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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home

Second Shot - 9. Chapter 9: Skating By

Peter's surprise is revealed and the two make plans for the Christmas holiday.

“Ice skating?” Jason smiled as they entered the near empty parking lot a few miles from school.

“You can skate can’t you?” Peter didn’t seem concerned.

“I bit late to ask me now, no?” He smirked. “Yes, I can skate. Haven’t since high school, but I’m sure I won’t make a fool of myself.”

“No worries about that, it’ll be just you and me.” Peter motioned with his head to get out. “It doesn’t open until 3:00, so we have a couple hours alone.”

“How did you manage that?” He followed Peter toward a back door.

“Went to high school with the owner’s son. We were, are, best friends.” Peter knocked loudly on the gray metal door. “Bryce was one of the few people who didn’t care I was gay when he found out. He and his girlfriend were my two best friends.”

Jason realized he knew nothing about Peter’s high school friends. “Were? What happened?”

Before he could get an answer, they heard the door unlocking.

“Tell you later,” Peter said quickly as the door swung out. A dark haired guy about their age stood blocking the door, grinning like there was mischief afoot.

“Pete!” Bryce greeted his friend. “Damn, I haven’t seen you in forever.”

Holding his arms open, Bryce took a step toward Peter. A few inches shorter that Peter, the two loudly slapped each other on the back.

“That’s because you’re so caught up with your hockey team,” Peter laughed.

Jason felt a pang of jealously. Was it because Peter was hugging another guy? No, he didn’t think that was the problem. It was that Peter and his best friends were still close even though Bryce knew Peter was gay.

“You must be Jason,” Bryce held out his hand.

Jason tried not to eye him up, especially not with Peter standing inches away. Shaking hands he said, “Yeah. Nice to meet you Bryce.”

“C’mon, let’s get inside.” He grabbed the open door to let his guests come in. “I just finished cleaning the ice. It should be perfect for you two.”

“Are you gonna join us?” Peter grabbed the back of Bryce’s shoulders and squeezed. The white cotton shirt hugged Bryce’s body, showing off his muscular build.

Peter looked different to Jason at that moment. This was the first time they were out with one of Peter’s close friends. This must be how he and Darryl acted. Smiling like a dotting parent, he walked a step behind.

“Maybe,” Bryce teased. “I don’t want to embarrass you again Petey.”

“Hey!” Peter protested, squeezing hard at the muscle underhand. “Not in front of the boyfriend please.”

The way Peter said, ‘boyfriend’ made Jason feel good. It was as if he were bragging to his friend, despite Jason standing right there. Then a moment of panic set in, Peter just told someone Jason was gay. What if Bryce told someone who knew someone that knew Jason. His fear must have shown in his face, because the smile faded from Peter’s face the moment he looked over.

“Don’t worry Jase,” Peter said calmly. “Bryce knows to keep this a secret. He doesn’t know where you go to school or anything, just that you’re not out yet.”

‘Yet,’ he thought. Yet denoted he would eventually be out. When Peter turned to wink at him, Jason let it go. A small voice told him not to be so careless, but he didn’t want to ruin their day.

“As for you,” Peter pointed toward his friend. “There’s no need to dredge up high school memories in front of Jason.”

“Oh please,” Bryce spun around, rolling his eyes as he turned. “This is my chance to return the favor. Remember all those embarrassing stories you used to tell Heather? I’ve been waiting years for pay back bro.”

“Really?” Peter laughed. “You’re still holding a grudge all these years later? I mean a mature person would’ve moved on a long time ago.”

They both stared at each other for a second, then burst out laughing. Although not privy to the inside joke, Jason laughed along with them, happy to see this side of Peter.

“We both know I never majored in maturity.” Bryce grabbed both of Peter’s shoulders. “Damn it’s good to see you again man. You look great.”

“Great seeing you too Bryce.” Peter ignored the compliment. “You look . . . um bigger. What are they feeding you there?”

“Whatever,” he laughed. “I just have more time to work out.” Bryce motioned for the pair to follow him. “Let’s get you some skates.”

Lacing his skates on the player’s bench, Jason listened as Pete and Bryce filled each other in on the past semester. Jason thought he heard something about Bryce going to college in Minnesota, but he couldn’t hear everything they were saying. Feeling a bit out of place, but not wanting to disturb them, he opened the door to the rink.

Pushing off, he wobbled for an instant before finding his balance. By the time he completed his first lap, he regained his form, gaining speed. The sound of his skates cutting into the ice broke the otherwise odd silence of the rink.

When music suddenly blared, he noticed Peter and Bryce were no longer in the bleachers. Before he could find Peter, he heard someone skating up behind him. Spinning quickly, he avoided the bear hug Peter was about to put him in, then took off across the ice.

Once he recovered his balance, Peter chased after Jason, quickly closing the gap. Using the net to keep Peter from getting to him, Jason faked left then took off right, sneaking past his boyfriend by a whisker. He almost made it to the blue line at the other end when Peter wrapped his arms around him from behind.

“Thought you could escape me did you?” Peter laughed, kissing the back of Jason’s neck.

“Escape? What makes you think I didn’t want you to catch me?” He bluffed. Peter was clearly the better skater.

“Next you’ll tell me you let me catch you.” He let go and moved to Jason’s side.

“I would, but that would require I lie to you.” Jason leaned over to kiss Peter, but he darted away.

“You gotta catch me if you want a kiss Soccer Boy.” Peter took off for the other end.

For the next ten minutes they took turns chasing the other down, trying to ‘avoid’ getting kissed. When Jason stumbled, causing the pair to tumble onto the ice, they decided to take a break.

Panting, they made their way to the bench where Jason laced up. “Who knew you were Johnny Weir on skates.” Jason kidded, trying to catch his breath.

“Bryce and I used to go skating all the time in high school.” Peter was equally winded. “He did it for hockey, I did it so we could hang out.”

“Did you have a crush on him?” Jason leered suggestively.

Peter stopped smiling, his expression totally serious. “Surprisingly, no.” He shook his head. “I mean Bryce is totally hot, but we were like the brother neither had. Plus he is totally straight. It never occurred to me to see him as a crush.”

Jason smiled. “That’s really cool. I know what that feels like. D and I spent enough time together we might as well have been brothers. Watching you talk to Bryce I could see you’re close.”

“Yeah sorry to leave you like that.” Peter looked a bit sheepish. “I haven’t seen him since the summer.”

“No, no, don’t apologize, I just didn’t want to intrude.” Other than wanting all Peter’s time today, he didn’t mind the two friends talking. “You can make it up to me later.”

Sticking his tongue out, he bolted back for the ice, forcing Peter to chase him again. This time Jason did a better job of avoiding Peter’s grasp; stopping and swirling a couple times to narrowly evade capture. Peter finally trapped him against the board putting them face to face.

“Hey!” Bryce’s voice interrupted what promised to be a passionate kiss.

They both turned to the sound of the voice. Standing in the bench area, Bryce held three hockey sticks.

“None of that in here,” he joked. “We run a respectable place dontcha know.”

Bryce’s terrible midwest accent made them laugh.

Taking Jason’s hand, Peter skated back for the bench. “Can’t be that respectable if you’re in charge. What’s with the sticks? Thought you said we’d be alone. Now you’re inviting your hockey buddies too?”

Unsure if Peter was kidding, Jason quickly scanned the rink for newcomers.

Bryce tossed Peter a stick. “Yeah, I invited my best friend and his boyfriend to use the place so I could out them to the team. Paybacks are a bitch.”

He passed the third stick across to Jason, who still kept looking for the arrival of more people.

“Relax Jase,” Peter squeezed his hand. “He’s kidding. We used to do this all the time.”

“Right,” Bryce agreed, tossing three pucks onto the ice. “Peter would let me practice my checking, then he would use me as a practice dummy for his training.”

“Yeah until my mom freaked out when I gave you a black eye.” They both laughed.

“My dad wasn’t too thrilled about the bloody nose I gave you that time,” Bryce added to more laughter.

“Please,” Peter rolled his eye. “Your dad was mad we got blood on the ice, not that I got hurt.”

“True,” Bryce nodded, heading toward the center of the rink. “But in fairness, after he yelled at us both, he did check to be sure your nose wasn’t broken.”

Bryce slid one puck forward, skated toward the empty net, and fired a shot from the blue line. Dead center, his shot pushed the net back before the puck dropped onto the ice.

Peter took the second puck, and while not as fast as his friend, followed suit, flicking his puck into the top part of the goal. Standing next to each other, the two friends looked expectantly at Jason and the last puck by his skates.

Never having played hockey, Jason corralled the black rubber disc with his stick. Moving much slower than the other two, he finally made it to the blue line. His first attempt to shoot resulted in a complete missed. Peter gave him a word of encouragement then showed him how to hold the stick. Jason made contact the second time, but his shot went wide right, hitting the wall with a ‘thwack.’

Rolling his eyes at his own ineptitude, he joined the other two in retrieving the pucks. They spent the rest of their time, skating and shooting, with Peter and Bryce occasionally going one on one. Peter surprised Jason by how good he was, though it was clear Bryce was the better player; by far.

Around 2:40, Bryce called an end to their fun, telling them he needed to get the ice ready for opening. They quickly got out of their skates before Bryce went to get the Zamboni machine. Peter asked if he could drive once it was on the ice. Tossing his friend the keys, Bryce hopped down.
“Go slow and make full circles. I’ll touch things up when you’re down,” Bryce told him.

“As if I haven’t done this a hundred times before.” Peter started the machine without looking at his friend.

Bryce motioned for Jason to follow. “Works every time. Let’s go get something to drink while he does my job for me.”

Bryce flashed a conspiratorial grin that reminded Jason of Peter. Glance back he saw Peter watching the ice intently as he slowly moved the big machine around.

“Thanks for letting us use the rink, Bryce.” Jason said to his host’s back. “It hasn't been easy for us to find things like this to do where we could be ourselves.”

Jason wasn’t sure how much Bryce heard in his voice. Seeing Peter with his friends, having fun together doing something in public without worrying who was watching, reminded Jason how much Peter was giving up being with him.

“Yeah Peter explained that to me,” Bryce nodded without turning around. “But it’s all good, he’s really happy, I can tell. He wouldn’t tell me much about you at first, had to drag it out of him.”

“No offense, but he never mentioned you or any of his friends from high school.” Jason hoped that didn’t get Peter in trouble with his friend.

“I figured he wouldn’t,” Bryce shook his head. “After that last dick head he dated and I had it out, I didn’t figure he would let me meet his next boyfriend. Surprised me when he asked if you two could come skating today.”

“Can I ask what happened?” There was a story here that Jason wanted to hear.

“That guy was a douche.” Bryce never looked at him. “Such a fucking snobby ass piece of shit. I still don’t know what Pete saw in him.”

“I assume you mean Hayden?”

“That’s him, couldn’t remember his name,” Bryce snorted. “We met up with the two of them to hang out one Friday. This guy was all in Pete’s grill, always putting him down while telling us how great he was. Finally I told him if I caught him treating Pete like that again I was gonna kick the shit out him.”

Sizing up Bryce again, Jason decided he wouldn’t want to be his enemy. Given what he knew about Hayden, it didn’t sound like it would be much of a fight. Keeping his comments to himself, Jason followed Bryce toward the concession stand.

At the threshold to the back door, his host stopped and turned around. “Listen, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Yeah sure.” Despite how serious Bryce sounded, Jason tried to smile.

Bryce didn’t return the smile. “Pete’s like my brother; the one I don’t have. I really couldn’t give a shit he’s gay, but I won’t sit back again and let someone treat him like that. He hasn't said anything specific, but from what he has told me, I am guessing you go to Graydon. Put that together with your car and I’m reasonably sure you’re from a wealthy family.”

“Not that any of that matters, cause Pete’s really happy. I saw how you two were together out there. You treat him like you care about him; very different from that walking a-hole. This isn’t meant as a threat, really it isn’t, but please don’t hurt him. He’s been through a lot and I guess I’m being a bit protective.”

Rather than be offended, Jason smiled. “That’s pretty amazing.”

Bryce grunted in confusion.

“Sorry,” he apologized. “What I meant is, I think it’s great he has such a good friend to watch over him.” His smile widened. “There won’t be a repeat of how Hayden treated him, I promise. Unfortunately my situation makes it less than ideal for us to do things most couples can do. I think that bothers him some times.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Bryce shook his head. He finally smiled, allowing Jason to relax a little. “Sounds to me like Mr. Gregory is insanely happy. He loves cooking. Making dinner for you two is exactly what he wants.”

“Really?” Jason always thought it had more to do with not spending too much money.

“For sure.” Bryce grabbed three water bottles, handed them to Jason, then quickly grabbed a few bags of chips. “Like I said, we’re like brothers, I know what makes him happy. C’mon he’s almost done.”

Peter still looked focused as he drove around the ice. Seeing him back with his friend, in a familiar surround made Jason happy. He resolved to find ways to do thing like this more often.

“One more thing.” Bryce’s voice caused Jason to turn around. “Thanks. I like seeing him happy again.”

“Me too.” Jason smiled.

Walking back to the car, Jason kept smiling. When Peter looked over, he winked. “Thanks Pete, this was great.”

“Yeah?” He looked relieved. “Did you have fun?”

“I did,” Jason couldn’t tone down his goofy grin. “Bryce is a great guy, I can see why you two are friends.”

“He’s awesome,” Peter mused. “Not sure what I would’ve done without him. Heather too.”

“So what happened to her?” Jason asked tentatively. “You said you would tell me later.”

“Oh, nothing so mysterious.” Jason started the car while Peter explained. “They went away to different schools, promised to stay together, the usual. Come Christmas break, Bryce was waiting anxiously to see her again and first thing she does is break up with him. She found a new boyfriend at college. They were sleeping together and everything, but she never told him until they got home for the holiday. Bryce was really miserable last Christmas.”

Jason wasn’t sure if he should say anything. He didn’t know the dynamics of their relationship, but to his thinking breaking up in person was better than over the phone. On the other hand, sleeping with someone for weeks while leading the other person on sucked too.

“I was having issues with Hayden around that time,” Peter continued. “Well more like I was coming to realize what a jerk he was. Bryce nearly ripped his head off one night.”

“He mentioned something about that.” Jason confirmed.

“Was that before or after he told you he was watching you?” Peter snorted.

“Before,” Jason laughed back. “All he said was you’re his best friend and asked me not to hurt you like that, ‘walking a-hole,’ is how he put it.”

“That’s Bryce,” Peter said fondly. “So you better be good to me or else.”

Even though Peter was joking, Jason’s mind immediately envisioned Bryce outing him to anyone he could find.

“Whoa Jase, that was a joke,” Peter said once he saw Jason’s reaction.

“Sorry,” he smiled. “I know, I know. It wasn’t that, I just was thinking we’re not being all that careful. You and me both.”

“Huh?” Peter looked stunned. “Jase, Bryce would never out you.”

“He might if we broke up,” Jason pointed out.

Grabbing Jason’s hand Peter said, “That’s not going to happen so scratch that from your list of worries.”

Despite his anxiety, Jason smiled weakly back. “It’s not just him, its Annette, the guy at the restaurant we went to . . . .”

“Bruce,” Peter interjected.

. . . right Bruce, there’s Erin, and now Bryce. We seem to be telling a lot of people for something that is supposed to be a secret.”

Peter weighed Jason’s words for a moment before he spoke. “That’s true, but none of them will say anything anymore than I will.”

He knew Peter was right, but it was hard to put aside the fear he lived with for so long. Catching a quick glimpse at Peter as he made a turn, he instantly remembered how happy they were inside the rink. Either he made good on his promise or he was a hypocrite. “No, they won’t,” he said with as much conviction as he could.

“Exactly.” Peter cheered up a bit. “You have nothing to worry about from any of them.”

“So during the break are we going to hang out with Bryce and your other high school friends?” As hard as it was to say, Jason did his best. He knew what it meant to Peter for them to have some semblance of a social life. Ideal? No, but it was something he needed to do for Peter.

“You’re serious.” Peter noted with a hint of surprise.

“Totally.” This time his voice was firmer. “Look, when we were inside, you were happy; we were happy. It was fun not hiding our relationship while doing something other than being in your apartment. It was like we were just a normal couple. You were so happy to be there with your best friend and me. I want you to be like as often as we can.”

“Did Bryce put you up to this?” Peter looked annoyed.

“No Pete.” They were stopped at a red light so he looked over. “When we were talking he commented on how happy you looked. I noticed it too. That made me think about what we haven’t done together because I say we can’t. It’s no fun and it’s not fair. If I don’t let us do more, I’m going to lose you and I know I don’t want that.”

Peter reached over for Jason’s hand. “Jase you’re not going to lose me.”

“I know you don’t think so, but not going anywhere, not going out with your friends will get old fast.” Surprisingly Jason wasn’t struggling with what he was suggesting. This felt right, today felt right. “You once said if I want to be happy I have to be who I am. Today, for the first time in public, I was able to be myself. It felt great. If worrying too much about being outed means we can’t have days like this, then I’m missing out on too much. We’ve been hanging together as ‘friends’ for a while now, I think it is time we push the circle a bit wider.”

It was probably the euphoria of the day, but he hoped Peter heard the sincerity in his words.

The light turned green before Peter could answer. Shifting, Jason couldn’t see the big smile on Peter’s face until he glanced over.

Peter waited until they made eye contact to speak, “Thanks Jase, that means a lot. We can try to do more things with my friends, but we can take it slow. Last thing I want is for this to hurt you. Besides, other than Bryce, I don’t keep in touch with many people from high school, so it’s a short list.”

“Works for me.” His smile turned into a smirk. “You know, with Darryl gone and my not leaving until tomorrow, I have the rest of the day and night free with no explanations needed.”

The nagging feeling that something bad was going to happen tried to intrude on his thoughts, but Jason swept it aside. Not today, he decided. This was too perfect a day to ruin with self doubts. Those could wait until tomorrow.

***
The knock on his door forced Jason to get off the couch. Too bad, he was just getting comfortable. Festivus went late and he was still tired when he woke up to drive back to meet Peter. Despite being tired, he still smiled when he opened the door. Standing in the hallway, a single yellow rose in his hand, Peter’s smile matched Jason’s.

“Hey handsome,” Jason said. “What brings you to my door?”

“I heard your roommate was gone and you might be lonely.” Peter held out the flower for Jason. “It’s not much . . . .”

“Yes it is,” Jason corrected.

Jason waited until Peter was inside to kiss him. Holding out the rose he said, “Thanks for this. I’ll put it by my bed.”

“How did last night go?” Peter followed Jason into his room.

“Fun,” Jason smiled. “Long, but fun. Made getting up early hard.”

“You didn’t need to come back today if you were tired.”

“Yes, I did.” Jason turned to give Peter a hug. “Not seeing you would be much worse.”

Peter stroked his hair softly. “I envy you and your brother’s relationship. You really love him don’t you?”

“Dean is great,” Jason smiled thinking of his brother. “I would take a bullet for him.”

“You’re his brother not his security detail,” Peter laughed.

“I know, but I’ve always felt I needed to be there for him.” Jason led them to the bed. Sitting, he made room for Peter.

“Why?” Peter’s question took Jason by surprise. “I mean your dad was always there for him right?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jason let Peter turn him so his back was pressed against Peter’s chest. “I don’t know. He liked following me, always trying to do what I did.”

“Most older brothers find that annoying you know.”

“So I’m told,” Jason shrugged. “I don’t know, it always struck me as pretty cool; his trying to be like me. When he we were little, we used to play Batman and Robin - don’t tell him I told you, he’ll die. We were always buds. I think I liked having someone to watch over and protect.”

“That’s awesome Jason,” Peter said. “From what you say, it sounds like he appreciates you.”

“Yeah I think so.” Jason knew it, but didn’t want to sound too cocky.

Jason closed his eyes, relaxed and happy. He would have stayed longer, but he couldn’t stay all day. “We should go if we want to have lunch.”

“Will you be mad if I said I made us lunch?” Peter asked quietly.

“Yes, but not for the reasons you think,” Jason replied. “Why didn’t I come right there if you wanted to eat at your place?”

“I didn’t really think things through.”

“That’s fine, but before we go I have something for you.” Jason grabbed the bag on his bed.

“What’s this?” Peter demanded turning it over in his hand. “I thought we weren’t going to give each other gifts?”

“I never agreed I wouldn't give you a gift.”

“Jason,” Peter looked miffed. “You know how I feel about you spending money on me, especially since I can’t reciprocate.”

Placing two fingers over Peter’s lips, Jason tried to get his boyfriend to let him speak. “Please don’t get mad. It’s Christmas; our first Christmas. I’m not as thoughtful or romantic as you.” Jason picked up the flower. “This was worth more to me than any lame mall bought gift I got you. You knew I would smile when you gave it to me and I did.”

“So?” Peter still didn’t look happy. He waved the bag slightly. “This is much more than a flower.”

“It’s not just a flower to me. You tried to find a way to make me smile. Who cares what it cost?” Jason knew he was wrong to buy Peter the gift, but tried to justify it anyway. “The effort is what matters to me.”

“I care what it costs. . . .” Peter started to say.

“I don’t need or want or care that you can’t reciprocate,” Jason said quickly. “I didn’t get this for you hoping to get something of the same value in return. I bought it because I thought you would like it and could use it.”

Peter finally pulled the box from the bag. Peeling back the wrapping he saw what was underneath. Glaring at Jason he handed the gift back. “This is too much Jason.”

Unhappy, Jason took it back. “Fine, I’ll take it back. It’s no big deal, just another screw up to add to my list.”

He got up, put the box back in the back before moving toward his closet. Peter grabbed him before he could get out of reach. “Jason, you didn’t screw up.”

“Sure I did.” Breaking free he continued toward his closet. “All I wanted to do was make you happy and you’re mad. That sounds like I screwed up. Why are you even with me? I mean not only am I a closet case, I never get anything right.”

“Whoa,” Peter grabbed him again and wouldn’t let go. “Where did this come from?”

“C’mon Pete,” Jason was so unhappy he wanted to lock the door and ignore everyone. “What do I bring to us? I can’t even make you happy at Christmas.”

“You make me happy.” Peter said.

“Really? Why?” Jason didn’t mean to pick a fight with Peter, but he was feeling sorry for himself at the moment. “Give me one thing I bring to us besides sex that makes your life better, happier, more special.”

“Just being with you makes me happy.” Peter told him.

“See, you can’t name one thing. Face it, I’m more work than I’m worth.” Jason tried to pull away again, but Peter wouldn’t let him. “Please let me go Pete.”

“Jason.” Peter did as asked, his voice registering his concern. “What’s wrong? All I said was I don’t feel comfortable taking an expensive gift from you. Why are you so upset?”

“Don’t you see?” Jason shook his head. No he didn’t understand. “I wanted to do something nice for you and I got it wrong - again. When you try it works. Me? Yeah well, I get you mad. After how happy you’ve made me since we met, this was something I thought would make you smile. How stupid am I that I didn’t see this coming? Face it Pete, I’m a total loser.”

Peter stood there without saying a word. Using the silence, Jason finally put the gift on a shelf in his closet. Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he wondered if he should tell Peter to go home without him.

“Jason, I’m sorry.” Peter stood still watching him. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It’s not your fault,” Jason shrugged. “As often as you tell me you don’t like it when I spend money on you, only a moron like me would think that would make you happy.” Jason waved at the box for emphasis. “This was the best I could do. Sad, isn’t it?”

“Stop, please.” Peter forced Jason to look at him. “This time it’s my fault; really. You were trying to do something nice for me and I let my insecurities ruin it.”

“No Pete,” he shook his head. “I should’ve known you would feel this way. Stupid me just did what I always do. I need to be better at doing what will make you happy instead of what would make me happy.”

“See that’s just it.” Peter drew him closer. “I need to do the same thing.”

“Huh?” Jason was surprised. “You do a great job. All the little things you do are so special. All I do is throw money at us.”

“Not really,” Peter corrected. “The movie and flowers were romantic. They weren’t extravagant. Neither was surprising me with dinner last week.”

“Okay so I got a couple right.” Jason wanted to pull away, but Peter wouldn’t let him.

“Were we keeping score?” Peter asked.

“If we do I’m so far behind you’ll need to be in a coma for a month for me to catch up,” Jason said without a hint of humor.

“Please stop Jason,” Peter said softly. “You’re making me feel bad. I should have accepted your gift graciously. That’s what people are supposed to do when someone special gives them something.”

Jason pulled back far enough to look at Peter’s face. Two tears, one on the edge of each eye, slowly rolled down his face. “Hey, what’s wrong? I’m the insensitive oaf, not you.”

“Guess there’s enough oafishness for two,” Peter laughed. “I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I . . . I just hate being a freeloader. Not being able to get you something nice makes me feel inadequate.”

“I know Pete,” Jason admitted. “That’s why I feel so bad. It made me feel good thinking I was doing something to make you happy, something I considered nice at least, that I ignored how it would make you feel. I’ll work on it, I promise.”

“Don’t feel bad, it’s something I wanted and you knew it,” Peter told him. “If I had a similar gift for you I might have reacted differently. Regardless I should have been happy, it was thoughtful.”

“Thanks.” Jason buried his head on Peter’s shoulder. He still felt stupid. He knew it would be a problem, but wanted to believe that Peter would love it because Jason gave it to him.

“If it’s not too late,” Peter said. “I promise not to fuss if you give it to me again.”

Jason knew what those word cost Peter; asking for it after giving it back to Jason required Peter to swallow his pride.

“Too late?” Jason winked at him. “I was just holding it until I could sneak it into your apartment.”

He really wasn’t, but he wanted to make Peter feel less self conscious.

Peter laughed. “Sly little Soccer Boy.”

“Hey watch who you called little,” he stood up taller.

Rolling his eyes Peter laughed. “That is one word I wouldn’t use for you.”

Jason followed Peter’s eyes down. “Last I checked you won that contest.”

“Different,” Peter said. “There is length and girth, depends on which one we are talking about doesn’t it?”

Jason was starting to feel the effects of this conversation. “Thank you for that lesson in the size and shape of the male anatomy.”

Peter raised his eyebrows suggestively. “Why don’t we continue the lesson back at my place?”

“You sure you can stand to be with such an insensitive, shallow, materialistic, dumb jock?” Jason asked with a smirk.

“Only if you can put up with an insecure, doofus who has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to money,” Peter replied.

“Hmm, not sure, but I think I can manage.” Jason laughed.

“Whew, that's a relief.” Peter kissed him before moving toward the door.

“Hold on.” Jason let go of Peter’s hand. Retrieving the bag from his closet, he said, “Merry Christmas Pete.”

This time Peter looked in the bag and smiled. “An iPod docking station with speakers and a clock. Jason how did you know?”

Closing one eye, Jason cocked his head. “Did you think I didn’t see how you ogled mine?”

“Thanks Jason,” Peter kissed him. “I have a small confession.”

“Oh?” Jason wondered what this was going to be.

“I have a little something at my place for you. That’s why I wanted us to go there,” He said sheepishly. “It is nothing like this, but I was going to give it to you when we got there.”

Jason laughed. “So it was okay for you to break the no gift rule, but you gave me shit for doing it?”

“Well you really broke it,” Peter tried to wiggle out of the situation. “I just got you a little something.”

“I want to say one thing, here and now, before we get to your place, so I don’t ruin our lunch.” Jason’s face showed he was serious.

Peter made a face, but nodded. “Ok.”

“If you’re mad I spent money on you, money I won’t miss, how do you think I’m going to feel when you spend money on me I know you need?” Jason said with more anger than he meant.

“Fair enough,” Peter conceded. “You’re right. Guess this is something for us both to work on.”

“I can work on most anything if we do it together,” Jason smiled.

“Shall we go to my place to work on a few things together?” Peter leered suggestively.

“Wicked boy.” Jason shut the lights on the way out.

Christmas is next and we all know what happens when family gets together; they ask lots of personal questions.
Copyright © 2011 Andrew Q Gordon; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Aww, I felt so sorry for Jason during the gift scene!

 

I've always been on Peter's side of things w/ the money issue, never saw it from the different perspective before

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On 01/06/2011 06:11 AM, Sara Alva said:
Aww, I felt so sorry for Jason during the gift scene!

 

I've always been on Peter's side of things w/ the money issue, never saw it from the different perspective before

Neither did Peter evidently :P Just wait, things get a bit more complicated. Thanks for all the reviews, in a way each chapter is it's own little emotion or purpose. Seeing what works, and what doesn't resonate with the reader is really helpful.
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Wow, best chapter yet so far. I'm a sucker for any kind of angst in a relationship in gay fiction.

 

And I went through the exact same thing with Curt, as his family is more affluent than mine. He used to buy me expensive gifts, until I finally told him I would still love him even if all he got me was a hamburger from McDonalds!

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On 01/23/2011 06:11 AM, TrevorTime said:
Wow, best chapter yet so far. I'm a sucker for any kind of angst in a relationship in gay fiction.

 

And I went through the exact same thing with Curt, as his family is more affluent than mine. He used to buy me expensive gifts, until I finally told him I would still love him even if all he got me was a hamburger from McDonalds!

Trev, glad you liked this one, This was one of my favorite chapters too, Its one of the few scenes were we see Peter's friends and get a glimpse into his life before Jason. Thanks for all the reviews, I always like to hear what you and others think.
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On 02/03/2011 06:36 AM, Frostina said:
“If we do I’m so far behind you’ll need to be in a coma for a month for me to catch up,”
Not sure how THAT snuck in there. 0:) Just ignore it, it has NO significance whatsoever. :whistle:
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I can see why some might be upset over the whole money thing. But one should think about the future. If things work out, a couple can be on equal footing. Anyway, great chapter, and I love where it's going so far.

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On 02/09/2011 03:12 PM, Tiger said:
I can see why some might be upset over the whole money thing. But one should think about the future. If things work out, a couple can be on equal footing. Anyway, great chapter, and I love where it's going so far.
I think that is a valid point but look at it from Peter's stand point, unless he creates the next Facebook or founds his own investment bank, he is not likely to ever be on the same footing at Jason going forward. Even Jason's dad, successful as he is, is not the main source of the family money, the heiress wife is. So I think [obviously right?] that Peter's concern is legit. Then again, Royce over came the problem and is doing quite nicely for himself. Peter might do well to learn from that. Thanks for reading Tim and for the comments. - Andy
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This was one of the best chaps but also one of the scarriest. I love the iceskating. Bryce is an awesome dude. But Christmas with Peter...Jason will be walking on eggshells if Peter doesnt get over his $$ issues.

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On 06/20/2011 12:03 AM, K.C. said:
This was one of the best chaps but also one of the scarriest. I love the iceskating. Bryce is an awesome dude. But Christmas with Peter...Jason will be walking on eggshells if Peter doesnt get over his $$ issues.
haha, this was one of my favorite chapters too. I said it in a response to a different review. Just felt like they needed a fun chapter to keep things real.
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Aw their first fight! =( It cleared the air on a lot of things, but I see a lot of trouble ahead. Peter is way way out there when it comes to that shoulder-chip about money. I get it, somewhat, but still, it's seriously a very big issue for him. DAMN YOU HAYDEN! >8(

 

I'm glad that Peter finally realized how Jason is romantic, just not in the ways that others are.

 

I think I have a special lean to Jase's side on this because my family has a lot of money. In my household money = love and you pay for everything. You appreciate people by buying them things, expensive things. So I get it. It's just something I grew up with. I never even realized it offended people until someone told me. So I might get upset with Peter a lot. A LOT. I was so angrified in this chapter that my mouth pinched.

 

You gave me mouth wrinkles =(

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On 06/22/2011 01:21 AM, Chey_D said:
Aw their first fight! =( It cleared the air on a lot of things, but I see a lot of trouble ahead. Peter is way way out there when it comes to that shoulder-chip about money. I get it, somewhat, but still, it's seriously a very big issue for him. DAMN YOU HAYDEN! >8(

 

I'm glad that Peter finally realized how Jason is romantic, just not in the ways that others are.

 

I think I have a special lean to Jase's side on this because my family has a lot of money. In my household money = love and you pay for everything. You appreciate people by buying them things, expensive things. So I get it. It's just something I grew up with. I never even realized it offended people until someone told me. So I might get upset with Peter a lot. A LOT. I was so angrified in this chapter that my mouth pinched.

 

You gave me mouth wrinkles =(

Ekkk - no wrinkles allowed. But everything can't be and shouldn't be perfect - nothing is, not even happy couple. Those who are 'perfect' are lying :P But Peter is what he is, and together they'll figure it out. I think :P
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You tried to find a way to make me smile. Who cares what it cost?

 

That is such a lovely line.

 

The money issues still make me tense everytime I read this. I remember first reading it and thinking how distruptive and damaging money issues can be in relationships. How it gives one power over the other, or if not, it can seem that way anyway. I grew up with my parents having similar struggles and I do believe it was one of the reasons things didn't work out. Anyway, it makes me senstive and worried to read about these two boys with this issue itching at the surface of their relationship.

 

I love the witty lines, btw! hehe, they may have issues, but damn if they're not sexy. :P

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On 06/23/2011 10:26 AM, AnytaSunday said:
You tried to find a way to make me smile. Who cares what it cost?

 

That is such a lovely line.

 

The money issues still make me tense everytime I read this. I remember first reading it and thinking how distruptive and damaging money issues can be in relationships. How it gives one power over the other, or if not, it can seem that way anyway. I grew up with my parents having similar struggles and I do believe it was one of the reasons things didn't work out. Anyway, it makes me senstive and worried to read about these two boys with this issue itching at the surface of their relationship.

 

I love the witty lines, btw! hehe, they may have issues, but damn if they're not sexy. :P

Yeah well the whole different classes so to speak is hard for them to deal, each in their own way. For Peter it's don't let it be a hang up, for Jason it's try to be better at seeing Pete's side. Glad you liked the witty lines. I tried to make it a tad funny where I could
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Yeah, nice to meet a friend, a best friend too, of Pete's, though strange that Jason didn't even know about him at all. Was that really realistic or necessary to hide? Seems very odd. Pete is as closeted as Jason sometimes!
Little things can be such a thorn in relationships and have to be resolved otherwise they turn into big things. It's good that they are dealing with stuff and confronting it and working it out bit by bit.
So realistic, but also so touching. I love these guys and I love their story. Thanks for writing it.

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On 04/10/2016 05:46 PM, Jaro_423 said:

Yeah, nice to meet a friend, a best friend too, of Pete's, though strange that Jason didn't even know about him at all. Was that really realistic or necessary to hide? Seems very odd. Pete is as closeted as Jason sometimes!

Little things can be such a thorn in relationships and have to be resolved otherwise they turn into big things. It's good that they are dealing with stuff and confronting it and working it out bit by bit.

So realistic, but also so touching. I love these guys and I love their story. Thanks for writing it.

IDK, there were things about my husband I didn't know until we'd bought our first house. The BF was out of sight so to speak. But yeah, it could have been brought up sooner. Something else to put in the to be revised stuff for that elusive one day. :D

 

-AQG

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