A confusion of dreams, blissful sleep, oft interspersed with sensations of Shane, guided Trevor through the night. Only once did he see the pirates, and then only in a dim and distant fashion, more as an observer than as a victim. For the second night in a row, Trevor had a respite from his nightmares: a needed and welcome hiatus.
Long after dawn, for the night had been both late and strenuous, Trevor’s fuzzy dreams faded, as he gradually awoke, reality transposing itself upon the template of dreams, slowly filling in the voids of where, when, and how.
With a flutter, Trevor’s eyes eased open, and like the morning before, he was on his back, with Shane using his shoulder as a pillow, and Shane’s arm draped around his chest.
Fleeting memories returned: had it all been a dream? Needing to know, Trevor eased his hand down, confirming that he was naked. With confirmation, came a broad, sleepy smile.
“Hi,” Shane mumbled, stirring to raise his head and meet Trevor’s eyes.
“Hi,” was Trevor’s sleepy reply, as his arm found its place on Shane’s back.
Shane pulled closer, moving his right arm up to perch his hand on Trevor’s pec, exactly as he had the morning before. “Any nightmares? I felt you tense a bit, but only for a minute. Sleep well?”
Trevor, reveling in Shane’s touch and closeness, nodded. “I remember seeing ‘em, like from a distance, but nothing more.”
“Remember yesterday, when we woke up?” Shane asked, moving his right hand slightly, extending his fingertips slowly on Trevor’s pec. “I started doing this. I didn’t think about it, it just felt right, and I almost didn’t stop,” Shane said softly, continuing the slight massage.
Trevor let his hand roam on Shane’s back, feeling him move. Shane leaned in, teasing Trevor’s chest with his tongue, which made Trevor inhale sharply, his morning wood beginning to demand attention. Shane’s hand obliged, which caused Trevor to wince. “Ah, as great a way as that would be to wake up, I’m kinda sore down there. How about you?” Trevor asked, reaching down to give Shane a tender stroke.
“Me too, I guess we created a lot of friction… five times,” Shane said, returning his hand to Trevor’s chest.
Trevor pulled his hand away and chuckled. “Yeah, that we did,” he said, as they pulled into a hug, which became a kiss.
“I’m just so happy,” Shane said, with a lazy smile as he returned his head to its resting place on Trevor’s shoulder.
“Me too, and I don’t just mean the sex,” Trevor said, holding Shane close. He tilted his head to rest his cheek on Shane’s warm hair. “I’ve never felt so at ease with someone, and that started well before yesterday.”
Shane smiled, and then nuzzled Trevor’s neck. “Me too. We click, and we have from the start. Well, since the fight, at least.” Shane’s growling stomach interrupted him, and he chuckled, yawned, and sniffed the air. “We stink, and the room smells like sex. We’re gonna need to do laundry today.”
Trevor nodded. “Shower first. Then breakfast. We missed dinner last night.”
“I’ll cook as soon as I’m out of the shower, for the sake of our health,” Shane said, rolling away and standing up.
Trevor took a good, long look at Shane’s naked body, and grinned. “Now I don’t need to hide it when I’m looking at you.”
Shane laughed and shook his head. “You didn’t before. I’m not exactly shy. Okay, I’m going to hit my shower, see you in a few,” Shane said, snatching his speedos up off the floor on his way out.
Trevor laughed, heading for his own shower, bitterly regretting the fact that the showers on Kookaburra were far too small to accommodate two people.
Trevor washed and shampooed, smiling as he remembered the day and night. He and Shane had stayed in bed all afternoon and evening, their sex interspersed with many hours of talking and exploring, before finally succumbing to utter exhaustion and falling asleep in each other’s arms.
After his shower, Trevor opened his wardrobe, intending to grab a pair of boardies out of habit. He stopped, grinning and shaking his head at his own past actions, and snatched up his blue speedos instead.
When Trevor stepped out into the galley area, Shane was already there, cracking eggs. He looked up, gave Trevor a long, lingering look, followed by a smile and a nod of approval. “Hot. You look great in speedos, which is one of the reasons I tried to prod you a bit to break you of your boardie habit. They’re also better when you’re in and out of the water a lot, but, you wouldn’t listen, stubborn git that you are.”
Trevor laughed, taking a lingering look at Shane in his gray speedos – savoring the fact he no longer had to hide it – and then coming up behind Shane and wrapping his arms gently around him. “Speedos show too much, and with you almost naked all the time, I figured I’d have trouble keeping it down. You’ve been driving me crazy, you know that, right?”
“Short trip,” Shane replied, chuckling. “You caught me hard yesterday, remember? It was rubbing suntan lotion on you that did that, in case you didn’t know.”
Trevor gave Shane a hug and laughed. “Yeah, I see that now, but I didn’t then. Come to think of it… after we met Mr. Blake, and I was kidding you about him saying you almost never wore a shirt, you peeled it off and threw it at me, and said something like ‘As if you’ll complain.’ You’d figured me out by then, and knew it’d rattle me, so you were winding me up a bit, right?”
“The light finally dawns. Yep, then, and a bunch of other times too. I never tried to make you walk into stuff though; you’re plenty good at that, all on your own. I was worried you’d hurt yourself, especially the bits I had designs on.”
Trevor chuckled softly, resting his chin on Shane’s shoulders to watch as he scrambled the eggs and fried bacon. “Yeah, I do tend to do that. Lisa, Joel, and Julie all tease me about it. I’ve never been as bad as I have lately though. Uh, you said you’ve known since we met why I walk into stuff. How?”
Shane laughed, leaning back into Trevor. “Easier if I show ya, mate, so right after brekkie, okay?”
Trevor managed to contain his curiosity, a feat made easier by the delicious scrambled eggs with bacon and crunchy cheese Shane had prepared.
As soon as they finished, Trevor asked, “So, what about that explanation?”
“Impatient twit! I suppose I might as well,” Shane said, heading for his room and then returning with his polo shirt in hand, which he handed to Trevor. “Put it on. It’s the one I was wearing on our day out in Carnarvon, when I was applying for jobs.” Trevor pulled the shirt on, and Shane added, “Follow me, and mind the stairs,” as he bounded up to the salon and out to the cockpit. There, he led the way into the sun before turning to tell Trevor, “Now pull it halfway off, and look.”
Trevor, beginning to suspect the answer, pulled the knit polo shirt up, leaving it stretched over his head, finding that he had a good view of Shane through the material. Then, he remembered exactly how he’d walked into the tree. “You watched me check you out when you took your shirt off,” Trevor said, before taking the shirt the rest of the way off.
Shane grinned and laughed, nodding in the sun. “Yeah, you got it. I’d been wondering about you ever since you didn’t take the girl at the sports shop up on her invite. So, I waited to peel off until I had stuff in my hands, so I’d have to be slow. I wanted to see if you snuck a look, but I never thought you’d walk right into a tree. Had I known, I wouldn’t have put the poor tree in danger that way.”
“Sneaky asshole!” Trevor said, laughing and shaking his head, and giving Shane a one-fingered salute.
Shane turned serious for a moment, giving Trevor a wistful smile. “Once I knew, I was going to try getting in your shorts that night, but then the shit hit the fan and you ended up chartering Kookaburra. I knew we’d be spending a lot of time together, and that you were somebody I could fall hard for, and that you’d be leaving. So, I tried to avoid letting on, but I caught myself flirting with you plenty of times.”
Trevor smiled, looking out at the sea. “I’m glad it all happened like it did… Rhys Lagoon is special to you, and now it’s special to me, too. After we go to Florida, we’ll come back here someday soon. Maybe sooner than we think, if we can’t get you a visa. A voyage around the world would be way easier with two people, and I do have family here, somewhere. Maybe my grandparents are still alive, and I know mom had a sister. Shane, we’ve got to go to Northam soon, so I can start asking around and finding them.”
Shane stood by Trevor’s side and put his arm around him. “We’ll find ‘em, somehow. I’ve been thinking about that. You might want to ask Officer Fowler if he can find anything, I’ll bet he could. As for Northam, I’ve had a glance at the map since you first mentioned it. I’ve never set foot in the town, but it’s on the main east-west rail line, so I must’ve come through on the train on my way to Perth on the Indian-Pacific. There might be a station in Northam – the train stopped a bunch of times in the region – but if not, there’s bound to be one close enough, or a different train on the route, or something. When we’re in Perth to pick up Joel, we could take the train in, spend a few days, and see what we can find. I can help, because I speak the language.”
Trevor grinned, giving Shane a playful nudge. “That you do.” Trevor’s tone turned serious, and he added, “I wish I had more to go on, other than ‘Smith’. I’ll try to get a message to Dad, maybe he’d tell me more. He has to know where they are, otherwise he wouldn’t have wanted to send me to Western Australia for Christmas to meet ‘em.”
Shane gave Trevor a thoughtful look. “Have you tried asking your family on your father’s side? Maybe your grandparents? Maybe they know something that’d help.”
With a sad shake of his head, Trevor replied, “I can’t. I don’t have any living family on Dad’s side except Dad. That’s why I was so bummed about him being totally alone on Thanksgiving; he doesn’t have anyone except me. He was adopted by an older couple. They didn’t have any other kids, and they died before I was born. I asked Dad about ‘em a few times, but he doesn’t like to talk about ‘em much, but he’s that way about Mom, too. I remember him taking me and Mom to visit their graves when I was really little, up in northern Florida. I barely remember it.”
“Maybe they have living relatives who might know something, about your relatives here, or your mom, or your Dad’s past. Joel might be able to find ‘em if you could remember the name of the place?” Shane suggested.
Trevor’s eyes opened a little wider. “I do remember… I was asking Mom and Dad to take me to the canal, because I’d seen the Panama Canal on a cartoon and wanted to see it. They said they couldn’t, because it was the wrong Panama, so it has to be Panama City, Florida.”
“Is that close to Ft. Pierce?” Shane asked, wondering if Joel and Lisa could drive there.
Trevor shook his head. “Nope, it’s a long way, but it’s not far from Tallahassee. That’s where the professor is, and that’s also the town for the university where Lisa and Joel want to go. They’ll be going there, but probably not soon enough to help us. Plus, I don’t know which cemetery, and I bet there are several. My Grandfather’s first name… I can’t remember. Grandma’s first name was Hilda. I don’t know her maiden name. Their last name was Carlson, like mine. I don’t know anything about Dad’s birth family, because he doesn’t either.”
Shane gave Trevor a sad smile. “I never knew my family on my father’s side either. My grandparents on Mom’s side… I haven’t seen ‘em for a couple of years. I stayed with them for a couple of months when I was being bounced around between relatives. It’s strange; Mom told me they’d given her a cold shoulder since she married my real father, and didn’t warm up even after he left us. I’d only seen ‘em a couple of times before the funeral. But they were all broken up at her funeral, and Grandma looked at me… like she hated me for what happened. Even when I stayed with them later that year, they pretty much ignored me when they could. I think they blamed me.”
Trevor gave Shane a hug, feeling him shudder slightly at the memories. “Have you ever tried to find your real father?” Trevor asked softly.
Shane shook his head. “No point, he knew where to find me, for a few years a least. All I ever got from him was a postcard for my birthday when I was nine, the year after he left. It was from fucking Cairns, so it’s not like he was far away. Mom had me phone him not long after, but it was weird. He just sounded… distant, like he didn’t give a rat’s arse. Mom said she never got a dime of child support off him, and he left the area again, not long after the call. We never heard from him again.”
Trevor gave Shane another hug, and held on. “Damn, that sucks. I can sure understand why you have your thing about people leaving, and that’s without what’s happened to you since.”
Shane hugged Trevor back, saying sadly, “Rough for you too, trying to figure out if your dad killed your mum, then all the other stuff that hit you.”
“We’ve both had a rough go,” Trevor said, his hands rubbing Shane’s back.
“You said ‘rough go’; you’re learning how to talk right!” Shane declared, trying to shake off their somber mood.
Trevor laughed, shaking his head as he pulled away. “You’re a bad influence, what can I say?”
“Preferably as little as possible, but not much chance of that, I suppose,” Shane quipped, stepping out of Trevor’s reach, and then turning to face him before stretching. Trevor let his eyes roam, unabashedly enjoying the sight, only to be startled when Shane yelled, “You’re staring at me again, that’s sexual harassment!”
Trevor snickered, shaking his head. “You can’t say that anymore, now we’re…” his voice trailed off, as he found himself suddenly unsure of the right word to use.
“Say it, Trev,” Shane said, with a warm smile.
“Boyfriends,” Trevor said, his eyes lighting up.
“Boyfriends. Say it again, I like the sound of it,” Shane replied, stepping closer and pulling Trevor into a hug.
“Boyfriends,” Trevor said again, before his mouth found Shane’s.
After the kiss, they eased apart, and Shane chuckled. “You’re wrong, you know.”
Shane shrugged, and gave Trevor a firm slap on the butt. “About sexual harassment. You’re gay, I’m not, so that makes what you do sexual harassment,” Shane said, turning to dart into the salon.
“Hey, what about when you do stuff?” Trevor said, chasing after Shane.
“That’s just me being my natural self. It’s only sexual harassment when you do… well, pretty much anything, even sneezing,” Shane said, flopping down on the couch.
“I’m going to kill Joel for teaching you that, count on it,” Trevor said, laughing and piling on top of Shane, tickling him for a few seconds and then settling in beside him.
Shane laughed, nudging Trevor. “Don’t be too hard on him. I was worried about you, and the stress you’d had coming out, and he’d told me to make sure you didn’t push me away because you were stressed on the gay thing. I asked him what to do if you did, and he told me about the sexual harassment trick, and how part of it was one of his ways of letting you know he was fine with you. It’s a bloody good job he told me that, because if he hadn’t, my backup plan was to have sex with you, so he did save me from that horrible fate for a couple of days.”
Trevor cracked up. “A horrible fate, huh? So my beloved adopted brother, even though he’s on the opposite side of the world, managed to give me blue balls, and as a side benefit, I now get accused of sexual harassment if I so much as blink. He’s really helpful. Tell me again why I shouldn’t kill him?”
Shane laughed, and then gave Trevor a nudge. “Don’t be to mad at him, he thought he was helping, and I implied I was straight. Seriously, I could tell he cares a lot about you.”
Trevor chuckled. “Okay, okay, I won’t kill him, but we’re still gonna get him drunk and do the ‘Night of the Mob’ trick, right?”
“Count on it!” Shane chuckled, and glanced at the clock. “We might as well leave the laundry until later; we’ll have to run the generator to do it.”
“We could to it tomorrow; we’ll be motoring out of here and can just use the engine generators, and do laundry then, like we did on the way in. We could sleep in your bed tonight,” Trevor said, suddenly feeling slightly ill at ease. Something Shane had said – his joking explanation of sexual harassment – was nagging slightly at Trevor. It was then that Trevor realized that he had no idea what it meant to be bi; so far as he knew, Shane was the first bi guy he’d met.
Shane nodded. “Good plan, we can just do both sheet sets then. We need to feed the remaining carrots to the roos tonight, too. Now, what about the rest of the day? It’s still early enough that we can get to the Zuytdorp Cliffs, and it looks like a good day for it. Fancy a run, you lazy sod?”
Trevor laughed and elbowed Shane. “I’m up for it if you are.”
“Up for it? That’s innuendo, right there! Definite sexual harassment,” Shane said, getting up to marinate the meat for the cookout, and make sandwiches to take with them. He carefully sealed the satellite phone in two Ziploc bags, to protect it from getting wet.
Half an hour later, decked out in blue running shorts and sunscreen, they locked up Kookaburra and lowered the Zodiac. Trevor assumed Shane would take the helm, but he motioned for Trevor to do so. “I’ll give directions. I’m a good backseat driver,” Shane quipped, as they cast off in the Zodiac, Trevor at the helm, heading for the entrance to Rhys Lagoon. The planned journey was comparatively short, just seven miles, but much of it was in waters too shallow for Kookaburra.
The tide was nearly high, so Shane took them through the shallow entrance to Rhys Lagoon at twenty knots, racing into the main body of Boat Haven Loop, a long irregular body of water running roughly north to south. The south end is comprised of a large lagoon, several times larger than Rhys Lagoon, but shallower.
Racing south, bouncing on the light chop the strong breeze had kicked up, they spotted a small powerboat, moored near the shore. “Looks like day trippers from Denham, enjoying their explorations,” Shane said, shouting over the roar of the engine. Shane explained that it was common to see boats this far south, but no further, due to the shallow depth. He was mostly right.
They arrived at the shallows at the south end and hauled the Zodiac ashore, where Shane locked it to a scraggly tree.
Donning backpacks, which held water and their lunch, they pulled on socks and shoes, stretching out to prepare for their run.
For Trevor, it was déjà vu; he slowed in his own stretching to watch Shane, whose golden tan complemented the light blue running shorts perfectly. As he gazed at Shane’s stretching muscles, Trevor lost focus on his own leg stretches, absently setting one foot down atop the other.
Startled by the sudden self-entanglement, Trevor glanced down, stumbling backwards, arms beginning to windmill as he lost the battle against gravity, landing squarely on his ass on the soft white sand.
“You fell down,” Shane observed helpfully, with a sad shake of his head, just before he began to snicker.
“Shut up,” Trevor mumbled, blushing slightly as he scrambled to his feet and began brushing the sand off. “It’s your fault; you look hot in those shorts.”
Shane snickered again. “So do you, as I knew you would when we got both pairs in Denham. I’m also pretty sure I know why you forgot to raise the anchor when we motored into Boat Haven Loop.”
Trevor’s blush deepened. “Yeah.”
Shane laughed, giving Trevor a light punch in the arm. “I’ll probably regret telling you this, but you’re why I forgot to put the detergent in that day.”
Trevor laughed, grinning in the sun. “I’ll remind you next time, like you remind me to mind the stairs. I only figured that one out this morning.”
“You’re learning my secrets,” Shane said, feigning shock, and then laughing, taking his place by Trevor’s side. “Okay, we’ve a run to do. It’s eight kilometers from here. There’s no trail for most of the way, just open scrubland like you see here. This region is called Edel Land, same as for around Rhys Lagoon. It’s dry country, and it slopes from west to east; the low hills we see from Rhys Lagoon are just the start of it. This part of Edel Land separates Shark Bay from the Indian Ocean. It’s about eight kilometers from here to the cliffs, and not much above sea level for the most of it, but then the land slopes up the last couple of kilometers. Where we’re going – roughly due south – the cliff is about a hundred and fifty meters above the sea, but the climb is gradual, you’ll barely notice. We should have lunch there; the view is incredible.”
“Lead the way,” Trevor said, and they were off.
Barely a hundred yards from the water’s edge, Trevor stopped in surprise as they crossed a wide graded dirt road. “Where does this go?” he asked.
“Going that way,” Shane said, pointing southeast along the road, “it loops around the south end of the west arm of Shark Bay, and in about eighty kilometers it joins up with the road to Denham. The other way,” he said, turning to point northwest, “It’s about forty kilometers to Useless Loop. That’s a big salt works and a works town; they built dikes across a big arm of Shark Bay – the next one up from Boat Haven Loop – and use the sun to concentrate salt. I’ve only seen it from the sea, and only bits of it, it’s bloody massive. I’ve seen pictures of it taken from orbit; that’s the only way to see it all at once. About halfway between here and the town there’s a side road to the east; it’s a rough track to Steep Point, the westernmost cape in Australia.”
Trevor nodded, feeling a chill in spite of the hot day. “There’s a lighthouse there. It’s the one I was looking for on my way in, but I think I was looking at the one on Cape Inscription, northwest of it on Dirk Hartog Island.”
“I’ve seen both places in daytime; we can have a look from the sea on the way to Perth.”
Trevor nodded, a smile beginning to grow on his face. “Useless Loop, huh? You sure do have a big ego.” Trevor waited until Shane gave him a confused look, before adding offhandedly, “Rhys Lagoon isn’t the only thing you named after yourself.”
Shane blinked once. “Cruel and abusive bastard! I’ll get you for that, count on it, you just won’t know when,” Shane said, giving Trevor a wink and laughing, as they resumed their run. Shane kept the pace an easy one, mindful that Trevor was not yet completely recovered from his long ordeal at sea.
The first couple of miles took them across flat, barren country and across a small dry lake. It was the first time Trevor had ever been inland in a desert, and he marveled at the strange and alien land.
Trevor relaxed and enjoyed the run, focusing on the present, trying to forget his troubles. He had high hopes that the panic attack he’d had was a one-time thing, and he knew he was improving in many ways. Again, he realized how much he owed Shane, and smiled.
By early afternoon, tired and sweating hard, they neared their destination. The first thing Trevor noticed was the wind in his face; it was growing stronger.
The land was lightly rolling, red-tinted, mixed with a panoply of tans, smattered with a few struggling bushes. The first sign of the cliffs was the land’s abrupt disappearance well ahead. As they drew closer, Trevor caught sight of the Indian Ocean on the horizon.
Shane slowed to a walk and Trevor fell into place by his side, as they neared the ragged edge of the great escarpment. The drop-off zigzagged in and out, and Shane was taking them towards a point that protruded a little from the main cliff face. A dozen feet back from the edge, Shane stopped, and Trevor looked north, then south, taking in the grandest vista he’d ever seen. “It’s… like the end of the world, like it just broke off,” he said, looking many miles north and south, and then peering at the furious breakers smashing against the rocks, five hundred feet below.
Shane, in a subdued voice, said, “They run for two hundred kilometers, from Steep Point in the north, all the way down to the Murchison River. It’s one of the most spectacular coasts in Australia.”
“Let’s sit on the edge and eat lunch,” Trevor suggested, easing out of his backpack and taking a few paces forward, spellbound by the view, unbothered by the soaring heights. Shane didn’t follow.
Trevor glanced back when he reached the edge, and standing a single step from oblivion, he gave Shane a puzzled look.
“Uh, Trev, could you come back, please?” Shane asked, before chewing on his lip.
Trevor nodded, and as he turned, he remembered the parasailing, and Shane’s reaction. “You don’t like heights, huh?” Trevor asked, returning to Shane’s side.
“Not too much, especially vertical drops like that,” Shane admitted. “They just make me uncomfortable, especially with this wind.”
Trevor reached out to place his hand on Shane’s shoulder. “How about eating lunch here? The view is still great, and we’re not close to the edge.”
“Thanks,” Shane said, giving Trevor a shy smile, as he sat down to dig in his pack for sandwiches and chips.
Trevor sat down next to Shane, sitting close, so their shoulders touched. He smiled at the new side of Shane he’d seen, pleased that Shane had felt comfortable enough to level with him.
Together, they ate lunch, awed by the spectacular views. Between bites, Trevor glanced at Shane, who had reverted to his happy, confident self, and smiled. “Joel didn’t want to go up the mast on Atlantis when we were in Cyprus. I think heights bother him, too.”
Shane smiled, but only for a moment. His smile faded, and he stared out to sea. “You know I’m not him, right?” Shane asked, in a quiet, strained tone.
Trevor blinked, taken by surprise by Shane’s odd question, but one look at Shane’s expression chased away any notion Trevor had that Shane was joking. “Shane, no, I never thought that. You guys are a lot alike in some ways, but probably not as much as you and I are.” Trevor intertwined his fingers with Shane, “I couldn’t do this with him, for one, but… seriously, you guys are different in a bunch of ways, and I just spot similarities more than differences. Joel loves being at the helm and conning Atlantis, you hate doing that with Kookaburra. He’s a bit more laid back than you, plus he has a super easy time warming up to people when he first meets them, you said you don’t. He’s not into surfing like you and I are, but he loves to shop, and I don’t think you do.”
Shane tuned his head to look at Trevor, saying softly, “Sorry, I don’t know where that came from.”
“I think I do,” Trevor said, giving Shane a hug. “I understand. Lisa and I have been best friends since I was little. Well, enemies first, then best friends. She was the first person I ever came out to, and I only did it because I knew she was falling for me. Lisa and Joel didn’t really know one another then. I wanted to find Lisa somebody, and I picked Joel because he’s a great guy and I thought they’d click, but part of the reason was he looks kinda like me and has a similar personality in some ways. I had to come out to him when I did it, and I was so uptight I ended up staying away from him for a while. He and Lisa had a real rocky start; she was still into me, and… please don’t ever bring this up around Joel, but she called out my name once, when they were having sex.”
“Oh, shit,” Shane said, his eyes opening wider.
“Oh, yeah. It was worse than that; Lisa has a hell of a time getting really close to anybody, letting ‘em in. It’s because of her mom; she left when Lisa was little, then a few years ago Lisa went to France to see her, and she gave her the cold shoulder, treated her like dirt.”
Shane nodded slowly. “I know how that feels, from my father, and I get how that makes opening up hard. I have that trouble myself, a lot of times.”
“I knew she had to open up to Joel, or it would be over between them. I had to threaten to do it if she didn’t, to get her to have a long heart–to–heart talk with Joel. It worked, and they’ve been getting along great ever since. So yeah, I think I know what you were worried about, but don’t be. I know you’re not Joel, and I couldn’t think that if I wanted to; every time you open your mouth, I hear that sexy Aussie accent,” Trevor said, giving Shane a gentle nudge with his shoulder.
Shane smiled, returning the nudge. He angled his head, leaning in a little closer to Trevor. “I’m not normally the insecure sort; except when I am. Me asking that surprised me. I think that’s one of the ways you and I click; we can talk easily.”
“Me too,” Trevor said, giving Shane a warm smile. Lisa and Joel, and sorta Julie, were the only people back home I could open up to about most stuff.” Trevor took a deep breath, and decided to bring up a subject that had been nagging at him. “Shane, I’ve never known anyone who’s bi before, so I don’t know much about it. What’s it like, being attracted to girls and guys, when you’re dating?” Trevor asked, before starting to chew on his lip.
Shane glanced at Trevor, his expression turning to an angry scowl as he realized what Trevor was asking. “If you want to ask something, Trev, just say it plain–” Shane cut himself off, and added in a softer tone, “I guess you just did. No, I don’t think being bi is an excuse to screw around. I… suppose that’s a reasonable question, really, seeing as how you don’t know any bi guys other than me.” Shane gave Trevor a wistful smile. “Actually, some bi guys are like that. My ex who found somebody else when I was off on a charter, for one. He’s bi, and met up with a girl… and I remember swearing I’d never date a bi guy again. I’m the one with big hang-ups about getting left, Trev. I’ve never cheated on somebody I’m dating, ever.”
“Me neither, but I didn’t mean cheat, honest, I was just… wondering if you had to have both, because I don’t think I could handle that, and I’m sure glad you don’t,” Trevor said, giving Shane a one-armed hug.
“I don’t, but yeah, some bi guys are like that. Just wired that way, I guess, like some straight guys cheat like crazy, as do some straight girls,” Shane said, scowling at the memory of his first girlfriend.
Trevor leaned back, pulse racing, clenching his free hand to stop it shaking, though he wasn’t consciously aware of it. Trembling from the rush of emotions, feeling the wind in his hair, the sun on his face, Trevor glanced north, seeing the massive swells rolling in to pound against the cliffs, listening to the roar above the wind. He shuddered, saying softly, “I almost hit land along these cliffs. I would’ve, if I’d been a little further east in my track. I could have hit it at night while I was asleep… or even in daytime; I could only run downwind, and the wind here is strong and onshore. I’d have had no chance; Atlantis would have been smashed to bits, and me with her. I’d have come so far, so close, and died. No one would’ve ever known.” Trevor shuddered, and then felt Shane’s arm settle around him, giving him a gentle one-armed hug.
“But you didn’t, Trev. You’re here, with me, and you’re safe,” Shane said, giving Trevor another hug.
Trevor fixed his eyes on the horizon, staring but not seeing. “Sometimes, out there, I was so scared. When that huge wave hit in the Southern Ocean, it was like Atlantis was just a leaf in the surf, I’ve never felt such power, or felt so helpless. I was sure I was going to die, but then it ended. I was so relieved, and then I saw my wooden sail was gone, and felt sure I was going to die, only slower. I was freezing most of the time, and sometimes, I didn’t think I could go on.”
“I’m very glad you made it,” Shane said, looking out at the deadly coast.
They sat in silence for a while, lost in thought. For Trevor, actually seeing the rugged coast reminded him how close he’d come to dying on that shore. That led to other thoughts, of the pirates, and his ordeals in the southern ocean. Feeling himself begin to tremble, Trevor glanced at Shane and said, “I’m glad I ended up here.” Trevor looked to the south, at the endless line of cliffs stretching to the horizon. “The edge where I was standing isn’t as bad as you think; it’s not vertical, just really steep for a few yards,” Trevor said, clenching his hand again, and feeling a subconscious need to start heading back. But first, one more look, if it wouldn’t bother Shane.
They stood up, and Shane replied, “So I’d bounce off rocks a bit before falling to my death. Not for me, thanks. I also can’t forget how these cliffs formed; bits keep breaking away as the sea undercuts them.”
“Would it bother you if I had a quick look before we go?” Trevor asked.
“Just be careful and it won’t bother me,” Shane lied, not wanting to deprive Trevor of the view.
Trevor looked toward the looming edge, taking a few steps towards it. As he came close, blasted by the wind at the abyss’s edge, he crouched slightly, peering over from several yards further away than he’d been when they’d arrived. Mindful of Shane’s concern, Trevor turned away from the precipice, taking a single step back towards him. Trevor stumbled, feeling a chill that had nothing to do with the wind, coupled with the acrid taste of fear. For a moment, he was confused, for heights had never bothered him before. Then, he became at last aware of his racing pulse and labored breaths. Too late, he realized what was happening, as he took another faltering step towards Shane and, his balance gone, sank to one knee on the bare rock, as his eyes found Shane’s.
“Trev!” Shane yelled, at first suspecting a prank, but one glance at Trevor’s eyes left no room for doubt.
Lost at the edge of forever, Trevor fought his losing battle with his demons, awash in a panic pure and profound. The world swirled around him, the sensation of the battering wind, the hard, smooth rock, the roar of the sea so far below.
Without hesitation, Shane darted forward, rushing to Trevor, enveloping him in his arms.
“You’ll be okay, let’s get you away from this edge though,” Shane said, pulling at Trevor while casting a wary eye on the edge of the cliff, though it was several feet away. With hurried care, Shane supported Trevor as they stumbled back to their backpacks. There, he lay down with Trevor, holding him tight, saying over and over again, “It’ll be okay, Trev.”
Trevor warred with his demons, holding Shane tight, feeling the warmth between them. After several long seconds, Trevor said, “I can breath easier than last time.” With those words, the crushing fear began to ebb.
“I think you just had too much stress, from seeing where you almost… and the stuff we talked about,” Shane said, rubbing Trevor’s back, kicking himself for not choosing his words with more care.
Trevor’s breathing eased, his pulse no longer racing, his fear fading. “We both had stuff we needed to say. And… I’m feeling better, I think it’s almost over,” Trevor said, and then added, “Just lie here with me a bit, I think I’ll be okay soon.”
“You aren’t shaking like you were the first time. Mine were like this; they got less severe once I got some help.”
They lay together for several minutes, as Trevor felt the panic attack fade away. The stresses of the day were almost over, almost, but there was something else that had been nagging at the back of his mind, words he felt pressing to get out. Now, in that moment, he was both afraid and compelled. “I asked…” Trevor’s voice trailed off, and he took a breath. “The reason I asked you about being bi is because I was scared, because I know I love you,” Trevor said, his voice shaking as he committed himself to Shane.
Shane’s head snapped around, his hand tightening on Trevor’s, and Trevor felt Shane’s body tense.. Their eyes met, Shane’s expression blank, and for a moment, Trevor felt the fear that he’s spoken his heart too soon. On that moment hung eternity, though it was mere seconds, and Trevor heard the words his heart so craved, “I love you too, Trev, I have for a while now,” Shane said, before pulling Trevor close.
Their lips met, joining their hearts, already one.
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Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions. Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.