They were finished for the day. The last client had left and now it was just the two of them – John and Jeremy, trying to figure out how they were going to negotiate the next little bit. Jeremy had gotten dry clothes during the day and John took him back into the clothing room now. “OK, let’s get you some clothes to take back with you tonight. I’m guessing they didn’t pack everything for you when you left. Any change we can go back to your apartment and get the rest of your stuff?” Jeremy looked uncomfortable. John had come to recognize all the signs by now, Jeremy would look down at the floor and kind of shuffle his feet, and maybe move his head a little. John just waited, knowing Jeremy would speak eventually. “There’s not much stuff to get.” John waited. “I only had a mattress on the floor to sleep on, and a couple of blankets to use. I didn’t really own a lot of clothes, and what I had was pretty bad. So, pretty much everything I owned was what I was wearing this morning.” “Oh. OK then, let’s outfit you, then. You need at least three or four of everything. So, let’s start with shirts and move around the room. Do you have any particular color that you like, or that you don’t like? Do you know your sizes?” “I kind of like blues, and I don’t much like browns. I think I know my sizes, but it doesn’t matter that much.” “Well, we’ve got choices, so let’s use them. We’ll just pile everything on the table and then get you a duffel bag to pack them in.” They started at one end of the room, pulling out clothes, holding them up for sizing, and then laying them out on the table: shirts, sweaters, undershirts, then pants, underwear, and socks. He already had a pretty good coat, and he was wearing the sweaters from the other day, so that was OK. There was only one mildly embarrassing moment when John asked, “boxers or briefs?” Jeremy blushed and said, “Commando, I, uh, don’t own anything else.” John laughed and simply pointed to the drawer, “Take what you want.” They packed everything away and started for the front door. John turned out the lights after making a final check of the Shelter, double-checking the stove, and then they locked the doors. They got into John’s car, putting the duffle bag in the back, and off they drove. It was a silent drive, John focused on getting them there safely. Speeding in the middle of winter in Montreal is not a smart thing to do. They finally go to his little house in Westmount, the wealthy English inner-city section. They parked the car in the small garage and plugged the block heater in to keep the engine oil from freezing. Then they walked in through the mudroom. “Welcome to my home. Let me show you your bedroom. You can unpack and get washed up, if you want. I’ll get you towels and stuff. And when you’re ready come into the kitchen and let’s see what we can eat for supper.” “You don’t need to make a lot for me. I ate well at the Shelter. I’ll be OK.” “Jeremy, look at me.” He waited until Jeremy looked up. “You’re going to be my guest. You’ll eat like I do. You’ll sleep in a bed like I do. You’ll watch TV like I do. Relax this weekend. Monday we’ll figure out what to do. For now, come along and make yourself at home.” They wandered down the hall to the guest room. John got towels down, showed Jeremy the attached bathroom and gave him a spare bathrobe and slippers to wear. He turned down the bed and made sure that there was an extra blanket folded over at the foot. He turned on the bedside lamp and then left Jeremy to his own devices when John went back to the kitchen. John hummed quietly to himself as he worked in the kitchen, chopping this, slicing that, mixing things up in pan as he prepared a simple dinner for the two of them. He decided to forgo his normal glass of wine in the evening. He didn’t want to make Jeremy uncomfortable. He checked the fridge and found some ice cream for dessert. And he fed the cat. She was circling his feet, making sure he knew that he was ignoring her and this was definitely not appropriate behavior for a mere human being graced by an imperial cat. When he looked up again, he saw Jeremy leaning in the doorway, the bathrobe drawn tightly around him, his hair still all puffed up from being dried roughly after the shower. Backlit by the dining room lights, he looked ethereal. John stared for a moment, stunned by the sight. “Dinner is almost ready. I’ll just serve it up and bring it out for us. What would you like to drink?” “Well, what are you offering?” drawled Jeremy, flirting with his eyes as he asked the question. “Only milk, water or juice,” responded John firmly. “Milk, please.” “OK. Coming right up.” John brought the carton of milk out to the table, served up two dishes and brought them out, too. They sat down together. Jeremy reached over and took his hand, “Can we say grace?” “Sure. Father of All, we give you thanks for all your graceful gifts. I thank you especially for bringing Jeremy to share my home with me this weekend. Be with us this night and always. Amen.” “Amen. Thanks, John.” They both dug in and ate heartily. Despite his earlier protestations, Jeremy ate with great gusto. He enjoyed his meal, and John enjoyed seeing Jeremy’s enjoyment. When they pushed away the ice cream, and cookies, of course, they were both full. They cleaned up the table, putting things away into the dishwasher, and then went into the family room. They sat down on the couch across from the TV. “Is there anything you like to watch, Jeremy?” “I haven’t watched TV in a long time. I didn’t own one and they didn’t like to have me in the TV room with them at my last apartment.” “Well, I like to watch the news and then there are a couple of programs I like. I also like the Food Channel.” “OK.” John turned the TV on and snuggled down into the couch, putting his legs up as he usually did. Jeremy reached over and picked up his foot. He began to rub and massage it. It was a completely natural and spontaneous action. John began to take his foot away. “Sorry. I didn’t mean … I’m usually alone here.” “It’s OK. I like it. Leave them there, please.” John began to relax and let himself enjoy the massage. It felt so good. He began to drift into a kind of lethargy – good food, good company – it served to relax him more than he had in a very long time. He noticed Jeremy yawning and felt his own tiredness, too. “Maybe we’d better go to bed. It’s been a long day. I’ll see you in the morning.” They walked back to the bedrooms. Jeremy hugged John at the door to the guest room. “Thank you. Thank you for letting me stay with you. I don’t know what I would have done.” John hugged him back. “Good night, Jeremy.” John got into his own bed, read for a little while and turned off the light. He could see that Jeremy had turned out his light, too. He nestled back into the bed, arranging the pillows to suit him, hugging the long body pillow to him. He was restless. He turned over a couple of times, punching the pillows to get them just right, turning away from the door. Gradually, as he lay awake, he became aware of a presence in the bedroom and turned over. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness and in the glow of the nightlight, he saw Jeremy. It could only be Jeremy. He felt the bed move, and the blankets lift. Jeremy got into bed with him and cuddled up to him. He felt the heat of Jeremy’s body against his own, the touch of Jeremy’s fingers as they began delicately to trace their way down his own body. His body responded quickly, his own desire rising quickly. His hands traced their way down Jeremy’s back, cupping his butt. He could feel Jeremy’s desire poking into his own. “Jeremy, we can’t do this. Please, we need to stop.”
“But you want to, I can feel it.” Jeremy’s hands stroked John’s manhood. “You’ve been so good to me. All week long you’ve been kind and good. Now, I want to repay you. You can feel that I want to, too.” Jeremy guided John’s hands down to stroke him, too. “No, Jeremy.” John pulled back – reluctantly but firmly. “No, this isn’t right.” “But I don’t have anything else. That’s all I’ve ever been good for. And you’ve been kinder to me than anyone in a long, long time. How else can I say thank you?” “Jeremy, you could just say thank you.” John sat up in bed, pulling the blanket around him. He sighed. “Jeremy, I’m not going to try and tell you that I don’t want to do this. I’m not going to try and tell you that I don’t find you attractive, very attractive, because I do. And I think you can tell that, too.” Jeremy moved restlessly on the bed, reaching out with his hand to stroke John. “Then why not? I find you very attractive, too. And I want to say thank you, to show you my appreciation. This is all I’ve got to do that with.” “Jeremy, some day that may be possible. But not now. Now I need to keep a little bit of distance because I need to help you find out that you’re worth a lot more than just tricking with me. I like you, Jeremy. You’re a neat guy. I need you to know that.” Jeremy started to interrupt. “Shhh. Listen to me, please. I think people have taken advantage of you – a lot. I don’t want to do that to you. I don’t want to use you. I want you to love yourself, and then others can love you for who you are not for what you look like. So – with great reluctance I have to say ‘no.’ Do you understand?” Jeremy lay there quietly under the blanket. He was thinking, obviously thinking hard about what John had been saying. He looked up and asked meekly, “OK, can I just stay here with you? It would be nice to just be held.” “Yes, but first go and put on some shorts. I think it would be better for both of us.” Jeremy giggled. “OK.” He jumped out of bed, looked back to see if John was watching, paused and then walked out to his bedroom to get changed. John watched him with appreciation, laughed and shook his head. He quickly got out of bed and put on some shorts himself, and then crawled back into bed. In a few moments Jeremy came back and paused at the side of the bed. “Is it really OK?” “Yes.” Jeremy jumped into bed and quickly cuddled up. John got himself comfortable and put his arm around Jeremy. Jeremy sighed deeply, put his head on John’s chest and slowly fell asleep. It took John longer.