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    Mrsgnomie
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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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Dichotomy of Love - 4. Part One. Chapter Four.

Two years later

Oh, how Kyan missed shoving Gracie in a front pack and going about his day. She wasn’t the easiest baby, but good lord, now she was a threenager and he never knew it could be so bad. Of all the kids, she was the most like Dayna. If Kyan could survive the sassy, stubborn, independent, and bossy tendencies right now, he knew she’d grow into a cheeky, strong, self-assured, and assertive woman who would achieve everything she dreamed. Just like her mother.

At least Gracie didn’t reveal the more difficult parts of her personality while Kyan was barely keeping his life together. And yet, the silver lining meant a whole lotta nothing as he tossed a screaming I-don’t-want-to-leave-the-toy-aisle toddler over his shoulder while she flailed like a fish on a slip-and-slide.

He looked across the rack at Perry, who was grinning with amusement at him over the shoulder of his ever so calm and well-behaved niece, while her twin brother stood by Perry’s side like the perfect little gentleman he was. He must have bribed them.

And yet, Kyan felt guilty. Perry could be anywhere and doing anything, and yet he was here. “Remember when you used to do fun things on Saturday, like going out to bars and spending the day on the lake?”

Perry rolled his eyes. “So… I shouldn’t want to spend time with my best friend and the world’s best nieces and nephews?”

Kyan looked at the squirming toddler on his shoulder, then back at Perry like you’re kidding me, right? “You shouldn’t want to go shopping for lame household stuff and kid clothes. I’m sure you have better things to do.”

Perry pursed his lips. He hiked Ava on his hip, grabbed Henry’s hand, and without a backwards glance, wandered off, leaving Kyan to do all the shopping alone with Monster Gracie.

Kyan pushed the cart with one hand and held a screaming Gracie with the other. He hurried from rack to rack, throwing what he needed into the cart. Shopping for the kids was usually enjoyable. He loved the look on their faces when they got to pick out a fun new shirt, but today was not one of those enjoyable days.

He wished Trudy and Jed would have taken Gracie instead of Noah.

Kyan checked his list for anything he might’ve missed as Perry finally wandered back. Gracie was mostly calm now and sitting in the cart. It wasn’t much, but it was something. Kyan tried to smile at Perry, but his brother-in-law wouldn’t meet his gaze. Each time Kyan looked his way as they slowly made their way to the checkout, Perry had more important things to look at.

The rest of the errands were completed in an awkward standoff. He had never known Perry to be so stubborn, but no matter what Kyan did, Perry ignored him. What the hell?

After a couple of hours of this bullshit, Kyan snapped. “You’re mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

Kyan scoffed. He might have been convinced if Perry had looked him in the eyes when he said it. Instead, his brother-in-law acted like buckling his own seatbelt took two hands and all his focus, as if he hadn’t mastered that childish task decades ago when he was an actual child, not just acting like one.

Instead of strangling Perry, Kyan strangled the steering wheel. He worked his jaw as he looked in the rearview mirror. “Everyone ready to go home?”

Henry was passed out. Gracie’s face was scrunched in irritation, still unable to shake her earlier anger, but her blinks were getting longer. Sister-girl was tired. It’s hard work being a pain in the ass. Ava had her arms crossed as she glared out the window, mad because he said no to a family-sized pack of Oreos.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he mumbled as he reversed out of the parking spot.

He took the exit to I-205 South and came to an immediate stop. Red taillights as far as the eye could see. He sighed and dropped his forehead on the steering wheel in defeat.

Of course. Why wouldn’t he want to be stuck in traffic with a car full of people who hated him? He didn’t care that the kids were mad at him, that was normal, but he didn’t understand why Perry was giving him the cold shoulder. What the fuck did he do?

He didn’t like it. Not one bit. Perry was pretty much all he had, and the thought of him being mad was upsetting.

Half a mile crawled by. The gray and gloomy sky matched the mood in the car. It was five in the afternoon, but it felt like eight at night. Strange weather for the end of summer.

Kyan looked back and saw Ava and Gracie were now passed out. With everyone asleep, he looked at Perry. “Can you stop being mad at me?”

“Sure. Whatever you want.” Perry crossed his arms over his chest, the same as Ava, then reached to pull his hoodie over his cap, effectively hiding his face.

Grrr. Oh my god, stop acting like a fucking child.”

Perry answered by staring out the window like a nine-year-old, not a thirty-something-year-old.

The ride was tense. By the time they got home, Kyan was seething. He all but slammed his door shut. He stopped himself short of yanking the kids out of the car. It wasn’t their fault Perry was being a grade-A asshole.

When Perry reached for Gracie, Kyan snapped, “Just go home.”

“I’m not going to make you unload everything by yourself.”

“I don’t want your help if you’re just going to ignore me all day.”

Perry ignored him and gingerly pulled a sleeping Gracie from her car seat and took her inside, then came back and grabbed bags from the back of the SUV.

“I thought I told you to go home,” Kyan gritted out.

Perry ignored him and carried two armloads to the house. Kyan looked at everything that was left. He slid as many bags as he could on his left arm, then grabbed the rest with his right. He hefted the bags up and hurried to the house before the bags broke or cut the circulation off in his arms.

“I got ’em,” he growled as he roughly shouldered past Perry on the porch. “You can take your piss-poor attitude and get out of my house.”

Perry studied him, then turned on his heel and grabbed his keys. Before he reached the door, Ava ran through the house and threw herself at Perry’s legs. “Don’t weave!”

“He needs to go home,” Kyan said, leaving the ‘because he’s being a fucking asshole for no apparent reason’ part out, though it was implied.

Ava looked between the two men and started crying. “Uncle Perry can’t weave. He will never come back!”

The words knocked Kyan back.

Perry squatted down. “What are you talking about?”

“Yous fighting!” She cried as she clung to her uncle. Henry’s lip quivered. Kyan wasn’t sure if he felt the same or if he was feeding off his sister’s emotions.

Perry rested on his knees and wrapped the twins in his arms. “I would never leave you guys. You’re the best part of my day.”

Ava shook her head. “But you don’t wike Dad!”

“I love your dad.”

Ava wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Not today,” she sobbed. “You hate him.”

As much as it pained Kyan to see his kids so distraught, he couldn’t help but feel vindicated. Even his kids had noticed Perry’s cold mood and were calling him out on it. When Perry looked to Kyan for help, he crossed his arms.

Ava was an absolute wreck, smearing snot across her face with her forearm while Henry tried to hold himself together. Perry turned to the kids so they faced him and made them stand shoulder-to-shoulder. “You’re right. I wasn’t nice to your dad today. He said something that hurt my feelings and instead of talking to him, I got angry.”

Ava blinked. “What he say?”

“He said I shouldn’t want to spend my time with you guys. And that hurt my feelings because I love spending my time with you guys.”

Ava turned, put her hands on her hips, and glared at her father. “Dad!” She even went so far as to stomp her foot in indignation.

Kyan’s jaw dropped. He glared at Perry. “I was joking! I just meant that he probably has better things to do on a Saturday than buying kid clothes.”

Perry stood up and faced Kyan for the first time all afternoon. “You make those comments all the time and it’s annoying. It’s degrading and unnecessary.”

“What’s da-grading?” Henry asked.

This time, it was Perry who looked smug. “It’s a fancy word for making people feel bad about themselves.”

Ava ran to the sofa and grabbed the big blanket, then went back to Perry and pulled him to the ground. She tried her hardest to wrap the blanket around her and her uncle. “Sad-i-piwer.”

Perry’s brows pinched in confusion. “What?”

Henry grinned and joined Ava. The twins worked together until they disappeared into the blanket cocoon with Perry.

“Sad-a-pier-war,” Ava enunciated from under the blanket. “You can’t weave until yous happy.”

“Until I’m happy?”

Kyan smiled as the blanket cocoon wiggled around. He wondered if the kids knew he could hear them.

“Yeah,” Ava confirmed. “Yous bweeve out the sad like dis—” Her breath was nasally. Given she’d been stuffy all week, he worried Perry might have just gotten a face full of kindergerms.

He heard Perry breathe in and out, then the blanket slumped. “I don’t feel better.”

“Maybe breeve again?” Henry sounded a little confused. “Sometimes it takes a long time.”

“I think maybe…” Perry trailed off like he shouldn’t say what he wanted to say.

“You got idea?” Henry asked excitedly.

“I was just thinking… Since your dad hurt my feelings, maybe if he apologized, I might feel better? What do you guys think? Doesn’t it feel good when people apologize for being mean?”

Dad!” Henry summoned.

“Yes?”

Come here, pwease!

Kyan kneeled next to the blanket cocoon. “Can I come in?”

Henry’s messy mop of black hair popped out from under the blanket. His lips pursed and his eyes narrowed. “Only if you pwomise to tell Uncle Perry that yous sorry.”

Kyan nodded and ducked under the blanket and into the humid cocoon. It was dark, and hot, but there was enough light to see everyone. Kyan wrapped one arm around the twins and one around Perry. “I’m sorry for what I said. I feel like my life can be boring and just assumed no one would want to be a part of that, and I projected my insecurities onto you. I shouldn’t have done that. Anyone would be lucky to hang out with us, right?”

“Yeah!” the kids shouted happily.

Kyan thumped Perry’s ball cap. “Can you forgive me?”

Perry gave his cheek an exaggerated tap as he mulled it over.

“Oh, pweeze forgive dad!” Ava begged. “Hims is sorry!”

“Pweeze!” Henry added.

“Pwetty pweeze!”

“Okay. I forgive you.”

“Bweeve in and out,” Ava instructed rather hurriedly. Everyone breathed in, then out. The hot and muggy air clung to Kyan’s face.

The kids burst out of the cocoon and attacked Perry with hugs. “Stay da night, pweeze!”

“I’m sure Uncle Perry has better—”

Perry narrowed his eyes.

Kyan’s mouth snapped shut. He tried again. “That sounds like a great idea. But only if Uncle Perry really, really wants to… but where would he even sleep?” Because the small ranch home was barely big enough for the five of them.

Henry was in no way deterred by the lack of adequate sleeping arrangements. He grinned. “He can sleep with me.”

That started a war over who Uncle Perry would sleep with, which had Uncle Perry smiling. In the end, he promised to stay the night, but only if the kids promised to make him breakfast.

Trudy dropped off Noah, who was very excited to learn of the sleepover. “You can sleep with Dad,” he offered at bedtime when he learned, quite disappointedly, that Uncle Perry was not sleeping with any of them. “His bed is umongous.”

“I think that sounds like a solid plan,” Kyan responded.

Perry leaned down and kissed Noah’s cheek. “I don’t know. I snore something horrible.”

“Dad snores, too. It’s soo loud.”

“I do not!”

Perry covered his laugh. Kyan marched to the bedroom door and pretended to lock Perry inside Noah’s room as punishment, making Noah giggle. Perry pounded on the door. He begged and pleaded until Noah finally let him out.

They sat on opposite ends of the sofa and smiled as the laughing slowly died down. Then they watched their guilty pleasure reality show. One unsuspecting guy being called in for jury duty, having no idea that the completely insane things happening around him are all staged and filmed for the world to see.

Perry and Kyan loved it.

A few episodes in, Perry blurted out, “I can sneak out and come back before the kids wake up.”

Kyan didn’t know why Perry was being weird about it, but it was funny, so he laughed. “They’re going to come out in the middle of the night and if you’re not here, it will not go well,” he warned. “I would have to call you in the middle of the night. You’d have to get dressed and drive back over. Seems like a waste.”

Perry nodded and went back to the show without saying another word. Kyan glanced at him a few times, trying to figure out why he was so tense.

When they were finished for the night, Perry lingered in the living room with his hands in his pockets. Kyan watched him from the corner of his eye. He spent most of his spare time at their house. Why he was behaving strangely was beyond him.

“It’s not like we haven’t shared a bed before…” Kyan reasoned. “More than once.” Kyan’s bachelor party, a boy’s weekend at Powell Lake, Perry’s twenty-seventh birthday weekend in Las Vegas, and two years ago when Kyan got wasted at the pub.

When Perry didn’t move, Kyan rolled his eyes. He waited by his bedroom door while Perry decided what he was going to do. Then, to be funny, he leaned against the doorjamb. “Don’t tell me it’s been so long since you’ve gotten some that you might be tempted…” he purred and arched his back seductively.

Perry’s cheeks flushed, but the comment got the desired effect. Perry marched into the bedroom, shoving Kyan in the chest as passed. “I’m more concerned about your snoring. I have to work tomorrow.”

Ooof.

“Rude.” Kyan rubbed his chest and watched Perry set his hat on the dresser, then strip off his clothes until he was in his boxer briefs. Kyan looked away and began taking his own clothes off. “You know I’m the best bedmate. I stay on my side of the bed. I don’t hog the covers. I don’t snore.”

Perry pulled back the covers and arched his brow. “You don’t, but it looks like I might fight your ego for space on the bed.”

“Shut up. It’s a king.”

Perry teased. “Bossy in bed. I like it.”

Kyan laughed, wadded his dirty‌ clothes into a ball, tossed them into the hamper, then crawled into the bed next to Perry.

They leaned against the headboard.

Perry ran his fingers through his dark, hat-disheveled hair. “The sad-i-pillar cocoon earlier. Holy shit. That was muggy as fuck.”

Kyan laughed.

“It’s not funny. They kept breathing on my face.”

Kyan laughed harder.

Perry faced Kyan, and grinned. “Their breath was terrible. I thought I was going to die.”

“Did Ava—” Kyan began to ask, but he couldn’t stop laughing, which made Perry laugh. “Did she blow snot—”

“Oh god,” Perry groaned. “It was nasty. Straight mucus. It was the equivalent of being slimed.”

Kyan lost it. So did Perry. They sank into the bed and buried their faces in the pillows to keep from waking the house up. As soon as one of them stopped, the other would look over and they’d be back where they started. It wasn’t until their stomach muscles ached that they calmed down.

The laughter quieted, and the air took on a more serious charge. Kyan took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I really am sorry about today.”

“I know you don’t mean anything by it, but it’s annoying,” Perry said. “You make comments all the time about being a drag. And if that’s how you feel, so be it, but it’s not how I feel. I like spending time with you and the kids. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. Since Dayna died, it’s about the only thing that brings me happiness.”

Kyan cursed himself. Like a jerk, he hadn’t thought about Perry the way Perry thought about him. Why not? He wondered.

“Fuck spending your Saturdays doing lame shit like shopping for kids' crap. You shouldn’t waste your time with me because I’m a real self-centered asshole. All these years and I have never checked in with you the way you have with me.”

Perry smiled, though it was more of an amused smirk than anything. “Lucky for you, I’m an understanding guy. I never felt like you didn’t care and I understood where you were mentally. If I’m honest, being there for you and the kids was a healthy distraction for me. It was healing, I think. I didn’t need another person pestering me, anyway.”

“I disagree,” Kyan argued. “I should have pestered you. I should have… checked on you. No one can be ok after what you went through.”

“What we went through,” he corrected.

“No. You were the one who pulled Dayna’s lifeless body from my arms after I froze. It was you who did everything you could to resuscitate her while we waited for the paramedics to arrive. That was fucking traumatic, and I don’t remember thanking you.”

“I didn’t do it for you,” he said with a little heat. “She was my sister. I did it for her.”

“I know,” Kyan whispered. “I'm trying to tell you I’m grateful—for the way you cared for her in those last moments, and for the way you fucking care for me and the kids.”

Perry snaked his hand under the blankets and squeezed Kyan’s hand, letting him know it was okay. “You are always welcome.”

Kyan threaded his fingers in Perry’s and squeezed back. He scooted closer and pressed his head against Perry’s.

Perry double squeezed Kyan’s hand.

Kyan knew he had gone a long time without real comfort. That was no secret. But lying next to Perry made the loneliness feel crippling. He wondered how much of his depression was the lack of human affection. Alot, he suspected.

“This is going to come out ten ways weird, but it feels good to share a bed with you,” Kyan admitted, then cleared his throat. “Not you, but, I mean—I guess—you or anyone, really. It feels nice to not sleep alone… to not to be alone. For someone who thrives on human touch, it’s been a long stretch of isolation. God—” Embarrassed by his own words, Kyan scooted back to his half of the bed. “That sounded fucking creepy. I’m so sorry. Just ignore me.”

Perry laughed. “I get it.” He grabbed Kyan’s arm and wrapped it around his waist. “How’s that?”

Kyan shivered. “Scary,” he said, almost breathless. Thirty seconds next to Perry, soaking in the skin-to-skin warmth, smelling the scent of another person, had Kyan vibrating. It was almost nauseating. Like being on drugs. Perry was warm, familiar, and safe.

“It’s okay,” Perry told him.

Kyan breathed in and his eyes fluttered shut.

Perry squeezed, then tightened Kyan’s arms around his waist.

Kyan’s entire body melted into Perry’s back like a stick of butter on the window sill during a warm summer day.

Copyright © 2023 Mrsgnomie; 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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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