Note: italics is the present, regular text is the past/Caleb's memories. Some lemon. Sometimes... stupid crap like this is all that comes to mind-KG64


Caleb stood alone in the empty apartment. It had been weeks now, but it was still so empty. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Ben—his Ben—had left. And he was finally beginning to realize that Ben wasn't coming back.

Caleb Dawson and Benjamin Meyers had first met on a rainy day in October. Caleb had been sitting on a park bench watching the pigeons—among other things—when Ben had run up, out of breath. And, halfway through his morning jog, the younger man had sat down next to him. Caleb wasn't old—only thirty two—but Benjamin was younger by enough—thirteen years—that it didn't occur to him to make a move. And it's not like he had known Ben was gay at the time.

Ben, on the other hand, had smiled. "You come here a lot," he stated. "I see you."

Caleb had shrugged. "Sometimes."

Ben had laughed. "Try every day. What are you doing just sitting out in the rain?"

"It would appear as though you answered your own question," Caleb had remarked. "I am just sitting."

"In the rain."

"Yes." In reality, Caleb had come to the park because he knew Ben would be there. Ben was there each and every day at the same time.

Ben smiled up at the sky. "It's nice, how lonely and quiet it is in the park."

Caleb wouldn't have called the drizzly, misty grayness of the day nice, but he did appreciate the aloneness. And he appreciated this one chance he had to talk to Ben. "Yes," he agreed.

Then Ben glanced at him, eyes filled with fire. He slid closer to Caleb on the bench, and pressed his lips to the other man's. Caleb had been too stunned to move. Ben had pulled out of the kiss and grinned. "That is why I like lonely days in the park. No prying eyes. My name is Ben Meyers."

"Caleb Dawson," Caleb had whispered back in shock. And so his relationship with the bright-eyed teenager had begun.

Caleb sighed and walked around the apartment everyone expected him to live in alone. His fingers trailed over the dusty surfaces. It didn't feel right. Not without Ben. Which was foolish, since he had lived there before Ben came along.

He still remembered the first time he had brought Ben home with him. Or rather, Ben had brought him home, saying, "My mother and father would have a cow if they caught me with you, old man." That had been Ben's nickname for him, old man. He had always called Ben kid. But it was done first in friendship, then in love.

And that first time Ben came home with him… the first time he and Ben made love… that was something Caleb would never forget. Ben had been grinning as he had waited patiently for Caleb to unlock the door. But the moment the door had snapped shut again, he was on top of Caleb, his lips pressed feverishly to those of his partner. Caleb began kissing back, opening his mouth slightly to allow Ben's tongue to slip inside. And as the rough surfaces of their tongues rubbed against each other, Caleb had realized that what he felt for Ben wasn't just some passing emotion. He genuinely loved the nineteen year old kid he held in his arms.

And now Caleb sighed, sitting down on the empty bed. He still loved that kid, and it was breaking his heart. Especially thinking of what had happened after that kiss.

Caleb had allowed Ben to pull him down the hall to the bedroom, where they undressed. Ben had grinned his most mischievous grin and pushed Caleb onto the bed, still kissing him. After a while, he had pulled away and retrieved some lube from the pocket of his discarded pants. He had coated his fingers in it before sticking one into Caleb, farther than Caleb had thought he'd been willing to go. Caleb had cried out in pain as Ben had moved his finger around inside, feeling the smooth walls. Caleb hadn't been prepared for the second finger, or the third and he cried out each time, clutching at the bed sheets.

Ben had finally pulled his hand away. He then kissed all the way up Caleb's spine, from the small of his back to his neck. And then he had positioned himself over Caleb and thrust down, forcing himself into the still-tight space. Caleb had cried out, and Ben had paused, the volume of the cry worrying him. But then Caleb had whispered, "Feels good, keep going." He had been half lying, half telling the truth. It hurt more than anything he remembered. But having Ben inside him was the most he could wish for, and the sensations of the moment were exhilarating.

Ben had continued until they both came, Ben directly into Caleb and Caleb all over the bed sheets shortly after. And then Ben had thrust down one last time, deeper than any of the times before, as far as he would go, and then it was all over. He had laid down beside Caleb, kissing him. And then he had whispered those five haunting words, "I love you, old man."

Caleb had barely been able to manage a chuckle, he was so spent from Ben's enthusiastic love-making. But he had managed to reply, "Love you too, kid. More than the world."

And they had both fallen asleep.

Caleb fell back on the bed, thinking about that time and the months that followed. The kisses they shared in secret, since Caleb was one of the very few who knew Ben was gay. The nights he stole with Ben when his parents and sister were out of town.

And then, out of the blue, Ben had approached him. "Will you tell them with me?" Caleb's Benjamin—the confident, young man who knew who he was and who didn't apologize for it—was gone, replaced by a little boy terrified to tell his father and mother and sister the truth.

They had gone to Ben's house, where Ben had sat down across from his parents. Caleb was itching to take his hand, to support him, but he couldn't. But Ben's confidence had returned, and he didn't seem to need it. He flat out told them, "Mom, Dad, Angie, I'm gay."

His parents had stared and his sister had said, "Are you just now figuring that out? Thanks for wasting my time." She had got up and left, truly irritated.

Ben hadn't seemed at all surprised that Angela had already known he liked guys. His sister was good at picking up on things like that. After what felt like an eternity, Ben's mother had whispered, "This is a sick joke, Ben. You can't be… you can't be one of them."

"I am, Mom," Ben had said. "And I'm in love with Caleb." Ben had gestured to Caleb.

His dad had stood up. "Well, boy, you sure as hell better believe he loves you back, because you sure as fuck won't be living under my roof." The man's voice was angry.

"He does, Dad." That was all Ben had said before he took Caleb's hand and they left together. It was months before he talked to his mother again, and Caleb was fairly certain that he still hadn't talked to his father.

As they left, Caleb had whispered, "I'm sorry, kid."

"Aw, hell," Ben had muttered. "I knew that's how they'd react. Which is so screwed up. My dad just hates it because it's not part of the plan he has for my life. Well, screw him. Screw them all." Caleb had seen Ben's face soften. "Except Angie. She's a good kid."

Caleb had nodded. She hadn't been mad at her brother for what he was saying; she had been mad he was wasting her time. As far as Caleb knew, up until the time Ben left him, he had seen his beloved little sister once. Once, because of how their parents felt about Caleb.

"Fuck!" Caleb screamed at the ceiling. "It's not fucking fair! Three goddamn years wasn't long enough!" He didn't know who he was screaming at or why, he just knew that the three years he had shared with Ben weren't enough. He had—in his heart, if not his mind—been making plans of spending a lifetime with Ben. And now… Ben was gone.

Caleb couldn't understand how the kid he loved so much could leave, just like that.

"You said you loved me," he whispered to the empty room. "If you loved me, how could you leave?"

At first their life together had been a bit rocky; it had been years since Caleb had lived with anyone and Ben was still suffering from his decision to give up Angela. But they worked through it, and they were happy. They didn't care what others said. They were happy keeping to themselves. And when they made love, it only got better as Caleb's body got more used to Ben's presence.

It went on like that for three years, Caleb and his "kid." Ben and his "old man." And they loved each other.

But then… without warning… Ben was gone.

Tears slid down Caleb's cheeks. He hadn't cried a single time. But now… now he saw just how alone he was. He hadn't had anyone before Ben came along, but now that he had met—had loved—Ben, being alone was infinitely harder.

Caleb curled into a ball on Ben's side of the bed, and the man cried himself to sleep, wondering if he would ever be able to love anyone again. Because now he knew why people were wary of falling in love with others. When they were gone, it hurt.

When he woke the next morning, Caleb found that his tears had dried. And he realized that he was ready. He was ready to go see Ben. He had been wanting to ever since the day he had come home to find the twenty two year old gone, but he hadn't been able to bring himself to do it.

So he stopped by the florist and bought a long stemmed rose.

A bit later, he said, "Hey, kid. I just needed you to know that I still love you more than the world." Ben didn't reply, even as Caleb's eyes filled with tears.

And as Caleb placed the rose on Ben's grave, the day turned misty, drizzling just as it had been the first time they had spoken.