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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    Headstall
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Exes and Ohs - 1. Chapter 1 It'll Be Fun

Road trip....

Exes and Ohs

 

Chapter 1 It'll Be Fun

 

“Damn it! Thanks a lot, you jerk!” Drake tossed his phone on the desk, wincing at the thud as it hit the hard surface. He really had to stop doing that.

“You okay?” Jimmy’s voice, from the next cubicle in line, caused him to lift his head off his hands.

He pasted on a smile, but it faded under the scrutiny of the man staring at him over the padded, fabric-covered divider. “No, not by a longshot.”

The silent perusal continued with one raised eyebrow.

“It was Dean, okay? He just texted me and canceled for the weekend. Didn’t even give a reason why.”

“Am I missing something?” Jimmy’s frown showed confusion, and something suspiciously like annoyance. “I thought you guys were done, like, months ago?”

“We were… we are. We definitely are, but he agreed to still go home with me for my cousin’s wedding, and now he’s reneged. I should have fucking known,” Drake said, lowering his voice to a whisper.

“Don’t worry, Sandra left for lunch while you were on the phone doing that last authorization… no one in here but us. So, just go by yourself. It’s family, right, so what’s the big deal?”

“Yeah, my family, which means it’s not that simple.”

“Okay, but why would you want to go with Dean anyway? It’s not like you guys ended up buddies or anything.”

“True, but we’ve been talking, and decided to give the friendship thing a try. At least we were, but now I’m not so sure. This really pisses me off. The very day we’re supposed to leave for Ottawa.”

“Still don’t get it.”

“Why? You and I are friends.”

“No, I don’t mean trying to be buds with the guy.”

“Get what, then?

“Why it matters. Who cares whether you show up alone or with someone? I never pegged you to be someone who cares about appearances.”

Drake groaned. “Normally I don’t, but….” He reclaimed his phone and searched for a particular series of texts from his sister. Finding them, he held the screen up.

Jimmy took the phone and started reading. “Preston’s your older brother, right?”

“Yes. And Callie’s—”

“Your awesome kid sister… I know. What an asshole. Where does he get off saying something like that about gays? You’re the farthest thing from slutty. He said that to your sister? Fuck!”

“Yeah, well, precious Preston thinks all fags are promiscuous sex fiends, and that we don’t have legitimate relationships. He is the master of snide remarks, and when he finds out Dean and I broke up, he’s going to have a field day.”

“Still don’t get it. Oh, wait. Were you guys going to pretend you were still together?” His disapproving tone made Drake falter.

“Ah, well… yeah, something like that.”

“Wow. You’d do that just because your brother’s a homophobic ass hat?”

“Hey, don’t judge me. He’s the one who bet Callie fifty bucks I wouldn’t be with Dean by the time the wedding happened.”

“So… he knows Dean?” Jimmy smiled tightly, with his lips closed, deepening his dimples.

“Not funny. And no, he doesn’t, but he knew of him, because my mouthy sister told him she thought he was the one.”

Jimmy made a snorting sound. “Seriously? Him? Why would she think that? Obviously she didn’t meet the guy.”

“No, she didn’t, smartass. Don’t you have some work to do?”

“Nope. I have a friend in need.” His grin irked Drake, but he couldn’t help returning it.

“Can’t help getting your shots in, can you?”

“What can I say? The guy’s all about himself and he just proved it again.”

Drake faltered. “Yeah, I guess. He has his reasons, I suppose.”

“Sure he does. Probably had his head turned by some pretty little thing last night. Your brother isn’t so wrong about guys like him.”

“Jimmy, come on. That’s not fair. Dean isn’t that bad, and I was the one who kept him at arm’s length and wouldn’t commit, so I can’t blame him… not really. I never should have asked him to do this in the first place, though.”

“Here we go again. He shouldn’t have agreed to go in the first place if he was just going to turn around and cancel. It’s called following through, like a good friend does. I say you’re better off anyway. Just ignore your brother.”

“You don’t understand.”

“I don’t, eh? Seems pretty clear to me.”

Drake studied the kind, concerned face. It belonged to someone who, in other circumstances…. “My ex—my first ex—will be there… with his wife… his pregnant wife.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh. I know I shouldn’t care, not about what Preston thinks, or what Richard thinks. You’re right. I’ll just suck it up and face the music.”

“You could always cancel.”

“No, I can’t. I won’t do that to my cousin. I want to see her get married, and it wouldn’t be right not to be there for her. My family’s fucked up, but Rachel and Callie are the two people I can always count on.”

“What about your mom and dad? I thought you told me they were fine with you being gay.”

“Fine? Yes. Supportive? Not so much. Ever since their divorce, they’re too busy playing stupid games with each other to worry about the rest of us. That’s why Callie and I are so close.”

“Then you should go.”

“I am. I need to grab something to eat.” Drake wanted to be done with this conversation.

“So, none of your family has met Dean?”

“Ah, no. You know I don’t go home very often. If it wasn’t for this wedding, I wouldn’t make the trip until Thanksgiving, or maybe even Christmas. Did you bring your lunch or—”

“No, I’ll head down with you. I didn’t mean to make light of what you have to deal with, Drake. Sorry about that. I get it now.”

“No worries. You were right. I need to stop avoiding all the garbage my family creates. ‘In and out’ has been my approach since college. And Richard… well… it had to happen sooner or later that we’d come face to face.”

“Nah, I was wrong. I needed to think about it. I remember what it was like to feel outnumbered in my own family. It’s good now—great even—but it wasn’t the easiest road at first. Your ex… that’s the guy you were talking about when you freaked out at me… back then?”

“That’s the one, yeah.” He tried not to think about how he’d reacted, but ‘freak out’ was a good way to describe it. Even he hadn’t realized he was still that raw over something he’d thought dealt with. “Anyway, I can handle Preston’s abuse. I only put myself through it once or twice a year, and Richard was a long time ago, so I should be able to handle that too. Are you ready?”

“Yeah, hold on a second, though. I want to propose something.”

Drake scooped up his wallet and phone, and then donned his suit jacket before giving Jimmy his full attention. “Propose what?”

“I could go with you.”

“To the wedding?”

“Yeah. Be Dean.”

“You want to pretend to be Dean?” Drake grimaced and shook his head, emphasizing his incredulity.

“Well, no, not that Dean. I’d be me.”

“Okay, now I don’t get it. You want to go with me as Jimmy? You just said you’d be Dean. The whole point was I didn’t want to let Preston know he’d been right, that Dean and I had broken up. Now you’re suggesting I show up with a new guy?”

“Yeah… I mean no. Look, we used to date before Dean—”

“For three and a half weeks. I don’t see what that has to do with—”

“Let me finish, would you? I would go as Dean, because I am Dean. That’s my middle name.”

“Seriously? You told me you didn’t have a middle name.”

“No, I said it was ‘just Jimmy’ when you asked. It’s what I tell everyone, because it’s easier than putting up with the James Dean jokes. I swear, the guy’s been dead for sixty years yet every gay guy knows who he was.”

“That’s because he’s an icon, like Marilyn or Rock.”

“No kidding, and who in their right mind would name their kid Marilyn Monroe or Rock Hudson? My mom still watches his movies and fangirls. It’s gross, and she’s always telling people how she named me after him. I would have told you eventually if things had turned out differently. Anyway, so what do you think?”

But they didn’t turn out differently. “So, you’re suggesting we lie to everyone.”

“You’d have been lying to everyone anyway.”

“Not about who Dean was.”

“True, but I am Dean, and I dated you before him. I did go by Dean for a while in high school because I thought it sounded more grown up, but my friends kept calling me Jimmy, so I gave up. James wouldn’t stick either. Does any of your family know his last name?”

“No.”

“Well, there you go. You’d be introducing me as Dean Calloway, which is the truth. We’d just be skipping the part about you and me breaking up, and there’s been no one in between me and that other Dean, right?”

“No.”

“Can’t believe I got replaced by that douche.”

“Jimmy—”

“I know, I know. I’ll stop.”

“And you weren’t replaced.”

“Whatever.” Jimmy flashed that lopsided smile that’d intrigued Drake in the first place. “Anyway, if we did this, you wouldn’t be alone when you see the Richard guy, and nobody wants to be single when they see their married ex for the first time. Convinced?”

Drake hesitated, studying Jimmy’s earnest face. “I don’t understand why you’d even want to do this.”

“Because we’re friends.”

“And nothing more? You’ve made it pretty clear you’d like to give us another chance, and that’s not—”

“Hey, you’ve made it clear that ship has sailed, and I’ve accepted it. Look, I have zero plans for the weekend, outside of doing laundry, and I’m giving you an option. None of your family has met Dean, and to be honest, what Preston texted to your sister pisses me off too. We don’t all flit from guy to guy, and we’re not all sluts. So what do you say?”

“I don’t know, man. I appreciate the offer, I really do, but I don’t want there to be any mixed messages between us. We’re at a good place now, and we have to work together.”

“Up to you, but I’m telling you there won’t be… promise.”

“Fair enough. Let me think about it over some food, okay, Jimmy?”

“Dean.”

“What?”

“The name’s Dean.” His grinned amusement was infectious.

“Yeah, right,” Drake said with a grin of his own. The idea was growing on him, and the truth was he much rather spend time with this Dean than the other one. There never would have been the other Dean in the first place if Jimmy hadn’t pulled the rug out from under him, but enough time had passed that he… they… should be able to handle this. Shouldn’t they?

 

“I just realized something,” Jimmy said around a mouthful of his BLT.

Drake gave him a questioning look, but continued chewing his own Turkey and Havarti Melt sandwich.

“My suits. They’re all at the cleaners except for the green one. Is green suitable for a wedding?”

Drake swallowed and took a sip of his diet Coke. Then he groaned at the pun. “That was cringe-worthy.”

“Hey, it was clever and you know it.”

“If you say so”—he rolled his eyes—“but yeah, of course. You mean that grayish-green one you only wear about once a month?”

Jimmy nodded. “That’s the one. Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. That suit looks great on you… brings out your eyes.”

“Oh yeah?”

Drake could feel himself blushing slightly, so didn’t answer, returning his attention to eating. He could feel the other man’s gaze on him.

“You said that about the sweater I wore on our first date.”

“Did I? I don’t remember.” But he did remember. Surprisingly, he’d been a nervous wreck that evening, until Jimmy worked his magic and put him at ease. It was like something suddenly clicked in place, and he’d seen the evidence of it in those sparkling green eyes at the time. It had been a wonderful first date. Unfortunately, three weeks and three dates later, the promise of a possible future for them was gone, just when he’d been ready to plunge all the way in for the first time since Richard.

“What are you thinking?”

“Oh… nothing. Just about whether it’s a good idea.”

“Don’t sweat it, Drake. If you don’t think it is, then we won’t do it. No big deal.”

He’d been staring past Jimmy as he spoke, focusing on the people walking past the front windows of the main floor bistro. He recognized a lot of them as fellow workers in the building.

What was the big deal, exactly? He really didn’t want to show up solo, and Jimmy was only being supportive. What was he afraid of? He allowed his attention to return to the man now working on consuming his fries. “Let’s do it.”

“Yeah? You sure?”

Drake took in the sudden beaming smile. “I am. Going alone this weekend was the last thing I wanted to do, so yeah. You’re a good friend.”

“I am, aren’t I? Dean the douche could learn from me.”

“Would you stop picking on the guy?”

“No can do,” he said with a smirk. “Hey, don’t worry. It’ll be fun.”

Was he worried? He supposed he was—a lot could go wrong whenever he dealt with his family. “Yeah, it’ll be fun,” he agreed, doing his best to look convincing.

 

“Man, you got here fast. That’s it. I think I’ve got everything. I didn’t have much time to pack, so I—” Jimmy’s voice cut off as he closed the hatch on Drake’s SUV. It resumed as he opened the passenger door. “Nice and cool in here. Woo hoo! Road trip!”

Drake laughed. “It’s only a four hour drive to Ottawa… be there about nine if traffic isn’t too bad.”

“Yeah, well, it’ll be the longest trip I’ve taken in years.”

“Really? Aren’t you forgetting the one to Vancouver?” It had just slipped out, and Drake silently cursed himself for mentioning it.

Two stop lights later, Drake maneuvered his way into the heavy eastbound traffic of the 401 highway. Not a word had been said, and Drake was feeling uncomfortable.

The sound of Jimmy clearing his throat broke the silence. “I was talking about road trips.”

“Yeah, sorry. I don’t know why I brought that up.”

Again, silence, but much shorter this time. “I know you don’t want to hear it, but I made a promise, and that’s the only reason I went.”

“It’s fine. It’s in the past and there was no commitment between us anyway, so let’s not go there again.”

“I wanted one, though. You’re the one who—”

“Jimmy, come on. You said this wouldn’t happen.”

“Right, I did. Talking about us is off the table. Got it,” Jimmy said in an exasperated tone, his head facing the passenger window.

Drake needed to keep his focus on edging along with the traffic, but he couldn’t help thinking this had been a colossal mistake. Why did he ever think being in a car for four hours together was even remotely a good idea, never mind a whole damn weekend?

It was minutes later, after traffic started to move at a decent pace, that Jimmy finally spoke. “So, what’s the plan?”

“The plan? Well, we’re staying at Mom’s house, even though Dad’s would mean less chance for drama”—he turned his head and grinned tentatively—“because Mother would have a fit if we chose his house over hers.”

“Don’t you just love family?” Jimmy asked sarcastically.

“Makes me never want to go home, and they act all hurt that I don’t. It’s all bullshit. My sister’s the only one who misses me. We’re like four islands when I’m there… there’s my mom, my dad, Preston and his wife Cathy, and me and Callie. It’s depressing as hell.”

“Sounds it. Why do you think that is?”

“That’s the million dollar question?”

“Any ideas?”

“The only thing I know for sure is, as a family, we’re broken. Jimmy? Are you sure you want to talk about this family crap?”

“You better get in the habit of calling me Dean, and yes, I do. I want to help you get through this weekend, and it’ll help to know what the deal is.”

“Good point, Dean. Ugh, I’m going to slip up at some point.”

“No worries. I won’t let you.”

The sincerity coming from the man had its effect, and he smiled… a real one. He was glad the tension of a few minutes ago had left. “Well, the deal is, I don’t talk much with anyone but Callie. With my mother, I usually listen politely, and seldom disagree, and Dad never has much to say other than playing host, even at my mom’s. Preston is the challenge. He loves to goad me, and he’ll say anything—and I do mean anything—to get under my skin.”

“Oh really? Why?”

“Because he can, plain and simple. He was never very nice to me… a lot of big brother garbage, but it got way worse after I came out. There was a time when my parents would have shot him down, but that was a long, long time ago. They’re too wrapped up in themselves now, so the gay brother continues to be his favorite target.”

“I don’t get that. My parents have never stopped being parents.”

“Well, mine didn’t change overnight, but it was close. My dad’s affair started the whole thing. And then Mom had hers, and it’s been a mess ever since. I thought the divorce would change things, but no such luck. It was hardest on Callie and me. Preston never seemed to be affected as much. He plays them one against the other all the time, and for some reason, they kiss his ass. I guess it pays to be the oldest.”

“Preston is going to be a challenge for me too, isn’t he?”

“Oh, yeah. You’re probably going to want to punch him in the face at some point, but you can’t. He would hold that over me forever. It would be a satisfying thing to see, though,” he said with a grin. “He’s such a pompous ass.”

Jimmy chuckled, but soon became serious again. “So why don’t your mom and dad go their separate ways? Like, have nothing to do with one another. That’s usually what divorced people do.”

“Another great question. The only thing I come up with is that as much as they hate each other, I think they might still love each other too, in a really twisted way.”

“Jeez, that’s all kinds of sad. Why do you think that?”

“Because of the fact they’re still so involved in each other’s lives, and neither one has a partner. My dad had a girlfriend for a while, which drove my mother crazy, according to Callie…but for the most part, they’ve stayed single. It’s fucked up—you’d almost think they were still a couple at family gatherings—you’ll see. I used to get really confused, but anyway, it is what it is.”

“You’re making me feel my family isn’t so bad after all. Is it depressing every time you visit?”

“Not going to lie. I can get pretty agitated, by Preston especially, but Callie and I usually escape somewhere and talk each other down. I don’t know how much she’ll be around this weekend, though, because she’s Rachel’s maid of honor. I expect that means she’ll be busy.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you have me then. I won’t let you jump off any bridges.”

Drake laughed outright. The feeling this had been a mistake was losing ground. Jimmy really was a great friend, and his heart was a good one. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So that green suit looks good on me, eh?”

“I already told you what I thought.”

“I know, but I wanted to hear you say it again.”

Drake rolled his eyes at the lopsided grin. “Yes, Dean, it does.” He wasn’t lying. The guy looked hot as hell in that perfectly tailored suit, but, then again, the guy looked hot as hell in anything.

 

 

 

*

A big thank you to my editor, Timothy M., as we embark on a fresh new journey. Thanks for reading, and I hope you like it. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Cheers... Gary....

Copyright © 2018 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



1 minute ago, Drew Espinosa said:

And so, it begins... :rolleyes: You and that :X emoticon will be the best of friends until you post that final chapter. :P 

See above. :P  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. :X 

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12 minutes ago, Albert1434 said:

Wow! What a start Drake the needed friend and one time flame to Jimmy! This is going to be one hell of a ride. Lets see if they can pull it off! Can love be found at the nightmare

wedding?

I loved this bit

 

Drake rolled his eyes at the lopsided grin. “Yes, Dean, it does.” He wasn’t lying. The guy looked hot as hell in that perfectly tailored suit, but, then again, the guy looked hot as hell in anything.

 

Great chapter can't wait to see where this may lead:worship::thankyou:

It should be an interesting weekend. :)  I've yet to meet a perfect family, but Drake's doesn't sound too good from what we know so far. So yeah, it'll be fun. :X  Thanks for your support, my friend... cheers... Gary....

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Just now, Bushman60 said:

The great start to another great story that revolves around dysfunctional lives that is family. Plenty of possible monkey wrenches to mess up the family dynamics which seem to be hopeless from the get go!

Thanks, Bushman!! Yes, there are monkey wrenches amongst family dynamics and such. I hope you like what's coming, and I really appreciate the great comment... cheers... Gary.... 

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4 minutes ago, Dodger said:

Wow, is this the start of another epic Gary?

 

I love stories with a lot of dialogue and strong characters. I'm in. :2thumbs:

A man after my own heart. I love dialogue... reading it and writing it. This is not an epic, Dodger, but there are some strong characters in it. At least, I think there are. Thanks for being 'in,' buddy. I'll try not to disappoint. :)  Cheers... Gary....

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U have me hooked on this story already! I feel for Drake, having such a fucked up family. I can't imagine ever being excited to see them! Lol! I like Jimmy, too. Can't wait to see what he has to say to that asshat Preston. Have a feeling Jimmy's words can cut like a knife, and hope they do!

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2 minutes ago, jaysalmn said:

U have me hooked on this story already! I feel for Drake, having such a fucked up family. I can't imagine ever being excited to see them! Lol! I like Jimmy, too. Can't wait to see what he has to say to that asshat Preston. Have a feeling Jimmy's words can cut like a knife, and hope they do!

It's awesome to hear you're hooked already, jay! Yeah, it doesn't sound like a family anyone would be eager to go home to. :no:  Jimmy is an intriguing character to me... I hope you find him that way too. As we can see, at the very least, he is a really good friend to put himself out there like that. See you next Monday, I hope... thanks for a great comment, and your support... cheers... Gary....

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