This was originally two chapters but I ended up combining them to make one long chapter. So let's see what's going to happen next.
Lex slowly drifted into that space one finds himself in the early hours of the morning, half awake, half still asleep.. He slowly became aware of a comforting warmth that seeped into the front of him. In that short space between being asleep and awake he reveled in a feeling of security and safety. As wakefulness slowly pulled him into its grip he became aware of several things all at once. One, he wasn’t in his bed at Ms. Helen’s. Two, it wasn’t early morning. Three, he wasn’t alone. Four, he was actually pressed up close against a firm back. Five, and most disconcerting of all, the back in front of him was wasn’t the only thing that was firm. Jolting upright he clumsily stumbled out of bed, sheets tangling around his legs. Disentangling himself he spied his jeans draped over a nearby chair. He shoved his legs into them as the other form on the bed opened up his dreamy blue eyes.
Those eyes blinked several times and as they focused on the shape in front him he heard “Lex??”
Lex did the only thing his panicked brain could think of. He bolted.
Grabbing a shirt that was draped over a couch he yanked it over his head. Not caring that he was barefoot he ran out the door and down the stairs. Realizing that he was still at the tattoo shop he slid out the back door and started running. He ran all the way to Ms. Helen’s not caring that the pavement was tearing up his feet. As he leaped up the steps to the porch he was grateful that the door was unlocked and that Ms. Helen was nowhere to be seen. He took the stairs two at a time and was relieved when he felt his room key in his front pocket. As soon as he was over the threshold and the door shut and locked behind him, Lex’s body started shaking uncontrollably. What the hell happened? He remembered being picked up at the airport and from then on it was as if his brain had shut down.
“Think you asshole, think!” Oh God did he just say that out loud? Lex took several deep breaths trying to stop the shaking that wouldn’t seem to quit. Although it took several minutes and lots of deep breathing, to the point where he thought he might pass out, Lex finally settled his nerves enough to stop shaking. He calmed himself down and went over the events of last night in his mind. Now that he wasn’t in panic mode he could remember wanting to see Ian and going to the tattoo shop. He remembered asking Ian to work on his tattoo. His memory was a blank however after he got to the point where he heard music and settled his head down on his arms. He figured out that he must’ve fallen asleep. But how the hell did he end up in bed with Ian and why the hell did he sleep so long? He never slept more than four hours at the most. Never.
Not knowing what else to do he reached in his back pocket for his phone to call Cassie, the only person who understood him. It wasn’t there. ‘Shit’, he thought, it must’ve fallen out at Ian’s. Steeling himself, he took a few steps toward the bathroom. Pain from the cuts on his feet made itself known. Lex sighed and limped over to the bathroom. He leaned against the sink and lifted his leg across the opposite knee to look at the bottom of his foot. It didn’t look that bad. Several scrapes and he could see a spot where it looked like a bruise was trying to form. He did the same for the other foot and found it to be in similar condition. Turing on the shower he stripped off his shirt. As he pulled it off he realized it wasn’t his. Great, he had grabbed Ian’s shirt. Instinctively he brought it up to his nose and inhaled. The musky scent that invaded his nostrils went straight to his cock. He dropped the shirt like a hot potato.
Lex stepped into the warm water, wincing as the scrapes on the bottom of his feet reminded him that they were there. He took his time under the spray, making a mental note to get a haircut soon as he rinsed the shampoo from his head. When he was done he dried off and got dressed. Deciding that the scrapes on his feet didn’t need bandaging he donned a clean pair of socks and grabbed the sneakers that were on the floor near the bed.
Knowing he couldn’t put off the inevitable he left his room intending on heading back over to Ian’s to talk to him. He heard voices coming from the kitchen as he headed down the stairs. Sure enough, Ian was sitting at the table with Ms. Helen, a glass of water in front him.
Seeing him approach Ms. Helen remarked “Well here he is now. I’ll just make myself scarce. I have sewing that needs to be done. I’ve put it off too long. You boys make yourselves at home.”
Lex hung his head low, unable to bring himself to look at Ian. Ian stood up and walked over to him. He put his finger under Lex’s chin and pushed the man’s chin up. Lex shivered at the touch. Ian looked at him and said “Do you want to talk about it?”
Lex cast his eyes downward again and replied “Not really, but I guess we have to. But not here. Can we go somewhere else?”
Ian turned and headed towards the front door. “Come on. I know just the place.”
He led Lex out to his truck and indicated that he should get in. They had been driving in silence for about fifteen minutes when Ian turned onto a narrow dirt road. Slowing down, the truck bounced over the ruts and potholes. Another two minutes brought them to a small clearing. Ian put the truck in park and turned off the engine.
“Follow me” he instructed. Lex fell into step behind him on a narrow path. Only a few short minutes later the trees opened up to reveal an open area with a small stream winding its way through the clearing. A large oak tree was lying on its side having been felled long ago by a bolt of lightning and strong winds during a summer storm. Ian hopped up on the log leaning back against one of its still sturdy branches. Lex boosted himself up and straddled the old tree and faced Ian.
Lex’s voice was soft when he finally managed to speak. “I’m sorry I panicked and bolted this morning.”
Ian looked over at him and asked “Why did you?”
Lex drew in a shuddering breath knowing that the status of whatever this relationship was that was developing between them hinged on what he decided to tell him and how he reacted. Throwing all caution to the wind Lex knew that if there was ever going to be a ‘them’ he need to give Ian the truth.
Looking directly into those blue orbs that could see through him he stuttered “You sc-scare me.”
Ian’s eyes widened in surprise. “What? Why do I scare you? I don’t understand?”
Lex steadied himself and started to explain “Please don’t think I’m crazy but I can’t figure you out. What I mean is I can’t see who you really are. You puzzle me.”
Ian still looked baffled.
Lex sighed, still frustrated with himself. “I’m not explaining this right. Hear me out. I need to tell you something and I don’t want you to think I’m nuts. Please just listen and keep an open mind, OK? ”
Ian nodded so Lex took a deep breath and started “I can see auras around people. Everyone has a multitude of colors surrounding them all the time. The colors change as well as the intensity depending on the person’s mood and how strongly they are feeling. Colors and shades of colors have different meanings to me. When I see a certain shade of yellow it means someone is happy. Blue like the ocean means they’re sad. I can tell when someone is hurt, jealous, tired, you name the emotion and I can put a color to it.
I can also tell you who is related to who. People are connected through auras. A mother and child have a bright golden thread of color connecting them. A father and child have a different shade of gold. I can tell you who is cheating on their spouse. I can see evil. It’s ugly and it’s dark. When you hear someone refer to jealousy as being green with envy it’s because there’s truth to it. Envy and jealousy are green. Anger is red but so is love, just different shades. Sadness and depression are shades of blue. It’s amazing and it’s overwhelming sometimes.”
He continued “Growing up I didn’t have the filters I have now. I didn’t know anyone else who could do what I could. Whenever I mentioned an aura people would look at me strangely. The other kids in school thought I was some weird freak. I’ve had exactly one friend my entire life. Cassie, she has never looked at me like I was a freak and she has never lied to me. Not that she could anyways. By the time I was in first grade I had figured out that I shouldn’t mention the auras to anyone.”
“ Lies have a color too, a color I see way too often. I can see when people lie to me about how they feel about me. I’ve learned to avoid people. It’s easier that way. It’s easier not seeing how other people think you’re crazy or weird. I don’t know how to have a proper conversation and I can answer questions when I’m asked, but I don’t know how to relate to another person. I never really got the chance.”
“And you scare me because I can’t see your aura. You are the only human being I have ever come across that I haven’t been able to see an aura. That is what scares me. I have no idea what you are thinking or what you are feeling because I can’t see it! And to top it all off I slept. I slept fourteen hours! I don’t sleep fourteen hours. On a good night I sleep three, maybe four. Four! Not Fourteen!!” Lex’s voice had risen in volume as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him.
Ian sat up and scooted closer to the scared young man. He pulled him close and said “I believe you Lex. I believe you.” As Lex looked up at him a silent tear fell from his eye and slid down his cheek. Ian gently brushed it away and wrapped his arms around Lex and hugged him close. They stayed that way for several minutes, just breathing in each others scent.
Finally Ian spoke and told Lex “Thank you for opening up to me. It must’ve been hard. I’m telling you the truth when I say I believe you. I’ve come across people who just seem to know things instinctively. I know people who believe in ghosts and the paranormal. Who am I to say these things don’t exist just because I don’t see them? I was raised to have an open mind and that’s how I try to live. Can you see your own aura?”
Lex shook his head. “No, I mean I guess it’s because I know what I’m feeling so I don’t need to see the color associated with it. I can sometimes see connections between me and someone else. I used to see the golden thread between me and my mom. Cassie and I are connected. I wish I could see what our connection is. I’m just so confused when I’m around you.”
They were silent for a few moments before Ian finally spoke “I think whatever connection we have we’ll figure it out. We just need to get to know each other, that’s all”
Lex was able to utter softly “You’re probably right, thank you for listening and not running away.”
After a few minutes of comfortable silence the two men pulled themselves together and headed back to the truck. As the were driving back towards town Ian said to Lex “I have an idea. Have dinner with me tonight. I think I know how you can figure me out without having to go through all sorts of awkward conversation”
Lex mulled this over and asked “How is that going to happen?”
Ian merely grinned and replied “Agree to dinner and you’ll find out.”
Lex shook his head and smiled, knowing Ian had the upper hand. “What time?
Lex buttoned up the soft moss green shirt and made sure the collar was folded over properly. He tucked it into black pants and buckled his belt. He slid his feet into the Italian loafers that finished off his outfit. He looked into the mirror and approved of how the muted green color of the shirt brought out the green flecks in his hazel eyes. He skipped the cologne, instead deciding to rely on the woodsy, spicy scent of the body wash he used to shower with. Grabbing his wallet, phone which Ian had returned to him and keys off the nightstand he exited his room, locking the door behind him. As soon as he reached the bottom of the stairs he heard a knock on the door. He walked over and opened it up. He smiled at the vision of maleness in front of him. Ian had on dark gray fitted slacks that hugged him in all the right places. His shirt was a slightly shimmery cotton material and was cobalt blue, making his eyes even more striking. His smile lit up his face and as Lex pulled the door shut behind him Ian took his hand and led him out to his truck.
It was a short drive to the restaurant Ian had chosen. The silence between them was comfortable. They understood that this night would be a turning point and both were hoping for a positive outcome. The restaurant was an old barn that had been reconstructed and converted into an eating establishment, hence the name The Barn.
During the summer the area was home to a thriving arts scene. Tanglewood was the summer home for the Boston Pops and tourists flocked there from all over New England for their Summer Concert Series. During the fall when the leaves turned the roads were crowded with leaf peepers. Fall festivals and fairs were a common occurrence and the local artists took advantage of the increase in patrons. Winter saw local skiers hitting the nearby slopes.
The two men were greeted enthusiastically by the hostess. She knew who Ian was and led them to a secluded table near the back next to a window overlooking a large field filled with tall grass and wildflowers. The sun was going down on the far side of the field bathing the scene in soft oranges and pinks. They were no sooner settled in their seats and had just started looking over the menu when a middle aged gentleman with salt and pepper hair and sporting a slight paunch stopped next to their table.
“Ian!” he said brightly, “It’s been too long. Maggie misses you. Not the shenanigans that you and Jason used to get into, but she misses you.”
Ian laughed and stood up, warmly embracing the man. “I miss her and you too! I’ve been busy with the shop. So how is Jase? I’ve been meaning to call him.”
“He’s good, real good. UMass is keeping him busy. He’s working on his doctorate and teaching and is looking towards getting tenure. He’s a smart boy” was the proud reply.
Ian smiled and said “Duke, this is Lex. I had the urge to introduce him to the best steak around.” Turning to Lex he completed the introductions “Lex this is Duke, he and his wife Maggie lived across the street from me growing up. Their son Jason is my best friend. He’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts. We used to work here when we were in high school. Those were good times.”
Lex reached over and shook hands with Duke. Duke replied “It’s nice to meet you Lex, I need to get back to work. You two enjoy your dinner.” Turning to Ian he sternly barked out “And you! Call Maggie soon and suck up before you get taken off the Christmas card list!”
Ian had the sense to look chastised and promised “I will. God forbid I get struck from the list!” They heard Duke laughing as he headed back to the kitchen.
Lex pulled his focus back on Ian and asked “So, seeing how you have insider trade information what’s good here?”
Ian didn’t hesitate “The marinated, seared ribeye is the best you’ll ever taste and the loaded baked potato is to die for.” Lex nodded and scanned over the rest of the menu. Everything looked good.
Their waitress came over with a bottle of California Zinfandel. “Duke sent it over” was the only explanation she offered as she asked “Are you ready to order?”
Ian took the lead and said “We’ll start with the bread and chips with mixed dip assortment and then I’ll have the house marinated Ribeye, medium rare, the loaded baked potato and the steamed veggies.”
Lex’s mouth slightly watered as he added “I’ll have the same but with the baked cauliflower casserole instead of mixed veggies.” The waitress nodded her approval and taking their menus stepped away to put their order in.
Ian took in the handsome features of the man sitting across from him. Lex felt a blush rising up his neck and across his cheeks. Ian thought he looked sexy. Clearing his throat and taking a sip of his wine Ian finally spoke “So. I figured that in order for you to get to know me you need to ask me questions. So instead of sitting here asking each other the standard ‘what’s your favorite color or how many brothers or sisters do you have’ I figured we could make a game out of it and it wouldn’t be so awkward.”
Lex tilted his head slightly and drew his eyebrows together. “Tell me what you mean” he said.
Ian, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary explained “We take turns asking each other questions, except they can only be formatted in one of two ways. It has to be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question or a choice between two things. For example, if you said ‘Starbucks or Dunkin’, my answer would be Dunkin, not that there IS any other answer to that.” he laughed.
Lex smiled and thought to himself ‘New Englanders and their Dunkin Donuts, it had to be some sort of cult’.
Ian continued on “Anyways, like I said only yes/no answers or choice of two things. No further explanation allowed with ONE exception. You’re allowed to demand “Explain” once, and by that I mean if you were to say to me ‘green or purple’ and I answer ‘green’ you can say “Explain” and I would be obligated to tell you why I preferred green. But the kicker is that you can only use your ‘Explain’ ONCE. So it has to count.”
Before he could reply the waitress came back with a basket of warm rolls and platter that held four different dips, three cheeses and a variety of crackers and tortilla chips. Both men temporarily focused on the food in front of them and loaded up the plates the waitress had left with samples of each.
Savoring the food in front of him Lex admitted to himself that Ian’s idea held a lot of merit. As he pondered the possibilities he sipped at his wine and allowed the smooth, rich, grapey spiciness to roll across his tongue, savoring the slightly acidic bite it left. Humming his approval he slowly nodded and said two words “I’m game.”
As the final rays of the sunset turned the sky from pink and orange to red, then purple
Ian grinned broadly and said “Do you want to start or should we do rock, paper, scissors?”
Lex laughed and mused “What are you? Ten years old?”
Ian schooled his expression and managed to retort “No” while keeping a straight face. It didn’t take more than two seconds before his facade cracked and he started laughing.
Lex rolled his eyes and joined in. The bantering back and forth began,
Ian: “Chicken or seafood?”
Lex: “Beach or mountains?”
Ian: “DC or Marvel?”
Lex: “Have you ever been out of the country”
Ian: “Have you ever eaten escargot?”
The questions continued on with only the briefest hesitation when their food arrived. Pausing only to chew and swallow they both enjoyed the little things they discovered about the other. After their waitress came back and both men declined dessert but asked for coffee the light questions started getting a little heavier.
Ian: “Do you like me?”
Lex looked down as he swallowed his coffee. “Yes. Do you like me too?”
Ian: “Definitely yes.”
Ian: “Are you gay?”
After a moment Lex asked softly “Are you going to kiss me?”
Lex looked up sharply and before he even realized it he demanded “Explain.”
Ian smiled and deviated from the format and said “I promise I’ll explain but first answer this: Are you afraid to sleep?”
Lex’s heart started to race and he whispered “Yes.”