A/N - Hello, and welcome to another story. This was actually started before 'Tribal Relations' but I was nervous to post. The reason? It's an mpreg, and I know how those are rather...controversial. But I have attempted it, and it seems silly to leave it half finished on my hard drive.
Please note - I enjoy constructive criticism, if it pertains to aspects of writing. (Style, character dev, grammar, etc) I would like nothing more than to be a published author one day, so those are helpful. Flames complaining that you don't like slash or mpreg are not welcome, as that is stated at the beginning of all my stories. They will be ignored and reported. If you don't like it, just don't read it.
Summary: Alex has an average job, a decent apartment, and a generally boring life. As a result, he enjoys reading and getting caught up in the adventures of faraway lands. He just doesn't enjoy it so much when it happens to him.
Warnings: M/M relationship(s), angst, some violence, and mpreg. Turn back now if these bother you.
Disclaimer: This story and all characters are property of the author.
Side note/contest - The book mentioned is actually a real book - if you can tell me what book it is you can have a one-shot of your choosing.
With a heavy sigh, Alex wearily kicked off his shoes, hung up his coat, and set his laptop bag to the side, resisting the urge to throw the damned thing across the room. It just wasn't fair – he had been trying for that promotion for months, but of course the golden boy Chris had gotten it. Chris was everything Alex wasn't – classic good looks, charming personality, a loving wife and literally 2.5 kids. Well, it might be a bit closer to 2.6 now; he didn't really pay attention when his co-worker mentioned his third child's due date.
Alex knew he tended to blend into the woodwork – he'd been told that so many times by his parents he could still hear them saying it. Followed by lectures about how if he wanted anything, he needed to be proactive and go get it. Well, that had worked really well in this case. His latest project designs had gone over very well with upper management, he thought the interview had gone well, but at the end of the day, Chris was set to lead the team, and he was told that they couldn't lose his valuable insight actually creating the designs. Sourly, he realized that there really was such a thing as working too hard.
The worst of it was, now he'd have to keep at his new level of work, and hope that another opportunity came up. Maybe it was time to check out the classifieds again, or update his CV online. It was depressing that he hadn't had any calls from that in months. But that only made sense – why pay for someone with seven years of experience when you could get someone right out of college for the same job? He glanced at his phone as he passed it; no messages of course. By the time he got to the kitchen, his kitten Sascha was just in the middle of stretching and yawning, clearly having just woken up from her afternoon nap.
"Sorry I woke you up from your nap. I know you had a long day lying in the sun."
She just blinked bright green eyes at him and glanced over at her food bowl, a clear sign she was waiting (im)patiently for dinner. He gave a half hearted grin and went for the can opener. It was nice to come home to someone at least, even if it wasn't what he truly wanted. Unfortunately, he was well past the age where going to bars or clubs would find him someone – all that happened was that he would get hit on by girls who clearly were only days over eighteen (or at least acted that way), and men old enough to be his father. He truly hated looking as young as he did. For girls it was alright, for a guy it was just emasculating. Even for a gay guy it was embarrassing to be considered a decade younger than you really were. The girls were aggravating, but the older men were just creepy. So eventually he had just given up going altogether.
After feeding his little terror, he popped a microwave dinner in for himself. He hadn't had to cook for anyone since his last boyfriend had moved out, and the idea of cooking for just one didn't appeal. Because of this, he'd gained a bit of a gut living off the unhealthy diet. He never bothered with the gym anymore either; the last few trips had ended up with him ignoring his workout and drooling over the bodybuilders. It wasn't like anyone was about to see him naked, and he didn't look bad in a suit quite yet. Another ten pounds and that might change though...
Besides, the cleanup from a microwave meal couldn't be beat. He dropped the fork into the dishwasher, and grabbed a glass to pour a glass of wine. His nightly routine consisted of either watching TV if there was a good movie on, or curling up with a good book. It wasn't exciting, but it was relaxing, and he didn't have many other ideas of how to spend his time. He had moved several hours away from home to take this job, and while he had kept in touch with his childhood friends and the friends he had made in college, they only kept in touch via email and occasional phone calls, and even that, except for a few close friends, had tapered off over the years. All the friends he had made here were really his ex's friends, and with their breakup, they had gone too. The few other friends he had made when he first moved had long since been chased away by his ex's possessiveness. Alex should have realized the sign for what it was, but they hadn't been the longest or strongest friendships to begin with, and Nate managed to make it all seem like coincidence. Nate had also been his first serious relationship as an 'open' gay adult. His 'boyfriends' in college were really more quick flings that he had to keep hidden, and didn't amount to much. He had been too terrified of being caught while he was still living at home to even attempt anything.
His parents were the reason he had accepted the move in the first place. Being fanatically religious, he knew his sexuality wouldn't go over well with them, so he had kept it a secret, even 'dating' a few of his sympathetic female friends, until college was over and paid for. He had gotten this job, made all the arrangements, and the day he was set to move, had told his parents he was gay. Not any sort of surprise, they had disowned him, but told him that as soon as he found God again and settled down with a nice girl he was welcome back home. That wasn't about to happen, so he sent them cards each holiday and at birthdays, along with presents which consisted of gift cards mostly. It bothered him to think of taking the time to pick things he thought they would love for them to just end up in the bin.
Luckily, he still had his little sister. She didn't abandon him, and every New Year's she would come with her new family; her husband and their young daughter. He adored his niece, and spoiled her rotten every time he saw her. It was the only thing Alex hated about his sexuality; that he wouldn't be able to have kids of his own. Lisa was happy to give him chances to see her, and her husband Greg was fine with him playing the doting Uncle, but because he was single, and even worse, gay, there was very little chance of adoption agencies giving him the opportunity to adopt a child.
That had been the cause of the fight between his ex and himself that signed the end of their relationship. Nate wanted nothing to do with kids – he had nieces and nephews of his own, and wasn't bad to them, but it was perfectly obvious to everyone that he was happy enough when his siblings left and took the kids with them. When Alex had brought up the idea of them adopting or finding a surrogate, he had flipped out. He hadn't wanted the responsibilities that having a child brought – they would have to pay for childcare while they were at work, there wouldn't be any more romantic weekends for them, they would have to sacrifice everything – according to Nate – for a child that that wasn't even technically theirs.
Alex had dropped the conversation, not wanting to fight, but things hadn't been the same since. He had always realized Nate was controlling, but things got worse, and when one fight escalated to Nate backhanding him across the face, Alex had calmly told him to get his ass out of his apartment. He had then, of course, broken down in a miserable heap; but at least he had waited for Nate to leave beforehand. For weeks afterwards, Nate had called, apologizing, asking Alex to take him back, but he had coaxed his sister out of enough bad relationships to know things only got worse; not better. It sucked to be alone, but he wasn't going to look like some battered abuse victim just to say he was in a relationship. Eventually the calls and random visits had stopped, and Alex was very grateful that the temptation of giving in and going back to him was gone.
Since then, he had gone on a couple random dates, even once with a girl just to get her off his back, but no one had clicked. Or, more accurately, no one had called him back. It was depressing, but there wasn't really anything he could do about it. He quickly immersed himself in his latest novel, enjoying reading about faraway places and lives that the most critical decision didn't involve what suit to wear to the meeting. Lost in his story, he didn't notice how much time had passed, and shortly before midnight he realized he needed to be up at 6, so grudgingly he marked his page and headed off to bed.
The next day followed the same boring routine, although he had to endure all of the well wishes for Chris' promotion. He grinned, and congratulated him as well; the worst part about trying to hate Chris is that the man was just too genuinely nice to hate. Plus, he was Alex' manager now; it was best to act like there was no hard feelings. The day was mostly meetings – both about the designs he had submitted, and for Christ to let the team know how things would work with him in charge. Alex had to grudgingly admit the man would make a good manager.
The walk home was long and dull, but with the traffic in the city, still quicker than driving. It was also the only sort of exercise that Alex got now, and he figured anything was better than nothing. He rushed through dinner, wanting to get back to his book, and by the time ten rolled around, he was on the last few pages. He was almost ready to cry, even though he had known before he started reading it didn't exactly have a happy ending. It had surprised him when he saw it in the bookstore, surprised that nestled right in the middle of the fantasy section was a trilogy of books with a gay man as the main character. It was good to see things like that in 'mainstream' (or at least as mainstream as fantasy really got) literature – even if the author seemed to enjoy abusing her characters. Alex decided he would go pick up her other books, even if there weren't any other homosexual relationships, the books would still be worth reading.
Sighing as he reached the bittersweet ending, he put the book down and headed to bed. It was too late to start another book or movie, and he could stop at the bookstore on his way home from work the next day to pick up the author's other books.
It was ridiculous how something as basic as having plans to go to the bookstore made Alex's entire day better. Just the thought of having something to go after work made him happy. Perhaps he would take some classes at the community college, or join a charity or something to fill his evenings. At least it would be something to get him out and meeting people or at the least doing things. The closest bookstore was only a few minutes out of his way on the walk home, and he quickly started browsing for some new reading material. Finding a bunch of interesting titles, he brought his finds to the counter.
The kid behind the counter was cute, in that kind of geeky sort of way. Dirty blond hair cut to about chin length framed a small, narrow face with eyes blue enough to be noticed even behind his wire-frames. He placed down a novel he was reading as Alex approached the counter.
"Evening, sir. Find everything?"
God, he even sounded cute. Smiling at him, Alex nodded. "Yea, thanks, I did." Come on idiot, say something to him. This was the reason that he never got any dates – he never flirted, never made any indication he was interested. He would always find some sort of excuse not to, and bolt as soon as he could. His excuse to himself was that there was no way of knowing if they were gay or not. A bad excuse, but each time he made the decision to change that, he'd chicken out.
"Hey, you've got a good selection here. I love fantasy, and these are some of my favourite authors. If you want, next time you come in, I can point out some others you might like."
"Really? That would be great. It's sometimes hard to figure out what's good and what's junk."
"That is so true. I used to just borrow one by each author from the library first before I started buying them. Now I can read them here." He grinned at Alex, blue eyes sparkling.
"Hmm, that's a good idea actually. Since you said you like these though, I'll go with them for now though. I feel like I can trust your judgement."
"Damn right you can! Or hey, if you'd like, I have a pretty decent library. You can always borrow some books from me."
Definitely flirting then, not just being a good salesman. "I would really appreciate it, but only if I can return the favour. I don't have a small collection myself. "
"Of course! Hey, my shift ends in about half an hour, want to grab a cup of coffee with me? We can discuss our book collections." He winked at Alex, and the older man couldn't help but laugh.
"That sounds great. I'll run home to drop these off and meet you back here?"
"Would you rather just meet at the diner on the corner? I know the store's a bit off the beaten track. Oh, and I'm James, but everyone calls me Jamie." He stuck out his hand, which Alex took without hesitation.
"Alex, and well, everyone calls me Alex. The diner is perfect." And closer to home, which gave him more time to get ready.
"Haha, got it Alex. Well, I guess I'll see you in a little bit?" Jamie asked with a grin.
Alex couldn't help an answering grin from lighting up his face. "Absolutely, see you then!"
The rest of the walk disappeared with Alex lost in his thoughts, He didn't notice when the sky darkened towards twilight, or anything about the walk into his apartment building. The place was quiet, but Alex ignored it and just headed for his apartment, thinking about what he had in his closet that he could wear out for coffee. He fiddled the key in the lock, getting annoyed as it stuck and wasted precious seconds he could be preparing for his possible date. Was it a date? Jamie hadn't said it was a date, but at the same time, the way he had suggested it made it sound like one. And how old was he anyway? He seemed to be old enough to be out of school, so that was something; most likely a college student then, working part time in the bookstore between classes. With any luck he'd be a grad student instead of an undergrad. He wondered how he would feel once Alex had to admit he was pushing thirty.
As the lock finally caught, he pushed the door open, hearing Sascha's yowling from inside. He frowned, she rarely made noise, and he had never heard her make a sound like that. He didn't have any time to figure it out though, as blackness met his gaze rather than the familiar sight of his apartment, and he fell forward into nothing.