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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Acquittal - 9. Chapter 9

As his car entered his hometown, Kyle’s trepidation mounted. The mid-August weather was still hot and humid showing no signs of abating anytime soon. His hands were moist even as the car blew chill air inside to keep him cool. He gripped the steering wheel from the four and a half hour drive alone, thinking about what and who he may find. Now, as he navigated his way through the hauntingly familiar streets he looked around pondering where to go from here. Impulsively, he turned off the road and pulled into the nearest gas station. He needed a minute to breathe, calm himself and figure out his next move. He picked up his cellphone and realized it was still mid morning. He could go the hospital and just get it over with but he wasn’t comfortable with that notion just yet. He could go to the house but he wasn’t sure what he would find. Actually, he had a good idea what he would find and he knew he wasn’t ready for that.

He frowned and shook his head before tapping on his phone and making a call to Troy.
He only had to wait a few seconds before the call was answered. “Wow. Twice in as many days. I’m almost starting to think you care.” Troy’s attempt at humor was met with a deeper frown.

“I’m here,” he said simply. He wasn’t in the mood for the banter. Just get this done and over with so he could get back to where he belonged.

“Oh,” Troy seemed surprised. “That was quick. How about you meet me at the Denny’s here in town and we’ll have some breakfast.”

Kyle groaned inwardly at Troy’s attempt to once again be the leader. “Why not just meet me at the hospital?”

“How about you meet me at Denny’s,” he repeated with a slight edge to his tone.

“Well,” Kyle responded with a bit of sarcasm, “since you asked so nicely…”

“Great. Gimme a few minutes and I’ll be there.”

Kyle hung up the phone, muttering to himself as he maneuvered out of the gas station and made the short trek to Denny’s. Once inside, he got a table for himself plus one, insisting on a table near the back and ordered some coffee while he sat and waited. Facing the door, he drank the bland coffee thinking things over in his mind. It had been a long morning, getting up early enough to get Matt up and wake up Steph to get them going. He did his best to look cheerful in front of his son but inwardly he was dreading every moment of this. Maybe things could work out. Maybe he could settle things with his father. He wasn’t sure. What he did know was that he missed his son. An ache started to tug at him in his chest.

He had been expecting a whirlwind of emotions to be churning around him but that wasn’t the case. Every time he thought about it all, the pain did return but it was muted and hollow. The knife had suddenly become dulled and couldn’t pierce through him like it used to. Something new came with it now; a feeling of just being tired. He was tired of avoiding it and pretending it wasn’t there. He’d have to just take whatever happens and live with it. It had been a week now since he got Troy’s first voicemail to him about his dad. At first he avoided it but the thoughts started nagging at him. Hearing Troy’s voice didn’t help either. That voice alone brought back memories. He thought he had put it behind him years ago. Now here he was, back home.

He noticed some movement as a tall, brown haired man walked in the sparsely populated restaurant. The man looked over at him and his face relaxed in a friendly smirk as he walked over. The first thing Kyle noticed was how Troy had the beginnings of a gut which struck him in a humorous way. He used to be the biggest stickler to maintaining his toned build when they were in school. The other things he noticed was his more relaxed body language, the gold wedding band on his hand and a few lines around his eyes. Troy walked up to his table and stood there next to him, looking down at him expectantly. Kyle stared up at him without comprehension.

Troy’s look turned into an slightly annoyed glare as he said with a little exasperation, “oh, stand up already.” Kyle warilly stood up, not sure what to expect. Without warning he was enveloped in a warm, familiar embrace. He’d forgotten how that felt. He slowly lifted up his arms and hugged Troy back. “See? That wasn’t so bad.” Troy released him and smiled slightly before they both sat down.

“Well, it was better than a punch to the face,” he replied dryly as he sat back down.

“Not saying you don’t deserve one of those,” he smirked ruefully, “but I’m a soft touch now, what with two kids and another on the way.”

“Two kids,” Kyle said with a little surprise.

He nodded with unabashed pride in his smile. “Chase is five and Carter is three. Next one is due in about five months.”

“Congratulations,” Kyle smiled slightly even as his thoughts went back to his own son and how he missed him.

“Thanks. So, tell me how you’ve been all this time? And, just so we’re clear,” speaking in a casual manner, “we’re not gonna start bringing up the past or sore subjects. I just want to hear how you’ve been.”

Kyle sat back and said, “not much to tell, really. I got through law school and was lucky to get an internship in the Harrisburg DA’s office. I stuck out, got noticed and got a job as an ADA. Been doing that pretty much the last five years now.”

“You enjoy it, it seems,” he said with a sly smirk.

“It’s work,” Kyle waving his hands dismissively, “I like helping the people I represent.”

“So, what else do you do other than work,” he asked before a waitress came up to take their orders.

After they ordered, Kyle looked across the table. “Why do you want to know,” he asked with a slightly defensive tone.

Troy looked him in the eyes and said quietly, “because you’ve been my best friend all my life and I’ve missed you.” Kyle broke the eye contact and stared into his half empty coffee cup.
“Kyle? Why didn’t you call me?”

He frowned slightly as he replied, “I did call you. Yesterday.”

“I mean, why didn’t you call me when you needed me?” He glanced up looking back at Troy, his eyes showing his hurt feelings.

Kyle looked at the table, starting to feel tired again as he muttered, “you were on the other side of the country. There was nothing you could have done.”

“You’re wrong.” He stated flatly.

Kyle chuckled sarcastically into his cup as he said calmly, “yeah? So, what, you would’ve dropped everything and flew back here?”

“Yeah,” he responded in a quiet emphatic voice. “Yeah, I would have.”

Kyle stared into his cup. “Doesn’t matter anymore. Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re my family,” Troy said quietly. “I’m always going to worry about you. Just like I worry about Andy and Brian and Jacob. And your dad.”

“So, how are the rest of them doing these days?”

“Andy retired from the corps three years ago. He married Stacy six or seven years ago under the gun, if you know what I mean.” He smirked slightly and shook his head. “I told him she was a slut but he didn’t listen. Anyway, they had two kids, two boys six and three years old. Tanner and Blake. They divorced about a year ago because she was sleeping with other guys and he lives here and works for me.”

“Another three year old boy between the two of you.” Kyle chuckled, wondering what the odds of that was between the three of them.

Troy gave him a funny look, not understanding. “So? No big deal really. Anyway, he came home in one piece. Mostly…”

“Mostly?” Kyle face betrayed a small level of concern.

Troy muttered, “he went through three tours in Afghanistan. No one comes out of that without some kind of scar. His is just on the inside.”

Kyle was crestfallen hearing that. Andy had always been the cheerful one in the group. Always quick to find the joke in a situation or just be the easy going kid. The idea that a war on the other side of the planet would have destroyed that happy kid left him feeling petty about his own concerns. “And Brian?”

“Brian lives in Pittsburgh, teaching history at the college there,” he smiled a little. “He doesn’t come home much since his family disowned him and all that bullshit. But he seems to be doing fine. Jacob hears from him once in awhile.”

Surprise colored his voice. “Not Andy? They were best friends…”

His hands toyed with his coffee cup. “I really couldn’t tell you exactly what happened between them. They get along just not all that close anymore. Last night was the first they saw each other in a couple years, I think. Also, Brian and Jacob were… well… “ His cheeks flushed in embarrassment as he fumbled for the words. He hadn’t meant to bring it up but the words came out before he realized what he had said.

“...fucking?” Kyle asked bluntly. He felt a stab of jealousy before he realized how misplaced that was. “It’s ok if they did. It’s not like I was in the picture.” He almost convinced himself he meant it.

“Well,” Troy recovered, “it’s kind of a good thing they did in a couple ways. It clued the rest of us into a serious problem we had to face a couple years ago. Oh, and for the record, they were only seeing each other for a couple months and it never really got serious what with them living so far apart.”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “I’m fine. What serious problem?”

“With Jacob.”

Kyle frowned. A strange, foreign feeling he couldn’t identify started creeping into him. “What problem?”

Troy shook his head. “I’m sorry, Kyle, but it’s not my story to tell. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask him.”

“He’s still living with my dad?”

Troy nodded as the waitress returned to their table dropping off their plates and refilling their coffee before stepping away again. They ate in silence for a few moments, Kyle looking Troy over carefully, trying to discern why he was telling him all of this. “He’s working on his own mostly now,” Troy continued, “Got his certification and he’s pretty much a master carpenter now. Makes good money and has been remodeling the house for your dad. He takes a lot of pride in his work though he sometimes will come give us a hand on a work site if we need it. He’s got a real artistic flair to his work that usually keeps him in high demand. Him and Andy get along great, actually. Other than that, though, he keeps mostly to himself. He trusts the three of us but beyond that, he doesn’t make many friends.”

“I see.” Kyle tried to not care and was not very successful. They continued eating in silence, both of them deep in their own thoughts. The silence between them felt wrong to Kyle. “So, when am I going to get to see my dad?”

“Probably around noon,” Troy said. “They’re taking him in to have an MRI this morning. A heart specialist is coming to see if he can figure out what’s wrong with him. And you aren’t going to see him. We are.”

Kyle gave him a slight glare as he said in a muttered voice, “what, you don’t trust me to be alone with my dad?”

Troy sighed, hurt by the accusation. “Your father is weak. He has trouble standing for longer than a few minutes at a time. He’s been sleeping up to twelve hours a day since he got here. We’re lucky Jacob and Liz was there when he collapsed at home. The doctors are concerned that any sudden surprises or shocks could worsen his condition. That’s why they’re doing the MRI today. I’m not trying to punish you. I’m trying to protect him.”

Kyle frowned. “The doctors have no clue as to the cause yet?”

“No. Not yet. One of us is typically up there every day.”

“So, you haven’t told him I was coming,” Kyle stated dryly.

Troy sighed, wishing this was easier. “Look, Kyle, I told you yesterday that I know what happened between the three of you back then. If you think I’m going to take sides in it, you’re wrong. I don’t blame you for how you reacted in the moment. I probably would’ve done the same thing you did. But this has gone on for way too long. Three people’s lives were ruined and all three of them were left scarred by it. Your dad changed. Not in ways most people would notice, but I saw it. He got quieter. He smiled less. You were his only son and the idea that he lost you because of a… stupid, drunken mistake was tough for him to deal with.”

“And here I thought the two of them would have found comfort in each others’ arms,” Kyle said in a quiet but sarcastic voice.

Troy’s gentle face turned angry for a moment and his blue eyes flashed. “Don’t you dare pull that shit. They both made a huge mistake and they both know it. You think they don’t feel bad about what they did? Jesus, Kyle, it devastated them when you left. I think it hurt Jacob more because he didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”

Kyle rolled his eyes slightly as he said patiently, “how does two grown men having sex together constitute a huge mistake? They both had to have known what they were doing.”

“No,” Troy stated firmly, “they didn’t. And I think that’s the worst part about all of this. They were both drunk and both already suffering to one extent or another. I don’t know your dad’s story but I know Jacob’s side of things. If you want to clear this up, you need to stop torturing them and making them pay for one sin for the rest of their lives and start listening. If you love them, you can do it.”

“In case you’re wondering,” Kyle said sullenly as he picked at the food left on his plate, “I don’t want my father to die.”

“I know you don’t. You love him. And he loves you. He never stopped missing you. And he never stopped believing you would come home.”

“What about Jacob?”

Troy was silent for a moment, suddenly remembering he had forgotten to call him and tell him about Kyle coming. “I guess it just depends on how things go.”


As his eyes slowly opened, Andy was assaulted by bright sunlight streaming into the room through the half open blinds. He stretched his body and yawned as he came fully awake. A slow smile formed on his lips, remembering what a good night he had. It seems like it had been forever since he had felt this good about himself. He and Brian had stayed up most of the night together. Not really talking much but they were communicating a lot better than they ever have. He looked over to the other side of the bed only to find it empty. Sitting up, he examined the room wondering where he was. All of Brian’s clothes were still on the floor where he had thrown them last night when he was stripping him. He smiled again, remembering how good it felt to strip him naked right there in his room and finding out that Brian not only looked almost exactly like he did in high school but still shaved everything like he did when they were on the swim team together.

He heard water running in the kitchen as he rolled out of bed and grabbed a pair of sweatpants. He didn’t feel like he needed to bother with underwear and was hoping he could coax Brian back into bed with him before the boys woke up. He stepped out of his bedroom and headed down the hall towards the kitchen. Andy’s house was pretty small. Just a ranch style house with a kitchen, living room and dining room with a small hallway leading back to the two bedrooms and a single bathroom. He never thought much of it and it was just a rental property so there wasn’t much he could change other than to find a new place to live. Maybe that was part of the reason why Stacy was never happy here? Well, there were other reasons she wasn’t happy but that wasn’t his fault. As he moved closer to the doorway, he saw Brian in the kitchen… cleaning his dishes?

Andy leaned up against the doorway, watching him with a small smile on his lips. Brian, with his back turned to him, was wearing a pair of his old shorts he must have found on the floor and from how low they were hanging he could guess it was the only thing he had on at the moment. He was torn between just standing there watching and going over to him. Eventually the later won out and he stepped up behind Brian, wrapping his muscled arms around his best friend and pressing his chest against his back.

Brian started a little in surprise and then smiled and relaxed into Andy’s arms. “Took you long enough to wake up,” he said in soft, mocking voice.

“Well, you had me busy all night,” he said softly as his lips kissed the tender flesh of his neck.

Brian made a soft, sensual noise at the kiss on his neck. “Well, hopefully, last night will get added to your top five memories at some point.”

Andy moaned slightly, letting his hands roam over Brian’s still tight body, “it’s already number two.”

Brian giggled and then sighed when Andy’s thumbs rubbed over his chest and nipples. “What’s number one?”

“Like you have to ask...”

Brian’s tone softened as Andy’s lips continued to caress his neck. “Do you always tell the people in your bed you love them?”

“First off, there’s only been about five in my bed. Three girls, one of them being Stacy, a guy from my time in the corps and you. Only ones I’ve told them I loved them while making love to them was you and the guy in Afghanistan.”

Brian smirked, “I thought you liked girls…”

“I do,” he grinned. “But I love you.”

“And the other guy…?” He looked over his shoulder with a playful smirk.

Andy’s face darkened for a moment. “Let’s not talk about that.”

Brian cocked an eyebrow and let it drop for now, returning his attention to the dishes he was washing. “Your house is a mess. I was going to clean up your bedroom but you looked so comfortable laying there I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Yeah, well, the maid is on vacation this week,” he muttered.

“Relax,” Brian said. “I know you have your hands full. I figured the least I could do while I’m here is make myself useful.”

“You were pretty useful last night,” he said into Brian’s ear as his hands went up and down his sides.

Brian chortled quietly and went back to washing Andy’s dishes. “So, what do we do next?”

“Well, I was hoping to talk you back into bed before the boys wake up.” He leaned in to kiss Brian’s neck again. He couldn’t help himself, wanting to touch him all over.

“No,” Brian said in a more serious tone. “I mean about us. What is it we’re doing this time?”

Andy gripped him a little tighter around the waist and said in a sweet voice, “I would like to think I made that clear last night. But, if you want, I’ll put it into words for you.”

“No games,” Brian insisted flatly as he stopped what he was doing and let his hands fall to his sides.

“Alright.” Andy gently turned him around, looking him in the eyes he said in a soft gentle voice, “I love you Brian Wittman with all my heart and soul. I have loved you since we were thirteen years old and it’s never stopped the entire time since then. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough back then to tell you just how much you meant to me. I lost you. Twice. If I have my way now I’m not ever going to let you go again. I want you to be with me for as long as you’ll have me.”

Brian looked up into his eyes. “You know,” his voice shaking slightly despite himself, “when you left to join the marines, I cried my eyes out for three days.”

He ran the back of a finger over Brian’s cheek tenderly. “Would it make you feel better if I told you that the moment i got there I realized I’d made a mistake? Not in joining but for joining for all the wrong reasons?”

“The part that pisses me off the most about it all now,” Brian didn’t bother to hide his frustrations as he whispered softly, “is that you’ve changed so much. And I’m not talking about the hair and the goatee. How come I’m just now finding out about a bullet hole in you?”

Andy sighed, not enjoying this topic. “I got hit once, Brian. Yeah, it hurt like a son of a bitch. I don’t want to make a big deal about it. It didn’t do any serious or lasting damage so I’m ok.”

“Maybe,” he replied dubiously. “I can tell you have other injuries, even if no one can see them. I can.”

“Bri,” he said as he leaned in forehead against his, “I’ll understand if that’s something you can’t deal with.”

He sniffled. The warm water in the sink must have affected his sinuses somehow.. “I don’t want to leave you.”

“Good, because I don’t want you to leave.” They stood there for a moment in silence, enjoying the feel of each other’s body with Andy giving him soft kisses on his forehead.

Their moment was ended by the opening of a door down the hall and Andy chuckling silently, aware from the sound of the footsteps that his younger son was about to make his morning appearance. Andy flashed a smirk to Brian before turning towards the doorway with one arm still around Brian’s waist. A small boy with bright red hair and emerald green eyes stepped into the kitchen, wearing Big Bird themed pajamas. Looking up at the two adults with a blank expression he muttered in a sleepy but sweet voice, “Morning, Daddy.”

“Good morning, little boy,” Andy said with a welcoming smile. “You hungry?”

“Yeah,” the boy replied before pointing up at Brian as he walked up to Andy. “Who dat?”

“This,” Andy said as he used his free arm to scoop up his small child, “is my best friend in the whole wide world. His name is Brian, but we call him Bri. Bri, this is my little boy, Blake.”

Brian grinned a little as the curious eyes inspecting him carefully, “Hello, Blake.”

“Hi,” the small child said simply. Shy butt curious, the child was content with his father’s arm around him.

“Is Tanner still asleep,” Andy asked his son. The boy nodded wordlessly. Andy sighed and said, “okay, well, how about I go wake him up while you get acquainted with Bri and then we’ll all get dressed and go get some breakfast.” With the decision made, he gave his son a kiss on the forehead before setting him back down on his feet and walked out of the kitchen to the boys’ bedroom.

Brian suddenly felt awkward looking down at the diminutive boy who seemed to be appraising him carefully. They had been asleep when he and Andy got here last night. After the babysitter left, Brian hadn’t thought much about the two young children in the house. “Did you spend the night here,” the child suddenly asked.

“Well...” Brian fumbled for the correct words, unsure how to handle this properly. “Yes, I did.”

“Where did you sleep,” the boy asked as his head tilted sideways.

“Your dad let me sleep, er, in his room with him,” He felt a little more confidence as he went on. “He and I used to spend the night at each others house all the time when we were kids.”

“When you were little like me?” the boy’s voice raised in interest.

Brian felt compelled to contain his laughter from the seriousness of the boy’s question. “Maybe not that long ago, cutie. You have eyes just like your dad’s did you know that?”

The boy nodded as he grinned with pride. “I’m gonna be big and strong like him someday too.”

Brian felt his heart melt just a little. The tiny child was very much like his father with the exception of the shockingly bright red hair. That part of him was a vivid reminder of Andy’s older brother. Before their conversation could continue, Andy came back and told his son to go get changed to go out for breakfast. Andy motioned Brian to follow him back to his bedroom so they could change. After he shut the door he glanced over at Brian and asked in a sly voice, “so, did he put you through twenty questions?”

He giggled as he started getting dressed. “Something like that. He’s sweet.”

“He’s a charmer so watch out for him,” Andy cautioned with a wide smile. His love for his son was evident on his face. “He’ll talk you into just about anything if he has a mind too. It’s cute now, but I’m dreading it when he gets older.”

“Duly warned,” Brian replied with a grin. He looked over, watching Andy’s body move as he navigated his way around a room with a lot of discarded clothing that was in need of being laundered. The general appearance of the house was one of barely contained chaos. He started to wonder if Andy was in over his head raising two children alone.

After he saw Andy was dressed, Brian stood up to make his way to the door. Before he touched the doorknob, Andy’s hand stopped him and brought him close to him to give him one last soft kiss before saying, “I hope Denny’s is your idea of breakfast because that’s about all there is to offer today.”

“I’ll be fine. I think after breakfast I’m going to run home and pack a bag for a couple days.” He replied and then added with a coy smile, “if that’s alright with you.”

Andy smiled happily. “I think I need to clean the house while you’re gone.”

Brian grinned and pulled away from Andy before opening the door and saying, “you have two little minions to help you. You should be fine.”

Andy chuckled and followed him out. After helping Blake and Tanner both get dressed, Andy took Brian’s hand and the four of them headed out the door.


Troy and Kyle had fallen into an uncomfortable silence. The desire to connect was there but it felt like too much time had past and Kyle wasn’t sure what to say anymore without feeling like he had done something wrong. He hadn’t done anything wrong. He did what he could and he can’t be faulted for his reaction. He thought about asking him about his kids when his phone suddenly chimed, letting him know he had received a text message.

When he looked to check he saw it was a selfie pic from Stephanie of her and a smiling Matt. The message under it read, “proof of life.” Kyle broke out into a warm smile as he studied the picture.

“What is that,” Troy asked in an odd tone.

Kyle looked up and closed the messages tab on his phone and was suddenly on the defensive. “What was what?”

Troy gave him a parental ‘don’t give me that line’ look and said, “on your phone. What you just received. Made you smile almost like how I remember you used to smile.”

“How is that any of your business?” He felt a small shiver set into him. He could almost hear a snapping sound in his head as that wall separating his past from his present suddenly cracked.

Troy arched an eyebrow and one corner of his mouth turned up in a smirk. “For half a second there I saw a big bright smile on your face. Who is it that can make you still smile like that?”

Kyle froze, mentally damning himself and damning Stephanie to sending it to him. He could feel his heart thump in his chest and his forehead suddenly felt damp with perspiration. “That’s an odd observation to make.”

“Uh, huh,” Troy muttered as he studied him more intently. Then his smile returned brighter as he said softly. “You know, ever since we were kids, the one thing you were horrible at was lying. So, I’ll just come right out and ask. Who’s the guy on the phone?”

“Why would you even ask that?!” None of this has worked out from the start. He just wanted to go back to his life and leave all of this behind even if he knew he couldn’t. He felt trapped now. The wall he had built so long ago, protecting him and his future was crumbling down around him. His breathing started to quicken as his hands gripped the edges of the table so hard his knuckles were turning white.

“Are you alright,” Troy asked with a little concern. He reached across the table for Kyle’s hand but he pulled away. “Kyle?” He looked around quickly in case anyone was watching them. He grabbed Kyle’s wrists and held his hands down, feeling them tremble in his hands. Now he was worried not sure what was going on inside him. “Kyle,” he whispered, “look at me.”

Kyle looked up into Troy’s eyes and felt his wrists being squeezed not ungently. He started to force himself to slow his breathing. He closed his eyes and took a few more slow breaths before he reopened them and said, “I’m fine.”

“The fuck was that,” he asked in stunned amazement and horror. “You looked like you were on the verge of-”

“I’m fine,” he repeated.

“No,” Troy stated flatly. “No, you’re not. Don’t lie to me. That looked like some kind of panic attack. I know them when I see them. My wife got them after our first child. What the hell happened that brought that on?”

“You were asking me about my son,” he said, giving up the fight. The wall was breached. There was no turning back now. That feeling of fatigue came back to him full force.

Troy struggled to figure the last few minutes out. “Kyle, you need to calm down. Jesus, it’s not the end of the world.” He stopped to try and get his bearings. He kept his eyes on his friend, feeling as if he had failed to notice this years ago and failed as a friend. When he spoke again it was in a softer voice, trying to keep Kyle from retreating. “You always did tend to freak out first and not think things through years ago but I never thought it was this bad.”

Kyle frowned and sighed, “I’ll live.”

“Doesn’t look like living from where I’m sitting,” he said frankly. “Is that how you reacted when you found your dad and Jacob?”

Kyle sat up a little and stared at the table before saying, “I don’t remember exactly how I reacted. I was angry and I was hurt but there are gaps in there. I can barely remember anything my dad said to me. I don’t remember if Jacob was awake or asleep when I opened the door. I don’t remember how I got back to school.”

Troy sighed heavily. Just another issue he’ll have to deal with later. He decided to let it go for now. Maybe later they could discuss it if Kyle was less combative. For now, he felt he should focus more on the good news that he just heard. “So?”

He blinked in confusion, “so, what?”

Troy rolled his eyes and said, “so, tell me about your son..!”

Kyle sighed and a ghost of a smile played across his lips as he pulled out his phone. Touching the screen a few times, he opened up a picture file and laid the phone down in front of Troy. “See for yourself.”

Troy picked up the phone and looked at the picture as a smile slowly grew on his face getting wider with every moment as he flipped through other pictures. After a moment he said with a laughing voice, “Oh. My God. It’s you! He is you! Well, except he’s blonde.”

He couldn’t suppress the grin that started on his face. “Kind of eerie, isn’t it?”

“He’s adorable. How old is he now?”

“He’s three. Four in November.”

“Ah,” he said with a sudden understanding, “that’s why you said the thing about Blake and Carter both being three years old. Oh, man, the trouble the three of them could get into together…” He chuckled to himself and then handed the phone back before asking, “what’s his name?”

Kyle’ cheeks reddened but he smiled a little as he caught Troy’s eyes and said softly, “his name is Matthew.”

Troy looked at him for a moment and then cleared his throat, looking away for a moment before looking back at him and saying with a nod, “that’s a good name.”

“I thought so too,” he said simply. He tried to force himself to relax. Troy wasn’t going to yell at him or accuse him of anything. He couldn’t separate his past from his present anymore now. Realizing that fight ended the moment he came back here. Everything is going to mix together including the unwanted pain and memories. He was going to have to deal with all of them. He was scared, thinking about having to try to control the mixture, keep everyone happy and keep himself safe. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this,” he admitted flatly.

“With what, exactly,” Troy asked curiously.

“With everything. Dad. You. Matt. Jacob…” That last name reignited a mixture of emotions that spun around and around inside him.

“Do you want to see him? Jacob, I mean.”

“I’m going to have to at some point, I guess,” Kyle couldn’t help but think about that voice and those eyes. At one point, it used to be painful to remember but now it felt different. Not the same as he remembered but not like it used to feel before he managed to block out his past from himself.

“Maybe we should take things slow,” Troy offered carefully. “I wouldn’t want you to have another attack or anything.” He had a sudden thought and tilted his head slightly. “Hey, where is your son if you’re here?”

“With his mother,” he replied dismissively.

“So, you and she…” Troy didn’t even know where to begin.

“...are good friends since college and she works with me,” Kyle replied helpfully. “If you think I got her pregnant the same way you got your wife pregnant, you would be wrong.”

Troy grinned, relieved for some odd reason. “Glad that got cleared up. So, she must be a nice person if she’s got him for the weekend.”

“She’s a good friend,” he said with a genuine smile. “My only real friend since college.”

“I see,” Troy responded, subdued. He was starting to understand that their lives had become so separate over the long years. He wanted to close that gap but it seemed so herculean a task. “It took me awhile to figure out where you were and how to contact you. I’m not gonna say I’m not upset with you for cutting me off the way you did. I think I’m starting to understand why. I just wish you could have tried to trust me a little.”

“It’s not your fault,” Kyle said with a weariness he felt in his bones. He thought about it for a moment before reluctantly admitting, “I guess it’s partly my fault.”

“I’m not going to disagree with you,” he said in a candid manner. “But don’t beat yourself up over it, dude. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone on our team seems to have made their fair share of mistakes over the years.”

Kyle nodded silently. There it was again. “The team.” He’d thought that concept had died inside him a long long time ago. Maybe he was wrong about that too. His eyes roamed around the room when his attention was caught by the appearance of a small group of people. Two men and two small boys. The two adults both had blonde hair, one short and well groomed and the other falling down to his shoulders. One of the boys had similar blonde hair while the smaller one had flame red hair. He watched the group until one of the men’s heads turned and Kyle suddenly looked away and lowered his face slightly. He glanced at Troy and said in a muttered voice, “didn’t you tell me something about Brian and Andy not getting along as well as they used to?”

Troy frowned and nodded, “yeah. Why?”

He tilted his head towards the door and said, “you may want to rethink that.”

Troy looked behind him towards the direction Kyle indicated. He noted Brian was wearing the same clothes that he had on the night before. He turned back to Kyle looking a little surprised as he said softly, “well, Andy did say he would talk to him and get things settled. Maybe they did?”

Kyle carefully watched them as they were shown to a table. Judging by their body language it looked like they were comfortable with each other. He shrugged and looked back at Troy. “Seems that way.”

“Wanna go over and say hi to them,” Troy offered.

He shook his head, “not yet. I’m still trying to deal with just being here. I feel like I’m trapped in a cage and if I move too much I’ll get shocked.”

Troy sighed. “Look, no one is going to crucify you for the things you’ve done in the past. Some people might disapprove of how you’ve handled it all but no one can swear what they would have done in your shoes because they weren’t there. Part of your problem, Kyle, is you internalize the worst possible scenario and then manage to magnify it. Same as you did with your dad when you came out to him. Yeah, he told me a long time ago how that conversation went. You worked yourself up over nothing. Fucking hell, you tiptoed on eggshells around Jacob for how fucking long? A year? You knew you were in love with him but you were so scared of him rejecting you or pushing you away you danced around it for months before you worked up the courage to finally tell him how you felt.

“None of us are perfect. But if you’re worried that there’s a lynch mob outside waiting for you, think again. We love you despite the things you’ve done. We want you to be a part of our lives again. It was you who threw us out, not the other way around.”

Kyle grimaced slightly, “you’re right. I wish I could stop doing that but I can’t. I don’t even know how that got started. Maybe I’m crazy, I dunno.”

“We talk about trusting each other,” Troy said in a caustic tone, “and we can’t even talk to each other. Brian and Andy practically had their own fucking language. Jacob was getting good at trusting people but then you left and he reverted back to who he used to be. Took me awhile to coax him back out.”

“He probably hates me now,” Kyle muttered, “not that I blame him.”

Troy shot him an irritated look. “You know full well Jacob isn’t the type of person to hate people. He didn’t even hate his dad over the shit he put him through. Even forgave the son of a bitch. He might not be your number one fan right now, but he doesn’t hate you.”

Kyle tried to get the conversation off that topic. “So, what is the plan now? Sit here for a few hours or head to the hospital?”

“I guess we could go to the hospital now,” Troy reasoned. “Coffee isn’t much better there than here but we can let them know you’re there and then maybe you might get the doctor’s attention if they figure anything out.”

The two friends stood up and went to go pay their bill when Kyle had a sudden urge and headed over to the table Andy and Brian were sitting at. As he approached Brian’s head lifted up to meet his gaze as he came closer.

“The Prodigal Son returns,” Brian commented in a low voice prompting Andy to look up.

As they both stared up at him, Kyle’s stride slowed. He felt a sudden unease as he made the final few steps up to their table. He stood there for a moment before he said in a subdued voice, “hey. Good to see you.”

The pair looked at him blankly before Brian said in a dispassionate tone, “hello.” Andy just nodded to him, saying nothing. His green eyes showing only a passing interest in his presence.

Kyle stood there for a few silent seconds before he realized they weren’t going to say anything else to him. “Well. See you around, I guess.”

Neither of them responded and watched him walk away. Once he was out of ear shot, Andy said to Brian quietly, “that was weird.”

Brian nodded as he reached for his coffee. “Think they saw us come in?”

Andy shook his head, “no telling.”

“I guess that brings up another uncomfortable discussion,” Brian stated casually, “do we tell them what we’re doing or not?”

“Tell them,” Andy asked in a slightly surprised voice. “Just come right out and tell them we’re seeing each other now?” Brian looked at his quizzically. Andy shook his head in disappointment, “Bri,” His lips raised in his playful, smug half-smirk, “where’s the fun in that?”

Brian looked at him, an impish grin forming on his face. They both laughed quietly to themselves and sat there as they watched Troy and Kyle depart. His hand reached under the table to meet Andy’s as he said in a gleeful whisper, “oh, this is going to be so much fun.”

Copyright © 2018 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

WOW!  That chapter was full of memories and surprises.  The surprise that Brian and Andy are a couple again.  That secret was not hidden in previous chapters.  The reaction from Brian and Andy was a surprise, although the greeting of "the Prodigal Son" told a great deal.


I hope that Chapter 10 comes quickly.  I want to read about the reuniting of father and son.

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14 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

I am happy for Brian and Andy, it would be fun see them with the kids. After all the talk with Troy they could have given Kyle a less frosty welcome, what went after the episode it's not his fault, I still have the opinion David and Jacob were the coward ones for not trying to solve the problem. You don't have sex with your  boyfriend's father as a drunken mistake. A kiss and stoping after, that would be a drunken mistake, not a drunken fuck feast around the house. However Troy still makes excuses for them,and even Kyle worried that Jacob hates him, when it should be the other way around.... They should have gone after him.

I've been staring at this for fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to respond.  


I don't want to give anything away to other readers and I'll have to rethink maybe how this goes.  I apologize that I didn't make a good enough story for you.

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Tension or what? You could feel it, you're definitely exercising your knack fo getting the feelings and emotion in your words. I'm happy for Andy and Brian, but I wonder if I'll be happy for Kyle, Jacob and Dave? Guess we have to wait and see.

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Troy is amazing.

I love Andy’s kids and the little family slowly forming with them and Brian.

I didn’t like how they treated Kyle when he walked over to them but then again, if I was Kyle, I wouldn’t have given them that opportunity.  

The meeting between Kyle and David, well there are no words and too many at the same time.  Looking forward to it and to him seeing Jacob again.  

This story packs such an emotional punch. 🥊 

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Very  interesting meeting. Seems that there is going to be some interesting action ahead at the hospital and after

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14 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

The thing that you and a lot of other people leaving comments on here are doing is the exact same thing Kyle did that caused the entire fiasco to begin with.  He jumped to a conclusion that fit the circumstantial evidence without hearing the other side.  It's that simple.  What you read in that incident in the last chapter is how Kyle perceived it.  Please do not assume you have all the facts. I never give out all the facts despite what you may think you read.  Everything is written from a certain character's perspective.  And all perspectives are not equal and no one person has the market cornered on the truth.


I'm sorry that I've disappointed you.  If you choose to stop reading, I will completely understand.  This is my first time ever writing a story of this size on my own.  I'm considering just dumping the entire idea.  


To @Jdonley75, I am not at all disappointed with how this story is being told or unfolding. Please, please do not follow through on "dumping the entire idea".  The fact that readers are reacting in the way they are is testimony to a job well done. Your story telling has elicited emotional reactions because your characters have flaws and experiences that are relatable. Thank you for sharing your gift of story telling. I look forward to the continuation of this story and hopefully future stories. Thank you!!!

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14 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

The thing that you and a lot of other people leaving comments on here are doing is the exact same thing Kyle did that caused the entire fiasco to begin with.  He jumped to a conclusion that fit the circumstantial evidence without hearing the other side.  It's that simple.  What you read in that incident in the last chapter is how Kyle perceived it.  Please do not assume you have all the facts. I never give out all the facts despite what you may think you read.  Everything is written from a certain character's perspective.  And all perspectives are not equal and no one person has the market cornered on the truth.


I'm sorry that I've disappointed you.  If you choose to stop reading, I will completely understand.  This is my first time ever writing a story of this size on my own.  I'm considering just dumping the entire idea.  


Please do not give up and dump the story, this is your creation and your story, you are doing an excellent job. Just look at all of your reviews, by far the majority of us are really enjoying it and want the story to continue. One or two not so good reviews from people that have forgotten that this is a fictional story are far outweighed by all of the good positive reviews that you are getting. The majority are with you and your story and we are enjoying it.

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Just a comment about you dumping this...please don’t! I can completely comprehend Kyle running off and making assumptions. After a while though it was in his court to learn what the truth was. I for one am loving this ride and can’t wait to see where it takes us! Thank you again!

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On 9/24/2018 at 2:19 AM, Jdonley75 said:

I'm sorry that I've disappointed you.  If you choose to stop reading, I will completely understand.  This is my first time ever writing a story of this size on my own.  I'm considering just dumping the entire idea.

I have had stories where in the very first chapter someone would comment how they didn't like this or that, but other people liked it and kept reading.

Getting these types of comments where people are passionate about the story and its characters only shows you're doing a great job and that your story is engaging! I think every single person who comments on this story is hooked and can't wait for the next chapter to come out! ^_^

Imo, the only thing you should do is write the story that YOU want to tell, and not change it (or drop it altogether) in order to pander to anyone's expectations.

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I’m completely invested and loving this story man! Please don’t scrap it!!! You’ve woven a beautiful, intense, and engaging storyline that Is relatable and downright entertaining!! Please, please, PLEASE continue!

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thanks for not dumping the story.  I too like many others am completely invested in it.  My folks are gone to watch a show and i chose to stay at home and play catch up on the story.  Sometimes people don't act in logical and expected ways, hence, questions such as, why did Jacob not try to find Kyle, why did a certain person react in a certain way is just your way of dealing with things but not necessarily the person going through it.  a story well told, however it panns out.  I continue hoping that the bonds between all will be even stronger, but sometimes, life does not have a rairy tale ending.  next up, david and Kyle, thankyou, great work, can't wait for the next installment, keep writing.

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thanks for not dumping the story.  I too like many others am completely invested in it.  My folks are gone to watch a show and i chose to stay at home and play catch up on the story.  Sometimes people don't act in logical and expected ways, hence, questions such as, why did Jacob not try to find Kyle, why did a certain person react in a certain way is just your way of dealing with things but not necessarily the person going through it.  a story well told, however it panns out.  I continue hoping that the bonds between all will be even stronger, but sometimes, life does not have a rairy tale ending.  next up, david and Kyle, thankyou, great work, can't wait for the next installment, keep writing.

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My god! You have gone through all the birth trauma of the story, just because you are upset by some of the comments to the direction the story is taking is not a reason for flushing it down the toilet. For every negative comment you read, there are probably a dozen or more silent well-wishers. Keep up the good work - it is a good author that inspires emotions in his readers. Even if some of those reactions are negative there are many more that are encouraging.

Something that non-authors may not realize is that sometimes a story takes on a movement of its own, a momentum that the author cannot predict or even control, but that does not mean it is bad authorship. As a matter of fact, it most likely means that the author has invested so much of himself in the tale that it has grown its own legs.

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There is a reckoning to occur, and it is soon to come. You’ve done a masterful job of ratcheting up the tension, chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, fact by fact. Nobody escapes censure, everybody bears some of the burden of the past. David and Jacob hurt Kyle; Kyle’s absence during college, and after the betrayal hurt them. Maybe they’ll find a way to heal, and maybe not. But acknowledging the source of their shared brokenness might help. 

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J, You have captured the tension and awkwardness .......feelings are raw with reactions just as raw.......you could cut the tension with a knife......Hope Bri and Andy can work through their past difficulties...............Great chapter..................:)Mike

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