so later."

"Really? Hmm."

"Hmm? What does that mean?'

"Nothing. It's just that you haven't really known each other that long and still you went way out of your way to contact me and bring me here. That's quite a big favor to do for a fairly new friend."

Ty's mind went blank for a minute and he felt panic start to rise. "We're, uh, very close."

He saw her nod out of the corner of his eye and then she smiled.


"You and Christian are lovers." She said it like it was fact.


"It's okay. I know Christian's bisexual. I've known for a long time."

"But he was married," Ty argued, wondering why he was even bothering.

"Yeah, I know. Didn't last too long though, did it? She wasn't right for him."


"No. She was too critical of him. Always wanting him to be something he wasn't."

"How so?" Ty was getting pretty curious and he and Christian had never gotten around to talking about his ex.

"She thought he was moving too slow on his degree; wanted him to take more classes. She also wanted him to find a new job. Apparently, being married to a librarian wasn't her dream," Cassie said sarcastically.

"Hmm," Ty mumbled, thinking about his conversation with Ty about Cassie's husband.


"Nothing." He didn't want to this visit to start on a wrong note.

"Oh, come on. You've got something on your mind. Spit it out."

"Christian told me he hadn't seen you in awhile. That you hadn't even been in touch. I just wondered why."

"Because my husband's an arrogant asshole," she said and laughed.

Ty glanced over at her, surprised. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She sighed dramatically. "It means that Jack has certain ideas about how things are supposed to be and Christian didn't fit into his ideas for a brother-in-law."

"What was he supposedly lacking?" Ty asked, a touch of anger in his voice.

"A college degree. My husband has two PhD's. And I recently got my masters. He sees Christian as a little behind the curve."

"Giving up his life to raise you apparently didn't score any points with him?" Ty asked sarcastically.

"Apparently not."

"And you married him anyway?"

"Yeah. I love him. Sometimes you overlook things you don't want to see in the person you love."

"So, why are you here now?"

"I liked what you had to say -- in your letter and on the phone. You're very impassioned. And you obviously care about Christian. I realize that I was wrong to cut him out of my life. I miss him."

"What about Jack? Does he know you're here?"

"Yes. We argued about it, but he ultimately realized I wasn't going to change my mind. I can be very stubborn. Plus, he's grown up a little in the last year, I like to think," she said and looked out the window. "Do you think he'll want to see me?" she asked, sounding uncertain for the first time since he met her.

He touched her arm gently and waited until she turned to look at him. "Yes," he said, convincing her with his eyes.


They drove awhile in silence and then Ty said, "So tell me more about Christian's ex-wife."

She laughed again. "Only when you admit that you and Christian are lovers."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I am not a naive 12-year-old girl. Christian's been bisexual for as long as I can remember. He was always very discreet with his boyfriends, but I always knew what was going on."

Ty felt a twinge of jealousy. "Boyfriends? He had boyfriends? A lot of them?"

Cassie chuckled again. "No, actually. But I thought `homosexual encounters' sounded a little tacky. He never brought the same guy home more than once and they never stayed overnight."

"Wow, you were pretty observant for a kid."

"Yes, I was. So, how long have you and Christian been seeing each other?"

Ty didn't answer.

"Oh come on. There's no point pretending it's not true."

"I think you should ask Christian."

"Okay, I will."

And that ended that discussion.

When they got back to Christian's house, Ty asked Cassie to stay in the car for about five minutes and then come inside the house.

"Okay. Are you going to tell him?"

"Not exactly. I'm just going to make sure he's home, that he's dressed and that he's prepared for the surprise of his life," Ty said, smiling.

"You love him very much."

Ty couldn't deny that. "Yes."

He got out of the car and ran up to the door. He knocked and waited for Christian to open it.

"Hey, baby," Christian greeted him, pulling him inside for a kiss. "Where's my surprise?"

"In the car," he said, stepping back, looking at Christian's attire. Jeans and a snug t-shirt. That works, he thought. "Are you ready? Cause I think this is going to be a shocker." He turned to grab the doorknob. "Wait. Do you have a camera?"


"So I can record your reaction. It's going to be priceless."

"You're making me more and more curious."

"Do you have one or not?" Ty snapped, his nervousness showing.

"Yeah, there's a digital one in the front hall closet."

Ty walked over to the closet. "Is it charged?"

"I think so. And there should be a disc in it. I don't use it very often."

Ty found the case and checked the battery and disc. He turned to face Christian. "Okay. Ready."

"Do I go first or follow you?"

"Guess I should go so I can tape your face when you see this."

"You're making an awfully big production out of this."

"You'll see."

Ty opened the front door and went outside and turned around aiming the camera at the door. Christian appeared in the doorway, squinting his eyes against the sun. "Am I supposed to close my eyes or..." he started but his words died in his throat when he saw Cassie walking toward him, a halo of sunshine around her head.

"Oh my God," Christian whispered, stunned. "Cassie?"

"In the flesh, big brother," she said and walked toward him, her arms open. He enfolded her and held her tightly, as if he was afraid she would disappear. Ty could see through the camera lens that Christian's eyes were cloudy with unshed tears. He started to get a little choked up himself.

Part 12

Long minutes passed and Christian didn't let go of Cassie. When he finally stepped back to look at her face again, he kept his hands at her waist. "How...when..." he stuttered, not able to find exactly what he wanted to say.

She smiled at him and nodded toward Ty. "You can thank Ty. He called me a few weeks ago and convinced me I needed to see you. He even paid for the airline ticket when Jack gave me a hard time about it. I'm sorry I've been such a selfish bitch." Ty stopped recording then, letting the hand with the camera fall to his side, taking in the touching scene with his eyes alone.

"No, no, no," Christian insisted, "You haven't." He hugged her again. Over her shoulder, he looked at Ty with raw tenderness, mouthing the words "Thank you." Ty smiled at him, wiping away the moisture that had collected in the corners of his eyes.

"You can let me go now, Chris. I'm not going anywhere, except maybe the bathroom, unless you want me to water your lawn right now." Ty shuddered when she called him "Chris." I guess he wasn't lying in the hotel when he told me lots of people call him that, Ty thought. I should have believed him.

Christian laughed and let her go finally. "I'll go get your bags."

Cassie headed into the house and Christian walked toward the car, slipping his arm around Ty's shoulders as he walked. "Come with me?"

Ty nodded. When they got to the car, Ty unlocked the trunk with his free hand. Before he could grab a piece of luggage, Christian touched his forearm. "Ty, I can't thank you enough for what you did. This means a lot to me - to have Cassie here."

Ty nodded, looking into Christian's eyes. They were filled with emotion. "I know, and I'm glad I could do something. I needed to and I'm glad it was the right thing."

"What do you mean you needed to?"

"To make up for what happened on that trip. All those horrible things I said to you. But I wanted to do this, too. I hated seeing you hurt so much, Christian." He reached up with his free hand and stroked Christian's cheek. "I love you, too," he said and leaned forward to kiss him, but Christian backed away.

"Hey, hey. Not with Cassie here."

Ty laughed out loud.

"What's so funny?"

"She knows already. She guessed before we were five minutes out of the airport. Said she'd known you were bisexual for years."

Christian's mouth fell open in shock. "But I was so careful."

"Yeah, well, women -- they got some kind of sixth sense, I think." He gave Chris a wry grin.

Christian shook his head. "Are you sure she wasn't just pulling your leg? Maybe testing you?"

"I'm pretty sure. But I didn't answer any of her questions anyway. I told her she had to ask you. She's certainly not the shy type."

Christian laughed. "You got that right. Guess she'll be grilling me about you pretty soon."

"I think you can count on that." Ty pulled out one of Cassie's bags and followed Christian into the house. He put it down in the hallway and then put the camera down on the table.

"I'll see you later, okay?"

"Where're you going?"

"To leave you two alone to catch up," he said, walking back outside. Christian followed him to the door.

"You'll be back later?"

"I don't know. Do you want me to come back?"

Christian smiled. "Of course I do. We'll all grab some dinner. Why don't you come back around seven?"

Ty nodded and waved before ducking inside the car.


Ty went home, changed into his jogging clothes and took his usual tour of the campus. He thought about how much his life had changed in just the past 24 hours. He had become lovers with a man. He couldn't have predicted how right it felt for him, despite his still nagging fear about the way this would change his life.

What would his parents think when they found out? He wondered if he should tell them. If he didn't, wasn't he denying his feelings for Christian? This was no fling. Of that, he was certain. He wouldn't have made the leap simply for a fling.

And then there were his friends to consider - the ones back home, the ones he'd known since high school and even the ones he'd made here at Michigan. Would they understand? Would they see him differently? Would they shun him? Certainly he knew that friends who avoided him simply because of who slept with were not friends he needed. Still, it was hard to imagine not having them around to talk to; to hang with; to get drunk with.

Ultimately, he had to answer to himself and if being with Christian made him happy, then there really wasn't any question about what he wanted to do. Telling people didn't have to happen all at once. He could take that part of it slow - tell one or two people he really trusted; wait on the rest.

Still, being with Christian was going to change the way Ty saw himself. The boy next door didn't seem to fit anymore. But what had changed about him really? He was still a good student. He still loved watching baseball. He still enjoyed running. The only thing that had changed was the sex of the person he was intimate with.

He returned to the dorm and jumped in the shower. Thinking about sex, he realized he hadn't been having much of it before anyway. And the sex he had with women wasn't really anything to write home about anyway. It more of a pressure reliever than anything; something to do with his cock to prevent it from exploding.

But with Christian, well, that was a different matter, he thought, smiling. Christian made him feel sexy and gorgeous. He made Ty feel loved and lovable. Ty felt special with Christian and something about that made the sex amazing. Just thinking about the way Christian looked at him and touched him got Ty hard. He started to stroke himself as the water showered over his back.

No, gotta stop this. What if someone walks in? He wrapped a towel around himself and quickly stepped into his room. He locked the door and pulled the blinds. Taking the towel off, he lay back in his bed and let himself think freely of Christian. Too bad he wouldn't be *seeing* Christian for a few days, he thought and laughed.

If only he'd predicted their intimacy before he invited Cassie up this weekend. Yeah, well, it's your own fault. Stubborn jackass, he admonished. Now, he'd be lucky to see Christian alone the whole weekend, never mind get a chance to get naked with him.

And Ty was pretty certain he *needed* to get naked with Christian again really soon. He couldn't seem to think about anything else at the moment and that didn't look to be changing anytime too soon. It was like he glowed or something under Christian's attentions. If that sounds too sappy, too fucking bad, he thought, cause that's how I feel.

Ty remembered the way Christian touched his skin as he stroked himself slowly, drawing out his pleasure. He imagined Christian's mouth on him, sucking and licking. Christian's hands on his ass, kneading and squeezing as if trying to push the orgasm out of him and he could do it, Ty knew.

He spread his legs and used his free hand to caress his balls and perineum. Jesus. This just feels too fucking good. He pressed one finger against his hole. He shivered at the pleasure, remembering how it felt with Christian touching him there. Would he ever want Christian to fuck him? A week ago, he would have said no, never. Hell, two days ago he'd have said it. But Christian knew just how to touch him inside and leave him begging for more.

He moved his finger inside, pretending it was Christian's. He continued to stroke his cock, fantasizing that it was Christian's hands on him. I need him to touch me again, he thought as he moved his hips. I want him to fuck me.

He came explosively then, his back arched. He slowed his breathing down. Jesus Christ, I am so screwed here, he thought. Do I really want that? He got up and cleaned himself up. Then he got dressed and headed over the Christian's house.


They were in the post-dinner portion of the evening and things were going well. Ty felt comfortable in Cassie's company and Christian was beaming with his sister by his side. They were still sitting at the table when, seemingly out of nowhere, Cassie blurted out, "So, Ty, Christian tells me you're good in bed," causing Ty to choke dramatically on his drink.

He coughed for several minutes, with Christian clapping him on the back.

"What?" he sputtered. He looked toward Christian who looked completely unruffled about the whole thing.

"You heard me."


"She's just trying to get a rise out of you. Ignore her."

"I was *not* trying to get a rise out you," she insisted, sipping her drink as if she had just mentioned a good test score he'd gotten instead of his prowess in bed. "You did say he was good in bed. Are you going to deny it?"

"Will you just shut up, Cassie. Sometimes you are pain in the fucking ass, you know that?"

Cassie chuckled, despite the menacing tone in his voice.

"Uh, I don't want to get into the middle of this fight, but what the heck is going on here?" Ty asked.

Christian sighed and looked pointedly at his sister. "Cassie likes to stir up trouble is what's going on here."

"I kind of figured that. I hardly think you're going to discuss...well, you know."

"Having hot sex with you?"

"Cassie!" The two men echoed.

"Can we just change the subject?" Ty asked, blushing hotly.

Cassie stood up from her chair. "Whatever makes you comfy, Ty. But, if you don't mind, I need to use the bathroom first."

"Did you really discuss our...our...sex life with her?" Ty asked when she was gone from the room.

"No! She kept digging around and asking personal questions. I refused to be baited. She drew her own conclusions," he said and then leaned to whisper in Ty's ear. "Although, it's true. You are good in bed."

He blushed again, as Christian knew he would. "I thought you were trying to keep our relationship a secret from her."

"Yeah, well, unfortunately, that's impossible with Cassie. She has a tendency to read people. Besides, the teasing is a good thing. It means she likes you. And she thinks we're good together."

"Yeah?" Ty asked, smiling.

"Yeah," Christian said and landed a warm, but chaste kiss on his lips. He was gone before Ty even had a chance to react, but his body was already responding to the stimulus, remembering everything that happened between them last night and in the morning.

Christian picked up some dirty dishes off the table and carried them into the kitchen to load them in the dishwasher. Ty did the same and followed him into the kitchen. After putting the dishes in the machine, he turned to grab Christian around the waist before he headed back to the dining area.

"Wait," Ty said, pulling Christian closer.

Christian looked at the hand that grabbed him and back up to Ty`s face. "What?"

"I just, uh, I wanted to..."

Christian was looking at him, puzzled but then the light seemed to dawn.

"I missed you," Ty whispered. "I missed this," he said and leaned in for a kiss, opening his lips and plunging in for all he was worth. His hunger for Christian seemed endless and he had no interest in going cold turkey just because Cassie was in town.

Christian moaned under the onslaught of Ty's mouth and brought his hands up to cup his lover's face.

"You know," Cassie said from the doorway, causing the two men to startle and jump apart. "If Christian wasn't my brother, that would have been waaay hot. Still, we could always watch gay porn together. Unless, you'd rather I just made myself scarce."

"No!" Christian said at the same time Ty whispered a quiet, "Yes," that no one heard.

"Oh come on, you boys obviously want to be alone. I can always find some way to entertain myself. I do still have girlfriends in this town. I could call Betsy or Tricia..."

"Will you stop?" Christian asked, sounding annoyed.

"Relax, Chris. I was half-joking, but if you want me to hang around..."

"I haven't seen you in over a year. Of course I want you to hang around," Christian said and then glared at Ty as a warning to behave.

Jeez, what did I do? Ty thought. "Maybe I should just go so you two can have some time together?"

"No," the siblings echoed each other.

"Okay, okay," Ty said, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "What are we doing?"

"I want to go dancing!" Cassie said. "Where's the hot place to go, Ty?"

"Well, uh, I hear a lot of students talking about Cabo's on South U. They say the music's good and there's supposed to be a wild light show."

"Let's go."


They hopped in a cab and arrived less than ten minutes later. Ty could feel the music throbbing the moment they walked in the door. Before he even had a chance to order a drink, Cassie had grabbed his arm and pulled him to the dance floor.

She swung her arms loosely around his shoulders and starting dancing while still pressed up against him. He felt a little uncomfortable dancing with her like this, but he was a little embarrassed to say so. Christian watched from the bar, an amused smile on his face. Cassie gestured for him to come over and then the three of them were dancing together and nobody seemed to care. Ty started to enjoy himself.

When the song ended, they headed back over to the bar and got drinks. Ty and Christian both ordered beer and Cassie had a Long Island Ice Tea.

"That's a little strong, isn't it?" Christian asked.

Cassie smiled at Ty and then looked back at Christian. "Don't worry, Dad, I'm not driving," she said, which got a chuckle out of Ty. "He's very overprotective, don't you think?"

Ty decided it was best not to respond and excused himself to use the bathroom. Afterward, as he walked back toward the bar, he glanced around the room to see if there was anyone there he knew. He saw a couple of people from the pharmacy program and waved to a guy he'd met while waiting in line for concert tickets at the Michigan Union.

He had Christian in his line of sight and was waiting for him to look up when someone stepped in his path.

"Excuse me," he shouted over the music and walked around the interloper.

"Ty!" He turned and saw Gwen standing there. She had been the one to step in his way.

"Hi, Gwen, what's up?" he asked, not really caring, but wanting to be polite.

"I need to talk to you."

All hope of getting away quickly deflated inside him. "Now?" he said, his voice perilously close to a whine.


"But Christian's sister is here from out of town and..."

"It's important," she said, cutting him off. "Let's go outside so we don't have to scream."

"Okay. Just let me tell Christian where I'm going."

"What is he, your caretaker?" she snapped.

He glared at her a moment. "You might want to change your tone if you want me to come with you."

"Sorry," she said, not sounding the least bit contrite. "I'll wait out front for you. Please hurry."

Damn it, he thought. I don't want to talk to Gwen right now. I thought this was over. What could she possibly have to say to me now? He walked over to Christian and Cassie who were just finishing up their first drinks.

"Gwen's here," he announced. "She wants to talk to me."

"Now?" Christian asked at the same time Cassie asked, "Who's Gwen?"

"His ex," Christian answered.

"Ex? Ex-girlfriend? But I thought you were gay." Cassie shouted over the music.

"Hey, could you say that a little louder? I don't think they heard you in the bathrooms," Ty snapped.

Cassie just glared at him and waited.

"I don't really want to discuss my sexuality here, thanks."


"Where is she?" Christian asked.

"Waiting out front. I really don't want to talk to her."

"Then don't."

"That would be rude, wouldn't it?"

"So fuckin' what? What do you owe her? Nothing," Christian said, sounding a little irritated.

"Why are you so angry?"

"I'm not."

"He's jealous," Cassie offered.

"I am not."

"Jealous?" Ty asked incredulously, looking from Christian to Cassie. "Believe me when I tell you, he's got nothing to be jealous about."

"Yeah, well, whoever said jealousy was logical?"

"You need to learn to keep your mouth shut," Christian snapped at Cassie.

"Can we all stop snapping at each other, please?" Ty asked. "Let's get out of here."

"What about Jen?" Cassie asked.

"Gwen," he corrected her. "I don't know. What should I do?"

"If she had something that important to tell you, she would have called you." Christian pointed out. "She probably just wants to bust your chops. Or cry on your shoulder. Or just bitch."

"Well, if we leave, she's going to see me and call me aside."

"Let's go out the back door," Christian suggested.

"There's a back door?" Ty asked.

"There has to be. Fire laws."

"I know that, but isn't it rigged up for emergencies only?"

"Not this one." They were out on Forest Avenue three minutes later.

"Now what?" Cassie asked.

"Let's just go home," Christian said.

Cassie sighed dramatically. "You've gotten to be such an old man! I want to have fun!"

"And you've regressed to about age 8," Christian volleyed back.

"Oh come on, guys. Is this all you two ever do? Argue? Cause I can hear this at my Mom's house," Ty said, sounding exasperated.

"Movie?" Christian suggested, but Cassie made a sour face.

"Oh, I have an idea," Ty said.

"What?" the siblings said together.

"Follow me," he said and hailed a cab.

They arrived at a roller skating rink on the south end of town 15 minutes later.

"You've got to be kidding," Christian said as they got out of the cab.

Cassie smiled.

"It'll be fun. Come on. Remember how much you loved it as a kid?"

"I haven't done this in like 15 years," Christian said.

"It'll come back to you, I promise."

They rented rollerblades and went into the rink area. Ty and Cassie went around a few times before they could convince Christian to join them.

"Hey," Ty said, sitting down next to Christian. "I have a really good reason for you to come out and skate."

"Yeah? What's that?"

He leaned over to whisper in Christian's ear. "It's a good excuse for you to hold my hand in public."

Christian smiled and stood up. "Let's go."

He was wobbly at first, which led to much guidance from and hand-holding with Ty. Cassie went around with them the first few times, taking Christian's other hand. Then she went off at her own pace, skating with others and meeting new people.

"So, what's going to happen later?" Ty asked, skating close to Christian, but no longer holding his hand.

"What do you mean?"

"When the evening is over. What's going to happen?"

"Ty, we can't."

"She knows."

"That doesn't mean I can just do that with her in the house."

"Wow, I never thought you'd be such a prude." Christian opened his mouth to protest, but Ty kept talking. "Besides, we don't have to do anything. I just want to be near you tonight. Everything is still so...new and I would really miss you if I had to sleep alone tonight."

Christian's expression softened. "Me, too," he whispered.

"So, whaddya say?"

Christian nodded.

They headed back to the house about an hour later, when Christian's ankles started screaming in protest. They stayed up for a couple of hours talking, laughing and drinking beer in the big kitchen in the back of the house.

"You never changed the color," Cassie said, gesturing to the yellow walls of the kitchen.

"Nah. I always liked it bright like this. Reminds me of Mom."

Cassie nodded. "I remember once she showed me a picture of you standing in the middle of the table. You were about 8 or 9 and you were wearing your underwear and a blanket around your neck," she said, laughing. "Do you still have that picture?"

"If I ever found it, I'd burn it," Christian said, chuckling.

"What the heck were you doing?"

"I was pretending to be a superhero, I think." They all laughed at that.

"What I wouldn't give to have seen that live," she said.

"You and me both," Ty added.

Cassie yawned and looked at her watch. It was after one am. "Guess it's time to get some sleep. Anything on the agenda for tomorrow?"

"I have to work for a few hours in the morning to code and shelve new books, but I'm free after one pm," Christian said.

"Guess I can sleep late then." She stood up then and stretched. "Good night," she said and gave Christian a kiss on the cheek.

"Good night, Cassie," Ty said.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Cassie said in parting and winked at them.

Christian rolled his eyes, but she was already gone so she didn't see it. "Sometimes, I swear, she acts like she's five years old."

"Do five-year-olds make sexual innuendos?" Ty teased him.

"Very funny. Come on, let's go up. And you better behave."

"Moi?" Ty asked with mock innocence.


They took turns in the bathroom. Earlier that morning, Christian had lent Ty an extra toothbrush, so he used it again. Guess I'm getting to be a regular around here, he thought and smiled.

Christian took his place and Ty undressed down to his boxers and t-shirt. He felt nervous as he climbed into bed, even though he'd just spent the previous night there. It feels like it was so long ago, he thought. So much has happened today. Most of it good.

Christian emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later wearing nothing, which, Ty had to admit, caused his pulse to jump a little. Okay, a lot. Christian sauntered - because was there really any other way to describe that catlike walk he had - toward the bed. His olive skin glowed in the moonlight and his cock swayed heavy and thick between his legs.

He knelt down on his side of the bed and leaned in toward Ty, smiling. All for him. It was all for him. And that made Ty's heart skip a beat.

"I, uh, I thought you said we couldn't, uh...that you didn't want to..."

"Didn't want to what, Ty?" he asked with a gleam in his eye. If Ty wasn't sure before, he was certain now that Christian loved to get him all flustered.

"That you and I...that we couldn`t, uh, you know."

"Make love?" he asked, his voice low and deep.

Ty shuddered and nodded.

"Maybe I changed my mind," he said, his voice still raising goosebumps all over Ty's skin and making his cock hard.

"You know, you don't have to do this."

"Do what?"

"This whole seductive routine. I mean, it works for sure, but you don't need to do it for me."

"Why not?"

"Because I already want you. All the time."


Ty nodded. "When I went home this afternoon to take a shower? I was thinking about you and when I got back to my room, I jerked off remembering last night and this morning. I was thinking about being naked with you; about what it would feel like to have you inside me."

"Jesus Christ, Ty," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. Ty could see that Christian had grown hard. "Are you sure?"

"I don't know, but I was thinking about it and it got me off."

Christian slid in next to Ty, pulling him close for a heated kiss. Their tongues met and Ty groaned into his lover's mouth. They pressed against each other as Christian moved his hands over Ty`s back. He moved Ty's shirt up, slipping it over his head. He leaned over to kiss Ty's neck, letting his tongue explore the hollow at the base of his throat. He ran his fingertips over the ridges of Ty's collarbone, making him shiver.

"Christian," he whispered.

When he lifted his head, Ty took it between his hands and kissed him, tasting his lips and his mouth. Christian slipped Ty's boxers off as they kissed and then they were pressing together again; skin on skin. Ty sighed and thrust his hips toward Christian.

"What do you want, Ty?"

"This," he whispered, continuing to move against his lover. "Just this. Always this."


"Oh my God. He's beautiful, Gen," he said, looking at his new son for the first time. Ty was aware he was dreaming but he felt so happy that he didn't care.

Gen smiled tiredly. She was still covered with sweat from her strenuous labor, but Ty could see that she was happy nonetheless. "What are we going to name him?"

"How about Harrison? For my Dad."

Gen pouted. "That's such a formal name for such a little baby."

"Well, Jonah is not that much better," he said, referring to her dad`s name. All the kids will be asking him where his whale is."

Gen laughed. "Oh wait, I know. We can name him after my Uncle Gary. You know, the one I used to visit every summer vacation in Maine? He was such a great person. He made me feel very safe and loved. But he died when I was 12. I never forgot him."

Ty smiled. "Gary sounds great."

Gen looked down at her son. "Hey, Gary. You're going to grow up to be a wonderful young man. Isn't he, Toby?"

Ty looked down at Gen but she was gone. He looked up again and Tim McManus was standing there in the doorway of his pod. He had a grief-stricken look on his face. Not again, Ty thought.

"Oh fuck. Oh, please, no. It's my kids, isn't it?"

"I'm sorry, Beecher." He cast his eyes down as he spoke.

"What? What did they find?"

But Tim was shaking his head and there were real tears forming in the corners of his eyes.


"It's about Gary," McManus said and paused. "I would give anything to not have to tell you this."

"Tell me what, McManus?!"

"The kidnappers, they...they mailed Gary's hand to you."

Ty felt like all the air was sucked out his lungs in one big whoosh. He doubled over, pain gripping his insides. Oh, God, my sweet baby, please no. Please, no. He couldn't even scream. There was no air.

"Beecher? Are you okay?"


"Beecher! Breathe!"


"Ty? Ty, are you okay?" Christian's voice broke through the dream and he realized that he was making a hoarse wheezing sound. "You're turning blue, Ty! Wake up!" He felt Christian's strong hands shaking him.

He took a gasping breath and then he was sobbing before the next one.

"Ty? What's the matter?"

"Nightmare," Ty managed between sobs.

"About what?"


"Gary? Who's Gary? Wait a minute, isn't that the name of Beecher's son? The one who was killed?"

Ty nodded. He was still trying to catch his breath.

"What did you see in the dream? Was he...."

"No, I just heard about it from that McManus guy. He told me...he told Toby that the kidnapper had cut off Gary's hand and mailed it to me...I mean, to him at the prison."

"Oh my God. Was that in Beecher's file?" Christian was rubbing Ty's back, trying to soothe him.

Ty shook his head. "I don't remember seeing it but I didn't have a chance to read everything." He was still taking deep breaths, trying to calm the shaking. "It felt so real. And Gen looked so much like Gwen. It was fucking freaky."

"You think seeing her tonight made you have this dream?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Should I call her? Was this some kind of reminder that I should call her?"

"I don't know, Ty. She might call you before you have a chance. But right now, you need to get back to sleep. Come here," he said and patted a spot on the bed next to him.

Ty nodded and lay back down. Christian snuggled up against his back and put his arm around Ty's waist. He pressed a kiss to Ty's neck before they fell back into sleep.


Ty woke up Sunday morning when the phone rang. He opened his eyes and saw it was 8:30 am. Christian had already left for work. He let it ring three times before he picked it up.

"'lo?" he said sleepily.

"Ty! There you are. I've been leaving messages at your dorm. Where the fuck did you go last night?" Gwen growled into the phone.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't in the mood to talk to you," he said, deciding to fuck the whole politeness routine.

"Did it ever occur to you that it might be important?"

"No. If it was so important, you could have called me before now."

"Well, it is important. I need to talk to you."

"And I said no. I don't want to see you anymore. You're bossy and pushy and I don't need that shit in my life. Thanks, but no thanks." He started to hang up the phone, but heard Gwen shout something into the phone that stopped him. "What did you just say?"

"I said, I'm pregnant."


Chapter 13

"Where are you going?" Cassie asked. She was sitting at the kitchen table, her hand wrapped around a cup of coffee. Ty could smell that it was already a couple of hours old.

"I, uh, have to go back to my dorm. Do some laundry. Check my mail." He was dressed in running clothes.

"Are you coming back?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Chris said he's off at one."

"Right. See ya later."

Ty ran out the door. He needed to get out of there and think. Gwen's news hit him like a sledgehammer and he was still reeling. He had no idea what to do. Marrying her was out of the question, wasn't it? He didn't love her. He barely liked her at this point. She reminded him of all the things about himself that he'd denied for so long.

But he couldn't very well just ignore the situation. If Gwen had the baby, he would be a father whether he liked it or not. He needed to take responsibility for that in some way or another. He couldn't possibly quit school now when he was so close to finishing. But he'd need to contribute in some financial way. How could he do that in any significant way while he was still in school?

He could ask his parents for help, but he knew his Dad would give him the responsibility speech. His mother would probably look at him as if he'd disappointed her.

Jesus fucking Christ, how was this possible? He'd only fucked her maybe three times. And he remembered using protection every time. He knew he did. Could she be lying? But why would she? What did she have to gain, except pissing him off? She had to know there was no way he'd ever marry her.

And what was he going to tell Christian? How was he going to tell him? And how would this affect their relationship? This was so fucked up.

He ran his usual route, letting all the different scenarios play in his head two or three times each. He arrived back at the dorm around 10 am and checked his mailbox. There were a few ads, a credit card bill and one large envelope. He looked at the return address, thinking it would probably be something from his mom. But the return address was a small town on the East coast. Who the fuck?

He ripped open the envelope and pulled out a thick stack of stapled pages - probably 20 or so thick. There was a handwritten note attached.

Dear Tiberius,

Thank you so much for sending along a copy of your report. It was very nicely done. I hope you got an A-plus on it.

After your visit, I decided to search through my father's things up in the attic. I found a few old journals of his, written after he was paroled. I made copies of pages that dealt with any remembrances from his time at Oswald.

I know it's too late for your research, but I thought it might be of interest.

Stay well.


Holly Buskin

Oh God, Ty thought. This could not have come at a worse time. A week ago, this would have been welcome news. Now, all he could think about was Gwen and the baby and his pathetic future. He knew he needed to see her and talk about what they needed to do. Part of him wanted to forget all that and just sit down and read Toby's journal.

He needed to call Christian and tell him that he couldn't meet up with him and Cassie. He didn't want to make that call, but it would hurt Christian if he failed to show.

First, he called Gwen and told her he'd come to her dorm in 20 minutes. Then he called Christian at work.

"Hey, Ty, I'm getting off work in about a half hour. Where do you want to meet?"

"I can't. Not this afternoon." God, he hated doing this.

"Why not?"

"Something's come up."

"What does that mean?" Christian asked, sounding guarded.

"I can't explain right now, but I will when I see you," he said, worrying that he was going to hurt Christian`s feelings or make him angry. He really didn`t want to do that so soon after they'd just gotten on the right path. "Hopefully later tonight, okay?"

"Hopefully? I don't like the sound of that. What the fuck's going on?'

Shit, Ty thought. "Just trust me, okay? I need to take care of something and I'll try to come by to see you later tonight. Okay?"

"I'm counting on you to show up tonight," Christian said, sounding a bit calmer.

"I'll try, Christian. I'll be thinking of you today."


Ty arrived at Gwen's dorm a few minutes early. She was waiting for him on the front steps. She looked upset. She came to him and start crying on his shoulder. He was taken aback, but stroked her shoulder trying to comfort her.

"Oh, Ty, what are we going to do?"

"Hey, hey. It's okay. We'll figure this out."

"I'm sorry. I'm just so emotional." She let go of him and sat back down on the steps. Ty sat next to her.

"How far along are you?"

"About six weeks."

"How did this happen? I thought we were pretty careful."

"Me, too! I don't know. Maybe the condom broke. I really don't know, Ty."

"Okay. What do you want to do about this?"

"I don't know! I'm so confused. I don't think I'm ready to have a baby, but I don't think I could have a...have a...an abortion," she said the word like it was a curse.

"Have you thought about giving the baby up for adoption?"

"Yes, I have, but I don't think I can do that either. I just want this all to go away."

"You and me both. When did you find out?"

"About a week ago."

"Why didn't you call me sooner?"

"I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I needed to think. Now, I think, I just need to talk about this with someone."

"Okay. I'm here to listen."

"If I decided to have the baby, how would you feel?"

"I'd say it's up to you, Gwen. And I'd help any way that I could -- financially or otherwise. But, I can't marry you, Gwen. I don't love you, so I think that would be a mistake. I'm in love with someone else."

"Is it Christian?"

Ty smiled. "Yes."

"I had a feeling about that."

"Yeah, well, I guess everyone else saw it before I did."

"Why did you ask me out if you're gay?"

"I didn't know! Or, at least, I wasn't ready to admit it to myself."

Gwen nodded. "I'm sorry I pushed you."

"No, you were right. I wasn't being fair to you." They sat silently for a few minutes. "So what's next?"

"I guess I need to think some more about this. Thanks for listening."

"Sure." He stood up.

"I'll call you when I decide what to do."

"Okay." He gave her a hug good-bye and headed back to the dorm. He felt mildly better about the whole thing. At least Gwen wasn't expecting him to marry her. And she might even decide not to have the baby. Still, if she did have it, he knew his life would change dramatically. He needed to tell Christian but didn't really want to do it in front of Cassie. It might be better to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, he wanted to home and read Toby's journal. There was still so much he wanted to learn about this man. He hoped there might be something about Gary in the journal in light of the dream he had last night. And tomorrow he would start his internship. Had it only been a week ago that he found out? It seemed like a month. So much had happened in such a short time that his mind was whirling with it.


On the way back into his room, he ran into Matthew walking down the hall with a basket full of laundry in his arms.

"Hey, Ty, haven't seen you around."

"Yeah. I've been busy," he said, still thinking alternately about Gwen, the baby, Christian, and Toby's journal.

"You have time to talk?"

Ty stopped walking. "Uh, yeah, I guess I do."

Matthew passed his laundry basket to Ty while he took his key out of his pocket to open the door. Ty followed him into the dorm room, dropping the basket on Matthew's bed.

"Sit," Matthew said. Ty plopped down on the corner of the bed near the laundry. Matthew sat in the chair near his desk. "So, how's it going?"

Ty scrubbed his hand over his chin. "What a loaded question. Jeez."

Matthew looked puzzled. "What's going on?"

"Too many things to tell you. I'd be here all day."

"Does it have anything to do with our chat last week?"

Ty had to refresh his memory. So much had happened since then. "Uh. Oh! Yeah, I guess."

Matthew waited for a moment as Ty got lost in thought. "So? Did you make any decisions about that guy? Christian was his name?"

"Yeah, I did. We, uh, we started dating. I guess it's dating," he said, snickering.

"Wow. That's great," Matthew said, unable to disguise the surprise in his voice.

"You sound surprised."

"I am. I figured you were going through a phase; that you'd get over it and move on. Or deny it. Something."

Ty laughed. "Yeah, well, I guess I'd already been through all that by the time I talked to you."

"So, how's it going?" There was no mistaking the curiosity in his voice.

"Pretty good," Ty said, smiling.

"And the sex?"

Ty blushed. "You don't beat around the bush, do you?"

"Well, I'm dying of curiosity here! Cut a celibate gay guy a break."

"You're celibate?!"

"Not by choice. I'm just not seeing anyone right now."

"Oh. You don't, uh, go cruising?" he asked uncomfortably.

"Occasionally. I have. It's just not what I want right now."

Ty nodded.

"So, spill!"

"It's good between us. Really good," he said, feeling a goofy smile forming on his face. "Much better than I expected."

Matthew smiled wistfully. "Christian's a very lucky guy."

Ty was startled and surprised.

"Oh come on, Ty. You must know what a catch you are. Half the gay guys on campus have you on their personal straight-guy-I'd-most-like-to-convert list. Wait til they find out you not only switched teams, but you're already taken. Hearts will be breaking all over Ann Arbor."

"Very funny, Matthew," he said, his blush returning.

"I'm serious. You wait. You're going to be getting looks.'

"Shut up!"

Matthew laughed. "What else is going on? Anything you want to talk about?"

Ty sobered quickly as thoughts of Gwen and the baby returned. "Not right now, thanks. I need to sort some things out first."

"Fair enough. I'm here if you need to talk."

He nodded and got up, heading for the hallway. "Thanks, Matthew."



A few hours later, the phone rang.


"Christian. Hi." It was early evening.

"You coming over tonight?"

"I, uh, I want to. But..."

"But what? Ty, what's going on?" He sounded scared and Ty didn't want him to feel that way.

"I have so much to talk to you about. My head is spinning with all the shit I need to tell you. But I don't want to do it front of Cassie." He wanted to tell Christian the truth, but didn't want to do it over the phone. And he sure as heck didn't want Cassie to get involved.

"Jeez, Ty, you've got me a little nervous here."

"Look, tomorrow I start my internship and I should probably get to bed early anyway. Why don't we make plans to see each other after work? I do miss you."

"Me, too," Christian said, his tone easing. "Look, Cassie's leaving in the morning, but I think she'll want to see you before she goes. Maybe I could bring her by?"

"Sure. The pharmacy is on the ground floor. Can you find it?"

"Yeah. Look, Ty, can't you give me a hint about what's going on?"

Ty took a deep breath. He couldn`t talk about the baby on the phone. "Uh, Holly sent me a copy of Toby's journal in the mail. I've been reading it all day."

"Wow. That's great. Did you find out some stuff you didn't know?" Christian sounded excited now. Ty breathed a sigh of relief.

"Yeah. A lot."

"I can't wait to hear all about it."

"Tomorrow. Okay?"

"Okay. We'll drop by to see you around 10 am. Is that good?"

"Yeah. I'll see you in the morning."

Ty stayed up until 2 am reading the journal, more and more fascinated as he continued. He finally turned the light off out of sheer exhaustion. Thoughts of Toby and Chris swirled through his brain even as he sleep.


Ty was learning how to mix up a prescription anti-biotic cream when Christian and Cassie showed up. He nodded at them and finished up quickly, asking his boss for a quick break.

"Don't be long," said his boss, Soon Yun Kim, a native South Korean, who was the head pharmacist at University Hospital.

Ty opened the door to the breakroom and led the siblings in. He pulled Cassie into a hug.

"Sorry, I didn't come to see you yesterday. I had a lot of stuff to work on and think about."

"I know. Christian told me. Still, I'm glad we got to meet, at least."

"Me, too."

"Next time, you're coming out to visit me and I'm going to completely monopolize your time."

Ty laughed. "It's a date."

"Well, we should go," she told him. "We have to be at the airport in half an hour."

"Yeah," Christian agreed, looking at his watch. "I'll see you later?" he asked Ty.

"Yeah. I'll be done here by 4."

"I'm off at 6. Why don't you come over?"

Ty nodded and gave Cassie one more hug. Christian smiled and pressed a hand on the juncture between Ty's shoulder and neck. He seemed uncertain how much affection to show. Ty nodded his understanding.


With time to kill before heading over to Christian's, Ty did a short run and then took a quick shower before re-reading some sections of Toby's journal. He had pages of notes and references in a notebook. He was excited about sharing it all with Christian, but he knew they had to talk about Gwen and the baby first.

Ty had checked his email and voice mail. Nothing from Gwen, so she apparently had not made a decision yet. Probably too soon to expect anything, but it would be nice to know where things stood.

He arrived at Christian's house around 6:20 pm and had to wait a few minutes before the door opened. Christian was wrapped in a towel, his face and chest still covered with water drops. Ty's breath caught in his throat and he realized that they'd been apart for far too long. He'd let all of his worries about Gwen and the baby take up too much of his thoughts.

"Hey." Christian grinned at him like he`d just gotten the best present ever. "Just stepped out of the shower. You been waiting long?"

Ty smiled, happy to see Christian again. "Just a couple of minutes."

"Sorry about that. We'll have to fix that. Come on in," he said, touching Ty on the shoulder. Then he turned and walked over to a table in the hallway.

Ty watched him as Christian pulled open a drawer in the table and extracted a key. He turned and held the key out to Ty. "I should have given you this yesterday."

Ty was stunned. "Are you sure?"

"Of course I am."

"But we just started...seeing each other."

"Speaking of which, shouldn't you be all over me? I'm practically naked."

Ty smiled and slipped into Christian's waiting arms. "I missed you," Christian whispered before claiming Ty's lips. Ty groaned on his lover's taste, realizing it had been too long since they last touched. His arms slid over the soft skin of Christian's shoulders and he felt his stomach flutter at the thought that they both wanted each other so much.

Christian broke the kiss and took hold of Ty's hand. "Let's go upstairs. I *need* to get you naked."

Ty shivered at the promise in his voice, then remembered all the things he needed to tell Christian. He tugged on Christian's hand, stopping his ascent up the stairs. "We need to talk."

Christian smiled and moved in close. "Later," he said, pulling his towel off his hips and letting it drop to the floor. He was half-hard.

Jesus fucking Christ, Ty thought, as Christian moved Ty's hand onto his cock. He swallowed. Waiting a little longer can't hurt, I guess. He moaned when Christian kissed him again and then allowed Christian to lead him up the stairs.

Two seconds inside the bedroom door and Christian's hands were all over him, touching places he'd already been and knew far too well. Retracing lines like he already had Ty's body mapped and memorized. Jesus, how could he have pushed all of these memories aside to think about Gwen, the baby, and Toby.

It was as if a part of his mind had shut down during crisis mode and was now being re-awakened under Christian's deft touch. Hands skimmed over his neck, his back, his ass. Reminding him. Reclaiming him.

Ty reached down for his buttons, but Christian pushed his hands away. "Let me," he said in that same butter-melting sexy voice that made Ty shake. Warm mouth on his neck and nimble fingers brushing against the skin of his chest and then the cool air on his back. Ty closed his eyes and leaned back, letting Christian take control; surrendering.

Before he was conscious of taking another breath, he was undressed and on the bed with Christian's heated body pressed against him. Hungry, frantic kisses and sweet friction made Ty feel like he was inside a dream. Nothing he'd ever done before felt as good as this.

Even his first time ever had not been this good. It had to be about more than just sex and nerves. More than just getting off. He and Christian had a connection; a deep bond. Something that made them fit together. Something that made sex feel better. He knew then that he would do anything for Christian. Anything short of something illegal or immoral and he might just decide those on a case-by-case basis.

He'd said, "I love you" to Christian before and meant it. But damned if he didn't feel like he was more in love right now than he was two days ago. Is that even possible, he wondered. Didn't matter because he felt it and he knew it bone deep.

"Turn over, baby," Christian said in that still way-too-sexy voice and Ty obeyed as if he had no choice. He didn't really want one.

Wet heat in his cleft and his whole body jerked at the intense pleasure. Incoherent, wordless sounds poured from his throat. Sounds Christian must have taken as encouragement because the delicious rimming went on and on until he thought he might faint.

When he finally stopped, Ty whimpered.

"Oh God, I want to be inside you, Ty."

Oh, Christ. Terror and anticipation struck at the same time. His stomach turned over.

"Am I rushing things?" He stroked Ty's skin, waiting for an answer.

Ty swallowed and rolled onto his back. He grabbed Christian's hand and pulled him close. "I'm scared but..."

"We don't have to."

"You didn't let me finish."


"I was going to say, `but I want to.' Okay?"

"You're sure?"

Ty laughed bitterly. "No."

"Then we won't."

"I want to. I'm just nervous. I'll be fine if you go really slow and, you know, do some more of that licking thing," he said, blushing.

Christian grinned devilishly and hopped off the bed. He ran into the bathroom and came out a minute later with condoms and a tube of something. Lube, Ty thought and shuddered. Christian dropped them on the bed and swooped down for a hungry kiss.

Ty laid back as Christian pressed against him, loving the friction and the heat. Loving the way Christian took possession of his mouth - licking and sucking and nipping. He ran his hands ran over Christian's skin, getting lost in the silky heat of it.

"Turn over, baby," Christian whispered for the second time that evening. Ty rolled onto his stomach, but watched over his shoulder as Christian slicked his fingers. And then those fingers were on him, spreading him open.

One touch of his tongue and Ty buried his face into the mattress, groaning. He was utterly unable to lie still. His hips seemed to jerk of their own accord and then he felt a wet finger slipping inside, even as Christian's tongue continued to tease him.

"Jesus fucking Christ," he mumbled into the mattress and raised his hips again, giving Christian better access. A second finger joined the first and still Christian's tongue continued to lave the skin around the opening. Every lick sent little shocks of pleasure through him. He pressed against the fingers and tongue, wanting more; wanting everything Christian was offering.

Ty had never felt so sexual. His entire body felt like it was opening under Christian's onslaught. Everything *everything* felt good. Every stroke. Every lick. Every push. And then Christian's finger pressed against something inside him that just lit him up. His entire body shuddered and he heard himself making a noise that would embarrass him if he didn't feel so incredibly rocked.

"Oh my God. Oh my God that feels good."

"Just wait," Christian said and his fingers and tongue were gone. Ty whimpered at the loss, but he was feeling so relaxed and drugged out that he was willing to be patient. And then Christian was lifting his hips and he felt pressure at his hole. Nothing awful at first but then he felt himself tense and all the easy, lethargic feelings fled.

"Easy, baby, easy," Christian crooned and began stroking his now-softening cock. It distracted him long enough for Christian to push all the way inside. The pain gave way to a slow, burning sensation. Ty took a deep breath and then Christian's cock brushed against that spot again, sending sensation and heat rippling through him.

"Oh," was all he could manage before Christian pulled back and then did it again. Blinding pleasure ripped through him again. Good Christ! I've been afraid of this? Before he knew it, he was pushing back against Christian, meeting his thrusts.

"You feel so good...so tight," Christian said as he moved, holding one hand on Ty's hip.

"Oh God, this is so..." Ty couldn't get out any more, what with Christian's hand fisting his cock and hitting that sweet spot with almost every thrust. I could die happy. Right here. Right now, he thought.

Christian stopped moving and let out a lengthy groan. Ty could feel his cock twitching and throbbing inside and he knew Christian was coming. He shuddered for a bit and then slid his hand up across his lover's abdomen, pulling Ty back against him.

He never stopped stroking Ty's cock, squeezing and pumping, while his other hand continued to caress the sweat-soaked skin on Ty's chest. He nipped at Ty's ear, whispering, "You're so fucking sexy."

Moments later, Ty's came all over Christian's hand, his own stomach, and the sheets. They lay down sideways; Christian spooned Ty and slowly pulled out him. Ty hissed and took a deep breath. He was still feeling mild aftershocks.

"God, that was...amazing," Ty said, still breathing heavily.

"Mmm. Yeah," Christian said, wrapping himself around Ty. "Aren't you glad we waited to talk?" he asked, teasing Ty.

Ty whacked him on the hip playfully.

"So, what's the big news?"

Ty sat up in bed and felt a twinge of pain. He hissed and sat back against the pillow.

"It's okay. The pain will go away," Christian assured him. "You were about to say?"

"It's, uh, God, where do I start?"

"Toby's journal?"

"Well, there's something else we need to talk about first."

Christian looked surprised. "Something more exciting than Toby's journal?"

"Not more exciting exactly, but..." He stopped and took a deep breath. "I saw Gwen."

Christian went rigid and sat up to face Ty. "And, what? You're seeing her again?"

"What?! No. No. Jesus."

"Sorry. I don't know why I..."

"She's pregnant," Ty burst out before he could finish

Christian's mouth fell open in surprise. "What? Pregnant? Christ."

"I know. I had the same reaction."

"So, what are you going to do?"

"It's not up to me. She has to make the decision. I told her I'd help her out if she wanted to keep the baby. I guess we just wait and see."

"She didn't expect you to marry her?"

"I didn't let her get that far. I told her I couldn't before she even brought it up. I told her I was in love with someone else," he said and put his hand over Christian's. "She guessed it was you."

"Really? She okay with that?"

"Yeah. But it wouldn't matter one way or the other," Ty said, smiling and leaned in to kiss Christian.

Christian cupped Ty's cheek and surrendered to the kiss.

"Are we okay?" Ty asked.

Christian smiled. "Yeah."

"Even if Gwen decides to have the baby?"

"Yeah. Why would that make a difference?"

Ty shrugged. "I don't know. It might to some people. I'll probably have to do the dad thing on weekends and times Gwen needs a sitter. It's a lot of responsibility."

"Really?" Christian asked sarcastically. "I guess I wouldn't know anything about that, having raised my sister for nearly 10 years.'

"Very funny. But babies are slightly more work than pre-adolescents."

"Ha! Tell me that again when you're the father of a nine-year-old."

Ty laughed. "You'll be sort of a dad to this baby, too. You know?"

Christian nodded solemnly. "I'd be honored."

"How'd I get so lucky to find you?"

Christian shrugged. "Heck if I know. Now, are you going to tell me about Toby's journal?"

Part 14

"There's a ton of stuff about Chris in here," Ty said, holding up the journal that he`d gone downstairs to retrieve. "And that Schillinger guy, too. You would not believe all the shit that happened between Toby and Schillinger. It would make a good soap opera."

"So, what does he say about Chris?"

"That he really loved him."

"Yeah, I kind of figured that part out already," Christian said sarcastically.

"Here, let me show you this," Ty said, flipping through the pages. He had some pages marked with post-its that had notes on them. He found the page he was looking for and started reading. "Going to visit Chris every week is the hardest thing I've ever done and yet I can't imagine not doing it. There are times when he's just impossible to talk to. He gets all surly and grills me about my life outside Oz. I'm not sure if he's worried I'm going to cheat on him or if he's just jealous of the fact that I'm free. When he's in one of these moods, everything that comes out of his mouth is sarcastic and mean.

"He practically dares me stop coming. But I can't do that, even though I sometimes want to. He has no one else. Bonnie is dead and the other two have remarried and have moved on with their lives. They visit him maybe once a year. Chris would stop caring about everything if I stopped coming. I know he would. And I love him too much to let that happen.

"I just wish every visit could be a good visit. Maybe that's not realistic, but we only have an hour once a week. That's it. You'd think he'd want to spend the time talking instead of pissing and moaning at me."

Ty looked up from the journal. "Pretty cool, huh?"

Christian looked puzzled. "What? It sounds like Toby wants out. How is that cool?"

"That he sticks with it. He does the selfless thing."

"Fuck that. I wouldn't want anybody visiting me out of obligation."

"It's not obligation," Ty insisted and Christian gave him a look. "Alright, it's a little bit obligation, but it's mostly love. Toby is a good man with a good heart. At least that's how I see it."

"Yeah, you would."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"That you're naturally going to empathize with him. Oh, poor Toby has to go to prison every week and visit his ungrateful lover who's in a bad mood cause he's gonna be stuck in Oz for the next 50 years."

"That is *not* what I said. You're twisting everything I said and putting it in the ugliest possible light."

Christian put his hands up in surrender. "Whatever you say, Ty."

"Oh no. You are not doing that. You want to have a fight over something that was written in a journal almost 40 years ago?"

Christian remained stubbornly silent.

"Okay, Mr. Enlightened. Tell me how you see it."

Christian leaned forward menacingly. "Maybe, just maybe, Chris was scared of being stuck inside while Toby was out walking around. And just maybe he was afraid that Toby was going to fall in love with someone who could be with him more than an hour a week. And maybe Chris was afraid that Toby *would* stop coming to visit him, so he tested him. So, maybe Toby should have been a little more understanding and tried to reassure Chris that he wasn't going anywhere, rather than bitching about his mood."

"Okay, okay. I get the point. But if Chris was afraid of Toby not coming anymore, he should have made sure the visits were good."

"He was feeling insecure. Everyone lashes out when they feel insecure. Toby should have understood that. Now, can we move on to something else?" Christian said, sounding very irritated.

"Okay, fine."

"What else did you learn about Chris?"

"That he really did kill those boys."

"What? Are you sure?" Christian asked, reaching for the journal.

"Yes. Toby wrote that Chris confessed to him just before he was paroled. Let me finding the entry," Ty said, holding the journal out of Christian's reach. He flipped through it again, checking the markers on each page. "Here it is. May 10, 2004," Ty said and started reading it.

"Wait. May 10? Wasn't Toby paroled in January?"

"Yeah, but he wrote this after he got out of Oz and put in stuff he remembered."

"So when did this actual confession take place?"

"About a week before Toby was paroled, I think. He doesn't actually give the date."

Christian nodded.

"Chris and I had been dancing around the topic for years. He wanted to tell me, but I didn't want to know. Not really. But my parole was coming up and it pervaded everything. I don't know why he felt a need to confess. Maybe he wanted to push me away. Or maybe he thought it would bind me to him in some twisted way. I don't know.

"We were in our pod and it was just past lights out. We'd only been back in the same pod for a few months and we were still getting used to living in each other's space again. Chris looked up at me and said, `I need to tell you something.' I waited but didn't speak. Then, a moment later, he said, `I killed those guys.' And nothing else. He waited for me to react, but all I said was, `Okay.' He nodded and that was the end of the discussion. I was a little stunned, I think. There was always a part of me that believed he might have done it, but there was an even stronger part of me that was living in denial. I didn't want it to be true and I figured if we never talked about it and I never thought about it, it had nothing to do with Chris.

"As I lay trying to get to sleep that night, I couldn't stop thinking about what Chris had said and what he'd done. I wanted to ask him, why not me? But I never did because I knew it didn't matter. I was still here and Chris was still here and we'd never been anything close to normal - either separately or together. He loved me. I had no doubt about that. And I knew that if I could accept that he had done those things to those guys, and still want to be with him, then I must really love him, too.

"So, I got off my bunk and touched his shoulder to wake him. But he wasn't really sleeping. He looked at me. I told him, `It doesn't matter. I love you.' He didn't say a word. He just pulled me to him and we made love like time was running out."

Ty closed the journal and looked at Christian, whose face bore an expression that was equal parts stunned and awed.


Ty nodded. "I know. I had the same reaction when I read it the first time."

"What do you think he meant about neither of them being normal? I mean, Chris clearly had some problems, but Toby?"

"Oh, Toby was truly fucked up. You would not believe some of the shit I found out about him in this journal."

"Why didn't you say something?" Christian asked, scowling.

"Cause you wanted to know what he said about Chris!"

"Jeez, Ty. You still could have told me. And you were going on and on about how wonderful Toby is. Was." He made a sound of disgust.

"Sorry. He was fucked up, but I still think he was a good person," Ty said defensively.

"Yeah, yeah. So, spill it," he said, impatient. "What fucked up things did he do?"

"Well, you remember how his daughter thought that Toby had arranged the hit on Hank Schillinger?"


"That's exactly what happened," Ty said and saw that Christian was a bit surprised. "He writes about it in here. He paid a guy $2,000 and then changed his mind later, but it was too late."

"Why did he change his mind?"

"He felt guilty."

"God, that was Toby's M.O., wasn't it?" Christian said, shaking his head. Ty wasn't sure if he was amused or exasperated. Maybe a little of both.

"And when Chris confessed to the crime, he *was* doing it to protect Toby."

Christian looked Ty in amazed silence, his mouth opening slightly as if he wanted to say something but had forgotten somewhere between his brain and his mouth.

"What?" Ty asked, wondering what he was thinking.

"That's a huge sacrifice to make for someone."

Ty nodded. "The day they transferred Chris out of Oz, Toby wrote, `Watching him walking away, knowing everything he'd done for me and believing I was never going to see him again, a part of me died. I was overwhelmed with guilt, love, regret and haunting loneliness. But there was also this sense of freedom from the Aryans and Chris had given me that.' " Ty closed the journal and put it down on the night table. "They certainly had a rather unique relationship."

"All the ups and downs of a great romance," Christian said, his eyes wandering and looking a little wistful.

"And then some."

"What else did he write about Chris?" Christian asked, his attention back on Ty.

Ty`s stomach growled. "I`m getting kind of hungry," he said, nodding at the clock. It was nearly 8:30 pm.

"Let's order some pizza."

They talked more about the journal while waiting for the pizza to arrive and while they were eating it. Ty told Christian about all the horrible things Vern Schillinger had done and how Chris had saved Toby`s life one time in the gym when Vern shanked him. "When Toby got out of the hospital, he asked Chris to come back to their pod and that night they made love for the first time. I had that dream about Toby inviting Chris back into the pod and Toby describes it in here."

"Really? Was it his first time with another man?"

"Consensual, yeah," Ty said and sat quiet for a few minutes, thinking about the things he'd read. "I wonder why he'd want to put those details about Vern in writing."

Christian shrugged. "Maybe he didn't want anyone to forget what an evil fucker that Schillinger was."

Ty laughed. He filled Christian in with the details of Chris and Toby's rocky romance -- all the things they hadn't learned from their prison records.

"When Chris returned to Oz after his confession was thrown out, he and Toby didn't see each other for awhile. Chris was in protective custody to keep him safe from the Aryans and Toby was back in Em City."

"How long before they saw each other?"

"Almost six months, if I remember correctly."

"Were they put back in the same pod?"

"Not right away. I think it took another six months or so before they could convince McManus that they were done fighting."

"And were they?"

"For the most part. There were a few minor scuffles but they were only together about five months before Toby got out on parole."

"Did Toby write much about those last few months they had together?"

"A bit. I got the impression it was kind of painful to write about their last days together after Chris died. He didn't go into a lot of detail."

Christian nodded sadly.

The doorbell rang and the pizza arrived. They ate quietly at the kitchen table, while Christian flipped through the journal reading passages.

"Oh, did you read this one? `Holly kept asking me where I went every week, so I finally sat her down and told her about Chris in the best way I knew how. She said she wanted to meet him and since Chris mentioned the same thing, I figured I should. Holly told Harry about Chris and now he wants to go, too. I feel weird about subjecting them to Oz when I'm not there anymore but they seem genuinely excited about meeting Chris.' "

"Yeah, that was nice. There's more in there about the visit. The first one was a little awkward, but Toby brought them again and they eventually warmed up to Chris and started coming with Toby about once a month."

Christian nodded and scanned the journal for the details. "This is fascinating," he said several minutes later.

"I know. It kept me up all night," Ty said. "Oh there's one more thing I wanted to tell you about. Remember that night I had the dream about Gary?"


"Toby wrote about that." He took the journal from Christian and fingered through the post it notes. "Here it is."

He started reading, "I remember the day that McManus came to tell me about Gary. I didn't actually see him until he was inside the pod. Chris had been blocking my view. But as soon as I saw his face, I knew the news was bad. He looked even more pitiful than the day he told me about Gen and this time, he had tears in his eyes.

"He couldn't even look at me. `I don't know how to tell you this, Beecher,' he said and I wanted to choke him. I didn't give a shit about his sympathy or his pity. I just wanted him to fucking say it already. He choked on the words and the dread inside me just got bigger and bigger with each second. `Tell me!" I wanted to scream but I couldn't. It was as if someone or something had shut down my ability to speak or move or do anything but feel terror.

"He finally managed to sputter, `It's Gary.' And then he was crying and I was too. So I waited a little longer because there was nothing I could do and he told me, `We got a box with Gary's...his hand.' And of the horrible things I'd imagined, this didn't even come close. It was like my brain couldn't process it. It was too huge for me to even hear. And finally, I asked, `his hand?' because I thought I'd heard him wrong. But before he could answer, I just crumpled onto the floor and that's all I can remember about that day. The rest was just a blur of tears and pain."

"Jesus Christ," Christian remarked.

"I know," Ty said, nodding. "It makes me wonder if this whole being a `Dad` is a good idea. If I really am Toby...reincarnated, what if I'm destined to lose a child all over again?"

"Ty, you can't think like that. This is your life, not Toby's. It's already a lot different."

"I guess you're right. Besides. It's not really up to me. Gwen is the one making decision." They sat silently for awhile and then Christian covered Ty's hand with his own.

"We just have to take things one day at a time," Ty said, yawning and stretching. "Speaking of which, we should go to bed. I have to get up early." The clock in the kitchen showed it was not quite 10 pm.

"Yeah, me, too," Christian said and then laughed. "God, we are so boring."

"Bite your tongue, mister." he teased and swatted Christian on the behind. "Get your ass up those stairs and I'll show you boring."


Gwen called Ty at work two days later and told him she needed to see him. She'd made her decision but didn't want to discuss it over the phone. Ty called Christian to let him know.

"So you're going to see her?"

"Yeah, after work."

Christian sighed heavily. "I wish she would just go away."

"Christian! She's the mother of my child. Or she might be one day."

"So fucking what? She's done nothing but manipulate you from the beginning. What the fuck does she want from you anyway?" His voice was rising with anger.

"Please, don't start this," Ty said, bristling. "I just need to go and hear her out. She doesn't want anything from me except support and friendship."

"That's bullshit, Ty, and you know it."

"I am not going to have this conversation with you again. I'm going over to see Gwen, hear what she has to say and then I'll be over to your house. If you want me to come, that is."

"Of course I want you to come. Don't even fucking joke about that."

"I wasn't joking. I'm getting a lot of anger from you."

"Well, it's her. She makes me angry. Not you."

"Well, go run or something. Burn that anger off before I get to your place or else I'm not going to stay."

"Fine," Christian snapped and hung up without saying goodbye.


Ty got off work a little early that day and headed over to Gwen's around 3:30 pm. It would give him some extra time to talk to Gwen and still get over to Christian's house relatively early.

When he got to Gwen's dorm, he saw Tammy, a girl who lived on Gwen's hall, outside talking with friends. He waved to her.

"Hey, Ty. Gwen mentioned you were coming over. Here, I'll let you in," Tammy said and opened the door with her keypass.

"Thanks, Tammy." Ty entered the building and headed up to Gwen's floor. As he exited the stairwell on her floor, he heard voices arguing. A man and a woman. As he got closer, he realized it was coming from Gwen's room. What the heck? Who is she arguing with? Then he heard the man speak in a menacing tone.

"I know what you're doing and I'm not going to sit back and let it happen. I hope you know that. Ty is *mine.* Do you hear me? So you better just go find yourself another boyfriend."

Christian! What was he doing?! Ty stopped a few feet outside the door.

"I swear, it's not like that," Gwen said, her voice pleading. She sounded scared. Ty knew he had to go in and stop this discussion in its tracks.

"Oh, you play the sweet, innocent thing so well, don't you? I bet you're not even pregnant and this is some elaborate scheme to trap Ty," Christian said and Gwen gasped at the accusation. "Well, it's not going to work. He will never marry you. Never. You might as well get used to that."

"How dare you?!" Gwen sounded angry now. "I am most definitely pregnant. Would you like to see the test results? Who do you think you are bursting in here, accusing me of all kinds of evil things? You don't own him. Ty is perfectly capably of making his own decisions. And if he chooses me, you'll have nothing to say in the matter."

What? Ty was confused. Why would she think I'd choose her? Why the heck would she say that? She already knows that I won't...

"You're cracked, lady. Ty is in love with me."

"Maybe so, but he already feels an obligation towards this child. And once the baby is here, he's going to get very attached."

"Oh, so that's your plan? Get him attached to the baby and he'll marry you?" Christian asked, mocking her. "You've been watching too many romantic comedies. That shit doesn't happen in real life; especially when the father is *gay* and in love with another *guy*!"

It was time to stop this now, Ty decided. He walked into the room, pausing near the door until they noticed him. Gwen stopped in mid-sentence and looked at him in surprise. She had the good sense to blush. Christian followed her eyes and took in Ty. He did not get flustered or red. He just nodded at Ty and walked toward him.

"I'll see you later, Ty," he said and walked out in the hallway.

"What?! Hold the fuck up. That's all you have to say?!"

"I'm not having this discussion in front of her," he said, pointing at Gwen like she was some kind of vile bug. "We'll talk when you come over later."

"And what makes you think I'm coming over after *this*?!"

Christian gave an exasperated sigh. "You'll come." And then he continued walking down the hall.

"You arrogant fuck!" Ty yelled after him, but Christian ignored it and kept walking, finally disappearing into the stairwell.

Ty turned to look at Gwen, who had managed to regain her composure.

"Look, I'm sorry about that. I had no idea he was planning to come here and..."

"It's okay, Ty."

"No, it's not okay. He had no right. How did he even get in here anyway?"

"I let him in. I thought he was you."

"The manipulative little..." Ty was so angry he couldn't find the words he wanted to say.

"Are you sure he's the guy you want to be with?"

"What do you mean?" Ty asked, suddenly feeling defensive about Christian.

"I mean that he goes off like a bomb and threatens women. Is he really the right person for you?"

"Gwen," Ty said, sounding concerned. "My relationship with Christian is none of your business."

"It is when he threatens me!" she said, getting angry.

"Look, I heard what you told him about hoping I'd get attached to the baby and eventually choose to be with you. I hope this whole thing isn't some elaborately schemed manipulation."

"Of course not!"

"I thought I was pretty clear about not wanting to marry you."

Her face crumpled then. "I know you did, but a girl can dream, can't she?"

"I don't love you, Gwen. Don't you want a husband who loves you?"

Gwen laughed harshly. "Yeah. I do. I just hoped it would be that way with you."

"It won't. Not ever. I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault. Go home. Make up with your boyfriend. He really loves you, you know."

"That doesn't excuse his behavior," Ty snapped, still angry with Christian. "What about the baby? What did you decide?"

"When I called you, I was prepared to say I was keeping the baby. I was hoping you'd eventually see that we belong together. But, now, it seems like a moot point."

"So, you only wanted to keep the baby because of me?"

She nodded, a sad, resigned expression on her face. "Sad, isn't it? I don't think I'm really ready to be a mother yet."

"Does that mean you're going to end the pregnancy? Or do you want to give it up for adoption?"

"I think I'm going to end it."

"Are you sure?" He felt inexplicably sad. He should be relieved, but he wasn't.

Gwen nodded. "I think it's for the best. Will you go with me?"

"Yeah, I can do that."

"Thanks, I'll call you when I make the appointment."


"So, are you going to tell me what the fuck that was about?" Ty asked when Christian opened the door.

"Why didn't you use your key?"

"What?! I'm yelling at you here and you're asking me about a key."

Christian grinned, his anger and attitude seemingly gone. How does he do that? Ty wondered.

"Are you going to answer me?" Ty demanded.

"What was that about? You mean my visit to Gwen?" Ty nodded. "It was about protecting what's mine, okay?"

"No, it's not okay. I don't *belong* to you, Christian. We are supposed to be partners. Equals. Which means you don't go all caveman on me over Gwen. It makes you look like a Goddamn bully. If this," he said pointing at the invisible space connecting them. "is going to continue, they you have got to stop doing shit like that."

"She was lying!" Christian said defensively. He walked into the living room and Ty followed him.

"So what? What difference does it make? I'm not going to marry her. There's no way I was ever going to marry her, no matter what she hoped. What did you think you were going to accomplish by threatening her?"

"I wanted her to back off and to tell the truth," he said, flopping into one of the chairs.

"Well, the only `truth' you uncovered was that she was hoping I might decide to marry her for the sake of the baby. But that's all moot now because she's having an abortion." Ty couldn't disguise the sadness in his voice.

"I'm sorry," Christian said, but his expression didn't show it.

"Look, Christian, I don't know what goes on in that head of yours, but if this is going to work, we have to be honest with each other. If you're worried about something, you have to tell me."

"Okay." His voice was tight and rigid, like a child who said all the right things because he had to, but didn't mean it for one second.

"That didn't sound very convincing," Ty said in a light tone, wanting to ease the tension. "This reminds me of Chris' mood swings during Toby's visits. Maybe you're feeling a little like Chris did?"

Christian remained stubbornly silent. Ty sat next to him and grasped his hand. "If you're worried that I'm going somewhere, don't. I don't want to be with Gwen. I don't want to be with anyone else except you. Don't you get that yet?"

Ty could feel Christian relax. "I'm sorry," he said and this time, he meant it. "I guess I get a little crazy sometimes."

"And a little jealous," Ty teased.

"And a little jealous," Christian echoed smiling.

"I kinda like it. A little. In small quantities. I mean, it was a little overboard with Gwen, but the whole `Ty is mine' thing? Kind of a turn on."

"Yeah?" Christian asked, leaning in.

"Yeah. Let's go upstairs and I'll show you how much."


They undressed slowly, taking the time to touch each other and kiss along the way. Christian and Ty had been through so much in recent days and weeks that it seemed like they'd been together for a long time. But, here, without all the other distractions, it felt so new and nearly miraculous to Ty. That it was another man who brought about these feelings was still amazing to him.

"You *are* mine, Ty," Christian whispered, pressing them both to the bed.

Having Christian's skin against his felt like a really good dream that Ty was having again. He wanted to pinch himself to see if it was all real.

"Yeah, but only because I want to be. Okay?"

"Mmm hmm," Christian hummed against the skin on Ty`s neck. "I'm glad you want to be."

"I hope the street goes both ways because I don`t intend to share you either," Ty teased.

Christian chuckled against his throat. "God, I love the way you taste."

Ty wanted to melt into Christian's arms and savor the feeling of Christian's mouth on his responsive body. But this time it wasn't about him; it was about reassuring Christian that he was the number one person in Ty's life.

He squirmed out of Christian's embrace and pushed him onto his back. Christian started to protest, but Ty shushed him. "Let me."

He kissed Christian tenderly, tasting his lips and tongue. When he moved his mouth too soon, Christian tried to pull him back, but gave up as Ty spread a wet trail of licks and nibbles down his neck and chest.

He moved lower and leaned in to suck Christian's cock into his mouth, prompting an appreciative groan from him. He used his free hand to prepare Christian with his fingers. When he found his prostate, Christian arched his body and flooded Ty's mouth.

Ty swallowed and moved up to kiss a boneless Christian on the mouth. "Do you want me inside you?" he whispered.

"Yeah, baby," he said breathlessly. Ty savored the look of his sated lover spread eagle on the bed, a thin sheen of sweat all over his beautiful skin. Moments later, he was sheathed inside the powerful muscles of Christian's body and, again, he was amazed by the feeling of how right this all was. He came with Christian's name on his lips.


"I missed you, Chris," Toby said. They were sitting in the visitors room at Oz and their hands were entwined.

"Me, too," Chris said quietly. He seemed withdrawn and quiet this visit, Toby thought.

"Is there something on your mind? You seem a little distracted."

"Nope. Just tired. I'm glad you're here."

"I wish I could come more often."

"Don't worry about that. You got your kids to worry about."

"I just don't get to see you enough. It gets frustrating. Week after week of short visits and not nearly enough touching," Toby said, smiling sadly.

"Don't worry, Toby, there's always the next life."

"What are you talking about?"

Chris just smiled at him.

"Reincarnation?" Toby scoffed.

Chris nodded. "We're going to find each other again," he said, putting his hand over Toby's. "This time, though, I'm going to go looking for you before I get in trouble. I'm going to find you while we're still young enough to enjoy each other."

"Young enough? Speak for yourself!"

Chris laughed. "I just meant, so we have more time. No crimes haphazardly committed. No prison time. No watchful guards. No transfers. Just you and me together."

"And you think it's going to be that easy? Come on, we'd always find something to get in the way."

"Maybe you would." Toby gave him best glare, but Chris just smiled. "What I wouldn't give to make love you in a real bed with no interruptions, no schedules, no place to be except with you. Touching you. Tasting you. Savoring you," Chris said, stroking Toby's hand.

"You keep that up and you're going to get me arrested for indecent exposure," Toby joked.

"I'm serious, Toby."

"About the next life?"


"Well, it's a nice dream anyway. I hope you're right."

"I am," Chris said and pulled Toby in for a quick kiss when the guard wasn't looking.


Ty woke from the dream feeling a little melancholy and a little hopeful. Toby hadn't written about that conversation in his journal. Still, Ty was certain it had happened.

He turned toward Christian, who was lying on his side with his back to Ty. He molded himself to Christian's back, his hand coming to rest across Christian's waist possessively. He couldn't wait for Christian to wake so he could tell him about the dream. Maybe, just maybe Chris was right and they could find a way to make it work.

Part 15

A week into Ty's internship, Gwen called to tell him she'd made the appointment for the abortion. He still felt kind of numb about that, as if it wasn't real. He kept waffling back and forth about whether he was relieved or horrified.

When he got to Christian's house that Monday night, the house was quiet. Ty started working on dinner, timing it for when Christian was due home, around 7 pm.

He walked in the door just as Ty was draining the pasta.

"Hey. You're just on time."

"Smells good. Homemade?"

"The sauce, yeah."

Christian gave him a quick kiss hello and took a side trip into the bathroom. Ty heard him washing his hands before he came to sit at the table.

"What's up?" Christian asked before lifting a forkful of pasta into his mouth.

"Gwen called me today. She made the appointment for Thursday. She wants me to go with her."

Christian frowned.

"What?" Ty snapped. "No one should have to go through that alone." He shoved a large scoop of pasta into his mouth.

"I'm not saying she should. I just...every time I hear her name, it makes me crazy."

"Yeah, well, you need to get over that," Ty said, still chewing. Then he sat back and sighed.

"Is there something else on your mind?"

"I don't know. I keep thinking that it's wrong for her to be doing this."

"I thought you were relieved."

"I was at first and then I got to thinking about it. I kept wondering if this child was meant to be. What if the baby is supposed to accomplish great things and we're preventing those things from happening?"

"You're overthinking things, Ty," Christian said, grabbing a hold of Ty's hand and waited for Ty to look at him. "Either you want the baby because you want to be a father or you don't. It's as simple as that. Besides, it's Gwen's decision. She doesn't want the kid unless she can have you, too, and I have to object to that."

Ty took a deep breath. There was something he wanted to ask Christian, but he was worried about the reaction he might get. "You remember when Gwen was still thinking about keeping the baby and you said that you'd help raise the baby?"

"Yeah, I remember, Ty."

"Well, what if we - you and me - adopted the baby? Raised it as our own? Without Gwen?"

Christian's mouth opened in surprise but nothing came out. He looked surprised, but not shocked. "You think she'd agree to that?"

"I have no idea. But if you're even remotely willing to consider it, I'd want to ask her. She's willing to get rid of it now, so I don't know why she'd say no."

"I do. To have control over you," he snapped, dropping his fork.

"Christian, come on. She's not that bad. And besides, she already said she didn't want to do the sharing-parent thing."

"She could change her mind."

"I know, but I want to ask."

"Are you sure about this?"

"It's my kid; my flesh and blood. I'm as sure as I'm ever going to be. The question is: are you sure?"

"I said I'd support whatever you wanted to do and I mean that." Christian said, touching Ty's hand again. "Do I want to raise a kid? Well, I'm not all that excited about the idea. I kind of did that already, but like you said, this is your flesh and blood so you have to make that choice. I`m with you one way or the other."

"It's a lot to ask, I know."

"We'd be in it together, Ty. You'd move in here, right?"

Ty was taken aback by the proposal. Of course, he realized that if they were going to raise a child together, they'd have to live together, but was it too soon? "When?"

"Whenever. Now, if you want. Don't you have to get out of the dorms soon?"

"Well, I can stay in the dorms since I'm doing an internship through the school."

"Well, I'd like you to live here if you want."

"Are you sure? We're just getting started as a couple."

"I'm sure, Ty. I wouldn't ask if I wasn't."

"The baby will put a lot of strain on our relationship," Ty said, feeling guilty. He ran his hand through his hair.

Christian grinned and picked his fork back up. "Are you trying to talk me out of it?"

"I just want you to see the whole picture. It's a lot to take on; especially this early. I don't want you to say yes just because I want this."

"I *would* be saying yes because you want this. Why else would I say yes? I love you, Ty. I want you to be happy. I don't want you to regret making the wrong decision."

"Aren't you worried it might put too much strain on our relationship?"

Christian shook his head and scooped some more pasta into his mouth. "After all the shit we've been through already? Now, shut up and eat."


Ty stopped by Gwen's dorm on the way home from work the next day. He wanted to talk to her in person, so he hadn't called. He rang her buzzer and waited but there was no answer. He waited a few more minutes and buzzed again. Nothing.

Just then one of the girls opened the front door. He recognized her from Gwen's floor.

"Hey," he said, as he grabbed the door and held it open.

She stopped on the front landing. "Are you looking for Gwen?"

He was halfway inside the vestibule when he stopped and turned. "Yeah. Is she around?"

Her face fell. "Oh God, you don't know." She put her hand over her mouth.

He walked back toward her and grabbed her arm. "Know what?" he asked. His was beating dangerously fast and he felt a spike of fear in his heart.

"They had to take her to the hospital."

"Why?" He bit the word out, trying to temper his anxiousness.

"She was bleeding and she almost passed out. I think she lost the baby."

"Fuck," he whispered, without even realizing it. He was running down the sidewalk before the girl could say anymore. He continued running until he reached the hospital 10 minutes later. He went in through the emergency room door and found the desk.

"I need to find Gwen Deacon," he said, breathing heavily. "She was brought her a little while ago. She was bleeding. I need to know how she is."

An older woman at the desk looked up at him calmly. "Are you family?"

"I'm the father of her baby!" he yelled.

"Calm down, young man. What's your name?"

"Tiberius Bartholomew," he said, taking a deep breath.

"I'll go check see if I can find her. You wait right here until I do," she said firmly.

Oh god oh god, please let her be alright. Let the baby be okay, he prayed and began pacing in front of the desk.

Ty had run so fast that he didn't have time to think about anything except getting there as fast as he could. Now, waiting for the nurse - or whatever she was - to come back was making him crazy.

What could possibly have gone wrong? She was fine the last time he'd seen her. She wanted to get rid of the baby and he'd just convinced Christian that they should raise it together. Was it some sort of cosmic irony that he should lose the baby now when he wanted it so much?

His stomach cramped and he didn't know if it was from the running or from nerves. Everything's going to be alright, he repeated to himself. It has to be. It has to be. God would not be cruel enough to do this to me twice.

He stopped pacing. Twice? Where did that come from? And then he remembered Gary. Toby's Gary. Was he starting to think like Toby, too? No, that was just crazy. But why had that thought cross his mind then? This whole past life thing was starting to get on his nerves. Enough already!

But wait, he thought, what if there is a connection? What if I *am* supposed to repeat Toby's life in some weird way or another? he mused. I already met Gwen, who is so much like Toby's Gen, and I fell in love with Chris -- okay, Christian -- even if those things happened out of order. And now there's this child that I've probably lost just like Toby. So, does that mean that all the bad shit that happened to Toby is going to happen to me? Am I going to become an alcoholic? Kill a child? Go to jail? I'm still young. It could happen.

No, stop this, he told himself. You're making yourself crazy.

He saw the women he spoke with coming back to the reception desk. He stopped pacing and went up to face her.


"She's here. Go through that door over there," she said, pointing to Ty's left. "I'll bring you to her."

He followed her instructions and she met him on the other side. He led her past curtained areas and small examining rooms until he saw Gwen at the end of a long hallway. When the woman pulled the curtain back, Gwen looked drained and pale, like she'd been leeched of all her blood. He also noticed that she'd been crying. Her eyes were red and swollen.

"Oh, Ty!" she exclaimed hoarsely. She opened her arms for him and he went to her. He felt sobs wracking her body as he held her. He felt bereft for something he'd never really had. What he didn't understand is why Gwen was crying. Wasn't she the one who'd decided to end the pregnancy?

A few minutes later, her sobbing subsided and he moved back a little so he could reach a tissue and hand it to her.

"What happened?"

"I don't know! I was just coming back from class and went in to the bathroom and there was so much blood."

He cringed, but didn't say anything.

"I felt like I was going to pass out, so I called for help. The next I remember, I woke up here," she said, dabbing at her nose with the tissue. Then she looked up at him, a sorrowful expression on her face.

"I thought you wanted to end the pregnancy." Ty felt suddenly, inexplicably angry.

Her expression held a puzzled look. "I did."

"Then why are you crying?"

Her face went from confused to hurt to angry in a matter of seconds. "What? Are you kidding me?! I just had this living...being ripped from my body when I wasn`t ready for it. I was bleeding all over the floor. I thought I was dying. I'm having horrible cramps and I'm scared to death! Is that okay with you, you prick?!"

The vehemence of her anger startled him. "Get out!"

"I'm sorry, Gwen," he said, patting her arm. "I didn`t... Please, I'm sorry."

She wrenched her hand away from him, and blew her nose. She was crying again. "Just leave. I don't want you here," she said more calmly, but she was hiccupping.

He stood up and backed away. "I'm really sorry, Gwen." He turned and left the room.


He walked home slowly from the hospital. He decided to go to his dorm, which was closer, rather than head to Christian's. He needed time to think; to be alone. He thought about Gary Beecher and all of the potential that was left unfulfilled. He thought about his own child and what he or she might have become. He thought of Toby's grief and his own. By the time he reached his dorm room, there were tears streaking down his face.

He lay in bed quietly weeping. His phone rang incessantly. He knew it was Christian, but he just didn't want to talk to anyone right now. He let the voicemail pick it up. He fell asleep with visions of Gary's coffin behind his eyes.


He held the shank tightly in his hand, feeling the blood leech away from his fingertips. His whole body was alert and tense. He felt like coiled energy, ready to strike.

Chris was brushing his teeth. He leaned over to spit and then looked at Toby through the reflection in the mirror. "How you doing? You've been very quiet today." He turned then to face Toby.

Toby ignored the question, his mind elsewhere. He had to be sure. He had to know before he made his move. "Let me ask you something," he said as Chris walked up to the bunk. "What should I do if I ever find out who killed Gary?"

"You should whack'em," Chris drawled self-assuredly, and turned to strip off his shirt. "I'd help you."

"Yeah?" He sprung up off the bunk and hurled himself at Chris, the shank arcing through the air, aiming for anywhere on Chris' body. Chris blocked him by grabbing his arm.

"What the fuck?!" Chris screamed.

They struggled and Toby pushed him across the pod and into the glass wall near the door. "You murdered my son!" End this. End this. End this, was all he could think of.

Chris bit him then, knocking the weapon from his hand, but Toby couldn't stop now. He needed to make it right. He needed vengeance for Gary. The alarms started blaring and C.O.s burst in the pod to separate them.

Chris struggled against the hold Mineo had on him and came toward Toby. "You think I'd do that?" he yelled, his voice anguished.

"You'd do fucking anything!" And then Chris was on him and Toby and the C.O. were toppling to ground. There was more scratching and digging before the were pulled apart again. Toby's heart was pounding hard in his chest and he screamed in agony, still struggling. I failed. Fuck! I failed, he thought.


Ty was yanked out of sleep, his heart pounding as hard as Toby's. What the fuck? Where the hell had that come from? Had Toby really believed that Chris killed Gary? Ty knew there'd been an accusation and a fight, but he had no idea how vehemently Toby believed it. Nor how much Chris had obviously been hurt by the accusation. The pain in his eyes and the anguish in his voice was convincing enough to Ty.

He got out of bed and went to the bathroom to pee and wash his face. His heartrate was starting to slow a bit, but he still felt jittery and wired. He didn't want to think about the dream, but his mind kept forcing him to see a vivid replay.

When he got to his room, he looked at the clock. It was almost 2:30 am. He decided to go running and burn some energy off. Maybe he could still get a couple of hours sleep when he got back. He changed quickly, drank some water and hurried out into the dark.

With the semester over, he only had a couple more days before he had to decide what to do about his summer housing situation. The spring semester , which ran for six weeks in May and June, would be starting and he had to either pay for room and board or move into Christian's house before it began.

With everything that had happened in the last 24 hours, he really didn't think he was ready to move into Christian's house, although a part of him really wanted to. He wished a lot of things hadn't happened, like Gwen getting pregnant in the first place and then losing the baby after he'd started to get attached to it. It was making him question everything.

And why shouldn't he? How well did he really know Christian, past life or no? They'd really only known each other a few months. And Ty still had another year of school. Was this really the time for them to be committing to each other?

The thoughts swirled through his head as he ran at a punishing pace. He went down Ann St. and ran past Christian's house. He saw a light on downstairs. Christian was probably awake and worried about why Ty hadn't called. He should stop by and talk to Christian, but he just couldn't. He felt so out of sorts. Talking now would only make things worse.

He needed to figure things out and he needed time to grieve. But he knew that he couldn't just leave Christian wondering until he figured it all out. When he got home, he took a shower and then sent Christian an email.

I'm sorry I haven't called. Gwen lost the baby. I need a few days to sort things out. Please don't try to contact me.


He realized after he sent it that it sounded abrupt and a little cold. He hoped that Christian would understand what he was going through.

Ty fell into a dreamless sleep and woke up with barely 15 minutes to get to work. Rubbing the sleepiness out of his eyes, he got up and quickly teeth, got ready for work before rushing to the pharmacy.

The day passed slowly, despite the fact that the pharmacy was busy. He found it hard to concentrate on what Mr. Kim was teaching him. He kept thinking about Gwen and the baby and Christian. He worried about what he was going to say to Gwen next time he saw her. If she would ever speak to him again.

He went over the dream a couple dozen more times and wondered if there was some message or lesson he was supposed to get out of it. He worried about how Christian would react if Ty said he wanted them to take a break.

"Ty? Is that prescription filled yet?" Mr. Kim asked, interrupting his thoughts.

He looked down at the cream he was supposed to be mixing. "Um, yeah. Almost done. He quickly squeezed the mixture back into the tube, capped it and handed it over to Mr. Kim.

"You need to pay more attention, Mr. Bartholomew. You forgot to put the label on."

"Oh! Sorry!" He grabbed the label and handed it to Mr. Kim, who grabbed it from him impatiently.

Luckily for Ty, he'd been doing a lot better at this internship up until today. Hopefully, Mr. Kim would cut him some slack.

"You go home early. Get some sleep. Come back tomorrow ready to work," he said at 4 pm, sending Ty home an hour early.

"Thanks! I promise I will." He grabbed his backpack and practically ran out the door. He thought his skull might explode from too much thinking. He needed to talk to someone and he was too upset still to talk to Christian or Gwen. Then he remembered how great Matthew had been the last time they`d talked. When he got to the dorm, he headed straight for Matthew's room. Ty prayed he hadn't gone home yet.

He knocked on the door and waited but there was no answer.

"Dammit," he said aloud.

"You looking for Matthew?" a tall guy with black hair asked him.

"Yeah. Is he around?"

"He's at work."

"Do you know where he works?"

"At Devlin's Computer store on State."


Ty headed over there, hoping Matthew might have a break coming up.

When he walked in the store, Matthew looked surprised, but pleased to see him.

"Ty! What brings you here?"

"I need to talk to you. Do you a break coming up?"

"Um, yeah, sure. I can cut out a little early for dinner break. Just let me go tell my manager."

"Thanks." Ty went out front to wait and Matthew showed up a few minutes later, looking concerned.

"Is something wrong, Ty?" he asked as they walked down State.

"Yeah, pretty much everything."

Matthew opened his mouth in surprise. "Where you do want to talk about it?"

"How about Dooley's?"


They asked for a table on the second floor, which is where Ty and Christian had their reconciliation lunch.

The waiter took their drink orders and left them alone. It was still early, so not many people were there. Just one other group of three on the second floor. Ty was glad because he really wanted the privacy.

"God, where do I start? So much has happened." He told Matthew about the baby first, about how he and Christian had agreed to raise it. And then about how Gwen had lost it and he'd felt empty and devastated. Then he told Matthew about the dream of accusing Chris of murder. "Do you think it's some kind of message or foreshadowing? It seems like my life is eerily paralleling Toby's and all these dreams are some kind of warning to get out."

"Or maybe they're a warning so you can avoid the same mistakes Toby and Chris did," Matthew offered.

"Maybe, but I wonder how smart it is for me to be involved with Christian when I don't really know him that well." He paused, running his hands through his hair. "Fuck! I don't know what to do!"

The waiter came with their drinks and they both decided to wait before ordering any food. Ty took a sip of his beer, hoping the alcohol might calm his nerves a bit.

"Ty, you once told me you felt closer to Christian than to anybody else and that you thought he understood you. Is that still true?" Matthew asked and drank some of his soda.

Ty sighed and thought for a minute. "Yeah. He's been great. I've never felt so close to anyone before. It's just that all this other...shit is getting in the way. I can't really think about the two of us clearly with the baby stuff and the dreams and the past life crap. It doesn't seem to make sense anymore. Plus, I need to decide whether or not to stay in the dorms for the spring semester or move in with Christian. It's not a decision I should make in a hurry."

"You're right. It isn't. Is there a financial reason you need to move out of the dorms?"

"No, why?"

"Then maybe you should just keep the room for the semester. It's only six weeks. If things are still good between you and Christian at that point, you can move in with him then."

"I guess that makes sense. It seems like ever since I met Christian, my entire life has been on fast-forward. All this shit keeps happening; one thing after another. I went from being just this guy studying pharmacology to being in two back-to-back relationships, to falling in love and finding out I've got this past life, and almost becoming a father in just a few months." Ty was wringing his hands as he spoke. He took another sip of beer.

"It's a lot to absorb. Sounds like you need to slow everything down. The baby decision's been taken out of your hands, but you still need time to grieve. As for Christian, you need to talk to him," Matthew suggested. "Tell him you feel like everything's rushed. If he loves you like you say he does, he'll understand. You need more time to get to know him and make sure he's the right partner for you. Although, I suspect you know that he is already."

Ty nodded as Matthew spoke. He felt some of the tension ease from his shoulders. What Matthew said made sense. Why couldn't he have thought of this shit himself?

"Hey, Ty, don't beat yourself up. You've got a lot on your plate and it keeps piling up."

Ty snorted. "Isn't that the understatement of the year?"

Matthew laughed. "I'm glad you came to find me, Ty. It means a lot that you trust me enough to share all this with me."

"Yeah, well, you seem to be a good listener so far," Ty teased him. "Seriously, though, you've been great. If there's ever anything I can do for you."

"No problem," Matthew said, and then stood up. "Listen, I have to get back to work."

"You didn't get to eat anything."

"That's okay. I'm off at 8. I'll get something on the way home. Call me if you want to talk some more."

Ty stood and shook his hand. "Thanks, Matthew."


Matthew took his wallet out to pay for the soda. He took out some cash, but Ty pushed it back toward him. "Keep it. It's the least I can do."

Matthew smiled and headed down the stairs. Ty took out his cellphone and called Christian.

He picked up on the second ring. "Yeah?"

"Hey Christian. It's me."

"Ty! Where the hell have you been?" He sounded half-annoyed, half- worried.

"Thinking. Listen, are you home because I really need to talk to you."

"I'm just heading home from work. I'll be there in about 10 minutes."

"Can I come over?"

"You better. You've got some explaining to do."

Ty laughed. "I know. I'll meet you there."

He clicked the phone off and slipped it back in his pocket. He put some bills on the table to cover the drinks and headed down the stairs and over to Christian's.


"Hey, you hungry?" Christian asked, after he greeted Ty with a bear hug.

"I could eat."

"I got some steaks yesterday to cook on the grill."

"Sounds great."

Christian went outside to turn on the grill and Ty followed him. "So, what's the story? You okay?"

Ty sighed and scrubbed his hand through his hair. "Yeah, I guess. A little confused and upset, too. I, uh, took it hard when Gwen lost the baby. I had this vision in my head of being a dad and then it just got blown out of the water. Made me feel kind of lost."

"I hear ya," Christian said, turning up the flame.

"And then I was an idiot to Gwen. I said some pretty horrible things to her and she threw me out. I felt like a huge jerk. I *was* a huge jerk. I still need to go and apologize to her if she'll ever talk to me again."

"She will."

"And I was a jerk to you, too. I know that."

Christian looked at him but didn't say anything.

"I was confused, but that's no excuse for not coming and talking to you about it. I thought it would be better if I figured it all out in my head first."

"Maybe it was."

"Still, I shouldn't have left you hanging like that. An email is not exactly communicating. I seem to be making a habit of that. I don't want to do that anymore."

"I'm not too crazy about it myself." He signaled for them to go back in and headed up the back steps and over to refrigerator. He took out some corn that was already wrapped up on tin foil. At least, Ty assumed it was corn from the shape. "Let me just put these on real quick and I'll be right back. They take longer than the steaks."

He ran out and came back in a few seconds later. He grabbed a chair from the table and turned it around, straddling it. "So, what else?"

"Well, between the dream and Gwen losing the baby, I was beginning to think..."

"The dream about Gary?" Christian asked.

"No, there was another dream since then. It was..." Ty looked down at his hands. "Toby accused Chris of killing Gary," he whispered.

"Christ, Ty." He stood up and pushed the chair out of the way, and took hold of Ty's arms. "Look at me." Ty finally did There was concern etched in his expression. "Tell me everything."

"Toby tried to kill Chris; stab him with some kind of crude knife. There was so much hatred and anger inside of Toby. I could *feel* it, Christian. It was...horrible."

Christian rubbed his hands up and down Ty's arms to comfort him. "Fuck, Ty."

"I don't understand how two people who supposedly love each other could say such horrible things to each other. Toby felt so much rage. And Chris! God, Chris was furious and hurt that Toby could believe such things about him." Ty was shaking now. "It just made me feel so helpless; like watching some horrible tragedy that you had no control over. What if..." He let the sentence trail off.

"What if that happens to us?" Christian said what Ty was thinking.

Ty nodded.

"Ty, you can't think like that. You're not Toby and I'm not Chris, no matter what the parallels."

"But there are so many similarities! I feel like I'm trapped in some play and being forced to live his life over again; making all the same mistakes."

Christian let go of Ty and took a step back. "Oh come on, Ty. Don't you think that's just a little dramatic? Toby's life was a fuck of a lot worse than anything you've gone through."

"I know that. But I'm still young. Things could happen..."

"Oh fuck, this conversation again? I don't know what you want, Ty. You want guarantees that you're not going to end up in jail? Or lose a kid? Or hate me someday for some unfathomable reason? I got news for you. There are no guarantees and for you to even worry about this shit, it just makes me crazy."

"Yeah, well, it makes me crazy, too, obviously. What if the dreams are some kind of warning so that doesn`t happen?"

"Anyone ever tell you that you think too much?"

Ty laughed dryly. "Yeah, you."

"So what do you want to do? Are you trying to end this between us?" Christian asked, his eyes dark and hard.

"No! I just think that it might be too soon for me to move in, that's all. I think I should stay in the dorm another semester. It's only six weeks and it'll give us more time to get to know each other better. Everything that's happened between us has been so fast, and I know it was partly me, but I just think it would be a good idea to slow down." Ty could see Christian's tension ease as he spoke. "That's not so horrible is it?" He approached Christian slowly, wanting to touch him, but not sure he was welcome.

Christian's hands were on his hips and he was staring right at Ty, but he didn't move as Ty got closer. Ty put his hands on Christian's shoulders. "I love you."

Ty felt it the moment Christian's anger slipped away. The shuttered look on his face was gone and he was looking at Ty with familiar intensity. "I love you, Ty."

They came together then; arms and lips and bodies wrapped together. They kissed unspoken apologies and hopes for the future. They made promises to each other with their mouths and finally pulled apart, breathing heavily. Ty knew that things weren't perfect and that there was no guarantee of forever, but he knew they were moving in the right direction and that they were together.

"I should probably put those steaks on the grill," Christian said, leaning into Ty's forehead. His hands were stroking Ty's hair, sending shivers through him.

"Yeah." He let Christian go reluctantly and watched him walk outside with the steaks. He realized his nerves were calm for the first time in days. He knew it was because of Christian. I should have come to talk to him in the first place, he realized.


After dinner, they vegged out on the couch and cuddled before heading upstairs. They didn't talk any more about Gwen, the baby or the state of their relationship. Ty was grateful for that. He'd done enough thinking over the last few days to last him awhile. He knew there were still things he needed to take care of, like apologizing to Gwen, but for now he was content to just *be* with Christian.

They made love slowly that night, taking the time to explore each other. They undressed each other leisurely, teasing each other with kisses on heated skin. Ty blocked out everything except how it felt to be holding Christian; to be kissing him and touching him. Everything between them had happened so fast and there were so many other things going on at the same time that it seemed like their whole courtship had been rushed. Even the morning after their first time, Ty had to go running off to the airport to get Christian's sister.

That night, there were no interruptions; no place either of them needed to rush off to. And when Ty came, buried deep inside Christian, he cried out at how perfect it felt. He fell asleep wrapped around Christian.


Toby felt like his heart was breaking as he kissed Chris one last time. It was a desperate kiss, full of longing and love. When Chris pulled away, he whispered, "I'll see ya."

Toby snorted. "When?" he asked. He watched Chris walk away slowly, hindered by the manacles on his arms and legs.

Chris stopped and gave him the patented know-it-all grin. "Back here. Or in heaven."

"You really think we're going to get into heaven?"

"You and me together? God doesn't have the balls to keep us out." He sounded so sure that Toby wanted to believe him. He watched Chris walk away, feeling his heart splinter into a million pieces.

The processing room melted away and Toby looked down to find Chris bleeding in his arms. Toby's own tears splashed down on his face.

"Chris, please. Hang on. Help's coming."

Chris' eyes fluttered open and focused on Toby. "Don't cry, Tobe. It's not over. We'll see other again."

Toby laughed bitterly, remembering Chris' words to him before he left for Cedar Junction. "In heaven?"

Chris took a weak breath. "Maybe in the next lifetime," he gasped. "No one's been able to keep us apart yet." A few more shallow breaths and Chris was gone.


Ty woke up from the dream with tears in his eyes. He felt sad but he also felt hope. Christian was still sleeping and he didn't want to wake him to tell him about the dream. It wasn't even 5 am yet. He could wait until morning. He snuggled into Christian, who stirred a little before burying his face in Ty's neck.

"Heaven's going to have to wait a little longer," he whispered and kissed Christian on the forehead.

*the end*
Please send feedback to Anne.