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  2. Wayne Gray

    Trust

    Charles has a loooooong history with both guys. And he knows they both bear responsibility. He also knows how to push each of them. With Wren, it's a direct confrontation that works. With Caleb, it's something... gentler. Caleb might be a slab of a man, but he's at a fragile point in life. Charles is his brother, and he tries hard to protect him - even if he's protecting him from himself, and his own foibles. Charles has a way of getting Caleb to admit things to himself - if you remember at the kitchen table when Charles made Caleb say aloud that he wanted Wren to kiss him? That's just one example. In this chapter, he got Caleb to feel protective toward Wren, even while Caleb was upset with him. He's not just pushing Wren, but Caleb too. Does it look like he's more on Caleb's side? Yeah, it does. Because that's what will solve what Charles considers to be a problem. Charles's sin, really, is that he's meddling. Then again... the boys are now going on a date. So... 😏 You're right. The guys need more openness and understanding with one another - because there are more trials coming, for sure.
  3. Will Hawkins

    Alo Chapter 33

    Foster care has such a bad reputation, even in this country because most of the people involved are in it only for the money and couldn't care less about the children. There are also frequent stories about molestation, unfortunately. I feel that the restriction on gay foster parents is unreasonable. Gays, especially gay couples who enter into the foster care program, are usually in it because they want to be and frequently have a double income so the payments mean little. Just another place for equality to take root. I am pleased to see a few married gays allowed to foster older children as they are so hard to place. There must be a special place in paradise for these gays because fostering an older child frequently carries with it an additional burden of previous failure and psychological scarring.
  4. Buz

    Chapter 38

    That poor poor child. I love Drew's Mum even more. I am not as forgiving of Grannie as others may be. I think I understand where she is coming from but she is not an idiot and she seems to have access to an amazing amount of info so has everything she needs to make better decisions. I know, she is not an idiot but she is human blah blah. But still, Jay deserves a hella lot more than that.
  5. drpaladin

    Chapter 38

    I don't see Granny in quite so altruistic a light in regards to Jay. She knows very well how the twins view her and this is why she hasn't told them about Jay herself. Celebrities get tons of mail so there would be no guarantee they would see or believe it if sent anonymously. I believe she thinks they will distance themselves from Jay if they tell the twins the truth. She is pasting her standards of propriety on them and can't conceive they would react differently as long as she isn't the one delivering the message. It shows how little she knows them. They aren't that shallow or easily shocked. Threatening to tell the press is especially cruel whether she intends to carry it out or not.
  6. You did an amazing job writing this chapter! You must be a bit schitzophrentic (sp?) to write the dialogue between Cynthia and Mom! 😉 There have been some subtle changes in Tyson recently. Maybe Cynthia will be able to keep Mom away and help Tyson more. Thanks.
  7. Carlos Hazday

    GMA XIX

    That's too complicated for me to figure out.
  8. Carlos Hazday

    GMA XIX

    LMAO Quiet before I revoke your privileges.
  9. Petey

    Trust

    In not sure why Charles thinks that if the boys are at odds it's always something Wren has done? Caleb has subtly changed the rules they both accepted ( that of fuckbuddies). While Wren definitely has issues, Caleb bears some responsibility for the tension. They both need to be more open with each other. They need to be strong for when the Uncles step up their harassment.
  10. Gotta give readers a chance to breathe between the drama point. LOL
  11. Which is their slogan -- I've had to stop drinking anything with caffeine as it reacts with my blood pressure Rx and causes my pulse to jump by 20+ bpm. And I love coffee. 😞 Never heard the slogan before, but at least it fits. @Fae Briona, sorry to hear about your problem with caffeine and blood pressure. I definitely feel your pain!
  12. When we got home Friday night, Brandon and I popped into the family room to say hello to the boys. Wyatt was playing a video game against another boy, who we assumed to be Revin, and Tristan jumped up and came over to speak with us. “You can meet Revin when he’s done playing the game.” “Ok, we’ll wait then,” we agreed. When the game ended, Tristan called him over. “Revin, come here. I want you to meet my dads.” Revin hopped up and came over to greet us. “This is my dad Danny, and my dad Brandon. Dads, this is Revin.” “It’s nice to meet you,” Brandon stated as he extended his hand. “Thanks, and what should I call you?” he asked as he took Brandon’s hand and shook it. “My name is Brandon, so you can call me that.” “Nah, my mom doesn’t like me callin’ a grown up by his first name.” “Ah, ok, I can understand that. My patents call me Dr. O’Hara, if that works better.” “Yeah, it does. So you’re a doctor?” “I’m a dentist.” “Oh, ok.” “And I’m Tristan’s other dad,” I said as I also reached out to shake Revin’s hand. “And my patients call me Dr. Currie.” “So are you a doctor or a dentist?” he asked as we shook hands. “I’m a doctor, or more precisely a pediatrician.” “Oh, then maybe my mom should start takin’ me to see you guys from now on.” “If that’s what she decides, then we’d be happy to treat you as one of our patients.” “Great, I’ll tell her that when I get home.” Revin was about the same height as Tristan, although he wasn’t quite as slender and had more of an average build. He also had mousy brown hair, brown eyes, and an adorable smile. He also seemed to be very outgoing. Now that the introductions were over, we let the boys continue playing video games, and Brandon and I went up to our bedroom to change. We didn’t see Revin again until we sat down at the table for dinner. “I hope you like meatloaf, Revin,” Brandon said as he sat the platter down on the table. “Yeah, I do,” Revin confirmed. “Does anyone ever call you Rev?” Ryan asked, since his curiosity had gotten the better of him. “Yeah, some of the kids at school call me that sometimes, but my mom and dad never did.” “It’s because that name makes it sound like you’re a preacher,” Joshie offered without meaning it as an insult. “Yeah, I know, so I guess that’s why my mom says I’m her rock.” “Because she depends on you for help?” Dad followed. “Nah, it’s cuz my initials are R.O. K.” “That’s very clever,” Dion stated. “What is your middle name?” “Orlando.” “Like the city in Florida where Disney World is?” Noah asked. “Yeah. We never lived there, and I wasn’t born there, but my mom said I was relieved there.” We all looked at him oddly for a few seconds as we attempted to figure out what he was trying to say, and then it dawned on me. “I think she probably said that you were conceived there, meaning it’s when the egg was fertilized and started to grow into you.” “You mean I was hatched from an egg?” “Not hatched, but you started out as an egg.” “I did?” “Yes, all animals develop from eggs. Some eggs are external and you can see them, like with birds, fish, and reptiles, while with other animals they’re internal and you can’t see anything until the baby is born.” “So is that why a woman gets really fat when she’s gonna have a baby?” “Yes, and it’s because the fertilized egg develops inside her body.” “Ok, I see now.” I think we all got a kick out of that discussion, and I was glad I could help explain that little biology lesson for him. I just hoped it wouldn’t cause a problem if he mentioned our conversation to his mother, or if he asked her questions about it after he returned home. If it does, we might be getting a phone call asking us to explain what we told him. After we finished dinner, Revin went with Tristan, Wyatt, Joshie, and Benny to the rec room, and they played games together for the rest of the evening. “Ok, you guys. It’s time for you to shower and get ready for bed,” I announced, bringing an end to that activity. “Man, it must take a long time for you guys to shower, seein’ there’s so many of you,” Revin observed. “Not really, cuz we usually shower together to save time.” “So how many of you shower at the same time?” “Just two of us, and I’ve showered with Benny, Joshie, and Wyatt before.” “So you’ve seen them bare-naked?” “Yeah, and they told me that this summer we’ll all swim naked in the swimming pool. There’s an above ground pool in the back yard.” “Oh, wow. Do you think I can swim with you guys this summer?” “Sure, but our dads and grandpas may be doing that with us too.” “And do they swim bare-naked too?” “Yeah, they do.” “Oh, man, I can’t believe it. That’s so cool. Do you want to shower with me tonight?” “Yeah, but I’ll have to ask my dads first.” “Why, if you already do it with everybody else?” “Cuz we have to get permission first before we can do anything like that.” “Oh, ok.” Tristan then came out to ask us that question. “Is it ok if me and Revin shower together?” “Are you sure he wants to do that?” “Yeah. When you came back and said it was time for us to shower and get ready for bed, he said it must take a long time for all of us to do that, so I told him we usually shower together. When he heard that he asked if he could shower with me too, and I told him I’d have to ask you guys first.” “Maybe I should talk to him about it, just to make sure.” “K, I’ll go get him.” Tristan returned a minute later with Revin in tow. “Here he is,” Tristan announced. “Revin, Tristan said you wanted to take a shower with him, and I just wanted to make certain that you really wanted to do it with him.” “Yeah, I do. It sounds like fun, cuz Tristan told me he showers with the other boys too.” “Yes, he has, and you realize that he’ll see you without your clothes on.” “Of course, cuz I don’t wear nothin’ when I shower, and I’ll see him bare-naked too.” “Ok, if you’re sure you want to do this. I just wanted to make certain.” “Yeah, it’s ok.” The boys then raced upstairs and got ready to shower. From what I was told later, Revin not only got to see Tristan naked, but he also saw the other three walking around without anything on as well. At one point, he even asked Tristan why Benny’s penis looked different, since Revin is circumcised and Benny isn’t. Tristan called Benny over and asked him to show Revin how he could retract the foreskin, and then the boys explained how they were all born with their penis looking like Benny’s. Brandon and I found this out when we went up to tuck them in later. “Man, that was more fun than I thought,” Revin stated excitedly. “I got to see the other boys bare-naked too, and Benny told me why his dick looks different than the rest of ours.” “Yes, all boys’ penises look like Benny’s when they’re born, but some parents have the extra skin removed shortly after their sons are born.” “Yeah, they told me that too, and they ‘splained why Benny and Joshie’s dicks are bigger than mine, Tristan’s, and Wyatt’s. They told me why they’ve got hair down there too.” “Yes, and that will probably start happening to you and Tristan in the next couple of years.” “Great! I can’t wait.” “So is this the first time you’ve seen other boys naked?” “Kinda. I’ve seen other boys’ dicks before when we were peeing in the boys’ room, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone completely bare-naked.” “Then I hope your mom doesn’t get upset about us letting you do this?” “She won’t, cuz I’m not gonna tell her.” “Ok, that might be the wise thing to do. I don’t want her to get upset and then not allow you boys to spend time together.” “Yeah, we don’t want that to happen neither, but I think my mom will let us shower together at my house too.” “Ok, as long as it’s not a problem for her.” “It won’t be, cuz she never sees me take my shower, so she prolly won’t know if we do it together.” “As long as you don’t get carried away and make a lot of noise.” “We won’t.” Seeing that issue had been taken care of, we tucked both boys in and I kissed Tristan on the forehead. “My mom does that to me too,” Revin said when he saw me do it to Tristan. “Yes, many parents do.” “Ummm, will you do it to me? I don’t got a dad any more and sometimes I wonder what it would be like if he did that to me too.” “Sure, if it’s what you want.” He nodded and smiled broadly. After I’d kissed him on the forehead as well, I stepped aside so Brandon could do the same thing with both boys. “Goodnight and sweet dreams,” he said afterward. “Night, and thanks for lettin’ me stay here with Tristan.” “You’re welcome, and now I want both of you to get some sleep.” As we were leaving the room, we turned off the light and shut the door behind us before going downstairs again. “Did everything go all right?” Dad asked when we joined him and Pop for a cup of tea. “Basically. Revin witnessed the nudie parade and seemed to enjoy it, but it led to some interesting questions too.” “I’m sure. I remember when something like that happened when you boys were younger.” “That’s right. Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember some of those same discussions taking place the first time Jay stayed over.” “You’re right,” Brandon agreed. “That’s because the two of you and Ricky were circumcised and Jay wasn’t.” “And I remember you explaining the difference to us,” Brandon confirmed. “Yes, and now it’s your turn to do that with your sons and their friends.” He was right. History was repeating itself, however this time we were taking Dad’s place and our sons had replaced us. I just hope things go as well for them as it did for us. The next morning the boys sauntered downstairs and joined us for breakfast. Dad had stuck with the basics, since he didn’t know for sure what Revin liked. He’d prepared pancake batter, a bowl with the eggs already scrambled and ready to cook, and he had the sausage links and bacon ready to put in the frying pan. After telling Revin his choices, he asked Revin want he wanted. “I like all that stuff, so can I have some of each?” “Of course. I’ll make you a pancake and some scrambled eggs, and I’ll throw a sausage link and a couple of strips of bacon on your plate too.” “Thanks, that sounds good.” After the boys had chowed down, we asked them what they wanted to do next. They talked it over quickly and then Tristan gave us their answer. “Revin says he wants to play video games and the games out in the rec room, and then later he wants to play those other games too.” “Do you mean the board games?” “Yeah, the ones Grandpa Josh has.” “Ok, that sounds fine to us, and we’ll just do our chores while you boys are having fun.” They played video games until it was time for lunch, and after devouring a bowl of soup and a grill cheese sandwich they headed back to the rec room. They competed against each other playing air hockey, pool, and table tennis until dinnertime, and then they came out to join us again. “Man, there’s so much to do here and I’m having a blast. I don’t got nobody to play with at home, ‘cept for my mom.” “You certainly don’t have to worry about that here. You just have to decide who you want to compete against.” “Yeah, and they’re all fun to do that with.” After they’d filled their bellies again, they wanted to play the board games next. Brandon and I sat down with Revin, Tristan, and Wyatt to play Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, while Dion and Trey played the other games with the older boys. We did that until it was time for them to go to bed, and then we sent them upstairs to shower. They hadn’t been up there for more than a few minutes when I heard a commotion, so I went up to see what was going on. The boys were all totally naked and running around slapping each other on the bare ass. “All right, what’s going on here?” I asked, although I already knew the answer. “We were just havin’ fun spankin’ each other on the hiney,” Revin explained. “I can tell, seeing all of you have red butts.” After I said that, the boys started checking each other out and then they began to laugh. “I didn’t know that was gonna happen,” Revin confessed. “Yes, the skin does that when you slap it.” “And Tristan and Revin got boners from doin’ it too,” Wyatt pointed out. “Yes, that can happen too,” I said as Tristan and Revin glanced at each other’s groins and began to blush. Now their faces were as red as their butts. “Ok, let’s start hitting the shower instead of each other, because it’s time for you to get some sleep. We have church in the morning.” “Ok,” they all relented. As Revin and Tristan passed by me, I noticed that Revin’s penis was slightly longer than Tristan’s, but not by much. He was just another typical boy and totally unashamed about me seeing him without anything on. He and Revin headed into the bathroom across the hall from Tristan’s room, while Benny and Joshie used the other one. Poor Wyatt looked lost as he stood alone in the hallway, and Tristan happened to glance back and saw him looking very forlorn. “Wyatt, do you want to shower with us?” Tristan asked. “Yeah,” he squealed as his mood did a quick 180. “Just no fooling around,” I warned. “It will be crowded with three of you in there at the same time and I don’t want anyone to fall and get hurt.” “K, we’ll be careful,” they all agreed. We gave them thirty minutes to finish up and slip into their PJs, and when we went upstairs to tuck them in, Tristan asked us a question. “Can we sleep in one of the other rooms, in one of the bigger beds so Wyatt can sleep with us too?” “Sure, just give me a couple of minutes to get it ready,” Brandon agreed for both of us. “It’s really nice that you boys are including Wyatt too.” “He’s nice and I like him too,” Revin answered, “so we didn’t want to leave him out.” “And I like Revin too,” Wyatt confirmed. “I’m glad you’re all getting along so well, and I’ll tell your dads so they know where you are.” “K,” Wyatt answered. After we tucked them in, Brandon and I kissed each one on the forehead and wished them sweet dreams. “I really like that you do this, and that you did it with Wyatt too.” “We always do, because he and Joshie are like our sons too.” “Yeah, it’s almost like I got four dads,” Wyatt agreed. “And now I do too, cuz your dads come in to say goodnight to us too,” Revin added. I guess this meant we’d just unofficially adopted another boy. The next morning, Tristan explained to Revin about our Sunday routine. “We just have a bowl of cereal before we go to church, cuz we go out to eat afterward.” “Ok, that sounds like fun. Me and mom mostly just eat at home.” “Sundays are a special treat for us,” I offered and Revin accepted my comment at face value. When we got to church, some of the other parishioners wanted to know who Revin was. “He’s my friend and he stayed with us over the weekend,” Tristan explained. “He’s my friend too,” Wyatt quickly added. Revin then went with Tristan to his Sunday school class, and when that ended they came up to join the rest of us for the church service. Revin sat between Tristan and Wyatt, and I was happily surprised that they weren’t constantly whispering or horsing around. They merely listened to the sermon with the rest of us and sang along with the hymns, and I was pleased to see that Revin seemed familiar with many of them. After speaking briefly with the minister and some of our friends, we headed over to the diner for brunch. “Man, this must cost a fortune,” Revin said after we’d all ordered. “It’s expensive, but just because there’s so many of us, but it’s our little treat every Sunday,” Dad responded. After we finished our meals and returned home, we asked the boys what they wanted to do next. “We’re just going to play more games,” Tristan answered. “Ok, but change first, and then you’ll have a couple of hours before we take Revin home. They entertained each other until it was time to leave, and Tristan and Wyatt wanted to go when we took Revin home. “Ok, but we aren’t going to stay long.” When we got to his house, we walked Revin to the door because I wanted to meet his mother. “Hello, Mrs. Kramer,” I said when she opened the door. “I’m Danny, this is Brandon, our son Tristan, and our nephew Wyatt, and we’re returning your son in the same condition that we got him.” “Yes, he looks fine,” she giggled, “and you can call me Becky. Why don’t you come inside to visit?” “Ok, but only for a few minutes. We just wanted to meet you and let you meet all of us.” “I’m glad you did.” “By the way, you look very nice,” Brandon added. “Thank you. I got my hair and nails done yesterday, and I haven’t done that in quite a while. So did you have a good time?” she asked after turning her attention to her son. “Yeah, I had a blast. They’ve got a really big house with a lot of people living there, and they have lots of fun stuff to do too.” “Wow, that’s good to know, and I haven’t seen you this happy and excited in a long time.” “Yeah, I really liked spendin’ time there.” “And we’ll have to have Tristan stay with us next week. How does Friday night sound to you?” “It sounds fine, and I’ll have my brothers drop both of them off here after school.” “You don’t have to do that.” “They’re both teachers and can give our sons rides back and forth, so it won’t be a problem for them to do this too.” “Ok, that will be fine then. I’ll send a note to Revin’s teacher and the office to let them know what he’ll be doing.” It looked as if Wyatt wanted to say something as well, but Brandon kept him from interrupting and we finished our discussion. We then said goodbye to Becky and Revin as we headed out to the SUV. “Thank you for letting Revin stay over,” she said as we were leaving. “It was our pleasure and he’s a very nice boy,” I replied, and Becky looked at her son and smiled. As we were driving away, Wyatt finally spoke. “I want to go with Tristan when he stays over with Revin too.” “Maybe some other time, but we want Revin’s mom to get to know Tristan first. Revin might even ask you to join them the next time, if things go well.” Wyatt wasn’t exactly happy about this, and Tristan did what he could to placate him as we made our way home. I hope this isn’t going to become a problem.
  13. Which is their slogan -- I've had to stop drinking anything with caffeine as it reacts with my blood pressure Rx and causes my pulse to jump by 20+ bpm. And I love coffee. 😞
  14. So Barq's has a bite! 😂
  15. Tea has both theobromine and caffeine - on average, 26mg per 8oz; more in dark black tea. Coffee has, on average, 95mg per 8oz. Chocolate also contains both theobromine and caffeine. And be careful which brand of rootbeer you get as some of those also have caffine added in (looking at you Barq's)
  16. travlbug

    Chapter 38

    Lady Jane could have told the twins about Jay's past at any time (she could even have mailed them the file anonymously), but she never did so. Rather, she has tried getting Jay to open up to them of their own free will--at least until now. She is a haughty aristocrat and may not like Jay on general principles (they're a commoner, ex-whore, ex-slave, and muderer [even if a justified murderer]), but has she actually been trying, in a misguided way, to help them by having them come clean to the twins? After reading the file, Drew has been determined to help Jay, so it would be surprising if another person reading the file would come to a different conclusion. Even as Grandmother forces their hand, she is giving Jay the opportunity to tell the twins on their own. Excellent thinking on Drew's part, taking Jay to the bus--the one place on the entire estate that Jay would perceive as friendly territory. Of course, if the twins come looking for Jay and Drew, there are not too many places to look, and who knows what they might hear from the outside of a bus....
  17. Wayne Gray

    Trust

    Hehehe. Yep. Well, Charles is right. Caleb isn't built to just play around, no matter what he might think he can handle. Caleb rationally knew that Wren didn't owe him more than that, yet...
  18. Today
  19. droughtquake

    Getting Ready

    Geoff certainly is a nervous guy – he gets it from Joy, either he inherited the trait from her or she inflicted it on him with her constant badgering! Probably both. She raised him with so little self-confidence that he’s indecisive all the time. Joy doesn’t seem to have much self-confidence either, but in her case, she takes it out on Geoff. ;–) I’m not a very confident person, but I’m not as bad as Geoff. Geoff really could use some therapy, but I’m sure he’d be resistant and would be resentful of anyone who suggested it to him. Tony does a good job of pointing out Geoff’s stronger points, but Geoff could use reinforcement and professional help with learning better coping strategies. ;–)
  20. I bumped into a reference to this poet last night. The following poem is unique; I don't think I've read anything like it. 

     

    The Cab

    A CAB stands in front of a dark inn. All the moonlight grows too much for the horse. The cab and the length of the street are empty: often the beast stamps to make someone remember it.

    Her joints only half support this mare, for she leans on the shafts more and more. She tosses her head to and fro to pull herself together for the wait.

    From her dream she is frightened by the quarrelling and often by the coarse laughter out of the inn. She takes a step, ready for the journey.

    Then she imagines sleepily that she is on the way home, and hangs on to herself from sleepiness, once again the cab seats rattle.

    Theodor Däubler

    1. MacGreg

      MacGreg

      Remarkable. I read and reread to absorb the scene. A fascinating perspective. "often the beast stamps to make someone remember it." 

      I really love it, AC. Thanks. 

    2. Backwoods Boy

      Backwoods Boy

      It took once through to get myself out of the present era, and a search on the author to verify the time frame.  Once one is in tune with the times, the picture so quickly painted is remarkable.

  21. Kitt

    Trust

    I think someone needs to explain the term "fuckbuddies" to Caleb. Wren backed off last chapter cause that's what he thought Caleb wanted. Lmao, so much for smoother sailing. That lasted till bedtime!
  22. Laura S. Fox

    Perfect Shot

    Good luck then! Keeping fingers crossed! (Don't fight Heath over this one, (not so) seriously!)
  23. Wayne Gray

    Trust

    Charles had an idea. He wasn't totally sure, but he did know that Rachel would accept him. He also knew that you're right - Wren needed to hear it from his mom, that he was okay and worth loving. Charles isn't well-schooled, but he possesses an uncommon insight into those he loves. That's an inborn gift some have, and Charles has it. Dad didn't leave because his son was gay. Now Wren knows it. Boy, that's a good question. Where DO you go on a date when you're closeted, and you already picnic out in the sunshine with your beau? We'll have to see what Caleb comes up with, won't we? Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
  24. Will Hawkins

    Alo Chapter 30

    Your multitudinous abilities never cease to amaze me Quora, now you have added written Italian to the list.
  25. Wayne Gray

    Trust

    Wren and feelings seem like a match and gasoline, don't they? At least up until now. Maybe things will settle down for him. And then you've got Caleb. He seems to know what he wants, at least. Uncles were very quiet this chapter, huh? Maybe the cameras have thwarted them? We'll have to see what Caleb comes up with for their date night. What's a country boy to do when he wants to impress a fella he has known his whole life?
  26. WARM FUZZIES SOMEMORE!!!
  27. Getting back early from work on Thursday, Geoff stood in the hallway and debated what to do next. They were off on their holiday the following morning, and things needed to be done. What though? He tried to recall what they discussed the day before. Some of it came to mind: primarily those things Tony said he would do. Route planning, food, and other supplies were his boyfriend's preserve. Which were his? Geoff shook his head. As it so often did, indecision removed the capacity to think logically. He sighed. What were the basics? Clothes, of course. That was better. A smile re-appeared. He ran upstairs and opened the wardrobe to be faced by not only his belongings but Tony's as well. Another wobble was quashed before it got a hold. His boyfriend was perfectly capable of packing his own clothes. Having cleared that up, Geoff left the wardrobe as it was for now and moved over to the chest of drawers. Opening one drawer out, he stared at the contents, not knowing how to start. His bag: that would give him an idea of how much space was available. That led to the question of where the bag was. He frowned. When did he last use it? He felt that any answer would have to be found by delving into ancient history. A hunt in the spare bedroom produced nothing. He went as far as opening the door into the instrument store before closing it straight after: he was in and out of there so often, there was nowhere for anything like a bag to hide. That only left the loft. With Tony moving in, more stuff had found its way up there. It was better organised than before though. With another sigh, Geoff went out onto the landing and prepared for the ascent. A few minutes later, he returned, bag in hand. A fabric carry-all, it was definitely not airline approved. He regarded it for a moment. Would life with Tony mean buying a new suitcase? Might they go abroad? Before he got lost in a fantasy, Geoff gave himself a shake. Clothes. They would be away for seven nights, so he'd need… His phone rang. Putting a hand out to pick it up, he was on automatic, mind elsewhere. “Hello. Geoff here.” A familiar chuckle made him blush. Everything OK, love? I don't normally get the official greeting. “Sorry…” He ran fingers through his hair. “I'm not used to this packing for a holiday lark.” OK. Maybe I can assist. You got something to put it all in? “Yeah. That barrel bag kind of thing I told you about yesterday. Took ages to find, then I had to blow the cobwebs off once it'd been rescued from the attic. The wretched thing still looks grey.” He heard another amused snigger. Don't worry. Next time, we'll kit you out with a bright, daisy-patterned suitcase on wheels. His jaw dropped. “Pardon?” The teasing stopped. Only if you'd like to, of course. No? Oh, well. The dust'll fall off your current bag soon enough. Geoff was still focussed on the image of him pulling along some plastic, technicolor monstrosity. Tony broke the short silence. Need any more words of wisdom? “Err… yeah. If you've time.” For you, love? Of course. Geoff glowed. However hackneyed it might sound to someone else's ear, he cherished moments like that. Tony cleared his throat. Well, what I do is plan the basics. Make sure you've enough things to last the time with the odd spare. Geoff nodded to himself. “I kind of got that far.” Then add in a sufficient variety of other gear to cope with likely temperature variations. Layers are good. Don't forget Northumberland can still be chilly in June if the weather turns. “You make it sound so attractive.” Rubbish! It's worst-case preparations. They both laughed. “The packing'll be fine.” With an effort, Geoff dragged his mind away from practicalities of going away. “Good day?” So-so. That's why I'm phoning. Tying up the last few ends will take another thirty minutes or so. Should've phoned sooner. Sorry. “Hmm?” He wasn't sure what caused the apology. Wanted to catch you before you started supper. “Oh!” Eyes blinked. “Ah… completely forgotten it's my turn. Shit. Err…” It's fine, love. Let's treat ourselves to a takeaway. “Sure?” A quiet sigh of relief escaped, followed by some rapid thinking. “How about that Indian place that keeps on getting good write-ups?” D'you mean The Golden Balti? Sounds fine to me. … Don't sweat the packing. It's gets easier with practice. “If you say so.” He glowered at the still empty bag. “I'll give it forty minutes, then order the food. Collect, or deliver?” Deliver, I think. It'll be easier. “What kind of thing d'you want?” Hang on. Geoff heard tapping sounds from a computer keyboard. I've got the menu here. Let's see… After a couple of minutes' discussion, Geoff scrabbled around to find a piece of paper and something to write with. Want me to text you? “No. I've got it.” Great. See you later. “Yeah. Bye.” With a lack of any other displacement activity to get between him and the packing, Geoff squared his shoulders in preparation. It couldn't be that difficult. In the office, Tony eyed up the remaining unanswered emails. He forwarded a couple on to a colleague; the others were internal requests and comments by people who knew he was going away. Those could wait until he got back. If impatience made his co-workers send a reminder, they'd receive an out-of-office notice in reply. A finger hovered on his mouse to close the program when another damn email appeared, marked urgent. He swore. His manager knew very well he was on leave once he left for the day. Debating whether to turn a blind eye or deal with it, his phone rang. He answered that instead. “National Trust. Tony Marshall speaking.” Oi! Where's my ringtone gone? Aren't I on your bleedin' contacts list any more? Zoe. Tony grinned to himself. It showed how much he needed a break: why else answer a personal mobile in his work persona? “Sorry, Zo. I made much the same comment to Geoff earlier. We're both suffering the usual last minute, pre-holiday madness.” He heard a snort. Well, if you're gonna splash the cash on a romantic holiday for two… “Don't act all deprived, Zo. I haven't been away since the autumn. And Geoff hasn't been on holiday since he was a teen.” What? He heard spluttering. Jesus! Why the fuck hasn't he been on holiday before now? “Can you see Geoff taking a singles package tour, or spending a week alone on the Costa del Whatever?” No, but… “I guess it takes some self-confidence perhaps, to organise a holiday for yourself? Anyway I'm determined to make this one as enjoyable as possible for him. Though I left the poor sod struggling with choosing what to pack earlier.” That's like sad for Geoff. “Yeah? Well, things are changing. … How about you? Any plans? You may not send postcards, but I know you go away.” There're a couple of metalhead meet-ups I might go to later in the summer. The prices are outrageous though. And that's before they confirm the headline acts. Fucking sharks. He sniggered. “All for the privilege of camping in some muddy, overcrowded field with zero facilities.” Living in a tent never appealed, even when he was a kid. Course there're facilities. Duh. Guess you're too old for festivals? “Less of the old. I'd easily book to go to Glastonbury or Reading for the day if I wanted.” Are those even like, your kind of music? Tony rolled his eyes. “Just because I mostly enjoy classical, it doesn't mean nothing else appeals.” That go for Geoff too? Strangely, he realised exploring his occasional interest in folk, jazz, or world music with Geoff was something still to happen. Classical music gave them such satisfaction and connection, they hadn't looked beyond. “Good point, sunshine.” What?! “'Sunshine'? Doesn't it suit your sunny, outgoing disposition?” He couldn't stop a snort; his sister didn't deign to respond. The one remaining email came to mind. “Anyway, the particular purpose of this call?” Is only to wish you and Geoff an awesome time away, dear brother. “Really? How positively civilised of you.” Yeah. Whatever. They both giggled. After their usual brief, affectionate farewells, Tony returned to the screen and the unopened message. Taking a deep breath, he clicked, in the hope his manager sought something quick. It turned out to be a wind-up which contained nothing more urgent than wishing him a good break. Bastard. With a roll of the eyes, he closed the computer down and checked his desk. God, it would be good to get away from work, and other matters, like bloody Stuart. Tony frowned. Things had gone very quiet on that front. He couldn't decide whether that was good news or not. Somehow it was doubtful Stuart would just give up and walk away. When they got back from holiday, he'd have to give some time to it. A shake of the head and he was out of the door, on the way home. Geoff regarded the chaos on the bed. It seemed virtually all the clothes he possessed were there, and none of it was appropriate. Old, familiar friends showed their age; others, though newer, he wasn't sure about. None of it was helped by his shedding a little weight since he met Tony. Although it was only a centimetre or so here and there, trousers and jeans felt loose. Saggy. A sigh escaped. He didn't want to show up Tony by being even less well-dressed than usual. It wouldn't matter when they were visiting places, but going out for meals was different. And they discussed going to a concert at the oddly-named Sage, followed by a drink or two at one of Newcastle's more gay-friendly bars. That threw him into even more of a spin. What did he have suitable for an evening like that? He stared up at the ceiling, trying to regain some equilibrium. The phone in his pocket rang. Dragging it out, his barked “Hello.” made the person on the other end pause before replying. Is that Geoffrey? He rubbed his forehead. “Sorry, Gloria. Didn't mean to snap at you. I'm packing for the holidays and it's proving more difficult than expected.” How exciting! When are you off? “Tomorrow morning. Northumberland.” I won't keep you. There must be a lot to do before then. Really, it's just to mention your mother and I had another of our little chats. Geoff grimaced; he wasn't in the mood. We continue to make progress, which is all to the good. She paused as if expecting him to ask for details. Checking his watch, the decision was made for him. “I'm pleased to hear that, Gloria. Sorry, but I've got to get on. These clothes aren't going to pack themselves. We'll talk more after the holiday. Thanks so much for your efforts though.” Oh... alright. Yes, do phone me. I look forward to hearing about your adventures. “Thanks. Bye, Gloria” Cutting the call, he looked at the bed. The heaps of clothing stared right back at him. Again he put off the necessary decisions; this time by ordering the food for later. At least he could get that right. Walking up the path, Tony opened the front door to be greeted by the spicy, aromatic scents of Indian food. He breathed in deeply, mouth watering; it had been a hectic afternoon. On the assumption Geoff was in the kitchen, he headed there first. It was empty; only the takeaway packages sitting on the table. Thinking back to their earlier conversation, he moved to the bottom of the stairs and stood, listening. Faint noises drifted downstairs of things happening – quite what, he wasn't certain – all accompanied by an undercurrent of Geoff's voice. Again, Tony couldn't distinguish anything except for staccato, marked interjections he assumed were swear words. Weren't his clothes packed yet? With a wry grin, he ran up the stairs. “Hi, love! It's only me.” Geoff's head, face flushed, poked out of their bedroom. “Thank god! Help is at hand.” Chortling, he approached and gave his boyfriend a kiss. “OK… do I assume your packing is the present emergency?” Geoff growled, while also managing to look abashed. “Didn't realise I owned so many bloody clothes. How about these?” He held up an ancient pair of rugby shorts. Tony's eyebrows soared. “School?” He got a nod. “Hmm… bin, I think.” “I've emptied nearly every drawer onto the bed and still haven't got anything to wear for the Sage.” That sounded somewhat ominous. He smiled. “A spot of shopping could cure that. How about we take a quick look at the bombsite? We can come back to it later, 'cause the food's getting cold.” His boyfriend's hangdog look nearly provoked a smirk, which wouldn't have been kind in the current situation. “Yeah, please.” The other man peered back over his shoulder at the not-yet visible packing. “The food'll be OK for another couple of minutes. It was only delivered a short while ago.” “The microwave'll come in handy, if we need it. … Right, let me at it.” Having woken up yet again, Geoff lay in bed, marvelling: not long after four, and it would soon be full-on morning. He loved the time around midsummer. Though if he lived in Shetland, he'd like it a little less: night had to mean some darkness; proper, no sun blackness. Taking care not to wake his bed fellow, he got up. Already wearing a tee and sleep shorts, there was no need to get dressed any further. He kneaded his belly. The general air of excitement around their impending holiday had, as usual, found its way to his guts. A quick cup of tea, followed by a few moments in the garden might settle things down. Geoff crept downstairs, taking care not to step on those floorboards known to creak. He sat at the kitchen table drinking tea, with the blind up, and watched the garden coming to life. Blackbirds and robins were just starting the hunt for food. They had nests nearby and probably fledglings. Putting the half-empty mug down, Geoff padded out the back door onto the partially-covered tiled area where he kept the sack of bird food. They'd miss the food over the next few days. Taking the scoop, he filled the feeders and left more loose on the ground nearby. Some people decried summer feeding, but the house was hardly situated in open countryside. Scent from the old-fashioned roses drew him further away. Barefoot, he enjoyed the cool grass, still damp from an overnight shower. Both eyes kept a sharp lookout for snails though: squashing one without wearing shoes was not something he wished to experience. After a while, he remembered the tea. Yawning, he turned and his gaze fixed on the kitchen window. A figure, Tony presumably, was also awake and moving around. With a smile, Geoff headed back. It seemed neither of them could sleep. On the way back, he disturbed birds as they feasted, then spied Tony in a dressing gown at the kitchen table, munching a couple of chocolate biscuits, Alarm bells rang in his mind. He hurried in. “Everything OK?” Tony rubbed his eyes. “Yeah. Woke up with a hypo coming on.” In reply, a frown appeared. The other man smiled. “It's alright. I'm used to this; and soon you will be, since we're living together.” “But, the insulin pump?” Tony laughed. “God... Haven't you noticed I don't use it at night?” He ate another biscuit. Geoff flushed. His boyfriend's naked beauty in bed still blinded him to other things. “Sorry.” “Come here.” A hand was held out. “It's nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes I don't see the pod either.” He allowed himself to be drawn onto the other man's lap. Sitting together, his head rested on Tony's shoulder. “And what's your excuse for being up at this time?” Tony's arm tightened round his middle. Geoff shuffled a little: it wasn't the most secure of positions. “I couldn't sleep. The excitement got to me, as usual.” “Hmm? You are feeling a little uptight.” A slight squeeze followed. “We both know a cure for that, don't we?” Yes, he did. Geoff broke free and in turn, held a hand out. Tony accepted it, though he didn't move. “Just got to test my levels: see if I'll survive 'til breakfast.” He kissed the hand. “Go on up, love. You know I'll be with you very soon.” Geoff felt the other man's appraising, hungry look travel up and down his body. He shivered and the sleep shorts suddenly became tighter at the crotch. “Yeah. I'll be ready.” “Good.” They exchanged smiles. Geoff locked the front door. There was a steady stream of questions running through his head. Was the back door locked? Had he closed all the windows? How would the garden fare while they were away? Should he let his mother know they were on holiday? This last made him sigh. Tony slamming the rear door of the 4x4 shut made him turn round. His boyfriend strode up the path. “That's everything. You ready?” Geoff gave himself a shake. Why let the thought of his mother spoil something else in life? “Yep. Northumberland, here we come.”
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