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D.K. Daniels

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About D.K. Daniels

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    23
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    Male
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    Gay
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    Adventure
    Drama
    Horror
    Romance
    Thriller/Suspense
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    Ireland
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    Cinematography, Video-Gaming, Urban Exploring, History, Movies, Music, Travel,
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  1. D.K. Daniels

    Chapter 2

    Peeking from the upstairs bathroom door, I slowly crept out into the hallway. I looked left and right, gaging to see if it was safe to make a hastily retreat. I couldn’t believe someone had pissed on me… well, not directly on me: mind you. I scurried down to the ground level, keeping my eyes peeled for any sign of life. When I didn’t see anybody about, I ducked into the locker room, and the sounds of my team flooded the chamber. The rush of water and gigging of adolescent boys rebounded off the tiled walls. Peeking around the corner stack of blue tower lockers, I fixed eyes on Elliot and Jimmy standing by a couple of benches rummaging through their bags, presumably for bathing gel and towels. Behind the white tile wall, I could hear the remainder of my team showering and talking. I got the assumption into my head that it had to be a team member, but why would my own team mess with me? Nobody else was upstairs when I went to the bathroom, and people from the gym rarely stopped in to use the restroom. Wanting to wash my feet badly, I pushed the thought away temporally and began looking for the cubby I put my clothes inside. Fumbling about with the bracelet on my arm, twisting it, I studied the armband for a number. To my surprise, there wasn't one, so sighing in resignation, my shoulders slumped. Great… I thought… Time to go hunting. Rounding the locker bank, Elliot waved at me, and I returned the greeting. Searching for some resemblance to where I put my clothes, I believed I found it, and I lifted the key to the door to open it. Instead, the key didn't fit into the lock. Glumly I removed it, then moved onto the next cubby. Sure, enough I miraculously managed to open the cabinet without a problem. I often forgot where I put my shit, but that day it wasn't too bad. The rec center swimming area never cared to put numbers on their lockers or the cheap strips of plastic you got when you paid a quarter for the privilege to lock your stuff away. Amusingly I always managed to hold onto the key but then never remembered the location of my clothes. I should have just stuck to one place every time I went, and that way, I'd remember where to find my stuff every time. Grabbing my body wash from the locker, I reinserted the quarter, locked up, and went to the shower area. Usually, I'd have been thrilled about getting to stand under the warm current and watch my near next to naked friends, but the incident had bothered me. I choose though not to speak about it, and since the boys didn't seem suspicious as if they were playing some sort of prank on me, I wasn’t swayed to discuss the circumstances. Taking my place under a vacant nozzle cap, I smacked the self-shutoff valve, and the water broke out into a sprinkle then quickly became a torrent. It felt good to wash my body, and I didn't waste any time in cracking open the shower gel and covering my feet in a green liquid. If the boys were skeptically looking at me, I don't recall, but I didn't care either way. I felt satisfied with being able to wash off the gross pee. For the first time, I chose to focus on getting myself clean rather than watching my friends. I somehow got the presumption that if I didn’t scrub thoroughly that I’d stink of urine. Alternatively, I listened to my friend’s sploshing about and focused on rinsing off the gross assault. Originally, I was going to tell Elliott, but I chose to keep it to myself and wait until everybody else was gone. Popping open my shower gel and then squeezing some liquid onto my palm, I smeared it all across my chest and under my armpits. “You’re getting better at the reverse dive,” Elliott said. The past month Elliott had been complimenting me on my progress, and I wasn't one to really care about impressing others. Though I guess in hindsight, if I wanted to go to the regionals and win all the meddles, then I'd have to impress people. Bashfully I shifted to my friend, gazing at the rest of the boys, and smiled. “You think? I… if so, it doesn’t feel like it,” I muttered. Genuinely I wasn't looking for sympathy and wasn't looking to get the rest of the room in on the conversation. I just liked talking to Elliott on my own, and when he said those words, it made me feel special inside and tingly. You know how champagne releases bubbles when you pop the cork when you shake it? That's how I felt when I was a kid, talking to Elliott. What I didn't expect to happen was for Sébastien to cut across the room. “No… You’re just staying shit, but you managed to get the most points of anyone here on the team when you’re at the regionals,” Sébastien teased. Sébastien and I always had that relationship, where the two of us would always pinpoint teacher's flaws in good spirit but never meant to harm by it. Seb was our best swimmer, the strongest kid on the team, and he could tear through the water like nobody else I knew. Everybody else on the team knew that he was the best of them, but you didn't see anybody complaining because they were jealous of his ability. Like Sébastien being the best swimmer, people respected my position as the best diver, and between the two of us, we made up the most vital part of the team. So, naturally, there was always that small bit of rivalry between the two of us, even if we stood to complete in different parts of the team. Beneath the calm exterior of a friendship, there was the same goal and motivation for both of us, which was for the team's best interests. I wasn't one to be mute about public displays, and I always gave as good as I got in return. "Are you saying I'm better than you, Seb? The boys in the washroom all jeered at my rebuttal. “What’s it look' like,” he rebuked. The room fell silent momentarily, but then the oppressive stillness lifted when Sébastien smirked. I returned with a sneer, and the two of us gave each other a nod of appreciation. I gazed around the room, subconsciously rubbing my chest and washing off the loose sudsy froth that had permeated on my body. Sébastien did the same; he applied some shampoo to his hair, shut his eyes, and lathered his cranium in foam. The events that had transpired in the bathroom upstairs washed away as my adolescent brain became increasingly aware. I was standing in the locker room showers watching boys, dripping wet, covered in ropey white tufts of shower gel and shampoo. Somehow the erotic site made me delusional. Having to turn back toward the wall because I could feel myself pumping a semi down below, I tried to focus on lathering up my own hair. The way I saw it, if my eyes didn't get the visual stimuli, then everything would subside naturally. The plan worked to a degree, but it didn't exactly help that I could still hear them all horsing around in the background and foolishly making snide jokes about one another. Who had the smallest Schlong, or what guy had started growing pubes? A little bit of insignificant locker room mocking was enough to make me uncomfortable in the notion I was probably the only gay kid on the swim team. The suds cascaded down my body and headed for the plughole, my mind started to wander, and I thought off those poppies I had seen and was mesmerized by the camping trip to Rivera National Park. I expected more hazing and bordering on bullying, but it didn't happen. Rather, the times moved on, and the boys switched subjects, and I was happy to not be the center of attention anymore. “So, my house later…” one boy said. It had to be Jimmy, he had that quiver about his voice, and only Jimmy trembled when he spoke. I wasn't sure if it was nerves, but I think it was always that words were not his strong suit. Elliott spoke, “nawh, I have homework to catch up on.” It didn't take long for Jimmy to display his disappointment by grumbling, "YAWWWN…" Digging my fingernails into my hair, I gave my scalp a thorough wash, and then something heavy hit my lower leg. Clenching my eyes shut to not get suds in my eyes, I let out a yelp and cursed at the boys. “You there…?” Jimmy rebuked. I sometimes had a habit of zoning out, and the boys always seemed to use crude but effective stimulants to bring me back down to earth. Wiping my eyes free of excess bubbles, I opened them and saw Jimmy standing under his shower without his shampoo bottle. “Am I what?” I said in confusion. Jimmy spoke up in excitement, "How ‘bout you, Coop, you comin' to my house?" Even if the bottle had hit me, I didn't seem to mind him throwing it at me. And I think after that incident, he believed I was mad at him for what he had done. I did have the stuff to do, and my plans weren't to hang around with Jimmy all evening when I had history paper to finish, and the small Spitfire plane model to paint, and chores to finish before the day ended. So, I told him, "Think I'm out too, maybe tomorrow because I’ve got a bundle of stuff to do.” Jimmy looked discouraged, and I have to say I felt terrible having to let him down. Jimmy had always been a nice guy, and even if he wasn't the best-looking dude of all of us, he was probably the friendliest. Elliot looked to Jimmy, he just shrugged his shoulders, and I immediately swooned. With an eye roll, Jimmy just fobbed his hands and went back to showering. "Jesus, you two should get married, be bored together," Jimmy teased. All of us laughed, I found it amusing, and the entire incident was forgotten like a grain of salt. Deciding to get ahead of all the boys, I left the showerhead and started for the locker banks. In the background, I heard the boys getting to know the new boy Bao. Although he did not expressly state what his position was for the swim team, we were all left wondering… well, I mean, why was he showering since he never entered the water? Needless to say, I marched to the locker with my clothes, I had remembered it this time, and now that was something. Unlocking it, I withdrew my clothes, brought them all to a bench, and then set everything down. Unpacking the things I needed to wear, I removed a pair of Nike track pants and a hoody with large white letters saying Adidas. Dropping my shoes under the pew like seat, I resorted to drying my arms with a towel. Soon Sebastian and the new kid joined me in the changing area. The boys seemed to be getting on well and conversed like they knew each other for years. Though Seb wasn't hard to get on well with in the first place when I think of it. While I got dried, I kept a watchful eye. After all, Sebastian was near next to naked, and it was just something I did. I moved onto my torso with my arms dry, not forgetting armpits, then popped on a t-shirt. The last few stragglers came out as a clump chatting together, Jimmy, Elliot, and Johnathan, and they were all giggling like a couple of kindergarteners. They were up to something, and I didn't need to ask it to figure out. Overhearing them, they were talking about boobies, and it made me realize just how grownup we were now. I remembered a time when Elliot used to think asking to take a dump was a secretive matter. Hell, I recall a time when I walked in on him sitting on the toilet squeezing, his face all contorted and making stressed grunting sounds. He had to be about 6-years-old, but that memory lingered in the back of my mind. Planting my leg up on the bench, I started to dry my feet. There was a delicate growth of blond hair trailing up my legs, and I was happy to see some progress in that department. I believed I was a late bloomer for a few years, but things were coming full circle that autumn. Elliot took his rightful spot next to me. Jimmy and Johnathan accompanied him, all of them depositing their backpacks on the long wooden seat. I subconsciously smiled at Elliot, and he returned my greeting. He even welcomed me into the conversation I didn't know I wanted to be in or not. The lad's conversation grew more animated, and it confirmed my questionable doubts. The boys were talking about girls in our year and tits. It made me smirk for a reason as to why I am not sure. I dried between my toes as the rest of the boys came over to join us when the talk of a nude picture of a woman surfaced on Elliot’s cellphone. The lads gathered around, getting all rowdy and aroused by each other’s comradery. All the hymns and haws, even the dirty slurs of what they wanted to do was enough to provoke sexual interest on my behalf. I usually liked to listen to boys, being well… so blatantly honest, but I knew I couldn't handle the teasing. So, I quickly dried and dressed and decided to leave the locker-room, and made sure to let the guys know I was waiting in the lobby. Outside in the entrance hall, my bag rested on a small bar table as I waited, sitting slumped in one of the chairs overlooking the pool area where observers watched. One of the lifeguards went about cleaning up, using a hose to spray down the grey tiles encompassing the pool's edges. The first person out of the dressing room was Sebastian; we said goodbye and left. The next person out was the Bao and being the new kid, I tried to make him feel welcome. “See you at the next practice…” I said. The boy didn't say a word; he just nodded and left via the door. Jeez, I thought, that guy was a man of few words, but at least he seemed nice. Getting tired of loitering, I got up and went to the vending machine. A hunger had stormed its way into my stomach. The receptionist’s office chair groaned over behind the counter, and I felt somewhat comforted by not being on my own. Turning my attention back to the glass display, I locked eyes on a packet of Whoppers candy. Therefore, reaching into my pocket, I pulled out my Velcro wallet, counted out the exact amount of quarters, and removed a single dollar. Feeding the single into the machine, I resorted to putting the quarters next in the coin slot only to be abruptly disturbed by a loud crash. My first initial reaction was to hit the ground, and I hit the floor hard. Even my hands hurt from the sudden plop. My back pressed up against the vending machine, and I peered around for a shooter. Well, that was my first presumption since it was prevalent. My heart scampered up in my chest, and I could have sworn I wet myself. Now when I think of it, I hadn’t. Though my eyes darted around the room, looking for an assailant, and didn't find one. The heart rigorously thumped in my chest, and I had to force myself to calm down. Just that didn't last long when I noticed the broken window with all the shattered glass, the one with a body lying in the middle of the discharge. Twisting onto my knees, I crawled forward, keeping a tentative eye on all the windows in case something else was at play. From the corner of my eye, the receptionist had partially gotten up from her seat and was looking around at the source of the loud bang. I crept all the way up to an upholstered bench then peered around the side of it to get a closer look at the person lying on the floor. “Be careful, I’m calling the police,” the woman called out to me. Though the warning fell on deaf ears, and that's when I saw Bao lying there unresponsive.
  2. D.K. Daniels

    Chapter 1

    Thanks, I hope you enjoy the rest of the build-up
  3. D.K. Daniels

    Chapter 1

    Thanks, I hope you enjoy the rest of the build-up
  4. D.K. Daniels

    Chapter 1

    Glad to have you onboard. Hope you enjoy the next part of the story :)
  5. D.K. Daniels

    Until Dawn

    Cooper is an accomplished 15-year-old young diver. With his friend Sebastion and crush Elliot, they make the perfect combination for the regionals. Yet what starts as a routine practice drill at the rec center turns into an evening of terror when a series of strange occurrences lead to the boys fighting for their lives. Will they make it out alive? Will they defeat what is stalking them. Who knows. Can Cooper step up to the task to show his crush his bravery? Well, let's find out, shall we?
  6. D.K. Daniels

    Chapter 1

    The ghostly pale light gloated from the ceiling and colored my skin a pale white. It had always done that at the swimming pool. Every time I stepped foot in the changing room door, my skin would turn blue. On its rubber orchid white floor, I stood barefoot. Anticipating what the temperature of the chlorinated water would be. Would it be too cold this evening or just right? Practice consisted of simple dives and lengths of the pool, but that always made me hungry. Since dinner, I hadn't been all that hot. The fight with dad took everything out of me. I hated fighting with him. Why did he get so, you know... Assholeish. I just wanted to be able to do my own thing: in my own time. He was always on my case. I never get a break, not since… not since mom died. If mom were here, she'd give him hell for running over me like a steamroller. I don't think it was his intention. I wouldn't even assume that he realized what he was actually doing. He just did it without really thinking. He couldn't let me do anything on my own. It was always his way or no way. The grass had to be cut a particular way; the ornaments to be dusted perfectly. There was no trick; you just had to take everything off the shelf and dust the surface too. One week he had gotten mad at me for not doing it like he showed me. He hated being able to see the dust outline—what a load of crap. I mean the situation that he was on about; was it necessary for him to lose the head with me? Probably not. Then again, I didn't really listen all that well, did I? Clenching onto the hem of my T-shirt, I pulled it up over my head. There, shirtless now. The refreshing cold nip in the air kissed my delicate torso. I don't know why, but it always excited me sometimes. It felt free, as opposed to wearing clothes all the time. Not that I didn't like wearing them, clothes are a necessity. However, just the actual physical act of ditching them is satisfying. I guess in a way, that's why I took up swimming. It was freeing. There was just something about the water; no matter how hard you paddle, nor lay on your back in it, it's soothing. I had never been interested in such a position beforehand; that was until mom died. Football or any other sports, in general, didn't interest me. I wasn't doing all that well; dad took me to see a psychiatrist, and later $1200 poorer: we concluded that I should take up a hobby. He barked on how it was my fault that I had set him back $1200. Though I promise he's not that sort of bad father, not anymore. He was just preoccupied all the time. We don't really talk anymore. He was just dad, a hollow, empty shell of a man who sat and stared out the window for most of the day. I guess I was lucky that I had an escape and friends. I don't know what I'd have done without them. At the time, I had only been on the swim team for about a year and 1/2, and I felt like I belonged. When I came home, it was always quiet and empty. Dad wasn't violent or anything. He just, I don't know. To me, he seems lost or broken like a toy that a child throws across the room, and it discharges into pieces. I miss having a level of conversation with him. I wonder if he ever got over mum. Not that I didn't miss her, it's just... Nevermind, I was late for practice as it was. Pinching my T-shirt by the cuff of the neck, I folded it carefully. I aligned both arms back to back, pressed them snugly into the fabric, and folded over the article's remnants into a ball of sorts before placing it inside the top of my gym bag. Mom always told me not to roll it into a ball. It creased it. I guess that part was correct because I rolled it into a ball the first couple of times I started swimming. Just to save on time, though, I reverted back to my mom's way of doing things. Ever since the accident, I had worked hard to try and make the team. It first started out as a hobby, just to pass the time or to at least take my mind off what had happened. Before I could even realize what was going on, I had made four new friends, and I became the team's best diver. Sequentially, that day, I was rather late because of the row with dad. The first time I started out, I wasn't exactly sure I was cut out for the clothing attire swimmers have to wear. You could say I was conscious of what I might look like. I mean, here I was, anytime I had gone swimming prior, I worn board shorts. So, a speedo was a big step up. I remember the first day fondly; I kept rearranging my bits, unsure if this was actually meant to be for me, the swimming, I mean. Now I'm not so bad. It's true what they say: you just grow accustomed to something the longer you do it. I think my love for freedom and the water amplified my confidence. Once repression of self-doubt and angst, it floated away like me in the water. Tearing the zipper across on the top of my bag, I picked up my shoes with my scrunched socks nestled loosely atop. Mindlessly, I cracked open a locker, fired the sneakers into the bottom of the box, and the stocking from my right shoe fell out. 'Great…' Now it was going to be wet, they were my only socks. Releasing a fuelled huff… I flung the sock into the locker, followed by my bag. I put my token into the slot and then sealed the hatch, securely locking it. The anticipation of what was going to transpire the moment I got out there to the pool ran through my brain, more like blitzed. I hated being late. Anxiously I ran the length of the apartment blocks worth of locker storage with the key for my locker in hand, darted left at the end of the channel, and headed for the pool. I could smell it now; the bleached aroma lingered in the air like a cloud of smog or an eggy fart. *********** The eerie somber solitude began to cascade to my ears. I have no idea why it was unsettling. You'd think by then that I would be accustomed to such silence. After 7 PM, the majority of people what we're in the swimming center-left. The minority who remained training in the upstairs gym or here in the swimming pool was a ghastly few. I had been there a couple of times in the daytime, which always made me feel safe. At night-time, it seemed unnatural. Figuring since I hadn't had a shower early this morning before school, I decided to hop in underneath the warm jet to wash off the loose traces of sweat and other such commodities. Standing under the nozzle, I slap the metal release valve with my palm, and the water roared to life. A soothing, confident flow of liquid funneled down my body and washed off the burdens of the day. Within a matter of seconds, my bone-dry skin turned to a glistening sheen. Tilting my head back, I let the tepid rain pour through the thick clump of blond unassorted hair I had on my head. The calming baptism caressed the crown of my head and shaved sides. I knew all too well that I was still within a rush and that prolonging the inevitable would have to end sometime. Deciding I had enough for the moment, I stepped out of the shower and trafficked my way out onto the recently squeegeed poolside tiles. Glancing back and forth, I searched for my teammates. At the far end of the pool, the group stood huddled around by one another. Talking somehow or another, of what I did not know. Ambling forward, I cautiously watched my footing in case the floor was still slippery and made my way toward the team. The closer I drew, the more audible their whispering enhanced. It sounded like whispering, as they were not using their outside voices. Everybody had turned up for practice, and I was fashionably late, again. I knew it wouldn't look great to the coach. Upon reaching the group, which seemed slightly larger than average, I scanned my eyes through the boys. There was a new addition to our club. Timmy stood talking to the coach, Elliot too. Sebastion was there, the tallest of the group, me being the smallest. Whereas Andrew was a whole head bigger than me. Though Sebastian, the tallest of us and all his hotness, brown hair, blue eyes, and smooth stomach. I... I was transfixed. Taylor was relatively good-looking, though his dirty copper-colored hair, green eyes, and fitting build were also admirable, but my eyes were set for Seb. Though there was a new boy I had never seen before. Stopping short of the circle, the coach cut in, "you're never nearly late, Cooper. Don't make it a habit now!" Sheepishly, I sputtered out in panicked, "I won't." I had no idea who the new kid happened to be, who looked Asian, or perhaps more Malaysian at first glance. I'm not sure why panic set in, but he was a lot taller than Sebastian. He was easily a foot higher than the rest of us. He's gigantic. I thought Asain folks were small, but that must have been a flawed stereotype. His body toned, honed, and taken care of. His borderline brown on black hair sat tousled from what I assumed was a quick dip in the water. God, he was something perfect… Snapping out of the trance, I shucked my head and encased my key band around my wrist, and began to fasten it as I joined in with the group. A new boy, I thought, this late into the season. It either meant one of two things; the new boy was really good and was to replace somebody, or we were taking on applicants because we sucked and need all the help we could get. "About time, I waited in the locker room for ten minutes. I thought you're going to be a no-show," Elliot animatedly said. It had gotten to the point that Taylor and I developed a concurrence regarding such matters. We were as to how to best friends should be downright wacky. I wasn't intentionally delayed, and he always knew the real reason for my chronic lateness. Insolently I replied, "nawh… I'm always on time." "When have you ever been on time?" Elliot chuckled. Grinning, I added, "sure, the events begin when the maestro arrives." What was even more alluringly funny was watching Elliot scrunch up his face, contort and try and decipher what I had said to him. I can't explain why I used such confusing words sometimes. Possibly it's just to see him struggle for the sake of seeing him struggle. I liked-liked Elliot. Elliot's lips quivered as he tried to pronounce the word, "my… ma… Maestro?" The second the pronunciation fell right, Elliot's eyes darted up to me, and he cracked a smile at his accomplishment. I just bashfully shrugged it off from nodded my head in agreement like, hooray, you got it. Though he still gave me a quizzical expression as if for me to further explain what I meant. "Yeah, it means performer," I confidently said. Taylor's expression became absent. It was as if he was contemplating saying what the actual fuck. Instead, Elliot brazenly spoke up, "you learn that today... You only use weird words when you learn something new. You do it, so it makes you sound intelligent." His quick-witted manner and amused face said pretty much everything I needed to know. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of anything graceful to say to outdo his flurry of scrimmage. On the contrary, all I could think about was how hot he was, and I probably look like a complete dork because Elliot was getting a laugh out of my misfortune. Launching my hand out, I gave Elliot a half-heartedly shove on the shoulder and said, "Yeah, screw you!" And immediately laughed it off. The new kid's eyes just wondered about the group. The boy wasn't actually standing amongst my friends. He was some way out of the cluster. He seemed nervous, and every so often, he quivered. Though I just turned my attention back to my friends. There was a fresh chill in the air, and there was a smell of wet dog accompanying it. The people who ran the rec center wouldn't let an animal in, so perhaps that smell was because I was damp and stinking sweat. The coach began to clap his hands together to revert our attention to him. Inadvertently everyone did. I slowly but surely turned my head towards him, not wanting to break observation, Elliot. "Okay, guys, listen up... We have a new lad on the team," Coach energetically said. The coach lifted his right arm and gave a gentle motion towards the boy in the back. The coach's arm returned to its downward position before continuing, "I want you to make him feel welcome." The boys hesitantly took their eyes away from the coach and reverted it to the Chinese or the Malaysian newbie. If I were in his spot, I'd feel increasingly nervous about now because, given that the entire team's attention was on him, I would be bashful. Shifting focus between the new kid and the coach, I watched as my friends one by one closed the gap between the new boy. Elliot was the first one to offer his hand warmly to the boy. Both of them shook hands and introduced themselves. A second later, the slot was then filled by Sébastien; then, the next person introductory transpired. Soon after, it was just left me standing there, gawking at the new kid who seemingly peered back at me. It was my turn to introduce myself, and all of a sudden, I felt scared. I have no idea why other than the fact that there was a mystical aura emanating from the boy. It was airy. Even the sheer nakedness of his torso was bizarrely arousing. Though I shuck that idea. I had eyes for Sebastion, and my heart was for Elliot. I couldn't handle another boy. I reluctantly took one step after another; it's not as if I didn't want to talk to the new kid. My legs felt like spaghetti. I was waiting for a k-pop boy band to spring out at any moment. It was rather a funny sensation. Each step along the ceramic tiles was an embarrassing motion. Why couldn't I have met him in the changing room? It's not every day you make an introduction to somebody when you're half-naked. On the contrary, I was naked. The only thing that actually diluted that common misconception was that I had my swimming attire. Finally, I'm standing directly in front of the new kid. His eyes are an electric green, his skin unblemished and beautifully smooth, his lips: plump and poppy pink. I didn't think it'd be this attractive up close. I could feel my heart gallivanting in my chest, my breathing becoming laborious. 'Say something, you stupid idiot,' I brazenly scolded myself. Boys... Shit... Is this the way the rest of my life would turn out? Frequently infatuated by boys. And in doing so, I cautiously offered my hand. The boy reached out and firmly took hold of it, although his handshake was weak and lifeless. Overseeing him more intently, I couldn't help but marvel at his eyes and perfect hair. Sculpted immaculately, shaved at the sides of his head, and a top-heavy clump dominating the crown and forefront of his skull. I know the first time I tried out for swimming, I was obnoxiously paranoid that I showed my nipples and bulge. Though this kid held himself comfortably in a relaxed manner. His nipples, each only being a thumb-sized proportion given his age. Thinking of something warming to say, I offer," hey…" Though the newbie's level of discomfort suggests that I'm not the only one at the moment to be caught off guard. The boy murmured back a faint," hey…" So, faint as to comment that I barely heard it. Once the introductory was all settled, we started out with our practice. I did my routine dives like I was trained to do. The only thing that remained was to get better. Like clockwork, I'd climb the dive platform, take a position on the edge, ready my stance, and jump. The new boys just sat for most of the session watching us all, and I couldn't help but notice him from my perch. I waved down to Elliot occasionally, secretly stealing glances. After a reverse dive, our session came to a close. I headed back to the locker room with my friends but decided to nip to the toilet first. I didn't like the one in the actual changing rooms, as they were unheated and dirty. The bathrooms upstairs by the gym were much nicer, and the boiler room's heat kept the restroom toasty. Telling the boys to go ahead, I climbed the stairs to the second level and entered the empty W/C. While I urinated, all I could think of was Elliot. I wanted to get downstairs to be able to walk him home; so, I hurridly shuck my shriveled cock then tucked it back in my speedo. On the other end of the bathroom, the door opened with a swish, then closed abruptly afterward. I ignored it; I decided to unravel some toilet paper to blow my nose. It was surprising that other people would use this particular bathroom, but not uncommon. That's the reason I went there, less foot traffic. Giving one hard blow, I cleared out the system, but then I was alerted to a spray seeping under the door. At first, I wasn't sure what it was, but then it dawned on me. Touching my bare feet, the liquid was warm. Hell no... Someone was urinating on the door. Gross. Steeping back, I bumped into the toilet and spread my feet apart to stop myself from stepping in the piss. "What the fuck!" I called out. Though there was no response. Plus, I didn't want to open the door—That's not something you do when somebody is peeing on the stall you are in. Instead, I waited, and the flow of the pee just tapered off. There was no walking, even though I listened really hard. I heard the door open and then close. My heart was hammering in my chest. That moment was the most profound experience of my life, and I had never been more terrified or nervous all in one. I didn't want to open the door, but I knew eventually I'd have to, so when I did, I was relieved to see nobody was outside the stall. There was a large yellow puddle on the white tiles in front of the cubicle and a nice shine on the blue Formica door. Did that asshole spring a water leak, I thought. There was so much piss. I felt sick, but I also found myself wondering, who would do this to me? What I know now, and what I didn't realize then, was just how crazy my night was really going to get.
  7. My new book A Case of Jitters is out if anybody is interested you can check it out here :)  View Here

     

  8. 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.
  9. Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the story
  10. 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
  11. 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. :)

  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
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