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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 - 30. Communication

No warnings needed for this chapter.

He stood there in the doorway to his stateroom, motionless.

Graham stood before him, clearly apprehensive, waiting. But he couldn't help noticing Graham's eyes shift, furtively glancing down his body. Damn. Of all the times to be dressed only in his boxers.

"You want to talk?" he asked the darker haired man. The man whose warm eyes and quirky humor had done something nobody else could: capture his heart.

"Yeah. Yes. Please." Graham spoke softly. "Can I come in?"

He thought about it a moment. Could he stand being in the narrow cabin with Graham without wanting to embrace him again?

"Sure, come on in." He turned away.

While Graham stepped in and closed the door, he bent down and opened a drawer. "Have a seat," he added over his shoulder." He slipped on a tee and found a pair of shorts.

Graham didn't turn on the room light, a feeble fluorescent fixture which seemed to give exactly too little light to be of any value. There was a small reading light at the head of the bunk; he clicked that on, instead. It cast a small, warm glow. The taller man settled himself onto the foot of the lower bunk, bending over to avoid getting a head injury from the upper frame above.

He wedged himself up at the head of the bed near the light, moving the pillow up against the wall. He left plenty of space between the two of them.

"You look like hell," Graham commented.

"You don't look so good yourself," he shot back. It was true. Graham looked like he hadn't slept or bathed in a couple of days.

Graham chuckled humorlessly. "No, I don't guess I do."

They fell silent again, and the only sound in the cabin was the low noise of the ship in the night.

He felt like he had to say something, anything. "I'm sorry."

"You don't need to be sorry," Graham spoke. "It's me who should be apologizing."

"Why? I don't blame you for…for walking out."

Because that's what Graham had done. Graham had heard enough about who he really was. About what he did to people. And he'd gone away.

"No, Scott, I shouldn't have done that."

"Why not? I don't blame you."

"I should have given you a chance. Some kind of opportunity to explain it all, tell me what you meant by all that," Graham said carefully.

He took a deep breath. "Maybe. But everything I said was the truth. What else can I tell you?"

"But why? Why tell me all that?"

He looked bleakly at Graham, the man's face deeply shadowed in the darkened room. "Because you needed to hear it. You needed to know who it is you're dealing with."

To his credit, Graham didn't protest, didn't argue. He merely nodded. After a moment, Graham cleared his throat and spoke again. "There's something you need to know, too."

He waited.

"My brother. My brother's a user," Graham said quietly.

There wasn't anything to say to that, either.

"Jeremy – that's my brother's name— I idolized him. He was a lacrosse player and a big star. He was a popular guy, a huge social success. Me, I was the geeky little brother. Jeremy had it all. At least, that's how it looked to me. Athletic, popular, talented – all the things I wasn't."

Graham paused, and he had the good sense to wait.

"Jeremy started with steroids in the weight room, said he had to be serious about getting big. I never knew about the drugs until later. In his junior year, Jeremy started partying hard – every weekend. At first, he'd just have a hell of Sunday hangover. Every Sunday. But then it got more frequent. Sometimes he wouldn't come home at night. He made me cover for him with Mom and Dad, more than once."

Graham seemed to struggle with his memories.

He had a bad feeling he knew the rest of the story.

Graham continued. "Someone started supplying Jeremy with pills – stimulants, amphetamines, anything to get him through the day, through his practices and games, and on to the next party. That summer, the summer Jeremy should have been getting ready for college recruiting, he didn't seem to party as much, but he was hanging out with a new group of friends. He started getting weird, almost like he didn't recognize me, my parents, or my little sister."

He looked away into the darkened room.

"Jeremy drove his Jeep into a tree that August. He broke ribs, a collarbone, and his right arm was shattered." Graham exhaled sharply. "It probably saved his life."

He looked back at Graham. "What do you mean?"

"The docs in the hospital got a good look at the bloodwork and figured out what Jeremy was on. He went right from the hospital to rehab."

"So, your brother. He's okay?" he asked tentatively.

"Okay? Yeah, maybe. He's been in and out of rehab a couple more times. Got caught by the cops once, but Dad somehow got Jeremy a plea and a suspended sentence. He got his GED somewhere in there. Never made it through community college. He works in a warehouse, drives a forklift. So, yeah, you could say he's okay. But he told me not a day goes by that he doesn't get that itch, that little craving for another jolt, another hit. Not one day."

He felt stricken. "I'm sorry." It sounded so useless.

"Why? You didn't sell Jeremy his shit."

"I know, but…"

"Jeremy made his own mistakes. Somebody helped him make those mistakes, but he made them."

He shifted uncomfortably on the bed. "Yeah. Your brother could still have had a lot of help fucking up his life. I should know."

"Yeah, you do know, don't you?" Graham said flatly.

He looked away again.

"And what made you want to help people like my brother destroy themselves?" Graham was relentless.

There wasn't any good answer. "I was angry. Pissed off at the world." At least the words were honest.

"Angry about what?"

"I got outed. My parents found out. They didn't take it well."

"What? That's it?" Graham asked incredulously. "My parents weren’t exactly thrilled when I came out to them, but they got used to it. How does that make you want to become – what did you call yourself once? – a predator?"

"My parents just – they just froze me out," he responded after a moment. "They were important in our town, high profile. They had a status to keep up. Having a gay son definitely did not fit that image. It didn't help that I was outed to them by the country club gossip mill." He took a breath, remembering. "They stopped speaking to me. They left notes. I wasn't allowed to eat with them, unless appearances required it. The day I graduated high school, I was told to leave. I was cut off, and not welcome anymore. My father left me a note saying I was an unfortunate mistake."

"I still don't understand," Graham murmured.

"No. How could you? I felt like I'd been used – the perfect son, the perfect ornament to the perfect petty power couple. And now I was useless to them, they wanted me gone, like last week's trash," he spat.

But he wasn't done. "I worked my ass off the year after I graduated. I was going to show them, dammit. I could do it on my own. I didn’t need their fucking money. I was so angry at everything – why couldn't I have one thing I wanted? And I hated working sixteen and eighteen hour days. I mean, I was exhausted so much of the time, and still mad as hell all the time. When I discovered there were easier ways to make college tuition money, well, I went for it."

"So you financed your college bills by dealing?" Graham asked, confirming.

He was silent for a few moments. "Pretty much." Even now, he hated the truth about what he had done. "Parties meant sales. Better parties meant better sales. People knew to come to me on campus. I was reliable and safe. And the entertainment was always good." It had been his rep, after all.

Graham was silent.

He spoke into the quiet. "I'm sorry for what I did. I can't deny it happened, and I can't defend it. I'd change it now if I could."

"Why? Why would you do it any different?" Graham asked.

He answered immediately. "You. You're the reason. You made me feel it for the first time, like I'm really worth…" He stared at his feet, unable to go on.

"I made you feel worth something?" Graham asked, genuinely perplexed.

Even though Graham might not see it in the darkness, he nodded. "Yeah. You did. Like I could be wanted for something I had to offer…inside. Nobody ever did that for me."

"What do you mean?"

"Even in high school, I didn't have many friends. People hung out with me because our family was a big deal, not because of anything I was or did. I swam, I played tennis, and stuff, but Mom and Dad tried hard to choose my friends for me. After the rumors finished with me, I didn’t have any. After that, I had acquaintances, business contacts…people who wanted things from me…but damn few friends."

Graham considered for a few moments. "I really liked you, Scott. You’re funny, and you listen to me, and crazy courageous…but…I don't know what to say."

He moved so he was kneeling on the bed, their limbs just touching. He could feel the heat from Graham's skin. "Say you'll give me a chance," he said impetuously; he leaned forward. "Please, Graham, just one chance to change. I can change, as long as you’re there. Help me, please. Say you'll give me that chance."

He found himself engulfed in an awkward embrace, Graham's long arms wrapped around him. "Shit, Scott, I really want to…I really do. I just…"

He could barely cope with the burst of elation building in his heart. Maybe, just maybe, it would work out, after all. "Please, Gray. I just…please." He couldn't control his voice.

Suddenly, he felt himself propelled onto his back. Graham had pounced like a cat and quickly straddled him, pinning his hands to the bed over his head with his own larger ones. The bigger man's eyes gleamed faintly in the low light.

"You want that chance, and I want to give it to you, Scott," Graham almost growled, deep in his chest. "But you've got to make a promise, and I'm going to hold you to it."

He nodded, wide eyed, trembling with…fear? Hope? "Whatever you want, Gray. Anything."

"Promise me the dealing and using is over. Done with. Finished. No more dealing, no business contacts, nada. Promise me you're going to make things right with as many of the people you hurt as you can. That you'll at least try, no matter how long it takes. And promise me that you'll love me – and only me, Scott."

He felt joy rushing into his soul. He actually trembled with it. He'd been reprieved. He wanted to dance, to cry, to laugh. "That's three promises." He just couldn't help himself.

"Big deal. Take them or leave them."

"I promise," he replied, a smile breaking out on his face in the dark. "Yes, Graham, I say yes, yes to all three."

His smile was lost as Graham let himself down slowly for a firm, gentle kiss. All conversation stopped. His lips had other urgent matters to attend to.

Later, they lay happily side by side on the narrow bed, speaking softly on the pillow.

"You know, I never got the answer to the question I had the other night," Graham spoke.

"What question was that?"

"What do we do when we get back?"

He breathed out sharply in irritation at having such an unpleasant thought intrude on his happiness. "You're going back to some university – Shit, Gray, I don't even know what school you're at – and I'm going nowhere."

"What do you mean, going nowhere? Where's your apartment?" Graham was making assumptions already.

"I don't have an apartment. As of Friday, I'll be officially homeless, again." He glanced up and detected a startled expression on Graham's face. "Oh, don't worry, I have some friends I can probably crash with until I find something. But I don't have a dorm. As an intern on Feigenbaum, I'm supposed to finish my semester at the Research Center."

"You're going to be at the Research Center?" Graham asked, surprised.

"Yeah, that's what my papers say."

"So we'll see each other every day," Graham smiled his quiet smile.

"Wait, what? We will?"

"Sure, my lab is on the third floor there. We'll even be able to meet in daylight, what do you think of that?"

He reeled, trying to take this in. He'd never asked Graham much about what institution he'd been affiliated with, or his work on shore. They'd talked about his research aboard Feigenbaum, of course, but not much beyond that.

"I'd like that," he responded, kissing the man he loved. The one who would give him a chance.

"And you can move in with me," Graham said a few long moments later, panting a little.

Now it was his turn to be startled. "What did you say?"

"You heard me. You can move into my place. The apartment is big enough." Graham was grinning now.

"I don't have any money to pay my share," he pointed out.

"That wasn't one of the promises, was it?" Graham asked softly, kissing him again.

"No, but…I want to help."

"We'll figure out the money somehow, Scott. But it doesn't have to be tonight, does it?" Graham asked, with another, more insistent kiss.

"No," he agreed, melting again into Graham, "we don't have to figure that out tonight."

Craftingmom deserves my deep thanks for her kind and persistent editing of this and every chapter. Thanks also to tim, Carlos and Spike for their support.

 

Please consider leaving a comment. They help me write better, and are often very encouraging.

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



This conversation is at once a relief to read - a chance for Scott is so welcome - and so realistic - Graham is not running blind into a relationship with Scott but setting conditions, asking questions and a lot of circumstances need explaining - we are faced with our own expectations such as that people have a home to go to, that parents love their children. Three promises - I hope Scott can keep them. He would suffer within himself, too, if he had to break them. But can he really escape his past? In the same environment more or less? You do keep the suspense up for several weeks to come! Thanks for your story again, Parker!

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Yay! Scott and Graham have a future!  ;-)

 

 

But how will Scott make things right with his former victims? What can he possibly do to make up for the hurt and pain he caused? Who would want to hear even an apology from him?

 

I see a very long sequel with Scott visiting someone new every chapter trying to right his wrongs. Predator Prey Pruned*?  ;-)

 

 

*Most of the ‘pr’ words in Dictionary.app are either pre-something or pro-something, none of which are appropriate in this context.

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26 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Yay! Scott and Graham have a future!  ;-)

 

 

But how will Scott make things right with his former victims? What can he possibly do to make up for the hurt and pain he caused? Who would want to hear even an apology from him?

 

I see a very long sequel with Scott visiting someone new every chapter trying to right his wrongs. Predator Prey Pruned*?  ;-)

 

 

*Most of the ‘pr’ words in Dictionary.app are either pre-something or pro-something, none of which are appropriate in this context.

 

You ask questions about restoration and forgiveness that Scott will need time and good counsel to answer. We can hope he will get these. We may not see Predator Prey Prolonged. It is enough for now to see Scott and Graham together again. Thanks for your great comments.

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57 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

Best chapter so far. I'm glad graham and Scott got a chance to talk.

 

Thanks, Wesley. That is very encouraging to hear. 

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1 hour ago, mayday said:

This conversation is at once a relief to read - a chance for Scott is so welcome - and so realistic - Graham is not running blind into a relationship with Scott but setting conditions, asking questions and a lot of circumstances need explaining - we are faced with our own expectations such as that people have a home to go to, that parents love their children. Three promises - I hope Scott can keep them. He would suffer within himself, too, if he had to break them. But can he really escape his past? In the same environment more or less? You do keep the suspense up for several weeks to come! Thanks for your story again, Parker!

 

This chapter was a relief but a bear to write. I am glad you felt it to be realistic. Scott will have a challenge living up to the promises he made, but as he said himself, he feels he can manage them if Graham stands with him. The ever rational Graham wasn't going to go back to Scott without those conditions you mentioned. Thanks so much for your acute reading and attention.

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Another fantastic chapter. It is good to see the boys starting a mature relationship with all the pitfalls of real life ahead as well those of Scott's past. Things are really speeding up for the young couple: they went from I don't even know where you will be next week to living together.

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1 hour ago, Rndmrunner said:

Another fantastic chapter. It is good to see the boys starting a mature relationship with all the pitfalls of real life ahead as well those of Scott's past. Things are really speeding up for the young couple: they went from I don't even know where you will be next week to living together.

 

It is not going to be easy for them, but Scott and Graham can only be together if they are honest themselves. The speed with which this has developed has been both exhilarating and unsettling for each of them. But I doubt they would have it Amy other way. Thanks so much for reading, and for your great comments.

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1 hour ago, Okiegrad said:

Happy happy happy!!!!  Maybe good really CAN triumph over evil!!  Beautiful chapter!

 

Thank you so much! It was painful and beautiful at the same time, and I thank you for staying with the story to this point.

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Awesome! :D . This unfurled beautifully. I know it's not the end of the story, and I'm glad of that, but it could have been... why? Because you left me deliriously happy for our mess of a man. Graham is someone he can go forward with, hand in hand. Thank you, sir... cheers... Gary....

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Well done, Parker, an awesome chapter. I hope Javier comes up in the next chapters, I think he and his family could build sort of a support network for Scott. But I relay in your writing and your ideas, Parker, I'm sure you'll keep me hooked to this story (too).

Thank you

 

JA

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10 hours ago, Headstall said:

Awesome! :D . This unfurled beautifully. I know it's not the end of the story, and I'm glad of that, but it could have been... why? Because you left me deliriously happy for our mess of a man. Graham is someone he can go forward with, hand in hand. Thank you, sir... cheers... Gary....

 

I love the phrase 'mess of a man.' Scott certainly qualifies as one.  And I am glad you feel happy for Scott, and for Graham, too, I hope. Both seem like men looking for a measure of happiness which has eluded them both. Scott is surely a far cry from the predator he once was; and Graham was quick to take advantage of the opening Scott made in his plea for a chance at life. He pounced. Perhaps they can walk forward together once the voyage ends. Many thanks for your kind words and for reading the story to this point. And no, it isn't the end...

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8 hours ago, JACC said:

Well done, Parker, an awesome chapter. I hope Javier comes up in the next chapters, I think he and his family could build sort of a support network for Scott. But I relay in your writing and your ideas, Parker, I'm sure you'll keep me hooked to this story (too).

Thank you

 

JA

 

Thank you so very much for your encouraging note. I really appreciate that you have engaged with the characters. Javier is hard to forget, isn't he? It makes me very happy that you are hooked on the story. Who knew we could change our minds about Scott?

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Lisa

Posted (edited)

I'm so glad Graham decided on giving Scott another chance. It's amazing actually, considering his brother Jeremy could have been one of Scott's victims. I do like the three conditions, though. You can tell Graham thought a lot about this. I would really love to see all of TP's victims' faces if he ever tracks them down to apologize.

 

And TP would have NEVER BEGGED a guy to give him another shot! This is another example of how much Scott has grown over the course of the story. He also admitted to Graham that Graham was the one who changed him. He would have never admitted that to anyone before.

 

This was the perfect chapter, Parker! Especially since now we know Scott won't be homeless anymore. :)

Edited by Lisa
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Fantastic Parker.. Both guys are being upfront with each other especially Graham. Scott knows exactly what is on the line for this to work and I hope he finds a way to keep all three promises. I have a feeling he might die trying rather than disappoint Graham. I love that he was able to admit that Graham made him a better person and made him feel worthy. That's raw honesty and not everyone could do that.. 

Im liking where this is headed.. 

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On 4/1/2017 at 8:08 PM, Lisa said:

I'm so glad Graham decided on giving Scott another chance. It's amazing actually, considering his brother Jeremy could have been one of Scott's victims. I do like the three conditions, though. You can tell Graham thought a lot about this. I would really love to see all of TP's victims' faces if he ever tracks them down to apologize.

 

And TP would have NEVER BEGGED a guy to give him another shot! This is another example of how much Scott has grown over the course of the story. He also admitted to Graham that Graham was the one who changed him. He would have never admitted that to anyone before.

 

This was the perfect chapter, Parker! Especially since now we know Scott won't be homeless anymore. :)

 

Your comment shows that not only has Graham gotten under Scott's skin, but that Scott has gotten to Graham, too. Otherwise, given his brother's experience, Graham wouldn't have given Scott the time of day. And I'm sure you're right about Scott as a predator: he threw people away, and found more prey. Thanks so much for your thoughts and remarks.

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On 4/1/2017 at 11:45 PM, Defiance19 said:

Fantastic Parker.. Both guys are being upfront with each other especially Graham. Scott knows exactly what is on the line for this to work and I hope he finds a way to keep all three promises. I have a feeling he might die trying rather than disappoint Graham. I love that he was able to admit that Graham made him a better person and made him feel worthy. That's raw honesty and not everyone could do that.. 

Im liking where this is headed.. 

 

Scott wants so much to be with Graham that he will do anything - including the raw honesty you speak of - to hang onto that. And he knows that it's not only Graham who changed his life, I think. But then, Marc and Javier aren't in the stateroom with our boys, are they?  Thanks so much for your comments!

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Reprieve? For real?

 

I like where this seems to be going - but I haven't forgotten Scott running into his old drug connection in the restaurant/bar some chapters back. Scott is not totally off the hook with his supplier, and that guy will be looking for him. This isn't over yet.

 

So - for now - bravo. Gray has proved to be worth waiting for, and worth changing for. Scott seems ready to get back to life.

 

But can he do it? That's the question.

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On 4/28/2017 at 11:26 PM, Geron Kees said:

Reprieve? For real?

 

I like where this seems to be going - but I haven't forgotten Scott running into his old drug connection in the restaurant/bar some chapters back. Scott is not totally off the hook with his supplier, and that guy will be looking for him. This isn't over yet.

 

So - for now - bravo. Gray has proved to be worth waiting for, and worth changing for. Scott seems ready to get back to life.

 

But can he do it? That's the question.

Somehow I missed this. I do apologize. Thank you for the 'bravo.' I hope that in hindsight, you think it was merited. Scott may be the man we wanted to root for after all. 

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