Building Things Chapter 34

Conner drove into the circular cobblestone driveway of the large house, parking the car. He got out and walked quickly up to the front door. He started to reach for the bell when the door opened. Conner looked and there stood Phoebe.

"Conner." She said softly.

"Hi, Phoebe." Conner said, giving her soft eyes, but trying to stay mad at the same time. "Where's my father?" Conner almost growled.

"They are in the dining room." She said, putting her hands together. Her eyes scanned him up and down. She had never seen him dressed like he was in his tight skinny jeans and tight nylon tee. The color that he wore accented his eyes and skin. She was almost speechless. He stepped around her into the house. "Wait." She said softly, reaching for him, touching his arm. He stopped and looked at her, then down at her hand on him.

"Wait for what? An invitation? To be announced?" Conner asked, looking at her soft eyes. "I don't think so. I know the way."

"You can't see them like this."

"Like what?"

"You're angry...about something. I can tell."

"You're right. I am angry." Conner gave her a half faked smile. "Better to see him like this."

"He's not well." Phoebe said softly.

"I don't care if he's dying." Conner sneered at her. "Might be best."

"You don't mean that."

"Don't I?" Conner turned and walked toward the dining room. He came in, seeing the long table. His father sat at the end, his mother was next to his right. He looked up and saw Conner standing there, a smirk went across the man's face. Conner wanted to wipe it off him.

"What do you want?" Van Owen's voice boomed at the end of the table. Evelyn looked up, her eyes softened seeing Conner standing there. Conner walked to the end of the table, nearest him, resting his hands on the table.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Conner said loudly.

"Having dinner." Van Owen said, looking down at his plate in front of him, then back at Conner.

"Besides the obvious, Father." Conner snarled.

"Won't you join us?" Evelyn asked, starting to get up. Conner put up his hand to stop her.

"No, thank you, Mother. I have other plans."

Van Owen sat back in his chair, looking at Conner. "So, I see that you're back from New York. Are you staying this time?"

"Does it matter?"

"Possibly." Van Owen said, picking up his napkin, wiping his lips. "Sit down."

"Son? Please?" Conner asked for him, in a snide tone. "I won't be long. I came here to tell you that I want..."

"Yes, yes." Van Owen said, "I know why you're here." His voice was almost a rumble. He looked at Conner. "I said, sit down." Van Owen paused. "We'll discuss it, like civilized human beings." Van Owen waited. Conner was slow and hesitant. "Go ahead, sit down. Phoebe?!" Van Owen looked toward the doorway, seeing her. "Get our guest something to drink. What would you like?"

"Nothing, thank you." Conner snarled over his shoulder, knowing Phoebe was behind him.

"Come now." Van Owen boomed, "This is business. You have to have something to drink to talk business."

"What makes you think I'm here to discuss business?"

"What else would bring you here?" Van Owen boomed from the other end of the table.

"Alright." Conner said. "White wine, please." He said over his shoulder to Phoebe.

"Still haven't learned how to drink yet." Van Owen said, pushing his plate away from him. "Is that what they drink where you're staying?"

"Doesn't matter where I'm staying, I came here to tell you..."

"You're right." Van Owen boomed again, then folded his hands, resting his elbows on the table. "I'll be honest with you, Conner. We know where you're staying and what you're doing. I can't say that we like it." Van Owen paused for a moment, as Phoebe set a glass in front of Conner, with the white wine in it. "You're here to tell me that you want me to stop with my dealings with Jacobson's firm. Well, I won't. Not until I have what I want from him."

"And what is that? What has he done to you? Why are you so relentless?"

"I have an opportunity for a business transaction. I mean to see it through. I need an architect, and his firm is the best. It's a simple business transaction, that's all."

"Do you have any idea what this is doing to him?" Conner asked, loudly. "His business partner was killed, he is under tremendous pressure right now."

"Yes, too bad about that. We heard." Van Owen said, looking at Conner. "He was one of the neighbors out here."

"I didn't know that."

"I'm sure that there's a lot of things that you don't know." Van Owen said, staring at Conner. "For one, I'm not dealing with Jacobson over this project, I'm dealing with his other partner. Secondly, we have a binding contract and it cannot be dissolved until completed. Third, that's where you come in."

"Me?" Conner asked loudly. "What about me?"

"I know you know what my holdings are, for the most part." Van Owen said, lowering his arms to the table. Phoebe was collecting plates from them at that end, clearing the table. "What you don't know is, the corporation, our corporation has recently purchased the largest real estate agency in the state, located here in the city."

Conner's cogs in his mind were turning, and turning fast. He knew his father and how he always had ulterior motives in anything that he did. It made him untrustworthy in Conner's opinion, but had made his father successful, very successful.

"I'll ask again. What does this have to do with me?"

"You passed the real estate licensing board test two years ago."

"You know I did."

"We want you to oversee the real estate division of the corporation." Van Owen sat back in his chair.

"You want me to do what?" Conner asked. "You're saying you want me to work for you?"

"No. I want,...we want you to oversee the real estate division. We are offering something to you that would take years to get on your own."

"Who runs it now?"

"I don't know his name, but when I look at the numbers of what they do, I can tell there is a slump in business, it probably has to do with him."

"And the national economy never came to mind? That the housing slump because of the economy is his fault, I suppose?"

"That's the difference. You know how to overcome it, he doesn't."

"Maybe if you told him?" Conner asked. He shook his head. "So, if I accepted this,...position, would I be reporting to you?"

"No. You would report to the board, like any other division head." Van Owen said. He knew he had his son right where he wanted him. Dangling the carrot out, but not too far out of reach. "I need your answer by tomorrow." Van Owen said, standing up. Conner got to his feet as well. Van Owen walked past his son, out of the room. Conner looked at the wine and picked it up. He looked at his mother and drank the entire glass, gulping it. He set the glass on the table and turned and walked out of the room.

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Alec was chopping vegetables at the counter, looking up now and then at Derrick, who was sitting at the counter opposite from him. Ty was gone. Alec had no idea, after they had heard the truck backing down the driveway very fast. Alec looked at Derrick again, who had the bottle on the counter next to him and the glass. Derrick lifted the glass and knocking it back what was in it. He poured another one, eyeballing Alec in front of him.

"Do you know how fucking gorgeous you are?" Derrick asked.

"Thanks." Alec said, continuing to chop.

"Looks, awesome body, intelligence, and a really hot cock." Derrick leered over his glass.

"Maybe you should slow down a little, Derrick? Would you like some water?" Alec asked.

"No." Derrick said, getting off the stool, then started to come around the counter, carrying his glass. "You know what I'd like?"

Alec was watching him, setting the knife down. "I think I have a pretty good idea." Alec said. "How about some water? And I'll make you something for your stomach."

"I want something else."

"That's what I'm afraid of." Alec said, putting a hand out to slow Derrick's advance on him. "Derrick..." Derrick pressed through Alec's hand. Derrick came up to him face to face.

"You know how sexy you are?" Derrick whispered, setting his glass on the counter.

"Derrick..." Alec said, their eyes staring at each other. "What about Ty?"

"What about him?" Derrick asked softly. "He said you let him fuck you. What about me? I want to fuck you as well. You're so beautiful."

"Not like this Derrick." Alec said, backing up a step. "You're drunk."

"No. I'm just feeling good. I want you to feel good too."

"Derrick...not like this, please?" Alec said. "We need to get some food in you. You need to get your head clear."

"No, I want you Alec." Derrick said, putting his hands on Alec's tight butt.

"Derrick, don't." Alec said, trying to get out of Derrick's grip.

"So much is going on. So much is happening. We're alone right now. I want you. You said you wanted me."

"I do, but not like this." Alec was eye to eye with Derrick. "Think about it. We both have two people that love us. They're not here right now. You're drunk, and you won't remember what even happened." Alec put his hands on Derrick's powerful shoulders, pushing back. "Now, take your hands off me." Alec sounded gentle, but firm. Derrick stared at him for a long moment. "Alright, come on." Alec said with a sigh, taking one of Derrick's hands, leading him to Derrick's bedroom. Alec got him to the edge of the bed. Derrick was smiling, but reeling with the effect of the scotch, and the lack of sleep he had for the past couple of days. Alec turned him to put Derrick's back to the bed. Alec reached up and grabbed Derrick on both sides of his head, pulling him into a deep and lustful kiss. Derrick was moaning in Alec's mouth from the kiss. Alec did everything he could to take Derrick's breath away, and then finally, Alec felt it, Derrick slumped. Alec pulled back, leaving Derrick standing there, reeling, his eyes closed. Alec put a hand to Derrick's shoulder and pushed him. Derrick fell back on the bed, his arms spread, his knees and lower legs dangling off the bed.

"You'll thank me later." Alec said, smiling at the gorgeous man lying below him. "Yeah, you will. Good night, you sexy man." Alec turned and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. He walked back into the kitchen and picked up the knife. He sighed deeply and went back to what he was doing with the prep for dinner.

Ty pulled into the cobblestone circular driveway, stopping behind Conner's rental car. He threw the truck into park, and shut it off. He opened the door and trotted to the front door of the big house. He went to push the bell, but the door opened. Conner walked out, with Phoebe right behind him. Conner saw Ty standing there, and he smiled wide. Ty had a look of relief on his face, seeing Conner, in one piece.

Conner turned and looked at Phoebe. Conner reached up and cradled her chin with one hand, he smiled at her, she dropped her eyes from his. He leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. She almost melted at his touch. Conner kept his lips to her cheek, and she reached up and touched his shoulder at his tenderness. He slowly pulled back, looking at her. He put a hand to her shoulder, squeezing it gently, then turned back to Ty.

"Are you alright?" Ty asked.

"Yes." Conner said, and then stiffened himself. "Never better."

"What happened?"

"I had a conversation with my father." Conner adjusted his jaw, wiggling it back and forth. Conner reached out and took Ty by the shoulders, pulling him in, giving him a big hug. Ty wrapped his thick arms around Conner, as he looked at Phoebe. Ty smiled at her, she only looked down.

"I was worried about you, bud." Ty whispered.

"I was worried too. But you know, I realized that's it going to be alright." Conner let go of Ty, and Ty slowly let him go. "Now, let's go home." Conner said softly. He walked around Ty toward his rental car and got in. Ty was slowly walking toward his truck, behind Conner's car. Conner pulled out of the driveway and out onto the road. Ty got into the truck and followed him.

Alec had all the prep for dinner ready and was starting to cook now. He had flattened out the chicken breast and was rolling it up into tubes. Once it was rolled, he became to slowly brown them in the large fry pan. He reached over and turned on the oven, then pulled out a roasting pan, setting it aside. Chicken was about done when Alec saw the truck roof go by the dining room windows. He knew Ty was back at least, and was afraid Conner wasn't there. Alec was trying to hold back a tear.

"God, something smells good." Conner said, making Alec look up. Alec ran around the counter and jumped on Conner, wrapping his legs and arms around him, kissing and hugging him. "Alec..." Conner said in between kisses, "babe...honey..."

"What do you want me to do with this on the stove. I think it's burning." Ty said. Alec let go of Conner and ran back. "Where's Derrick?"

"Oh, he's in bed, or rather on it." Alec said, turning the chicken, and then started to remove it from the fry pan.

"What?"

"He drank way too much, became an octopus, and I took him into the bedroom. He passed out."

"Great." Ty said, "I know how my night is going to be. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, after I fended him off." Alec said. "My God, he's powerful."

"Yeah, he is." Ty said. "Sometimes, it's like he's almost as strong as I am."

"Fuck." Conner said, coming to the other side of Alec.

"I'll go check on him." Ty said, walking away.

"Octopus?" Conner asked. Alec chuckled as he arranged the vegetables in the roaster, alongside the chicken.

"Yeah, hands everywhere." Alec looked up and kissed Conner. "It was kinda hot, actually."

"Really? And?"

"Nothing happened." Alec looked up in his eyes. "I led him to the bedroom, cause I knew he was way too drunk. If he passed out in here, I couldn't move him by myself." Alec was finishing with the vegetables, and then spiced them lightly. He covered the roaster with its lid, and then placed it in the oven. He set the timer for thirty-five minutes and then looked at Conner. "I was so scared. Where did you go? I thought Derrick had thrown you out or something."

"He might." Conner said softly. "I went to my parent's house. I saw my father."

"That's what he meant." Alec said.

"Meant? Who?"

"Derrick. He said you were going on a suicide mission." Alec said. He got close to Conner, putting his arms around Conner's waist. "Sweetie, are they really that bad? Your mom seems kind of nice."

"Don't be fooled, babe." Conner smiled. "They are very manipulative people. They live for drama, feed on it."

"You turned out alright. They can't be that bad." Alec smiled.

"I love you." Conner said. "You always see the good, don't you?"

"Not always." Alec looked down. "I've had my share."

"Really? I'd like to know."

"One day," Alec looked back up into his eyes. "I'll tell you, one day." He kissed Conner. Conner wrapped his arms around Alec's shoulders, pulling him in deeper.

Ty walked back into the kitchen, and sighed heavily. He knew that Conner had been through something, but had come out unscathed. Ty leaned against the fridge, not making any sound, just watched them having their moment together. Slowly, Conner pulled back, and saw Ty standing there.

"There's my knight in shining armor. How's Derrick?"

"He's done." Ty shook his head and then walked toward them. "What happened, Alec?"

Alec turned and looked at Ty. "You went running out the back door after Conner. Derrick had like three or four more glasses. He came onto me real heavy. I knew he was drunk, so I led him to the bed, and then he passed out on his feet. He fell like a tree." Alec half smiled.

"And you left him dressed?" Ty chuckled.

"Didn't want to take a chance of him waking up. Had a hard time keeping him off me."

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Alec said, "You guys are back and are safe." Alec said, putting an arm around Conner's waist, leaning against him. "Is he breathing?"

"Yeah." Ty chuckled. "I got him out of his clothes. I don't think he'll be joining us for dinner."

"Oh, I'm sure of that." Alec said, feeling Conner squeeze him. "He'll probably have a really bad headache in the morning." Alec looked at the bottle on the counter. "See? It's almost gone."

"Holy shit." Ty said. He walked around the counter and picked it up. He walked it back to the cabinet in the dining room and put it away, closing the cabinet. "Well, so when's dinner?"

"About forty-five minutes." Alec said. Ty sat on one of the stools at the counter, looking at the two of them.

"So, you want to tell us about what happened with your folks?" Ty asked Conner.

Conner went to the wine fridge and pulled out a bottle. He opened it, as Alec was setting out plates and flatware on the counter. Conner poured two glasses, holding the bottle up, silently asking Ty. Ty only shook his head in reply. Conner set the bottle down and went to the fridge and pulled out a water and handed it to Ty.

"My father's corporation has apparently purchased one of the largest real estate agencies in the state. He wants me to run it." Conner said, picking up the glasses, handing one to Alec. Alec's eyes went wide.

"Don't you have to a real estate agent or something?"

"I am." Conner said, then took a sip. Alec's eyes went wider.

"You are?"

"Yep. Board certified." Conner said, holding his glass out. Alec touched his glass to Conner's. "I am going to beat the old fucker at his own game."

"How?" Ty asked.

"Haven't quite figured it all out yet, but..."

"That means you have a job." Alec smiled.

"That means, I have a job." Conner smiled back. "And now, we can do what we talked about this morning." Conner wiggled his eyebrows.

"Okay." Ty said, watching the two in front of him. "What are you two planning?"

"Moving in together." Alec said to Ty, sipping more wine. "Constant sex." Alec smiled wide. Ty shook his head slowly.

"And here I thought I was never satisfied." Ty smiled.

Alec turned and looked at Conner. "Seriously though, do you want to do this, with your father?"

"I have a plan." Conner said. "And it will help Derrick out."

"What's your plan?" Ty asked. Conner set his glass down on the counter, resting his hands on it.

"My father uses people to get what he wants. Derrick is being used. It has to stop, and I can make sure that it does, in a round a bout way. If I take the position that my father has offered, I can make sure that Derrick and his firm are left alone, unless he wants to deal with the real estate division. It would be on our terms, not my fathers."

"Taking the bone from the dog." Ty said. "Careful, that dog may bite." Ty sat back on the stool. "Don't you think your father has already thought of this?"

"Of course he has." Conner smiled. "That's what makes it taste so sweet, when I jerk the rug out from under him."

"Well, you know him better than any of us," Ty said, "but from what I've seen, he's usually a step ahead at every turn."

"He likes to think he is. And, you're right, I do know him pretty well, and his tactics. He's not the one I'm really worried about though."

"You're mom?" Ty asked. Conner nodded. Alec was watching them, he was confused. Conner looked over and saw it.

"You see, babe, my mother is the real power behind everything. My father is loud, ruthless, and manipulative. But, it's my mother that makes him that way. She's the one that put those ideas into his head, in her own subtle way. He acts on it. Without her, there is not much to worry about with him. He will fizzle out."

"So, your mom, is not that sweet lady that I think she is?" Alec asked.

"Yeah. She's not the type to bake cookies, that's for sure."

"So that explains the lunch that day." Ty said, mostly to himself.

"What lunch?" Conner asked.

"Your mother asked Derrick to lunch one day. He asked me to come along. It was before you showed up."

"Hmmm." Conner said. Alec was looking at Conner, as if seeing him in a different way now. Conner looked at Alec. "What is it?"

"Nothing." Alec said. "I guess I didn't really know any of this at all." Alec sipped his wine. "Gives me something to think about."

"Alec," Conner turned looking directly at him. "You must understand something. I'm not them. I don't want them in my life. I told you about being sent off to different schools and stuff. They never really wanted me around. They were just grooming me, because I'm their...biological byproduct. It's their own guilt I suppose, wanting to somehow make up for it."

"Whoa, bud." Ty said, "That's not what I saw that day on the back deck. Your mom, the way she acted seeing you. She loves you, Conner."

"Maybe." Conner said.

"Conner," Alec said, touching his upper arm. "You taking this position, it brings you back in with them. You say you want nothing to do with them, but..."

"It gives us the chance to do what we want, together." Conner said, cutting him off.

"What, to use them?" Alec asked. "Doesn't that make you like them then?"

"Ooh." Ty said. "Ouch. He's got a point."

"Yes, he does." Conner said, stepping closer to Alec. "You're right. What else can I do?"

"I don't know yet." Alec said, looking into those soft blue eyes. "Whatever you decide, I'll be right there with you." Conner smiled.

"I'm sorry."

"For what? Wanting to help Derrick? For us to be together? Or is it something more? Revenge against your parents?" Alec asked.

"How did you get so smart?" Conner asked.

"Remember what I told you that first day? At the store?" Alec asked. Conner was trying to think. "I told you that I listen and observe. And from where I stand, it's not good. I love you, Conner, I will always stand by you, but you have to make sure you're doing this for the right reasons. You can't try and justify it."

"Uh, when's dinner?" Ty asked. They both looked at him. "Just asking." Ty held up his hands. "Because this is really getting deep, and you guys need a little time alone. I'm going to go out and take care of some things." Ty said, getting off the stool. He walked out the back door.

Conner looked at Alec, who seemed firm in standing his ground, a look of determination on his face, Conner had never seen before. He knew that he was hurting Alec, and didn't want to. Conner felt trapped all of a sudden.

"What would have me do?"

"I would have you think about this, and think about it hard." Alec said softly.

"And if it was about revenge?"

"It's like I said, it makes you like them, something that you obviously hate. Do you really want to end up like them?"

"I love you, Alec. I want to be able to provide for us."

"But at what cost? This will eat at your heart, and your soul. If they are the way that you say that they are, do you think that they're happy together? If your mom is really like that, does she even love your dad, or is she just using him too?" Conner dropped his head. Alec's words were cutting deep into him. He knew Alec was right.

"I never really thought about it." Conner whispered. "Maybe they did, once." Conner lifted his eyes.

"Where do see us going, together?"

"I..."

"Conner," Alec said softly, "I could spend the rest of my life with you. You do things to me that no one else has ever done before. And I'm not just talking about sex. You make me feel so damned good when I'm with you. When you were gone those few days, I thought I was going to go out of my mind without you. But, with all of this that's happening, I'm seeing a side of you all of a sudden, that scares the hell out of me, and it's not the real you. I want the real you."

"Then, maybe we should we leave, go someplace else?"

"And end up like you and your ex? Didn't you tell me that's what happened to you? You're parents, getting in between you two? Do you want that?"

"No." Conner said.

"Neither do I."

"Then, we should stand our ground." Conner said, putting his hands on Alec's hips. "Together."

"Alright." Alec said softly.

"Do you trust me?"

"Of course." Alec said, his eyes scanning Conner's seeing them flash.

"Alec, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do it, and make it right. I'm going to do it for us."

"What about...?"

"Derrick's a big boy. He can take care of himself. I'm not going to do this for revenge, either."

"Are you sure?" Alec asked, leaning closer. Conner smiled the million dollar smile. Alec softened Conner's smile, his eyes, all of him.

"Alec Marquez, will you marry me?"

"What?"

"Will you marry me?" Conner asked again, slowing each word out of his mouth.

"I..." Alec stopped himself. His eyes started to well up. "Conner..."

"Say yes." Conner kissed him softly, then looked in his eyes. "Say yes." Conner whispered.

"Yes."

"Then, I have something else to do tomorrow." Conner smiled, and then kissed Alec again.

"What?"

"Go back to the lion's den."

"Are you really sure?"

"What, that I want to marry you?" Conner smiled again.

"No..."

"Yes. Then we can start hunting for apartments." Conner said, wiggled his eyebrows. Alec smiled wide, throwing his arms around Conner's neck, hugging him tight. They pulled apart as the timer on the oven sounded. They both chuckled. "It's always something, isn't it?" Conner asked, with a sigh. Alec pulled away and turned to the stove.

"I only want to say one thing." Alec said, as he grabbed a pot holder and opened the oven door. He pulled out the roasting pan.

"What's that?"

"It had better have a big kitchen."

"Whatever you want, babe." Conner said. "Do you want me to go get Ty?"

"Yeah." Alec said, opening the lid. The aroma came out even more now, filling the air of the kitchen.

"Wow." Conner leaned closer. "You really can cook."

"Told you." Alec kissed Conner. "Now, go get him."

"Yes, sir." Conner said, patting Alec's butt as he walked by, heading for the back door.

"Hey," Alec said, making Conner turn around, "don't tell him."

"Why not?"

"We'll do it together." Alec said.

"Okay." Conner smiled. He turned and went for the back door.

Alec began to plate it up for them, As Ty and Conner walked into the kitchen. Alec watched Conner out of the corner of his eye. Conner sat on the end stool, his eye on Alec as well. They smiled at each other. Ty saw it but didn't say anything about it.

"I'm going to go check on Derrick real quick." Ty said, "Go ahead and start without me. I'll be right back." Ty walked toward the bedroom, down the hall and in through the door. He saw Derrick was still on the bed. Ty went into the bathroom and washed up. He came back in and sat on the edge of the bed, next to Derrick. He reached out and touched Derrick's face with the back of his hand. Derrick stirred at the touch. Ty only shook his head at him. He sighed to himself. Ty got up and walked out of the room.

Ty came into the kitchen and sat at the counter at the other end, as Alec was next to Conner. They ate in silence. Alec was done first and got up off the stool, taking his plate and going to the sink. He rinsed it and then put it in the dishwasher. Ty was done and Alec looked at him.

"More?" Alec asked.

"I shouldn't," Ty said, "but it's so damned good. Maybe just a little bit?" Alec took his plate and doled out a little more, giving it back. Ty smiled at him.

"What about you, babe?" Alec asked. Conner looked at him, as he was almost finished.

"No. I know I shouldn't." Conner said. "It was very good, though. Are you going to cook like this all of the time?"

"Do you want me to?" Alec asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Uh, yeah." Conner smiled back. "But, you're gonna make me fat, if you do."

"I doubt that." Alec said softly. "There's ways to burn it off."

"Oh, Jesus, here we go." Ty said, rolling his eyes. They all laughed. Ty stopped laughing seeing Derrick standing at the fridge, only in his underwear. "Oh my God." Ty said, in a quiet voice. He got off the stool and walked toward Derrick.

"Something smells really good." Derrick said in a weak voice, holding his head.

"Easy, sweetie." Ty said, coming up, grabbing him gently.

"What happened?" Derrick asked.

"Don't remember?" Ty asked. Derrick slowly shook his head. "Well, that's a good thing, I guess." Ty started to pull on Derrick slowly. Derrick walked with him. "Let's get you to the table. You must be hungry."

"I am. The room is kind of spinning though."

"I'll bet it is." Ty said, and looked at Alec. "Can you get some white bread out of the cabinet?" Ty led Derrick to the table, easing him into the chair. Conner came around the counter and rinsed his own plate and put it in the dishwasher, then came back around and went to the table. Alec brought some bread on a small plate, along with some water. Conner sat down on the bench at the table, near Derrick. Alec set the plate and water in front of Derrick.

"Bread and water?" Derrick asked, looking up at Ty. "Was I that bad? I'm being rationed?"

"The bread will soak up the alcohol." Ty said softly. "Eat it up. Then we can get you something else. Don't want you to get sick."

"Good thinking." Derrick said as he started on the bread. He looked at Conner. "I see that you're alive."

"More than I can say about you." Conner smiled.

"What happened with your father?"

"We'll talk about it when your head is clear. Now's not the time." Conner smiled again, then looked up at Alec.

"I guess I kind of wrecked your dinner, huh?" Derrick looked up at Alec, who was coming up behind Conner, putting his hands on Conner's shoulders. Alec rested his chin on top of Conner's head, and then kissed Conner's hair.

"No, you didn't." Alec smiled, giving Derrick doe eyes.

"Did I do something that..."

"That was not really you." Alec said for him. Derrick nodded slowly. "You tried, and it was very hot, but a little scary." Alec smiled.

"I'm sorry."

"It wasn't really you." Alec said. "It was the bottle." Derrick went to say something, but Alec shook his head. "It's alright, don't worry about it." Alec winked at him.

"I'm an ass."

"Yeah, but a gorgeous one." Ty said, kissing Derrick on the cheek. "But we still love you."

"I love you guys, too." Derrick said, eating the last of the bread. He drank some water down, sitting back in the chair. Ty sat on the other bench, next to Derrick, he rested his chin in one of his hands, elbow on the table. "I'll make it up to you guys." Derrick said, softly.

"No need." Conner said, reaching up with a hand, touching one of Alec's on his shoulder. Conner tilted his head back, looking up as Alec looked down at him. Alec nodded to Conner, Conner looked back at Derrick. "Feeling better?" Derrick only nodded. "Good. We want to tell you guys something." Derrick and Ty just looked at them. "I asked Alec to marry me." Derrick and Ty's eyes went wide. Derrick blinked hard a few times, and Ty's mouth fell open as he dropped his hand from his chin.

"I said yes." Alec answered, bringing his arms around Conner's neck, resting his chin in Conner's hair again.

"Holy shit." Ty said. "So I guess you worked out the little..."

"Yes, we did." Conner said. "Thanks for giving us that moment alone."

"I need some coffee." Derrick said. He started to get up, but Alec was already moving, and Ty put a hand on Derrick's arm to keep him in the chair. Conner scooted a little closer to Derrick.

"So, what prompted all this?" Derrick asked.

"Everything." Conner said, looking at Alec, who was busy with the coffee maker. "I love him. You know that I do." Conner looked at Derrick. "He is the most important thing to me. I realized that while I was talking with my father." Conner was getting lost in thought. Alec walked up, setting a cup in front of Derrick, then went back to stand behind Conner again, putting his hands back onto Conner's shoulders. "I don't want to ever be without him."

"You two really are perfect together, you know that?" Ty said, his hand sliding to meet Derrick's. Their fingers hooked into each others.

"No more perfect than the two of you." Alec said.

Derrick looked over at Ty. "I guess they beat me to it."

"Don't go there." Ty said, looking at Derrick.

"What?" Derrick asked, leaning forward a little. Ty took his hand away from Derrick's.

"No, don't even think about it." Ty said. Derrick looked hurt, and sunken all of a sudden. "Let's not wreck their moment with our stuff." Ty smiled and then looked back at Conner and Alec. "So, I guess celebration is in order." Ty smiled. "We'll have to throw a party or something."

"Not yet." Conner said. "Let's keep this between us for right now." Conner looked up at Alec, and then back to Derrick and Ty. "At least until tomorrow."

"What happens tomorrow?" Derrick asked.

"The plan starts to go into motion." Conner said. Derrick looked confused.

"How long was I out?" Everyone chuckled or laughed. Derrick picked up his coffee and took a long pull at it. "I guess I'm going to need a lot more of this." Alec walked back toward the counter. He picked up the wine glasses and brought them back, along with the wine bottle. He set them down and went and got Ty's water, setting it in front of him.

"Thanks, bud." Ty said, grabbing Alec's wrist gently. Ty pulled Alec down and kissed him softly. "Congratulations." Ty said, and then got up and walked around to Conner, who stood. Ty hugged him and kissed him as well. "Congratulations." Ty smiled wide. "Guess that means I have to find another couple of fuck buddies."

"Killin me, dude." Conner said, smacking Ty's shoulder. Ty chuckled.

"Well, it just makes it hotter if you're a married man." Ty wiggled his eyebrows. Conner turned back and looked at Alec.

"And you called me slut?" Conner asked, with wide eyes. Alec chuckled.

"You are. But once you marry me, that'll come to a screeching halt."

"Uh..." Conner's face dropped. Alec chuckled again.

"See? Could have told you, happens every time, they make you change." Ty said, shaking his head. "Once that ring is on, life is over as you know it." Ty walked back around behind Derrick, putting a hand on his shoulder. Ty bent down and kissed Derrick softly on the cheek. "Feeling better?" Derrick nodded in reply. Ty was close to Derrick's ear. "We can talk later, if you're up to it." Ty stood and went to the bench again and sat down, folding his arms on the table. Derrick only followed him with his eyes. He looked back as Conner sat back down.

"So, tell me about this plan." Derrick said, drinking more coffee.

"You won't like it." Conner said.

"You might be right, but tell me anyway." Derrick said. He finished his coffee. Alec grabbed the cup and went to make more for Derrick.

Alec brought more for Derrick and then went and started to clean up the kitchen, as Derrick and Ty listened to Conner, telling them everything about his thoughts and what he was planning. Ty kept watching Derrick for a reaction, but it never came. Derrick was either a complete zombie or was thinking heavily. Ty couldn't tell. There were times, Ty thought, that he couldn't read Derrick at all, and this was one of them. Conner was exact in every detail, most of it Ty already knew. When Conner finished, Alec had made the third cup for Derrick and rejoined them back at the table, sipping at his wine.

"You're sure you want to go through with all of this?" Derrick asked. "Kind of puts you back in their hands, doesn't it?"

"I don't think so." Conner said. "It only does, if I allow it, which I won't."

"When did you get board certified?"

"My first year in college. I never really liked it, being a salesman and all, but thinking about it now, I guess I never really gave it a chance. I did it only for a fall back kind of thing. I'm kind of glad now that I did."

"What made you do it?" Derrick asked.

"James, my ex. He pushed it on me really. Then I got into the broker thing." Conner said. "You seem to be taking all of this pretty well, Derrick."

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Well, I just kind of figured that you'd be showing me the door."

Derrick smiled. "Sleeping with the enemy? Is that what you're thinking?" Conner nodded in reply. "You're not. You're thinking of something else. I can see that. And, you've only been offered, it's not carved in stone. Maybe they're just grasping for straws, a way to keep you close. Who knows? And, tomorrow, if you find out something more, then you can make a better decision. As far as with me? Conner, I'm not going to toss you out, unless you burn the house down or something, then I'd have to kill you. You guys will always have a place here, with us. I thought I made that clear?"

"You did, but that was before."

"Bud, they're your family. Like it or not, you can't change that fact. You just have to make the best of it. You know that."

"You're right."

"And you're not exactly working for your father. You're working for the corporation, and for the board, whether your father is the CEO or not. Besides, if you want to do the real estate thing, either temporary or permanent, they're not the only game in town. I know most of them, and I have a good friend that has his own agency. If he took one look at you, he'd sign you on in a minute. With your looks and charm? Fuck, you could sell ice to Eskimos."

"Never thought of that, another agency. That's an idea."

"See? I told you." Alec said, resting his chin on Conner's shoulder.

"But, to run the largest agency in the state? The money you could make? It boggles my mind. The downside is that it only increases your father's bottom line." Derrick drank more coffee. "The real estate thing wasn't what I was thinking at all for you though. Remember when I said, I would help find you something?" Conner nodded. "I have another friend who runs a brokerage here in town. I was thinking of him."

"Kleins?"

"Yes."

"He runs my father's local stuff for him."

"Oh." Derrick said. "That's out."

"Why?" Ty asked.

"It could considered insider trading." Conner replied. "I thought about that too. Bad idea, same town and all that."

"Yeah, I agree. So, it looks like the real estate thing, for now."

"It does. Oh well." Conner rolled his head to rest against Alec's. "What was it you said earlier? Greater goal in mind?"

"You were listening." Alec said softly, then kissed Conner's ear.

"I always listen to you, babe." Conner reached back and put a hand on Alec's thigh.

"Oh man, here we go again." Ty said, rolling his eyes. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to bed." Ty looked at Derrick. "Are you feeling better?"

"I am actually." Derrick smiled. "Would you mind if I went with you?"

"I was hoping you would." Ty smiled, getting up from the table. "But you need a shower first, mister. You smell like a distillery."

"Thanks." Derrick said.

"Come on. I'll help you." Ty said, holding out a hand. Derrick reached up and took it in his. He stood up. Ty's eyes scanned Derrick up and down as he was only in his underwear. Ty used his hands to turn Derrick and pointed him to the hallway toward the bedroom. Derrick started walking. Ty looked at Conner and Alec, who had also been looking Derrick up and down. Ty wiggled his eyebrows at them. "Night, boys." Ty smiled. Derrick stopped as he reached the counter, and looked back.

"Good night, you guys. Alec, sorry I wrecked your evening."

"Don't worry about it." Alec said softly, putting an arm around Conner's waist.

Ty stepped close behind Derrick to move him along. Derrick walked forward, going by the fridge and into the little hall. Ty followed until they reached the bedroom, then he walked around Derrick and went into the bathroom. Ty turned on the shower and waited for Derrick for a moment and then he walked in. Derrick stopped and looked at himself in the wide mirror on the wall. He didn't like what he saw. He opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue. Yuck, Derrick thought to himself, reaching for a toothbrush. He brushed his teeth and rinsed, and used a mouthwash as well. Ty watched him and then dropped his own clothes in a pile. Derrick dropped his underwear and walked toward the opening of the shower and walked in, going under the rainhead. The water was cool to Derrick. He shuddered, then felt those familiar hands on him, rubbing his shoulders and back quickly. Derrick closed his eyes.

"This will help with your head in the morning. Believe me, I've been through this enough times." Ty said in a soft voice. Derrick opened his eyes, looking at him.

"Have you?"

"Yes."

"Tell me about it." Derrick said.

"Another time."

"You always say that." Derrick said. "When will that time be?" Ty stopped rubbing and stood up. He put his hands on Derrick's shoulders and turned him around. Their eyes met, staring at one another.

"What? You want a list of the times?"

"No." Derrick said, tilting his head down a little.

"Don't even think to start to tell me that you're sorry." Ty said. "I understand that it seems that you have all of this shit landing square on your shoulders right now, and you do. But, drinking isn't going to help or make it better. I know, I've been there."

"Did you have a problem?"

"Yes, I did. A big one." Ty said. "So, I can see the wreck coming right now. Don't give into it, Derrick. It's the easy way. Be tougher, stronger, like I know you can be. I believe in you."

"I love you." Derrick said.

"I know." Ty smiled briefly, then turned and grabbed a bar of soap. He lathered Derrick up all over his body, washing very thoroughly, then let the rainhead rinse him off. Ty rinsed himself off quickly and then shut the water off. He got a towel and dried Derrick off very well, and then patted his butt, and sent him toward the bedroom, as Ty dried himself off. He rehung the towel and climbed in next to Derrick. "Feel better?" Ty asked in the darkness of the room.

"Yes." Derrick replied, softly.

"Between the bread and the shower, your head shouldn't be that bad in the morning. Now come over here and get comfortable." Ty said, Derrick rolled over facing Ty, as Ty wrapped an arm around Derrick's neck and shoulder. Derrick cradled his head on Ty's muscular chest. "Now, go to sleep. It will be better tomorrow."

"I hope so." Derrick said, closing his eyes.

=====================================================================

Alec was standing in his underwear in the bedroom, waiting, as Conner walked in. They smiled at each other, as Alec stepped closer toward Conner. They came together, Conner wrapping his arms around Alec's waist, Alec's arms around Conner's neck. They looked at each other for a long moment and then kissed softly at first, and then it became deeper. Tongues began to dance about with each other and Conner exhaled through his nose, slowly, moaning into Alec's mouth. Conner was the first to slowly pull back, leaving Alec wanting, and empty. Alec looked at him as they pulled away from one another.

"Is something wrong?" Alec asked in a whisper.

"No." Conner said, as his eyes scanned all over Alec's beautiful face. "I just want you to know how much I really do love you." Conner said, swallowing hard. "I meant every word of it."

"I know." Alec whispered, staring into Conner's deep blue eyes. "I love you too."

"I mean, that I want to marry you."

"I know what you meant, babe." Alec smiled, his soft little boy smile.

"God, you're so beautiful." Conner whispered. Alec blushed. "I want to give you something."

"I can't wait." Alec whispered, rubbing his hardening length against Conner's crotch.

"No, not that." Conner grinned. "Well, maybe in a little bit, but, I want to really give you something, something that I want you to wear."

"It's not a cock ring or something like that, is it?"

"Ooh, that would be hot," Conner wiggled his eyebrows, "no, it's something else." Conner said, letting Alec go. Alec backed up, as Conner went around him, looking for a certain bag. He moved his bags around on the bed, and then found a small one, like a backpack. Conner opened it, and started to go through it, then he came to it, near the bottom. He pulled out a small box, that was made of wood. It was dark, like walnut, Alec thought as he saw it. Conner had Alec sit on the edge of the bed, as Conner got on his knees in front of him. Conner opened the little lid and, Alec was seeing various things inside, cufflinks, a pin of some kind, a couple of chains, and then Conner reached in with a couple of fingers and slowly lifted out a chain, like a beaded chain, only it flashed more brilliantly in the lamp light of the room. At the bottom of the chain, was a ring, a golden ring, that shone more brilliantly in the same light. Alec's eyes went wide, seeing it. Conner closed the lid with the fingers of his hand that held the small wood box. He set it on the bed, holding the chain up.

"I want you to have this." Conner said softly. As he reached to put it over Alec's head, Alec leaned forward just a little to accept it. "This belonged to my grandfather. He gave it to me just before he died. He told me that I should give to my one true love in life, and that I would know who it was when the time came." Conner let it drape over Alec's neck, cradling the ring in his fingers, holding it up off Alec's chest. Conner lifted his eyes, meeting Alec's. Alec was beginning to tear up, letting one drop. "He was right, and I have found my true love in life, and it's you Alec." Alec could not stop the tears as they dropped onto his lap. "You will marry me and spend the rest of your life with me, won't you?"

"Oh my God, Conner." Alec said, his bottom lip trembling, tears streaming down his face. Alec looked at the ring in Conner's fingers and then back into his beautiful blue eyes. "I love you so much." Alec was almost sobbing. "Of course I'll marry you." Alec said and put his arms around Conner's neck, pulling him tight to his chest. Alec began to sob into Conner's hair as Conner wrapped his arms around Alec's chest.

 

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