Chapter Three

**Unedited**

"I appreciate the vote of confidence, Arnold, but don't you think someone whose name is actually on the moniker should handle this case? You said it yourself, it's extremely high profile. ," McCray was quick to say after hearing his boss' decision. He had settled into the man's office with the intent to feed him the findings in his latest case so the man could consider showing his face when Gray's client gained justice. He had been busting his ass, like he did with all his cases, to work with the Richmond City police department to get the evidence he needed and they had finally come through at the suggestion of the victim's boyfriend who had gotten the idea to pull the nearby traffic camera from a damned movie. Not that this wasn't done so much as the city cops didn't even realize the camera had a view of the crime scene. He now had video evidence of his client being attacked and by whom. It was supposed to be his big win, the one that would show Arnold that he deserved to become partner. And he did, he had worked hard and more, had worked hard doing the right things and taking on clients that he genuinely thought were innocent. Sure, he was off here and there- he wasn't a fucking mind reader- but he'd made a name for himself, a name that he expected to matter.

"I know you, Gray, you're waiting for your shot. You want to be one of the big boys and that's a damn fine goal to have. You've never slacked off a day and have not only made money for our firm but have assisted in making our name a household one," Arnold said, walking around his desk to rest his hand on his employees shoulder where the man sat just before him. "But you need to establish yourself as an individual, not just one of many. We've sat on this for three weeks to see what the team would do about Iverson's contract. They're putting down the hammer - privately, of course. It's time to get into the meat of it. Forbes has secured the client. Now I need someone who will win the case!"

Gray hated the pep talks. They always went the same and usually ended with some father-some bonding bullshit that made him mentally roll his eyes. They were always the same, talking Gray up to just knock him down when, no matter what the case, it wasn't important enough. The city fuming over this last case should have been enough. He'd placated the city and helped the police to bring down a teenager who had attacked multiple people in a local college campus. His face was all over the local newspapers and had even had a spot on national news. He had done the right thing for people who needed his help and he liked doing so. He was a criminal lawyer, not some damned hyena ripping away funds from a football team. "And you honestly don't feel like I have?" he questioned, itching to yank his shoulder away.

"I think you do fine work. But defending Derek Iverson is what's going to take you over the top. You'll have the full support of anyone on the staff." Bending down to meet Gray's eyes, he went on, "Bring me home a win, son, and you're guaranteed partner."

"Do I have your word on that or do I get writing?" he asked without any hesitation. This was his future and he knew after hearing the man that he couldn't say no. Arnold had made it clear what he expected and wasn't going to give on it now. It was ridiculous and, honestly, Gray didn't know how he would even react interacting with Derek for the first time since he'd socked him in the nose. Closeted ass that he was. And worse, Jack. Would the man even let him represent his client? Would they even remember him? Gray frowned at that. Oddly that seemed worse to him. Surely they wouldn't someone they had tortured for a good two years.

Arnold's laughter brought him out of his musing and had him patting the man's shoulder. "I like you, McCray, damned if I don't. You're a smart man." Rounding his desk, he settled into his chair and shook his head at the man's daring. "If you can win the Iverson case then you're partner - and you'll have it in writing before the end of the day."

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

"Fuck!" Derek growled, tossing his Playstation controller on the cushion next to him. He couldn't even play decent football on the damned video game. He didn't know why he was trying to play it anyway. It was just a reminder of how fucked he was. All his life spent building up his body and skill, achieving his dream and loving every single perk that came with it and here he was, fucked. Glaring down at his knee, cast as it was, and propped up on the coffee table, he ran his fingers through his hair, gripping the locks in frustration. The team was taking back their money they'd already paid him for his latest contract and he supposed he could see why. He had been a bought player. It would only make sense to get a refund on a faulty product. That he expected but then there was Jack. His own brother was actually suing him. For what, he had no fucking clue, but the man had called leaving a message informing him of just that. He was just waiting for the next call and was waiting for it. No doubt the two products he sponsored as a professional football player would be dropping him as well.

How had this happened? He has been sacked before, several times, but for some reason every time he thought about that moment when he was knocked down, he remembered his teammate backing up and getting out of his defensive stance. He just seemed to let the other men hit him before falling back into Derek. None of it made sense. He had already completed the pass when his injury occurred, breaking apart. He knew he wasn't remembering things correctly. There was no way Johnson would have done such a thing on purpose and he didn't know how it would be orchestrated anyway.

Removing his fingers from his hair, he let out a weary sigh. He knew he was looking for excuses, for someone to blame. Truth was, there was no one to blame. He couldn't even blame himself. It had been a freak accident he was unlucky enough to be the recipient of. He just had to figure out a way to go on from here. He just wished Jack, for all his venomous mouth, would have been around for him - and not trying to leach what he would have left after his contract was revoked. For all his time wishing he had time to himself, he was very aware of how lonely it was, at this moment, with no one around who gave a flying fuck. Why, he bet not even any of his fans did.

"Sucks about Iverson. On to other news!" he mocked, reaching for the controller once more. He was just about to select his team for a new game when the doorbell rang. Unable to really get around easily even with his crutches, he had had his cleaning lady, Mae, leave the door unlocked despite her protests. Despite his living room being in a room just to the left of his foyer, he did his best in being a lazy ass and hollering out, "It's open!" Not hearing a response, he sighed deeply and reached for his crutches.

.

Derek was just getting on one foot and trying to adjust his crutches when Gray walked in and froze. Derek was in exactly what he has been in that day, all those years ago, when Gray has experienced his first ever pleasure with a guy. Well, minus the cast. Grey sweatpants hung low on his hips and that was it. His body looked every bit as good as he remembered and then some. The man had aged well also, his hair only slightly longer than the teenage version of himself and ruffled, looking very much like it did a few weeks ago when Gray had seen him on the megatron. When the man finally looked up, Gray could think only one thing - This is bullshit. How dare that asshole look so good. Where in the blue hell was karma? It could have at least given him a broken nose or a bald spot. Anything to take away from those looks which were, frankly, a killer combo with those green eyes.

Killer green eyes that chose that moment to look up while Gray was standing there staring at the man with a glower. Derek wasn't sure what to make of the random man standing in his living room with a scowl covering his face. Lord, don't let this be a psycho fan, he secretly prayed though how anyone would get past the security at the gate, he was unsure. But he'd heard of it happening, a few of his teammates had even gotten laid over fans and their obsessions. Derek had always thought that was one of the worst ideas he had ever heard, giving a fan that had already taken their hero worship over board a further reason to stalk you. But then, as he ran his eyes over the man across the room, he supposed he could see the appeal after all.

He's always been one for men built similarly to himself though he didn't know why. He liked to think it wasn't some form of narcissism but, really, what the hell did he know? He could tell you what he did know in this moment, however, and that was that the 6'1" man standing across the room looked thoroughly fuckable. He had that - what was it called? - ottermode body type that was not quite slender but not quite as athletic as he was. Brown hair a few shades lighter than his own own and cropped closely on the side with a much longer, styled up and back as was the fashion nowadays. Derek had never cared for the hairstyle but then he was too lazy to do all that jelled up shit.

Realizing they were both awkwardly staring, Derek broke the silence and spoke up. "How'd you get past security?" In this one instance, he was secretly hoping for one of those fantasies his teammates had in real life.

Gray cleared his throat and shook his head, clearing it of the mental image. He was an adult now. This man was obviously his own version of Satan. "They let me in, obviously." Before Derek could ask any more stupid questions, he pulled tugged the longer strap to his fashionable briefcase over his head and glanced around for an acceptable surface. Seeing only the coffee table that wasn't covered, he moved past the man to a single chair. Ignoring the similar set up to the man's childhood home, he sat and pulled his laptop out. When the man didn't immediately sit down just slowly turned on his one good foot to stare at him, it occurred to him how thoroughly rude he was being. He couldn't view the man as anything other than a client and as such he needed to clear his head of personal matters. Clearly the man didn't even recognize him so that was a good start, he could just ignore that bit of bitterness and instead focus on the job he was here to do.

Standing, he cleared his throat in an effort to effectively soften his voice as he reached out his hand. "Excuse me, Mr. Iverson. I'm Mr. McCray with with Butler, Butler and Forbes. I'm your attorney and will be helping you to the best of my ability and, of course, with the assistance of my firm."

Derek actually felt a bit of disappointment as he leaned against one of his crutches to shake the hand firmly. So much for his psycho fan fantasy. "Derek, please."

"I'd prefer to keep it professional. That being said, I'm unsure if you're aware as of yet but our issues do not end with your inadvertent breach of your NFL contract," he said, settling back into the chair and opening his laptop, ignoring the tingling sensation he felt in the palm of his hand. Jesus Christ, he felt so nervous and it seemed to come out of nowhere no sooner than he touched Derek. For all his bluster and outward appearances of being fine he was mildly freaking out inside. This man had helped, by not speaking out and telling the truth, torture him for two miserable years. Those two years he had been hounded and picked on, ostracized even in their small town school where football was everything. And in a town where football was everything, you did NOT force a kiss on the quarterback - especially one that was a legend even when he left. Everyone knew he was NFL worthy even when he went off to college with a full scholarship. It didn't matter that the kiss wasn't forced. It didn't matter that his face had still been musky with the smell of the man's cum on his face. No one believed him when he had spoken the real truth so he stopped trying to explain. Just fought when he had to in the parking lot and scrubbed the fuck out of his jeep pointlessly before spray paining the whole thing black. At least that way he could easily cover up whatever they thought to write on it.

Lord, was this some kind of PTSD? Was he having this inner freak out due to the need for closure? Closure he would really never get because this asshole would never admit he did anything wrong. The knowledge of that had him scowling again. This time, he had the common sense to direct it at his laptop as he pulled up the scanned in motions he had filed on Derek's behalf.

Derek settled down slowly, painfully raising his leg back up on the table. Leaning back, he let a gust of air out before turning to Gray. "If you mean Jack, he left me a voicemail a week or so ago letting me know I owed him money or something. Apparently, I'm being sued by my own manager." And brother, which hurt him more than he could say. Jack hadn't been wrong when he'd snapped in the ambulance about how he had saved him, saved his career. But even with that Derek knew he didn't owe the man anything. After all, Jack had made sure to take out a generous commission that was automatically transferred into his account.

"I'm assuming your accountant has kept records of any transfers into Mr. Iverson's account? He's saying you breached your contract with him as well as your former team due to your negligence."

"Um, what? How the fuck was I supposed to know that my career would be ruined by getting sacked? My own fucking teammate fell on me!" he growled, his head tilting back to stare heavenward over his disbelief. "Unreal."

"He doesn't seem to think so," Gray said though if he were honest he was a little surprised when he heard about his former best friend's preposterous suit. For all his bullshit, he never would have thought Jack would turn so quickly on his own brother. Especially after defending him so viciously before. "He is also stating the intent to file charges for blackmail if his negligence lawsuit is not killed quickly."

"And that's not blackmail?!"

"As soon as we call him on it he's going to file. Do you have any information as to why he would file such a thing on you?"

"I didn't blackmail anyone," he said with a sigh, shaking his head. Running his hand over his face and holding it there, much like he did when he was hauled off the football field, he spoke again. "I was the one blackmailed."

"You?"

Pulling his hand away, he stared at Gray. "You're my lawyer, right? Anything I say to you will in no way become public knowledge?"

This certainly piqued Gray's interest and had him nodding before droning out the rule of attorney-client privilege, "The attorney-client privilege is a rule that preserves the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. Under that rule, attorneys may not divulge their clients' secrets, nor may others force them to. So, in short, no. What you stay to me stays with me so that I can determine the most effective stance in court or possibly what is settled outside of court."

Shifting uncomfortably, he shifted his eyes to stare hard at the paused game in front of him. "About a year ago I got caught doing something... not befitting of a professional football player. When I got caught, I was blackmailed into dishing out five hundred thousand."

"Steroids?" he hazarded a guess.

"What? Fuck no. I'd never wreck my body like that."

"Okay, prostitution? I'm not going to sit here playing a guessing game with you," he said firmly. "I told you its confidential. What you say here, stays here."

Derek was silent for a long while before forcing himself to say it, "We had chatted online for awhile under some random screen name and I set up a couple rooms for us at a bed and breakfast. We fu- had sex and next thing I knew they had a photo and I was paying out."

It was everything Gray could do to keep his mouth closed. Good God, was Derek a predator?! This sure as hell sounded like a To Catch a Predator story line. "I need you to be clear on this. How old was the girl?"

"Wait, what?" the athlete's mouth did fall open. "Are you fucking kidding me? No. He was a blogger- well over 18."

"HE?" the younger man looked away as soon as he blurted that out. God damn his temper. 2 fucking years of this bastard acting like it didn't happen and making Gray, sometimes, believe he had been the one to force things until he stopped to think about it and remembered every touch the man had given him, every kiss and here was still fucking guys. And still fucking lying about it. Fucking pussy. All those mental fucks and Gray still couldn't look up without glowering.

Derek just took outburst as surprise and just nodded, "Yeah, he was a guy. Jack dealt with it and got him to say everything was fake and he had digitally altered everything."

And Jack knew his brother was gay. Gray couldn't help but wonder how many men they had intimidated and bullied into being quiet. God forbid it got out that the big, bad jock liked cock. Face still red, he stood up and casually removed his light jacket. Where he hadn't noted the perusal before, he couldn't help but be aware of the jocks eyes looking at the outline of him through his light blue shirt and gray tie. Or maybe it was his own imagination. Just because the man was gay or bi or whatever the fuck didn't mean he even still found Gray attractive. And, really, it didn't even matter. He needed to clear his head but he couldn't very well storm out of a meeting with his client. He needed this. He was going to be partner, damn it! Asking about the bathroom, he followed directions and made his way the fuck out of there.