I tried to upload the whole thing, because reality is I am never going to be able to fix the story and uploaded. My life is gotten super busy. However, FP for some reason wouldn't let me copy paste the whole thing. I make no promise about the next upload, but I do enjoy hearing from you guys!
Michael took a quick shower after practice and ignoring his teammates he hurried to his car. He missed Gerald, he had only seen him in the morning, shared that small smile with him and now all he wanted was to have Gerald in his arms. He wanted a kiss, he needed a kiss. Just thinking about Gerald smiling against his lips, softly melting into his arms made him press the accelerator a little bit more.
He hurried into the coffee shop happy to see it was empty. Gerald was cleaning behind the counter and Michael ran towards him jumping right over the counter startling Gerald who dropped the broom in his hands.
Gerald didn't have time for more than a gasp, because Michael's arms were around him and he was lost in a kiss. Michael's arms moved up Gerald's back holding him against his chest and when the kiss ended Michael didn't let go, he straightened his back bringing Gerald up with him. Gerald laughed feeling how Michael was lifting him and hid his face against Michael's neck.
"You're insane," He whispered, setting a few kisses on the warm skin.
"I'm in love," Michael whispered back. Setting Gerald back down on his feet and giving him one last kiss before stepping away from Gerald's personal space. "I missed you so much." Gerald never cared much for personal space when it came to Michael and made a quick job of reclaiming his spot against his boyfriend's warm skin. His boyfriend, he couldn't help but let the word whisper out, like a breath. Like a breath he'd be holding in too long.
Michael sighed holding Gerald tight against himself.
"What time do you close up?" Gerald picked up his broom, putting it away before coming back to answer. He poured Michael some coffee and grabbed a banana nut muffin setting it all in front of Michael, who had retreat back to the customer side of the counter.
"I should be done around 8:30." He fed a piece of muffin to Michael with his fingers. "Ray said he'd stop by, I haven't seen him in awhile so we're going to hang out for a bit."
Michael took a large gulp of coffee trying to calm down before talking. The coffee was too hot and it burned not only his tongue but left his stomach burning.
"Are you ok?" Gerald panicked; he knew the coffee was too hot. He could see in Michael's face that he was hurting. Gerald hurried towards the freezer to pull out a cold bottle of water. "Here drink some. That coffee was really hot. Are you ok?"
Michael nodded. He took a large sip of the water offered before talking.
"Doesn't Ray have any friends his age? It's a bit weird for someone his age to be hanging out with teenagers." He picked a small piece of the muffin and fed it with a smile to Gerald.
"He isn't that much older." Gerald said opening his mouth for the muffin.
"Well I wanted you to spend some time with me. I missed you so much today and I thought we could go to the beach together, a sleep over and early tomorrow morning some surfing." He pulled Gerald close by his green apron and kissed him, "We haven't surfed together in a really." He stole a second kiss before he continued talking, "really long time. Call him, tell him something came up, you'll meet him another day."
Gerald was about to protest, say that he's been putting Ray off for almost a week, but then Michael kissed him again and placed the cell phone in his hands.
"Please?" Michael pouted. Michael pouted for Gerald and how could you ever expect Gerald to say no to that?
They were at the beach the stars over them and sand and water beneath. It was a windy night and they hadn't removed their shirts. Gerald sat near the water watching the waves come in and out of the shore. They played with the sand; Gerald accidentally let some sand fly out of his hand hitting Michael on the face with it. Michael tackled him to the ground, he tickled him and Gerald tried to get away, with out really wanting to. They rolled in the sand eventually feeling the cold water hit their bodies.
Gerald froze beneath Michael as the wave washed over him; his white shirt soaked the salty liquid, sticking to his form. Michael looked down at Gerald. It was the first time he was looking at Gerald as more than a friend, he was looking at him with lovers eyes, with lust. He looked at Gerald as his boyfriend, as the beautiful person he loved. His lips lowered to Gerald's and his hands slithered over Gerald's body.
Gerald's nipples were stiff from the cold water and Michael's ministration. Michael felt the bumps under his palms. Curious he broke the kiss and looked down. Gerald stayed quiet watching how Michael inspected his body. Afraid that the blue eyes would find something wrong, would notice something lacking or worse something extra.
Gerald felt self-conscious wishing he could somehow hide himself. He shifted trying to stand, but with Michael hovering over him it was impossible. Michael looked up.
He watched how Gerald's hair had darkened with the water, how it stuck awkwardly to his fore head. He looked into Gerald's brown eyes, how they always seemed to look sad, no matter how happy he really was. Happiness didn't show in Gerald's eyes, it just seemed to shine from behind the permanent sadness. He looked at Gerald's small nose, how the tip was pink from the cold and couldn't resist bending down to kiss it. He continued to look at Gerald. His neck, how long it was, how his Adam apple was barely noticeable and how it bobbed up and down when Gerald swallowed.
Michael looked down at the protruding clavicles, he wondered if there was a name for the small hollow that existed between the bones. He followed the bone up to the shoulder, his hand reaching to cup it; he could feel the smallness, the sharpness. Gerald's arms were long, thin covered by defined muscle, his finger long and graceful.
His eyes trained back on Gerald's nipples he remembered the feeling of them against his palm; the white shirt had shifted with Gerald's nervous squirming. A sliver of tan skin peeked at him. Michael's trained hand's moved they knew very well what to do. They tickled and touched the offered skin and slowly moved the shirt to uncover more.
Michael's hands traveled over Gerald's body, he could feel how the boy tremble as the shirt was slowly removed, he stopped when his hands reached the armpits.
"Are you cold?" Michael whispered against Gerald's lips. Gerald shook his head, a blush staining his cheeks, because yes he was trembling but it wasn't because of the weather. He was trembling because Michael's hands were traveling over his naked skin. The slight temperature difference gave him goose bumps; it warmed him up with desire.
Michaels hand left the shirt bundled under the armpits. The tip of his finger ghosting over barely there muscles, tracing the lines of Gerald's abdomen, silently comparing the straight lines to the curves he had memorized.
Gerald allowed him to remove his shirt. He wanted to wrap his arms around himself, hide his chest from Michaels eyes. Blond lashes closed, covering the hypnotizing blue. Lips landed over Gerald's shoulders and strong hands moved his back onto the sand. Blue blinked back.
Michael's hand moved from the angle of Gerald's shoulder down the flatness of his chest to play with the dip of his navel. He circled and caressed the slightly chilled skin as another wave hit the side of Gerald's body. Michaels pink tongue slipped over his lips, his eyes trained on Gerald's flat chest. Michael thought about the differences. His hand flat against Gerald's skin moved over the brown nipple. His flat hand rested over Gerald familiarizing himself with the feeling.
It was the first time Michael's caresses traveled beyond Gerald's waist. Gerald sucked in a breath as the chilled water hit his body again. A few drops of water landing over his torso. Michaels hand moved down from the puckered nipple, straight over to the narrow hips resting under Gerald's drenched pants.
Gerald closed his eyes, his head tilting back to the skies. Long expanse of sensitive skin exposed. Michael's attention was drawn back, his lips rested against Gerald's neck, tasting what he had come to recognize as Gerald. His knee asking for room between Gerald's legs and his body resting over Gerald's as he explored with his mouth what a minute ago his eyes had. Gerald's arms pulled him close, begging for warmness as the waves continue to land against him.
They kiss, panting as their heart beats quicken. They kiss as hands grow bold, as tongues lick and teeth nip. They kiss and hips lowered and groins met. Michael froze, unused to the hardness. He pulled away, curiosity getting the best of him.
Gerald, freezes for the first time feeling ashamed of his own anatomy. He pushes Michael away, wishing nothing more than to disappear. He covers his flat chest, remembering the way Michael's hands had traveled over them, wishing he could some how compete with the curve filled bodies of Michael's ex's.
Gerald pulls his shirt over, draping the wet material over himself, trying to hide his shame as tears prickle out of his eyes. He can't believe this. It had been just too good to be true. His best friend, his good looking, jock, straight best friend suddenly gay for him. For him nobody him, nerd, fag wannabe artist him.
He angrily wipes away his tears, the sand stuck on his hand scratching his face.
"Stupid." He whispers, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." Michael's hands fall over his shoulders a desperate attempt to understand what is happening. He shrugs the hands off standing with his back towards Michael, too ashamed to look at him, because it doesn't matter how much he has changed, he will never be what Michael wants.
"I don't know why Michael wastes his time with trash like you"
Gerald pulls the shirt over his head, the wet clothes sticking to his body, making his haste to cover his body more difficult. He wants to run and hide, because damn it, why?
"Gee?" It's his friend's hesitant voice, because all Michael wants to do is feel Gerald close to him again, all he wants to do is rest his fingers over the chilled skin, but he can see Gerald's hesitance. He can feel his friend's distress and distance and he just doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know what went wrong. Did he touch him the wrong way? Did he go to fast, did he go too far?
Why won't he look at him? Why won't he turn around and yell at him, tell him what he didn't wrong. Slap him anything but his back, his trembling back, his quiet sobs and distance.
Strong arms round his chest and Gerald tries to push away; he tries to break free, because he doesn't want… he doesn't want Michael to force himself.
"You don't have to," he mumbles, trying to break free. Michael takes him by the shoulders forcing brown eyes into blue.
He sees the tears, and knows he caused them, not how, not why, but he knows it was him. His heart drops, wanting to pull and console Gerald, but if his touch did it how can he force him into more?
Michael can't stand to look as the tear wet face. He drops his arms in sign of surrender; wiping his own tears before they fall, and steps away.
(Lie to Me, Bonjovi- Me cuesta tanto olvidarte, Mecano-Aire Ah, Pedro Marin)
All Michael ever wanted was to keep the tears from Gerald. He had promised himself his friend would never again need anyone's shoulder to cry on; that he would never suffer again. He could see the heartbreak, he could feel the despair, and yet his mind couldn't comprehend how his hands had caused it.
"Gerald," He whispered. He couldn't tell if he was heard or not. Gerald's eyes were trained on the ocean, the sobs shaking his body. "Gerald," he repeated slightly louder.
"You don't have to." Gerald repeated, his voice broken and wet.
"What do you mean? I don't have to?"
Gerald wished the waves would just take him away, he wished he could be part of the ocean, part of its beauty, its art, its perfection. He didn't want to stand there between the two things he loves, knowing he can never have either of them.
"You're free, Michael; you no longer have to pretend. I'm sorry you ever felt you had to."
Michael moved forward pulling Gerald against his chest, "You're mine Gerald, you're mine to take care off; you're mine."
Gerald closed his eyes feeling bitter tears pour over his face, because Michael was right Gerald was his, but Michael could never be Gerald's.
"You don't have to pretend." Gerald turned in Michael's embrace. "I'll always be your best friend. I'll always be yours."
Michael tightened his arms around Gerald, he never wanted to let go.
"I don't know what the hell went wrong here tonight, but I think we should leave all decisions for tomorrow." Michael had lost a bit of his blindness, his sight towards Gerald seemed to un-blur a bit more each day, and he could see his intentions were to break up. Michael didn't know why, but he wasn't going to let that happen. Gerald wasn't something he was willing to give up.
The wind picked up, unmerciful to the wet bodies by the shore. Gerald's lips shivered against Michael's shoulder, the tips of his fingers hurting as they buried themselves against Michael's warmth.
Michael picked up Gerald bridal style. Gerald was too worn out to protest; he let himself be carried to the car, his head resting against the window as they drove.
Gerald's mind had too many contradicting ideas, too many things to go over; too many ideas born out of suppositions. Because why would Michael fake this? Why fake being gay?
Gerald knew Michael, and never had he even suspected Michael could be gay. Nothing Michael ever did or said hinted towards it, not until Gerald. Was this Michael's way of saving Gerald?
But, if so why go to these lengths? Why did Michael so carefully rid Gerald of his wet clothes? Friends hand you a towel, maybe worry about you catching a cold. They don't carefully remove your clothes; they don't caress you with the towel and hold you to their bodies, wishing to take in all your cold.
Why did the way Michael intertwine their nude legs together, feel so forced? But the way he held Gerald against his chest as though he was afraid he would disappear the minute he let his guard down, feel so natural?
Was Gerald simply incapable of accepting that finally things were working out, that finally he was getting everything he had ever wanted, and more than he ever dared dream? Was he just scared to find out this dream is just a nightmare?
Gerald laid in Michael's arms quietly asking the same questions over and over again, analyzing every little thing that's happened. He didn't get anywhere, because he isn't ready to see the truth.
Gerald rested his head over Michael's chest hoping to hear his heart beat. His hands moved over the warm skin, his ear pressed against the firm chest, but he can't make out the beat. He moved higher, and then a bit lower, concentrating and trying to block all other sounds. He finally heard it; finally found the right spot, but then he heard a guitar.
Michael's death grip has relaxed enough for Gerald to easily escape it. He slipped out of the bed as quietly as he could, and he walks towards the sound. The music still soft, but he could feel it closer; he knows where it's coming from, and though the walls are creating a barrier between him and the sound, just standing on the side of the room that is closest to Sean's, makes him feel better.
Gerald leaned his ear against the wall, searching for that perfect spot were the music notes seem to hit. He closed his eyes as the melody soothed him. He can see Sean leaning against his bed, his fingers strumming, his lips quietly singing. Gerald wished to be there, his head resting against Sean's shoulders.
He can't hear Sean's voice, but he knows the lyrics; he knows the tone and sound of Sean's voice. It doesn't take his mind much to finish the image with sound.
"I wish I could be air,
If I were air I'd be beside you now.
I could see what you hide from me,
And caress your skin as a breeze.
I wish I could be air,
Because then you would need me,
You would need me like I need you.
I'd still be a silent spectator to your life
You'd see through me like today,
You'd forget that I exist,
But never this long,
I want to be the air you breathe
I wish I could be air,
If I were air I'd be beside you now.
I could see what you hide from me,
And caress your skin as a breeze.
A silent spectator, waiting to be needed
I want to be the air you breathe."
The questions and voices in his head quieted down, allowing the elusive sleep to conquer. His eyes grew heavy as his body swayed to the music. Gerald fell asleep against the wall, his knees drawn tight against his body, his ear pressed against the wall.
Gerald woke up back on Michael's bed. The spot next to him was empty, but Michael's warmth was still on the sheets. Gerald pulled a pillow close and turned around trying to go back to sleep.
His phone rang. He was truly starting to dislike the contraption, he felt like he could no longer hide. The ringing was hard to ignore and broke through his concentration. It was like a tracking device, were ever he was he could be found. The pillow he had hugged was thrown over his head hoping to gain back some silence, but the ring broke through the feathered barrier.
He cursed under the pillow, he pulled it off and glared at his jeans were the diabolic machine rested. "Shut up" he thought. The ringing stopped and so Gerald turned back around with the pillow between his arms and closed his eyes. He could feel sleep knitting it's net around him, the sound of waves as his subconscious took over taking him into a peaceful dream.
Gerald stared at the waves. Where was the comforting 'swoosh', he loved?
He was positive that as annoying as seagulls squawking was it never had been that annoying. Then he called himself stupid. Beeep, his eyes widened, he was awake again. The diabolical contraption was announcing a missed call.
A low growl grew from his throat and the pillow was propelled towards his jeans. There was no chance he was going back to sleep now. Muttering about evil inventions he got out of bed.
"I'm sure your cuddling with your beloved, but you owe me. Meet me for lunch, I won't take no for an answer. I'll pick you up at 1. At your house, I won't be going to psycho boyfriend's house."
Gerald was wide awake now. He searched for his clothes but didn't see them anywhere, and then he remembered Michael had taken them down to the laundry room. He moved towards Michael's closet and borrowed a pair of flannel pajama pants. They were extremely big he could pull them up past his bellybutton and they still dragged on the floor.
He was folding the pant legs up when Michael came back into the room. They were both silent, Michael just watching Gerald fiddle with the pants. When Gerald was done he stood up with his hands stretched to the side.
"So how ridicules do I look?" He asked with a bright smile.
Michael with his long legs moved quickly, surprising Gerard who found himself engulfed in a hug. Gerard relaxed in the embrace and hugged Michael back. After a moment where they both simply enjoyed the contact Michael pulled away giving Gerald a soft peck on the head.
"You look adorable." Gerald of course blushed. "Now I have to go, but your clothes are in the dryer and Sean said he'd bring them to you as soon as they are done."
"Where are you going?" Gerald asked. He was curious but also relieved; if Michael had plans there was less chance they'd fight over Gerald's lunch plans.
"Frank called; he and some of the guys want to go out for lunch." The name Frank was enough for Gerald; he scrunched his nose and told Michael to have fun. Michael couldn't help himself and kissed Gerald's nose, it just looked too cute scrunched up that way.
Michael had already showered and dressed, leaving almost immediately after the kiss. Now this left Gerald in his room, in his pajamas feeling rather uncomfortable. It just didn't seem right to walk around his boyfriend's parents' house in said boyfriend's clothes. Even if only Sean knew they were boyfriends.
He settled on seating on Michael's bed, but that got boring in a less than 4 minutes. He looked over Michael's desk. There were two pictures of Michael and Gerald as kids, one was a copy of the picture Gerald had received as a birthday gift and the second was from their Kindergarten "graduation". There were also pictures of the football team, of Michael at a party with a girl under each arm, of Michael with Frank and May. Gerald sneered at that picture May and Michael had broken up what felt like ages ago. Why did he still have her picture?
He stood up looking through Michael's CDs but they had very different tastes in music and nothing appealed to him, plus he'd be embarrassed to put music on. What if it bothered the other occupants?
Sean walked in with out knocking and found Gerald bouncing his head against the wall.
"You're not a prisoner, you know?" Gerald looked back with a smile. "Well I dono my brother is kind of possessive. Did he tell you not to leave the room?" Gerald couldn't tell if Sean was joking or not, but it seemed safer to take it as a joke.
"Yeah, he didn't want you being tempted, by my scrawny body."
Sean tossed Gerald his clothes.
"You're going to lunch with Ray right? Now that your warden is off duty."
It didn't surprise Gerald too much that Sean knew about lunch. It really wouldn't surprise him if he had known before Gerald, after all Ray was seeing more of Gerald's friends than Gerald himself.
"Where is your ball n' chain?" Gerald asked trying to turn the tables.
"We take off the restrains after sex." Sean managed to make Gerald blush. "My ex-boyfriend is probably with his new boyfriend."
Gerald's jaw dropped, "Oh, wow Sean when did this happen? Are you ok?"
"Yeah," Sean waved Gerald's concern away, "we were having issues anyway; best to be friends than enemies." Gerald gave him a skeptic look. "Seriously it was a mutual thing."
"When did it this happen?"
"'bout a week ago?" Sean shrugged.
Gerald felt bad and out of touch. "Why didn't you tell me?" Died in his throat, he knew better than to open that can of worms.
"It's nice to see you smiling." Ray broke the silence that had fallen between him and Gerald after ordering. It was something he had been meaning to say for a long time. He loved seeing that smile on Gerald's face. The smile had not lost any value as it became less rare, it was still just as precious as beautiful.
Ray could see how Gerald's shoulders seemed more relaxed; he had a large weight removed from them. His mom was doing good, still going to her meetings and following the doctor's orders. She was even looking for a job, a frustrating task since she had no prior work experience.
Gerald blushed, trying to purse his lips, but the smile didn't let him. He couldn't help it, life felt complete and though he still had his moments of doubt. The hug shared with Michael in the morning, the chat with Sean, his mom looking at the job listings and now sitting there in front of Ray having lunch with a friend, made everything for once feel right.
He could ignore his doubts and his fears, because for years he'd had a half empty glass and now for once not only was it half full it was overflowing.
He was also going to ignore the fact that he was a little too happy with the break up news.
After lunch Ray and Gerald decided to walk along the shore. Gerald was thinking back to everything that had happened up to where his teacher had mentioned the art contest.
Gerald had kept that news to himself, he didn't want others opinions to influence his decision, he had to do what was right. Leaving his mom, now didn't feel right. He knew his friends would encourage him to go, but what about Michael? Would he be ok with it?
Would Gerald be fine, if Michael had no problem letting him go?
"What's on your mind?"
"School," Gerald shrugs, "Graduation, work, college… life. Changes."
"That is some heavy thinking you've got going."
Gerald gave Ray a lopsided smile.
"I'm so glad I met you."
Ray placed an arm around Gerald's shoulders pulling him closer to his body.
They walked towards a convenience store, Ray was out of cigarettes. Standing outside the store as Ray lit his cigarette Gerald continued.
"You changed my life Ray. The moment you began to talk to me, that you wedge yourself into my life is when everything began to change for the better."
"I didn't do much. You just needed a push." Ray pulls Gerald into a hug. "You're stronger than you think Gerald. All your life you've taken care of someone else, it was time someone took care of you."
"Michael takes care of me." Gerald whispered. Ray cleared his throat but didn't say anything. He tightened his arms around Gerald and then let him go.
Ray was the first to spot them. He couldn't believe Michael would go to the café were Gerald worked with a date. Michael scored low in Ray's book, too low to be allowed to breathe the same air as Gerald.
It would have been the perfect opportunity to open Gerald's eyes, to show him what good care Michael took of him. Ray couldn't do it, he couldn't allow Gerald's smile to disappear. He took Gerald's hand and crossed the street, placing his arm over Gerald's shoulder in hope of blocking the café window.
"Ray? I thought we were going for coffee."
"Nah, let's go visit Sandy."
Sandra was surprised to see them, but a smile spread across her face as she ushered them in. They went to her backyard were Jay was waiting for her. They were in the pool with some of her friends; everyone greeted them nicely and invited them into the pool.
They didn't have swimsuits with them, and Gerald blushed when Ray reminded him that it had never stopped him from taking a swim. It was true when it came to the sea, but it wasn't the same in a swimming pool filled with people he didn't really know.
About half an hour after arriving Sean joined them. Gerald had his feet soaking in the water with his back turned towards the house. Sean sat behind him, without Gerald noticing, until he felt hands circle around his waist and weight pushing him forward. They both splashed into the pool.
Gerald swam up to the surface managing to untangle himself from Sean, though he still didn't know it was him. When he saw his friend's smiling face, he playfully smacked him on the shoulder.
"You scared the crap out of me," Gerald said, pushing his wet hair away from his eyes.
Sean laughed, claiming Gerald looked just too tempting sitting there so peacefully. Gerald splashed at him again and they were soon in a full on water war.
Ray watched them from a table set to the side of the pool.
"He sure does look happy, doesn't he?" Sandra asked, sitting next to her cousin with an ice tea in her hand.
"Yeah, he does," Ray nodded, not moving his eyes away from the boys in the pool. Sandra's friends had joined the fun, and the splashes were almost reaching where Ray was sitting.
"I didn't think Michael would be good for him, I guess I was mistaken." Sandra's statement got Ray's attention. He turned fully towards her with serious eyes. "Sean told me," she confessed. "I was complaining on how possessive Michael had become, and how annoying I thought it was that he was stringing Gerald along."
"Michael is a sick fucker Sandy, and he is anything but good for Gerald." Ray looked down at his lap, he was unsure of how much he should say. He felt he had said too much without ever saying enough.
"Look how happy he is," Sandra said, pointing to where Gerald was jumping onto Sean's back.
"Yes, but do you see Michael around? Have you seen Gerald this carefree around Michael?" Before Sandra could answer, Ray continued to talk. "If Michael were here, hell if Michael would be here, Gerald wouldn't be here. I don't know what Michael's game is Sandra, but it's not good." They sat quietly, both unsure of what to say next. Then Ray made up his mind. He stood up and asked Sandra to let Gerald know he'd be right back.
"Where are you going?" Sandra asked him, but Ray just shook his head.
Sean stayed with Gerald to wait for Ray after everyone else left. They could have left, but they were both curious to where he had gone. Their clothes had been thrown in the dryer while they showered, and they now sat in nice warm clothes in Sandra's bedroom with her boyfriend.
Jay was lying on the bed as though it was his own, and Gerald and Sean were sitting on the floor. Sean had brought his guitar with him and was softly strumming the strings without paying much attention.
"Play something," Jay said.
Sean looked up from where his fingers were forming notes, and shrugged. "You know, Gerald plays the guitar too." He mentioned, before playing "Sad Eyes" again for Gerald.
"Really?" Jay sat up, "You really are a jack of all trades aren't you?" Gerald blushed looking down at his hands. Just then Sandra walked into the room, complimenting Sean on his playing.
"What song is that?" she asked him.
"Sad Eyes," both Gerald and Sean answered.
"Did you write it?" Jay asked, and both Gerald and Sean laughed.
"I wish," Sean said.
"It's by Bruce Springsteen," Gerald explained
"Now I feel stupid," Jay said, pulling Sandra close for a kiss.
"Every day here you come walking. I hold my tongue, I don't do much talking. You say you're happy and you're doin' fine. Well go ahead, baby, I got plenty of time. Because sad eyes never lie, sad eyes never lie…" Sean sang.
"That's beautiful," Sandra said when Sean finished the song, "Didn't Enrique Iglesias, do a cover of that song?"
Gerald laughed, "I have no clue, and if he did, I don't think I'd want to hear it."
They all laughed, except for Sean who looked sadly towards his guitar while still playing the notes to the song, slowly, so softly that it almost didn't sound like the same song. Gerald noticed how sad Sean looked and wondered what he was thinking about. He remembered Sean's confession from the morning and felt a pin prick in his heart.
Sandra noticed their need for privacy, and asked Jay to help her get some drinks. They left the room and Sean dejectedly put the guitar down. Gerald leaned closer to Sean.
"Do you miss him?" he asked.
"More than I ever thought I would." Sean answered, his eyes cast down.
"I'm so sorry Sean; you don't deserve this. He doesn't know what he is missing."
"I just want him to be happy and safe, even if it isn't by my side." Sean locked his eyes with Gerald's, "His happiness means more to me than my own. I'm happy if he is happy, I want to see him smile, even if it isn't me he is smiling at. It's just hard, because I… he is still so close."
"You really must love him." Sean nodded. "Trent doesn't deserve you."
Sean mumbled something in response, "What was that?" Gerald asked, not quite catching what Sean had said.
Sean forced himself to smile, "So, why don't you play the guitar anymore?"
"Life's gotten busy," Gerald said, letting Sean off the hook.
"I thought you loved it?"
"Yeah, but you know… I think I liked it that much because it was something my mom had given to me… you know?" Sean nodded. "Now I sort of have her back…it's hard to explain. I still love it but I just don't need it that badly anymore."
Nina was getting ready for a job interview she had in a few hours. She didn't want to be late. She'd been late to the last interview she had, and discovered that tardiness, bundled up with her lack of work experience, didn't make a good first impression. She was determined not to be late to this interview.
The doorbell rang and she ran out of the bathroom, still applying her lipstick. She was in a hurry to open the door. She didn't even ask or check who it was until it was too late; and she saw Arthur standing in front of her.
She knew he had been at the hospital, and had the huge suspicion he had been the one to pay for her hospital bills, but she still avoided seeing him. She had thanked his mom and asked her to relay the message.
She still looked beautiful to him; she had a few wrinkles, but was still beautiful. He took a deep breath and a step into the apartment, although she had not invited him in. Everything looked almost the same in there, except the walls were lined with the paintings/collages Gerald created.
"Take a seat," Nina finally broke out of her surprise. Nina moved towards the couch where Arthur sat; she made as if to sit, but changed her mind. "Something to drink?" she walked towards the kitchen before he could answer.
"Nina," he called after her. She froze in her tracks, but didn't turn back. "I need to know."
She wrung her hands together, "Know what?" She could hear his steps as he came near her. She took a deep breath and turned towards him before he could reach her. "Did…did I ever thank you?" She asked, taking him by surprise, "I told your mom to let you know, but I really should have done it in person. Thank you Arthur." She said, turning back towards the kitchen. Her hands were shaking badly, and she wanted a drink so much, she could already taste it.
She opened the refrigerator door, hoping to find a cold beer inside, but was disappointed. She quietly scolded herself, she had to be strong. She pulled out a bottle of water, opened it and poured it out into two cups offering Arthur one. He took it.
"You don't have to thank me for anything."
Nina shook her head, "Of course I do. Arthur, you paid my hospital bills, you've deposited my son money once a month since he was three. You didn't have to do all that, even less with how I treated you. I have to apologize and thank you… you know its part of my treatment."
"Our son," was all Arthur said. Silence filled the space, silence spread around them and they both slowly choked on it. The glass slipped from her hand and shattered against the floor, taking with it the silence that was killing them. They didn't move, but Arthur spoke. "He is our son, Nina. Don't you think it's time you admitted that? You named him Gerald after my grandfather."
Nina grabbed some paper towels and bent down to dry the floor.
"I let you be for years, first because I believed when you said he wasn't mine. Then because it was clear you didn't want me around, but don't you think I have the right to know? That he has the right to know?"
"To know you wanted me to kill him?" She moved towards the trash, dumping the broken glass there.
"I was scared," Arthur replied, defending himself.
"He is my son Arthur, mine. You won't take him from me. Thank you so much for everything you've done for us, but please leave us alone." Tears welled in her eyes, "I don't want to lose him to you."
Arthur pulled her into a hug, "You won't; he is a good boy and he loves you, but you owe it to me and him, to let us know each other. I'm sorry Nina, but if you won't tell him I will."
Gerald came home around ten; Ray had never made it back to Sandra's. Nina was sitting by the window looking out with a dazed look. Gerald feared she had been drinking again and approached her carefully.
Her eyes were red and there were tear marks rolling down her eyes, she used her sleeve to wipe her face and tried to smile at Gerald. She stood up and took his hand leading him towards the couch, were a few hours ago, Arthur had sat.
"What's wrong?" Gerald asked in a shaky voice. Everything had been just too good, too good to last.
Nina shook her head, her hand touching Gerald's cheek a finger tracing his features. "Nothing is wrong," she finally said. Her hand dropped onto her lap. "Remember sometime ago you asked me why I had chosen Gerald as your name?"
"You said you didn't choose it."
Nina nodded again; trying to find her voice, trying to keep the tears away. "You were my baby Gerald, and I know I haven't been the best mom, but know that I love you very, very much. When I found out I was pregnant it was a shock, but a good shock. I was so lonely and it felt like a gift." Gerald hugged his mother and once more asked what was wrong. "Your father was leaving for college, he could have chosen one near by, but…back then I didn't understand, but he chose the best college for himself. He wasn't abandoning me, but it's what it felt like to me."
"Did he know about me," Nina nodded and Gerald's face fell.
"We had a fight and broke up, this was before I knew about you. When I found out I didn't tell him, but his mom found out. She didn't know it was his but still told him, he…I denied it. I told him you weren't his, because I didn't want to lose you, I didn't want to be alone again." Nina broke down to tears again, "I'm so sorry."
Gerald took her into his arms, "It's ok mom."
Nina shook her head, "No, it isn't. You could have had a better life. I was scared…when he said I shouldn't have you I panicked. Then years later when he came back, I was afraid he'd take you away. I'm so sorry, I've been so selfish."
"Who is he?"
Nina took a deep breath and few seconds to answer, "Arthur Harrison"
Gerald stared at her, the name sounding too familiar to him. "Harrison, as in Mrs. Harrison…are they related?"
"Her son, Arthur, you know him."
"Mrs. Harrison, is my grandmother?" Gerald asked in awe. It was the best news he could ever receive. The name of his father suddenly seemed un-important, because the woman who had loved and cared for him like a grandmother was his grandmother.
"Yes," Nina answered.
"Does she know?" Nina shook her head. Gerald wanted to run out and hug her and tell her, but Nina stopped him. It was Arthur's job to let her know the truth.
Gerald and Nina talked for a long time, questions were answer, explanations given, tears, hugs and forgiveness. Nina's fears were smoothened away, Gerald would always be there for her, he would always love.
Once Nina went to her room to sleep Gerald ran to his bedroom to call Michael. He couldn't wait to tell someone that Mrs. Harrison was his grandmother. He just hoped the old women would still love him after the news, but of course she would.
Michael's phone went straight to voice mail and Gerald hung up with out leaving a message. It was often that Michael didn't answer his phone calls, he was probably busy and would call him back in few minutes. Gerald fell asleep waiting for the phone call.
Ray didn't have a thought out plan when he left Sandy's, he didn't have a plan at all. Thing was he needed to confront Michael; Ray was quite frankly tired of whatever game the kid was playing. If punching Michael didn't mean trouble for Ray he would have done it long ago.
Michael, Frank and the girls were leaving the coffee shop when Ray arrived. Ray parked his bike across from Michael's car, where there was no chance the blond could miss him.
Michael laughed his arm curled around the girls waist as he walked towards his car, trailed by Frank and the other girl. It was completely priceless how that smile fled Michael's face when he saw Ray leaning against his motorcycle.
His arm twitched but he didn't move it away from the girl. He looked down at her with his smile back in place and then looked back at Frank. Ray crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes set on Michael a clear threat in them. Michael pulled the girl closer and whispered something in her ear before turning them both around to face Frank.
"Umm, keep her company for bit, okay?"
Frank looked puzzled, but agreed. He watched how Michael straightened his shoulders before approaching the guy by the motorcycle. The girls asked who the cutie was and Frank gave his girlfriend a warning look.
They were both silent sizing each other up and waiting for the others reaction.
"Who is your friend there?"
"She is none of your business." Michael said. His defensiveness not helping his case.
"Perhaps," Ray shrugged. "But I'm sure Gerald would be interested."
"And why would that be?" Michael asked pushing his hands into his pockets. "I don't believe he has much interest in girls."
Ray laughed, a disgusted laugh. He couldn't believe Michael.
"Gerald doesn't need you."
Michael clenched his hand into a fist. "He is my best friend. He needs me and you are never going to have him. You and no one else, because he is mine."
"He is not a possession," Ray growled out. "He isn't yours or anybody else's. What you are doing to him is low, sick. Stay away from him Michael, or so help me god."
"So help you god what?" Michael yelled, but looked back at his friends and tried hard to compose himself turning down his voice to barely a whisper. "You can't touch me, I'm a minor and you can't touch Gerald, because he is a minor too and trust me, Ray I'll be running to the police the minute one of your disgusting hands touches him."
Ray shook his head, "You don't scare me. Stay away from Gerald, because he is too good for you. I'll take a night in prison over you breaking his heart."
Gerald woke up late. He still felt tired, but excitement was bubbling inside him. He picked his cell phone up and was a bit put down not to find any missing calls. He dialed Michael again, but like the night before the call went straight to voicemail. Gerald dropped his phone on the bed and went to the bathroom to get ready for the day. He had to be at work by three.
Nina had made breakfast for him and though the toast was slightly burned everything was delicious. Gerald couldn't remember the last time his mom had made breakfast for him.
Sitting across from Gerald, Nina drank some coffee, she was rather silent, just watching her son eat. Gerald placed a lot of butter on his toast; he didn't want to make his mom feel bad by not eating it. Nina nervously stared at him. She was starting to make him uncomfortable.
"What?" Gerald asked sipping some milk and coffee.
"Are…are we ok?"
Gerard was surprised by the question and looked up into his mom's scared eyes.
"Of course we are." He stood up and moved towards her. He hugged her against his chest and kissed her blond hair. "We are better than ever."
"I don't know what I ever did to deserve a son like you. I don't know how you turned out so great after having a mom like me."
Gerald kissed his mom's head once more. He didn't have an answer for her, this is just who he had to be, he had to take care of her. He always knew she loved him and he loved her. Going back to his place at the table Gerald picked up his toast, about to take a bite of it when his mom's voice stopped him. "I know it's burned you don't have to eat."
"It's just a little dark." Gerald replied.
"Yeah?" Nina asked, "Is that why you smothered it with butter?"
Gerald blushed putting the toast down, "It is burned."
"I know, thanks for trying to eat it anyways. Were the eggs any good at least?"
"They were great."
Nina smiled and took the plates from the table to the kitchen. Gerald offered to wash them but she turned him down, he had to get ready for work. Dressed for work and about to leave the house Gerald looked at his mom.
"About Mrs. Harrison?"
"Arthur will talk to her today."
Gerald kissed her and left to work.
It wasn't a busy day at the coffee shop, the sun was bright and the surf was perfect, people were at the beach. He was bored and had nothing better to do than clean behind the counter, he was throwing out some old papers when he heard the door bell sound.
It was Ray and Gerald smiled, remembering how happy he was and is when ever Ray stopped by. Ray sat by the counter and Gerald served him his usual.
"You look rather happy today."
"Why is that?"
Gerald told Ray everything he'd found out.
"That is rather awesome." Ray hugged Gerald over the counter. "That Arthur guy was staring at you a lot the other day. Huh, so what happens now?"
"I don't know." Gerald hadn't thought that far. Not about Arthur or how he was supposed to act about him? Was he supposed to call him dad now? Where they suppose to talk? Is he supposed to feel something for him? Gerald was so happy about Mrs. Harrison he hadn't stopped to think about Arthur.
Ray stayed with Gerald 'til the end of his shift and then drove him home. Nina was looking at the job listings when they walked into the apartment and Ray was happy to see how much better she looked. He wondered how she was feeling and if they had seen the doctor recently, but kept quiet he didn't want to bring Gerald down. He hadn't even mentioned Michael, though he never really planned to.
Ray had a date that night and around left soon after he wanted to get ready for the date. It was a guy he really liked and didn't want to be late. Gerald walked him to the elevator and hugged him.
"Changing my life Ray. Thank you."
The elevator doors opened and Ray walked in. "Take care Gerald."
Next day was a Sunday and Mrs. Harrison invited Gerald and Nina over for lunch. Gerald had never seen his mother so nervous. It was almost like she was getting ready for a big date. Running around choosing clothes, changing about 10 times, putting on make up and taking it off. Gerald laughed softly, "It's just Mrs. Harrison mom."
"I know," Nina said looking herself over in the mirror, "but it's the first time she invites me over in a really long time. Plus…she probably already knows…" She turned towards Gerald, who was now chewing on his lip. She moved across the room towards him a soft hand on his cheek, "You have nothing to worry about."
Gerald nodded, but still felt a tight knot in his stomach.
Mrs. Harrison hugged Gerald tighter than she had ever done before. Tears rolling down her eyes as she planted a kiss on his cheek. He hugged her back, confused and relieved.
"I' sorry bubba. I'm so sorry." She cried with out letting him go. "Had…oh my bubba."
Gerald felt tears rolling down his eyes as he hugged her back. "You have nothing to be sorry about. Nothing at all ever, you loved me even with out knowing. Mrs. Harrison." She seemed to cry more. "Grandma, please stop crying."
Mrs. Harrison kissed Gerald once more before releasing him. "Your papa's are idiots, my sweet boy." Gerald smiled as Mrs. Harrison let him into the house.
Mrs. Harrison and Nina had a chat in the kitchen, but Gerald didn't hear what was said. All he knows is that they walked out drying tears up and that the meal was one of the best he'd ever had and not because the food was delicious, but because he felt like he had a family. He felt like a kid that maybe just maybe didn't have to look after others all the time.