Building Things

Chapter 12

They all sat around the table on the deck on the deck. Phoebe had come back with more tea and had served them. She was shaking the entire time she poured. Derrick and Ty kept staring at her, and then giving each other side glances. It was obvious, there was something else going on here. Phoebe had finished cleaning up the mess on the floor and disappeared, while mother and son continued their conversation. Derrick and Ty were silent, just listening. Conner was explaining to her, exactly what he had explained the night before to them.

It was some time, when they heard heavy footsteps coming. Derrick knew that the main event was about to start. He braced himself, as he watched Van Owen walk through the door, and stopped on the deck. There was no surprised look, no smile, no warmth in his eyes, only cool, calculating, thought processes going on.

"Conner, I see that you have finally come to your senses and come back." Van Owen looked toward Derrick and Ty. "Do I have you to thank for this?"

Derrick went to reply, but was interrupted, as Conner rose to his feet.

"Hello, father." Conner said, flatly. Van Owen shifted his eyes only back toward Conner.

"Well?" Van Owen said, in his loud tone, almost growling. "What are you doing here?"

"I came here to put an end to this." Conner said, coming around the table toward his father. He stopped just short of him.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean. I never asked for this. I wasn't even consulted in this 'plan' of yours. I only heard about it from emails that mother sent me." Conner said, sounding a little angry, but controlled. "I'm sure that when it was done, that I would have received a formal invitation or a command to come here. So, I thought I would spare you the agony and the expense and stop it, before it got going."

"Be careful, boy." Van Owen boomed.

"Oh, believe me, father, I am being careful. I know all too well, that I need to be careful. If there's anything that I've learned from you, it's that." Conner drew in a small breath, glaring into his fathers eyes. "Bottom line is, father, I have my own life to live. It's not what's in your 'plan'. I won't accept living the way you want me to, where you want me to." Conner chuckled. "It's apparent that I'm not good enough to live in the house with you, that you have to build a separate house? Why? Because of my life style? Because of my choice?" Conner flashed an angry look and leaned in going face to face with his father. "Are you that ashamed of me that you have to put me out back?"

"Conner." Mrs. Van Owen said, standing up. "That's enough."

Conner never moved his eyes, he didn't blink. "I don't think so, mother. It's true, isn't it, 'dad'?" Conner backed up and turned, looking at her. "And, you're no better, mother. You condone his decision. You're going along with all of this."

A powerful hand took Conner by the shoulder, turning him back around. "That will be enough out of you." Van Owen growled.

"Or what?" Conner snarled. "You'll hit me? Disown me?" Conner leaned in again, going face to face. "Good." Conner hissed out.

Ty saw the other hand start to move. He jumped up from the table and wedged himself between the two men, pushing Conner back a little, before Van Owen could raise that hand. Derrick got up as well and got behind Conner, holding him by the shoulders, pulling him back.

"Let's calm down a little." Derrick said in an even voice.

"Look, he can't even say it." Conner said over Ty's shoulder. "He's thinking it, but he can't say it." Conner waited a moment for a reaction. "I disgust you, don't I? It's not just shame, it's disgust, isn't it?"

Derrick was doing his best to try and hold Conner back, Ty was doing his best not to touch Van Owen, but he was being leaned on. Ty could feel Van Owens chest heaving with heavy breathing.

"Mr. Van Owen," Derrick began in a calm voice. "Under the circumstances, speaking on the behalf of my firm, I will be stopping the process of the prints. Our business here is concluded."

Van Owen stepped back one step from Ty. "It is not." He said flatly. "I'll tell you when it's concluded. You are to continue the process that we have discussed, and will get it done!"

"I will not be ordered, sir." Derrick said. "I am telling you that we are done."

"Be very careful. There will be consequences if it is not completed."

Derrick stepped around Conner, now angry, he glared at Van Owen. "Are you threatening me, sir?"

"It's no threat, it's a guarantee." Van Owen smoothed himself a little. His eyes shifted between the three in front of him. "I agree." He said, in an even tone. "We are done here. Now, leave my house." He slowly turned and went to walk away back into the house.

"We're not finished, father." Conner said, getting around Derrick and Ty. "You're not walking away from this." Van Owen stopped, but he didn't turn. "That's right, just like everything else with you in my life, you turn your back on me, unless it suits your purpose. You're a coward."

Van Owen spun and backhanded Conner. The impact was loud. Conner's head snapped to one side. He slowly recovered, moving it back to look at his father. Anger flashed in Van Owens eyes. Ty went to move again, but Conner put out his arm to block him.

"No. You're more than that, aren't you? You don't even have the decency to tell me what you think of me." Conner chuckled. "I pity you." Conner said softly, looking at his father in the eye. "I'm leaving. You'll never have to look at me again, as long as you live." Conner waited a moment to let his words sink in, he turned and walked around the table, he put his hands on his mothers shoulders, bending down he kissed her on the forehead, then reached up with a finger and wiped away a tear from her eye. "Goodbye, mother." He turned and walked off the deck, out onto the lawn. Derrick and Ty turned and walked to follow him, each giving her a sad look.

Van Owen walked to edge of the deck and stopped. "You're right." He said loudly, making Conner stop. "It does disgust me." Derrick and Ty stopped near Conner, they turned and looked back up at Van Owen.

"Let me give you something else to disgust you, then." Derrick said coolly. He took Ty by the hand, turning him, he leaned in and kissed Ty passionately. Ty slid an arm around Derrick's waist, pulling him in. They pulled back from each other, looking back at Van Owen. "As I said, we have concluded our business together. I'll have my office send you a bill." Derrick and Ty walked behind Conner, holding hands, going around the house and out of sight.

They climbed into the truck, Ty started it, and pulled out of the driveway. They drove out of the country club, none of them spoke until they got closer into town. Derrick turned in his seat, and looked back at Conner.

"How's the cheek?" Derrick asked.

"It's alright, I guess."

"Looks a little swollen." Ty said, as he had been looking at Conner in the rearview mirror.

"It'll be alright." Conner fell silent for a moment, then lifted his head. "I want to say thank you, for you guys being there."

"I thought you were incredible." Derrick said. "I was shaking so bad watching you take on your father that way. You're a brave man, Conner."

"Not as brave as either of you." Conner said, leaning toward the front seat. "Ty, I have never seen anyone move as fast as you did. And Derrick, at the end, kissing Ty like that. That was the best. It left that son of a bitch speechless." Conner sat back in the seat.

Ty looked over at Derrick. "Did it go like you wanted?"

"And more." Derrick answered.

"Really?"

"Yes." Derrick sighed. "I'll be able to sleep tonight without all of this on my mind. Conner, have you ever talked to him like that before?"

"No. Never got the chance."

"Didn't think so." Derrick reached over and patted Ty on the thigh. "See, better than I had planned. Conner got the chance to get this off his chest. We need to stop at the grocery store. Would you mind?"

"No, not at all. Which one?"

"The one over on Broadway. You know which one?"

"Yeah, I know it." Ty said, and drove on.

Once there, they got out of the truck. Conner looked at his face in the side view mirror on the door of the truck, inspecting his cheek. He compressed his lips, then pursed them, then let out a sigh. Derrick and Ty look at it closely.

"Guess I could say it was from a bar fight, huh?" Conner joked.

"A gay bar?" Ty asked, turning to walk away.

"Oh, you're funny." Conner said, as he followed them toward the store.

Inside the store, Derrick grabbed a basket and started walking up and down the aisles, Ty walking next to him, Conner following. The two were picking out various things, putting them in, finding out more and more of what each likes. Conner saw a couple of things, and grabbed them, putting them in as well.

They rounded the corner, and Derrick saw the young man that helped him out the other day. He, too, saw Derrick and smiled. Derrick returned the smile, talking to Ty. The youth stopped when Conner came into view. Conner smiled at him, when their eyes met.

"Hi." The young man said.

"Hi." Replied Conner.

"Can I help you find something?"

"Oh, I'm just here with my friends. They're actually doing the shopping."

"Alec." He said, holding out his hand.

"Conner." Taking it, giving him a firm shake.

"Well, let me know if I can help you."

"I'll be sure to do that. Thanks." Conner watched him walk away.

"I see why Derrick shops here." Ty said at Conner's shoulder. "I guess I'll have to come with him every time, just to keep an eye on him."

"What?" Conner asked, looking back at Ty.

"Nothing, killer. Come on." Ty said. "Hey, you've got something on your chin."

Conner put his hand up. "Funny." Realizing that he'd been had. Conner followed Ty as they went to catch up to Derrick.

Ty slid up next to Derrick. "I think your boy is in lust."

Derrick leaned back, looking toward Conner. "Oh? With who?"

"That young piece that just walked by. The one that smiled at you?"

"Oh, him." Derrick leaned close to Ty. "He's really cute, don't you think?"

"Yeah, he is. Maybe we should do something about it? To, you know, kind of take his mind off of today?"

"Hmmm." Derrick said. "What do you have in mind?"

"I don't know, but whatever we think of, we should probably think of it pretty quick."

Conner walked up to them. "What are you guys talking about?"

"Oh, nothing." Derrick said, casually. "I was wondering, Conner would do something for me?"

"Sure."

"Would you go pick out a good wine to go with fish for dinner?"

"I can do that." Conner said, cheerfully.

"Don't worry about price. And if you find a good one, get a couple of bottles."

They watched Conner walk back away. Derrick smiled at Ty. Ty only shook his head.

"What?" Derrick asked. "Can't really have him carry out our groceries, not with three guys."

"You're right. Think he knows anything about wine?"

"I know Conner does. Let's see if the other one does." Derrick whispered.

"Oh, I guess you'll have to teach me."

"I will. Believe me, I will." Derrick whispered again. "When we get back to the house, after we get Conner settled in, you want to go somewhere else with me? So, we can talk?"

"Sure. Where?"

"I'll leave that up to you."

Conner saw Alec at the end of the back aisle, he was stocking a shelf from a box. Conner smiled, watching him bend over and over. Conner walked up next to him.

"Hey, I hate to bother you, if you're busy."

Alec brightened, as he stood up. "Not at all. What can I do for you?"

"My friend sent me on a mission. I thought maybe you could help. He asked me to pick out a really good wine to go with fish for dinner tonight."

"Sure." Alec said, looking Conner up and down again. "I'd be happy to help. Let's go over to the wines. It's down here." Alec led the way, Conner following him. They walked up to an area where there were whites. "Foreign or domestic." Alec said, staring at the bottles.

"I would say, domestic."

"Good choice. I prefer domestics myself." Alec turned and looked at Conner. "What kind of fish?"

"You know, I'm not sure."

"Well, I would say probably a Riesling, then. A Chardonnay can sometimes be a little bitter with some fish. Riesling is more fruity and aromatic."

Conner's eyes widened. "Wow, you know a lot about wines."

"Not really. I pay attention to what people say."

"Oh. I guess that's one of the best ways to learn." Conner smiled.

"That, and hands on. I'm really more of a hands on kind."

"I bet you are." Conner smiled, again. "I'll tell you what. Why don't we grab a couple of these Rieslings here," Conner pulled two bottles off the shelf. "and then why don't you grab a couple of bottles of Chardonnay, just to be safe."

"Sure." Alec said. He turned and scanned the bottles. "So, do you live with them?"

"No. Actually, I'm just here for a visit."

Alec stood up, with almost disappointed eyes. "Really. Where are you from?"

"I'm from here, but I live in New York."

To Conner, it looked like he just kicked this guy down the aisle. He felt bad, it was like everything he was saying was wrong. Alec turned back and grabbed a couple of bottles. He turned back to Conner and smiled.

"Where's your basket?" Alec asked.

"Uh, I'm not sure. I left them over on the other side of the store."

"Well, we can go find them, or I can get a carry bag for you."

"I don't want to hold you up. I know you're busy."

"Never too busy." Alec said with a smile.

"Well, let's go find them." Conner returned the smile and walked with Alec down the aisle. They walked to the back of the store, down the main back aisle, until Conner saw them. "There they are." He said. Conner and Alec walked up. Ty smiled at the both of them, poking Derrick with an elbow to make him turn around. "Hey, guys. Found you. Ty, Derrick, this is Alec. Alec, these are my friends, Ty and Derrick." They all shook hands after Alec tucked a bottle in the basket.

"Pleased to finally meet you." Alec said toward Derrick. Derrick smiled back.

"So, what did you get?" Derrick asked.

"We picked out a Riesling and a Chardonnay, not knowing what kind of fish." Conner said. "Alec was very helpful, and very knowledgeable."

"I'm impressed." Derrick said, looking at the labels. He looked over at Ty. "See, this is why I shop here. Good selection of wines, helpful people." Derrick looked up from the label. "Thank you, Alec."

Ty kept rolling his head looking at Conner, toward Alec. Conner finally got it. He turned and cleared his throat a little, making Alec look at him.

"Say, Alec. I,... we,... uh,... were wondering...well, uh...are you doing anything tonight?"

"No, not really."

"Would you care to join us tonight for dinner, maybe?"

"I get off at four. Is it in New York?" Alec asked, with a twinkle in his eye.

Conner chuckled and then blushed. He looked at Derrick and Ty, then back to Alec. "Uh, no. It's here in town, actually."

"Fish, and Riesling?" Alec asked. "No, New York?"

"Maybe New York another time."

"Sure."

Conner pulled out his cell from his back pocket, he asked for Alec's number. Conner texted the address to him. Alec said his phone was in his locker in the back, but he would answer the text when he got off work. Conner smiled, and thanked him. Alec turned and went back to where he was stocking, they all watched him walk away. They finished their grocery shopping and went to the checkout. Everything was totaled and bagged. They pushed the cart out to the truck, loaded everything in the bed and drove to the house. They were all quiet during the drive.

Once the truck was unloaded, they set about emptying the bags, putting everything away. Derrick kept watching Conner, as he moved about the kitchen, he kept giving side glances toward Ty, who was also watching Conner.

"I just want to say again, thank you guys, for everything that you've done." Conner finally said, standing in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Derrick turned and looked at him. "Don't mention it." Derrick walked around Conner, seeing Ty, giving him a wink. "So, this...Alec, is it?"

"Uh-huh?"

"He's kind of cute." Derrick said flatly.

"I think he's gorgeous." Ty said. "Did you see the swing in his butt when he walks? Whew."

"Okay, okay." Conner chuckled. "He's really cute. But, it's hard to know what's going on with that apron of his."

"You know, I think I'll complain to the owner of the store about that." Derrick said. Ty laughed.

"Yeah, I think they should have like a bikini day, or g-string day. Maybe you should suggest that, Derrick." Ty said.

"You guys are relentless." Conner said, going around the counter, sitting down.

"So, listen, bud." Derrick said, leaning on the counter across from Conner. "Ty and I are going to go out for a little while. We shouldn't be gone to long. Make yourself at home, do whatever. And then when we get back, we'll get dinner going."

"Sounds fine. Maybe I'll get lucky tonight." Conner said wiggling his eyebrows.

"I don't doubt it." Ty said. "He practically wanted to tear your clothes off in the aisle, and don't tell me you didn't notice."

"I did. But, when I told him I lived in New York, it crushed him."

"Details, details. We'll work them out later." Derrick said. "We'll be back in a while."

Conner watched them walk out the back door. Ty started the truck and backed out of the driveway. They pulled out onto the road and headed for town. Derrick sat quietly for a few minutes, looking out the window, and then over at Ty.

"So, where are you taking me?" Derrick asked.

"Got to stop by my place and grab a few things, then maybe we could go over to one of the parks I know. There's a nice little pond and a wonderful place to sit and just talk."

"Hmmm, that sounds nice."

A few minutes later, they were on the seedier side of town. It was mostly older rundown neighborhoods. Derrick looked more out of the window than over at Ty. They turned up and down several streets, until Ty pulled into a driveway. He pulled all the way into the back next to the garage.

"You live here?"

"Home, sweet home. I'll be back in a minute." Ty said, getting out of the truck. Derrick watched him go up the outside stairs to a door above the garage. Ty unlocked the door and went inside. Derrick got out and walked around the truck, going to the base of the stairs. Derrick looked around, seeing the house that was toward the street, there was an older, heavy set woman looking at him out the back screen door. Derrick noticed that there was a cigarette hanging from her lip, the smoke from it going around her wild looking hair. Derrick smiled at her, but received only a stare back from her.

A couple of minutes later, Ty reemerged from the doorway at the top. He walked down the stairs, seeing Derrick there, he looked toward the house and saw her. Ty walked around Derrick at the bottom of the stairs. Ty opened the back drivers door, setting his things on the back seat.

"I thought I told you, no visitors." She called out in a surprisingly masculine voice. Ty turned and walked toward the back of the house.

"He's not visiting, Martha. I'm picking up a few things. We're getting ready to leave." Ty said toward the large woman.

"Don't forget, you have to fix that window on the other side of the house."

"I didn't forget. I'll see you in couple of days." Ty turned back, signaling to Derrick to get in the truck. Derrick didn't move. Ty walked over toward him. "Come on, let's go." Ty said through gritted teeth.

"Really? Is this what you're living in?" Derrick asked quietly. Ty nodded. "Would it hurt to have me take a look?"

"Uhh, she really doesn't..."

"Who is she, anyway?" Derrick asked in a soft voice.

"She's the landlady."

"She's not some relative or something?"

"Her? God no." Ty replied with wide eyes.

"I'm pleased to hear that. So, you want to show me? We won't be here long, I promise."

Ty was reluctant, but gave in. He sighed, heavily. "It's not much to look at." Ty said, and seeing the look on Derrick's face, he sighed again. "Alright, it's a dump. But, don't be judgmental."

"I'm not going to judge you, sweetie. Let's just say, I'm curious." Derrick followed him up the stairs. Ty unlocked the door again, and then swung it open. Derrick stepped in. He took a deep breath, almost a gasp. He looked around without moving, as Ty waited outside on the landing. Derrick turned around and looked back at Ty, then looked back into the room. "You're paying for this?" Derrick asked softly.

"I told you not to judge." Ty said. Derrick turned back, looking at him.

"I'm not." Derrick said, realizing he needed to careful of what he said next. "Do you like it here?"

"Well..."

Derrick walked out, stepping past Ty, going down the stairs. Ty shut and locked the door. He went down the stairs behind Derrick, who had reached the truck door. He got in and sat down. Ty got in and closed the door. They both just stared ahead.

"Drive." Derrick said, softly. "You were going to take me to a park, or something?" Ty started the truck.

   ********************************************************

Conner was sitting on the couch, when he heard a car pull in. He put down the magazine he was reading, and tried to see who it was through the window, but couldn't. He waited a minute, then heard the back door open and then close. He got up from the couch and walked through the dining room, into the kitchen. Conner didn't see anyone. He stopped and listened for any sound, and then he heard it. It sounded like heavy breathing. He walked across the kitchen and went toward Paul's room. Once in the doorway, he found Paul doing the funniest thing. Conner almost burst out laughing. Derrick had been right, Paul was sniffing the sheets. Conner chuckled, making Paul turn and look in his direction.

"Mmm, mmm, mmm." Paul said, wiggling his eyebrows. "Young body smell in my bed." Paul looked down at the mattress. "Lucky you." He stood, and looked at Conner. "And look at you, swimmer stud, looking all hot in your skin tight clothes. Anyone else here?"

"No." Conner said, leaning against the doorjamb. "Why?"

Paul moved closer toward Conner, looking him up and down, like he was licking his lips without actually doing it.

"That's good. So, how about we get to know one another a little more?" Paul asked, running a finger down Conner's chest.

"I'm sorry, but I'm just all worn out from this morning." Conner said with a straight face. "Derrick and Ty should be back in a little while."

"Whoa," Paul asked with wide eyes. "what happened this morning?"

"You'll have to ask Derrick and Ty. I don't kiss and tell."

"That son of a bitch." Paul said, looking Conner up and down again. "They probably fucked your brains out, didn't they? I know I would." Paul changed his voice to a little softer tone. "Conner, you can tell me. Derrick tells me everything."

"If Derrick tells you everything, I want to hear him tell you." Conner said, turning and walking back into the kitchen. Paul followed him.

"Hmmm,...smart boy. Didn't count on that." Paul smiled. "So, how did the meeting go with your parents?"

"Not well." Conner rolled his eyes as he said it. "Derrick thought it went well, though."

"Oh? How so?" Paul said, taking a stool at the counter.

"There was a shouting match between my father and myself, I got backhanded, Derrick and Ty outed themselves with a hot kiss...I think that about covers it." Conner thought a moment. "Yeah, that's about it." Conner said, watching Paul, who's mouth was wide open in shock.

"Shit, I miss everything!"

"Did you have a good night?" Conner asked, sitting on a stool at the counter with Paul.

"It was alright, I guess. It's comfort sex."

"Comfort sex?" Conner asked, confused.

Paul chuckled. "That's what I call it. We've been doing it for so long, we just do it, just to do it. It's...comfortable."

"Got it." Conner said, nodding his understanding. Conner leaned, reaching into his back pocket. He pulled out his phone, and looked at it. The text was from Alec. He said he was on the way. Conner got up off of the stool, staring at the phone.

"Something wrong?" Paul asked. Conner looked up, a look of panic on his face.

"Uh...I'm going to go and get my things together out of your room, really quick."

"Conner, what is it?" Paul asked, stopping Conner who looked back.

"Someone's coming. I've got to get ready."

"Who's coming?" Paul asked as he followed Conner. "You're parents?"

Conner was stuffing his clothes into his bag. "No, someone else."

"Who?"

"Someone I met today. Derrick invited him for dinner."

"Jesus, I did miss a lot, didn't I?" Paul grabbed Conner's wrists, stopping him. "Alright, tiger. Let's calm down. Here's what we're going to do..."

Ty pulled up to the curb and parked. They got out of the truck and started walking across the grass. They could hear the ducks quaking in the distance, and the trumpet of a swan now and then. They walked under low hanging willow branches, following the sound of water, getting closer and closer. They walked over a grassy knoll and there before them was the pond. Not a soul around, just ducks, a few geese, and a couple of swans. Ty walked away from Derrick and sat down on the grass near the waters edge. He wrapped his arms around his drawn up knees. Derrick came and sat down next to him, smiling at what he saw. The fowl, swimming around, the fountain, churning up the water, the greenery, it was beautiful to Derrick.

"Do you come here often?" Derrick asked softly.

"Not as much as I want." Ty said.

"It's beautiful here."

"Yes, it is." Ty said softly. "If you sit still long enough, the ducks and geese will come up and sit next to you."

"Really?"

"Yeah. So, what did you want to talk about?"

"Us." Derrick, still looking out across the water. "You know how I feel about you, don't you?"

"Yes. And you know how I feel. So...?"

"So..." Derrick slowly turned his head, looking at Ty, "would you move in with me?"

"Are you asking me because of what you saw? Or are you asking me because..." Ty asked, now looking at Derrick.

"I'm asking you because I love you, not because of what I saw." Derrick spun around, getting to his knees, taking Ty's hand in his. "Ty, I want you with me every waking moment, every sleeping moment, of every day for the rest of my life. You complete me, you make me whole. Without you, I'm lost...", Derrick looked down at the grass and then back up into those beautiful hazel eyes, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Ty, will you have me?"

"Derrick..."

   *********************************************************

"Okay, tiger." Paul said hanging onto Conner's forearms, "you've got the plan, right?"

Conner nodded. "You okay?" Paul asked. Conner nodded again. "Alright. Let's get busy in the kitchen. I've watched Derrick do this a thousand times. It'll be fine." They walked around the counter, opening cabinets, pulling out glasses, a pitcher. Conner opened the fridge and pulled out a few items, and quickly put together a little serving tray with some cut up vegetables, some cheese, and then a few crackers. Paul was mixing a little this and that in the pitcher and then filled it with ice. He stirred it around. Paul was done and then went back into his room. He came out a couple of minutes later, carrying his bag and set it down on the floor.

"Are you leaving?" Conner asked, setting the tray up on the counter.

Paul came around the counter and walked right up to Conner. He put his hands on Conner's shoulders, and smiled.

"Look kid, I'm going to do something for you, something I wouldn't do for anyone else. Yes, I'm leaving, again, but only after I get a look at what is making you so nervous. This guy had better be some kind of a god or something."

"Well, he's..."

"He must be something to get you all worked up like this." Paul looked down at Conner's hands, they were shaking a little. "Conner, you're way too nervous, man. He must be special."

"I just haven't really ever done anything like this before." Conner took a deep breath, then let it out. "You know, pick someone up in a grocery store. I mean there really hasn't been anyone but James."

"James is done, kid. Get over it. There's a whole big world out there with really hot guys that would die to get with you. I hope this one's one of those." Paul said, with a wink. "And if one thing leads to another, well, you have a bed to use."

Conner reached out and grabbed Paul, pulling him into a tight hug. "Thank you, Paul."

"Conner...air..." Paul exhaled. Conner let him go. Paul took a deep breath. "You're welcome. But, don't tell Derrick." Paul said, holding up a finger. "Make up some stupid bullshit thing or something. Okay?" Conner nodded.

Their attention was turned, hearing a car pull into the driveway. Paul hurried around the counter, and went to the living room windows, staying back from them so he wouldn't be seen. He watched as the driver got out, looking around, then closed the car door and walked toward the front steps.

Paul looked over his shoulder, at Conner, who had slid up behind him, watching the same view. "Well, I can't tell much from here, but I guess I've got to start grocery shopping, if they look like that."

"See what I mean?" Conner asked.

"Well, hang on there, tiger. Let's get him inside first." Paul said, as the doorbell rang. Paul looked back up at Conner. "Are you going to get it? Or should we just let him stand out there?" Paul asked, and then grinned as Conner leaped for the door. He opened it.

"Hey, you made it." Conner said in a calm voice. "Howya doin?"

"Fine." Alec said, looking Conner up and down, waiting for a long moment. "Is it alright if I come in?"

"Uh, yeah,...yeah." Conner said, stepping out of the way. "I'm sorry, I'm a little dopey today. Come in, come in." Alec walked by Conner. Conner took a deep breath as he went by, and then closed the door. Alec saw Paul standing there, and was a little apprehensive. Conner came up next to Alec.

"Alec, this is Paul. Paul, this is Alec." Conner said, as the two shook hands. "Paul is Derrick's roommate."

"Ohhh." Alec said, softly, nodding his understanding. "Where is Derrick and...Ty, is it?"

"Uh, they're out for a little while. They said they'd be back in a bit." Conner answered, being flustered, not knowing what to do next.

"Well, I've got to get going." Paul said. He reached out his hand again to Alec. "It was nice to meet you. Hope to see you again." Paul pulled back his hand after Alec shook it.

"Nice to meet you, too." Alec smiled.

Conner turned and looked at Alec. "Why don't you have a seat on the couch, Alec. I've got some stuff in the kitchen. I'll be back in a minute. We can just hang out."

"Sure." Alec said with another smile. He turned and sat on the couch, as Conner followed Paul into the kitchen.

Paul stopped in the middle of the kitchen and turned around, looking at Conner. Conner looked like he was waiting for some kind of a response. Paul mouthed 'Oh My God' to Conner. Conner's eyes went wide and nodded his head rapidly.

Paul leaned in and whispered. "If you don't want him, I do. Damn, kid." Paul shook his head. "He's fucking gorgeous."

"I know, right?" Conner said with a flash in his eyes.

"If you don't get laid tonight...well, then there's something wrong with you." Paul stood up on his tiptoes and kissed Conner on the cheek. "Now, get in there." Paul whispered. Paul turned, picked up his bag and walked out the back door. Conner took a deep breath and picked up the tray and went back toward the living room.

The tray was placed on the coffee table before Alec, who smiled up at Conner. Conner returned the smile, and then held up one finger, then turned and went back to the kitchen. He poured from the pitcher and then turned and walked back toward the living room. He entered and set the glasses on the table.

"This is nice." Alec said, looking at the tray, and then at Conner. "You cook too?"

Conner sat next to Alec on the couch, and smiled. "No, not really. This was easy. I really only know how to warm things up." Alec smirked at what Conner said. "Do you cook?"

"Yes, I do." Alec said, taking a pull from the glass. He looked at it, and then at Conner. "What is this?" Alec asked softly.

"Oh...is it bad?" Conner sat forward a little more, looking even more nervous.

"No, it's just strong, that's all."

"Paul made it." Conner confessed. "I'm not even sure what it is, really."

Alec smiled. "You should try it." He paused a moment, as Conner picked up the glass. "It'll make you relax, that's for sure." Alec watched Conner sipped it, make a face and then set the glass down.

"Holy..." Conner said. "Wow, that'll knock you under the table."

"Yeah, it will." Alec said, pushing the glass away. "I want to keep a clear head tonight."

    ******************************************************

"Derrick..." Ty paused for a moment and then, looking into Derrick's beautiful eyes, "I wasn't expecting...well...that almost sounded like a marriage proposal."

Derrick hung his head, then looked back up. "It did, didn't it?" Derrick shook his head. "I didn't mean for it to come out like that. I got carried away, sorry. I do want to move in with me, though."

Ty cocked his head to one side and smiled out of the corner of his mouth. "Are you trying to get out of paying me? I mean, if that's what this is all about..."

"Shut up." Derrick said, leaning in and kissing Ty very deeply and passionately. They wrapped arms around each other, and Derrick pushed Ty back into the grass. Ty took a deep breath in from his nose, letting Derrick take him.

They pulled back from each other, slowly. Looking into each others eyes, Ty smiled. "I guess, if you're going to twist my arm, I'll have to move in with you."

"Only because you want to, right?" Derrick asked.

"Only because you make good coffee, and know how to wake me up in the morning." Ty smirked.

"Bitch." Derrick whispered, kissing Ty again softly.

"That's Mr. Bitch to you, mister." Ty smirked again. "And, you're still paying me, as well as fucking me." Ty winked.

"Whatever you want." Derrick smiled. "You're the boss."

 

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