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    Parker Owens
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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.

Predator Prey - 10. Housebroken

No warnings needed for this chapter.

He settled warily into his role as a tolerated houseguest.

Marc and Lee allowed him to stay until something else could be arranged. They were kind enough not throw him out onto the street, even after what he'd done.

But Marc never, ever allowed him to stay in the house alone with Lee for any length of time. Never. He understood that, and it hurt.

In the run-up to Christmas, he'd been acutely aware of how he couldn't really share in Marc and Lee's lives, and how much Marc and Lee shut him out – completely unconsciously. He had intruded on their lives, and they had to live them with him present. But he was not admitted very deeply to their existence. They talked about their plans privately, shared their days privately, and arranged their lives around him – privately.

He saw them kiss, watched them interact, yes. They behaved with an affection he began to understand was both real and unstaged, and which he would not have thought possible just a few weeks prior. And more than once, with the doors shut and the lights out, he'd heard Lee cry out – not in pain, but in ecstasy. He had never known Marc as a top.

He understood why Marc found Lee to be enchanting – Lee plunged into Christmas happily and delightedly, like a kid. There was a bright, unguarded innocence about the black-haired boy. Lee insisted on decorations and on planning a big meal for the day itself. The three of them would celebrate Christmas together. He had no idea what would happen after that, except that he understood Marc's parents were coming down for New Year's.

The day before Christmas – Christmas Eve – they all went out shopping. They stopped to buy a small tree. There were packages already stacked behind the sofa in the living room. He'd tried hard to get them some a present of some kind, but it was really hard thinking what they might need or want.

Plus, he'd checked with his bank. He was within easy reach of breaking the big red line of his credit limit. With the last gasp of his card, he bought them a really solid coffeemaker to replace the hand-me-down machine Marc's parents had given them.

It was the first real gift he bought for anyone in years.

He was humbled by Christmas morning. They slept late, but it still qualified as morning.

There in the living room, under the tree laid three Christmas stockings; two with 'Marc' and 'Leander' embroidered across the top, and another with his own name written carefully on a cloth tag attached.

Christmas stockings. He had to search his memory for the last time he'd had one. Lee and Marc had filled his stocking with little items – power bars, candy, toothbrush and toothpaste, razors, shaving kit, all stuff he'd been missing since the calamity in his residence. Since he'd blown up his own life.

Marc and Lee and been much freer with themselves – he saw Marc actually blush deeply when he extracted a tube of flavored lube from his stocking. And Lee's eyes went very wide when a long cylindrical package fell out of his.

Lee and Marc hadn't forgotten him under the tree, either. They'd gotten him some extra clothes so he had more than a few changes. He wouldn't have to do laundry every other day. And they unwrapped his present to them happily.

Marc actually smiled in his direction for the first time since he'd appeared on their doorstep.

They lingered together over breakfast, and for once he felt included, almost.

Afterwards, he helped Marc and Lee make the special meal that had been planned, re-planned, fussed over and planned again for the past four days. He chopped, diced, sautéed, and washed dishes for much of the afternoon, under Marc's watchful eye.

The whole house smelled of rich roasting meat, of sweet pie, of savory sides. Once upon a time, he'd known these scents. Where had these smells gone? It seemed he'd lived half of a life for years.

Their Christmas Dinner was just the three of them. What they lacked in numbers, the made up for in good spirits. Lee joked about the hilarious experience when some old guys had tried to pick him up at the beach – at least, he could laugh about it. They started joking about bad pickup lines, one worse than the other, until they were almost in tears. He couldn't remember when he'd laughed so hard.

There was a minute roast, actual Yorkshire pudding, and roasted veggies that they devoured. Only wine was conspicuously absent from the menu, but in his mellow mood, he decided this was perfectly fine, too.

They actually talked, and for once, even Marc seemed to let his guard down. He left the table for a few moments to renew his coffee over dessert.

"Marc once said you always wore a mask of some kind," Lee remarked to him, turning serious. "What are you wearing now?"

The question jarred him, not because it wasn't true, but because someone had noticed. A long time ago.

"Tonight, there's no mask. Just jolly old me," he tried to rally.

Lee looked at him sadly. "No, really. Is this really you, or somebody else? Marc told me about you when we first met. He said you were the most dangerous man he'd ever known because behind your cruel mask, there was something worse." Lee let that one sink in. "So I'm wondering, because if my Christmas houseguest is this incredibly dangerous man, I want to see what the danger is."

He sat there, stunned by the change in mood. There was no denying it. He had been dangerous. To Ted, once. To Marc, to dozens, hundreds, of people. To himself, too.

He pulled himself together. "Tonight – in fact, since you and Marc let me stay, there's been no mask. Really. There's really nothing worth hiding anymore. Not here." He tapped his chest to indicate himself. He went on. "And today, you and Marc have just gotten to me, okay? You've been kind when you had no reason to, welcoming when you should have turned me out. It's all been real, and all good, and honestly, Lee, it blows me away."

Marc had returned quietly and sat down in the middle of this little speech. "Merry Christmas," he said.

"Merry Christmas yourself," he said. And he smiled.

He insisted on doing the cleanup. Once the table was cleared, he sent the protesting Marc and Lee to bed, telling them he'd take care of everything. It was certainly the very least he could do. He wondered what was going to happen in the days ahead. As he washed up the dishes and set the clean things aside on the table, he thought more and more about what he ought to.

His brain spun, and his mind worked, but nothing really suggested itself. Funny how something so mundane as washing dishes can distract the mind from coming to a conclusion.

He was tired, but not sleepy when he finished. Deciding a walk would do him some good, he let himself out the back door. The air was chilly, even for Christmas, and the dark skies promised rain later. He crossed several streets and found himself at a busier four lane arterial road.

He stopped, musing. From here, he could probably hitch a ride downtown, even though the road itself looked almost deserted. There was always something going on there, possibly even tonight. Someone would be hosting something. But somehow, the pull to immerse himself in his old life and start that all over seemed very weak right then.

But there wasn't any other pull, either.

The only tug was the one on his heart, the tug that told him how much he owed Lee and Marc for coming to his rescue. He retraced his steps toward the house. Nobody moved on the streets; he was utterly alone.

He stopped in front of his car, still parked on the street. He hadn't moved it since he arrived. He wondered how much gas he had left in the fancy, sleek black sedan. He'd bought it with cash after his first big successful month in business. He'd prided himself that it was a better ride than anything his parents ever owned. He had gloried in it. But the car did him very little good now.

He shook his head, walked on around to the back of the house, and went in.

Inside, he let his eyes travel over the tidied mess in the living room, the presents now unwrapped but still under the tree. Marc and Lee had made this a home, had made a life with each other, and they'd included him, just a little. It felt good and warm.

He prepared for bed, washed up, and stepped across the hall to his bedroom. With his hand on the doorknob, he heard something.

A high, keening. A breathy giggle, suppressed conversation. A swift cry of pleasure. The boys were playing with their new toys, and it brought the beginnings of a smile to his face.

Suddenly, he made a decision; an extravagant decision meant to cover his multitude of sins. Something to hide his brokenness.

He would sell the car, pay off his debts, and settle his damages with the university. Maybe he'd have some money left over to leave with Marc and Lee, too.

Then he'd see about moving on.

Craftingmom edited this story, for which she deserves my undying thanks. Carlos, tim and Spike helped with beta-reading, for which I am very, very grateful.

Please do consider leaving a review. I appreciate any and all comments and responses.

Copyright © 2017 Parker Owens; 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



After I lost my last job (due, I later realized, to side effects of my depression), I decided I'd rather sell my car than live in it. It was a very difficult decision that only delayed the inevitable eviction. My car and the freedom it represented, as well as my job, were very closely tied to my identity. I didn't know who I was when I was homeless. I think I'm still in the process of reinventing myself, seven years after I was evicted and 4.5 years after I moved into my current studio apartment.

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I liked this chapter back when you first asked me to read this. There is so much happening, the predator is seeing so much ... allowed to join in Marc and Lee's small Christmas. The fact that he didn't go back to his old stomping grounds and has decided to sell his car and live up to his responsibilities is very telling.

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So much happiness and so much sadness. Perfect chapter on which to turn the story and perfect chapter for the season. Which a few explanations added, it would make a fantastic Christmas story. Hell, even as is, it stands well on its own. Good stuff, son.

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Well you did it. You managed to make me feel empathy for the predator. I notice he still doesn't have a name, though. I'm so curious to find out if he'll have one at some point (don't tell me, let me find out on my own ;) ) Somehow I don't think things will be all shiny happy roses for him now, despite his softening heart. Now that things are on the upswing, I'm guessing there will be a downturn and the consequences of his old life will hit him hard. I also don't think we've seen the last of Ted. Great job, Parker. I can't wait to see where you take us next. :)

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On 11/27/2016 03:27 AM, droughtquake said:

After I lost my last job (due, I later realized, to side effects of my depression), I decided I'd rather sell my car than live in it. It was a very difficult decision that only delayed the inevitable eviction. My car and the freedom it represented, as well as my job, were very closely tied to my identity. I didn't know who I was when I was homeless. I think I'm still in the process of reinventing myself, seven years after I was evicted and 4.5 years after I moved into my current studio apartment.

TP (thank you for this excellent abbreviation, my friend!) may lose some of his identity with his car, too; but that may not be an altogether bad thing. You speak of reinvention, and that remains for TP to begin. But I hope yours has gone well. Peace. P

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On 11/27/2016 04:05 AM, Mikiesboy said:

I liked this chapter back when you first asked me to read this. There is so much happening, the predator is seeing so much ... allowed to join in Marc and Lee's small Christmas. The fact that he didn't go back to his old stomping grounds and has decided to sell his car and live up to his responsibilities is very telling.

I am so glad you liked this part; it wasn't in my original thinking, but the idea was so insistent (and far better than what I thought at first). And you are right - TP physically turning away from the old stomping grounds is immensely telling. Many thanks for your encouragement and support!

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On 11/27/2016 04:13 AM, Carlos Hazday said:

So much happiness and so much sadness. Perfect chapter on which to turn the story and perfect chapter for the season. Which a few explanations added, it would make a fantastic Christmas story. Hell, even as is, it stands well on its own. Good stuff, son.

In many ways, Lee and Marc responded to TP exactly in harmony with the season. It is they who have done the most difficult thing, and included TP in their keeping Christmas. Funny how I never really thought of this as a Christmas story, though. I thank you for your encouragement and commentary - and I hope you are enjoying this!

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On 11/27/2016 04:50 AM, Valkyrie said:

Well you did it. You managed to make me feel empathy for the predator. I notice he still doesn't have a name, though. I'm so curious to find out if he'll have one at some point (don't tell me, let me find out on my own ;) ) Somehow I don't think things will be all shiny happy roses for him now, despite his softening heart. Now that things are on the upswing, I'm guessing there will be a downturn and the consequences of his old life will hit him hard. I also don't think we've seen the last of Ted. Great job, Parker. I can't wait to see where you take us next. :)

TP has come to a very low point. As Carlos observes, it is Marc and Lee who respond so much in the spirit of Christmas; TP doesn't deserve mercy or kindness, and he is shown both. His heart is softening, but is he really ready for actual change? That remains very much to be seen. Of course, there is more to this story, just as life goes on after Christmas. And no,I'm not saying anything about his name, either ;). Thanks for reading, and for your encouragement!

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I did not expect this. I am glad that the predator got to see Lee and Marc together. Glad that he got to experience that and I think its something he needed. He is having the most unselfish, genuine thoughts and feelings he's probably ever had.
You've done an amazing job pulling at the threads here Parker, but with the predator's decision at the end, I had a feeling of dread. And okay, so maybe I want him to do the right thing and be okay after all...

 

Great job...

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What a turn-around. I wonder how you manage to make something absolutely unbelievable so real. It blows me away.
The first surprise (after the title) were these three words: and it hurt. So he has changed. Then all those tiny details about a life he had completely forgotten and he now remembers...
Then the interesting twist about the car, a car he bought to spite his parents. Which he now sells, as if his grudge (?) against them has lost its meaning or poignancy. As if he has really arrived in a reality which he shut out as long as his "business" lasted.
And all that at Christmas. A new birth indeed...

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On 11/27/2016 05:31 AM, Defiance19 said:

I did not expect this. I am glad that the predator got to see Lee and Marc together. Glad that he got to experience that and I think its something he needed. He is having the most unselfish, genuine thoughts and feelings he's probably ever had.

You've done an amazing job pulling at the threads here Parker, but with the predator's decision at the end, I had a feeling of dread. And okay, so maybe I want him to do the right thing and be okay after all...

 

Great job...

TP's thoughts have undergone a real change, haven't they? Marc and Lee have had a profound effect on him, but so have the events leading up to the moment he arrived on their doorstep. In any case, he isn't locked in his own head all the time anymore. TP wanting to try to atone in some undefined way is perhaps understandable, even commendable. But rarely do such extravagant attempts to cover one's sins actually manage to do the trick. Many thanks for your insights and comments.

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Christmas is a time for taking in waifs and strays but the generosity and thoughtfulness displayed towards TP is stunning yet utterly believable. For all that, he is still on the periphery of the celebrations and where better place to see all that he should be and perhaps may once have been.

 

A wonderful, wonderful chapter. :yes:

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On 11/27/2016 05:57 AM, mayday said:

What a turn-around. I wonder how you manage to make something absolutely unbelievable so real. It blows me away.

The first surprise (after the title) were these three words: and it hurt. So he has changed. Then all those tiny details about a life he had completely forgotten and he now remembers...

Then the interesting twist about the car, a car he bought to spite his parents. Which he now sells, as if his grudge (?) against them has lost its meaning or poignancy. As if he has really arrived in a reality which he shut out as long as his "business" lasted.

And all that at Christmas. A new birth indeed...

I am very glad this chapter was believable to you. Our predator certainly seems to have been affected by his encounter with mercy and kindness. As you suggest, the spite he felt toward his parents somehow seems less important now. But his extravagant attempt at atonement will only let him consider starting over, and who knows if he can carry through with it? Many thanks for your perceptive and insightful comments, and for reading the story!

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On 11/27/2016 06:09 AM, northie said:

Christmas is a time for taking in waifs and strays but the generosity and thoughtfulness displayed towards TP is stunning yet utterly believable. For all that, he is still on the periphery of the celebrations and where better place to see all that he should be and perhaps may once have been.

 

A wonderful, wonderful chapter. :yes:

Marc and Lee certainly live the spirit of Christmas. Perhaps Lee kissed the Scrooge right out of his lover. It would appear so. TP got to observe Christmas, almost like that old Dickensian character, and only at the end did he get to participate. No chains or ghosts required, though TP may have plenty of ghosts and skeletons of his own to reckon with. Thanks so much for your generous words, which warmed my heart on a cold day!

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Making amends. Part of every kind of redeeming program for addicts and the like. TP has reached that point... and the right way. He's gotten here through a process. The walk was significant. To me, it felt like he was saying a final goodbye to who he'd been... the man who always wore a mask. It was a test he passed. Now he sees clearly that TP is gone for good. Redemption... gotta love it. The car was the result of ill-gotten gains, and it represents a warped motivation, so it needs to go... he owes Marc and Lee, and he FEELS that... well done, my friend... cheers... Gary....

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On 11/27/2016 07:33 AM, Headstall said:

Making amends. Part of every kind of redeeming program for addicts and the like. TP has reached that point... and the right way. He's gotten here through a process. The walk was significant. To me, it felt like he was saying a final goodbye to who he'd been... the man who always wore a mask. It was a test he passed. Now he sees clearly that TP is gone for good. Redemption... gotta love it. The car was the result of ill-gotten gains, and it represents a warped motivation, so it needs to go... he owes Marc and Lee, and he FEELS that... well done, my friend... cheers... Gary....

You are right in that TP feels a pull not toward his old life, but toward something new. Selling the car may be part of that. Marc would clearly remind him just how much he has to atone for, and I imagine a car won't cover it, extravagant and significant though the gesture may be. What TP can do right now is to begin the process of changing, and this will surely help. And you are very much right in that this is a kind of farewell. But who knows where he is going? Many thanks for your thoughtful response and comments...blessings, P

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Gary brings up a good point. You've shown through the various situations in which TP found himself in this chapter that he's made a decision. And while the car and the stocking and the meal were each lovely representations, the decision is to atone, however possible, turn a corner and move forward.

 

Since he has always been able to focus on advancing his "career," I have no doubt his talent will help him overcome the drag of his past and actually become redeemed. A nice Christmastide story, Parker. Although, I'll be the first to admit, the early chapters gave no hint of that.

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On 11/30/2016 11:23 AM, skinnydragon said:

Gary brings up a good point. You've shown through the various situations in which TP found himself in this chapter that he's made a decision. And while the car and the stocking and the meal were each lovely representations, the decision is to atone, however possible, turn a corner and move forward.

 

Since he has always been able to focus on advancing his "career," I have no doubt his talent will help him overcome the drag of his past and actually become redeemed. A nice Christmastide story, Parker. Although, I'll be the first to admit, the early chapters gave no hint of that.

Yes, it seems that TP has made a decision of a kind. Of course, it remains to be seen if TP can act on his resolve, for all he has done is make a promise to himself. As you point out, he is good at following through on such promises in the past, when they were fueled by spite or something worse. Christmas, and more importantly, Lee and Marc, have worked this miracle, if miracle it is. Many thanks for your thoughts and responses, and for sticking with the story despite its very dark beginning.

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I play bagpipes and this reminds me of my most requested tune...

 

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see...

 

This was written by the Captain of a slave ship; transporting slaves, shacked together in the hold below, under brutal conditions from Africa to the USA. He couldn't take it anymore and had an awakening...

 

You are a master of redemption, Parker... Thank You...

 

Neal

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Since I'm so late in reading this chapter, there's not much I can add. I agree with what everyone said about TP atoning for all his sins and paying his debts off. I also agree with you, Parker, that selling his car may not even make a dent in the debts he needs to pay.

 

I think that TP's decision not to go downtown is one turning point he reached in this chapter. Marc and Lee have had such a positive influence on TP, and his actual feelings and emotions that they are bringing out in him is a wonderful thing. After all, the most dangerous man with a cruel mask on (who is worse under the mask), can't possibly have any feelings whatsoever since he treated human beings like disposable gloves.

 

It is still yet to be seen if TP can redeem himself. We'll see. ;)

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I guess the decision to change is the first and hardest step after realizing that change is needed. I can see our boy's actions here, and hear his thoughts, and it does seem he would lie to rethink the direction he has been going.
But we're not done yet, are we?

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On 12/02/2016 01:46 PM, Nahrung said:

I play bagpipes and this reminds me of my most requested tune...

 

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see...

 

This was written by the Captain of a slave ship; transporting slaves, shacked together in the hold below, under brutal conditions from Africa to the USA. He couldn't take it anymore and had an awakening...

 

You are a master of redemption, Parker... Thank You...

 

Neal

I am sorry to have missed responding to your review. Life has intervened,and I somehow lost track..I do apologize. There is some real grace here, and perhaps the will to change. Whether the Predator can change, whether he can follow through with his ideas is another matter. But he has made a decision to try, at least. It is an awakening, as you say. I am no master, but I thank you for your kindness and forbearance.

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On 12/02/2016 03:36 PM, Lisa said:

Since I'm so late in reading this chapter, there's not much I can add. I agree with what everyone said about TP atoning for all his sins and paying his debts off. I also agree with you, Parker, that selling his car may not even make a dent in the debts he needs to pay.

 

I think that TP's decision not to go downtown is one turning point he reached in this chapter. Marc and Lee have had such a positive influence on TP, and his actual feelings and emotions that they are bringing out in him is a wonderful thing. After all, the most dangerous man with a cruel mask on (who is worse under the mask), can't possibly have any feelings whatsoever since he treated human beings like disposable gloves.

 

It is still yet to be seen if TP can redeem himself. We'll see. ;)

Thanks for your thoughts and response. I am sorry for being so shockingly slow in my own return. Events got in my way, and I lost track of what I had written. I do apologize. I agree with you...the decision not to head downtown was important, and it is the direct result of what Marc and Lee have shown him. They are truly powerful people, though one might not have known it to look at them. I am not at all surprised at your wait and see stance, though. Many thanks for reading this chapter!

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On 01/30/2017 10:24 AM, Geron Kees said:

I guess the decision to change is the first and hardest step after realizing that change is needed. I can see our boy's actions here, and hear his thoughts, and it does seem he would lie to rethink the direction he has been going.

But we're not done yet, are we?

Since the moment he chased after Marc and Lee, the predator has been re-living and rethinking his life and it's direction. In their quiet, devoted way of living, Marc and Lee turn out to be very powerful as individuals and as a couple. Thanks for reading so far into this story, which I know has not been easy.

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This is a good start for him. It's a shame that that self discovery is often preceded by destructive behaviors and or ambivalence. We all go there sometime, at different levels, try to correct or change where we are, only to end up back there again one day. 

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