Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Healing Wounds - Whole New World Part 2

Title: Healing Wounds
Authors: Rolf and Gayspankee

Marc unlocked the front door of Rolf and Matthew's house and gently pushed it open. He placed a hand on Matthew's shoulder and guided him in. Once in, Marc turned on the light, closed the door, and steered Matthew into the living room. Matthew sat down on the couch. He was quiet, and distant. His face was red, and his eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Marc's was the same. Matthew stared at the floor as a fresh tear fell from his eye. Both young men were very subdued and somber. After several minutes of silence, Matthew spoke, his voice cracking.

"I can't believe he isn't here."

"I know. It makes you realize how fast your life can change."

Matthew shed a few more tears, sniffling, trying to hold back out and out sobbing.

"Do you remember when I first arrived at the hospital?" Marc said after a brief pause.

"Yeah. You said you would tell me about it later."

"I guess now is as good a time as any."

Matthew wiped his tears, wanting to hear what had detained Marc.

"You remember my cute neighbor?"

"Devin?"

"That's the one..."

*********************

Matthew sat wide eyed, his mouth nearly hitting the floor.

"So here I am, chained to this bed, with this guy ranting and raving downstairs. I think that is when my 'mini Rolf' clicked on, and I knew I had to get out."

Matthew's face fell at the mention of Rolf's name. Marc gently rubbed his knee, trying his best to console him.

"See this?" Marc said, showing Matthew his wrists.

Matthew nodded.

"Thank goodness my hands aren't any fatter! I managed to pull them through the cuffs. It wasn't easy, and it hurt like hell."

"THAT hurt like hell? But being whipped senseless tickled?!?" Matthew replied, trying to understand.

"I didn't get whipped senseless," Marc said quickly. "And yes, that hurt too, but it wasn't....it's just DIFFERENT than Rolf's spankings were. There aren't the feelings of shame, worry, embarrassment......"

"But it's STILL spanking," Matthew said.

"Every single one of Rolf's spankings weren't the same," Marc tried again. "Certainly he's 'play spanked' you before, right?"

"I....I guess," Matthew said, still having a hard time picturing Marc going through what he said he did. He wiped another tear from his face.

"It's sort of like that. But...even different." Marc sighed heavily. He wasn't doing a good job of explaining things, and he didn't think anything would become any more clear.

"Why don't you head on up for a bath? It should help you to get to sleep."

"No, I -"

"Come on fruitloop, I'm not taking no for an answer." Marc held out his hand until Matthew gave up and put his hand in Marc's. Marc lead the way upstairs to the master bath and started a hot bubble bath while Matthew took his clothes off slowly, too wiped out to argue. Matthew climbed into the bubbly water and sank in. Marc sat on the floor next to him, his arms wrapped around his knees.

"So what happened after you got out the cuffs?" Matthew asked quietly.

Marc cocked his head towards Matthew, his eyes were closed, and he was near buried in bubbles. Marc let out a chuckle at the sight, and answered.

"I had looked out the window, and had actually considered going right out it. But that would have been crazy."

"Yes of EVERYthing you did, THAT would have been crazy." Matthew interrupted with his two cents.

"SO," Marc continued. "I crept down the stairs. I didn't see Devon or his whipping boy of the moment, so I grabbed my pile of clothes, and slipped out the front door."

"And he never saw you leave?" Matthew said opening his eyes.

Marc shrugged, not giving it any thought.

"Sounds like you could use a good kick in the pants for getting into that kind of trouble." Matthew said with a smile.

"It was a little scary. I don’t think Rolf needs to know, okay? I am entitled to …. experiment, and he’d might just over-react.."

Matthew's face fell.

"Lean forward kiddo."

Marc grabbed the bar of soap and washed Matthew's back. He used deep soothing motions. Once it was all lathered, he gently rinsed him off. Marc stood up and got the large bath towel.

"Don't want you to prune too much." Marc said motioning for Matthew to get out of the tub.

Matthew slowly stood up, and stepped out. Marc wrapped the towel around him, and patted off some of the water. He then guided Matthew into the bedroom.

"I don't want to go bed. I want to go see Rolf."

"You can't."

"I want to."

"Matthew, before he went into surgery he asked that you not stay in the hospital overnight."

"I know. I just feel so...helpless." Matthew said as new tears began to fall.

Marc grabbed onto Matthew for hug, and held him tightly. He walked them over to the bed, and sat down. He pulled Matthew down with him. Matthew placed his head in Marc's lap, as Marc gently rubbed his shoulders. Matthew soon fell asleep, exhausted from the day. Marc looked at the clock, it was after 2 in the morning. It had been a long day for them both. Marc closed his eyes, and soon fell asleep in the upright position.

Matthew woke up first, a cramp in his neck. As he went to sit up, Marc also woke up.

"Owwwwwww," Matthew said, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I agree," Marc said, wincing as he tried to roll his head around to stretch the muscles. He stood up and pulled the blankets down. "Get in Matty, and go to sleep."

Matthew crawled up to the top of the bed and slid in, looking longingly at Rolf's side of the bed before looking back at Marc. "Stay?" he asked plaintively.

Looking at the bed, Marc nodded slowly. He kicked off his shoes and pulled off his jeans and laid down on the other side of the bed. He felt a little uncomfortable being there, but he knew Matthew wanted him to be. He laid down on top of the covers, planning on waiting until Matthew fell asleep before moving into the room across the hall.

At 10am , the phone rang, startling both boys. Marc came to consciousness first and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Hi there. Just wake up?" Rolf asked, a smile in his voice.

"Rolf! You're out of surgery?" Marc asked, flustered.

"No. I'm on the operating table as we speak. The appendix looks like it would make a nice side dish."

"Oh, gross!" Marc said, laughing, trying to keep Matthew from grabbing the receiver. "Here, before I get killed," Marc said as he handed the phone to Matthew.

"Rolf! Are you okay? Surgery done? Safe?"

Rolf laughed softly, still very drugged and tired. "I'm out of surgery, just a little uncomfortable, and a lot tired. How are you? Not giving Marc any trouble, are you?"

"I don't CARE about me, I just want to know about you. I'm going to get dressed and come right over, okay?"

"No, wait a minute Matthew. They suggested it was a good idea not to have guests today, while the antibiotics are starting to work."

"But I HAVE to see you. I ju-"

"Matthew, it's doctor's orders. They feel I need to concentrate completely on getting better."

"But, I-"

"Matthew I love you and I will see you tomorrow if all goes well today. Please put Marc back on the phone."

A tear rolled down Matthew's cheek as he passed the phone back to Marc, unable to say anything else.

"What's up?" Marc asked sensing something wasn't quite right.

"The doctor's don't want me to have visitors today, so the antibiotics can take full effect. As I'm sure you heard, Matthew didn't take that news too well."

"No, not really."

"Just send him my love again, and I will call again tomorrow to see how things are and let you know if I can have visitors yet."

"Okay."

"Everything alright there?"

"Mhmmm. Now don't worry about us, you just get better, and listen to those doctors. Or you'll end up over MY knee." Marc said with a chuckle.

Matthew looked at Marc with half a smile.

"Yes, Sir," Rolf replied mockingly. "You take care. I send my love to you both."

And with that Rolf disconnected.

Matthew was already on his feet digging through the drawers, his bare buns quivering as he moved.

"What are you doing fruitloop?"

"I'm getting dressed, have to go to the hospital."

Marc stood up and walked over to Matthew, putting his hand on his back.

"Kiddo, you know you can't."

"But I WANT to. I NEED to."

"I know you do, but you can't. It's doctor's orders, not to mention Rolf's request."

"What am *I* supposed to do?"

"We'll find something to do."

Matthew finally dug out a pair of underwear and put them on. He turned to Marc and cocked his head.

"We?"

"Do you think I would leave you by yourself?"

"Don't you have to work?"

"No, I have today off. And so do you."

"I may not be able to be in Rolf's room, but I'd like to go to the hospital anyway."

Marc took Matthew by the arm and turned him around. "I know you want to be with him, but sitting over there isn't going to do you or him any good whatsoever. We'll find something here to do that's better and wait for his call."

"I want -"

"I said no. I mean no. And that is the END of that conversation," Marc finished sternly. "I don't want to have to get this way, but you're not going over to that hospital."

Matthew stuck out his lip, in full pout. But he didn't want to give Marc a hard time.

"I just...I feel so helpless and lost."

"I know you do, but-"

"Marc you can't know!"

"Hey! I may have never experienced anything close to what you and Rolf have, but I have had my fair share of heartache. Remember Luke?"

Matthew nodded, still not wanting an argument.

"Why don't you go downstairs and get something for breakfast and I will take a shower."

"Sounds good," Matthew replied as he finished dressing.

Marc smiled and headed into the bathroom. He turned on the shower and let it warm up. He pulled off his shirt, and caught a glimpse of the markings he still wore from two days earlier. Marc winced at the sight, not so much from the markings themselves, but what they represented. He unbuttoned his jeans and slid them off, testing the water for the perfect temperature. He put a thumb in his waistband and paused, hearing something not quite right.

"Matthew?" Marc called from the bathroom.

But he got no response. Marc stepped into the hallway and called again, getting more quiet for his efforts. He sighed heavily and started to walk down the stairs when he heard the garage door closing.

"Son of a b-" Marc grumbled, as he ran back up the stairs. Turning the shower off he pulled his pants back on, grabbed his shirt and ran out of the house, keys in his hands. Starting the truck he backed out and headed straight to the hospital, knowing Matthew was going there.

He pulled up into the parking lot and finding no free parking, cursed and headed into the pay lot. He spotted Matthew's truck against the back wall and parked next to it, pulling his shirt on as he walked quickly towards the hospital entrance. Going straight to the desk, he asked for Rolf's room number and was given the same line that Matthew was, no visitors.

"Did someone else just ask about Rolf? A guy, about 5'10", blond?"

"Yes, just a moment ago," the receptionist said.

"Do you know which way he went?"

"He took the elevators, but after that, I don't know," she said, turning to help another patron.

"Thanks," Marc said, sprinting towards the open elevator door.

"Four, please," Marc said, wondering if that was where Matthew was going to start looking, and thinking it was going to be harder than finding a needle in a haystack to find Matthew in the twisting hallways of the hospital.

Starting on the fourth floor, he made his way quickly down the halls, not finding Matthew anywhere. He thought for a moment where would be the BEST place to look for him. Marc passed a nurse in the hallway, and stopped her.

"Hi, could you tell me where ICU is?" Marc asked in his naturally sweet tone.

"It's on the seventh floor, right wing."

"Thank you."

The nurse smiled and nodded, and Marc looked for the nearest elevator. He pushed the button and waited patiently for it to open. After a moment's wait, the door popped open. Standing inside was Matthew. Matthew's eyes grew large, and he moved quickly for the "close door" button, but Marc was quicker and got on the elevator with him. The doors closed and Marc eyed Matthew, who stared at his feet.

"I'm sorry," Matthew said quietly.

"For leaving the house or getting caught?" Marc asked calmly.

"Yes."

Marc put his arm around Matthew, and held him. When the elevator reached the seventh floor, Marc pushed the button for the first and they rode back down without interruption. Marc kept an arm around Matthew and led him past the receptionist and straight into the gift shop.

Matthew looked up quizzically. "What are we doing in here?"

"Since you're already here, might as well purchase a little something for Rolf, hmmm?"

Matthew's eyes lit up and he took a moment or two to look, his eyes landing on Taz, from the Warner Brothers cartoons. Rolf's bike had that printed on the side, and he knew it had special meaning for Rolf. He purchased that and a small gift card, writing a short message and dropping it at the front desk.

"Give this to Rolf Monet, in ICU, please."

"Right away," the receptionist said, signaling to a candy striper to take it upstairs.

"Alright fruitloop, we're going home." Marc walked Matthew out with his arm around him. "Straight home, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I'll be following you."

Matthew managed to say "yes, sir," before he got in his truck and headed home. He pulled into the driveway, and opened the garage, pulling the truck in. Marc followed almost immediately behind Matthew. Matthew left the garage door open so Marc could enter the house that way. Marc got out of his truck, which he kept blocking the garage this time. He followed Matthew into the house, stopping Matthew before he started to go upstairs.

"Living room please," Marc said quietly.

Matthew froze in mid-step, turning and looking at Marc, his lip quivering. Marc just pointed. Matthew slowly drug his feet into the living room, plopping down on the couch. Marc sat down next to him, in the center of the couch.

"Now I know your heart and mind were in the right place. BUT did I, or did I not tell you we weren't going to the hospital?"

Matthew turned wide eyes to Marc. "You said no, but I just had to. You KNOW I had to," he pleaded.

"No, Matthew. What you HAVE to do is what I tell you. You know if I could I'd click my fingers and Rolf would be here and perfectly fine. I wouldn't deny you seeing him if it was at all possible. Today, it's not possible, and therefore, the reason I said no. I don't appreciate having to chase you across town and through the hospital corridors. Remove your shorts, please."

Matthew started to stutter, but shut up and stood up when Marc held out his hand. He slowly slid his shorts down, pulling his underwear down at the same time. He turned and bent over Marc's lap, knees almost touching the floor, his head and elbows on the couch cushion. He bit his lip and ducked his head as Marc's hand connected with a loud smack on his bottom.

He was going to remain quiet for the spanking, but as usual, finding himself in this position overwhelmed him and he broke down into sobs, giving in to the pain.

Marc only spanked him for a few minutes, just enough to get the bottom very hot and stinging. When he finished, he helped Matthew to his feet, hugging him for a moment before allowing him to pull his shorts back into place. He then walked with him into the kitchen, handing him a couple of paper towels and pulling out a chair.

"You can sit in the corner while I shower. There will be serious trouble if I find you anywhere but here." Marc waited until Matthew had settled into the chair before heading upstairs for his shower.

Marc slowly made his way upstairs, knowing that Matthew was in the safest place possible at the time being. He started the shower, again. And he disrobed, again. He stepped into the warm shower, and the let the water cascade over him.

Meanwhile, Matthew sat in the corner quietly, except for an occasional sniffle or two. He shifted, trying to relieve the sting, but to no avail. He knew he was wrong for not listening to Marc, and he knew there was nothing he could do. But he didn't like it.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was only about fifteen minutes, Marc returned to the kitchen. He stood behind Matthew and rubbed his shoulders.

"What do you want for lunch?" Marc asked.

"Rolf home, safe and sound." Matthew said quietly.

Marc ruffled Matthew's hair.

"How about something that I can do withOUT my magic wand?"

"Whatever."

"Cow balls and pig feet it is."

Matthew turned his head and looked at Marc, cracking a smile. "You are SO gross!"

Marc shrugged, and tugged on the chair, signaling that Matthew could leave the corner now. Matthew stood up, and Marc put the chair back.

"I think there's some frozen pizza in the freezer," Matthew said, walking over to it.

"What's the oven temp?"

" Four fifty . Pepperoni?"

"Yeah, sounds good," Marc said, turning on the oven.

Matthew opened the box and pulled the pizza out, rearranging the meat across the top. He put it on the cookie sheet, and placed it in the oven that Marc was holding open. The pizza went in, and Marc closed the door.

"Set the timer." Marc asked Matthew.

Matthew did.

"So what's on tap for today?" Matthew asked quietly.

"I don't know, we should get the house clean. I mean tip top shape, every nook and cranny."

Matthew made a face.

"Don't you need to go get some clothes?" Matthew inquired.

Now it was Marc's turn to make a face.

"What?"

"I am not in any hurry to return home."

"Why not?"

"Forget already? Hunky psycho living next door."

"What? You think he is waiting for you or something?" Matthew asked with some concern, memories of Lonely flooding back.

Marc saw the uneasy look in Matthew's eyes, and didn't want to add to his problems.

"No. I just am in no mood to see the guy, you know what I mean."

Matthew breathed a silent sigh of relief, and nodded.

"You can borrow something if you need it."

"Yeah, just call me Goldilocks."

Matthew looked puzzled. "What?"

"These clothes are too small. These clothes are too big." Marc replied in his best fairy tale voice.

"I've no doubt if you check in the extra bedroom that you'll find something of yours," Matthew said as he grabbed a coke from the fridge. "Want one?"

"Sprite would be good," Marc said as he settled at the table.

Matthew got out a Sprite and passed it to Marc, going into the pantry and coming up with some chips. He sat down at the table, handing the bag over to Marc after he grabbed a handful.

"What do you think Rolf's eating?"

"Multi-colored Jell-O, probably," Marc replied as he started munching on the chips.

"Are you sure he's going to be alright?" Matthew asked, his eyes pleading.

"He made it through surgery just fine, and they've got him on the strongest antibiotics possible. He's being monitored very carefully, so yes, I think he's going to be just fine. It's just going to take a little time."

"When do you think they will allow visitors?"

"I hope tomorrow. But it could still be another day or two."

Matthew's lip began to quiver, that wasn't the response he was hoping for.

"Fruitloop, you know that Rolf knows you are thinking of him. And he is doing the same of you. That will be enough until you can see him."

"I guess. Just not the same."

The timer binged for the pizza.

"Get the plates, and I will slice 'n dice."

"Scream, 1996?"

"You're getting better at that movie trivia," Marc said with a smile.

Matthew managed to crack a smile as well, and got the plates. Marc pulled the pizza from the oven and got the pizza cutter. He served up the pizza and they sat down for a quiet lunch. Their minds in other, separate, places.

When Marc finished his half of the pizza he went upstairs and found some clothes in the extra bedroom and changed into those.

Matthew took longer to eat, only eating because he had to. When he finished he dumped the plates into the sink and went downstairs, flopping into the recliner and turning the TV on. He aimlessly channel surfed for several minutes, before his reverie was interrupted.

"Matty! Come here."

"What?" Matthew yelled back.

"Come here!"

"WHY?"

Marc walked down the stairs, not wanting to be an ogre, but being given precious little choice. He went over to Matthew's chair, pulled him up and swatted him once. "Get upstairs."

Matthew rolled his eyes, but went upstairs, knowing this probably had something to do with the dishes. He stopped just inside the kitchen. "What?" he asked, keeping his back to the wall.

"You wouldn't leave the kitchen like this when Rolf's home, you're not going to leave it like this just because he's out. It'll take you ten minutes tops, get it cleaned up, please."

"Alright, already," Matthew said, going over to the sink and putting the dishes into the dishwasher.

"Matthew Christopher Mocoso!" Marc said from behind Matthew.

"What?!" Matthew exclaimed as he spun around.

"There is like five dishes there, you fill that sink up and do them the old fashioned way. You are NOT wasting electricity and extra water to run that machine."

"You don't have to pay for it." Matthew replied.

"Excuse me?"

Matthew heard and understood the tone. He removed what he had put into the washer and filled the sink. He quickly washed them, and put them on the drain board. He emptied the sink and began to head out of the room. Marc simply cleared his throat.

"What?!" Matthew groused.

"Doing the dishes includes putting them away."

"Fine. Later."

"No. Now."

"If you want them done now, go do them." Matthew replied.

"HEY! I know this is unpleasant, having Rolf in the hospital. But you are about to make it that much MORE unpleasant."

Matthew hung his head and slowly walked back to the dishes. He began putting them away.

"I'm sorry," Matthew said quietly as he put away the last item.

Marc walked over and gave him a hug, then a swat.

"Come on, let's watch some soap operas, their lives are ALWAYS more depressing than ours."

Matthew cracked a smile and followed Marc downstairs, settling back into his recliner. They watched only thirty minutes before Matthew was tired of that.

"Change the channel, this sucks."

"The others suck more," Marc tried, having been drawn into this episode.

"Car racing. Horse racing. Movie. Something besides that shit, please."

"Matthew, watch your language, please," Marc said as he started turning the channels.

"I never HAVE understood that sentence. It's not like I can SEE language -"

"You'll FEEL language if you don't watch it," Marc said meaningfully.

"I need a drink," Matthew said, getting up and going upstairs.

"No, I am fine thanks." Marc said quietly, while changing the channel back to the soap opera.

Marc sighed as he saw several people crying, and the show fade out. He shook his head and turned off the TV. He walked upstairs to see what Matthew was doing. Matthew was on the phone, when he saw Marc he quickly ended the call and hung up the phone.

"Who was that?"

"Nobody."

"You just picked up the phone and dialed a random number?"

"No. It was a PERSONAL phone call. Do you MIND ?"

"I MIND the attitude! You called the hospital, didn't you?"

"Yes. I called the freaking hospital!"

"Matthew, I know how much you miss him but calling today is not a good thing! He needs his rest, he's trying to fight off infection in his entire body. STOP trying to fight against that, it's not going to help."

"I want him home!" Matthew ground out between clenched teeth.

"He will be home as soon as he can," Marc said, before finishing to himself "and it won't be soon enough." He watched as Matthew stomped upstairs, shaking his head. He was safe enough up there, so Marc decided to just give him some space. He went back downstairs and found something halfway interesting to watch.

Marc soon found himself struggling to stay awake, a battle that was eventually lost. Marc quickly awoke when he heard the theme song to Trading Spaces playing. He opened his eyes, and looked around. Someone was missing.

Marc slowly stood up, working the kinks out of his neck. He walked upstairs in search of Matthew. After finding the house quiet, he walked up to the bedroom. He found Matthew laying on the bed, sound asleep. Marc walked in, and saw Matthew holding a picture of Rolf. He smiled, and sat down on the edge of the bed. Matthew began to stir, and finally woke up.

"Hey. How long you been sleeping?" Marc asked quietly.

Matthew shrugged.

"I'm going to go swing home pick up some stuff."

"I thought you didn't want to go there?"

"It's no biggie. I need a few things, and getting out will be good. Want to come?"

"No thanks."

"I EXPECT to find you in the house when I return. And there is no telling when I will check on you."

Matthew didn't respond.

"I'm serious! Want me to pick up something for dinner?"

"You don't have to come back, I will be alright."

"Not a chance! Rolf asked me to stay with you. And I WANT to stay with you."

"Joy." Matthew thought to himself, not in the mood to be fussed over and watched over.

"Last chance to put in a vote for dinner," Marc said pausing, but there was no response. "Okay, you better eat what I bring home."

"Mmmhhmm." Matthew replied.

"I will be back shortly. Be good."

Matthew rolled over and stared at the ceiling as he heard Marc go downstairs. When he heard the truck start, he sat up on the bed. Deciding there wasn't a point to staying there, he got up and headed downstairs. He looked at the keys in the basket and thought about leaving for the hospital, but decided Marc would have a coronary and find some way to kill him from the other side. He headed into the office and turned on the computer, deciding that as long as no one was breathing over his shoulder, he might as well.

Marc drove over to his house quickly, wanting to avoid the five o'clock traffic at the restaurants.

Marc got out of his car, and stared at Devin's house as he walked up to his front door. Chills ran down his spine as he recalled his escape. He shook his head, trying to reassure himself that as time passed, the memory had been embellished some. Marc made his way into his home, grabbing the mail as he entered. He quickly flipped through it and tossed the junk on the coffee table. He walked past his answering machine, and saw it flashing and pushed play.

The color drained from Marc's face as he listened to a final message left by Matthew as Marc was on his way to the hospital. Matthew begged and pleaded for him. Marc bit back tears, and quickly erased the message. He briskly walked upstairs and packed a bag of necessities. He was downstairs in five minutes. Finding a random restaurant in the phone book, Marc called and placed an order for two lasagna dinners. Once the phone was hung up, he looked around for any other items. Finding none, Marc grabbed his bag and left the house. As Marc was walking to his truck, Devin had returned home. Devin spotted him, and came over, something Marc was not ready to deal with.

"What happened yesterday?" Devin asked mildly.

"You left me in a very uncomfortable position, one that only got worse as the seconds ticked away," Marc replied, throwing his bag into the truck.

"I didn't mean to-"

"While you didn't mean to do it, my best friend was going through something traumatic, and I was chained to your bed like a dog. It was YOUR fault I couldn't be there for him," Marc snapped, emotions running high.

"I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but YOU wanted to try that out. I apologize for the interruption, but all you had to do was say you wanted to quit. I didn't get that from you while I was there."

Devin was staring straight into Marc's eyes, making him uncomfortable.

"Ask? And I was supposed to do that when? When you were beating the snot out of that 'fucking pussy'?"

"I admit that was tacky of me. However, did you ask to be released?" Devin pressed further, not dropping his gaze.

Marc wasn't in a place where he could answer that yet. He jumped into the truck and before closing his door said, "I don't have time for this." He slammed the door and started it, slamming it into reverse and leaving quickly, Devin still standing there. Marc's arms were shaking with anger.

Once he got out of sight of his home, he slowed down and tried to settle down. It wouldn't do at this time to be involved in an accident. He realized he had turned the wrong way and took the next corner to go back to the restaurant where dinner was waiting. He picked that up, his demeanor not inviting any additional conversation. Once he had dinner, he drove back over to Rolf and Matthew's hoping that Matthew had listened to him. He was in no mood for a showdown tonight.

He pulled into the driveway, grabbed the dinners, his duffle bag and made his way into the house.

"Matthew?" Marc bellowed as soon as he walked into the house.

There was no response, and no sight of him. Marc walked into the kitchen and put the dinners on the counter. He held on tightly to his duffle bag and walked up the stairs.

"Matthew?" Marc called louder.

"What?!" Matthew snarled from the bathroom.

"Sorry, I was just making sure you were home. Dinner is here," Marc replied with relief. He walked into the spare bedroom and tossed the bag on the floor.

He expected Matthew to emerge quickly from the bathroom and when he didn't, Marc headed on downstairs and set the dinners on the table, getting the silverware and napkins and pouring two cokes over ice. He waited a couple more minutes, then started eating. When Matthew still hadn't come downstairs a five minutes later, Marc got up and headed up the stairs.

"Matthew?"

"What?" Matthew said from the bathroom.

"Are you alright?"

"I'm FINE," Matthew snarled again.

"You don't seem fine, spending so long in there."

"Go AWAY."

"Five minutes, I want you downstairs for dinner, or you're going to get some meds and go to bed," Marc said reasonably, turning and heading downstairs immediately.

Matthew mumbled and grumbled but got downstairs within five minutes to avoid going to bed. He expected a smartass comment from Marc when he got down there, but nothing was said. Matthew lifted the top of the tray and poked at the lasagna. When it didn't fight back, he carefully took a bite and discovered it wasn't too bad. He thought about saying something nice to Marc about it, but Marc seemed distant to him, which only made his own sour mood deepen.

Once they finished eating, Matthew quickly deposited the plate in the sink, and scrambled downstairs. Marc was still preoccupied by the conversation with Devin to take note of Matthew's absence, and did the dishes himself. Marc stared into the soapy water, wondering if he HAD over dramtized the situation. Were things truly as easy as asking? Marc shook his head, and finished the task at hand. He started to walk downstairs, but decided he needed a watery escape. He walked up to the master bath and drew himself a hot bubble bath. He stripped and sank into the water.

Matthew meanwhile, sat downstairs power surfing. He rapidly switched the channels, waiting for Marc to join him, if for nothing else but to ignore him first. Matthew perked up when he heard Marc at the top of the stairs. But that soon drained when he heard him walk upstairs instead. Matthew's displeasure rose. He sprawled out on the couch, making sure every square inch was being used. He continued the surfing until he came across some mind numbing documentary, that even he could barely stomach. But aside from being able to drive Marc insane with it, he took some comfort, knowing it's what Rolf would have chosen.

After a half hour of drowning his sorrows in the tub, Marc joined Matthew downstairs. Marc started to head towards the couch, but Matthew purposefully kept his eyes glued to the television, and didn't flex the slightest muscle. Marc glared at his foot, but walked slowly over to the chair.

"Better door than a window." Matthew said quietly as Marc blocked the television.

"Excuse me?" Marc asked not moving from in front of the television.

"Hard to see the television THRU you." Matthew continued.

Marc turned and looked at the television. "Oh like the life of the algae is REALLY getting your mind soaring."

"Now that I have missed HALF of it."

"I would appreciate it if you wouldn't use that tone."

"I would appreciate it if you would move your fat ass!"

Matthew regretted that comment as soon as it escaped his lips, he didn't mean to be so rude, but he wasn't in the mind set to apologize either. Marc turned around and clicked the power on the television.

"I guess telly time is over for tonight." Marc replied.

Matthew looked at Marc, then at the dark television screen. He raised the remote, and turned it back on. Marc held out his hand for the remote. Matthew stared past him and continued channel surfing.

"One."

"Two, buckle my shoe." Matthew finished.

"Two." Marc continued in a tone that was NOT to be messed with.

"Take the damn thing." Matthew spat as he jumped to his feet, tossing the remote on the couch. He quickly sprinted up the stairs to the bedroom, and slammed the door.

Marc turned off the television, and followed Matthew. He walked at a pace similar to the horror movie villains. He crept the stairs slowly and purposefully. He rounded the corner and approached the bedroom door. Marc turned the knob and entered, closing the door behind him.

"I know for a fact that any of what you just did, would have you HOWLING if you attempted it with Rolf."

"SO?" Matthew replied with his face buried in his pillow.

"So I think you should try that again, like a gentleman."

"You have GOT -"

"I'm NOT kidding, Matthew," Marc interrupted.

Matthew rolled over on his back and sat up. "You mean to tell me that you want me to go back down TWO flights of stairs, and walk back up here, JUST because I ran?"

"It's not just because you ran. It's because you have an attitude and a mouth in the gutter. PLEASE don't make me use the hands on approach," Marc pleaded.

"WHATEVER!" Matthew yelled as he stood up and took three steps to the door and slammed it shut behind him.

Marc's thin hold on his own temper snapped and he had his hand on the door almost before it slammed and grabbed Matthew by the ear before he got to the first step.

"You want to do this the hard way, we'll do it the hard way." He ignored Matthew's indignant squeals and propelled him into the bedroom and over to the bed where he pulled Matthew face down over his lap and began spanking. When Matthew quit struggling so much to get loose, he yanked down his shorts and underwear and began again on the tender skin, causing Matthew to moan and groan.

Matthew refused to give in to all out sobbing, and quickly scrambled to his feet and kicked off his shorts and underwear when Marc was done.

"Get under the covers," Marc said before walking out and shutting the door behind him.

Matthew fell down on the bed, finally giving in to the tears that were already flowing. He cried because of the pain. He cried because he'd upset Marc. But mostly he cried because he missed Rolf.

Marc went over to his room and sat down on the bed, his head in his hands. His anger was gone almost immediately, but it took him a while to realize that Matthew was crying a lot more than the spanking deserved. Marc felt horrible as he'd pretty much spanked in anger, even if Matthew did deserve it and it wasn't a severe spanking.

Getting up from his own bed, he re-entered the master bedroom, seeing Matthew curled up with his knees to his chest, facing the far wall. Marc came in and sat down on the bed next to him. He gently stroked Matthew's hair, not saying a word. Matthew rolled over and placed his head on Marc's chest, and continued to cry. Marc simply held Matthew, both in silence. Soon, Matthew drifted to sleep and Marc followed.

Matthew was the first to wake up, sliding out of bed without disturbing Marc. He padded downstairs and looked for something to eat, finally finding a box of stale donuts in the back of the pantry. Just before he headed downstairs, a soft knock came from the back door. Matthew put the donuts down and opened the door, finding Eric on the doorstep.

"Hey Matthew. I didn't wake you, did I?"

"No, no, I was up. Come in," Matthew said, holding the door open.

Eric entered. "I only had a moment as I'm heading on shift, but I wanted to find out an update on Rolf. How is he? Visitors today?"

"I don't know. He said no yesterday, and I haven't heard from him today."

Eric could see how much Matthew missed Rolf. "How are you holding up?" he asked, hands on Matthew's shoulders.

"I'm okay," Matthew said, looking down.

"Eating alright?"

"Yeah. Marc -"

"Is up," Marc finished, coming around the corner and into the kitchen. "Hi Eric."

"Hey. Whoa! Check out the hair! I like it."

"Thanks, this one sort of talked me into it." Marc said point towards Matthew.

"So you're helping Matthew while Rolf is down?"

"Yeah. If you want to call it that," Marc said, taking the coke that Matthew had set out and put it back into the fridge.

Eric laughed, Matthew missing the coke's disappearance. "I see, and a fine job you're doing. I thought I'd go see Rolf, but guess I'll have to wait until clearance. Call me, won't you? With news of Rolf or if I or Michael can do anything at all, for either of you."

"Thanks," Matthew and Marc said simultaneously.

Eric smiled and let himself out. Marc turned to Matthew.

"Sleep well?"

Matthew shrugged. Marc wanted the day to get off to a better start than the previous day ended.

"We will have none of that." Marc said firmly.

"What?" Matthew replied with a tint of attitude.

"Whatever that ignore slash silent slash attitude thing is."

Matthew's eyes grew large, ready to fight it out. But Marc cut him off.

"I would like to apologize for last night. That was NOT how I wanted the night to end."

Matthew stared at the floor for a minute, and reflected on the night as well.

"Me too," he said quietly. "Dinner was good by the way."

Marc smiled and rustled Matthew's hair.

"Well despite the circumstances, I enjoyed playing hooky yesterday. How about you?"

"Work can be soothing though."

"Yeah, if I instant message you every two minutes."

Matthew stuck out his tongue and looked at the table. He cocked his head, then shook it. Marc smiled, knowing he just realized his Coke was gone. Matthew started for the fridge again, but stopped suddenly as the phone rang. His eyes lit up, and he bounded for the receiver, nearly knocking Marc to his rear end.

"Hello?" Matthew answered with enthusiasm.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have the wrong number." Rolf replied. "See the young man I was calling, would NEVER be so enthusiastic in the morning."

"Roooooooolf!" Matthew said in his stop teasing me tone.

Rolf laughed, then groaned softly.

"How ARE you doing?" Matthew asked.

"Let's just say I know what a pin cushion feels like," Rolf said with a forced laugh.

"Can I come see you before work?" Matthew asked, the eternal optimist.

"No, sweetheart. The meds are taking a little longer to work than they thought."

"What do you mean?" Matthew asked, concerned.

"The appendix ruptured and dumped a lot of bad stuff into my blood. The antibiotics and stuff are working, the counts are down, but not nearly enough to be considered safe for visitors. They just want to make sure I don't pick up any other virus to weaken my immune system anymore right now. You know how much I'm missing you."

"I'm missing you too," Matthew said, plaintively.

"Are you treating Marc well?"

"Yeah."

"Should I really believe that?" Rolf asked jokingly.

"Well. I did pull on his tail a little," Matthew admitted.

"I see enough that you got a Taz delivered. Thank you sweetheart, I'm keeping that right with me until I can see you again."

Matthew managed to smile.

"They're coming to get more blood. Put Marc on before I have to hang up. I love you."

"Love you too," Matthew said, before handing the phone over.

"Hi Rolf. Feeling better?" Marc said when he had the phone in position.

"Not exactly, but I'll get there eventually. How's Matthew?"

"Fine, but missing you," Marc said.

"Make sure he's eating well, please? He tends to hit the sugar pretty hard when he's stressed.

"I know," Marc said. "We'll be fine, just work on getting yourself better, okay?"

"I will, time to be poked some more. Take care of him for me. Love you both." Rolf said as he hung up the phone.

Marc hung up the phone as well.

"Well he sounded better." Marc said.

"I guess." Matthew said, slouching in the chair.

"Fruitloop he is in good hands." Marc said as he picked up the box of donuts. "What do you say we go out for breakfast. Get something of some real nutritional value...that hasn't expired a week ago."

"I'm not hungry." Matthew said quietly.

"You will be. Now go get dressed for work. We can go to the diner a block from your office."

"Marc I don't-"

"Matthew, please?" Marc said, his tone slightly elevated but still pleasant.

Matthew could hear the pleading in his tone, and did as he was asked. Once Matthew was upstairs, Marc breathed a sigh of relief, pleased that Matthew didn't put up a fight. Marc soon followed upstairs to the guest bath to get ready himself.

"Do you know where my keys are?" Matthew asked, stomping around the kitchen, looking for said keys.

"You had them last. When you got back from the hospital. What did you do with them?"

"I don't KNOW! That's why I'm asking you," Matthew said, exasperated.

"Where have you looked?" Marc asked gently, trying to diffuse the situation.

"EVERYWHERE!" Matthew spat, tossing the basket back on the counter that usually held them.

Marc wanted to say you can't have looked everywhere, but knew that was the quickest way to a huge scene and they didn't have time for that.

"Why don't I just drop you off then? We can look later."

"It's a freaking set of keys! They can't be this hard to find!" Matthew fumed, still on a rampage.

"MATTHEW. We need to leave if we want to have any time at all to eat. Come on, it's no big deal."

"It IS a big deal! It's a set-"

"THATS ENOUGH!" Marc said loud enough to cut through the growing tantrum that Matthew was trying to continue. "Get your juice and lets GO. The keys can wait." When Matthew tried to say something again, he was cut off. "GO."

He grabbed his juice from the fridge and stormed out the door, just about taking the handle off of Marc's truck before he could get it unlocked.

Marc was ready to spout a dozen comments, but didn't want to deal with the riot that would ensue. Instead he breathed deep and counted to ten. Marc walked over and unlocked the door for Matthew, then let himself in on the driver's side. Matthew flopped into the truck and slammed the door shut. Marc stared at Matthew.

"Did we NOT have a discussion last night on slamming doors?" Marc asked, before facing forward and start the truck up.

"Eat me!" Was the phrase that sprang to Matthew's mind, but he was afraid Marc would do just that, so he remained silent.

The ride to the diner was short and very quiet. Fortunately they had missed the breakfast rush, so the diner was nearly empty. Somewhere between ordering and the meals arriving, Marc decided to try and initiate a conversation again.

"What time do you get out today?"

"Same time I always do!" Matthew snapped

"Well, unless I force you out the door, you would stay until eight! So what time are you SUPPOSED to get out." Marc replied, with a look that could scare small animals, not having yet mastered the look to scare small children.

"Five." Matthew responded.

"Thank you. I shall be there at five to pick you up, not that I won't talk to you before that."

"You're picking me up for lunch, right?" Matthew asked, with a tone between pleading and demanding.

"I'll try, I don-"

"I don't have my TRUCK! I-"

Matthew's rant was interrupted by the delivery of breakfast, a welcomed way to end discussion so early in the morning. Soon breakfast had been devoured, both young men hungrier than they let on. Marc paid the bill and they exited the diner.

"Do you want a ride or can you manage?" Marc asked sarcastically.

Matthew stuck out his tongue, and started across the street to his office. He turned and shouted, before Marc got into the truck.

"Thanks." Matthew yelled, then continued to work.

Marc smiled, and got into the truck. He was pleased that the first hurdle of the day had been cleared. Marc pulled into his office parking lot about ten minutes early and headed on up to his office.

Settling down in his chair, Marc noticed that he had a voice mail. He pressed the button and keyed in his code and listened to the messages. The first was an answer to a question he needed in order to finish his budget work, the second was Matthew.

"I just wanted to remind you to COME GET ME at lunch. I REALLY don't want that diner food twice in one day. Don't FORGET ME."

Marc shook his head and cleared the messages.

"Marc?"

"Oh, hi Lisa. Didn't see you there," Marc said, having not seen his secretary at the door.

"That's me, just part of the woodwork. Mr. Edwards is here from the Broadway store? He'd like to see you about his budget."

Marc rolled his eyes. "Put him in the conference room. I don't have any other pressing business," Marc said as he finished writing down the information from his voice mail.

"I've got the coffee on, can I get you some?"

"That would be great. Thanks, Lisa."

Lisa turned and left the office, settling Mr. Edwards into the conference room and getting two mugs of coffee for the two gentlemen.

While Marc was being grilled in a meeting, Matthew sat at his desk staring at the computer.

"Are you TRYING to piss me off?" Matthew exclaimed, as he stared at his "not connected" list of instant messenger buddies.

"Is that mean old computer bullying you again?" Stacy said as she crept into the office.

Matthew glared at her, then smiled.

"Yes, would you beat it up for me?"

"I find tenderness works better than brute force."

Matthew blew her a raspberry.

"How is Rolf doing?" Stacy asked seriously.

"I wouldn't know. They seem to think visitors are a bad thing right now." Matthew replied, his voice stinging.

"Hey, if the doctors think he needs to not have visitors, then it has to be for his own good."

"Oh you sound just like Marc."

"Is that your friend?"

"Yeah, he's helping out while Rolf is in the hospital."

"That's nice. Let me know if you need anything. Or if there is anything I can do."

"Well now that you mention it."

"Yes?"

"You can bring me the info on the door company."

Stacy sighed and shook her head. "Such a slave driver!"

"That's me. Whoppa!" Matthew replied, with his best attempt at a cracking whip.

Stacy left the office. Matthew stared at his screen for another minute, then accessed hotmail. He sent Marc an e-mail voicing his displeasure on being ignored, and signed off. Matthew was soon left hard at work, thanks to Stacy's assistance.

Marc finished his meeting with the manager, having calmed him down enough about the budget cuts that Marc had been forced to make. He turned on his instant messenger and saw he had a few messages. Clicking on the link, he pulled up his account and saw one was from Matthew. Opening it up, he grimaced.

He knew that Rolf was doing his best at getting better, but if he didn't hurry there was going to be one dead brat to return home to.

On cue, Matthew signed on to instant messenger.
rolfsoneandonly: About time! thought you were ignoring me
angelus: Some of us have to work.
rolfsoneandonly: Excuses, excuses.
angelus: WHAT do you want?
rolfsoneandonly: Lunch.
angelus: In four hours.
rolfsoneandonly: Four hours?! I eat at noon . I could wither away by then!
angelus: You won't wither away, and if there is danger of that, you can go back across the street to the diner.
rolfsoneandonly: I don't DO diner lunches. You KNOW this.
angelus: Matthew, get back to work. I'm sure you've got stuff to do and so do I, so PLEASE only talk to me if it's something important.
Matthew sat back and huffed. "Important, huh? Eating lunch is ONLY important when I decide I'm not hungry and not eating. NOT fair. Try THIS on for size."
rolfsoneandonly: So tell me more about Devin and why you couldn't come to the hospital any sooner.
Marc shook his head. Matthew would do or say just about anything to get his way.
angelus: I'm NOT discussing that via IM. If you don't get to work right now, I'm going to tell you to disconnect. I mean it.
"I mean it," Matthew mimicked before shutting the window without a word and grabbing for the stack of checks he needed to stuff into envelopes. "Guess we'll try that tact at lunch."

Marc exhaled heavily when he saw Matthew was no longer connected. Marc got up from his desk and stared out the window.

"I have so much to say. But how? How can I talk to you about this? And NOW of all times?" Marc spoke quietly to himself as he stared out the window.

After a few more minutes of staring at nothing particular he sat back down, and continued his work. At noon , he was more than ready for a break. Marc picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hello, this is Matthew, how can I help you?"

"The bus departs in ten minutes." Marc replied.

"I thought you said four hours?"

"I don't want you withering away."

"Where are we going?"

"I don't know! We can figure that out when you are in the truck."

"Fine."

"Ten minutes, or you get stuck with the diner."

"Yeah, whatever."

Marc breathed heavily and hung up. He grabbed his keys and left the office.

Matthew headed downstairs and was waiting on the curb when Marc pulled up. He jumped into the cab and Marc turned around in the parking lot.

"Do you -"

"Olive Garden."

"You know how busy that place is at lunch, and we're not getting there early," Marc tried.

"I want to eat at the Olive Garden," Matthew said firmly.

Marc drove over towards the mall. He knew Matthew's world was upside down without Rolf, and he was trying to help, but Matthew was making it nearly impossible. He pulled into the parking lot for the restaurant and had to park near the back.

"They're going -"

"We're here. So let's go eat," Matthew said as he got out of the truck and headed in, Marc trailing behind him.

There was a fifteen minute wait, through which Marc tried heroically NOT to flatten Matthew. Finally a table was cleared for them and Marc nearly kissed the server in appreciation.

After the boys ordered their drinks, Matthew decided he needed an appetizer.

"No. You don't need that, they're too expensive anyway."

"I LIKE the toasted ravioli," Matthew persisted.

"We have all you can eat salad. You are NOT getting an appetizer in addition to lunch."

"I can -"

"Don't push me," Marc said warningly.

Matthew sat back with a huge pout, and refused to place his order with the waitress. Marc ordered for both of them.

"That's NOT what I wanted!" Matthew hissed after the waitress left.

"You, young man, are about a half second away from being taken into the rest room. And I do NOT mean to wash your hands!" Marc said in a loud whisper.

"You wouldn't dare," Matthew challenged.

"Don't test me. Rolf would have you in tears by now."

Matthew paused a moment to stew. He knew Marc was right, but he didn't like it being brought to his attention.

"Let's talk about Devin. I am still not sure I understand-"

"There is a time and place for everything, and this is neither." Marc replied firmly.

"When then? WHEN can we discuss this?" Matthew snapped loudly.

Marc put his elbows on the table, his hands folded in front of his mouth, and looked hard at Matthew.

"Would you like me to blister your tail here?" Marc said with a chilling whisper.

Matthew's demeanor fell, his face flushed. Before Matthew could offer a comeback, the waitress had returned with the salad and breadsticks. He dug in without another word.

Marc tried to settle his own temper and find something to talk about that wouldn't set off either of them but came up with nothing. It remained silent until the entrees arrived.

Matthew tried his and found it to be pretty tasty. He looked up and finally managed to tell Marc that.

"This is kinda good."

"It is, isn't it?" Marc replied.

"Have you not had this before?"

"No."

"How did you know I'd like it?"

"I took a chance," Marc said, smiling.

Matthew managed a small smile in return. Within ten minutes they'd both cleaned their plates.

The waitress came and cleared the table.

"How about dessert today?" The waitress asked.

Matthew's eyes widened, but Marc beat him to the punch.

"How about two of the death by chocolate cheesecakes. To go."

The waitress smiled, nodded and left.

"To go?!" Matthew asked after she had left.

"Yes to go! We will have those tonight AFTER dinner."

"I want mine now."

Marc raised his eyebrow and Matthew quickly backed down.

"I have a fridge at work, I can keep them in there."

"Don't forget them!"

"As if you would let me do that."

Matthew smiled, knowing that was so true. The waitress returned with the bagged desserts, and left the check. Marc examined it, and picked up the tab, putting down his Visa Checkcard. The waitress returned and took it for processing.

"How much do I owe?" Matthew asked.

"Nothing."

"Come on, I'm no mooch."

"Since when?" Marc said with a wink. "Don't worry about it. Besides, who knows, I could win that $100 a day contest."

Matthew snickered. "As if."

"Shut UP."

The waitress returned with the card. The young men exited the table, Marc grabbing the bag before Matthew could. They left the restaurant and got into Marc's truck.

"I get out of work at 4 today. I'm going to stop at the store. Need anything?"

"I want to gooooo!"

"Fine. Make sure you are out AT 5."

"I try."

"That's when the bus departs," Marc said as he drove off, leaving Matthew at his front door.

"I need to find those damned keys," Matthew grumbled, opening up the door. He saw Deana across the hallway.

"Hi."

"Whatcha end up eating?" she asked as she stepped onto the elevator ahead of Matthew.

"Olive Garden."

"Oooooo, I LOVE that salad. You should have told me."

"I'd have taken you if I had my car," Matthew said.

"Repairs?"

"No. I couldn't locate my keys so Marc brought me."

"Nice to have friends," Deana said as she stepped off the elevator.

"If you say so," Matthew joked as he opened the door and followed Deana in.

Matthew picked up the mail that had been delivered while they were out and headed back to his office. He sorted through the mail, tossing most of it in the trashcan before signing back on to IM. Marc hadn't returned yet, so he went back to work on the door company financial information.

Marc barely stepped foot in the office before being given a file to deal with immediately. Marc put dessert in the fridge, and plugged away at work, having no time to tend to the computer.

The afternoon flew by for Marc, who was engrossed in his work. As for Matthew, he paused every couple of minutes to check the IM status, steaming every time. Finally, at 3:50 Marc logged back on.

rolfsoneandonly: FINALLY! Where have you been?
angelus: Some of us have to work. What do you want?
rolfsoneandonly: nothing. I was bored.
angelus: I'm leaving in ten. Going to gas up the truck, then the bus will be outside waiting for you.
rolfsoneandonly: Didn't you get enough gas from lunch?
angelus: SO not responding to that. You got an hour. Get your stuff wrapped up, and be out on time.
rolfsoneandonly: WhatEVER!
angelus: I'll whatever you! See you soon. bye.
Matthew signed off and finished up his work, standing out with Deana for the last fifteen minutes of the day. Everyone else was gone and they were waiting for one client to pick up their payroll information. Finally that person arrived, and Deana and Matthew walked out a few minutes later.

"Are you going to be able to see Rolf tonight?"

"I doubt it," Matthew said, stepping onto the elevator.

"Maybe he'll surprise you," Deana said, wanting Matthew to feel better.

"I just want him home."

"I know you do. He'll be there soon, I'm sure," Deana said as she stepped out on the bottom floor. "Need a lift home?"

"No, thanks. Marc should be here, if he isn't already."

"Take it easy. See ya tomorrow," Deana said as she walked out to her car.

"Later," Matthew responded, not seeing Marc at the curb. He took a seat on one of the chairs in the building lounge and waited, wondering what was keeping Marc.

Marc pulled up a few seconds later. Matthew sighed and got in.

"Well. I am just waiting on you left and right today."

"Well, YOU were supposed to remind me," Marc replied.

"Remind you of what?"

"The dessert. I went to the gas station, and then realized I left it in the fridge, so I had to go back. Besides, its not even five, so quit your complaining."

Matthew smirked as Marc drove to the grocery store.

As soon as they parked, Matthew was out and grabbed the first cart he came to in the lot. He thought about trying to ride it, but the lot sloped away from the store. Marc hurried to keep up with him.

"Where to first?" Matthew asked as they entered the store.

"You need more juice, let's head there first."

"I don't need any more juice. I have enough -"

"To last you one more day. Rolf isn't going to feel up to shopping the first day he gets home. This way, please," Marc said as he headed down the canned goods and fruit juice aisle.

Matthew followed, not finding anything of interest to slow him down.

"This brand, right?" Marc held up an 18-pack of juice bottles.

"I'd like to try something different," Matthew said, looking around.

"Are you sure? These -"

"I'm SURE. I am supposed to drink juice, but that doesn't mean the same stuff EVERY time," Matthew said, pulling out a different brand to look at.

Marc stood patiently for a few minutes. When Matthew still hadn't made a choice, he asked what the problem was.

"I can't find one I like, that's the problem!" Matthew spat as he pulled another off the shelf. "Here, I want this," he said as he shoved a package at Marc.

"No, this is only 5% juice. 100% juice, you know that," Marc said as he put that back on the shelf.

"Right. Right." Matthew said as he went back to looking at the juices.

Marc bit his lip, then went over next to him. "You have this one, this one -"

"I THINK I can read," Matthew said, still looking.

Marc stood back and tried to stem his growing impatience. It was everything he could do not to say anything when Matthew put the original juice that Marc had pulled out into the cart.

"Guess I'll have to go with this."

"You my friend are impossible."

"Am not! I just like-"

"Let's go check out the produce. Need fruits and veggies in the fridge."

Matthew trailed Marc in that direction, tired of being cut off.

"Apples?" Marc asked.

Matthew only shrugged.

"Okay. Golden delicious."

"Yuck! I only like the red ones."

"Which one? There are a dozen red ones."

"The sweet ones."

Marc breathed heavily.

"Okay. Let's skip the apples. We need stuff for a nice tossed salad. Got get some tomatoes and cucumbers. I will get the lettuce."

"Get the green kind. I like the green kind." Matthew replied, as Marc headed for the lettuce.

Marc pretended not to hear him. Matthew pushed the cart over to the tomatoes, and perused the selection. He picked up one, and put it down. He picked up another, and put that down.

Marc meanwhile got the lettuce and some carrots. He returned to find Matthew still looking at the tomatoes.

"WHAT are you doing?" Marc asked.

"GETTING the tomatoes. What does it look like?"

"It looks like you are screwing around."

"I don't like the tomatoes with the green on them. And I don't like them too firm. And I don't like them too soft."

"Are you goldilocks or what? A tomato is a tomato, period." Marc said as he grabbed two and tossed them in a bag. "See?"

"If you can do a better job, then STOP asking ME to do it!" Matthew said angrily, dropping the tomato he was looking at back in the bin.

Marc again bit his tongue, knowing this could blow up into a huge scene that he didn't want to deal with. Now that they'd gotten everything they needed for the salad, it was time for the meats.

"Come on, fruitloop," Marc said as he pushed the cart down into the meat aisle. "Want steak?"

"Yes. Rolf does that SO well on the grill. These T-bones, right here. Just have to find one without SO much fat on it," Matthew said, picking up each steak and looking closely at it.'

"I'll get some chicken."

"Boneless," Matthew said quickly.

"Whatever is on sale," Marc said as he walked down the aisle.

Marc found a few packages of chicken breasts on sale and purchased those, intending to make a dish of his own. He came back to find Matthew still working on the steaks.

"You've not made a choice yet?"

"No," Matthew said sourly. "Got something smart to say about it?"

Marc refused to take the bait. He quickly perused the selection and pulled out two packages of four steaks each and put them in the basket.

"Come along," he said, walking quickly down the center aisles for the last few things they needed.

"Do you want to get roasted?" Marc asked as they passed the peanuts.

"What did *I* do?" Matthew snapped.

Marc grinned. "Peanuts. Do you wanted roasted peanuts?"

"Oh. No. I don't like peanuts, unless they are in ice cream. Can we get ice cream?"

"No."

"Yes. I want Ice cream!"

"We have cheesecake, you don't need ice cream."

"What about tomorrow? I want something for tomorrow, and I want mocha double chocolate chip."

"Matthew..."

"Please????" Matthew asked just shy of whining.

Marc glared for a minute, but hoped this would save a battle or two later. " ONE pint."

Matthew smiled and took off. And returned with a half gallon container.

"I said a pint, Matthew."

"They don't make this in a pint size. And it's like twice the price anyway. Remember? I'm an accountant, I know these things."

Marc had gotten everything else they'd needed and headed on up to the checkout. There wasn't a point in arguing now anyway, as Matthew was probably right. They checked out relatively quickly and carried their purchases out to the truck and headed home.

As soon as the groceries were put away, Matthew grabbed the tub of ice cream and a spoon.

"Hey. No. We're going to eat in a few minutes. Put that back."

"I just wanted a -"

"Put it back," Marc said firmly.

"WHY do you have to be so grouchy?" Matthew asked as he tossed the ice cream back in the freezer, slamming the door.

"I don't need any of your attitude, young man."

"And I don't need any of yours!" Matthew yelled back.

Marc calmed his voice down. "You may stand in the corner," he said, pointing.

"You going to make me?" Matthew ventured.

Marc's eyes narrowed. "One."

"Two buck-" Matthew's rhyme time was interrupted.

Marc grabbed Matthew by the ear and guided him to the corner.

"Unless you want a discussion with one of your wooden buddies, I suggest you stand there QUIETLY, until told otherwise."

Matthew exhaled heavily, but didn't speak. He knew he pushed good and hard, and was rather pleased with how far he got. Marc finished making dinner. Fifteen minutes later, Marc called out to Matthew.

"You may come to the table now."

Matthew didn't have to be asked twice. He quickly sat down and waited to be served. Marc served up two pork platefuls, and sat down.

"What is this?" Matthew asked.

"Orange glazed pork chops and stuffing."

"There's oranges in the stuffing!"

"Yes there is. And what is this called?" Marc asked, pointing to the corn.

"Fruit doesn't go with bread."

"You haven't even tried it yet."

"And I won't. That is gross!"

"Try it, or you won't get ANY of that ice cream. I'll drive it to my house if I have to."

"And I'll k-"

"And you'll what? Talk to mister wooden..."

Matthew glared and poked at dinner. He stabbed the pork chop repeatedly with his fork before finally cutting into it. He took a tiny sliver and let it slide into his mouth.

"You're still breathing. How does it taste?"

Matthew just shrugged and cut another piece, refusing to admit it was good. And Marc didn't press. As long as the meal was getting eaten, he was happy.

Matthew finished off his plate, carefully leaving behind all pieces of orange he could find.

"Do you want anymore?" Marc asked as he took one more spoonful of the stuffing.

"No, I'm stuffed," Matthew said, getting up and rinsing his plate off, putting it into the sink. He went ahead and starting to wash the few dishes, knowing Marc could be as anal about dirty dishes in the kitchen as Rolf could be. He was soon joined by Marc and the two of them had the kitchen put back to rights within ten minutes.

"As much as I hate it, we do need to think about getting the lawn mowed," Marc said as he put away the last dish. "Rolf will be home soon, and you know that will be the first thing he notices."

"It's too late tonight," Matthew said, heading down the hall to the bathroom.

Marc followed Matthew down the hall.

"Too late? The sun's still up, that's all that matters."

"Do you MIND , or do you want to wipe my-"

"Please hurry up, I will be outside. If you aren't out in five minutes I am going to come in after you."

Matthew wanted to bark a reply, but knew it wouldn't do any good. Marc left Matthew to his business and headed outside, poking around in the garage.

Matthew wasn't one to linger in the bathroom for long, so when he was finished he headed upstairs to find an old pair of socks. He settled back on the bed with a book, intending to read for a few minutes and put it away when Marc started to blow. The longer he waited, the less work he'd have to do.

Marc waited for several minutes, then decided Matthew was going to make this hard on him. He headed in, ready to do battle. Not finding Matthew in the bathroom, he listened to downstairs, then headed up.

Matthew quickly put his book down and started to put his socks on, so that by the time Marc got to the room, he looked like he was in the middle of doing it.

"Hey. Had to find my socks," Matthew said, standing up.

Marc waited for Matthew to go in front of him and out the door, shaking his head but not saying anything.

"I want you to mow the front lawn, and I will start with the trimmer near the pool."

"Why do *I* have to mow?" Matthew whined.

"Because you don't take the time to be precise with the trimming."

"How would YOU know what I do and don't do?"

Marc gave Matthew a look, then spoke. "Remember, I had work detail at camp here not too long ago. Now stop delaying, because I will turn on the flood lights if I have to."

Matthew sighed and retrieved the mower. Marc took the trimmer and started once he heard the mower start.

The young men tackled their respective jobs and within the hour the lawn was presentable. They put their equipment away and Matthew crashed on the lawn chair near the pool. Marc headed inside and served dessert. The cheesecake with a side of ice cream. Marc grabbed the bowls and headed outside.

"OOoooooo, that looks good," Matthew said, taking his bowl eagerly. "Thanks."

"No problem. I thought ice cream would be a nice topper after the lawn."

"Yes, since its so hot out here."

They both ate eagerly, trying to keep the ice cream from melting. When Matthew was finished, he put the bowl on the ground and laid back in the lounge chair, looking up at the slowly darkening sky. Marc was still savoring his cheesecake.

"You ever going to tell me what happened the other day?" Matthew asked.

Marc took his last two bites of cheesecake, using that time to figure out what he wanted to say.

"I told you already." Marc replied after savoring every drop.

"Yes, you told me WHAT happened. But you didn't tell me how or why."

"I don't know, it wasn't something I went searching for. It just sort of happened."

"Things of that caliber just don't happen."

"But they did. That night you and Rolf went out of town, I had nothing to do. I was poking around outside, and Devin came and introduced himself. He just oozed charm."

"So you asked if he was into kink?"

Marc ignored the comment, and continued. "Then he imposed a favor on me. He needed help painting, and all his friends were unavailable."

"And you be the kind hearted person you are, agreed?"

"What else was I going to do all night? Watch twenty episodes of Buffy and go to bed. I almost forgot. The weekend before, I woke up around midnight , had to pee. I looked out my window, as I usually do. And-"

"Peeping Marc!" Matthew said with a chuckle.

"ShutUP. I was able to see into Devin's room, and this guy came in, wearing nothing but a jock. It was so hot. Something caught my eye, I don't remember if he was restrained, or gagged, or what. But I got chills. So when I was painting, I excused myself and used the bathroom."

"You didn't!"

"What?"

"Go snooping!" Matthew said in shock.

Marc flushed and shrugged. "I had to know. He must have known I was looking around. Honestly I don't even remember what I saw or what I touched. But he must have known. He ordered a pizza, then invited me for a real dinner the next night. I swear, that's all I went for, was a nice dinner."

"So how did it go from that, to whatever you want to call it?" Matthew asked somewhat appalled.

"You don't have to say it like that." Marc replied, a little hurt.

"I'm sorry. I just don't understand. He BEAT you."

"We had a nice dinner," Marc continued. "Then somewhere along the way he called me on my snooping. He gave me a chance to explore things I had only read about. It was a whole new world, and I wanted to see what it was about."

"Do you have ANY idea how dangerous that could have been? No ONE knew where you were. You only mentioned this guy like once when he first moved in. Geez, don't you remember what happened with lonely?" Matthew barked at his friend's ignorance.

"I spent the previous night painting with the man, he did NOT seem like a psycho. Besides, had you seen this guy without his shirt on, YOU would have melted."

"Damnit Marc! You got to stop thinking with the little brain, and start thinking with the big one."

"That's easy for you to say. You HAVE someone. And he loves you with his heart and soul. What do I have? Exactly, NOTHING! I'm not asking you to understand what I did. I just want you to accept it. To tell me it was okay to be adventurous."

"How can I do that withOUT understanding it?"

Marc stared up to the sky. Pandora's box had been opened, in more ways than one, and now the consequences had to be resolved.

"My mind is sketchy, a lot of the events are a blur. It happened quite fast. One minute I was in the dining room eating. And the next I was in the living room. Waiting. Naked."

"You got NA-"

"It seemed like an eternity that I had waited." Marc cut Matthew off. "Then he descended down the stairs. My heart was racing. He brought me a jockstrap and a collar, told me it was my uniform. I guess I put it on, the next thing I recall was being cuffed to a wall."

"Chained like a dog?"

"Matthew, please." Marc said biting back a tear. "That first crack of the whip, that sent shockwaves thru me. After that, I don't remember the rest. He gave me my clothes, and told me if I wanted to really experience something, to be there at 2 the next day. My head was so full that night. I had paced my house a hundred times. I finally got online and
had- "

"That was Saturday night?" Matthew asked.

"Yes."

"I saw you. You didn't say anything."

"I couldn't say anything. I wanted to. But I was, I don't know, embarrassed?"

"You'd just experienced all that, and wanted to go back, and you didn't say a WORD to me?" Matthew asked angrily.

Marc looked over at Matthew. "I'm sorry. It's not that I was hiding it from you. I just....I didn't know what I wanted, or even what I was really feeling at the time. There was no way I could begin a discussion like that. And even if I could have, Rolf would have killed you for being online half the night. Besides....he wasn't feeling so well that night."

Matthew settled back down in the chair. "I want to see him."

"I know fruitloop, I know," Marc said soothingly. "Come on, let's get cleaned up. I think we have enough time to get a movie in."

Matthew stood up and headed over to the lawn mower, rolling the into the garage. He didn't realize it, but Marc had done a wonderful job of stopping what could have been a sad ending to the night by keeping him busy. When they were both finished outside, Marc sent Matthew upstairs to shower, following soon after for his own. He headed back down to the basement, the preferred venue for a good movie. On his way down, something caught his eye. He walked over to the table near the stairwell. On the ground was Matthew's keys. Marc smiled, and returned them to their proper spot. He continued downstairs. Matthew was already in a chair. Marc sat down on the couch and started the film, he became engrossed before he remembered the keys. After a few minutes, he spoke.

"Why don't you stretch out here? It might be more comfortable."

Matthew looked over, then got up and went to the couch. When he sat down, Marc pulled him close so that he was resting on Marc's side, legs stretched out fully down the couch. He started to relax when Marc's hands gently ran up and down his back soothingly. He was asleep before the movie was half over. Marc continued to caress him absently as he watched the rest of the film.

He hated to wake Matthew up, but he didn't think he quite carry him up the stairs like Rolf did.

"Matthew, let's go to bed," he said gently, shaking him.

Matthew barely woke up enough to follow Marc, who never let go of his hand. The two flights of stairs were tough when one was half asleep. Marc pulled back the covers and held them up as Matthew slid into bed. He kissed him on the forehead.

"Goodnight love."

"Stay?" Matthew asked sleepily.

Marc only thought about it for a moment. "Sure." As soon as he said that, Matthew fell back to sleep, a contented smile on his face.

Marc laughed, then headed into the bathroom to brush his teeth, sliding into Rolf's side of the bed and setting the alarm. It was probably best that he stayed there in case Matthew woke in the middle of the night. He was asleep quickly.

Marc woke up just seconds before the alarm sounded. He looked at Matthew who was still sound asleep. Marc reached over and turned off the alarm. He decided to let Matthew sleep for a bit longer. Just as he was ready to get out of bed, the phone rang. Marc quickly answered it, but Matthew was already awake.

"Hello?" Marc said as he answered.

"Well hello yourself." Rolf replied.

Marc smiled as Matthew sat up, reaching for the phone.

"Is it Rolf? It's Rolf! Give me!!" Matthew said, the sleep still crackling in his voice.

"How are you feeling?" Marc asked, hanging on to the phone, as he moved towards the bathroom.

"I am doing better. They moved me to a private room yesterday, number 412. Still need my rest, but I am allowed visitors now."

"Wonderful!"

"What's wonderful?" Matthew asked, climbing out of bed, trying to stumble towards Marc.

"But, I am only allowed one visitor at a time."

"Oh? Well, I think I have a volunteer right here."

Rolf barely had a chance to compute that response, before Matthew grabbed the phone.

"HI!!!!!" Matthew said enthusiastically. "I miss you!"

"I miss you too sweetheart. Good news though."

"I'm coming now."

"I think you should wait until after work."

"Rolf, I am coming NOW ."

Rolf was just as eager to see his young lover, which lessened his resolve.

"Ask if he wants anything." Marc said.

"Oh, right. Do you want anything?"

"Maybe that book you bought me. "

"Done. Anything else?" Matthew said, bouncing.

"I don't think so. Are you sure you don't want to wait?"

"NO! No more waiting. I will see you soon. I love you."

"I love you too." Rolf replied as Matthew hung up the phone.

"Hurry up, get dressed. We're going now!" Matthew said, breezing past Marc.

"I will drive you if you want me too. But, Rolf can only have one visitor at a time."

"Oh? I would drive, but I don't have my keys."

"Yes you do. I found them last night, next to the table by the stairs. You must have thrown them on the table, and they slid."

Matthew smiled.

"Go on, I got time before work. Get dressed and whatever Rolf asked for. I'm going to go downstairs."

Matthew continued to breeze around the room. Marc was pleased to see Matthew's spirits lifted. He went downstairs and toasted a bagel for Matthew, knowing he would leave with out eating. Just as the bagel was cream cheesed, Matthew came downstairs.

"Here, eat this." Marc said, sliding the plate on the table with a glass of juice.

"I'm not hun-"

"He will still be there. EAT !"

Matthew sighed and sat down. He started nibbling at the bagel. Marc sat down next to him at the table, with his bagel.

"Now, I want to tell you something, but I don't want you to get upset."

"What?" Matthew asked, eyes widening.

"Rolf was really sick for a few days."

"DUH!"

"Let me finish. He may appear a little different. A little weak, pale. You need to keep that in mind."

Matt bit into his bagel and nodded, having not thought of that. He ate most of his bagel, but was in too much of a hurry.

"Your juice on the counter, take it with you. I want you to IM me when you get to work."

"Ok. Geez, you're worse than Rolf."

Marc winked. "Send Rolf my love."

Matthew nodded, grabbed his juice and Rolf's book. Took his keys and headed out. He was too excited to do his usual talking and cursing at the other drivers on the road. He pulled into the lot, getting a pretty close spot since he was so early, and ran into the hospital. He rounded the corner and almost took out an older lady using a walker.

"Sorry! Haven't seen him in three days!" Matthew said after he steadied her before heading up the stairs, too anxious to wait for the elevator. The old lady smiled and continued on her way.

Matthew made it up three flights on nearly a dead run, and had to slow down for the fourth flight. He was breathing hard when he opened the door, looking for the signs pointing to room 412. He started down one corridor, only to run into an area for hospital personnel only. Walking back, he took a right instead of a left and found the patient rooms. As usual, he felt very uncomfortable walking down the corridor, wondering what drama was being played out behind each door or curtain. His pace and breathing quickened as the numbers counted down. 418. 416. 414. 412. He stopped outside the room, both anxious and excited about seeing Rolf. Finally, he turned in.

He saw ... him ... first. He was pale, and looked extremely defenseless in the white hospital gown. Matthew could see numerous bruises on his left arm, lying across the top of the blanket. There was a band aid on the back of his hand. He took another step, and he turned towards him. When he smiled, he finally saw Rolf. The blue eyes, though tired, sparkled their welcome, and the smile lit up the otherwise pale face.

"Hi darling. I've missed you."

Matthew was next to the bed before he even knew his feet had taken him there. He tossed the book on the table and leaned over, his weight heavy against Rolf's chest. The tears came from nowhere, surprising Matthew.

"Shhhh, it's okay. I'm going to be just fine. Just fine."

Matthew sobbed for a couple of moments, the stress and worry of the last few days finally released when he was able to lay his hands on his lover.

"Hey. Matthew." Rolf was finally able to get Matthew's head up. "If you don't stop the crying, I won't get my sponge bath from my favorite nurse."

Matthew managed a small smile, then stood up, not letting go of Rolf's hand. His eyes covered the other side of Rolf, taking in the IV insertion in the back of his right hand.

"Are you okay? Do you hurt?"

Rolf watched as Matthew eyed him from head to toe. "I'm just fine. The IV doesn't hurt, and the surgery site only hurts a little. They're keeping me pain free with medication."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm very sure."

Matthew pulled up a chair and spent the next fifteen minutes holding Rolf's hand. He both gave and received love and support from the man he loved.

"Sweetheart, you need to go to work."

"No. They won't miss me. I want to stay here."

"I know you do. But I want you to go to work. I still need to rest."

Matthew argued a bit more, but Rolf's decision stood.

"Then I'll be back at lunch."

Rolf laughed. "Then I'll see you at lunch."

Several kisses, and one weak swat later, Matthew headed out the door. When he got to work, he IMed Marc immediately, telling him how Rolf looked. The morning took forever as he was counting down the minutes until he could see Rolf again. After an hour at lunch, he promised to return after work, promising to let Marc know where he was.

Marc wrapped up his last project for the day at three, and decided to head over to the hospital himself. Marc wasn't as successful as Matthew in finding parking. He managed to find a spot in the rear lot. Marc walked to the hospital, and stopped in the gift shop. He found a coloring book of Scooby Doo. He bought that and some crayons. Marc then took the elevator up to Rolf's floor. He quickly found the room, and knocked on the door, cracking it open.

"Hey little one, how are you?" Rolf said, spotting Marc. "Come in."

"Hey." Marc said as he entered. "I am doing good. How are YOU? You look....good."

"I do not." Rolf replied with a chuckle.

"Well, that gown doesn't do much for you."

Rolf laughed, as Marc sat down.

"Here, thought maybe you could color me a picture."

"Scooby Doo, I should have guessed."

Marc shrugged.

"How are things with Matthew? Is he listening to you?"

"We are getting along good. Had a few, incidents, but we are doing okay."

"Good. They expect me to be released on Friday."

"I bet not a moment too soon."

"You got that right!" Rolf replied. "But I will be on a restriction at least through the weekend."

"If you need me to, I can stay through the weekend."

"I don't think that will be necessary. Don't want to keep you from home too long."

"Please do!" Marc thought to himself.

Before Marc could respond, the nurse came in.

"I'm sorry sir, we need to run a couple of tests," the nurse said.

Marc placed his hand on Rolf's, and leaned in for a half hug.

"If you need anything, call. You know it will be near impossible to keep Matthew away anyway."

"I know. Thank you. For everything. I am grateful that you were so willing to put your life on hold for us."

"Hey, none of that crazy talk. I am helping cause I want to," Marc replied, almost snapping.

"Plus I have no life to put on hold," Marc thought.

Marc waved to Rolf as he exited the room. He made his way back through the labyrinth that was the hospital, and out to his car. Marc sat in his car, staring at the wheel.

"The life I was trying to lead SHOULD have been put on hold!" Marc shouted, hitting the steering wheel. Angry tears threatened to fall, but Marc held them back by sheer force of will. He wasn't about to let Devin be the reason he cried again. Swiftly turning the key, Marc slammed the truck into gear and pealed out of the parking lot, anxious to get over to Devin's and confront him. He managed to get home without incident, parking in the front of his house and walking straight over to Devin's front door.

He knocked loudly, then hit the doorbell several times in succession. Not getting an answer, he sat down on Devin's front steps, intending on waiting for him to come home as he knew Matthew was going to be visiting with Rolf until Rolf kicked him out of the hospital. He put his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, and sat thinking about the couple of visits and time spent with Devin.

Matthew left work at five of five, driving straight over to the hospital. When he got up to the room, this time waiting for the elevator, he found Rolf eating dinner.

"Eeeeww.....what's that?" Matthew asked after a hug and kiss.

"Chicken ala king."

"That's chicken?!?"

"Matthew," Rolf said, reprovingly.

Matthew smiled in spite of himself, happy to hear a familiar tone.

"We've really got to get you some better foods."

"I do look forward to my return home and some home cooked meals," Rolf said as he took another bite. "What are you and Marc doing tonight?"

"Nothing, because I'm staying here. I can eat something -"

"Nonsense. You can go home and eat with Marc. He's been good enough to stay with you, the least you can do is eat with him."

Matthew's lip slipped out. "But I want to stay with you."

Rolf took Matthew's hand in his, squeezing it tight. "I want you to stay too, but I also need my rest. Besides, I really do think we owe Marc a lot for giving up his time to spend it with you. Don't you think?"

Matthew couldn't help but agree. Marc had been nothing but helpful through this whole ordeal. "Okay."

"I'll be home before you know it, Sport."

Matthew spent the next hour with Rolf, nearly running from the room when the nurse came to draw blood. When he left, he carried home one of the Scooby pictures that Rolf had colored.

*******

As Marc continued to sit on the stairs, his anger subsided. He finally decided there was nothing he could do or say to Devin to make him feel any less guilty. He stood to his feet but didn't get anywhere before Devin pulled into his driveway, staring hard at Marc. Devin got out and walked up to his porch. Marc descended to the walk.

"Come to scream at me some more?" Devin asked.

Marc shook his head. "No. I came to pop you one."

Devin's eyes widened, but he put his arms down. "Take your best shot if you think it will help."

Marc shook his head. "No thanks, I think the urge has passed."

"Are you going now, or can we talk?" Devin asked.

"I don't know if I can do either. I...I don't know why I even came here."

"To 'pop me one' I think you said. Well if you can't talk, maybe you will listen? Want to come inside?"

Marc shook his head no. Devin nodded and walked past Marc to take a seat on the steps, waiting for Marc to follow. Marc chose to lean against the railing, keeping his eyes firmly on Devin.

"I never...I never intended to hurt you," Devin began. "I admit, things were not handled the best. I did a lot of assuming on my part, and it went wrong."

"Assuming what?" Marc asked suspiciously.

"I had seen some interaction, heard a few choice words, and I think I misinterpreted your relationship with the two men I see over there frequently."

Marc didn't respond, uninterested in Devin's perception of his life.

"It was obvious from the way you snuck out of here that you were a newbie, and I should have paid closer attention to that fact."

"Do you have ANY idea what I went through in that room???" Marc snapped, shaking from his memories.

"I am sorry," Devin said sincerely. "I can imagine how it must have sounded."

"With a reply like that, I don't think you have a clue. The howling," Marc said passionately, "I can still hear that guy howl. And the way you spoke to him! I feared for my life. I thought you were a raving loon!"

Devin looked down at his hands, knowing he'd made more than a few mistakes with someone he'd imagined having more than a casual relationship with. "I'm sorry. It was all my fault. I didn't expect you to return, though I had hoped you would. You seemed pretty skeeved when you left Saturday night. The guy that showed up is Steve. He wanted a scene, and I told him to be there at four. When I tried to send him home, he took that opportunity to start making it a real scene. Things escalated. Steve is a real pro, and we play hardcore. That's all it was, play."

Marc looked at Devin, taking in his words well as his body language.

"I came upstairs a few minutes later and saw you were gone. I felt truly horrible because I fucked up the golden rule." Devin was staring hard at Marc.

"What's the golden rule?" Marc asked quietly.

"The golden rule is to never forget the feelings of the submissive. You haven't been involved in this world much, and having overheard a tiny part of a professional scene while being tied up and unsure of what was next had to be truly upsetting. I....I wanted to give you a few minutes to settle down. I had just opened my front door when I saw you pulling out of the drive like a bat out of hell."

Marc didn't know how to respond. He'd been able to hate Devin since that night, and push some of his guilt feelings onto his shoulders. Not having expected this explanation from Devin was causing his mind to swirl.

"How is your friend by the way?" Devin asked, unsure of Marc's feelings.

"He will be fine, thanks," Marc replied, distracted.

"Marc, I DO think you are a great guy," Devin said, standing up and coming back down the stairs. "And I would love to initiate you properly into the world of BDSM. But I would settle for still being friends."

"I'm not sure I can do either right now," Marc said, his emotions still in turmoil. When Devin started to speak again, he held up his hand in a semi-wave and walked quickly over to his truck. Putting the truck in drive, he drove off quickly without a look back at Devin, who was looking sadly after him. When he was around the corner and a couple blocks away, Marc pulled over on the side of the road, the tears coming of their own accord. He shook silently as a myriad of emotions swept over him. Knowing that Devin wasn't a raving psycho was...not as comforting as he wanted it to be. Overriding that was his guilt still at not being available for Matthew when he first called, and realizing, fully, that Devin had nothing to do with keeping him from Matthew. When the rushing emotions passed, they left him feeling sad and tired. He grabbed a napkin to clean the worst of his face and drove back over to Rolf's home.

He arrived home before Matthew did. He headed for the kitchen and something to eat, but nothing sounded good to him. Instead, he sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the paper. After squirming for several minutes in front of the paper, Marc stood up and took the paper into the living room. It wasn't too long later that he stretched out on the sofa and fell asleep.

Several minutes later, Matthew returned home. He entered through the front door and called out. When he didn't get a response, he walked into the living room, seeing Marc sound asleep on the couch. He smiled and walked over quietly, putting the Scooby picture on top of the paper on his chest. He then went into the kitchen and scoured it, finding he had all the ingredients for his beef and broccoli dish.

Either the not so gentle noise of the chef, or the wonderful aroma, soon woke Marc up. It took a minute for him to gather his bearings. Once he did so he looked down to pick up the paper. Seeing something in color, he twisted his neck to get a better look. He smiled when he saw a beautifully colored picture of Scooby, with the caption: "I Ruv Roo!" Marc's heart melted. The simple gesture somehow spoke volumes.
He got up and headed into the kitchen, finding Matthew singing softly to himself as worked on some of the cleanup while the meal finished cooking.

"Damnit!" Matthew spluttered when Marc wrapped his arms around to hug him.

"Did I scare you?"

"Yes! What WAS that for anyway?" Matthew asked when he could turn around.

"You just looked like you needed a hug. What are you cooking?" Marc asked as he lifted the lid on the stove.

Matthew swatted his hand firmly. "Don't let the steam out. Beef broccoli. Set the table and we can eat in about fifteen minutes."

"You got it," Marc said, pulling the plates out of the cupboard and setting the table quickly. He settled down after pouring the drinks and slowly sipped, enjoying Matthew's happy mood after the last several days of sadness and brattiness.

************

"I can walk out," Rolf tried protesting.

"No, you may NOT," the nurse said firmly, holding the wheelchair for Rolf.

Matthew and Marc looked at each other and grinned. It was a RARE treat to hear someone tell Rolf what he was or wasn't going to do.

"Come on, Rolf, sit down so we can GO," Matthew said, nearly bouncing now that the traumatic events of removing the IV line were over.

Rolf realized he was outnumbered, and turned and took a seat in the wheelchair. "Get my bag - thanks Marc," Rolf finished as he saw Marc already had it in hand.

Matthew had offered to take over driving duties for the nurse, but the pleading look from Rolf forced the young nurse to maintain control. Marc took off ahead of them and pulled the truck around front.

"I get shotgun!" Matthew said with a wicked grin.

"I don't THINK so!" Rolf replied with a wink.

Matthew opened the door, then helped the nurse bring Rolf to his feet.

"I really am not an invalid," Rolf said.

No one paid much attention. They helped him into the truck before Matthew put the bag in the back seat and got in himself. Rolf waved to the nurse as Marc pulled away.

"Bet you're going to miss that place," Marc said with chuckle.

"Somehow, I just don't think that is possible," Rolf replied.

The ride was quick as Marc listened to the gushing discussion between Matthew and Rolf. He couldn't help but grin at Matthew's dozens of promises, which would no doubt last less than a week. Marc pulled into the driveway and as soon as he stopped, Rolf had the door open.

"Don't you dare!" Marc said in his authoritative tone.

Rolf flashed a look, but stayed put. Marc came around as Matthew got out and they helped Rolf into the house.

Rolf took a moment to look around. "Place is still standing. I am impressed." He looked around again. "It is GOOD to be home."

"Get used to it, ‘cause you are staying put for a while!" Matthew said snappishly.

Marc and Matthew guided Rolf over to the couch.

"What do you need? What can I do?" Matthew asked, before Rolf had both cheeks seated on the couch. "I know, some REAL food!"

Before Rolf could reply, Matthew was in the kitchen. Rolf raised his hand as if to speak, then put it down., giving up

"I should see if he needs help," Marc said.

"No, sit with me?" Rolf asked.

Marc smiled and sat down.

"So, how long do you think this will all last?" Marc asked quietly.

"The doctor said I should stay off my feet for another 5 days."

"No, I mean Matthew, mister super helpful."

Rolf laughed. "So, how are things?"

"They’re okay."

"Just okay? Bet you are glad to be going home!"

"Eh, I guess. I really didn't mind. It was nice to be somewhere else."

"Problems at home?"

Marc had a quick flash of sadistic Devin, but it was quickly replaced by the more gentle Devin he spoke with a few days earlier.

"Sweetheart? Hey where did you go?" Rolf asked when he noticed Marc’s sightless stare.

"Sorry, just thinking I guess. Things are fine at home, just quiet."

Rolf placed his hand on Marc's thigh and patted gently.

"Hey, don't let it get to you. If things get too quiet, you are always welcomed here."

Marc half smiled.

"Marc, listen to me. Not a lot of people would have been as willing to drop everything and, well move in like you did."

"It really wasn't-"

Rolf patted his thigh again. "Hey, it takes a person with a big heart to put others first. And no matter how quiet things may be now at home, they say it’s always darkest before the dawn. I am grateful beyond words that you were here to be with Matthew when he needed you most."

"I..."

"What?" Rolf asked as he put his hand on Marc's shoulder.

"I feel like, like I should have been there sooner, when he REALLY needed me. "

"Nonsense. You have a life of your own to live. You WERE there when you were most needed. Matthew wouldn't have made it through this past week without your love and guidance. He told me that, that isn’t something I made up."

"I don't know about that," Marc said looking down, still reflecting on where he was last Sunday.

"I DO!" Rolf said, as he took Marc's face into his hand, forcing eye contact. "Matthew could have stayed with any one of the guys, Eric, Joe, Steve. But he needed you! He values your friendship and trusts your judgment. Believe me, it's mostly because of you that he stayed so level headed." Rolf leaned in and kissed Marc on the forehead.

Marc's eyes teared up, but instead of falling, they dissipated. For the first time in a nearly a week, Marc's conscience felt clear.

"Is SOMEONE going to just SIT there, or are you going to help me……Marc!" Matthew bellowed from the kitchen.

"I guess that means me," Marc said with a smile. He stood up and headed for the kitchen, but stopped and turned at the door. He smiled warmly and said “Welcome home.”


Copyright Rolf and Gayspankee 2010

2 comments:

Leslie Lim said...

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Shea Kang said...

To succeed we must BELIEVE that we CAN.
It's a great pleasure to read your blog. Keep on sharing some kind of knowledge. Have a good day :)
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