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    Geron Kees
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The Thief of Small Things - 6. Chapter 6

Mark arrived promptly at one on Thursday, and I let him in and brought him up to the condo. He oohed over the elevator, and sighed happily as I led him down the still glamorous hallway to where my granddad lived. His eyes missed nothing, and I could tell by the look on his face that he was enchanted.

"I love this place already!"

That made me happy, that here was another thing we shared. We went to my room, and Mark lowered himself into the big chair there, while I sprawled comfortably on the bed.

We spent the next few hours hanging out and talking, sharing all sorts of ideas, recollections, opinions on everything imaginable, and laughing and having the time of our lives. I know that expression gets overused, but I really did feel happier than I thought I had ever been. The time passed so quickly that I was almost stunned to glance over at the clock at one point and see that it was just about four now. Time flies when you're having fun!

"We'd better start the prep on the dinner," I said, jumping up from the bed. "You're gonna help."

I grabbed him by the wrist and hauled him to his feet, and he laughed as I pulled him along to the kitchen.

"What're we having?"

I turned and smiled at him. "It sounded to me that you really like pizza."

He nodded. "I do!"

"Then you'll like this. Homemade pizza, with just a touch of different."

We entered the kitchen, and I set him to work chopping things, slicing things, and grating the cheese. We talked as we worked, and it seemed to me like we were meant to be doing this.

I soon heard footsteps in the hallway. "I'm off," granddad said, tipping his hat into the kitchen. "Bon appétit."

I looked up from where I was working and grinned. "Have a great evening at the restaurant. And thanks!"

He smiled, both at me and at Mark. "My pleasure. Cook up a storm, guys!"

Mark smiled, too, and waved a hand. "Nice to see you again, sir."

Granddad's eyebrows bounced once at the 'sir', but I could see he rather enjoyed it somehow, too. He smiled some more, waved again, and turned to go. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" he called, and then was gone.

Mark's eyes met mine, and he carefully scratched the side of his chin with a finger not covered in flour. "I really like him. He's fun."

I nodded at that. "Yes, he is."

Mark watched me a moment, and then nodded. "You love him, huh? That's great."

I was surprised by that, but immediately knew it was true. "I guess I do. Almost as much as my own father." I looked up one more time at the vacant doorway. "He's been really supportive since I came out. He knows what it's like." I looked over at Mark. "You know?"

"Yeah." He was quiet a moment, and then nodded. "My dad wasn't like that. He was mad when I came out. My mom was only a little better." He made a small, sad face. "But they got used to it."

I remembered the way my own mom had reacted. "I know what that's like, too. My dad was okay with it, I guess because he was used to his own dad. My mom wasn't too happy at all, but she came around after a while." I winced. "Or, at least she stopped being mad about it."

We were both quiet for a moment, our hands busy as we kneaded the homemade dough. It was one of granddad's special fast recipes, easy pizza dough that was ready in minutes. After proofing the yeast, you put it in a bowl with flour, a pinch of salt, and some olive oil, and stirred it to mix. Once you got a smooth ball, you took that, put it on a floured cutting board, and kneaded it for five minutes. We were doing that now.

"What are you thinking about?" Mark asked.

I laughed, the recipe slipping right out of my thoughts. "Um...I don't know. Dough. Pizza." I smiled. "Us."

He laughed gently through his nose. "Yeah. Us." He gave a little sigh. "We're not going too fast, are we?"

I turned to look at him, surprised by the question. "Do you think so?"

His eyes met mine, and I saw some pain in them, but from what source I couldn't know. He gave a slow shake to his head. "I don't think so. I'm scared, but...this is what I want."

I closed my eyes briefly, and nodded. "This is what I want, too."

When I opened them, he was smiling. "You had me worried there, for a minute."

"Sorry. I know my dad will freak a little when I tell him I've met someone I already know I want to be with. He'll think it was way too fast."

"Will it be a problem?" Was that a trace of fear in Mark's voice?

"No. I'll just let him know this is what I want." I smiled then. "Granddad will help, too. He's all for us. He's a romantic."

Mark gave a slow nod. "Something to be said for that."

"Uh huh. Sprinkle a little flour on your dough. You want it smooth, not sticky."

I did the same, and glanced up at the clock. "Almost there. Time to roll that a bit. Grab that rolling pin, and make your dough ball into a circle about a half inch thick."

We both did that, turned up the edges of the circle all the way around, and soon we each had an eight-inch crust before our eyes.

"That's pretty cool," Mark said. "I didn't know it was so easy."

I laughed. "Following directions is easy. It's creating the directions that's the hard part. Creating food and food ideas is just like inventing something. Not everyone can do it."

We didn't want the dough to rise further, so, after gently pricking the rounds with a fork to help let any trapped air escape, we placed them into the preheated oven to pre-bake a little. I set the timer for five minutes, and we straightened up the countertop, and got out the toppings we had prepared earlier. Mark seemed delighted by all this, and after watching him smile so much, I had to laugh. "What's so funny?"

His eyes twinkled at me. "I never thought my first date would be a cooking class."

I laughed at that, until the words soaked in a little. "First date?"

He nodded. "First real one, yeah." He looked a little nervous then. "Do you mind?"

"No. I love the idea, actually." I considered that a moment, and nodded. "I hung out with a couple of guys, and had some hopes, but neither worked out. But I don't think we ever got as far as anything I would call a real 'date'. So this is pretty much my first one, too."

Mark looked delighted. "So you're a virgin?"

My jaw dropped at that. "Guys aren't virgins!"

He looked surprised. "Sure they are. If you've never had sex with anyone, you're a virgin, no matter what your gender."

I considered that. I'd always kind of thought of that term as belonging to girls, but I could see now that he was right. I licked my lips, feeling suddenly a little nervous myself. "Do hand jobs count?"

He laughed. "Giving, or getting?"

"Well...either."

He shook his head. "Nah. That's almost like jerking your own dick. It's not really having sex with someone." He leaned closer. "Ever kissed a guy?"

"Yes."

He nodded. "Tongue?"

I felt my cheeks warm. "Yes."

He moved a little closer. "Did you like it?"

I leaned forward, sensing the interest in his gaze. "Yes."

For a long moment we simply looked into each other's eyes, and then...

He moved a little closer still, and I closed my eyes, and we kissed. It was short, a brief touch of our lips together, just a promise of more to come. I opened my eyes to slits as we separated a few inches, and found those beautiful pools of emerald green, slightly hooded with desire, right there, watching me. I leaned closer again, and this time there was more. I felt the tip of his tongue against mine, the magic warmth of his breath, the sense of his face right there, all mine. He smiled, and I kissed that, too. Kissing his smile was just as delightful as I'd imagined it would be!

The timer went off then, causing me to start, and we separated. Mark looked happy, and I was pretty sure that I did, too. My face seemed hot, and I was a little breathless, and I felt just...wonderful.

"Um...we have to get the crusts out," I said, too flustered at the wonder of that kiss to say anything else. He laughed, and helped me retrieve the crusts from the oven.

We'd made the sauce earlier, another of granddad's 'easy' recipes. You simply mixed tomato sauce and tomato paste together in a bowl until it was well combined, and then added oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, a little ground red pepper, and a teaspoon of sugar.

I spread the sauce generously on the warm crusts, being careful not to gouge the still soft surface. On top of the sauce went a thin layer of finely grated Parmesan cheese to help things stick, then a liberal application of chorizo sausage chunks, fresh basil leaves, and thin slivers of red onion. We topped it all off with a layer of shredded Manchego cheese, and the pizzas were ready for the final baking.

"Now, back into the oven."

We did that carefully, and I set the timer. Fifteen minutes, with one turn halfway, was a good start, and then you just had to kind of watch them after that. Small pizzas, especially, could go from 'almost there' to 'overdone' in just a couple of minutes.

I bent a little and looked in the glass widow in the oven door, and as I did, Mark gently bumped me from behind. "Is that a good TV show you're watching?"

I laughed, and straightened and turned towards him. He inched a little closer, his eyes on mine, his smile definitely suggesting a devilish purpose.

"It's pretty hot," I ad-libbed, grinning. "The two main characters will melt your heart."

He gave a small sigh, and reached out and took my hands in his. "This is so wonderful. I knew the first time I saw you that you were the one."

I was touched by his intensity. "The one what?' I whispered.

He watched me silently a moment, his eyes searching mine. "I'm alone, David. And I don't want to be alone."

I could feel that loneliness in him then, the need for closeness and affection, and immediately thought back to what I had been considering earlier, about being surrounded by millions of people in the city, and still feeling alone. People were just shadows in your daily life here, until the moment when one of them stopped in their fevered haste, even if just for a moment, and the two of you connected. More often than not it was you who had to stop first, to reach past the small, impersonal interfaces that people used daily just to survive here, and actually touch the person in the background.

But not always. Sometimes it was the other person that stopped first, and smiled, and made the effort to reach towards you. And sometimes, and much more rare and special an occurrence, it was a mutual thing, where two people seemed to realize at the same time that there was some added reason to drop the barriers and make real and lasting contact.

I was feeling that now, and as certain of the need for it as I had ever been about anything. Mark needed me, and I needed him. It seemed that simple, that obvious, that right.

I squeezed his hands. "I don't want you to be alone, ever again."

He smiled, and look happy. And I wanted him to be happy.

"Can I kiss you again?"

I nodded. "I was hoping you would."

We did that, this time putting our arms around each other and rubbing our faces together first. The kiss that followed was slow and gentle. I had my eyes closed, savoring the warmth of his face against mine, feeling certain now that this was the touch I wanted more than any other one. That this was the touch that was going to count.

And then we just stood quietly and held each other. I felt needed and wanted, and safe in his arms, and a sure sense that I was right where I was supposed to be. That only strengthened my feeling that Mark was the guy for me.

I also felt something else: desire. The pressure of Mark's body against mine was thrilling, and my crotch began to feel full as I got a little hard, and I pulled my hips back a bit, embarrassed at what he might say, yet certain that he wouldn't mind.

The aroma of the pizzas reached my brain then, and I took a breath and gently pushed Mark away. "They'll burn, if we're not careful."

He looked down, and guiltily shifted his hips side to side a little. "Um...I think something's burning already."

I noted the slight bulge in his shorts, which was certainly no more suggestive than the one I was feeling down low myself. Sitting on an urge to laugh, I grabbed the oven mitt, and looked into the glass window again, and then pulled back the door. "Help me."

Mark picked up the flat baking sheet I'd laid on the counter by the oven, and I slid the pizzas off the grate onto that, and then pushed the oven door back to the first stop, and turned it off. The pizzas looked just right to me, and I carried them to where we'd set our table and slid them carefully onto the plates.

"Wow. "Mark's smile made me smile. "They sure smell good!"

"They'll taste that way, too," I promised. "It's why I picked this particular recipe. My granddad has made these before, and I've always loved them."

We poured some forest fruit bash, and sat.

"So," I said, in between mouthfuls, "you have to work tomorrow, right? Would you want to get together early, and do something before you go in?"

"Like what?" Mark's gaze was interested. "Remember I'm a city boy, and I've seen all the sights."

"You hadn't seen the catacombs," I reminded. "I'm sure there's something we could do that would be interesting for you."

He leaned across the table, smiling. "Doing anything with you would be fun."

I laughed, feeling pleased at the comment. "Well, there you go. Got any ideas?"

He took another mouthful of his pizza and chewed it, his eyes watching me as he considered things. "Well, I don't know. I haven't been to any of the museums in a few years. Do you like stuff like that?"

"Yeah, I do. Art stuff less than history, though."

He nodded. "Been to the Museum of Natural History lately?"

"No. Not in a couple of years, anyway."

"Same here. I think I could get into that."

I knew I could. I smiled. "Wanna call it a date? Our second one?"

He swallowed, and I could see him thinking about it. There was something there that I just didn't quite get - some kind of hesitation - that seemed to be at war with his obvious desire for us to do things together. I watched the brief battle with curiosity, but was afraid to ask too many questions at this point. Mark had had it hard since losing his parents, I thought, and I felt he needed a little time and room to order his life to this new situation.

Our situation.

But then he sighed, and smiled. "I'd love to call it a date."

I realized then that I'd tensed, awaiting his decision, and relaxed again. And then I remembered something that granddad had said to me, and I leaned forward again. "You know, I don't know your last name."

Now he looked surprised, and then he laughed. "Really? It's, uh, Mullaney."

I pulled back, tried the name silently on my tongue, and smiled. "I like it."

Some more loose emotion flitted across his face - something again that I couldn't put a name to - and then he smiled. "I'm glad."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"How did it go?" Granddad asked, the small smile he wore not quite covering the anxious look in his eyes. He was home early tonight, just after midnight.

I'd waited up for him, eager to share my evening. "It was pretty wonderful, actually."

He gave a little sigh, and the anxiety drained away. "That's good." His smile widened. "I'm very happy for you, David."

"Thanks." I gave him a quick hug, and then sat down on the sofa again as he pulled off his evening jacket and loosened the collar of his shirt. "How late did he stay?"

I frowned, remembering that little bit of oddness right there at the end. "About nine o'clock. It was dark by then, and he said he'd better get on home." I sought out granddad's eyes. "I wanted to walk him back to his apartment, but he wouldn't let me."

"Oh?" Granddad nodded. "Did he say why not?"

I remembered the brief urge to argue the point, and the patient look that had come over Mark's face. "He said I was a mugging waiting to happen. He didn't want me to be out walking around after dark, all by myself."

Granddad laughed at that. "I seriously doubt you'd have been in any danger here. Not at nine o'clock, anyway." His eyes twinkled at me. "But I think it's sweet that he was worried about you."

I considered that, and nodded. "Yeah. I would have liked to see his place, though."

"I'm sure there will be time for that." He leaned forward and patted my shoulder. "Don't rush this one, Davy. Take your time. If it's as special as it seems, it will all work out for you. Okay?"

I nodded. "I know. I just feel..." I laughed. "I don't really know how I feel. I want to know everything about him. I want to do everything with him. I'm...a little confused, I guess."

"I think I know what you mean." Granddad sighed, and sat down next to me. "Feelings are complex things. Especially when you're not sure where they're coming from."

That didn't make sense to me. "Aren't they all the same?"

"Oh, no." Granddad gave his head a brief but positive shake. "Some things we feel with our intellect, and others we feel with our emotions. And some things, we feel with our hearts."

I frowned at that. "Isn't the heart thing the same as emotions?"

"It's not...not really. Emotions are part of the mind, derived from how some part of our brain responds to things that enter through our eyes and ears." He smiled. "The heart is an unthinking organ, blind and deaf to the world. It responds to impulses of another kind, separate from all logic, and all emotion. That's why our reasoning and our emotions can tell us one thing, and our hearts entirely something else, often at odds with the first two."

I smiled. "I think my heart is telling me the same thing as my thoughts and emotions."

"That's even better, David. That's the best way to be." He nodded. "That's the most positive you can ever be about someone, when all three of those things agree."

"Okay. So...I need to be patient."

"Yes. You need to be patient."

I swallowed, and gave a little sigh. "It's hard."

He stood, and smiled down at me. "The best things in life seldom come easy. Are you ready for bed?"

"I guess. " I stood, grabbed up my tablet, and smiled at him. "I have to get up early, anyway."

"Oh?"

"Uh huh." I couldn't help grinning. "Mark and I are going to visit the Museum of Natural History before he goes to work."

Granddad's eyes twinkled at me. "That sounds like a date."

A sweet feeling coursed throughout my body, and I smiled as we headed for the hallway. "Yeah. It is."

Copyright © 2020 Geron Kees; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



I still think Mark is living inside the building (which explains why he didn’t want David walking him home). The hesitation over his family name might be explained by his being reminded of his parents and family. And that reminds me that I would have expected a seventeen-year-old would have moved in with relatives after his parents died, but Mark hasn’t mentioned anything like that.

This is definitely a puzzling and mysterious non-mystery story.
;–)

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4 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Awesome chapter, great first date for Mark and David.

Thank you for that very civilized and sweet comment! :)

 

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3 hours ago, mikedup said:

Exciting chapter, there certainly seems to be a big spark , I was wondering what happened with the cameras and if anything recorded or have they not yet been received, I look forward to reading more about the second date

Thanks. It's coming!

 

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3 hours ago, droughtquake said:

I still think Mark is living inside the building (which explains why he didn’t want David walking him home). The hesitation over his family name might be explained by his being reminded of his parents and family. And that reminds me that I would have expected a seventeen-year-old would have moved in with relatives after his parents died, but Mark hasn’t mentioned anything like that.

This is definitely a puzzling and mysterious non-mystery story.
;–)

I can't say.

And not because i don't know! :)

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Headstall said:

Got it, not a mystery, but... methinks thou doth protest too much. :P  I'm wondering what Granddad's reaction might be when he hears Mark's last name. :) 

Methinks you will find out! :)

 

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10 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

Things definitely warmed up in that chapter - and I don't mean just the pizzas.🙂

I think the only mystery here is whether theirs can be a long lasting relationship or if Mark will vanish back into the catacombs. 

Aw, come on! Do I ever let romance fade away in my stories!? :)

 

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On 4/7/2020 at 8:02 PM, Daddydavek said:

Mullaney, that Mark's last name.  Somehow I think that was an important piece of information.

Maybe. Possibly. Or not! :)

 

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"There was something there that I just didn't quite get - some kind of hesitation - that seemed to be at war with his obvious desire for us to do things together."

Was this hesitation just Mark's reticence on his first date? I suspect it's more than that. It resurfaced several times during the day. Could Mark be uncomfortable with the version of events he has told David. Maybe Mark had to leave home once his parents discovered he was gay and he is now homeless wandering the streets. I doubt David will ever get invited to visit Mark's apartment. But why would Mark leave at 9pm? Was that to get to a Shelter before it closed?

Anyway, David and Mark are beginning to start cooking, as Craig would say, and the foods not bad either. Roll on second date.

Edited by Bard Simpson
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11 hours ago, Bard Simpson said:

"There was something there that I just didn't quite get - some kind of hesitation - that seemed to be at war with his obvious desire for us to do things together."

Was this hesitation just Mark's reticence on his first date? I suspect it's more than that. It resurfaced several times during the day. Could Mark be uncomfortable with the version of events he has told David. Maybe Mark had to leave home once his parents discovered he was gay and he is now homeless wandering the streets. I doubt David will ever get invited to visit Mark's apartment. But why would Mark leave at 9pm? Was that to get to a Shelter before it closed?

Anyway, David and Mark are beginning to start cooking, as Craig would say, and the foods not bad either. Roll on second date.

I won't offer any spoilers. But you seem to be doing okay with this! :)

 

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On 4/3/2020 at 11:30 PM, travlbug said:

I'm a suspicious cuss:  When Mark is asked his last name, he says, "It's, uh, Mullaney." "Uh?" Really?  Who stumbles about before revealing his last name? 

On 4/4/2020 at 5:03 AM, Headstall said:

Got it, not a mystery, but... methinks thou doth protest too much. :P  I'm wondering what Granddad's reaction might be when he hears Mark's last name. :) 

Always assuming that his last name really is Mullaney...

On 4/4/2020 at 12:15 AM, mfa607 said:

Mark.....hmmm, strange he had to leave and didn’t want to be walked home! 🤔 

That made me wonder as well. :yes:

I think the cameras are due to arrive tomorrow. Maybe they will help solve some of the mystery behind this non-mystery story... :unsure2:

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