I hadn’t been sure Cass would be up for seeing me anytime soon, but he was. I met him out in TJ’s backyard. As I sat waiting near the bonfire TJ and I had stoked earlier, I rubbed my hands together and tried not to obsess about the phone conversation with Cass. Though, of course, that was all I could think about. I’d been taken off guard when he actually answered. After three rings I expected the call to go straight to voicemail. But he’d picked up, and he’d listened when I apologized.
“Look,” he’d said after a moment, “I’m at a bar downtown and had to step out to even listen to your call and I’m freezing my ass off out here.” I held back my chuckle at that and ignored a spark of jealousy when my mind tried to picture whom he was with downtown. “What should we do?” he asked.
Kiss and make out—err, up?
“Are you willing to talk in person with me?”
“Of course.” I could hear the exasperation in his voice. “It was one argument. I just want to know when and where to meet up—before my balls freeze off.”
I couldn’t hold in my laugh at that one, and I’d quickly suggested meeting the next evening—which was my next night off from sitting Alia—for us to reconnect. He’d agreed swiftly and hung up. Apparently, he didn’t like the cold any more than I did.
So why I’d chosen to meet outside of all places was beyond me. Well, I suppose I might have idealized the chilly evening bringing us both together, huddled under the same blanket or something. I hardly expected that to be reality, though.
I was thinking about everything way too much, so it was probably a good thing Cass arrived a bit early, even though it scared the hell out of me.
“Oh, shit!” I gasped. “I didn’t even see you there.” I literally had my hand over my heart.
Cass shook his head and chuckled. “Maybe don’t sit with your back to where people will enter from.”
“Point taken.” I motioned to the seating around the fire and felt a new warmth spread in me as he eschewed the chairs and took the wooden bench instead, leaving room for me next to him.
“So, I wanted to say I’m sorry too,” Cass started the moment his butt hit the bench. I’d forgotten how forthright he was. “I think I might have been avoiding my own problems, maybe, a little.” He turned to face me then, the glow of the flames putting that side of his face in high relief. “But your mood changed so fast. You didn’t explain anything—and then you just told me to leave.” His face crumpled and I wanted to hold him so badly, even though I’d been the one to cause him pain. “After my dad tossed me out, how could you…do that?”
His words were choked, but he held on, breathed in, and calmed himself. I should take pointers from him on patience.
“I wasn’t thinking, and then I didn’t know how to take it back.”
Cass took in a long, steady breath. His gaze went to the fire. “Did you do that sort of thing a lot with Nate?”
“I can tell you how I’ve dealt with arguments in general in the past, but I don’t think rehashing my life with Nate is a useful path to go down.”
“Why?” He said it quietly, not accusingly.
“Because that’s all in the past, a totally different time in my life.” I paused, moved my eyes to the fire and admitted, “I do that sort of thing a lot with Kate, though.”
Tilting his head, he looked at me again. “Yeah?” I gave a nod, he gave his own. Our eyes both focused back on the fire.
In the silence, with the space between us, I couldn’t help but reach out for his hand. I didn’t even look at him, didn’t want to know if he was conflicted or might pull back. He didn’t.
Life around us was getting more complicated, but this connection—the simple touch of skin to skin between the two of us—was real.
“It’s unfair,” Cass said after a moment.
“I was so mad at you. Livid. Lance talked me down a bit, but I still meant to come here and really dig in and let you have it.”
He swore under his breath and said, as if confessing a sin, “But when I see you, get near you,” he shrugged but kept his hand in mine, “that’s enough. Everything else fades away.”
“Can’t say I mind that.” I gave a smile, but I was anything but sure of myself. I wasn’t used to feeling that kind of doubt.
“But it should matter.” Cass went on, “That kind of, of vibe between us is great, but it’ll take more than that for a relationship to work.” His eyes veered away again as his voice softened. “I don't even know if that’s what you really want, in the long run.”
All I could think was how strange, or special, our connection was that we’d been together so long without discussing these sort of details. Though, as the so-called adult, I should’ve already been considering such matters. I was very much a go-with-the-flow type of guy. That had never been an issue before. Even with Kate, she knew we were important enough to one another that I’d come home for her when she asked me. We were family, blood. We were stuck with each other.
Someone you chose to be with, though… those decisions weren’t a given.
How long at he been looking at me?
“It’s ok,” he said.
“What do you mean?” He had a habit of answering assumed questions, but I was left clueless. “You gotta explain what you’re thinking to me. Don’t assume I understand.”
“Yeah, sorry.” He nodded and went on. “What I should say is, it’s alright if you’re not ready for a relationship.”
“I didn’t say that.”
I tucked my fingers under his chin and turned him to face me. “You have to get over assuming these things—or saying things to try to avoid a confrontation you’re afraid is coming.”
“Ok.” Hearing how soft and unsure his voice had become was such an odd juxtaposition with his persona as a construction worker. I had to wonder how conflicting that environment was for him, beyond him being gay.
Releasing his hand, I pulled him in against my side. We sat in silence for a while, then I felt him shift and he asked. “Are we officially boyfriends now?”
He scowled at me when I laughed. “I don’t think I’ve been called a ‘boyfriend’ in a long time.”
“But you dated. What were you called then?”
I shrugged but kept my arm around him. “When I was younger I never stuck around with anyone long enough to be an item. With Nate, we were partners.”
Even in the dim light I could see his sour expression. “Does it sound juvenile?”
“No, I’m good with being a boyfriend.”
He didn’t say anything, but he snuggled in closer to me.
We stayed out until our finger grew numb, and he kissed me with warm lips against the chilly night air. After that, we settled into a rhythm, one that was more solid than before.
Thanksgiving came a week and a half later and TJ hosted. Even Kate managed to get the day off and join us. With little Alia in the mix, the day actually felt warm and familial. No one asked about any family that wasn’t there. TJ knew my mom didn’t do holidays, though apparently she’d told Kate she was coming by for Christmas. I could see Cass’ eyes glaze over every so often as he looked out the main window. Thankfully, Alia kept him busy enough that we were able to forget (as much as possible) that Doug wasn’t there.
“You ok?” I asked later on, after Kate and Alia had left.
Cass shrugged, and slipped an arm around my waist. His head tipped a bit onto my shoulder, but our heights were too close for him to really rest it comfortably there.
“Can I stay at your place tonight?”
We hadn’t spent that many nights together. Both of us had matters to work through, and actual work to catch up on. I had to solidify arrangements in the Philippines, and Cass had been looking for at least part-time construction or carpentry work. With the winter coming on it was the end of construction season, though.
I had to wonder how TJ felt about the nights Cass spent away, but tonight, I didn’t care. While he was still helping Kate get Alia situated in her car out front, I pulled Cass tighter. “Yeah, of course.”
Once we’d made our way to my apartment and were on the bed, but still clothed, I ran my thumb over Cass’ cheek. “What do you want tonight? What do you need?”
Pressing his forehead to mine, Cass took a shaky breath. “Everything. I want to lose myself in you. Is that wrong?”
I moved a hand through his hair and cupped base of his head, holding him there. “No, it’s not wrong.”
That was all the permission he needed. In the next minute, his hands were pulling at my clothes, his mouth kissed and nipped at every inch of bare skin as it was revealed. All I could do was caress him and gasp in relief and pleasure. He was more than I deserved, this beautiful, heartbroken young soul. And I must have it bad for him if I was waxing so damn poetic as his mouth worked down my chest.
Cass took the lead. I didn’t mind and I didn’t blame him. I was more than happy to let him be in charge here, when so many other areas of his life were in upheavel.
“You smell so good,” he breathed, nuzzling the curls at the base of my erection as he pulled me out of my jeans. “Get your pants off.”
“Yes, sir,” I chuckled, stripping out of them and my boxers.
“Better,” Cass muttered, then knelt between my thighs when I sat back onto the edge of the bed. His hands moved up and down my legs from crotch to ankle. All I could do was shiver—and try not to laugh when it tickled. That would ruin the moment and the moment was far too promising to interrupt. I saw Cass smirk as he felt my muscles tremble though, well too aware of how he affected me. Instead of sending me into an unmanly fit of giggles, however, he took pity on me and pushed his face against my crotch. His smooth, shaven cheeks drifted over the skin of my shaft. I didn’t want to demand anything from him, so I rested my hands on his shoulders and tried to take a steadying breath. Then he licked me and I was lost.
“Cass…!” I groaned, my hips jerking into his waiting mouth of their own volition. He sucked then pulled back to grin. “Eager much?”
“You think I’d deny that?” I said, grinning back and lifting my hips just enough to bump the head of my cock against his lips.
Bracing his hands on my thighs, he pushed up to cover my mouth. “I can’t wait to see you look it.” Before I could reply, he ducked down to smother my cock. All I could do was grip the bed and groan.
Cass was determined. He put his hands over mine, next to my hips, and sucked, licked, and nipped relentlessly. The sight of him between my legs never failed to hit me like an unexpected ocean wave. His eyes met mine and he could see I was close.
He swallowed me again, deep. I tried to mover my hands—I could barely get words out and I had to warn him I was about to explode.
“No moving,” he said softly, “and you’re going to come into my mouth.”
His eyes sparked with triumph. “Or would you prefer on my face?”
“Cass,” I snapped. My balls were drawn up, painfully waiting for release while his mouth hovered close, but not touching me. Did he want me to beg? I would but--
Then he took me into that hot mouth, sucking like he was pulling my orgasm out of me. Maybe he was. I came with a cry and emptied out in tremor after tremor of brilliant, white pleasure.
Cass’ chuckle met my ears as I fell back onto the bed. It was soon followed by the soft sound of shuffling clothing and he climbed up the bed to lay his naked body next to mine. I still had my shirt hanging open and my jeans about my ankles.
“What?” Cass asked, and I heard the hint of offense in his tone.
“Look at me. I’m supposed to be the adult, but you’ve got me sprawled out like a teenager who just got his first blowjob.” Cass laughed as I shut my eyes and smiled.
“You’re not done already, I hope? A teenager would definitely still have energy.”
I chuckled then and pulled him close. Though I didn’t say the words, I needed a moment to think. Something had been itching the back of my mind. Cass and I didn’t have that much time left, if I was going to do this, now was the best time. If I could work up the nerve, that was.
I thought of Cass, all he had been dealing with, and how open he had still been with me. Surely I could be as vulnerable and giving.
“What are you thinking about?” Cass asked, and I felt prop himself up to look down at me.
“How can you tell that I’m thinking?”
“Because your lips and hands aren’t all over me like they should be. So out with it.”
Sitting up, I yanked my crumpled clothes off and tossed them near my hamper. “Let me get the light.” I switched off the overhead light and flicked on the smaller, softer bedside lamp. Cass grabbed my hand and pulled me down next to him when I hesitated.
I could see the questions poised at his lips and decided I would rather show than tell. He yielded as I took his mouth and gripped him tight. Over the weeks, I’d grown familiar with some of his sweet spots: the little space just behind his earlobes, the heated crease where leg met thigh, his nipples. In particular, I think we both enjoyed the contrast of his pale skin against my bronze tones.
Soon, he was groaning and rubbing shamelessly against me as he rode the thigh I’d slipped between his legs. He rolled so more of my weight was atop him, and while he moaned into my mouth, I took his hand and guided him to the crease of my ass. Cass’ fervor lost its edge as he realized what I was about.
“You want this?” he asked, pressing fingertips to the bud of my ass.
With a nod, i pushed back on his hand. I truly felt like more of a youth than ever. This was an unexplored realm for me. Nate had been frustrated I had so many issues receiving, but he never pushed the matter. I couldn’t put into words exactly why I wanted Cass to sail me in these waters now, but I did.
“You’ve taken fingers before, yeah?” Cass asked, nudging one digit inside me.
“Umm.” For christ’s sake, couldn’t I form words anymore? “Not much, and it’s been a long time.”
Cass smirked and his amused actually eased my thumping pulse. “You’ve been missing out.”
“Oh, yeah?” I smiled, then clenched around his finger.
“You’re going to want to do the opposite of that if we move this along, Will.”
I blinked. “Huh?” His finger wiggled in my butt.
“Seriously? Don’t clench. Push out a bit instead.”
Frowning, I asked, “Like I’m taking a shit?” Cass sputtered out a laugh.
“Not that forceful, just a bit. It’ll help you open for me.”
How much had Nate put up with when I topped him, if I didn’t even know such simple things about bottoming. Not that he’d ever complained. I’d usually rimmed him good beforehand.
“Think about it,” Cass went on, “your ass has to open wider when you take a dump.”
Arching a brow, I noted, “Maybe that’s why you had to take an actual dump the first couple times we fucked.”
Cass only rolled his eyes at that. “Hands and knees,” he said, smacking my flank.
“Hey.” I grumbled, but followed orders. “I don’t I’ve seen this pushy, bratty side of you so much before.”
“Best not to tease the guy about to finger fuck you,” Cass chuckled, kissing then biting my ass cheek.
I wanted more than his fingers, but Cass probably knew that. Feeling him behind me, hearing the clink on the cap of the lube as it opened, I began to feel absurd.
What the hell was I thinking as a man in his 30’s kneeling on a bed with his ass in the air while he waited for a kid so much younger than him to take care of him and fuck him? I needed to tell Cass I’d thought better of doing this.
“Holy shit,” I yelled as a tongue laved my asshole.
“That got your attention,” said Cass, his hands smoothing over my hips. “You’re too tense. Relax.”
“Says the kid literally kissing my ass. Ouch!”
“And smacking it. Don’t call me ‘kid’. Are you really back to that?” Cass moved to my side to face me. “We don’t have to do this, you know. I did see you as more of a top, but then again so was I before. I don’t know, I—”
“Cass, shut up.” I let me ass fall back to the bed and sighed. “This is new for me.”
“I could’ve guessed that,” he said, eyebrow arching.
I sat up, sitting with my legs crisscrossed. “You’re not helping.”
When Cass dropped his eyes, I knew he was thinking something. “What is it?”
“I’m trying to figure you out.” He spread his hands and I had to shake my head at the image of us both naked and cross-legged on the bed, discussing sexual proclivities. “You were with one guy for a long time. I’d think you’d experiment, try out being verse, but maybe not?”
How had this gotten so complicated? “Nate was up for it. Me, though…”
Cass blinked like an owl. “Oh.”
“Yeah.” Now he knew. I’d never let Nate inside, but I was all right letting him in—even if I was leaving in a couple weeks for who knew how many months, even if our future looked anything but stable. That didn’t make much sense to me; I couldn’t see how it would make any sense to Cass.
Looking down, I saw his hand cover my knee. “Will.” His voice was soft, his fingers tentative as he lifted my chin. “Thank you for trusting me.” The sincerity in his eyes melted most of my conflicts, but some lingered. “But if you’re not ready, or not into it, that’s fine.”
I shook my head. “I want to, I just…didn’t realize I had so much baggage tied to such a simple thing.”
“It’s not simple at all, though.” He gestured around with his hands, a tell that he was worked up, or horny—probably both. “People act like all these different sex acts are the same for everyone or whatever, but they aren’t.” His brow furrowed. “And thinking that submitting to penetration is a must for,” he waved his hands about, “I don’t know, depth of feeling or something, is an manipulative, patriarchal lie.”
The fact Cass was so genuine and attempting to be so articulate in his anger over these sexual politics (while he naked sat naked on my bed) made me sputter in laughter.
“It’s true!” he said with vehemence.
“I know, I know.” I held up a hand in a peace offering as I collected myself.
“Why are you laughing then?”
Oh, that pout was damn precious. “Because you’re cute when you’re upset and political.” Then I kissed him to stop any reply. We gave up talking then and spoke with explorative touches and questing hands. I groaned and grunted “Yes” and “There” and “Please” to encourage Cass when he found the right path, and nudged him gently when he strayed. He listened as I guided him and when I found myself once again on my knees with his fingers inside me, the invasion didn’t feel strange. It still felt a bit overwhelming, but I was right where I wanted to be.
“Will, turn onto your back so I can see your face.”
“Next time.” I could feel the slight pause that gave him. The two words let him know that I couldn’t pull down all my defenses just now, but also that I hadn’t let go of aiming to do that, and pursuing a future with him.
Cass caressed my back, across my hips, and simply said, “Ok.” Then he focused on working me open. Two fingers, then three, working together in the same rhythm as his hand on my cock, until I was pushing back and asking for more.
“Breathe,” Cass told me. There was the rustle of foil being torn, then he was pushing his sheathed cockhead into me. I tensed at the burn, then pushed out, like he’d mentioned before. It helped. “That’s it,” he said, his voice horse and wispy with need. “Oh god, Will. That’s it, let me in.” His hands grasped my hips tighter and I felt every tremble of his body ripple right through to me. Despite the words being a cliché, I really had felt nothing like this before.
I felt filled to capacity, stretched and aching and yet somehow burned with a sweet, searing ecstasy. Cass may have asked if was all right, but I wasn’t sure. I nodded, unable to focus on anything except where his body was fused to mine. When he started moving, I let go of coherent thought.
Without caring about neighbors or practicalities or tomorrows, I pushed my face into the bed, braced my hands in the sheets, and thrust back against Cass’ hips. I could hear him panting, feel the way his hands slipped with sweat over my skin. In a way everything was a blur of frantic movement and heavy breathing and at the same time painfully sharp in its intensity.
I’d never opened myself this way. The feeling was frightening but too coated in bliss for me to care. “Cass, yes…” I hissed as his rhythm grew faster. His chest was pressed to my back, his hands close to mine. I pushed my free hands beneath his and he gripped tight.
“Do it,” I ground out, pumping my cock fast and hard.
Cass gasped in my ear and slammed once, twice, three stuttering times into my body, then he slumped over my back. The way he cried my name and clutched at me as he came urged me just over the edge until I was shooting a load of sticky come all over my bed.
Still panting, Cass rolled off me and I pulled him halfway across my chest, our hearts pounding against one another. Being with him this way had been more powerful than I’d expected. I wasn’t sure how to process it all, so I didn’t try. That could come another day.
For a while we dozed off. When I roused in a puddle of half-dried come, I eased out of bed to shower. Though I’d hoped I hadn’t woken up Cass, he was awake with flannel PJs hanging on his hips and a wet dishcloth in his hand.
“Hey,” he said, straightening up from where he’d been leaning over the bed. “I was, umm, trying to clean some of the mess off your sheets.”
“Don’t worry about.” I grabbed a blanket from the closet, tossed it over the wet spot and sat down. “This is fine until I wash the sheets in the morning.”
He looked amused, but shrugged and got back into bed with me. I fluffed up my pillow and watched Cass stretch out near me like a sleepy cat. Though we settled in comfortably next to one another—my arm over his waist, his hand in my hair—sleep eluded us.
My mind and body were still buzzing from the newness of everything that had happened that night. I needed time to process it all. Cass’ silence had an expectant quality, though, and I could sense there was something nagging at him.
“What’s on your mind?”
He huffed. “I guess you can tell when I’m thinking too. I suppose that’s fair game.” I poked him.
“That’s right,” I told him. “So like you told me, out with it.”
Cass gazed at the ceiling as he shrugged and said, “At night my mind likes to wonder about a lot of things. My body relaxes, but my brain keeps going.”
“What is it wondering now?”
Blowing out a breath, he turned to me. “Have you ever taken someone with you when you’ve gone on one of your photo shoots? Overseas?”
“No,” I answered truthfully. “Even if someone did come, it’s not as if I could spend time with them. Shooting is work, not a vacation. They’d be on their own and…”
Exhaling slowly, I told him, “Some of the areas I’ve gone to haven’t been desirable parts of the city or country. I know my way around those type of places. I always had contacts, resources. If I’d brought someone though, they would’ve had to stay at my main base further away, or trekked along with me, which would’ve been distracting.” I spread my hands. “I don’t think I could work that way.”
Cass stiffened next to me. “Have you been in danger before?”
“Not overt danger. I always had a good feel for wherever I went.”
“But?” he asked as he moved onto his side to better face me. “Were the people you tried to photograph hostile towards you?”
“Generally, no. It’s more that sometimes the authorities don’t like to have a spotlight shown on issues they’d rather keep out of the public eye.” At the look on his face, I said, “I don’t push limits like I used to, don’t worry.”
“Hard not to, the way you explain it.”
“I already promised Kate after she had Alia that I wouldn’t venture anywhere ‘questionable’. This next trip is to Bata’an in the Philippines, a place out in the countryside. About the only danger is how much weight I’ll put on while being a house guest.”
Cass didn’t laugh. I sighed. “The Philippines gets a bad rap but, honestly, people are so damn friendly and once you know get to know them, they make certain you’re taken care of. The news often paints an unfortunate picture because things can run a little differently there.”
How could I phrase this? “There are so many islands and languages and groups that people are often more loyal to their community than anything else. They take care of their own; make sure their village and family are safe.” Giving his hand a squeeze, I went on. “If you think about it, that mentality isn’t uncommon in a lot of places in the world. Even here in the States you have people in certain areas of the countryside that have rules unto themselves, though they won’t admit that. Hell, even downtown Chicago does. Cops pretty much leave Chinatown to regulate itself.”
“Yeah. I had a friend who was a cop who admitted he loved Chinatown because they so rarely had to deal with anything there, because the community watched its own.”
“I’m not sure if that makes me feel any better,” Cass said, though he looked more relaxed than earlier.
I pressed a kiss to his lips and pulled him close. “I won’t take chances.”
His eyes fluttered shut and he nestled closer. “Just promise me you won’t be a dumbass.”
“What? When have acted like a dumbass?”
He squinted at me with one eye open. “Besides when you kicked me out?”
“Hey, you were kind of a dumbass too.”
“Nope.” He shut his eyes and wrapped himself around me.
“Uh-huh. How long are you gonna play that card?”
“Shut up and go to sleep. Will.”
I gave up, turned off the bedside light, and pulled the comforter over us. “Goodnight brat.”
“Goodnight, my sweet dumbass.”
This story should be completed and published by the new year and I'll post the full story here for a week, since it would just be rude to post everything but the end! ;) I'll send an email to everyone on the newsletter list when the full fic goes up.