(A/N: I was kidnapped by a group of aliens and tested on for months... Planet Antuack is very pretty, though... I'm a horrible person. I'm so sorry.)

Valerie

When we were done eating, I collapsed on the couch and laid there to let my stomach rest, though I made certain that my legs were tucked into me so I wouldn't be hogging the entirety of the couch like I had a tendency to do. I closed my eyes and soaked everything in. The smell of his cooking that still wafted through the apartment, the feel of his furniture underneath my skin, everything.

I loved it. I loved it all. I would be here forever if I could, forever with him. When I saw him again, when he kissed me, and every second since that point, my heart had been pounding in my chest. Every time his skin touched mine, I wanted nothing more than for him to claim me as his.

Without warning, I felt soft lips touch my mouth. I tried to follow them, but I just couldn't. I was immobilized by him. Preston seemed to express everything he couldn't say to me in words with this kiss. He told me, 'be mine,' 'Don't leave' and 'I'm yours.'

He parted from me and apologized. I didn't understand. Why did he keep apologizing? I sat up and kissed him again. This time I told him what I had to. 'Don't be sorry, I love you.'

He pulled me close to him and accepted my feelings. He stroked my cheek and kissed me passionately. I whimpered in satisfaction and he let me go. We just stared at each other for a long moment before he nestled my head between his shoulder and neck.

"Do…now remember, you were tired when you said it, and I understand that, but," he started.

I cut him off, knowing where he was going with this. "I love you so much Preston. I love everything about you."

He nodded and hugged me tight. I relaxed in his arms. I admit that not hearing him say that he loved me back stung a little, but it didn't matter. Not really. All that I cared about was that he was here, and if he would take me, even without love, that was good enough for me.

There was a knock on the door to which Preston groaned at. Taking it as an offer to come in and the light brown haired boy with tired eyes and thin form came into the room.

He looked at us in the childlike disgust that they so often have when they see something mushy, but his voice remained calm, "I heard something about food?"

Preston pulled away and looked at Thriston. "Yeah, it's probably cold by now, but it's on the counter if you want it. Oh, and Thriston, I'm going out today, so you'll have to fend for yourself for lunch ok? I'll be back by dinner though and then we can go see a movie or something."

I smiled at Preston softly. He noticed that Thriston was lonely. Though he wasn't going to give up his time with me for it, he still responded with comfort for him. I wished I could help. I really wanted to help take care of the boy, give him a companion his age or something, but I couldn't think of anyone I knew with a child or sibling his age. Not a person. And I had a lot of co-workers between my two jobs.

The boy stacked food on his plate, heated it up in the microwave, and scampered back to his apartment. As soon as the door clicked shut, Preston rolled off the couch and went into the kitchen. I looked after him and saw that he was just putting away and cleaning up his mess. With a sigh, I likewise got up and went to wash the dishes. It looked like he was about to protest, but remembered the conversation we already had about this, so just closed it back up and let me do my share of the work.

"I see why you like him so much," I say to make conversation.

I glanced over and saw Preston nod. "Yeah. I just wish he didn't have to be so lonely all the time. You have no idea how guilty I am because I didn't invite him into my home so at least he wouldn't be alone for too many hours at a time."

Preston set down the last of the dishes next to the sink and sat on the chair, resting his forehead on his palm. Sighing at what he saw as his own stupidity. I understood completely why he kept his distance, and I thought he was kind for even doing that much, so many wouldn't have. But I knew that no matter what I said to him, he would never listen to me on that. He took Thriston in, in part because he knew he would regret it if he didn't, yet without going the full mile, he still felt guilty.

Not knowing exactly what I should do, I wrapped my arms around him and smiled into his hair. He touched my arm to return my hug, but he wasn't focused on me. He was still thinking about how lonely Thriston was.

"I want to spend more time with him. I would hardly call connecting face to name meeting someone," I murmured into his hair.

"What do you mean?" He asked looking up at me.

"I get to choose the date. Well, I choose to go to the park with him. Walk around, get ice cream, talk, maybe roller skate," I prattled.

He got up and gave me a real hug, a deep embrace that made my legs turn to pudding. "Thank you."

I smiled at him as he released me and went to finish the dishes before we went on our outing. Preston wasted no time in leaving me alone in his apartment and telling Thriston the good news. I heard a little skip in his step as he went to the door; there was no denying he was thankful that Thriston was invited. I smiled feeling like I had done well.

Just as I'd finished putting away the last dish, complementing myself the whole way through that I remembered where everything belonged, Preston returned with a happy boy beside him.

Without warning, the boy ran up to me and hugged me around my waist, laughing. I vaguely recalled being told that he was overly affectionate, but I still wasn't prepared for the tackle. Still, I hugged him back as he said something that got muffled into my shoulder. I smiled up at Preston and he nodded back at me.

I ruffled Thriston's hair. "Come on," I told him, "Let's go get some ice cream."

I couldn't believe how perfect this was. It was as if Thriston was our little brother and Preston and I were newly weds. I mean, sure we were new lovers, but I hadn't expected any kind of relationship to be quite so peaceful and fulfilling and complete. It reminded me what it was like to be with a loving family. And from what I could tell, the other two were feeling the same way.

Come to think of it, none of us had much of a family at all. Preston's family were the kind of people that never appreciated who he was. They always wanted to change him. My family wanted me to be the way I used to be, instead of the way I was. And Thriston… his family wanted him, but more of a prodigy and less of an average kid. Although, the more I spent time with him, the more special I found him to be. Preston felt the same way, I thought.

The Sun was shinning down on us, melting Thriston's ice cream all over his hand, Preston and I couldn't help but laugh at his feeble attempts to lap up the melting dessert before the liquid fell too far. We had no trouble with this of course, but we were also eating it much more quickly than the boy.

"That's not fair!" Thriston shouted at us as he licked up another pool of liquid. "Why isn't yours melting so fast?"

I smiled at him. "Because we aren't complaining about it."

"But you have nothing to complain about! It's not melting!"

This time Preston smiled. "Ah, the cruel twists of fate."

The boy glowered at us but kept on walking down the sidewalk in front of us. I chuckled at him and patted his head. "Don't worry, maybe when you buy the ice cream fate will be kinder to you."

He stuck his tongue out at me defiantly. Had to give him credit, considering he was a practically broken boy not two weeks ago, he was bouncing back really well. He was showing a good deal amount of spunk and confidence that I wouldn't have imagined that he would have so much been able to conjure up before I met him. And even if it was just a ploy to keep a tough boy act, there had to be some validity to it.

Breaking me out of my thoughts, Preston said, "You know, advertising a fully furnished apartment room would really let me bring up the price."

Thriston and I looked at him in confusion. Where had this come from? "What are you talking about?" Thriston asked.

"Your room. If I let someone else rent it, I could get a lot more rent from them."

"While I'm living there?" Thriston made a face. "You wouldn't have any takers."

"Then I guess you'll just have to move out. Or move over."

Finally we got it and both Thriston and I tackled him with a hug, almost knocking the last of his ice cream cone out of his hand. He laughed and we all melted to the concrete in one big group hug, forcing a biker to swerve out of our way.

I smiled. Finally Preston admitted to himself that he wasn't able to stay out of Thriston's life. He was going to be this man's adopted father no matter what he originally said. He loved the boy too much not to. And at long last, he got that. I'd only known about him for twelve hours and even I understood.

Preston ruffled both of our hair at once and we began walking to their home. So we could help Thriston move into his new room. It took until dinner, and Preston left an hour before we were done so he could cook, giving the boy and I a lot of time to bond. I loved it. I felt like part of a family.

"Thank you so much for the date." I said smiling at him. We walked up to my apartment room, holding hands all the way. "I can't imagine it being any more perfect."

He smiled at me, but it seemed forced. He'd been doing that a lot today. I wondered if I would be able to have a relationship with him. When I met him, things seemed natural and perfect, but now he was so deep in thought all the time I wondered if it may have been better had I not met up with him again.

As I opened my door and prepared for a goodbye, he turned me to him and kissed me hard on my mouth, closing the door behind him. I was breathless. And confused. He pulled out of the kiss and smiled at me.

"Valerie?" He said my name softly with a genuine smile on his face.

Instead of asking what he wanted, I pulled him to my bedroom and onto my bed. Thriston would be fine for a few hours without him. And I was pretty sure we both needed this time alone together.

Taking the hint, Preston began kissing my skin gently, removing articles of clothing as his mouth demanded the skin underneath. As he kissed up my belly, he said, "I wanted to tell you that I love you too."

I smiled and tangled my hands in his hair. "I know you do."

~The End~