Afterglow

By Dabeagle

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I woke early and stretched before padding to the bathroom. On my return I slipped beneath the sheets and snuggled behind Parker, who sighed in his sleep but was otherwise undisturbed. With my arm already draped around him, I slipped my fingers between his and closed my eyes, not to sleep, but to dream. I had no idea what last night meant, other than what he'd said - echoing that statement from the time we were teens. I didn't know what had changed; this had never happened when he'd come to visit before.

The problem was I wanted more. More dinners and lunches out. More holidays and family events. More road trips and snuggling under a blanket for a movie. More kissing and more sex. More Parker. I guess that was the problem with fooling around. It was okay as long as nobody went and fell for the other person. I've always loved Parker - as a person, as a friend and a brother. I'd never counted him as a lover because it seems an awful lot to tag him with based on one night of jerking each other off. Now? Now I wanted more. He'd stoked a fire in me.

I nuzzled the back of his neck, laying butterfly kisses on his warm skin. He stirred slowly and pressed back into me, tightening the grip on my hand.

"Uh oh," he said in a playful tone. "I think I told you once that sex was cool, but holding hands was too intimate." He started laughing softly, his back shaking against my chest.

"It's after," I said to him.

He sighed deeply and nodded, his hair whispering against the pillow. "Yeah. Let me go pee, first."

He rose from the bed and I watched him in the palest of morning light. It wasn't enough, but hot damn Parker had grown up nice. I think I'd kind of blocked it out, but my blinders were off in a big way. I heard the flush of water and he crept back into the room.

"Scoot over, bed-hog," he said with a snicker and I slid over to accommodate him. I reached out and ran my fingers into his hair and dragging him forward for a chaste kiss, determined that this bubble where we were together wouldn't end just yet. My heart-rate increased as our lips met, getting no resistance from him.

"Tell me, Parks," I said.

"Okay," he replied, in a small voice I'd not have said he possessed. "It's like this. I travel for work and, as I've told you, that wasn't really a good thing for trying to build anything with anyone. I had a few hook ups, but after a few times I started to feel kind of empty afterward. I was missing things - stability, consistency...love. So," he said and cleared his throat. "I was in Texas for a moto-cross thing and there was a party after we wrapped things up. We were in the hotel bar kind of late, having some laughs and this guy was making eyes at me."

"Is this where I get jealous?" I asked to break some of the tension.

He laughed lightly. I could see more of his face as the light strengthened outside and I drank him in.

"He reminded me of you a little, actually. Kind eyes, nice laugh. We were just talking, nothing interesting, and he made a move on me. Kissed me."

Parker's eyes were focused on mine and I stared back at him intensely. "What happened then?"

"He wasn't the first guy," he replied, seeming to ignore my question. "I've been hit on a few times, and even hit on a few guys myself. It's...."

"It's what?" I asked, my heart hammering.

"He...wanted to come to my room, but I said no." His eyes fixed on mine. "Just so I'm clear, I'm saying I've spent time between the sheets with both sexes. Sometimes at the same time. I let myself out of that box a long time ago."

"You never really mentioned any of that before," I said with a frown.

He shrugged. "I know. It didn't seem important to bring up before. Like, it wasn't relevant to anything we talked about or anything. Now, it does."

"How?" I whispered, my heart hammering.

"When I...got to my room I started thinking I wanted to come home and see you. I kind of felt like I needed to, but my contract had me traveling for two more weeks. You may remember I started to call a lot. Check your schedule, see what you had going on."

"I thought you just missed me," I said, teasing, yet full of wonder.

"I did," he said seriously. "When I got to your office I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my chest. Like I could breathe again. I needed to see you, and I couldn't wait for you to get done with your work day." His hand found mine and he held it firmly. "As soon as I got to you, I knew. I was home. It's a feeling I can't get from anyone else. Your office, your apartment, your car, this bed...it's home because I'm with you."

"Parker," I said, breathless and trying not to let my emotions carry me places that would hurt me. "I always thought you were straight. As much as I'd love for you to be gay...we both know-"

"We both know what I was at fifteen. Does anyone know who they are at fifteen?" He moved slightly closer, his legs brushing mine and then his knee bent and forced its way between my thighs. "Shane, I told you I was a little gay for you. I did the hetero thing in high school and I dated girls and did my thing. I've mostly stayed on the hetero line, only stepping off here and there. I was looking for the right person and...but I never, never forgot what we had."

"I know. We were always best friends no matter what," I said softly, afraid to dare too much

"You're still my best friend. I want more, though. I want to try, Shane. The reason I have a job interview in town is because I need to be with you, to follow through on this...epiphany that everything I wanted was right in front of me."

I closed my eyes. "I want to believe in this, Parks. You have no idea. But how can you...wait, you said you hit on other guys?"

"A few," he admitted reluctantly. "They all had some part of you in them - fun, attractive, smart. They weren't good enough, though."

"I'm afraid," I said and opened my eyes. "I'm afraid because the last time I fell in love - and I already love you, Parks, you know that. The last time, when it ended, it destroyed me. I'm afraid of what happens if you're not gay or bi or whatever. Or if this doesn't work."

He shook his head. "I can't promise it'll work, Shane. All I can promise is that I'm always going to love you. It would be the biggest mistake of my life not to listen to myself now and come to you and lay it all out. To try and make a life with you. I'm risking everything to be with you, Shane. Just...give me a chance. I won't let you down."

Squelching my fear I surged forward to kiss him and he returned the fervor. Breaking the kiss I nodded at him. "Okay, Parks. I want more, too. I want you with me. So let's do this."

~AG~

The drive home was fairly quiet. We held hands for much of the way, until our hands or arms started to become uncomfortable. We stopped at the store and Parker picked out things he wanted to cook with. We finally got home mid-afternoon. I helped put the groceries away and then headed into the bedroom. Parker followed me and immediately took his pants off.

"Jesus, it's good to be home," he said with a sigh and rolled his head on his shoulders.

"Mmm, it is," I said as I wrapped him in my arms and settled my hands on his ass.

He smiled and leaned in to kiss me, and he left me struggling for breath as he pulled away.

"Holy shit!" I said, panting. "You weren't kidding about not holding back!"

"Now isn't the time," he said.

I studied his face and said, "I can't believe this. You are trying for a job here, you're changing your whole life for me. I..." I sighed and smiled at him. "This sounds stupid, but I felt so abandoned and worthless after Travis left me. It was hard, too, losing you at the same time. To have you here with me...I didn't think I was worth that."

"Shane, Shane," he said with a playful curl in the corners of his mouth. "Is that what you got out of what I said? I always did have to explain things to you."

"Explain, then," I said softly.

"I didn't change my life for you. I realized you are my life. The middle of it. If you need to know how serious that is, I destroyed a body pillow for you."

"You...what?" I asked and laughed at the silliness.

"You know how I feel about body pillows," he said demurely. "But I wanted you. So I had to tear a big ass hole in it."

My mouth dropped open. "I never asked, but you...wrecked the pillow to cuddle me?"

"You were always good cuddle material, Shane. I told you that for years."

I pulled him close to me, feeling the heat of our bodies through our shirts. "I love you, Parks."

"I love you too, Shane." He sighed and squeezed me. "I have a question, though. Do boyfriends have some rule that says they only have sex at night?"

"As opposed to...?"

"The afternoon. Before I cook dinner. Like, now."

I started stripping clothes off.

"I was only asking," he said with a grin. I took his hand and pulled him toward the bed where he reinforced how much he wanted us. Me. Oh, and how I wanted him. Needed.

~AG~

Monday was sort of a mess. The staff meeting was raucous, and the drama and speculation about Marcia ran rampant through the day. I think the full time staff were glad they still had jobs, but the temps were kind of used to the short term nature of work and were more interested in gossiping at the moment. I grabbed another cup of coffee and retreated to my office, but was shortly joined by Vickie.

"You look pleased with yourself," she said as she leaned in my doorway.

"I am," I said with a smile. "The work we do here, I believe in it. I'm really glad it won't just go to waste."

"I'm glad I still have a job, so thank you for that," she said and then slipped further into my office to sit down. "I have a marketing degree; I don't know if you were aware. Is there any chance of my moving up to a full time position?"

I smiled at her. "I did know. Alan oversees most of that, but I'll check in with him and see if there is anything brewing."

"Thank you," she said and then smiled slightly. "You know, it's interesting how life changes us."

I leaned back a bit and sipped my coffee before replying. "How do you mean?"

"I was raised in a small town where people were what you might call 'judgy'. The white folks looked down on us black folks, the church-going folks looked down on everyone else - even each other. But in all that, there is always a bottom of the pile group that everyone looks down on."

I frowned lightly. "You mean gay people."

She nodded. "I don't know why. When I came to the city I brought all my small town small mindedness with me. I have to be honest with you, though. More than anyone else in my life, you've opened my eyes time and again about judging people. Even now, after you basically saved everyone's ass and here I come asking for more and what do you do? Tell me you've done enough or to pull on my bootstraps and help myself? No. You just say you'll try to help. Again."

I smiled and glanced away. "A friend asks for help, you help. I don't think it's that spectacular a thing."

"Except not everyone believes that, and...well, enough on that. Where is that gorgeous guest of yours? Is he bringing you breakfast this morning?"

I smiled dopily. "No. He made breakfast this morning before I left."

"Oh. Now that's serious," she said.

I glanced at her. "It is, Vicki. It suddenly, perfectly is."

She smiled widely. "You are a lucky, deserving man, Shane. I'm happy for you."

I blushed and nodded at her. "Thank you."

She headed back to her desk and I sipped my coffee and smiled to myself. Making love with Parker was consuming. There was no other way to say it. Our first attempt as teens had been exciting, satisfying and completely fulfilling. He had given me a confidence I still struggled to put into words. When I transitioned to being sexually active with Travis, it had been different, yet fulfilling as well. Travis and I had gone through the awkward growing pains of teens who were trying out new things. Testing. It had been awkward, endearing and exciting.

Giving myself to Parker had been a bit about teaching, but it wasn't like fumbling teens - though the excitement was pretty close. We were able to skip over the fumbling and awkwardness of our youth and home in on pleasing the other. While I was committing myself to this new relationship - this new facet to an old relationship - there were still parts of me that struggled to accept the new reality. Having Parker fuck me certainly cleared up a few lingering questions. You don't keep it up like he did if you weren't attracted.

I'd always wondered about the difference between fucking and making love. If you have sex and you love each other, does that transform fucking, the act, into making love? Although we loved each other, the sex was very hot, very determined and not slow in a way I thought of as making love. In my mind, that was a slow, comfortable experience. To me, fucking implied a speed, a...perhaps a hornier experience. My libido, which had faltered many times over the past few years, was now focused on Parker and getting home to him.

Parker had always been desirable to me. He was under-the-radar cool, smart, funny and good looking. I hadn't pined for him, which was a comfort. He'd been a constant companion through both of our lives, and I'd always appreciated his role as my best friend. My brother. I'd be lying, though, if I didn't admit that the last few years of sporadic dating hadn't reminded me of the things I'd lost, things and people I missed. Travis had been one person I'd missed quite a bit, but romantically he was farther away than he'd ever been. I'm genuinely pleased that he's in love and living happily.

Parker, though, had always been the other big missing piece for me. Much like he'd said to me, no one could replace him in my life. There were advantages, too, with us coming together when we were a little older than we had been. I hadn't asked what he'd actually done in bed with another man, but he had treated my prostate like a boxer does a speed bag. Just thinking about it had me wondering if I could get away with going home 'sick' so I could get back in bed with him.

You might think that all my thoughts of Parker were sexual. I had to admit, I was going through a phase where there was an awful lot of that. I hadn't had someone that I connected with in bed like I did now since Travis and I were last together. That's a lot of time. I liked being wanted, desired. It made me feel good, to know it was someone I loved that loved me back that also wanted me in bed as much as I wanted him there. I guess we'll wind down, eventually, but I hoped it wouldn't be soon.

My phone rang, and just like that my reverie was over. I spent the rest of the morning on the phone and trying to make sure our operations moved forward as planned. Parker showed up about one with a bag in hand.

"Hey," he said and leaned over casually to kiss me, as if he did it all the time.

"Hey," I said warmly. "What are you doing here?"

"Lunch. Who knows what kind of processed crap you shove down your gullet when I'm not around," he said and pulled out plastic containers with egg salad sandwiches and sliced fruit.

I glanced at my watch. "Oh, man, I didn't even notice the time. Thank you, babe."

He beamed and we dug unto the food he'd prepared. "How's the first day back?"

I explained about the drama and gossip the temp staff had been engaged in and how the morning staff meeting had been a little wild with questions and shock at Marcia's betrayal. I smiled and described my conversation with Vickie.

"She had us figured, didn't she?" he asked and chuckled.

"Yeah. Actually, Travis's grandpa saw something there, too." I shook my head, thinking how odd it was that others saw something I didn't see myself. "You want me to pick up something for dinner?" I asked.

"No. I went this morning and got a few things. I have the crock pot cranked up, now. We'll have dinner after."

"Oh, okay. After?"

"Yeah. You owe me from Saturday night. I'm collecting when you get home." He looked at me steadily, the light of mischief in his eyes.

I paused for a beat. "You mean...?"

"Have to get all the sex in we can before I get this job. It's regional, so I'll still have some traveling, but maybe you can come with me sometimes?" he asked.

I made a few taps on my screen and turned the monitor off.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going home with you," I said with a grin.

"Jeez, horny? There's more to me than my body, Shane," he said in a teasing tone, standing as well. Adjusting his package belied his words.

I came around the desk and cupped his face, kissing him. "Yeah, there totally is. But I know how funny, smart, and cool you are. I have lost time to make up for discovering how good you are in the sack."

"Well, I think you should stay at work." He smiled at my look of disappointment. "Anticipation, Shane. Besides, you'll have to take it easy with me for my first time."

I turned and flipped off the light to my office.

He laughed. "I'm not doing it here."

"I'm leaving with you," I said firmly. "I'm going home to you and everything that goes with that."

"If you leave now, people are going to know we're going home to fuck."

"I hope so. They can be jealous all they want."

Parker stood, the food forgotten. His face had a look of...wonder? "You really do want this, don't you?"

"I'm done waiting, Parks. I'm going home. Are you coming with me?" I asked and held my hand out. He grinned and took my hand and we walked through the main floor and toward the exit. As we passed Vickie I grinned at her. "I'm going home sick, Vickie. I'll see you tomorrow."

"I need to catch that flu," she said dryly, but returned my grin.

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