-- Mr. Thorne --

The slam of the front door wakes me with a start.

Realising where I am and that I'm left alone in bed without a note or a goodbye again I sigh. Sitting upright I reach out to throw open the curtain. It's early morning, the sky is only beginning to brighten as the darkness still lingers.

I'm easy

Though I wish I wasn't. It's just something that happens.

It's almost embarrassing how easily a guy can coax me into bed. Well, the right guy I do have some standards though in all honestly they aren't much. There are really only three things that would discount someone from taking me home.

Attraction, weight and bad breath.

I can't go home with someone that I'm completely not attracted to. It doesn't have to be much but there has be something there. Please don't get me wrong, some people find chunky men the bee's knees but I'm just not one of them. Once and never again, I hate the feeling of being crushed; all that weight on me seriously freaked me out. Of course bad breath just stands to reason. Then again morning breath is an entirely different story.

I'm easy.

Though I wish I wasn't. I'm just trying to find what everyone else is, someone to hold for longer than a night.



-- Mr. Bramble --

My key slides home easily. I'm not drunk I don't have to steady my hand; it's so late it's early. Light is pushing the darkness of the night away and I sigh.

My name is Terry Bramble and I'm inexperienced.

It's not something I planned to stay for so long. It just kind of happened. It's not that I'm unwilling, I'd love to have sex, make love, touch and be touched it just never seems to progress to that. I've had relationships before but by the time I'm ready they seem to loose interest. I'm sorry OK! I can't jump into bed with just anyone. Trust me I've tried and I just end up clamping up. Even happy hands too eager for comfort like tonight. Especially if it's stranger hands...

Just give me some time, not much but some to get comfortable...

... please



--Mr. Thorne -

"Arg why isn't my code working!" I yell to the rubber duck next to my screen. RD is my trusted advisor. He's such a patient listener and never interrupts me during a rant. He's a good sport like that, though he probably thinks I'm an idiot. I've been working on this particular implementation for months now and it still isn't running like it should. In my mind I'm flipping my desk and running around pulling out my hair screaming at the top of my lungs. Of course I don't actually do any of this but I'm itching to.

I'm momentarily relieved from my irritation by one of my students. I can never remember his name but his project is coming along nicely. For the next two hours student after student drops by my office discussing their end of year projects, it's actually for their second chance exams as they flunked the first one in july.

Late that evening I lock up and walk home. It takes me about an hour listening to my own footsteps echoing along the pavement. Normally I cycle but I had a flat tire a few days ago and still haven't gotten around to fixing it.

I need to put that on my to do list for this weekend: Fix tire.

I reach my house the same time as my neighbour does. I give him a friendly nod and get an equally benign smile in return. I've been meaning to have a chat with him. Always good to know your neighbours, he's quiet and respectful and cute too in that bookish bespectacled manner.

I need to put that on my to do list too: chat up neighbour... I mean chat with neighbour.


--Mr. Bramble--

Work was fantastic! I love my job. Children ask the best questions; luckily I get to give the kids back to the teacher at the end of the tour. Dinosaurs reach everyone's imagination, especially with movies fuelling their creative instincts. Eventhough they make paleontologist cringe.

I arrive home just as my neighbour does. He always gives me a polite smile and a nod before disappearing through his door. I'm hoping for an actual conversation one day.

He's nice.

I mean really nice.

Not just in looks. Though he is really easy on the eyes. Unlike me I have to work for attention. He has that nice statuesque tallness I find highly attractive. Gentle brow but piercing eyes the colour of which I'm unsure. I haven't seen them up-close enough to tell. I've heard him though, late at night. I don't think he realised how loud he can be or how quiet in the banging sort of way. I'm not embarrassed to admit I mostly reach my own climax the same times he does. Well by the sounds of it anyway.

"Hey catsicle." I smile as my fatty tom Tom runs up purring loudly. He's hungry, he's always hungry but he's on a diet the lazy shit is too damn fat.

"You're too damn fat aren't you stupid puss, yes." I coo picking him up and rubbing his belling. He's the only cat I know that doesn't claw eyes out when his belly is touched.

My place isn't big but it's enough for me and there is just me. So I don't need a lot of space, that's why I rent out the top floor to a musician I hardly ever see but the rents always on time so I don't particular care. The best thing about my place though is my garden. I have a large patio with terracotta sun soaked tiles with a flowerbed on one side and a small vegetable patch on the other. I'm especially proud of my large plumb tomatoes... 

It's my happy place.


--Mr. Thorne --

That night watching TV with a favoured beer handy my game is cut short by the sudden absence of power. Checking the light twitch tells me it's not just the TV.

Damn, probably a blown fuse...

Stumbling around for a flashlight I manage not to break my neck descending the basement stairs. After some time locating the damn fuse box I've never had to use before I check to see everything is fine. Hmm...

Upstairs again I do what anyone would do in this situation; I step out of my front door. There are several people poking their heads out of windows or standing on their front-door step all along the street.

Great a power out.

It's still light out but it's fading fast. My next-door neighbours door creaks open and he also appears with the age-old expression of huh? But unlike anyone else this guy has a cell phone to his ear. He moves the mouthpiece away from his lips as he looks at me.

"It's the whole block apparently. Could be for a few hours."

What a nice voice. There's a slight southern twang to it. It's adorable. I nod as he's talking on the phone again. I don't look away taking this unforeseen chance to openly check him out. Nice.

Shorter than me but that isn't difficult. After years of my moms nagging I don't slouch either so I appear even taller than I actually am. Both my parents are on the smallish side, apparently my freakish length comes from my freakishly tall grandfather; it skips a generation.

So shorter, same brown hair though his brown is more vibrant than my mat brown and a pair of cute little glasses. Nice build too I mean he obviously works out, not fanatically but nicely. He looks soft. Not hard like you would expect but a softness that makes me want to reach out and touch him. I almost catch myself doing just that but his eyes drift over and I quickly move to scratch my ear... smooth Abe real smooth...

Yes. I can just imagine him being smooth.

The comfortable sweats he's wearing almost hang off his hips enhancing that soft look. His feet are bare and hairless a small confirmation of my suspicions. He ends his conversations and I think he's surprized I haven't moved yet.

"I don't think we've officially met yet." He smiles almost nervously but his voice a fair deal more confident. He walks over and offers his hand to me. "Terence Bramble, Terry for short."

I take it and I'm already melting with the delicious sound of his voice, let alone the nice softness of his hand. "Abraham Throne. But Abe will most likely get my attention."

"Nice to finally put a name to the face." What a smile...

His face looks slightly familiar. His features resemble that actor. What's his name again? Damn, I'm terrible with names...

"Uh Abe?" I'm brought out of my musing by his tentative smile and I realised I'm still holding his hand. I quickly let go.

"I haven't had dinner yet." I blurt out trying to cover up my embarrassment. What? Dinner? What the freak am I talking about?

"Oh you have an electric stove too? Yeah I won't be cooking either if this power out lasts the night. Guess I'll be ordering in."

"Good idea I'll be doing the same." I nod. Several more people have taken to the street talking with their neighbours. How inconvenient they may be, power outs do bring people together.

"How does pizza sound?" Terry asks.

"Sounds good." I smile not quite sure where he's going with this. My brain isn't on the speeding tracks today.

"Great, come on I have beer in the fridge that's loosing its cool as we speak." He turns around and steps up to his place ready to retrieve his distressed beer.

"Wait did you just ask me over for dinner?" I ask stupidly.

He laughs at my frown letting my ears fill with the sound. "Yes Abe I just asked you over. Is that OK with you?"

"Sure, just one second." I quickly disappear into my house again grabbing my keys and finding my loafers that are somewhere around. It takes me a while to find them. Once my door behind me is closed and locked I find his ajar.

He left it open just for me. I have no idea why this small act is so touching to me but it is.


-- Mr. Bramble --

My hand on the refrigerator door staring down at the coolness leaving everything I have stored in it. I pause a second to reflect on my unusually spontaneous invitation when I hear the front door close and footsteps through the living room coming towards me. That's a sound I've missed.

I wave Abe through to the large sliding window leading out to my garden. It's a warm evening, it'll be nice to sit outside and eat with company. Abe's standing on my patio looking around my garden, admiring it I'm guessing from the smile on his face. Good.

"I only have a small patio out back myself definitely not a garden like this. Must be nice to sit out here on summer evenings."

"Oh it is and on spring evenings and fall mornings and winter nights." I grin handing him a beer. He takes it checking the brand nodding his approval. Well that's one hurdle down. Men can be particular about their beer.

"You aren't cold in the winter sitting outside?"

"Nothing clothes and a thick blanket can't help or a nice fire for that matter." I nod towards my patio burner; a tear trop heath on a stand. I love the damn thing; the firelight makes the patio tiles glint fiery red. "I use it all the time. There is something earthy about make a fire and controlling it."

Abe takes a seat on one of the patio chairs; they're comfortable things you just sink away in, I see his body relax and a sigh escape him.

"Bad day at work?"

"What gave it away?"

"A lifetime of observing men..." I grin taking the other seat. "...and these chairs are more comfy than any sofa I know."

"You're right about that." Abe smiles lazily accentuating his statement by wiggling his butt in the chair cushions. "Yeah work was frustrating. Bugs keep popping up at every turn lately, I don't know what I'm doing wrong and when it does work I don't know why its working cause it shouldn't be working..."

"Let me guess. You're a programmer?"

"Yes, I'm a researcher at the university in town. How did you know?"

"My sister works there too. I've heard her rants many times. I know the signs."

"Your sister really?" He asked intrigues obviously trying think who it could be.

"She goes by Pettigrew now but Bramble's her maiden name."

"You're Alicia's brother?" He asks confused, I nod taking a swing from my own beer. I know what he's thinking...

"Ally changed her way of speaking when she moved up here. Thought it made her sound slow."

"I'm guessing you're not a guy to conform so quickly..."

"I moved here to be near her cause she's all the family I have left. But I'd never change who I am. I have no tolerance for prejudges or ignorance. If people don't like the way I sound they don't have to listen to it."

The light is fading faster now and my solar powered garden lights slowly awaken. They give the garden a light ethereal glow, I decide to light a fire in the burner for the not only the warmth but also the soothing firelight. Abe takes this opportunity to order our pizza. When everything's done and we're once again settled in our chairs, I keep an eye on my growing fire as Abe speaks up again.

"I like the way you sound."

"Thank you." I actually wanted to say I like the way you moan in return but that wouldn't be the most appropriate thing to share at this point. He probably has no idea how thin the walls between our houses really are.


--Mr Thorne --

RD is taking quite a verbal beating from me this morning. Mid rant someone strolls into my office, I swear to god if it's one more student with some lame excuse why his project won't be on time. I will break something.

"You're gonna raise your blood pressure like that Mr. Thorne." Alicia smiled sauntering over to a vacant desk chair. "I used to have a rubber duck of my very own but I've switched to a cactus now."

"Why?"

"Stops me from throwing the thing across the room. It almost hit Wolfgang's head one day, he was not amused."

"I can imagine." I chuckle picture the astonished look on my colleague's face when that must've happened.

"A little birdy told me you had power out a few days ago?"

"He doesn't look that little to me." I laugh before I realise what I've just said out loud. Alicia just cocks an eyebrow at me. "Honestly I had no idea he was your brother. I've never actually spoken to him in all the years we've been living next door to each other."

"Well, bigger the town the smaller the neighbourhood. You planning on seeing my little brother again?" There is a threat in there somewhere but I'm unsure what she's getting at.

"Sure I guess. We are neighbours. I see him all the time."

With a loud sigh Alicia stands up from the desk chair. "Terence is a good man Abe. He just takes things slowly."

"Okay..." ...?

She turns back to me once she reaches the door. "I would never have guessed you're the hunky neighbour he was going on about." She grins before disappearing into the hallway.

Really? Hunky neighbour?

-o-

That evening I'm home early. The weather is really nice so I open the backdoor to let some fresh air in. Staring at the meagre contents of my cabinets I hear chairs craping outside. Curious I walk out and press my ear to the large wooden panelled fence separating my enclosed patio from Terry's open garden.

"Terry?"

"Yes?"

"Are you decent?" Please say no.

"I'm a man Abe I'm near always decent whatever I'm doing. But I am clothed if that's what you are referring too." Damn

I dash inside grabbing a chair and place it against the fence. Stepping on it gives me just enough height to look over the top.

"Hi." I grin seeing him stretched out on his chair feet propped up on the small patio table.

He laughs "Hi yourself."

"How was your day?"

"Great. I made a Tyrannosaurus Rex crow like rooster today." he grins folding his arms behind his head. That accent in that voice is hitting every single dormant button I have.

"I think I need a new paleontology teacher. I didn't know a T-Rex crowed."

"Who says they did? We don't know if they chuckled like a chicken or barked like dog. There are no recordings of dinosaurs. The thing is they could have."

"Where is it you work exactly?" I ask genuinely interested.

He eyes me lazily for some time, taking his sweet time to answer me. "Natural History Museum. I'm a guide there."

"Oh, one of those people that tell boring stories about sleepy history facts?" I kid grinning at him. He gives me a sharp look that makes me gulp but breaks out in a smile nonetheless and I breathe more easily.

"My tours are far from boring, you should come by some time. One on one guided tours are always more interesting."

I grin it's a goofy grin cause I can't help myself. "I will."

"So any exciting plans this fair Friday night?" he asks remaining in his relaxed pose looking up at me.

"Was going out with a friend but they cancelled on me last minute. You?"

He shrugs, "I have people over more than I go out lately, I'm in one of my 'I can't be bothered' periods."

"You have periods?"

"Don't fret they aren't bloody. Expect for the steak I'll be grilling later that will be."

"Oh expecting company?" I ask

"No, I just love to cook."

I sigh extravagantly, "Man I hate cooking."

"Why?"

"Takes so much time to shop and prepare a meal to only eat it in less than 5 minutes and then your stuck with all those dishes. I can't see the point if it's just for myself." I complain to which Terry rolls his eyes snickering.

"You sound just like Ally. Even now she can't be bothered with the kitchen much, her husband is the cook in their home. Do you have any food in the house?"

"Of course I do." I lie. Well I do have cereal, so not a complete lie but no milk left.

"I have an extra steak your welcome to but it comes at a price."

"What would that be?"

"You have to do my laundry." He tells me with a pokerface that could fool the pope.

"I have to do your laundry?"

"Yes. I hate it, I especially despise ironing." His face contorts in one of disgust.

"Not a problem." I say confidently. "I don't mind laundry one bit." I actually like doing laundry it's a very Zen activity.

He bursts out laughing seeing the seriousness in my face. "I wasn't actually going to make you do my laundry Abe, I'm not that cruel."

"I honestly don't mind. Lets trade."

"Trade?" he looks as me skeptically.

"Yes, you provide me with the occasion dinner and I do your laundry."

"Are you serious?" His frown turns upside down so to speak; he believes I'm pulling his leg. I'm not.

"It's all in the folding, trust me." He stares at me with a cynical furrow to his brow when suddenly he jumps up from his comfortable chair and heads inside.

"I'll get the steaks out!" he shouts out. I excitedly jump off the chair quickly grabbing my keys and finding my loafers that are somewhere around. It takes me a while to find them I should be more organized but it's only me here anyway. Once my door behind me is closed and locked I find his ajar again.

I feel a routine in the making.



-- Mrs. Pettigrew --

"Every week?" Alicia breathes in the phone her tone as incredulous as her current facial expression.

"Yeah."

"He does your ironing too?" Alicia shakes her head immediate scheming a way to pawn off her own laundry to Abe. "The things you get to know about you colleagues" she tutts.

"We have an arrangement now and it works well so far. He gets food and I get company."

"Is he that good company?"

Terry is quiet at the other end of the line. "Yeah he is." He confides before clearing his throat flipping the conversation around. "How are the kids?" Terry asks he got called into work Saturday so he missed their weekly visit.

"Little monsters I should've had my tubes tied when I was 12." She smiled watching her children flying around the room. "What about you when are you getting yourself out of the house and on a date? It's been months Terry, you're going to be 30 before you know it and still single."

"Ally, I just don't feel like it right now. I'm still realigning from my last disaster."

"Terry." Alicia soothes quietly. "Not all men are like Alan. They won't all try and force you."

"I know... I know Ally it's just. I need some time ok."

"Sure babes." Alicia reassures. If she ever gets her hands on Alan the asshole he's going down!

"Abe's here Ally I need to go the lasagne's nearly done away."

They end their conversation and Alicia slowly breaks out in a smile. Terry only makes lasagne for people he really likes. She turns around to her brood.

"Who wants to make dino cookies!" the response is unanimous.




-- Mr. Throne --

I'm in my laundry room folding Terry clothes. I wash ours together to fill the machine so I have to sort them out once they're dry. The things you discover about people while you do their laundry...

I'm not complaining it's an excellent trade he cooks like a chef and I haven't had take out in weeks. I match his sock which are of the brightest colours you've ever seen and then start on my own naughty little joy, his underwear.

First time I encountered his undies I'd been very surprised, very surprised indeed. Terry dresses nicely, not ostentatious or too conservative, a little trendy but in a classy way. His underwear though, well his underwear is a whole different kettle of fish. To be honest I've never thought much about underwear or the different types available being a little too practical in that area I guess. But now, oh now I have favourites.

I like the ones with the little slit at the back, not a wide gaping hole just a little slit I can imagine his cheeks peeking through winking at me. Then he has half see-through ones I can only drool over how he'd look in them. Ones fully made out of mesh, which I found funny and definitely need to investigate further. Some so small I debated they're underwear at all. All in fabrics and colours that amaze me just like his socks. I've had to stop myself staring at his crotch wondering which one he's wearing that day. Expect for two sleeping shorts every one of them is sexy in their own right. No boring undies for Mr. Bramble!

I ascend the stairs to return my fresh laundry to my wardrobe and hear the next-door front door slam. Quickly running up to my bedroom I dump my clothes on the bed and race downstairs.

Terry's home!


-- Mr. Bramble --

I'm beginning to feel the weather change. I hope the summer drags out at little longer this year. It's Thursday and Abe goes to the gym with a colleague on Thursdays so I've already eaten. I read outside until the sun has set but it's still nice and brightness lingers a while longer.

"Hey Terry." I hear Abe call over the wooden panels. Looking up I see his happy face looking down at me.  He's been over here almost every night this week alone he doesn't always have dinner with me but seems to like being here nonetheless. We mostly sit out here and talk about anything and everything to be honest. Or we don't talk at all and I read while he grades papers and sighs in frustration at his students. He loves telling me stories about them. I have to agree some of them sound like real idiot's

"Door's open." I indicate, his head disappeared and I hear my front door close within seconds. My fridge opens with its usual clink of bottles and he hands me a beer before sitting in his now accustomed chair. He's here so often there really isn't any need for formality anymore. He restocks the fridge when I'm getting low so all is well. Our starter conversation of the evening is always the same as if it's scripted and he doesn't like to divert from it.

"How was your day?" His usual first question to which I always reply: "Very good." What can I say I love my job.

"You?"

He usually sighs and begins a little rant about his work, just like Ally does and following script perfectly. You'd think they really hate their jobs but they don't they love it bureaucracy just gets in the away a lot. Tom the fat catiscal usually jumps up on his lap at this point and Abe absentmindedly rubs his tummy while Tom almost dies purring. This is where our conversations take on different topics.

"Maybe you should let your hair down this weekend and go out." I advise seeing he is a little bit more frustrated with work than usual.

He sighs at my suggestion and tilts his head to look at me. "I honestly don't have the desire to go dancing this weekend."

"How about a dinner party?" I asked surprising myself cause two seconds ago I had no plans for this weekend what so ever.

He perks up. "A dinner party? Where?"

"Here." Damn now I'm throwing a dinner party...

"You're having people over?" he grins sitting a little straighter his interest obviously peeked at my careless suggestion.

No! "Yes, just a few friends I haven't seen in a while." Great! Now I have to think of people to invite people and hope someone can show up on such short notice. Why didn't I catch my mouth before it left my brain?

I know why, that grin and excited tail wagging is why.

"I'd love to! Is Alicia coming?"

"Yes." Well now she is.

"What are you cooking can I help with anything?" he offers, he always does he's a good vegetable chopper.

I blurt the first thing that comes to mind without really thinking about it. "Lamb shanks."

"I haven't had lamb in ages!" He's squirming around in his seat all excited before dashing off inside for something or other and I sink my head in my hands. Terry you fool what the hell did you get yourself into...


--Mrs. Pettigrew --

Alicia sat at the crowded dinner table watching her colleague in disbelief. Okay she'd noticed a change in him these passed few weeks just like everyone else had at work but this was almost unbelievable. He dotted on Terry, dotted on him for crying out loud! Jumped up whenever something needed to be fetched, Mr. Charm itself with Terry's friends and never, not once lost sight of her brother throughout the evening.

After a spectacular main course she followed Abe into the kitchen where he stood sorting out wine bottles.

"So enjoying yourself?" she asks sitting up on the countertop beside the wine.

"Sure, Terry's friends are really nice." He answered concentrating on uncorking the bottle in his hands.

"You seem to be having a fabulous time. All this running around not making your head spin?" she smirked trying to get a rise out of him.

"What? No, I'm just helping out." He says trying to ignore Tom's insistent meowing as his feet for food. This cat has a magical radar for food he even steals full packets of butter from the countertop when Terry's distracted.

"Of course you are." More like not letting Terry lift a finger, she slide her eyes to the dinner table seeing how much fun her brother was having without the stress to immediately attend to his guests every need.

Abe laughed at her expression. "Alicia what are you getting at?" his face suddenly grew serious. "Am I being too overbearing? I'm not putting my foot in it am I?"

This was an expression Alicia hardly ever saw on Abe, fear. "Not so far as I can tell. Terry's having a blast. Don't worry you're impressing everyone immensely." She said patting him on the back.

"I'm not trying to impress anyone." He said just when a loud burst of laughter erupted in the dinning room.

Alicia snorted, "Of course you aren't."

Abe gave a pointed look and left her behind in the kitchen to bring the wine to the table. She watched his hand linger on Terry's shoulder as he poured him some wine. Her brother's eyes acknowledge the hand but didn't move away. Though his smile was a little brighter than before.


-- Mr. Bramble --

I love my job I really do but these sporadic requested tours on a Saturday I'm not fond of. I leave the house after a meagre breakfast not in the mood for anything substantial. Saturdays the museum is buzzing with families and children. I'm the only guide present today as we're not usually requested on the weekend cause schools are our main clients. Although this time of year with the school year just starting it's always a little slow

I check the list and expect the 'Arthur Dent Society' to arrive soon. Never heard of them before. Waiting for my group to arrive in the main hall I feel a tap on my shoulder.

"Abe?"

"Hi."

"What are you doing here?" Damn I have a group to tour; of course he comes on the one Saturday I have to work.

"I believe you're expecting me?" He grins wickedly.

It takes me a good few seconds for his grin to register while he shifts his eyes to the paper in my hands. "Your aren't serious..."

"Yup, had to persuade your boss though cause apparently private tours aren't the done thing." He leans in conspiratorially.

"You booked me?"

"Yup, I have you all to myself for a whole two hours and I really want to see this howling T-Rex of yours."

I can't help but laugh and give him one of my best tours ever, he listens to everything I say asking some very interesting questions. After the official tour I take him behind the scenes where only a staff badge gets entry. We have millions and millions of artifacts stored in the museum, only a fraction of which is on display.

"What's that?" he stops dead as we exit an elevator I crane my neck to see what he's pointing at. The stairwell around the elevator is sectioned off with glass panels so you can easily see several stories up or down depending on where you are standing.

"That's an elephant skeleton." I answer seeing the skeleton he's pointing at a story below us.

"Why is it in the hallway?"

"Where else should we put it?" he gives me a strange 'what the fuck' look. Man he's so easy...

"That part is sectioned off you can't reached it without a key, don't worry." I take him along the packed hallways and stuffed storage rooms. We have so many artifacts there is hardly any room left to move in the maze that is behind the public walls of a museum. Mark is usually found in his little attic office on Saturdays and I'm glad I do find him at his desk. I can't do the snail explanation half as well as he does and it doesn't take a lot of persuading; it's his main topic of research. Before long he enlightens Abe in the slimy world of snails and slugs.

"These are 5 different types of slugs." Mark says pointing to 5 identical slugs on the little TV screen in his office.

"How do you tell them apart?"

"Ah!" Mark gleams. "Orgasms."

This has Abe's face masked in surprize while I try not to burst out laughing. Mark launched into his explanation of how humans can only differentiate snails and slugs by their orgasms and the pattern their cum splatters out in. He showcases it with five different snail cumshots with five very distinct patterns to their orgasms. To everyone who hears it for the first time it's fascinating and disgusting all at once. Learning about their love arts that can kill and how they can divert sperm to their stomach if they don't want to mate anyway... Or how some snails have to climb a tree to mate cause their penises are several meters long and otherwise they simply can't reproduce.

Finally stepping out of the museum several hours after we'd started his tour Abe has the biggest grin on his face I've ever seen.

"I never imagined I'd ever know so much about slug reproduction."

"It's an education isn't it?" I nudge him.

"Yes it is Terry, yes it is. Makes for an excellent conversation starter too 'Did you know some snails have a penis of two meters long? Puts you to shame doesn't it!'" he has me in stitches while we walk home talking reliving the tour through Abe's comical stand up version of events. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun working on a Saturday.


-- Mr. Thorne --

I'm watching an unimportant game when I feel the front door next-door slam. I jump out of my chair like some hyperactive 5 year-old.

Terry's home!

Skipping out of the front door I knock politely and Terry's opens the door in a matter of seconds.

"I haven't even shucked my shoes yet Abe." He scolds me but he's grinning so I'm okay.

"I'm not stopping I'm just here to invite you out?" I'd rehearsed these lines several times so naturally they end up sounding like a question.

"Me?"

"Yes you, who else lives here?"

"Roger." He states blankly, his musician lodger we never see.

"Terry, I don't want to take Roger out I want to take you out. You know..." I clear my throat to hide the break that was surely to follow. Why am I nervous? I shouldn't be, I'm mostly not with these kind of things. "...officially."

"Officially?"

"Yes, dinner and dancing." At least he doesn't have to cook for once, I'd make it myself but I'd just make a mess or set the house on fire.

"Dancing?"

I lean against the doorframe as nonchalantly as I can. "I'd love to dance with you Terry." My voice low and his jaw drops that bit lower. I've been fantasying about it for weeks. Feeling his body against mine as we move with the music.

"When?"

I make a show of checking my watch, "In two hours. I'll pick you up at 8." and vanish through my own door before he can object. I pace through all the rooms of my house for the next hour before showering and getting ready. I'm not real fussy about clothes but I change my outfit several times before I give up and just throw something on.

I've never been so nervous in my life as I am standing in front of Terry's door. It's Terry Abe, your best friend Terry. It'll be fine, he'll be fine and we'll be fine. Yet I can't seem to knock and just stand there paralyzed. I don't want to fuck this up, Terry's everything I've ever wanted; he's honest, kind and funny. He's smart which is it's own brand of sexiness plus the one thing that sets him apart from everyone else I've ever dated; he's inherently good, he just a good person deep down. There are no pretenses, no masks he wears or lies he tells. I'm nowhere near his league but somehow we fit so seamlessly together. He's cute too, which is a plus.

I'm not afraid to admit I'm completely besotted with this man.


--Mr. Bramble--

A knock on the door has me reaching for the door handle, I've been ready standing in the hallway for the last ten minutes. Tom probably thinks I'm a lunatic, he's staring at me like I'm one. Although who knows what cats think about humans the sadistic little bastards.

I open the door to a bright smile and a vision to behold; beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? I'd say everyone would behold this beauty. Man, I haven't been on a date in god knows how long. All those signals haven't been my imagination then...

"Hi." I breathe, he grins stepping aside to let my out the door.

"Ready?" Nodding I lock the door and we walk along the streets of our town. He takes me to a familiar rib restaurant. It's nothing fancy but perfect for a date, its atmosphere is cosy and unique along with their spicy caramel rib sauce and masala buttered jacket potato's.

"You didn't have to take me out to dinner you know." I remark fidgeting with my cutlery as we wait for our food. Great, now I sound ungrateful while I was over the moon with the invitation. He reaches over the table and lays his hand on mine.

"Yes, I did. I've been wanting to do so for weeks."

I chuckle at his statement but they are nice to hear none the less. Truth is I've been trying to work up the courage to ask him myself. I thought it might be weird to go out on a date like this with a friend. Cause that is what Abe has become, a close friend. But it isn't weird at all or uncomfortable, it's just that very comfortable. Not like any other night we have dinner together an exciting nervousness nestled in the pit of my stomach tonight yet feeling very comfortable all the same.


-- Mr. Thorne --

Dinner was a dream, it was, it really was and we sat there for hours chatting away with a light in his eyes I hadn't seen before. We walk around town exercising off our full stomachs until it's an appropriate time to enter the club. It's a smallish club but would suit our need just fine tonight. The music is a little bit eclectic probably why I'm so fond of this place.

Once I've sweet-talked him enough to get him on the dance floor I plant us right in the middle of the throng. After a while he starts to loosen up and really enjoy himself. It's wonderful to see the person you care for happy, their manner relaxed with a big smile on their face. He starts to dance closer to me now the crowd thickens but it isn't really because of cramped space. As we move I place my hands on his waist and he doesn't object only flashes me a grin. I feel the fieriness of his skin under the palms of my hands and touch the moist of his gathering sweat with my fingertips. Some time later he begs off for a toilet break and I fetch us some drinks.

I place my order with the barman and wait, a muscled god of guy sidles up beside me putting his hand on ass.

"Hmm fine buns you got here boy." He winks grinning seductively.

"Thanks but I'm with someone." I reply politely pushing his hand off my ass, it isn't his to grab.

"What, four eyes you was dancing with?" he huffs unimpressed.

I turn to face him getting ticked off by this guy. "Yes."

"Oh boy you can do better than that, half the guys in this place would do you were you stand."

I roll my eyes, been there done that. "Please, you have no idea what he's packing." Our drinks arrive and I pay the bartender with a nice tip.

"What he got like a magic dick or something?" the muscle stud snickers at his own wit. To be honest I have no idea what Terry's packing, from what I've seen of his bulge and can estimate from the underwear he keeps I don't think it's anything to be sneezed at. In fact many men would probably be jealous, his body is nice and tight from his light work routine. He doesn't need much to keep in shape and in shape he is, but this guy is being a prick about my guy and I can't stand that.

"Close, he's Clark Kent now but when the glasses come off he's a regular superman." I grin leaving the arrogant dick behind and intercept Terry coming from the little boys room. I drag him once again onto the dance floor after quenching our thirst.

He's dancing pressing his full body up against mine now and my hands hold him here. Slower numbers come up and we sway together his arms around me with our heads resting on each other's shoulders ears to lips.

"Thanks for taking me out tonight." He breathes directly in my ear feeling is lips brush my lobs sends shivers down my spine.

"Pleasure is all mine." I reply squeezing him tighter to me, his arms respond in kind and I can't help but grin into his shoulder. He smells so intensely good tonight, I have no idea what cologne it is but it's been driving me nuts all night.

"Has it been a while since you've been out dancing?" he asks

"Not really, why do you ask?"

"I usual know when you've been out to a club." He says with a smile in his voice.

"What do you mean?" he turns his head to speak into my ear.

"Very... thin... walls..." he drawls out. 

I feel my eyes pop out. "You're kidding me right?"

"Nope. I hear everything." I feel his grin against my jaw where his cheek's pressing against. He's teasing me the little shit. "Every moan." He gyrates his hips into me. "Every grunt." He nips my ears. "Every ... time." He breathes and I grind right back into him. "You know what else?"

"No?" I croak my voice as untrustworthy as my hand right now.

"That second you hit your climax. I make sure I hit mine." I groan as he reveals his little secret to me and I want to throw him down right here on the dance floor instead, I take seconds by biting his neck.

"It's been very quiet at your end of the wall these passed few months."

"It's been surprisingly easy to say no." I confess and feel him nuzzle my neck in return.

A few hours later we leave the club and make our way home. My hands never leave his body and I keep touching him in any way I can, even if it is just holding him close. At our front doors he turns to face me, his cheeks are flushed and his hair still a little damp from working up a sweat on the dance floor. I'm sure I don't look much different.

"I had a lot fun Abe."

"Good." I return his smile eliminating the space between us. "So did I." I stroke across the flush of cheeks down the line of jaw. He's been a bit of a tease tonight while we were dancing but I know Terry well enough by now it doesn't mean we're jumping into bed right away. He told me how he is during one of our many conversations; it's not a problem for me this time. His teasing does tell me he's already very much at ease with me physically. I couldn't have wish for more, right now I could however settle for a kiss. I'll dream up the rest later until we get there.

I keep my hand on his jawline and pull his head closer until our lips meet. In that second I feel the weight of the world leave my shoulders and I sink into the kiss, one he returns with vigour. His tongue begs entree and he shows me just how good a kisser he is. Playing with my lips making them do what he wants and I let him. I don't care how he kisses me as long as he's kissing me. I feel butterflies explode in my stomach and an altogether different desire rise up in me. I break the kiss before I really do throw him down in the middle of the street. Bidding him goodnight I flee into my house. Oh be still my beating heart.

In a light-footed daze I wander upstairs and ready myself for sleep. I walk over to my bed when I stop to stare at the wall dividing our houses and blush. He heard me when I... Can he really? I inch closer to the wall and press my ear against it.

Nothing.

Does he hear when I masturbate too? In the spur of the moment I want to test this and I slide down the wall. It doesn't take me long thinking about Terry dancing against me tonight to get me hard as steel. I gently start stroking myself moaning more loudly than I would normally do. After a few minutes I feel a thud against the wall as if someone is sitting against it mirroring my position on the other side.

The idea of Terry stroking himself in one of those flimsy pieces of underwear he owns, is an image that spurs me on like never before. I vocalise my climb, feeling the pressure rise and feeling a slight rhythmic thud through the wall. I close my eyes and envision Terry sucking me, head between my legs as he strokes himself. Working his magic tongue as I stroke his hair. I love feeling a man's head between my legs, especially when they have me at their mercy hands on my thighs gripping me.

I stroke faster and hear the thudding quicken in pace too, he's close as close as I am. Just thinking about is sending me over the edge and I scream out a torrent of cum. It's intense and one of the longest orgasms I've ever had, it just kept going. Panting and trying to make the room stop spinning I rest on floor against the wall

Fuck if this is what happens with a wall between us how I am going to survive his bed?

-o-

Click & Send

Thank you! I finished the damn paper and submitted the infernal thing 2 minutes before the deadline! I've been cranking out overtime this week to get it done and have hardly had anytime with Terry at all. Man I want to go home, snuggle up to him and watch TV or something inane like that. Set my brain to zero for a while.

As I'm packing up Christophe passes my office. "Good you ready?" he asks.

"Ready?" I frown what's he talking about?

"Yeah, we're going out tonight remember? We're meeting up with some of my old college buddies."

"Shit, Christophe I totally forgot."

"Hey! A deals a deal man you promised so I would review your paper in time for the deadline."

I sigh; damn I did make that deal. "I know Christophe I just-"

"You're not getting out of it, come on just a few drinks and then you can go."

I'm not going to hear the end of it if I don't go. Christophe can be very pig-headed like that. "Fine a few drinks and you're paying." I wag my finger like a kindergarten teacher. "deal!"

"Deal" he grins. "Come it will be fun you haven't been out with us in ages!"

Damnit there goes my night with Terry.


-- Mr. Bramble --

I'm about to go to bed when I hear the door next-door slam closed with a bang. It's so loud it startles me; Abe must have had quite a night and I chuckle thinking how merry he can get when drunk. I hope he's all right and has had a good time.

With that big deadline due today it's natural he'd let lose a little. He hasn't been able to stop by for any length of time since our date last week. He was a little tipsy too that night but the kiss, that kiss had been real.

Grinning to myself I strip and am about to crawl in when I hear laughter from next-door. I freeze my hand hovering above the duvet leaving it untouched. I hear the laughter again and I slowly sink down onto my bed staring at the wall.

Two voices.

Two different pitches of sound.

In a daze I slide off my bed and slowly walk over to the wall between our houses. Pressing my ear to it during a moment of silence I shake myself thinking it was a figment of my imagination. A deep moan sends a chill down my spine. I know that moan I've heard it many times except I haven't heard it at all since we started our trade...

I slide down against the wall to the floor; my heart sinks as it breaks. I've been an idiot. I actually thought he was interested in me, I actually thought we were getting somewhere. I knew it was too good to be true, I knew deep down a guy like Abe would never be into a man like me. It had been too easy, our conversations and dinners too much fun to be actually leading up to anything. Though a kiss does not promise me anything, to me it's a seal. I'd seen it in his eyes, the energy to which he jumped to come over and eagerness to be with me. Well, I thought I'd seen it maybe it was just a reflection of my own desires.

What about our date?

I'm sitting with my back against the wall in my sleeping shorts listening to him moaning next door. Every sound brings me closer to tears as a million emotions assail me. I look down to see my traitor cock reacting the same way. My body is on autopilot while my mind is swirling in grief. With every rising moan another tear rolls down my cheek and the empty openness of my bedroom resounds around me. I grab my cock as I sob stroking it as I hear Abe and some stranger in his bedroom. It doesn't take long; there is no joy to it, it isn't even bittersweet. My body is going through the motions in tune to Abe's climax hearing him shout out something and before long all is silent again. Sluggish and dazed I clean up and crawl into bed utterly exhausted. A few minutes later I hear Abe's front door slam again, though quieter this time. I switch off the light and sink into a dreamless sleep.

I hope it was worth it Abraham.


-- Mr. Thorne --

Ohmygod my head... the morning sun prickles my eyes and my brains throbs in my skull. I'm nauseous and am experiencing the mother of hangovers. Why the hell did I let Christophe talk me into going out? Left me with a fantastic dream that I had Terry in my bed last night, alcohol hasn't done that to me before though.

Groaning as I sit up I feel soreness where I shouldn't be feeling soreness.

"What?" I'm naked in bed and I usually sleep with my shorts on. Looking around my bedroom at my tossed clothes and the smell hanging around I freeze . Oh no...

Through the haze of my hangover I struggle out of bed, a feeling of dread rushes over me. On the floor a final piece of evidence has me in full-blown panic, an empty condom wrapper. Oh shit, oh no oh no oh damn, it wasn't a dream? 

It's 10 in the morning on a Saturday I look out of my bedroom window squinting against the bright light. Terry should be on the patio having his morning coffee but the patio is empty and the window is closed with the curtains drawn. The curtains never drawn. I rush into my clothes and barrel down the stairs. We have our coffee together on Saturdays around this time; the door is always ajar for me.

I break when I see the door firmly closed. What the fuck happened last night?

- o -

He hasn't opened the door to me in a week. Every time it remains unanswered even though I know he's home and my heart breaks all over again. So I've stopped banging on the door. Christophe told me the following monday how I'd gotten far too drunk and one of his friends offered to take me home. I can't even remember the guy, Jerry or Gary or something.

Alicia marched into my office on Monday; I felt the storm before she reached my desk sitting herself down on the vacant chair in a mood. All she did was look at me she didn't utter a word. Her face a mask of disappointment while I just stared down at my keyboard in shame, she sighed heavily and slowly got up from the chair. She stopped at the door looking back at me.

"You guys would have been good together you know."

Alicia disappears into the hall when I exhale a teary breath. I know. I know we would have been great. It's what I've been working towards for weeks now. Every time I learned something new about Terry  I wanted to be with him even more and now he won't even open his door to me. I'd been warned he takes these things seriously from the get go and it was my full intention not to fuck it up. I royally fucked up though I got drunk and I can't even remember it but he heard. He heard it all.

Every day my world grows darker without him.


-- Mr. Bramble--

A small voice at the back of my head is telling me I'm overreacting. It's my brain cause my heart is conflicted; I still want to be with him and I don't want to see him. Do I want to be with someone who can jump into bed with just about anyone? One night during a late nightcap on the patio he explained it to me. He told me that when he's single he doesn't discriminate. He said he doesn't always have control over it, I thought that sounded like bullshit and I told him so.

He said I was right, loneliness shows itself in different ways Terry. Every time I hope it will turn our different. Every time I think I need to do this so he won't get away. It's fear, I feel fear if I don't get the guy in my bed as soon as possible.

Why? I had asked, as I'm just about the opposite of that you can get.

I honestly don't know. It's like a compulsion I need to or I feel like crap, like my whole world is threatening to go down if I don't. I know rationally it isn't the way to go about things. I know I'm just setting myself up for disaster but I fall for it every time.

What about when you're in a relationship? I followed up; I was curious how that would work. Does that mean he's the unfaithful type? I couldn't be with an unfaithful man. Even though everything I've learned about Abe that fare hadn't given me the impression he was.

He laughed before catching the serious note of my question. I don't sleep around Terry, he's assured me. I don't cheat. When I'm actually in a relationship I can say no and say it quite easily. There is no fear then cause I have someone. I get tempted for sure, I like to look at a good-looking guy just as much as the next person but I don't need it and I never succumb. The compulsion just isn't there. Then I get dumped and the cycle starts all over again.

I had mulled over his words for a long time, I guess my need to take things slow was a kind of compulsion too. There is a fear that I'd jump in too quickly and scare them away. I guess neither of our tactics is actually working out for us. Neither one of us can get someone to stay long enough. I'd never thought a guy like Abe could feel the same loneliness as I do. He's very good-looking, smart and sociable. He's the kind guy that turns heads when he walks into a room. That night we went dancing I could see it in everyone's eyes, why is he with him?

He properly won me over during our date. I've been infatuated with him long before but that night he only had eyes for me and that made me feel very powerful. Especially when he'd ignored blatant advances by some very studly men who didn't even acknowledge I was there. I relished dinner together, I enjoyed dancing with him and loved our giggly walk home with his arm around me. I melted when he kissed me. I felt his body sigh as our lips touched as if he was finally getting something he'd been longing for...

I finish folding my laundry and pick up the basket switching off the light of the laundry room.

--Mister Blight--

Mister Blight is a new guide at the Natural History museum. He watches Terry walk the floors every day with much interest. Blight's only been at the museum for two weeks cause he's temporarily filling in while Rose is on maternity leave.

Last week Terry was all bubbly and smiles this week he's been quiet and rather withdrawn. In Blight's experience this is the perfect time to strike. Time to make a move while the iron is still hot or down in this case. Sullen pry are easier to catch.

During lunch he approached Terry in their small canteen, walking up to him he admired Terry's figure. This guy should be dynamite in bed; he got hard just thinking about it. Terry hardly noticed Blight sit down next to him.

"Terry you all right?" Blight asked softly rearranging his features to one of concern.

"Oh hi, yeah I'm fine thanks." Terry forces a smile much to Blight's delight. He must be really depressed. Perfect!

"I know we don't really know each other well but any time you want to talk I'm here ok?" he touched Terry's hand concernedly.

Terry felt really nice hearing those words but the mistake Blight made is when Terry looked up Blight wasn't looking at his face but down south. Terry snatched his hand from Blights and angrily left the canteen. Men!

Blight sat there a little confused, that should have worked...


--Mr. Bramble --

"He's been a wreck all week." Ally told me over dinner. I made her favourite she brought the wine and a movie for a night away from the kids and her loving husband.

"I know." So have I but I don't know what to do. I've told myself I'll open to door to him next time he knocked even if it was just to see his face but he's stopped knocking.

"Doesn't come out of his office or eat lunch with the rest of us anymore. Christophe told me he was well out of it when someone offered to take him home that night."

"Being drunk isn't really a valid excuse Ally."

"I'm not saying it is, honesty I'm not excusing him at all. I'm just saying he wasn't in his usual frame of mind at the time. He talked about you all the time Terry. Everyone at work now knows who you are and where you live and what your bloody favourite colour is."

I can't help but crack a small smile at that but there is one thing I can't get out of my mind. "I heard it Ally. I heard everything."

She reaches over the table to grasp my hand, "Have you talked to him yet?"

I shake my head pushing my food around my plate, my appetite gone. "I ignored him at first and now..."

"He got the hint?"

I nod separating the carrots from the peas with my fork. I'm not angry I was never angry at Abe it was disappointed in him. It hurt and I can't shake that so easily. Now all I want is to hear his voice. Hear what happened and why maybe that will help me move on from him.

"I can't think about it right now Ally what movie did you bring for tonight?" I sigh pushing my late away.

"The Truman show." She smiles digging into her purse for dvd.

"Amazing soundtrack. Philip Glass is a genius." I smile. After clearing away the mess of dinner I barely ate I make some popcorn and shroud the living room in darkness. Ally and I used to watch movies like this all the time while still at home. Our parents weren't around much so we just had each other. We still do but Ally's build up an extra support system with her own family. I want an extra support system too and for a while that had been Abe.

I miss him.

But should I even be missing him?

-o-

It's Sunday morning and I head out with my shopping list for the farmers market. Stepping out my front door I see a man knocking on Abe's door. I hear him mumble to himself while writing something down on a piece of paper as I lock up. It's 10.30 on a Sunday morning, which usual means Abe's out with Lode playing squash.

"Can I help you?" I ask though I'm not sure why. The man looks up from his activity and we both stare at each other wide eyed. Damn, it was like looking into a mirror. Same height, same hairstyle and same build, damn even practically the same glass frames.

"Shit." He says looking me up and down, that wasn't what I thought he'd say. "You must be Terry huh?"

"Er... do we know each other?"

"Look, I really didn't know he was already interested someone or I wouldn't have put myself forward like that." The man said holding up his hands.

"I'm sorry I don't -"

"He kept refereeing to me as Terry now I know why. I wasn't really paying attention until he you know, screamed it out." He said indignantly. "It's my fault I knew he was drunk it just seemed like an opportunity I couldn't pass up." I can't believe it... "Look I've been on a business trip this week and I didn't have his number. I think I left my watch here I know I'm asking much but if you could pas this on I'd be grateful."

He trusts the piece of paper he'd been writing on in my hands and turned to leave.

"Gary Brier - forgot my watch need it back." Followed by a phone number. Dumbfounded I stare at the note in my hands.

"You know." Gary speaks up again a few feet away. "I wish I had been the Terry he thought I was that night. I've never heard anyone profess their love like that before."

He thought it was me... "W-what did he say?"

"You ever heard of the poet Pablo Neruda?"

"Er... no." Poetry?

"Yeah neither had I. As you probably know his place is filled with poetry books. If you want to know what he said look up Neruda Sonnet 81." With a regretful smile Gary turns around and walks away. Falling autumn leaves dance in his wake.

I shift my gaze to Abe's front door and realize I've never been inside his house. I've never seen how he lives or knew he had a love of poetry. Poetry? He doesn't seem the type for poetry but then again who does? I turn; unlock my door and head straight to my computer, farmers market completely forgotten.

Pablo Neruda, Sonnet LXXXI

And now you're mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
and you are pure beside me as sleeping amber.

No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
we will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
and let their soft drifting signs drop away;
your eyes close like two gray wings, and I move

after, following the water you carry, that carries
me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.


He thought it was me...

-o-

"Ally I can't break into his house!"

"Shush he doesn't lock his back door and you can climb over these panels with a ladder easily. You even have a ladder!" she points out gesturing to the ladder she set up.

"I'd be trespassing. I'd hate it if someone would snoop through my things!" I try to make her see reason but with my sister that isn't very easy to do.

"You want to know if this Gary guy was telling the truth right?"

"Maybe he was lying..." I bit my lip I'm making excuses and I'm very aware of it. I think I need her to really talk me into it a little more before I can climb over.

"How do you know? We don't know this guy. Look, you have an hour before he gets home from his play date with Lode. I'll stay here so you can climb back over alright?" she argues

"This isn't a good idea Ally."

"It's a perfectly good idea, get up that ladder now!" she commands in her authoritative mommy voice. I eventually do as I'm told and jump down on Abe's patio.

I can't believe he doesn't lock his back door even though you can't really enter his patio except via another garden like I just did. His kitchen is the first room I encounter, dirty dishes in the sink and empty fast-food boxes on the countertop. What has he been eating?

His living room is small with a couch and a TV,  along the walls there is a single contentious bookshelf. It runs like a ribbon around the room. I slide my fingers along book-spines as I walk around computer books titled LISP or Coders At Work. I register fictional authors like Terry Pratchett, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, J. K. Rowling, Arthur C. Clark... they aren't ordered alphabetically but by genre I note. I spy four books with their spines turned to the wall near the door. Intrigued I pick one up and see it's from the twilight series, he's embarrasses to have them yet he keeps them all the same. Historical works of Darwin and Thomas Moore and more I've never even heard about. I open the door to the hallway and see the ribbon of books continue along the hall wall and up the stairs.

Following this red thread through the house I encounter a million books I never knew existed some in French, German or Dutch. At the top of the stairs I find the first of a series of classics even I know. Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, the Brontï sisters, Jane Austin, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, William Golding, Mary Shelley... I open the first door I come across and step into his bedroom. The ribbon of books continues and finally I find the poets, every one of them here in his bedroom. James Joyce, Byron, Charles Baudelaire, William Blake, E.E. Cummings, Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl and many more, too many to count. His bedroom is simply decorated; just like in the rest of the house his books are his décor. The bed is unmade and messy with simple blue sheets in a cream coloured room.

On his nightstand I find a well-used book with a bookmark peeking out. Sitting on his bed I pick it up, 100 sonnets by Pablo Neruda. The bookmark is placed on page 169, Sonnet LXXXI, my sonnet. The used bookmark is no more than a piece of paper he's been doodling on. The first four verses he wrote down have been scratched out but they could still be read

You only existed in fleeting flight of fancy
I for one never dreamt that
one day, there you'd be
No dream or fantasy to elude me

The following verses took on an altogether different tone:

Slipping away into a barrel of dreams
Nailed shut, void of light
To suffocate, to drown in darkness, to
be no more...

I read and reread the note before I carefully close the book and return it to the nightstand. Wiping a tear away from my cheek I leave his bedroom and close the door walking through his house guided by his ribbon of books. I quietly manage to climb over the paneled wall where Ally's still waiting for me.

"And?" she asks tittering on her toes. I don't say anything I can't say a thing. On my way to my bedroom I switch on the coffee machine while Ally keeps babbling questions behind me. Once in my room I pull out a thick fleece jumper, I grab a cushion from the couch and fill a thermos with the freshly brewed coffee.

"Terry! What are you doing!" Ally yells frustrated with my silence. I swipe a pen from my desk with a book of crossword puzzles and walk out of my house. Ally watches me lay the cushion on the Abe's doorstep and sit down.

"He sometimes has lunch with Lode after their game so there's no telling what time he'll be back." I finally answer pouring myself a cup of coffee settling in as the crisp October air ruffles my hair. "I'm not going to chance missing him."

Ally only grins at me and leaves shortly after. Tom appears from his daily hunt and keeps me company. We sit there while I slowly drink my coffee bussing myself with the puzzle in my lap.

-- In the hedgerow --

Abe turned into his street walking in his new adopted manner of head down and shoulders slouched. The game had been fun and an excellent way to escape reality for a few hours. He reaches into his pocket to dig out his keys, nearing his front door he stops dead in his tracks.

"Terry?"

Terry looks up from his little nest on Abe's front doorstep, coffee all but gone and his fingers growing colder by the minute.

"Hi." He smiles, causing Abe's heart to beat to a rhythm of deep pounding drums.

"Er... Hi." He replies quietly. "What are you doing there?"

"I need help with my crossword puzzle." Terry tells him tapping his pen against the booklet in his hands. Abe frowns but does take a step forward. Any step forward at this point is all his body wanted to do. He sees Tom stretch out lazily and jump away.

"You do?"

Terry nods looking down at the puzzle book on his lap. "Three letters, a photoreceptical organ."

"Eye" Abe immediately answers he was good at this sort of thing. Always had been. He's often helped Terry with his Saturday morning puzzels.

"Four letters, conifer tree." Terry notes in his little booklet.

"Pine" Abe answers again without much thought and walks up the steps towards Terry.

"How many items in a tetrad?"

"Four." He says sitting down next to Terry on his doorstep. Feeling the cold stone slab under him but oblivious to the chill all the same. 

Terry pretends to scribble something down. "Common name for a taxus tree?"

Abe frowns but after some thought he does answer. "Yew"

"Yes I do." Terry breathes looking straight into his eyes. Maybe not the most spectacular of sentences but it was all Terry could come up with in that short period of time and quite frankly he was amazed it had worked at all.

A ripples rises through Abe's stomach scrunching up his face. "I'm so sorry Terry, I know I really messed thi-"

"Sssh...." Terry lifts his hand to Abe's cheek to stop him talking instead pulling their lips together and finding a better use for them. He feels Abe's body melt to his like that night of their first kiss; Abe's whole frame sighs as he wraps his arms around the man sitting on his doorstep. Breaking the kiss he buries his cold nose in the warmth of Terry's neck and releases a trembling breath.

"I though you were never going to speak to me again."

"I may have overreacted Abe I - "

"No you didn't." He mumbles into Terry's neck. "I knew the second I kissed you what I was getting in to and I wanted exactly that. I still do."

"So do I Abe." Terry tries to budge him but he only tightens his hold.

"I've never been so happy as when I was dancing with you that night. Finally kissing you blew my mind Terry. Every time I'm near you I never want to leave and when we're apart I can't concentrate for thinking of you."

"Abe..."

"I can't ever remember any it. That night's a blank all I remember is dreaming of you and waking up to a nightmare."

"Abe..." Terry try again.

"I've been going over it my mind again and again and I can't explain why I did it. I only know I did and I've never regretted anything so much in my life." Abe lost in his rush to finally be able to talk to Terry to hear him.

"Abe..." Terry eventually manages to worm one of my arms free.

"I'd lost you before we even got started and all I want is to be... -"

"Abraham!" Terry says more forcibly shutting him up as he pulls his face from the depths of Terry's neck. "I want you too." Terry whispered wiping a few stray tears from Abe's face. He'd never seen Abe cry before; never even seen him get emotional from anything . Now here he is hunched into Terry on his own doorstep emotionally as bare as you can get.

"But...-"

"Gary came by today." Terry tells him softly.

Abe frowns, "Who?" You really don't remember a thing do you?

"My doppelgänger."

"What?" His frown deepens and his back straightens yet his arms remain where they are. 

"The guy that brought you home that night." Abe's face pales. "He recognized me immediately and called me by name."

"How?" he croaks.

"Apparently that's what you called him... You said you dreamt of me that night." Terry spoke slowly keeping their eyes locked. "What did you dream of?"

"I- I dreamt it was you holding me." Think tears roll down his cheeks as he stammers his way through his words. "I dreamt... I was kissing you." He takes a hold of Terry's face in his trembling hands. "I was making love to you ... I... I confessed how deeply ... madly in love with you I am."

"Rest with your dream in my dream?"

"Yes- "his breath hitches with his tears pressing their lips together again. "Yes, yes." Crushing Terry in a vice of an embrace but he didn't mind. He can cling on to me all he wants as long as he's cling to me.

Terry was sure of Abe now, there was no need to second guess or stay fretting over a single mistake. He wanted Abe and Abe wanted him that really was all there was too it. There is no need to wait anymore.

This is how they sat on Abe's doorstep until the wind grew stronger and the chill in the air nipping their cheeks.

"You know this doesn't mean you're getting out of doing my laundry." Terry informed Abe after a while and he feels his body shake as Abe chuckles, tension leaving both of them. Untangling their bodies he smiles as he looked up.

"I know. I'll gladly wash your flashy underwear." Abe grins.

"I don't have flashy underwear."

"Hey, I do your laundry you have no secrets left. I even named some of them."

"You named my underwear?" Terry punched Abe's shoulder playfully.

"Yes" Abe grins tears all but wiped away and forgotten. "Like now." He very gently pried his fingers into Terry's jeans and pulls up the waistband of his underwear. "Ah you're wearing the Black Pearl."

"Black Pearl?" Terry laughed lowering his fleece over Abe's hand to stop the cold air from chilling him.

"Yes, shiny skimpy little black thing that's hardly there at all. You love to wear it, it's always in you laundry basket." Terry blushed crimson behind his glasses. Grinning he picks myself up from Abe's doorstep grabbing the pillow and thermos.

"What other names have you given my underwear?" he asked stepping over to his own front door and opening it.

"Well there's Blue Steel, El Tigre, Ferrari and lest we forget Magnum." Abe explains as they enter the house. Chuckling his arms instantly envelope Terry and has him in a kiss to blush by as the door closes.

A second later Hedgerow Street is once again calm only the growing winds of October making the fallen leaves dance about. The town in a buzz with the light activity a Sunday warrant's and all is well.



I'm always on tender hooks when I post a story so I'm hoping you enjoyed this one.

All and any feedback is welcomed, comment and/or email me.
I'm also looking for proofreaders if you're interested PLEASE get in touch.

This is a piece of fiction. My piece of fiction which may not be borrowed, altered, taken or copied without my explicit permission. These stories are registered under my name.

A. Sonky


 

Sonky

[email protected]

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