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D.K. Daniels

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About D.K. Daniels

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    Cinematography, Video-Gaming, Urban Exploring, History, Movies, Music, Travel,
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  1. My new book A Case of Jitters is out if anybody is interested you can check it out here :)  View Here


  2. Ah this looks like it could be a nice 2 part series or something. I live in the countryside now, also moving from a large city, and the one thing I have come to notice is the absence of fireworks. I used to hear them all the time in Dublin, they'd drive my dog crazy. Yet, even though they are illegal to own here too, the Garda don't seem to be too strict on the folks who possess them, they just rather you do it in a big open field rather than a small close-knit neighbourhood. Anyway, I look forward to seeing where the story goes, keep up the awesomeness.
  3. Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the story
  4. Glad I have been able to offer some warmth and humour at the present. I wanted to mix things up for a change rather than telling a POV just about a gay kid. Thanks for reading and commenting
  5. We Are Here: Vol 1 - A collection of all my shorts is out today. It contains 18 of my stories for all to enjoy. If you are interested you can check out the book by clicking here. If you'd like to see some behind the story content, insider knowledge and inspiration notes you can check out my blog to read what the people on my email list received first - click here.

    Thanks to all my Patreon's and the folks who read my previous books. I wouldn't have been able to do it without all you wonderful people. :)

  6. Special Delivery is a really sweet short about a boys' mission to tell his best friend the feelings he has been harbouring. Yet, in the current word with its pandemic, Asher comes up with a creative way to share his awestruck emotions. The story is full of hope, and offers a nice little distraction. Absolutely worth a read.
  7. Ah... You beat me to it. I was contemplating telling a story about the current pandemic, but I have time constraints lol. Who'd think in the current circumstances. In all, I really enjoyed this short. Utilising the drone is a creative approach to send a love letter. You'd think with the tech we have you'd be able to fly more than 15 minutes. I have a DJI Mavic Air, and christ you'd think for the amount you pay for it, you'd get more airtime. I have seen many Youtube videos and news snippets of folks being creative so they can still see people, but at a difference, and I think this one went down a sweet treat. At least, Asher has something to look forward to after the lockdown.
  8. I'm sorry you found it difficult, though I kept the story solely about my country. So, of course, there will be idioms not familiar to an American audience. I replied to the email you sent, and I thought that would have explained it, but okay. There are three meanings to the word strand. I'm not speaking about a stand of something (e.g., hair), but strand as an emotion and a place. Here in Ireland, we also call the shores of our sea, lakes, and rivers a strand, in essence, beaches or banks. Another meaning is to leave something or someone behind or to drive and leave a boat or sailor. Just think of it as if you're stranded. If you can go, you are not stranded. Meaning his country of origin didn't stop him from going where he wants or what he wishes to do. On a side note, he is not ashamed of his country.
  9. D.K. Daniels

    The Answer

    Daylight struggled to break through the mid-morning fog, but it had been enough to wake Shawn. He smiled against his chosen nightly partner’s warm neck. “Good morning.” He wriggled his pelvis, pressing into the shapely ass that had already performed so admirably the night before. The man patted Shawn’s hip. “Good morning, Shawn.” Rolling him onto his back, Shawn kissed him while reaching for his lube and a condom. Shawn worked a slippery finger inside and the guy grunted. “Ah, wait.” Irritation made Shawn sigh. “For what?” Those green eyes Shawn had first noticed from behind the bar gazed up at him. “I already broke my rule once, but I don’t usually do this on the first date.” He wet his lips. “I thought we could go for breakfast or something?” Shawn laughed. Pulling out his finger, he sat back on his haunches. “Sorry. I don’t date, that’s not what this is.” He made a show of opening the condom, maintaining eye-contact the whole time. “So, no. I don’t want breakfast.” He rolled the condom over his cock, then lifted and pulled until his turgid member was right where he wanted. The fellow laughed a little uncomfortably. “Really?” He shook his head once. “This is just a fuck, then?” “Bingo.” Shawn inched forward until the head of his dick was only a moment from entering. “You’re still hard. I know you want it.” He shrugged. “But if this is all too torrid for you, I’ll let you up, and you can go.” Twenty minutes later, Shawn sauntered naked into the living room as his newly-dressed, freshly-fucked guest opened the door. The man looked over his shoulder. “Well, guess I’ll see you later.” Shawn nodded. “Yup. I'll be behind the bar.” “Right.” His guest stepped outside and shut the door behind him. Shawn scratched his sticky pubes, then stretched. Walking into the bathroom, he started the water. “God. This is gonna eat at me until I remember.” Shawn got under the warm stream, his skin prickling with goosebumps as it sucked up the heat. Though not all that important, the puzzle made for a pleasant distraction. “What the fuck was his name again?” "Mmm." The last of Shawn's eggs benedict disappeared as Ian smirked across the table. Shawn snorted and wiped his mouth. "Oh, so sorry I'm audibly enjoying my meal, mister dignified." "You're really not." Sipping his mimosa, Ian still somehow managed to retain his judgmental smile. "Mm. Sorry, that is. However, I will affirm the assertion that I remain dignified." Rolling his eyes, Shawn gently kicked Ian under the table. The reward of a little surprised yelp and the narrowing of Ian's eyes made the minor bit of assault particularly satisfying. He leaned forward. "You just like to prove how much smarter you are than everybody else with that vocabulary of yours." Ian inhaled as if to reply, then cocked his head and that damnable smirk returned. "I see you inherited your grandfather's head of hair." Flushing with the heat of embarrassment, Shawn sat back, away from his jerk of a best friend. "Fuck you, man." He ran a hand through his blond hair. "I'm not going bald, you dick." “Ah, I’m sorry.” Ian’s smile slipped. Pushing aside the remnants of his brunch, he sighed and looked around at the planters lining the small patio area of the restaurant. “I love what they’ve done; it’s so pretty out here.” Since Ian hadn’t commented further about his hair, that meant he was trying to change the subject. Which further meant that Ian really thought he was going bald. “I’m only twenty-four. I’m not balding.” Shawn reached across the table, snagging Ian’s half-filled mimosa. “Guys won’t be into a bald bartender, so I’d better not be.” Ian made a face of disapproval as Shawn downed his drink. “Anybody who’s that worried about hair really isn’t worth knowing.” Laughing, Shawn eyed his naive friend and set the fluted glass on the table. “Really? How many bald men have you taken to bed?” It was Shawn's turn to smirk as Ian squirmed. Bingo. "Well, none." Ian shrugged. "That's not the reason, though. I find fit, bald guys pretty attractive. I've just never had the opportunity with one." Ian frowned. "Wipe that shitty grin off your face; you've not proven anything." "That's yet to be seen. Speaking of which, if I shaved my head I'd have a shot with you?" Shawn raked his flip-flopped foot gently down Ian's leg. "I've already told you," Ian scooted just out of reach of Shawn's lecherous foot, "I'm not interested. We're friends, and that'd fuck things up." "Nah, it wouldn't." A romp with Ian had run on repeat in Shawn's mind for years, and his penis shifted as he spoke. "What makes you think things would change?" "Let's see." Ian looked around the outdoor patio space. There were five tables, three had patrons, and Ian motioned subtly at a pair of young guys eating together. "Small town. I know for a fact one of those guys is gay. Andrew's the guy in the striped shirt. I'm betting you've had one or both of them." Of course they were gay. Shawn had slept with them at different times in the past. "Yeah, both." Ian continued, "Thought so. Take either one. I bet once you did bed them you never talked to them again." Shawn made to reply when Ian wiped his mouth. "Hang on." Standing, Ian walked over to their table. Stripes stood up and hugged Ian in greeting. What's he trying to prove? Ian was introduced to Stripes' denim-shirted friend, and they shook hands. Ian smiled, said something, then gently patted Stripes' back. They've fucked. The weird sensation that came with the realization caused Shawn to frown. After a few exchanged words, Ian grinned. "You know it. I'll be there." His voice carried across the patio as he stepped away from the table. "Thanks for the invitation." Ian returned to their table, sighed in satisfaction, and folded his hands in front of him on the tabletop. The expectant expression on his face was irritating. "Fine. You're friendly with your tricks." "Yes, but you are not." Ian sipped his water and motioned at the server, then his eyes returned to Shawn. "Despite your ignoble ways, I remain friends with you—and I want to continue to do so." Their server appeared to collect plates and to drop off the check. Shawn reached for his wallet. "Since I'm such an imposition for your moral code of conduct, I'll pay," he said in jest. That elicited a smile. "Well, honestly, that's appreciated." Ian stood, shouldering into his light jacket. "I'm still not earning enough with my column work to do much other than pay the bills." "No problem." Shawn pulled out cash and dropped it next to the tab. The pair walked past the table with Stripes and his breakfast date. "See you, Ian!" Stripes grinned at Ian, then pointedly avoided acknowledging Shawn at all. Denim smiled too, his mouth busy with a bite of food, though he waved—again at Ian. "See you guys. Nice to meet you, Erik!" Ian replied. Shawn hurried out of the place with Ian in tow. Out on the sidewalk in front, Shawn shot a dark glance at Ian. "Well, I'm glad you guys are all chummy. You gonna let them make a sandwich out of you?" Ian shrugged. "Maybe? It's not important." "Oh yeah." Shawn waved a hand as they walked down the sidewalk. "Sex is so boring. Never a motivator for mister Ian." Sighing, Ian looked sideways at him. "I didn't say that. I'm saying sex isn't the only reason I hang out with people." The bastard looked him up and down. "Obviously." Despite the dig, Shawn laughed. "Whatever, man!" He pointed. "Your loss!" I'd wreck you in the sack, you smug shit. They stopped at the bike rack and each unlocked their rides. Blessed with a mellow, sunny day, Shawn had jumped at the chance to take the bicycle. Besides, biking meant skipping cardio at the gym. "You're just mad because," Shawn happily swung his hips from side to side as he clipped on his helmet, "I'm gonna get laid tonight." His words ended in a sing-song taunt. Ian rolled his eyes and put a lean leg over the center bar of his bike. "Already got one on the hook, eh?" "Nope." Shawn got on his bicycle too. "But I'm working the bar, and that's a sure bet." Frowning, Ian shook his head as he donned his helmet. "Leave it to you—a gay dude working at a straight bar in a small town—to always get laid." "Well, it's not very straight," Shawn admitted. "The Answer is pretty damn mixed." "Still." Ian turned his bike around. "Maybe I'll come by later, get a shot with ya." Grinning, Shawn nodded. "Yeah, that'd be great." He stood on the pedals and pumped them, propelling himself down the sunny, tree-lined street away from his friend. "See you tonight!" * * * Time marches on, and frankly, she is an unfair bitch. Sighing unhappily, Shawn rubbed the exposed skin on his head where his hairline had retreated. Now thirty-three years old, he was undeniably going bald. Shawn finished with most of the morning rituals in the bathroom of his home, then moved to the closet. He dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, then examined his growing collection of headgear. Selecting a battered, masculine ballcap made of faded denim, he pulled it on. He slung his gym bag over a shoulder. On his way out, he stopped in the living room in front of the mirror hanging over the gas-insert fireplace. He turned his head this way and that. Satisfied that he looked like a dude who simply preferred to wear a cap, Shawn left. Shawn welcomed his workout routine. That time had become precious, in that he got to live in the moment, worry less about the future. Though even that had begun to change. Gotta look at the numbers when I get to the bar. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he turned into the parking lot outside of the gym. The piece of shit accountant he'd hired two months ago had turned out to be, well, a piece of shit. That meant Shawn now kept the books himself. It had turned out to be far more of an endeavor than he ever could have imagined, and he struggled with managing the bar and keeping tabs on expenses. Thank God Ian gave me that Quickbooks program. Regret was atypical for him, yet there were days when the emotion reared its head. Being just a bartender had been oh so much simpler. "Fuck this. Think about it when you have to—not before." With a growl at himself, Shawn parked and headed to the glass doors. He strode into the gym, stopping at the front desk. "Hey, Shawn." Dale, the somewhat confused yet handsome guy behind the counter, almost smiled at him. "Hi, Dale." Shawn handed over his membership card, which Dale scanned into their guest tracker system. Shawn took his card when Dale finished. "Thanks." He turned to head to the locker room. "Hey." Dale's uncertain voice brought Shawn's head around. Wetting his lips, Dale covered his wide, gold wedding band with his other hand. "So … you working the bar tonight?" "That's every night now. I own it. Don't really get nights off anymore." "Oh. Right." Dale fidgeted. "Well, maybe I'll come by after work." "Sure." He gave the nervous man a smile. "I'm sure I'll have time to," Shawn leaned over the counter, "talk." Dale's neck flushed red and his Adam's apple bobbed. "Cool. Yeah, it'd be good to, ah, to chat." "Chatting with you is always fun." Shawn turned and threw up a hand as he walked away. "See ya tonight." Gym therapy was intense, long, and necessary. Finished with a grueling lower body and cardio session, Shawn entered the locker room to grab his bag. He didn’t linger. Opening his locker, he pulled out his bag and put it over a shoulder. He then navigated past half-dressed men on the way out. As Shawn walked by the front desk, Dale nodded his way. Shawn gave him a little salute. Still sweaty and in dire need of a shower, he left the gym. Out in the parking lot, he unlocked his vehicle. “Should just shower in the gym.” Shawn groused at himself, knowing he wouldn’t do it. With a sigh, he got in his truck, started it, and drove home. A couple of hours later saw Shawn entering his bar. The spot was old, one of the oldest in the town, and had a storied history of debauchery. That suited him perfectly. "Hey, boss!" Althea waved from behind the counter. It was only just past one p.m. on a Tuesday, but there was a cadre of regulars there already. "Heya, 'Thea. How's my job treating you today?" Shawn patted a couple of guys he recognized on their backs as he walked past and they bobbed their heads in greeting. His bartender put her fists on her hips and cocked her head. "Hey, now. How long do I gotta work here for it to be my job?" Laughing, Shawn automatically eyed the stock in the racks, noting what needed replenishing. "I'll have to think about that one." He gave her a wink. "I'll be in the back. If a guy named Dale comes in, send 'im to me." "Will do. Oh, that reminds me, Ian came by." Shawn stopped. "Really?" He'd not seen his best friend in almost a week. Ian had been busy with some sort of class he'd started taking at The College of the Redwoods, the local community college in town. "Did he say he'd be back?" "Yeah." Althea shifted the string of new LED lights hanging behind the otherwise mostly-dark bar. "He said he'd be back later, after his class." "Okay. Thanks, 'Thea." Retreating into the back, Shawn sat at an old, scarred wooden desk. He sighed as he started the computer. He might as well get the worst part of the day done and over. Quickbooks loaded and Shawn sighed again. "God, I hate this shit." With a dejected set to his shoulders, he began making sure his four employees would be paid, his suppliers' contracts funded, and that he was accounting correctly for taxes and a myriad of other financial bullshit required of a business owner. Three agonizing hours passed as Shawn slowly worked through the long list of tasks he had to accomplish. He had almost finished when 'Thea's voice came over the speaker on his desk phone. "Hey. Your dude, Dale, is here." Shawn grinned. "Good, send him back." He stood up just as the well-built, dark-haired man entered his office. "Hey." Nervously wetting his lips, Dale closed the door behind him. Stepping around the desk, Shawn fearlessly entered Dale's space, pressing the man against the door with his body. "Hey, Dale." Dale was already breathing hard, and Shawn ran a hand down his front to grip his groin. "Ah." Dale awkwardly put his hands on Shawn's waist as Shawn rubbed his erection through his jeans. "I … I don't have long." "It never takes long." Shawn unbuttoned Dale's pants. Soon he had the closeted man bent over his desk, hammering like a piston and stroking him in time to his pelvis. Dale gripped Shawn's hip. "Fuck. Ungh." His shaky voice was as quiet as he could manage. Shawn grinned as Dale unloaded on the desk. "Mmm. You like this cock, don't you? Don't get this at home, huh?" Throwing his head back, Shawn groaned and plunged deep into the man under him. He held there as his body rhythmically shot into the condom. Panting, Shawn finished with a grin and pulled out. Dale took a moment to recover, his perfect ass exposed over the desk, then he straightened. "Nice visit." Shawn pulled off the condom and tossed it into the wastebasket. He checked the ballcap he still wore, then bent to pull up his underwear and pants. "Anytime you wanna chat, just come on by." Dale nodded, hurriedly putting himself together. "Yeah. See you." He left the office. Not wanting to give the bar a show, Shawn waited a few minutes for his dick to soften to a less embarrassing lump in his pants, then headed into his slowly filling establishment. "Well, that didn't take long." Ian's tone and the smirk on his face greeted Shawn from the end of the bar. "I watched your rather flustered ... associate enter and leave. I wondered how long your 'meeting' would take." Laughing, Shawn slid onto the stool beside his buddy. "Yeah, he was in a rush, and I aim to please." Ian's expression dissolved into contemplation. "I've seen this guy leaving here a few times now." He cocked an eyebrow as he sipped his signature mocktail—a tonic with lime and cherries. He stirred the drink with a finger. "This gonna be a thing for you?" Shawn leaned back. "A 'thing'? Ah, no. The dude is closeted, married. It's perfect. No strings. He comes by, gets what he needs, and I let off some steam. It's just convenient." "Ah." Ian looked down at his drink. "Of course." "What? You jealous?" Shawn leaned playfully into him. "I bet you'd love a turn over the desk." "I really wouldn't." Ian's tone and face expressed a sureness that unexpectedly stung. "Well, you're … you're missing out." They sat in awkward silence. Jeez, what's his problem? Shawn motioned at Althea. "A couple of drinks—our regular." His bartender nodded. She dropped a large cube of ice each into a pair of tumblers, then poured Maker's 46, Shawn's favorite whiskey. She delivered them to the guys. Ian stared at the alcohol. "So, how's the program working? Quickbooks?" "The program is great, though the user could use some upgrading," Shawn quipped as he picked up his glass. "Seriously, thanks for giving it to me. It helps." Taking a sip, he sighed as the warmth of the amber liquid heated his throat. "I'd not be able to do this without it." A real smile bloomed on Ian's face, and he, too, lifted his glass. "I'm glad it helps." Ian took a dainty drink, grimaced, and shook his head. "Whew." "Why do you drink it if you don't like it?" Shawn laughed and took another slug of his own beverage. The look from Ian was something Shawn had never seen from him. Then, just as quickly as it had arrived, it was gone, and Shawn struggled to assign an emotion to the expression that lingered only in his memory. Disappointment? Surprise? "I drink it because it's free." Ian's smile didn't reach his eyes. He shrugged. "Anyway, if you need help with the program, I can do that. Actually, my classes are over, so I could do some bookkeeping if you needed." "What? Your schedule allows for that?" Ian considered his glass. "Yeah." "Hell, man. Can you really do the books?" "I already am for a couple of other places." That was news to Shawn. "Well, okay." Wheels were turning now. "So, you're serious? It won't get in the way of your column work?" "Oh." Ian swallowed. "Ah, I gave that up. Wasn't paying the bills, so I went to school for some financial classes." This time, he took a real drink of the whiskey. Shawn blinked. "Really? But, didn't you buy your place? I thought you were doing all right?" He put an arm over Ian's shoulders. "Dude, you should have come to me. If you're having trouble, you come to me." That trademark smirk reappeared. "I thought I just did." "Smartass." With a snicker, Shawn gripped his buddy. "Well, I'm sorry about the newspaper stuff. I know that was your dream." Shrugging, Ian swirled his glass. "It's really hard for papers with the internet. Some dreams have to die so others have a chance." "Yeah. I guess so." Shawn sighed. "Well, in that case, yes—if you can and want to do the books for the bar, let's talk about compensation and shit." His stress decreased just thinking about not having to do the financials himself. Ian nodded and picked up his whiskey. "Sounds good." He held out the glass. "To new partnerships." Shawn grinned. "Yeah." He gently tapped his glass to Ian's. "To new partnerships!" As it went down, the liquor burned in a satisfying blend of pleasure and pain. * * * At some point, a man simply has to accept how things are. Running the razor over his head, Shawn cut off the wispy remnants of what had been his thick, blond hair. He knocked the head of the razor under the water in his bathroom sink, then ran a hand over the slick skin of his skull. While he was now bald, his beard was coming in strong. A thick but short and well-trimmed beard graced his face. Luckily, it was a light brown color so the few gray bastards spouting faded into the background hair. "Guess I've got the daddy thing going for me." Shawn sighed at his reflection. "Well, at least Dale likes it." He finished up in the bathroom, then snagged his bag. The one thing he could still control was on the agenda, and he looked forward to his time in the gym. Shawn got to the gym, immediately laying a big smile on Dale. "Hey!" Dale grinned back. "Hey, man." As he checked Shawn into the gym, Dale waggled his eyebrows. "So. You, me. Your place? My kids are at the ex's, so I'm free tonight." The last ten years had seen Dale's life utterly change. The divorce had been the best thing he could have done, and coming out to himself had worked wonders for his confidence and mental health. "Yeah, that sounds great." Shawn hesitated. "Ah. So, did you wanna stay over?" Freezing in place, Dale cocked his head. "Really?" His eyes flicked to another member as she approached the desk. "Hang on." Pretending interest in a flyer on the desk while Dale checked in the guest, Shawn fought an uneasy sensation in his belly and impatience at how long the process took. Finally, the woman walked away. "Okay," Dale began, his hands out. "I thought … well, maybe I misunderstood." "What?" Shawn swallowed. "Misunderstood what?" "Well, I mean these hook-ups have been a lot of fun, but you were pretty clear. That's all you wanted. To help me stick with that, I don't stay over." Dale tried a smile on him. "Besides, I have a date tomorrow anyway. Cute, young customer here. Hot number, you'd like him." Well, fuck him. Who needs him? "Oh, cool. My bad." Shawn shuffled his feet. "Uh, you know … I can't hang out tonight. I forgot, Ian can't cover the bar. So, I'll have to go in." Dale's expression spoke volumes—it said that he didn't believe Shawn. "Well, you do what you gotta do, man." He sighed. "I guess I'll see ya tomorrow for your workout." "Yep, see ya." Stalking through the gym, Shawn tossed his bag into a locker. Then he threw himself at his workout, trying to forget the feeling that he'd just lost something important. "Why are you here?" Ian came into the main room of the bar from the back, and Althea guiltily watched from her place behind the counter. Growling, Shawn shook his head. "Damn it, 'Thea. I told you not to call him." She threw up her hands. "Well! He's my boss too, and he told me to let him know whenever you dropped by." Shawn irritably took another drink of whiskey as Ian sat on the end stool next to him. Althea moved away to handle some customers, leaving the two alone. Spearing Ian with a glare, Shawn said, "It's my bar. I'll come here if I want to." "We're partners now, if you've not forgotten, so it's our bar. And that's not what I asked. I asked why you're here on what is supposed to be your day off." Ian put an arm around his shoulders and Shawn's neck stiffened under it. "Hey. What's going on with you?" "Nothing." He glanced at Ian. His best friend expectantly looked back, patient brown eyes simply waiting. Shawn grimaced. "Ah. Fuck." Staring down into his iced whiskey, Shawn shook his head. "I just had this moment earlier today. This … this crazy idea that me and Dale could be something more." He closed his eyes. "No. I know better. Well, I do now." After a long silence, Ian squeezed him. "Hey. It's okay to want something more." A remarkable amount of empathy and understanding permeated his tone. "You deserve more, you know." "I don't think that's true. I realize now, that I'm exactly where I am now because I put myself here." Laughing bitterly, Shawn leaned into Ian. "Yeah, but you're allowed to change." It had been years since Shawn had gotten really emotional. The drink, Ian's warm body beside him, and the interaction with Dale had pushed him to his limit, and he tried to control it all. "Tell that to this fucked-up world I made." Pulling Shawn close, Ian held him. And for the first time in almost a decade, Shawn cried. "Look, you don't have to do this." It was a bit after noon the next day, and Shawn lay back on his couch, his phone to his ear. "I know you've gotta be tired after the shift at the bar last night, and I gotta work tonight anyhow. And I really am fine!" "Hey, I'm offering to cook you dinner—and not bar food!" Ian laughed over the connection and Shawn smiled at the sound. "Just come over. Althea said she can handle the bar tonight—it's not the weekend, so it should be slow. If she needs us, she can call." In truth, Shawn needed some social time with his friend. "Fine. What do I bring?" "Bring wine." "Wine, okay. Red or white?" A few hours later, Shawn knocked on Ian's door while awkwardly holding his bottles of wine. The cute little cottage was set back from the street, with old fruit trees dotting the front yard. It gave the whole place an isolated, peaceful feeling. Ian opened the door. Whoa. Ian wore black slacks, a button-up sky blue shirt, and a dark navy blue tie. Polished brown leather shoes and a belt completed his attire. Ian's dark eyes contrasted against his shirt, and it made them appear a warm, chocolate color. He looked great. "Hey, Shawn." Ian smiled, though there was a hint of something there that Shawn couldn't place. "Uh, hi!" Chuckling, Shawn followed Ian inside. "So, did I miss a memo or something? What's the deal with the clothes?" The savory smell of red meat and spices hit his nose, causing his mouth to water. "There's no memo; I thought I'd dress up." They entered the kitchen and dining area, and there was another surprise for Shawn. Long, unlit, cream-colored tapered candles in crystal holders graced the center of the table, while two perfect place-settings with folded cloth napkins awaited them. Shawn stopped in his tracks to stare. Ian gently took the two bottles of wine from him. "I'll take these to the kitchen. Have a seat." Struggling to understand, Shawn did as he was told. He recovered some of his wits and cleared his throat. "Uh, did … do you need help in there?" "Nope. Stay there." Barely noticing the sounds of cookware sliding about in the kitchen, Shawn's brain spun. "Ian?" "Yeah?" His friend delivered a side of steaming scalloped potatoes, then disappeared back around the half-wall between the dining area and kitchen. "What's going on?" "I'm serving our dinner?" Ian next brought broiled vegetables. They looked to have been drizzled in some sort of oil and some darker stuff. Maybe balsamic. A weird flutter went through Shawn. Am I on a date? With Ian? Ian returned with two perfect t-bones on a single plate. They smelled of coffee, smoked peppers, and their own meaty aroma. The charring on the fat looked delectable. "Sorry. No salad." Ian put his hands on his hips as he looked over the food. "The store didn't have the lemon-poppyseed dressing I wanted, and I didn't have time to try and make my own, so we're stuck without." What if we are? On a date? Shawn gulped. "That's … that's fine." Fuck. Calm down. His heart hammered against his sternum. No. Fucking stop it. Ian isn't interested in you and never has been. Why would he be? Pulling out the chair across from Shawn, Ian sat. His eyes flicked up. "I hope you like it all." Shawn opened his mouth to reply and his thoughts spilled from him. "What are you doing? Why …" He looked around at the impressive meal, and then finally back to Ian. "Why spend this effort on me?" Ian stared at him. Finally, he leaned back in the chair. "You really don't know." Shawn shook his head. "What? Tell me." Slumping in his seat, Ian blinked in what Shawn had to assume was shock. "Ian, what are …" His friend stood, a look of determination on his face. "I never wanted to show this to you, but … but I think I have to." Ian walked away from the table to his bedroom, leaving Shawn alone. What the fuck is happening? It wasn't long before Ian returned. He held in his hand an old, folded piece of paper. It looked as if it had been handled repeatedly, read and reread. A little paper treasure. Ian gently set it in front of Shawn. "Open it, Shawn." Unsure what he would see, he did. The first thing he noticed was the letterhead was from the San Francisco Chronicle. Dear Mister Ian Peters, We at the Chronicle are incredibly delighted to offer you a daily column in our paper. We have over one hundred and fifty thousand subscribers to our newsprint, while our online presence is growing all the while. Times are changing for our industry, and be assured we're changing with them—your talents will find a place with us here, be it in newsprint or on the web. We'd be honored if you'd accept this offering. You'll find pay information attached. Please call us with your answer, and if you should you have any questions, or concerns. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you. Danielle Sherman Hiring Manager S.F. Chronicle Reading it again, Shawn noticed the date at the top. "Wait." He turned, looking up at Ian where he still stood behind him. "Eleven years ago?" As Ian pulled out the chair beside him, Shawn looked back to the paper in his trembling hands. "But … a long time ago, you said … you said you had to give up the writing. The column work. It's … it's why you started the finance …" The realization hit him, so profound and crushing that it made Shawn gasp. Ian quietly reached and stilled Shawn's quaking hand by laying his own over it. "Shawn." He pulled until Shawn's hand lay clasped in his own. He smiled at his shocked friend. "I learned the finance stuff for you. I stayed for you. I gave up the job at the paper, for you." Ian's gaze was unguarded, deep and consuming. Panic burned through Shawn and he shot to his feet, startling Ian. "No!" Shawn's hands gripped his own smooth head. "No! Why?! You never … you were never interested! Why do this?" Standing, Ian put his hands on Shawn's shoulders. "Hey. I've always been interested. But you weren't ready. Not … not for what I need from you. And I didn't want to fuck it up by jumping in too early." Blinking, Shawn felt dizzy. It was good Ian was holding onto him. "But, I'm shit. Ian, I'm shit. You know I am! You gave up your dream. You waited twenty years? Oh, oh fuck. Oh, fuck." "Hey, you're not shit. Calm down." Shawn staggered. "Why?" Ian now looked worried. "Shawn, hey, it's okay. Calm down, all right?" Taking deep breaths, Shawn steadied somewhat on his feet. He blinked and freed tears that streaked down his face. "Why? I'm nothing. Why did you let me ruin your life?" The most brilliant, wonderful smile lit Ian's face. "I'm in love with you. I have been almost from the start. You didn't ruin my life, Shawn." Ian rubbed a thumb across Shawn's cheek to wipe away a tear. "You were my choice. One that I have made over and over." Ian pulled him close and Shawn returned his embrace. They stayed that way for a while, and slowly Shawn calmed. So much fell into place in those quiet minutes. "Will you let me love you?" For twenty years, Ian had waited to whisper that reverent, wavering question in Shawn's ear. For twenty years, he had watched while Shawn had frolicked about before his eyes, ever-hopeful that this very moment would come. Shawn responded with a whisper of his own. "Yes. I think you're the only one who can." Ian leaned back so he could focus on him, his own eyes brimming with unshed tears. He smiled. "Probably." Both men laughed. It was so good to laugh and to finally know where he belonged. Ian sighed, then leaned in to kiss him. Later that night, Shawn made love for the first time in his life. The End * * * The Answer There was a man who never shed a tear, from love his heart was safely walled away. "I cannot be hurt since I never fear, the loss of something that's only for play." It seemed so genius this secret he'd found, this fundamental, oft unspoken truth. I watched him joyfully frolic around, still strong, handsome, in the picture of youth. We aged a bit, as we are wont to do, and things were starting to change for my friend. His partners found for his nights became few, I saw in his eyes the start of the end. "Who will want me now that I've spent my time?" We sat together as closest friends will. "Who could desire me out of my prime?" He struggled so hard to swallow this pill. I sighed and wondered if he was ready. I wondered if he could possibly see. I reached for his hand, my voice unsteady, "My friend, the answer has always been me." The End
  10. Andi fumbles with his keys, trying to get the door open. He nearly drops them, but finally he manages to let himself into his flat. Not even bothering to take his coat off, he runs to the bathroom. He only just makes it. Taking a piss has never felt more wonderful. He still doesn’t feel quite comfortable using the men’s room. He looks like a guy, but he feels like if he goes into the men’s room someone will call his bluff. They’ll see right through him. It’s even worse at work, where people know. No one has ever said anything, but he feels like everyone is staring. People glare if you go in a handicap toilet with no visible disability, too. As a result, he tends to hold it until he gets home. It’s better than it was, of course. In a pinch he can easily use the men’s, really, but when his transition was in its infancy, figuring out where to pee was terrifying. No matter where he went, he felt like an impostor. Would be nice to have one of those super realistic packers you can pee through, he thinks as he flushes the toilet. Like an actual prosthetic penis. Those things are expensive, though. After washing his hands, Andi checks his phone. No texts. Ronan doesn’t seem to be online. Small wonder, as it’s seven o’clock. Fucking timezones. Where Ronan lives, it’s only eleven in the morning. Andi can hardly even think of the guy without getting himself worked up. Even pre-T, he already had a high libido. Testosterone has shot it through the roof, and Andi groans and begins to undress, purposefully looking away from the mirror as he removes his chest binder. Clothes gone, he detaches the packer again and places it on the side of the sink. He still sometimes laughs at the absurdity of it, his detachable dick. Getting in the shower, he sees Ronan’s handsome face in his mind. This isn’t going to take long. He gets off quickly a couple of times, imagining Ronan pressed up against his back, lips on his neck and hands touching every part of him, before washing his hair and scrubbing his body clean of the day’s sweat. You’d think he worked hard manual labour, not tech support, but that’s the hormones too. Everything’s out of whack. Worth it, though. Andi steps out of the shower to find a text from Ronan, and he smiles. He wipes the steam off his black-rimmed glasses and puts them on to read it. Ronan: Hey. Andi writes back: Andi: Hey. What are you up to? Ronan: On my lunch break. How about you? Andi: Just got home a little while ago. Fresh out of the shower. Ronan: Mm, naked Andi. Andi blushes where he stands, towel wrapped around his waist. Ronan always teases him like this. Being a guy online was easier than being one in real life, for obvious reasons, and it was how Andi started to explore his gender identity. There were . . . mishaps. Guys he started chatting and subsequently flirting with, where he got in too deep and didn’t have the guts to tell them that he was really a girl. He thought of it that way, back then, but of course he’s never really been a girl. Ronan was the first person he came out to. Not just the first person online, but the first person, period. Andi was starting to feel very drawn to him and decided that if he wanted to have even a chance of at least staying friends, he had to tell the truth. So he did. He told Ronan that he’d been assigned female at birth, but that he was pretty sure he was really a guy, and that he would understand if Ronan didn’t want to be his friend anymore. And Ronan wrote in response, What’s changed? You’re still the same guy you were five minutes ago. Through everything—social transition, shrink appointments to determine whether he should receive hormone treatment, starting on T—Ronan has been his rock. And at some point they started sexting occasionally. But Ronan is gay, and halfway around the world, and Andi is very lacking in the thing that tends to be kind of paramount for gay guys, namely dick. Not for nothing, Andi’s bio-dick has grown to more than an inch since he started T. It’s really not the same, though. For one, it doesn’t hang free the way a penis would. Now Ronan writes: Ronan: Good shower? Andi smiles. Andi: Very. Thought about you. Ronan: Did you now? Were they naughty thoughts? Andi: Wouldn’t you like to know? Andi follows the text with a winking emoji. If their flirting goes any further, he may have to get back in the shower. God, it’s like being a teenager . . . Which, he supposes, isn’t so strange as he is basically going through his second puberty. The reply from Ronan comes a few moments later. Ronan: Wanna talk for a bit? I’d like to hear your voice. Andi licks his lips, then leaves the bathroom and goes to sit down on his purple sofa. He stares at his phone for a minute, then types, Okay. It only takes a few seconds before the phone rings. They have spoken before, most memorably a couple of weeks ago, when Andi was in bed, tipsy and horny after another night out with no action. He’s still nervous when he answers, though. ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey there, boy.’ A tingly feeling goes through Andi’s body. It’s not a kink thing, or a dom/sub thing. They don’t have that kind of relationship, but being called ‘boy’ just feels so affirming and validating. He clears his throat. ‘What’s up?’ ‘Not much. In the car. Decided to go home to eat, so on my way there.’ ‘Were you texting and driving?’ Andi asks, chastising. ‘Only on red lights.’ Ronan speaks in a calm, melodious baritone. Just his voice serves to turn Andi on. Having that voice whispering in his ear while he got off last time was the most amazing feeling. He only just manages to refrain from touching himself again. ‘You know, I’ve been thinking,’ Ronan continues. ‘I’ve never been to the UK. Might be fun to come visit some time, and I’ve got vacation time saved up.’ The background noise grows quieter, and then Andi hears the slam of a car door. It takes him a moment to answer, during which he hears the sound of footsteps on gravel. ‘Well, if you want to see England, you should.’ ‘Yeah, but I’d like to see you too.’ Ronan is walking up a flight of stairs now, and his voice echoes slightly. ‘Actually, I mostly wanna see you. What do you say? Wanna hang out?’ ‘Er . . .’ Andi swallows. ‘Yeah. I mean, if you want, that’d be great, yeah.’ Ronan laughs. A key turns in a lock. ‘You sound terrified. You’re allowed to say no, you know.’ ‘I don’t want to say no,’ says Andi quickly. ‘I want to say yes.’ ‘Then say that.’ Andi takes a breath. ‘Yes.’ There’s a short pause before Ronan speaks again. ‘And maybe play?’ Biting his lip, Andi hesitates. There are few things he’d like more than sex with Ronan, but now his stomach churns with anxiety. ‘I’d love that,’ he murmurs. ‘But, Ronan . . .’ ‘Hm?’ ‘You’re gay.’ Andi hears the quaver in his own voice and clears his throat again. ‘Yeah,’ Ronan says slowly. ‘And you’re a guy.’ The words make Andi’s heart beat faster, but still he wants to cry as he says, ‘Yeah, but . . . I don’t . . . I mean, I have a . . .’ He doesn’t even know how to say it. ‘I mean, I haven’t even had top surgery.’ ‘I know. I don’t care. Andi, I think about you all the time.’ It’s Ronan’s turn to sound a little bit nervous. ‘Seriously. I gotta see you, or I think I’ll go nuts.’ His voice softens. ‘It’s not like I don’t know what you look like. You’re a good-looking guy.’ Andi laughs incredulously. ‘You’ll be disappointed.’ ‘I won’t!’ Ronan utters a frustrated sound. ‘Andi, I promise I won’t. I just, I need to see you. For real.’ And even though Andi knows—he knows it’ll end in misery because no matter how much of a man he becomes, his body will never fully get there—he can’t possibly say no. Not to Ronan. So he says, ‘Okay. Yeah. I . . . I want to see you too.’ Ronan utters an audible sigh of relief. ‘Okay. Good. Man, I’m not sure what I’d have done if you’d said no . . .’ Andi can’t help his smile, or his soft chuckle. ‘I could never have said no.’ Ronan laughs as well. ‘So . . . what were you thinking about in the shower?’ * * * ‘You seem quiet today.’ Natalie takes a sip of her coffee and examines Andi with a quizzical expression. ‘Something happen?’ Andi shrugs. ‘No, not really. Just had a chat with an online friend the other day. He, er . . . he wants to come visit.’ ‘Oh! Well, that’s nice. Where from?’ ‘Seattle.’ Natalie freezes mid-sip, before lowering her coffee cup. ‘Wow. Must be a good friend.’ ‘Yeah . . . yeah, he is.’ Andi’s gaze slides to the large front window of the coffee shop, looking out onto a busy street. His cappuccino sits untouched before him on the table separating him from Natalie. ‘More than a friend?’ she asks, and Andi turns his eyes back on her again. ‘Maybe?’ He runs his fingers through his auburn hair. ‘I dunno. We sext sometimes. Er, phone stuff too.’ He feels himself blush. ‘He . . . he’s nice. But . . . I mean, he’s gay.’ Natalie frowns. ‘Is that a problem?’ ‘He says it isn’t.’ ‘I’m assuming you’re out to him?’ Andi laughs. ‘Yeah. I was out to him before I was out to you.’ ‘How dare you? I’m your best friend!’ says Natalie in mock offence, but she’s smiling. ‘He was the first person I came out to, ever. He’s been there for me. He says he doesn’t care that my body . . . I mean, he says it doesn’t matter to him at all. I’m just not sure I believe that. I mean, phone sex is one thing. He wants to . . . But—’ Andi cuts himself off. Natalie studies his face for a moment. When she speaks, her voice is soft. ‘You have feelings for him.’ Andi swallows, then nods. ‘He’s always been there, Nat. I was so afraid, when I told him I was assigned female, but he just said . . . He said nothing had changed. And that was it. He just . . . accepted me. Without him, I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to come out to anyone else. Not even you.’ ‘Sounds like he’s important to you. Tell me about him.’ ‘Well, his name’s Ronan. He’s thirty-two, works in IT, so we’ve always had a lot to talk about. Dark hair, brown eyes. Just the right side of scruffy. And he’s kind. He listens. You know? Bit like you, really, but a guy.’ He laughs. ‘I’m flattered,’ says Natalie and sips her coffee again. ‘Does he feel the same way about you?’ Andi shakes his head. ‘I dunno. I mean, he’s coming here all the way from the American west coast, to see me. He said that’s why he wanted to come. For me.’ ‘If he said so, it’s probably true.’ ‘Yeah. Never known him to lie.’ ‘And you’re sure he’s not catfishing you, right?’ Natalie cocks an eyebrow but is still smiling. ‘Yeah.’ Andi laughs. ‘He’s who he says he is. We’ve known each other for like four years. We’ve Skyped. The pics are definitely of him.’ He feels fidgety and looks down at his hands. ‘He’s coming in April.’ ‘Wow, that’s only two months.’ Andi nods again. ‘I’m really nervous. Barely eaten since we talked about it. I just . . . what if he sees me and he doesn’t want me anymore? What if, when we talk face to face, he just thinks I’m annoying?’ Natalie reaches across the table and takes Andi’s hand. ‘He won’t. He’ll love you. I mean, you said he was like me. So he’ll love you, like I do.’ She pauses and laughs. ‘Well, not like I do. ’Cause I don’t want to have sex with you.’ Andi laughs too and squeezes her hand. ‘I don’t know if he really does, either, but . . . Thanks, Nat. That actually makes me feel a bit better.’ ‘Well, good. Now drink your coffee before it gets cold.’ * * * Andi stands in Arrivals at Terminal Five. It’s just gone noon. Ronan’s plane landed fifteen minutes ago, but he has to go through baggage reclaim and customs and passport control, so it will probably be a while still. In Andi’s hand is a barely touched paper cup of coffee. He fidgets nervously where he stands. What’s he going to say? Will they recognise each other? That’s a stupid thought, they’ve seen each other’s pictures loads of times, they’ve talked on Skype. Andi knows exactly what Ronan looks like. A while later, he catches a glimpse in the crowd. Andi steps closer to the barrier where chauffeurs stand holding signs, and there. That face. Ronan sees him too and his smile is so wide. When at last they reach one another, Andi knows he’s grinning like an idiot but he can’t help it. For a moment they just stand there, face to face, staring at each other. Ronan is broad-shouldered and taller than Andi imagined, but then almost every guy he’s ever met is taller than Andi is. Ronan’s brown eyes are sparkling. Then he reaches for Andi and envelops him in strong arms. Andi utters a short laugh, slipping his arms around Ronan in turn, and has to hold back tears because this embrace is just as he imagined it would be. They stand like that for a long time, before they finally pull apart and Ronan says, ‘Hey, boy.’ Andi laughs again, looking up into Ronan’s face. ‘Hey!’ He finds that he has to wipe away a tear. It’s embarrassing, but if he’s honest with himself, he doesn’t really care just then. ‘Fuck me, sorry. It’s just . . . It’s really good to see you.’ Ronan laughs as well and ruffles Andi’s hair. Andi leans into the touch. ‘It’s good to see you too. God, I’m exhausted, though . . .’ ‘Long flight? Let me help you with your suitcase.’ Andi grabs the handle. It’s a big, red suitcase on wheels. Ronan has a laptop bag slung over his shoulder, and they start toward the exit. ‘I got you an Oyster card. It’s, er, it’s for travelling on the tube. Topped it up, so we can get home. I live in Hounslow, so it’s just a couple of stops, really.’ Ronan laughs again. ‘Hey, slow down,’ he says. ‘My brain hasn’t even caught up with my feet yet.’ ‘Sorry.’ Andi feels himself flush. ‘Just . . . I guess I’m kind of excited.’ ‘Yeah.’ Ronan yawns. ‘If I wasn’t so jet-lagged I’d be too. I mean, I am. Just too tired to show it.’ Andi glances sideways at him and smiles. ‘That’s okay.’ They reach the lifts down to the tube and wait. Andi almost jumps when he feels Ronan take his hand, lacing their fingers together. ‘This okay too?’ he murmurs, and Andi nods. ‘It’s, er . . . It’s very okay.’ A lift arrives and they get in it, standing in companionable silence, holding hands. Andi wants to say something, but he’s not sure what. And this is fine. They don’t have to speak. Ronan’s hand is warm in his. When they get to the barriers, Andi hands Ronan his Oyster card and shows him where to tap it. The journey home is silent. Four stops, and they get off. Andi’s flat isn’t far and there’s no need to hurry. Ronan does look tired. Flying east is always worse than flying west, or so Andi has been told. The furthest east he’s been is France, where he went with his parents when he was fifteen. He’s barely been out of the country, he realises, and immediately feels extremely boring. Twenty-eight years old, and he hasn’t really been anywhere. When they get inside, Ronan takes off his coat and looks around the small sitting room. ‘Nice place.’ Andi is fairly happy with his home. One wall in the sitting room is dark teal, contrasting with the purple sofa that stands against it and the other walls, which are white. The kitchenette is compact, but the space is well utilised. And his bedroom has space for a fairly wide bed, which he loves. Still, he scratches the back of his head. ‘It’s kind of small. Sorry.’ ‘Hey, don’t be sorry. It’s not much smaller than mine, I think.’ Ronan turns to face Andi, and fuck, his smile is beautiful. ‘Andi . . .’ It’s the first time he’s spoken Andi’s name since he got here, and Andi feels his heart pound. ‘Do you think it’d be okay if I kissed you?’ Andi swallows and nods. ‘Yes,’ he breathes. Ronan steps closer. He reaches out, cupping Andi’s cheek, and gently presses their lips together. Ronan’s lips are supple, his mouth slightly open, and Andi’s hands are shaking, so he grasps Ronan’s shirt and kisses him back. It remains chaste, no tongue, but Andi’s heart is hammering in his chest and when they part, his breaths have grown heavy and laboured. Ronan presses his forehead to Andi’s. ‘I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.’ ‘Yeah.’ Andi licks his lips, where the taste of Ronan lingers. ‘Me too.’ ‘There’s a lot of other stuff I’d like to do, but . . .’ Ronan yawns again, wider this time. ‘So tired.’ ‘Well,’ Andi hesitantly reaches out and strokes Ronan’s stubbled cheek with the backs of his fingers, letting his thumb trace his cheekbone, ‘you could take a nap and I could fix us some lunch. You hungry?’ ‘Honestly, I’m not even sure.’ Ronan laughs. ‘I’m too tired to be hungry. But if I get some sleep I can probably eat after.’ Andi turns away. ‘I’ll show you the bedroom. Er . . . I don’t know if . . . I mean, if you want I can make up the sofa later if—’ ‘I wanna sleep in the same bed as you,’ Ronan interrupts. ‘If that’s okay.’ Andi bites his lip and glances at Ronan over his shoulder. ‘I’d like that.’ * * * For lunch, Andi prepares a chicken salad. Simple and light, but filling. Garlic bread on the side. Ronan has been sleeping for about an hour when Andi goes to wake him up. He’s sleeping heavily, but stirs when Andi smoothes back his dark hair. Blinking, he looks up at Andi and smiles. ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey. Want some food?’ Ronan sits up. He’s shirtless and Andi looks away. Ronan has a nice chest. He really is well built. He’s told Andi he works out, and it shows. ‘Can I have a kiss first?’ Andi licks his lips and looks at him. Then he leans in and they kiss. Soon, he’s being pulled down onto the bed by Ronan’s strong arms, and this time the kiss doesn’t stay chaste. As Ronan pulls him close, he can feel the man’s erection against his thigh, and he shivers. ‘Can lunch wait?’ Ronan murmurs against Andi’s neck, leaving a gentle kiss there. ‘I just . . .’ ‘It . . .’ Andi draws a deep breath. It’s hard to think all of a sudden. ‘It’s just salad. It can wait.’ ‘Can I—?’ Ronan licks his lips. ‘Would you take your clothes off?’ Andi hesitates. He sits up and looks down at his hands. ‘You okay?’ Ronan sits up as well, sounding concerned. ‘What’s wrong? You don’t have to. We don’t have to—’ ‘No, I want to. It’s just . . . I’m scared. That you won’t, you know, like what you see. And, well, I don’t like my body, either.’ Ronan takes his hand. ‘Andi. I promise you’re not gonna turn me off.’ ‘Well, have you ever found a woman sexually attractive?’ ‘Andi, you’re not a woman. You’re a man. And I find you really attractive. Please, can’t you just believe that?’ Andi licks his lips again. Then, slowly, he pulls his t-shirt off. He gets off the bed and removes his jeans and his socks. Now he’s in his binder and boxer briefs. He’s got his packer underneath, creating a bulge, and he blurts, ‘It’s not real.’ Ronan smiles. ‘I know. Come here.’ Andi gets back on the bed, lying down next to Ronan, who kisses him again, stroking his hand up and down Andi’s thigh, his hip, and his bare waist. Andi was surprised at how hairy he got when he started on T. He’s not been able to grow much facial hair, but he has a good trail down his stomach and quite a bit on his chest. That part’s still obscured by his binder, though. Ronan pulls back, looking into his eyes. He runs his fingers through Andi’s hair. ‘What don’t you want me to do?’ The question takes Andi by surprise. It’s not something anyone’s asked him before. He clears his throat. ‘I, er . . . I don’t want anything in my . . .’ He doesn’t like saying it out loud, because he doesn’t like thinking about the fact that he has one, but he lets out a sigh and says, ‘I don’t want anything in my vagina. And I don’t want you to call my dick a clit. I . . . don’t like those words . . .’ Ronan nods. ‘Okay. You wanna keep this on?’ He strokes Andi’s shoulder, fingering the fabric of the binder. Andi runs his tongue along his bottom lip. ‘Yeah. For now.’ Ronan nods again. ‘Okay.’ He slides his hand down Andi’s back and grabs a handful of his arse. He grins. ‘You have a really great ass.’ Andi feels himself blush. Ronan nuzzles Andi’s neck with a stubbled cheek. ‘You’re gorgeous, Andi,’ he whispers, and Andi shivers in his arms. ‘You, er . . . You’re just about the hottest person I’ve ever known,’ he replies. Tentatively, he brings his hand to Ronan’s front, running his fingers over his sculpted, dark haired chest. Everything is slow, so slow, and Andi feels a bit like a teenager again. ‘I haven’t been with anyone in a long time . . . Not since—I mean, I haven’t felt comfortable.’ ‘Do you feel comfortable now?’ Ronan pulls back to meet Andi’s gaze and holds it. Andi considers this for a moment. Then he nods. ‘Yeah. You . . . make me feel at ease, I suppose. So, yeah. I feel comfortable.’ ‘Good.’ Ronan licks his lips. ‘If you stop feeling comfortable, you’ll tell me, right?’ ‘Yeah.’ Andi kisses him. He feels bolder now and lets his hand wander down Ronan’s front until he’s cupping him through his underwear. Ronan hisses against his lips. He’s hard. Andi traces his shape through the fabric. He’s big. Not massive, but definitely on the bigger side of guys Andi’s been with before. Which, admittedly, aren’t that many. He slips his hand inside the waistband of Ronan’s pants and reaches in, wrapping his hand around the shaft. Ronan’s reaction is immediate, as he throws back his head. Andi kisses his neck, his chest, then his stomach, and works his way down, pulling Ronan’s boxers off him. His cock is hard and leaking, and Andi longs to taste it, so he does. ‘Oh, fuck . . .’ Ronan slides his fingers into Andi’s hair and pulls just a little bit. Andi’s always liked having his hair pulled and makes a soft sound in response. ‘Andi, that—’ Ronan’s speech is cut off by a grunt as Andi swirls his tongue around the head of his cock. Ronan is circumcised, which is not something Andi is used to, but his partner’s reaction makes him bolder still and he gets to work. Ronan’s response to his ministrations is making Andi desperately turned on, and every time Ronan makes a sound, Andi moans in empathy. He lets the taste of Ronan fill his mouth, breathes in the musky scent of him. ‘Hey . . .’ Ronan sounds breathless, but he grabs the back of Andi’s neck and pulls his pelvis away so his cock slips out of Andi’s mouth. ‘Hey, wait.’ Andi meets his brown-eyed gaze. ‘I wanna touch you too.’ Andi bites his lip and looks away again. He’s not sure he’s ready for that. Not sure he’s ready for Ronan to see what is—or rather, isn’t—in his pants. But at the same time, he’s dying to be touched. He hasn’t felt another human being’s hands on him in such a long time. (The last time he tried did not go well. His dysphoria got in the way and his partner, though he respected Andi’s wishes, was not best pleased.) So after a few seconds’ deliberation he finally nods. ‘Okay.’ He takes off his underwear and grins in embarrassment as the packer and its harness appear. ‘Huh. So that’s how that works.’ Ronan looks at it in apparent fascination. ‘Yeah, it’s kind of weird, I know.’ ‘Can I touch it?’ Ronan asks, and Andi nods. Ronan takes it in his hand the way he might have if it were really a penis. Andi wishes he could feel it. ‘Doesn’t quite feel like the real thing, but it’s pretty natural.’ Andi shrugs. ‘It does the job.’ ‘So, that harness . . . I mean, you could fit something else in there instead, right? Something a little . . . harder?’ Ronan gives him a mischievous grin. It’s disarming and Andi laughs. ‘I probably could.’ ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’ Ronan looks into his eyes and smiles. ‘Take it off?’ Andi licks his lips again, then does as he’s asked. The harness comes off and he places the whole thing on the bedside table. ‘Heh, mine doesn’t do that,’ says Ronan. ‘Bet yours doesn’t ride up when you go running either,’ says Andi, but then he hesitates again. Ronan is still looking at the packer on the nightstand and Andi feels so exposed where he sits, dreading Ronan’s gaze moving to his groin. But then Ronan turns to look at his face again instad and he pulls him down onto the bed next to him once more, kissing him. Slowly, Ronan moves his hands down Andi’s body. He stops, fingertips in Andi’s pubic hair, and swallows. ‘I’ve never done this before.’ ‘Not once?’ Ronan shakes his head. ‘Gold star gay.’ Andi casts his eyes down. ‘Sorry to ruin your track record. If you can’t go through with it—’ But then Ronan touches him and Andi’s brain turns to mush. ‘Let me know if I’m doing it wrong.’ Andi gasps. ‘No, you’re . . . You’re definitely doing it right. Fuck . . .’ Ronan’s touch feels good, and soon Andi is trembling and whimpering, his thighs quivering, and Ronan gazes into his eyes with this look on his face, like he can’t quite believe the effect this is having on his partner. ‘You’re so hot like this,’ he murmurs, and though Andi’s face is already flushed he can feel his neck grow hotter. Then he comes with a loud groan and a moaned profanity, back arching and body growing rigid. Andi reaches for Ronan’s cock and jerks him off until he shoots all over his belly with a grunt. Then they lie there for several long moments, sated. Andi glances at Ronan and finds him looking back, smiling. ‘See?’ he says softly. ‘Told you you wouldn’t turn me off.’ Andi laughs. ‘Well, you haven’t seen my tits yet.’ Ronan rolls his eyes. ‘When I do, I won’t care about that either.’ On reflex, Andi wants to protest, but instead he turns over on his side and kisses Ronan’s gorgeous lips. ‘We should eat that salad,’ he murmurs. ‘You know, before the thing wilts on us.’ Ronan laughs. ‘All right. Let’s get our clothes back on.’ Andi gets out of bed, goes over to the closet, and gets out two blue terrycloth dressing gowns. He tosses one onto the bed. ‘It may be a little bit small, but should fit you well enough. While you’re here, clothing is optional.’ Ronan grins. ‘I can get on board with that.’ * * * They talk over lunch. About everything. Andi would have thought that after four years and a bit of friendship, talking practically every day, they would have covered every topic, but they still have so much to talk about. After they’ve eaten, they get dressed again and go out for a bit, walking around the neighbourhood. When they get back in, they try to watch some TV for a bit, but it doesn’t last. Before long, Ronan is lying on top of Andi, kissing him and sucking on his earlobe, and Andi doesn’t think he’s ever been more turned on in his life. Ronan grinds his hips down against Andi’s. ‘Fuck,’ he murmurs, ‘I really want to fuck you.’ Andi’s breath catches in his throat and, grasping the back of Ronan’s neck, he pulls him down into a searing kiss. ‘Yes,’ he breathes against his lover’s lips. ‘Yes, please . . .’ Ronan pulls back a bit, studying his face. ‘Do you . . . I mean, do you like anal?’ Andi almost laughs. ‘Fuck yeah,’ he says. ‘Anal is awesome.’ It’s true. He’s always enjoyed it, ever since he figured out how to do it properly, and he grins. ‘Shower first?’ says Ronan. ‘I’d like to . . .’ He seems to flush a bit, suddenly embarrassed. The hesitation only lasts for a second, and Andi nods. They get up and head toward the bathroom, where they undress. Once again, Andi stops when he’s down to his underwear, uncertain. Ronan reaches for him, tugs at the hem of his chest binder. ‘May I?’ Andi nods slowly, and Ronan helps him get the thing over his head (which isn’t exactly easy as, for obvious reasons, it’s very tight). Then he looks at him, at his hairy chest, and he smiles, shaking his head. ‘This is what you were afraid of?’ Andi looks away in embarrassment. ‘Dude. I’ve seen moobs bigger than these.’ In spite of himself, Andi laughs at that. ‘Yeah. I guess I always was pretty flat . . .’ ‘Andi, you’re gorgeous,’ says Ronan and kisses him. They get in the shower, and after Andi’s washed himself thoroughly, Ronan gets to his knees behind him, tongue seeking out his hole. Andi utters a groaned profanity. No one’s ever eaten him out before. Not this part of him, anyway. This is better. So much better. Reaching down his front, he begins to stroke himself, and it’s not long before he comes, knees quivering while he supports himself on the wall with one hand. Ronan stands up again, rinses his mouth a bit in the water of the shower, and begins to attack Andi’s neck and shoulder with his teeth. Andi moans. ‘Need to be inside you,’ Ronan whispers in his ear and Andi shivers. They get out of the shower, barely even taking the time to dry off, and go to the bedroom. Andi finds condoms and lube in the drawer of his nightstand and hands them to Ronan. ‘How do you want me?’ Andi asks, voice trembling slightly. ‘On your back,’ Ronan tells him. ‘I want to be able to see you.’ Andi does as he’s asked and lies down on his back. He watches as Ronan squeezes some lube out onto his finger and shuts his eyes when that finger enters him, making him slick and ready. Ronan goes slowly, pressing in a little bit at a time, checking in all the while. ‘You okay? Tell me if it hurts, okay?’ Andi nods, eyes still squeezed shut. ‘It’s . . . gah! It’s good . . . Fuck . . .’ He reaches down between them to touch himself, stroking his dick slowly and teasingly. When Ronan bottoms out he pauses, leans down, and kisses Andi. It’s soft at first, but then it grows more intense. ‘God, you’re tight.’ His voice is barely more than a whisper, his breath hot against Andi’s mouth. He raises himself up on his arms. ‘Look at me, Andi.’ And Andi opens his hazel eyes, meeting Ronan’s intense gaze. ‘Fuck . . . you’re so beautiful.’ Those words send a shiver through Andi’s whole body and he whimpers helplessly as Ronan begins to move inside him. He drops his head, rests his forehead on Andi’s. ‘You feel so good . . .’ ‘So—’ Andi lets out a moan. ‘So do you, Ronan, fuck.’ After a few minutes, Ronan picks up the pace, and Andi matches him by stroking himself faster and more firmly. He knows this causes him to tighten around Ronan’s cock, and Ronan groans. ‘Shit, I’m not gonna be able to hold out much longer.’ ‘That’s,’ Andi gasps, ‘that’s okay. I’m close too.’ He is, and he comes, body shaking, thighs quivering. ‘Oh, fuck!’ Ronan’s hips stutter to a halt, and Andi feels his cock pulsing inside him as he comes. Andi’s orgasm is still ongoing. It seems to go on forever, and Ronan looks down at him in something akin to wonder. Andi’s hips buck involuntarily, his back arches, and the way his body tightens practically expels Ronan’s softening member from inside him. Then he colapses back onto the mattress, and Ronan lets himself down on trembling elbows, covering Andi’s body with his own and kissing him deeply. ‘What the fuck was that?’ he says incredulously, but Andi can feel his smile, and he laughs softly. ‘That,’ he says, ‘was multiple orgasms. It’s what happens when you have eight-thousand nerve endings in a single spot and you don’t ejaculate. It’s, er . . . it’s the up-side to my anatomy.’ He blushes. It’s just about the only thing he likes about his body. Ronan pulls back a bit and looks down at him, shaking his head. ‘That was intense.’ With obvious effort, he rolls off Andi and lies on his back next to him. Then he removes the condom and disposes of it in the bin next to the bed. He gives Andi a sidelong glance and suddenly his expression looks a bit pained. Andi turns over on his side and reaches out to stroke his cheek. ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘I . . .’ Ronan licks his lips. Turns his head a bit to kiss Andi’s palm. ‘I thought maybe if we did this, we’d get it out of our systems. I mean, that’s not why I came here, but . . . I kind of hoped, you know? ’Cause this is really fucking inconvenient.’ He laughs. Andi casts his eyes down. ‘You sure this isn’t just the post-coital hormones talking?’ ‘It isn’t. I’ve felt this way for a long time. I don’t know if you do, and it’s okay if you don’t, but . . . I have some very strong feelings for you, Andi.’ ‘Yeah.’ Andi bites his lip. ‘I do too. For you.’ He sighs and meets Ronan’s brown-eyed gaze again. ‘I fell for you a long time ago. I never thought you’d—’ He takes a breath. ‘I mean, I’m not a real man.’ Ronan smiles softly at that. ‘Yeah, you are. Your body doesn’t change that.’ ‘I’m getting surgery,’ Andi says quickly. ‘I’m on the waiting list, both top and bottom.’ ‘Even if you weren’t,’ says Ronan, ‘I’d still be in love with you.’ Andi sighs. This feels so bittersweet. The fact that Ronan is in love with him should make him immeasurably happy, but as Ronan himself put it, it’s really fucking inconvenient. ‘So, what do we do now, then?’ Andi asks. Ronan utters a sigh of his own. ‘I don’t know. But . . . maybe we can worry about that part later? For now, I just wanna be with you.’ ‘Yeah.’ Andi leans forward and kisses him. ‘We . . . we’ll figure it out.’ It’s unrealistic. He knows that. The chances of them actually finding some way to be together are next to none. Ronan has his life, his job, everything in Seattle, and Andi is here, reliant on the NHS for his hormones and the surgery he’s still waiting for. But he can’t bring himself to care right now. Not when Ronan puts his arms around him, pulling him into a tight embrace and a fierce kiss. Not when this moment is so beautiful. Not when he’s finally found somebody to love, who is in love with him too. Not when he’s finally got Ronan. Andi’s stomach rumbles. ‘Let’s order in,’ he says. ‘Pizza? Chinese?’ Ronan smiles. ‘I could go for Chinese.’ ‘All right, then. Just give me a minute. I’d like to stay here for a little while.’ Pulling Andi closer, Ronan says, ‘You can stay for as long as you want.’ Andi wishes Ronan could stay too. Stay here with him, after this week is up. But his lover is right. They’ll worry about that later. For now, they’ll just be together. The End
  11. Glad I could share a chuckle with the short. My boyfriend is the one who actually gave me the idea of a drunk person getting into a police car rather than a taxi. Delighted it was able to make people laugh
  12. Awesomepossum; thanks for the read
  13. D.K. Daniels

    The Promise

    Thanks for submitting this heartfelt piece of fiction. It was a delight to read, and a pleasure to include in the ebook
  14. Glad I was able to pass some time, and that you like the content. Thanks for commenting.
  15. Delighted you found the stories entertaining. You're welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting.
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