April Photo Fic – “Unfinished”

I clearly have issues coming up with standalone stories for flash fics… I’ve gone back to one of my boys… You could read this on its own but if you’d like to take a gander at the other stories in this world:

Part 1 – “The First Step”
Part 2
Part 3 – “Never Gone”

This one is another peek into Justin’s head… A similar, and yet very different, spot than we last saw him in “Never Gone”.


Justin walked toward the kitchen, navigating in the dark, not wanting to wake his guest. Someone he hadn’t seen in years—takeout and booze in hand, wanting a visit and a place to sleep for the night. Justin had a slight pang of guilt that he’d hadn’t had a bed to offer, not in the tiny one-bedroom he currently lived in. He’d tried to give up his own bed and take the couch himself, but had just received a smack upside the head for his trouble. Oh well, at least his couch was fucking comfortable. And after the amount of alcohol they’d downed the night before, he figured the other man likely had no problem falling asleep.

Neither had Justin. Falling asleep was never the issue. Staying asleep, however…

He sighed as he opened the fridge. He should be used to it. He hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep in the last fucking three years. Not since…

He cursed, shoving aside that train of thought, and grabbed a bottle of water.

“Wanna grab me one while you’re in there?”

“Fuck!” Justin fumbled and barely stopped the bottle from dropping to the floor. He withdrew another water and, shutting the door, walked into the living room. “Sorry, boss. Didn’t mean to wake you.”

A soft huff of laughter, and in small amount of light from the streetlamps coming in through the window, he saw Liam—his former boss—shake his head. But he didn’t correct Justin. He’d stopped doing that about an hour after arriving.

“Didn’t wake me.” He held his hand out for the water and motioned for Justin to sit next to him.

“Okay, but I don’t want to keep you up.”

“Shut up and sit down.”

“Yes, boss.” He plopped on the cushion, as ordered, but looked everywhere but at the other man.

After a few minutes of silence, a hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Sometimes, it helps to talk about it.”

“About what?” he asked flatly.

Liam’s fingers tightened. “The nightmares.”

Justin jerked his head around and stared at the older man. “How did you know?”

“That you had nightmares? How could you not?”

Liam tilted his head to the side and stared intently. Justin fought not to squirm. Damn, it’d been a long time since he’d been under the full force of that stare. And fuck him, he kind of missed it.

“Justin,” Liam sighed. “The things we see, the things we face, doing what we do, nightmares are par for the course. But having to face the…horrors, knowing that your brother did those things? Bound to screw with your head.”

Leaning forward, Justin set his water on the scarred surface of the coffee table then scrubbed his palms over his face. He didn’t want to think, let alone talk, about the nightmares. Of course his stupid fucking brain circled back to the one that had woken him less than half an hour before.

Starring his brother, Jonah, of course. He’d been standing over Justin, who had been strapped down on a table. Just like all of Jonah’s victims had been. He’d known it was Jonah from the start, even though he hadn’t been recognizable. His face hadn’t been human. It had been covered in metal and gears and…stuff. But it hadn’t been a mask—it was his face. His face was just…not human.

Justin rolled his eyes. It didn’t take a fucking shrink to figure the meaning of that, did it? Three years ago, he’d discovered his brother wasn’t human. He was a monster. This was just Justin’s brain’s way of illustrating that.

The dream was starting to fade, blur around the edges as dreams often do, and Justin couldn’t even bring the particulars into focus anymore. But Jonah’s eyes…  Those were still vivid. Cold, assessing, emotionless—no sign of caring or love. No sign of a brother in those fathomless pale eyes. Only the monster he’d been. The monster Justin hadn’t seen until it was too late.


Liam’s low hoarse voice brought him out of his mind and back into his dark living room.


“You need to stop wallowing in your guilt. You blame yourself and that isn’t going to lead you anywhere good. Trust me on that. You ran away, isolated yourself, wrapped yourself in the weight of that guilt, and it’s suffocating you. You haven’t even given yourself time, or permission, to grieve.”

Justin sat back and gaped at the older man. One, because that was the most words he’d heard his boss string together in one go. Two, because his uncanny ability to see what Justin tried to hide from everyone. From himself. Though he shouldn’t be surprised—Liam had always had that talent—but time had made Justin forget.

“Grieve?” he croaked. “I am not the one who needs to grieve. That falls on the families who lost someone they loved. My brother was not a victim, Liam. He was a monster who tortured and killed at least a dozen men. A psychopath unable to even feel love.”

“Ah, but that’s the thing, isn’t it? He can’t feel love. But you can. You did.” Liam cupped Justin’s cheek a moment then patted it. “You, just like those families, lost a loved one. Lost a brother. And you are allowed to grieve., Justin.

Justin forced a laugh. “Didn’t take you for the touch-feely type, boss.”

“I’m not. Never have been. But you’re family. And family looks after its own—even when they don’t want looking after. Or think they don’t deserve it.”

“Boss…don’t,” he pleaded, heart hammering, throat tight, eyes stinging.

“You may have left the team—hell, I left the team—but you did not leave your family.” He shook his head. “Can’t. Not possible.”

Justin thought of who he’d left behind. The man in front of him—the boss, the man he’d looked up to so fucking much. Adam—SIC, a second boss, really, but the one who had taken Justin under his wing from day one. Scott and Sarah—the agents who razed and supported him in equal measure. And Harris—Justin didn’t exactly know where he fit in the “family” Liam spoke of. Harris had been attached to the team during the investigation that lead to Jonah. Hell, Harris had taken Justin’s place when he’d left. He didn’t really know the kid.

His breath stalled as pale sweat-damp skin, dark eyes and tousled hair flashed through his mind.

“It’s time to come home, Justin.”

He was thankful to be pulled away from memories of what he regretted—regretted leaving behind, not having done. Because he couldn’t bring himself to regret that one night. No matter that he probably should.

“I don’t know if I can,” he whispered. “I always said I would—when I got past all of it. But I’m not sure that it’ll ever be over. Not for me.” He cringed as his voice broke and cleared his throat. “I don’t know that I can come back to the Bureau, boss.”

“It’s time to come home,” Liam repeated. “Don’t give a shit whether you go back to the job. Come back to your family. Let us help you though this. Help you grieve. Because until you do, it won’t be over.”

Justin sniffed and swiped angrily at the dampness now coating his cheeks. He froze when Liam’s arms came around him.

“You are allowed, you know? Grieving the loss of your brother isn’t a betrayal. It doesn’t lessen what you feel for those families.”

Hearing the thoughts that needled at him constantly voiced—and damn him, how does he do that?—Justin felt something deep in his chest give way. A sob forced its way up, up, up until it pushed past his lips. Liam’s embrace tightened, and Justin let himself lean into the other man. To take the comfort for the first time in three years.

Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris

March Song Fic – “What Are You Waiting For” by Nickelback

This month’s song is “What Are You Waiting For” by Nickelback. Have a listen if you like:

This fic didn’t really go where I expected but I went with it. 🙂 It doesn’t really go with the theme of the song, I suppose, but that’s okay. It was what came from me, and that’s what these flash fics are all about.

What are you waiting for?

Maddie Ainswirth stared at her resume on the computer screen as the conversation from the previous evening ran through her head—or at least her mother’s side of it, which admittedly was the majority of the words spoken.

You’re wasting your time and your talent. As a PA for a non-profit? Honestly, Madeline. With your degrees and your skills, you could be making a more than decent living, with a PA of your own, getting the recognition you deserve.

And by you, her mother meant we—we as in the Ainswirths. All of Maddie’s accomplishments, or lack thereof, reflected on the family as a whole. And unlike her siblings—Maddie was falling short. But that was her jam, apparently. She’d been an average student. Hadn’t dated the right boys. Sure, she’d earned two degrees, but what was having degrees in English and marketing when compared to two lawyer brothers and a CFO sister? And one would think she’d have a leg up on the sister who was a stay at home mom, but that was just fine because she’d married up.

Don’t you want to make something of yourself? Make your way to the top, feel the pride in that? I don’t understand how you can be happy, how you can be satisfied filing papers and bringing Leo Carver his coffee. I expected more of you.

That had, of course, been designed to shame and push Maddie to…to…to be more. But it didn’t. Because she was happy where she was. She loved her job, which wasn’t as a PA anymore, not for over a year, even if her mother refused to remember that bit. Maddie worked alongside Leo, running their small office and staff. It definitely wasn’t just filing papers and fetching coffee. Oh, she still did plenty of that, but she did so much more. She was making a difference. And she’d tried to explain that to her mother, but making a difference didn’t mean shit if it didn’t come with an impressive job title, money or public recognition. Preferably all three.

Maddie rubbed at her temple and continued staring at the screen—at her list of qualifications and skills—before clicking over to the email from her mother and staring some more. At the links to more suitable jobs.

“Hey, Mads,” Leo greeted cheerfully. Juggling a bag and drink holder, he used his foot to pull the chair from his desk over to hers. Settling in beside her, he announced, “Food time.”

She glanced at the clock, shaking her head when she saw it was already after five pm. “Hmmm, guessing that means it’s gonna be a long night?”

“Got you a double,” he said apologetically as he placed a tall coffee next to her keyboard.

She inhaled the spicy scents as he opened the takeout bag. ““And Indian food? Wow, you must really feel bad.”

“So so bad.” He held a fork out to her, his green eyes twinkling and his mouth twitching up into a smile. “Big meeting’s tomorrow, and there’s no way I can do this without you, Mads.”

With a smile of her own, she deleted her mom’s email without a second thought, then closed her resume before moving the mouse and keyboard to the side. After taking the offered fork, she also accepted the plastic container she knew would contain her favorite curry. Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, her thoughts went back to her mother and the conversation they had, it seemed, every time she saw her.

Would she always be happy here? She didn’t know. Some days, it was hard and grueling. The late nights were killer. But the work they did was worth that. And hell, even the hard days, the late nights were made bearable by not being the only one running for coffee. By Leo bringing her her favorite takeout. By being needed and appreciated for who she was. And that, right there, was something that had been lacking her life until she’d started working here. Working with Leo. He’d seen potential in her, where everyone else her life had only seen flaws and disappointment. He’d encouraged her, helped her shape that potential into something more. Something solid and good.


“Hmmm?” She blinked and met his gaze.

“Everything okay? You’re a million miles away.” He settled a warm hand on her shoulder, and his thumb grazed the skin on her neck.

And that… Well that was new. The subtle touches, the long looks, the not-quite-uncomfortable but heavy silences that settled around them sometimes. Maddie had no idea where this new thing would go—if it would even go anywhere—but she couldn’t deny the thrill of excitement that coursed through her when she thought about the possibility of more developing between them.

She smiled and shook her head. “All good. I’m right here.”

Leo nodded, grinning in response then shoving a forkful of chicken tikka masala in his mouth. Maddie chuckled and leaned slightly into his touch before digging into her own meal.

What was she waiting for?

Her answer to that wasn’t one that would make her mom happy, that was for sure. She wasn’t trying to make it to the top of anything or looking to increase the size of her portfolio or see her name in the news. She had what she needed and was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Yes, Mom definitely wouldn’t be happy because If Maddie was waiting for anything… she was waiting to see if that more would happen.

Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

February Song Fic – “Glycerine” by Bush

Hello! This month’s song fic is based on “Glycerine” by Bush. Here is a video if you want to have a listen:

Oh this was a haaaaaard one. LOL But finally something popped into my head and I’m rolling with it. Have no idea if it truly fits the song, but either way, it’s what came while I was listening so it counts. 😛 Here we go…

“Don’t even think about it.”

“Huh?” I didn’t even look at my best friend, Lily, as she practically spit the words at me. No, my eyes were on my boyfriend…ex-boyfriend. He wasn’t mine anymore. And that was a good thing. Though looking at him across the crowded room, it was hard to remember why. I wanted nothing more than to push my way through the people between us and wrap myself around him.

What can I say? When it came to Josh, I was fucking weak. After the last time we broke it off -yeah, the last in a long line of break-ups; like I said…weak – I had promised not to go back. Hell, coming to this party was supposed to be all about getting over Josh and maybe moving on to someone else – the last thing? Lily and our friend, Tom’s idea. I didn’t think hooking up while I was still clearly stuck on Josh was a good idea, but they had dragged me along. Obviously, they hadn’t expected Josh to show up. I hadn’t either. Parties weren’t exactly Josh’s thing.

“Dammit, Sam.” Lily grabbed my arm and spun me around to face her. “Look at you – all freaking gooey eyed the second he walks in the room. You need to remember why he is bad for you. You broke up with him for a reason! Hell, a lot of really good reasons.”

“Lil… It’s not like he’s a bad guy.”  I glanced over my shoulder then yelped when her dainty, but amazingly strong fingers grasped my chin and turned my face back toward her.

“I’m not saying he’s a bad guy,” she said, not so convincingly. “But you two are wrong for each other. Your relationship was codependent, at best. The two of you together…do not make good choices. And the last time,” she leaned forward and dropped her voice, “he hit you.”

“We were drunk,” I protested. “And I hit him, too.”

“Yeah, and most of the time you’re together, more often than not, you’re drunk or you’re high. See? Bad fucking choices, Sam.” Her eyebrows shot up as she gave me “the look”.

I hated that don’t-disappoint-me look. I thought by moving away from home, i’d escaped it, but nay, nay, Lily kept it alive and well.

“But you constantly put all the blame on him,” I pointed out. “And the problems we had, they’re not all on him.”

“No, they’re not,” she agreed. “You’re both motherfucking idiots when it comes to each other.”

I shook my head. She didn’t get it. Even though I was the one who had initiated half our break-ups, I loved him. And I hated being alone, being without him. And it wasn’t as if it was all screaming fights and arguments between us. There were a helluva lot of good times too. And I missed those.

“We have been,” I said, mostly to get her off my back. “But…”

I looked back again, and my stomach jumped when I saw Josh weaving his way through the crowd toward us.

“No. No buts, Sam,” Lily said, loudly enough that, even with the music blaring, people turned to look at us.

“You don’t understand,” I said, gaze darting between her and Josh.

“Fucking right I don’t understand. I don’t understand how you can choose to be miserable. How you can choose to be in a relationship that is no good for either of you. Hell, if you love him so damned much, think about him. Being together is not good for him. Do what’s right for you and Josh.” She spoke right in my ear and quickly, clearly wanting to have her say before he could hear.


And damn…damn, damn, damn. In what world was this fucking fair? How affected I could be by one word, my name, on his freaking lips… I turned and actually sighed like a little girl watching a Disney movie. He was too damned pretty for my own damned good. His full lips curved into the crooked smile I thought about more than I ever wanted to admit to anyone.

“Hey, Josh, what are you doing here?” Lily said bluntly. “You hate parties.”

His expression fell. He glanced between us a few times, then his gaze landed on me. “I… Well, I was hoping you’d be here. I wanted to talk, but didn’t think you’d answer my calls.”

“That should have been a big clue. If he won’t answer your calls, why would you think he’d want to see you?”

“Lily!”  I stared at her, stomach sour and heart racing.

“Dammit, Sam.” She met my gaze, then lifted her hands and let them drop, slapping against her thighs. “I love you, but you’re gonna do whatever the fuck it is you want to do anyway, and I don’t have to watch it. Can’t bear to watch it.  Just call me when it’s time to pick up the pieces…again.”

Without giving me a chance to respond, she turned on her heel and strode away. Cheeks hot and hands shaking, I faced Josh.

“Is she right? You don’t want to see me?”

I cleared my throat, staring at him, wanting to do the right thing. Only problem was I didn’t know what the right thing was when it came to him and me.

“Why would you even want to? A few weeks ago, you couldn’t wait to get away from me,” I choked out.

“I was stupid, fucked up on the pills and everything. I haven’t…” He wet his lips and ducked his head, looking at me from beneath those insanely long lashes. “Haven’t touched them since. Haven’t had a drink. I even…I even went to the counseling center, saw someone. Been seeing them a couple times a week. Talking though a lot of shit. You know, about my mom and dad and stuff.”

I nodded, heart aching for him. If I’d thought my home life sucked when I moved out, it was a fucking cake walk compared to what Josh had gotten away from.

“I just wanted to talk. I get if you don’t want to be around me. That’s fair. Grant – that’s the counselor I’ve been talking too – said I shouldn’t… Well, he didn’t think it was a good idea to see you, again. You know, like we were. But I need to at least talk to you. I was a complete ass; I see that now. I’m so sorry, Sam.”

“It wasn’t just you,” I protested. “I”m sorry, too.”

“Can we get out of here and go somewhere quiet to talk?” he asked. “Please.”

“Yeah, we can talk.”

He grinned and grabbed my hand. As we dodged people and made out way to the front door, I promised myself to be strong, this time. We’d talk, put things to rest, maybe? Or maybe with the changes he was making and the help he was getting, he’d be in a better place, and we could make it work. Not now, of course, but in the future. Because I couldn’t deny I wanted a future with him. Always did.

Ten minutes later, when my back hit the wall of Josh’s dorm room and his lips were on mine, Lily’s words sounded in my head – Wrong for each other… Codependent, at best… Bad fucking decisions… – but I shoved them aside. She didn’t know. She didn’t understand.

“Fuck, Sammy, I missed you,” Josh murmured, trailing kisses along my jaw and down my neck. “Hate being without you. Feel so damned numb.” His hands flexed on my hips as he pressed closer. “I can feel again, now. With you. Taste so fucking beautiful, babe. Love you so much. God, is it the same for you?” He lifted his head and met my eyes. “Is it just me?”

I cupped his face and pulled him in again then whispered against his lips, “No, me too. God, me too.”

Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease

January Song Fic – “Albatross” by Susan McKeown

This month’s Song Fic is inspired by “Albatross” by Susan McKeown. Have a listen if you want:

I’m going off the last verse of the song for my fic, which is super super short…

And I told you I would hold you
when my arms were still sore
but it’s freezing and the beating of your wings
and I just can’t take anymore
I watched the losing in your eyes
and I saw your tear-stained face
like a ghost like a promise

She sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, refusing to look at me as I packed my bag. Her fingers twisted together, knuckles white, and though the tears had stopped, I could still see the dried tracks they’d left on her pale cheeks. I zipped the bag, cringing at how loud it was and how she flinched at the sound.

Christ. I should have done this when she was at her mom’s or sleeping. But I’d told myself that was the coward’s way out, and the very least I owed her was to own what I was doing to us. To her.

The last thing I wanted was to cause her any more pain. She’d had her life’s share and then some. My leaving? It hurt her, I knew that, but I had no clue how to make it better, because my staying – being here everyday, for the last few months, trapped in this house with its memories and aching emptiness – was hurting her too.

We both needed to be alone to heal. To deal with what we’d lost. That was what I told myself every second, anyway. It was the only way I could walk away from her. Telling myself it was for her as much as for me. And it was. I knew, to her, I was as much a reminder of the tiny life lost as she was to me.

“I’ll call,” I said quietly, lifting the bag and standing awkwardly, half-wishing she’d look at me but dreading it at the same time.

The moment she did, it was the punch in the gut I’d expected. The pain, the loss, the accusation in her tear-filled blue eyes…

“I’ll call,” I said again, stepping forward then freezing when she held up a hand.

“Just go.”

Her voice, hoarse and ragged, tore at me, and I almost dropped the bag I clutched and went to her. Almost.

“I love you. That…” I swallowed around the massive lump in my throat. “That’s as true as it ever was.”

The corner of her mouth quirked up the tiniest bit. “I know.”

She stared at me, not returning the declaration, though beneath everything else, I could see she still loved me. We loved each other. It just wasn’t enough, right now. She nodded toward the door, chest jerking with her hitching breaths. She was trying not to cry… Fuck.

I closed the space between us and dropped a kiss on the top of her head before turning away from her and rushing from the room, from the house, my chest tight and eyes stinging.

Once in the car, I swiped at my eyes as I started the car. I pulled out of the driveway and drove away. The farther I got from the house I got, the lighter I felt, the easier I breathed. And I hated myself for that.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

September Song Fic – “Losing My Religion”


This month’s song is REM’s “Losing My Religion”. I did my pull-a-line-and-go-with-it thing. Working from the line:

Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

Here’s the video, if you want to have a listen:

My heart stopped.

I’d always thought that was just a saying. An exaggeration. But, fuck me sideways, my heart actually stopped as soon as the words were out of my mouth and drew Linc’s attention to me.

His attention on me… That’s what I’d wanted for so long, but not like this. Not because I was tired, and my mouth got away from me.

And just as suddenly as it froze, my heart started hammering, painfully, as I tried to figure out some way I could spin, explain or joke away what I’d blurted out.

But, really, it was an impossible task. He’d been joking around, while we took a break from studying for the Chem final in his room, talking about our friend, Todd, who was pining away for a girl back home and had turned down several girls when we’d gone out the night before. Even though the girl back home had made it clear – several times – she wasn’t interested in Todd.

Linc had shaken his head and rolled his eyes before saying that maybe if Todd just hooked up with someone else, he’d start getting over his long-time crush. Fuck her right out of his head. Without thinking, without even looking up at Linc, I opened my mouth…and probably ruined the longest and best friendship I had.

The words echoed in my ears – Didn’t work for me. Could never fuck you out my head, no matter how many times I tried.

Blacks spots danced in front of me, refusing to disappear no matter how many times I blinked. I felt pressure around my hand and realized it was Linc’s fingers wrapped around mine.

“…for fuck’s sake, breathe!”

I drew in a deep breath, released it, then did it again. Finally, my vision cleared, and I met Linc’s brown eyes. Eyes I’d imagined so often, but never like this. Full of concern…and pity.

“Hey.” He leaned forward a bit, squeezing my hand.

I jerked away and stood quickly, knocking the chair down. Linc shook his head as he got to his feet.


“Shit, I’m sorry.” I turned, unable to look at him anymore, and stumbled to the door. I could hear him moving behind me, saying my name. I was a coward and cursed myself for that, but I didn’t stop. I yanked the door open then sprinted down the hallway and out the building. Breaking into a full out run when I hit the pavement outside and heading toward my own building.

I ignored the vibrations in my pocket from my phone, knowing it was him and feeling relieved he hadn’t chased after me. I knew I couldn’t avoid him forever, and despite my current mortification, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want a life that didn’t have Linc in it, even if it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted him in it.  I prayed to every deity I could think of that I hadn’t driven the best friend I had away.

Tomorrow, I’d go and talk to him, say what I should have said right away. Should have followed the stupid words with reassurances that nothing had to change, that I’d accepted a long time ago that what I felt was one-sided.

I pushed into my room and, closing my eyes, leaned back against the door. Tomorrow – I’d work on fixing this, then. For now… I’d just work on forgetting the damned pity in his eyes.

Bronwyn Green

July Song Fic – “Sky High Honey”

songprompt2This month’s song fic is “Sky High Honey” by Matt Nathanson.

Here’s a vid of it:

And here is the story… New characters, this month!


Owen rubbed the inside of his arm, where he’d slid the needle, and tried not to cry. He was fucking flying…and it wasn’t helping. Wasn’t giving him what he wanted, what he so desperately needed.


He stared down at the pictures spread before him on the bed. Well, they sure as hell weren’t helping. But how could he look away? Because as much as he wanted to escape the pain—the gripping, nauseating pain that just overwhelmed everything—he didn’t really want to forget.

He caught one between his trembling fingertips and lifted it, his breath catching as he tried to memorize what he saw.

Daniel with his head thrown back, eyes nearly shut and an open-mouthed grin brightening his face as he laughed in that fucking gorgeous way he always did—with everything he had. Owen tried to remember what had made him laugh—had Daniel’s cousin, who in that moment had his arm draped over Daniel’s broad shoulders, said something funny or was this reaction for something beyond the camera?

Owen couldn’t remember. How many other things was he going to forget? Sure he could look at pictures. See Daniel’s beautiful face staring back. But what about the way he sounded, the way he smelled? How his skin felt, quivering beneath Owen’s palms, against his body and lips? And his taste…

Owen pushed to his feet, letting the photo drift from his grasp before stumbling over to the window seat. Kneeling on the cushion, he rested his forehead against the glass and exhaled shakily, his breath steaming up the pane.

He swallowed the sob that threatened, nearly choking on it. He was never going to taste Daniel again.

No more lazy weekends in bed. No more talking for hours just to hear each other, to know each other even more. He twisted, falling into a seated position, head still resting on the window. No more spur-of-the-moment camping trips so they could be alone without any chance of interruptions. No more late night runs for ice cream and feeding each other messily. His vision blurred. No more kisses and affectionate touches. No more stumbling in the door, tearing their clothes off each other, desperate to touch and just be together after a day at work…

“Fuck, fuck, fuck…” He rubbed his eyes with his fists, and there was no more fighting the wrenching cries. He just didn’t have the strength.

How the hell was he going to do this? The desperation he’d felt after a day away from Daniel had been so intense; how was he going to survive forever?

He tried to stand again, move toward the bed, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate, folding beneath him. He recognized the brutal landing jarring his body, but the drugs were at least working on some level—he felt no pain. Not physically anyway.

He crawled across the room and struggled to climb back on the mattress. Once there, he reached for the zippered pouch on the end table.

“Don’ know how t’do this wi’out you, Danny,” he slurred as he broke skin again—almost as desperate for the elusive oblivion as he was to have Daniel back with him.

One, he knew he was never going to get again; the other, he would keep trying for.

* * * *


He stared ahead, unseeing. His body ached, and his mind was fuzzy. But the empty place in his life—Daniel’s place—was always clear. At no moment—not last night when he’d tried to hide behind the needle, not this morning when his brother had dragged him out of bed and shoved him into the shower and then dressed him like a child, not through the service or under people’s sad sympathetic stares, and not even when they’d lowered Daniel into the ground—had Owen been distracted from the gaping hole left by his husband. His best friend and lover.


His head snapped up, and he saw his brother Tim at his side—this time standing beside Owen, hand heavy on his shoulder.

“Ready?” Tim murmured. “Everyone’s gone to the house.”

Turning back to look at where Daniel would rest, Owen shook his head. “I don’t want to leave him.”

He waited for all the lines he’d heard before—it wasn’t really Daniel in that coffin, just his body. He wouldn’t want Owen to be “like this”; he’d want Owen to move on—heart beating painfully. He lifted his hand and rested it against his chest, feeling the thudding beneath his palm.

“I know.” Tim dropped back into his chair, pressed shoulder to knee against Owen. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Owen nodded jerkily and, after a moment, spoke without looking away from that damned hole in the ground. “I feel like I’m dying, Tim. Like I should crawl in there with him…but fuck, it’s still beating. Somehow, without him.”

Tim wrapped an arm tightly around him and laid his hand over Owen’s, holding it hard to his chest.

“What do I do?” Owen whispered, voice breaking.

“One day at a time. And if that’s too much, then one hour at a time…or one minute, or one fucking second. Whatever it takes. So for now, we sit here until you’re ready.”

“Don’t know how long that will take,” he said apologetically.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m here, not going anywhere.” Tim kissed Owen’s temple. “You’re not alone.”

Owen closed his eyes and nodded. He wasn’t alone—logically, he knew that—but he felt like he was. And he had a feeling he always would.

Bronwyn Green | Kris Norris

June Song Fic – “Little Heaven”

songprompt5This month’s song is “Little Heaven” by Toad the Wet Sprocket. Here is the song – with lyrics –  for your enjoyment.

This one was a hard one for me – not a shocker. I haven’t blogged a lot lately. Or written. But I was determined to get something. I listened to it again and again. Stared at the lyrics so many times. Whined to people about lack of ideas. (I should probably apologize this…).

Finally after much time, and perhaps a couple margaritas one night before heading off to the fab writer’s retreat I’m currently at, I came up with something.

Kinda working of of these lines:

Change’ll happen whether we
Are still or moving
Breathe in waves of doubt
Bitter in your mouth

I wrote something that went with my serial, Your Lies (I don’t think you have to read what I’ve posted so far to get the gist of what’s happening here, but if you want to have a gander at the chapters posted so far, head on over to the serial page).

I groaned and scrunched up my face as my phone rang. Again.

“Whoever that is,” David, my friend and current study partner, said, looking up from his books briefly, “is just going to keep calling. You might as well just answer it.”

I hummed quietly and turned a page without responding.

He sighed. “Your mom?”


“Maybe she’s calling to apologize,” he said quietly. “It’s been nearly a week.”

It didn’t matter how long it had been. I was angry. More angry than I had been with my mom in a long time. What I was feeling rivaled the emotions I’d battled back when my dad disappeared. The intense anger I had directed at her back then hadn’t been fair at all, and I still felt guilt over that. But this? Having people watching me and reporting back to her? I wasn’t going to get over that any time soon. And no amount of apologizing was going to make it happen any sooner.

“She’s probably worried,” he tried again.

“She’s knows I’m fine. I texted her. Besides, I’m sure her little spies have told her the same thing.” I closed my book the leaned back against the wall as I stretched my legs out in front of me on the bed. “Not ready to talk to her. Not yet.”

He pushed the chair away from the desk and turned to face me fully. “I get that. I really do, but after everything that’s happened, with your dad and all that, and everything with the anti-magic groups and—”

“You don’t have to defend her to me,” I said quietly. “Even though it drives me nuts, I do actually understand where she’s coming from and why she worries about me. But what she did…” I swallowed thickly and shook my head. “She showed how little she trusts me, and—”

My phone rang again—a different ringtone this time. I snatched up the device and stared at Kyle’s face on the screen. I hadn’t spoken to him—my best friend—since I’d left for school. We’d texted and IM’d but actually talking… The fact he was calling now wasn’t a coincidence. That fact pushed my anger and annoyance up, but I still answered.

Before I could say anything beyond the initial “hello”, Kyle’s voice exploded in my ear. “What the fuck are you thinking, Dee?”

“Well, I’ve missed you, too. Been a long time; how have you been?” I said, voice sickeningly sweet.

“I’ve got your mom calling me, yelling at me about how you won’t answer her calls…like that’s somehow my fault. Then, she tells me you’ve been basically making a target of yourself and seeing that Roberts kid. Fuck, Dee, we talking about this! Don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t let anyone know. Speaking at a pro-magic event, dating the fucking poster boy for the antis? How is that laying low and helping keep your secret? Are you fucking stupid?”

“Keep it up and I’m hanging up,” I responded tightly. “My mom has no clue what she’s talking about, and neither do you.”

“Did you speak at the thing or not?”

“I helped out—behind the scenes—and when things got messed up the day, yeah, I spoke. But hardly at all. I basically welcomed people and introduced the first speaker. It’s not like I gave a big speech and came out as a magic user anything, for crying out loud.”

“It doesn’t matter!” he nearly shouted. “Just being there is too much. For fuck’s sake, Dee.” He inhaled deeply, then asked, “And Maddock Roberts?”

“What about him?”

“You’re dating him?” When I didn’t answer immediately, he plowed ahead. “Are you insane? He’s the last person you should be in the same room with, let alone date. His parents, his whole fucking family, are among the most vocal against our—”

“I don’t care. He’s not like that,” I argued.

“So he’s not leading the anti-magic rallies on campus, telling people to sign petitions to ban magic users and basically lock us up? I’ll admit, he pretties it up and tries to say it’s for our own good as much as for the general public, but come the fuck on, Dee. Tell me you’re not falling for that?”

“You don’t know him.” I said quietly.

“And you do? Does he know you? All of you. How do you think he’d react if he knew the truth about you? Do you even think of that? Or are you just blinded by how cute and how into you he is?”

“Stop it. Just…stop it.” I swiped at my stinging eyes, his words bringing all the doubts and fears I had to the forefront. “You don’t get to disappear, off doing what you’re—and I’m not so stupid I don’t know what that is—then call when summoned to try to talk some sense into poor Delia. Maddock isn’t one of the bad guys. He may not know about me, but we’ve talked about magic and what he’s believed. He may not have questioned it in the past, but he listens to me. He doesn’t just blow me off. He’s actually considering what I have to say. Even before all of that, he wasn’t hateful toward magic users.”

“You really think you’re going to sway him? That him ‘listening to you’” he repeated with a sneer, “is anything more than him trying to placate the girl he’s romancing? Come on.”

“Like I said, you don’t know him.”

“I know enough. He’s dangerous. Things are changing quickly. In a bad way. It’s going to get much worse for us before they get better. And if you think he’s is going to stand beside you when he knows what you are and when things hit the fucking fan, you’re delusional. You’re going to get your heart broken…or worse.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I said, even though I knew he wasn’t. It didn’t take a genius to realize things were bad in the world and the conflict between magic users and those who wanted them gone was escalating. All you had to do was turn on the news to see that.

“War’s coming, Dee. Doesn’t matter if we’re fighting or standing still, it’s coming. You need to surround yourself with people you trust, with people who will have your back when everything falls apart. Can you really say Maddock Roberts fits that bill?”

There was shouting in the background on his end—loud, frantic words I couldn’t quite catch—and Kyle cursed.

“I’ve got to go. Take care, Dee. I love you and I want you safe. Make the right choice before it’s too late.” A quick pause and more shouting. “And call your mom, yeah? She loves you, too, and wants the same. Remember that.”

The call cut out then, and I dropped the phone onto the bed in front of me. David stood and crossed the room to sit beside me. It was clear from his expression he knew full well the other side of the conversation had gone, even if he hadn’t heard the exact wording.

“Want to talk about it?” he asked quietly, resting his hand on my knee and squeezing.

“Not even a little. Besides,” I looked at the clock on the wall, “I need to get ready for my date.”

David smiled and, after another quick squeeze, stood and moved over to start packing up things into his backpack. I smiled, comforted by his easy acceptance. David was a magic user too. And he knew Maddock and trusted him, supported my relationship with him. All of my friends did. Even Addie, who had been hesitant and uber-distrustful to begin with.

I loved my mom, and I loved Kyle, but… I closed my eyes a moment and pictured a handsome face with piercing green eyes. I was beginning to love Maddock too, and I was pretty certain that went both ways. War coming or not—he would never hurt me.

Bronwyn Green | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris


January Song Writing Prompt – “Creep”

songprompt1This month’s song is “Creep” by Radiohead

I had no clue what to do with this song. Seriously. I listened to it an unhealthy amount, and finally, the lyrics that kept grabbing me were “I want you to notice/when I’m not around”.

Jude glanced at the clock and swallowed the groan when he saw that barely fifteen minutes had passed since the last time he’d looked. After the morning rush in the coffee shop and barely having a moment to breathe, it was as though time had slowed, and it was fucking unbearable.

Or more unbearable than usual. He hated every freaking minute of he had to spend in this place catering to the most self-centered, self-involved people known to man, but if he wanted to pay rent and eat on a regular basis, the job was a necessary evil. And he was going to have to pick up as many shifts as he could since his paycheck had already taken a hit courtesy of the stupid flu that had kept him home the last week. Add to that the enormous amount of coursework he had to catch up on… Yeah, he was pretty well screwed in a horrible, non-satisfying way with no end in sight. It was going to be non-stop work and studying until the end of term with nothing on the horizon to ease the bullshit.

Not that that was a change from the norm. Not really. His naïve dreams of things being different when he moved here for school had been demolished fairly quickly. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. It was different here than it had been back home. He didn’t have to put up with endless abuse from fucktards who had made it their mission since grade school to make his life miserable. He didn’t have to pour his mom into bed after she’d lost the battle to stay firmly on the wagon yet again, all the while listening to her apologies and tears.

No, here, he was just…invisible. Unless he was calling in sick to work; then, he was noticed a bit. But other than being short-handed and having to pick up the slack, it wasn’t as though his co-workers gave a rat’s ass that he was gone. He hadn’t made any real friends at school. Hell, even the regulars that came into the shop, people he saw nearly every day, interacted with, just ordered their skinny mochas or lattes with a shot of this and that as always—the fact that he’d been gone for a week never even blipping on their radar.

“Fuck,” he muttered under his breath as he grabbed the bucket of soapy water. The last thing he needed—ever—was to get lost in self-pity. It wouldn’t change anything and sure as hell wasn’t going to do him any good.

“Gonna clean the tables,” he told his co-worker Jake, who leaned lazily against the counter.

Jude rolled his eyes as the other guy waved him off without pausing in his determined flirting with the blonde he’d been working on for at least a month. Jude was fairly sure the girl was just in it for the free coffees Jake threw her way but whatever.

He worked his way from table to table, clearing the trash people left behind without a thought and wiping every surface. As he was finishing, a bunch of guys came through the door, shoving at each other and laughing. Jude’s heart stuttered then began to beat rapidly, almost painfully.

“Stupid,” he berated himself, even as his gaze centered on one guy in particular. On one face Jude waited to see every day. Like a complete moron.

Jake tore himself away from the blonde to take the guys’ orders, though he stared after her, nearly drooling, as she walked out of the shop, hips swaying, free coffee in hand.

Walking in back, Jude emptied the bucket and set it aside, before taking a deep breath and heading back out. He just hoped he made it through the next few minutes without tripping over his own feet or making a fool of himself in another humiliating way in front of the guy who had snared Jude’s attention the very first day he’d had started this job.

“Hey, can I get some help here?” Jake said, a little desperately, as he steamed milk. He nodded at the cups lined up the counter, each one with with a name and order scribbled in shorthand on the side.

Ah, how much harder the job of making a simple cup of coffee was when it didn’t involve a pretty girl.

Without a word, Jude began filling the orders. The group had wandered over to one of the larger tables, chatting and joking as they waited, each one coming up to grab his drink as it was finished. When only one cup remained empty, Jake wiped his hands on a towel.

“You got that last one, yeah? Gotta take a piss, and it’s time for my break, anyway.” Without waiting for an answer, he ducked through the swinging door, out of sight.

Jude swallowed heavily as he grabbed that final cup, the one he’d avoided taking the whole time. His cup. Fucking Jake. Probably realized Jude had been crushing hard and had purposely left him to it. Left him to make an ass of himself in front of the hottie. Because that was definitely something Jude would do. It was inevitable. And as much as Jude hated being invisible, it was better than the alternatives. He’d lived those and didn’t want to again.

Just make the damned coffee and hand it off. He’ll smile at you—that throwaway smile everyone has for baristas or the help—and it’ll be the pathetic highlight of your day. Even though it’ll mean nothing to him.

Snapping the plastic lid on, Jude cleared his throat. “Cameron,” he said loudly, proud of the fact his voice didn’t crack.

He watched as the lanky man stood, stumbling slightly as one of his friends shoved him. He flipped the bird without looking back and walked to the counter. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans as he approached, and Jude found his gaze drawn to the Cameron’s crotch. Fuck. Jude’s face heated as his head snapped up.

When Cameron made no move to take the cup, Jude frowned. “Large caffe americano, double shot?”


Blue eyes crinkled—fucking adorably, damn it—as Cameron smiled. Slowly, he pulled one hand out of his pocket and reached for the drink. His long fingers glided over Jude’s, and if he hadn’t taken the cup, Jude was certain he’d have dropped it.

“Thank you, Jude.”

What little breath he had left him at the sound of his name on Cameron’s lips. So much for not acting like an idiot. He was gaping at the other man like a fish out of water.

“You’re…you’re welcome.”

Cameron took a sip of the coffee, but didn’t move away. “So…” He glanced back at his friends a moment before continuing, “Where have you been?”

“Huh?” Oh, that’s brilliant…

He leaned a hip against the counter, head tilted to the side as he ran his gaze over Jude slowly before returning to his eyes. “You haven’t been here all week. And I haven’t seen you on campus.”

“You…you noticed that I…” Jude’s mouth snapped shut, and he shook his head, face flaming even more.

“Yeah, of course I noticed. Wait…” Cameron leaned forward, lips pressed together briefly. “Does that make me seem all stalkery?”

“No! God, no. Not at all.” He shook his head, mind spinning. Seriously, of all people, Cameron noticed he hadn’t been around?

Giving an exaggerated sigh of relief, Cameron grinned. “Good. Hate to think, after a week of being convinced I’d missed my chance, that I’d ruined everything by coming off too eager.”

“Missed your chance…” Jude shook his head again. “Sorry, Cameron, but that’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. Have you seen you?”

“Hmmm.” He took another long drink of his coffee. “I don’t think I’m the one who needs his eyes opened about himself. I notice when you’re here, and I sure as hell notice when you’re not here.” He pulled his other hand from his pocket and reached over to grasp Jude’s hand, a piece of paper crinkling between their palms. “First, call me Cam. Second, call me when you’re shift is over?”

“Really? This isn’t…” He glanced at the group behind Cameron and found every set of eyes on them. “This isn’t a joke, is it?”

Cameron’s fingers tightened around Jude’s. “Not even a little. Are you going to call?”

Jude stared intently at the other man, hoping that the sincerity he saw was true and, for the first time in a long time, took a chance. Because, damn it, he’d noticed what no one else did. How could Jude ignore that?

“Yeah, I’m gonna call.”

Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris | Paige Prince


November Song Writing Prompt – “Iowa”


 This month’s song is “Iowa” by Dar Williams. You can have a listen here:

For this prompt, I again went into the world of my serial.

For those interested, here are links for the other flash fiction peices that are kinda connected/set in that world:

The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
Lying to Myself
The Lies We Tell

And the link to the chapters of the serial: Your Lies

This story isn’t about the hero or heroine of the serial but a follow up – from another POV – to a flash fiction peice I did in that world.


The lyrics:
How I long to fall just a little bit
To dance out of the lines and stray from the light
But I fear that to fall in love with you
Is to fall from a great and gruesome height
prompted this month’s song fic… “Falling”

This flash fiction has explicit descriptions. Not a ton but more so than any of the others have. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I sat on the top of the picnic table, doing everything I could not to look over at the group of guys laughing and throwing a football around.

“Some senior trip, eh?” Sofie nudged my side then dropped her head on my shoulder.

“Wasn’t too bad until the bus crapped out,” I said quietly.

“Even being stuck rooming with him the whole time?”

I fought not to cringe. “He’s not a bad person, Sof.” And did cringe, then, at the automatic defense.

“He’s a jerk,” she muttered as she straightened. “Totally strings you along, then suddenly acts like you don’t exist? Stands by and does nothing while his stupid friends treat you and everyone else like shit? The old saying—you know person by looking at their friends or whatever? So true.”

“He’s not—” I snapped my mouth shut and took a deep breath.

“I know what you’re going to say,” she said quickly.

I snorted. She should know what I was going to say because this wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation.

“What he and his family went through…” She shook her head. “When his sister died, I could excuse a whole lot of his shit toward you, toward everyone. But it’s been a year, and no amount of grief excuses—”

“Stop. Just…stop. It doesn’t matter. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want anything to do with me, and I’m done dwelling on it. Have been for a long time.”

“Would be easier to believe that if you didn’t have sad, crumbling hearts in your eyes whenever you look at him.”

I was saved from having to answer when one of the chaperones approached us. From the corner of my eye I saw another walk up to the group on the grass, calling out for them to gather around.

“They’re sending a new bus,” the woman said cheerfully. “But as it’s so late, it won’t be here until morning. We’ll be staying here.” She gestured at the motel behind her. “We’ll have room assignments soon, same roommate pairs.”

My gaze flicked over before I could stop myself and met his intense stare. It didn’t last long—just enough to have my stomach jumping—before he turned away and went back to playing with his friends.

“It’ll be okay,” Sofie murmured, snaking an arm around my waist and leaning into me. “It’s just one more night, right?”

Yeah, just one more night… No big deal.

* * * *

I didn’t look up when the door to the room opened then banged shut. I flicked my finger along the screen of my phone, watching gems explode, even as my body tensed at his presence. He cleared his throat.

“Um, we’re supposed to meet at the diner in half an hour for dinner.”

My jaw ached as I clenched it but kept playing the game, telling myself his voice had no effect on me. That he had no effect on me, anymore.

“Are you just going to ignore me?”

A shiver skated up my spine at the roughly snapped question. Yeah, I was never really any good at lying to myself. Not for the first time, I wished I could go back in time and never met him. Never felt anything for him, only to have those feelings stomped on, again and again. Well, at least after graduation, I wouldn’t have to see him every day. That was something.

I tossed the phone on the mattress beside me and stood, walking toward the bathroom without looking at him. He stepped forward and grabbed my upper arm. I jerked out of his grasp and shoved against his shoulder.

“Don’t touch me.”

His eyes widened, and he gaped at me. After a moment, he shook his head. “What is your problem?”

My problem? Are you fucking kidding me?” I muttered and started to turn—only to be stopped by his hand on my arm again. I froze. “I said don’t touch me.”

“Seriously, what—”

I spun around and, slamming my hands against his chest, backed him up against the wall. “You don’t get to do this. Change things again. Leave me alone. Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. You’ve been doing really, really well with that until now.”

His heart pounded beneath my palms, and he studied me intently, brow furrowed. I didn’t want to see the pain and uncertainty in his eyes, the way his bottom lip trembled just a bit before he pressed his mouth closed. While I didn’t paint him as the villain as Sofie did—she claimed it was her right as my best friend—I couldn’t deny the anger I felt for him, simmering under the hurt. And I had to hold on to that anger and remember how fucking awful the last year had been, because I couldn’t let myself fall for him again. It would destroy me, that long and ultimately gruesome fall. I don’t know that I could survive that.

“Go back to your asshole friends and pretending I don’t exist,” I practically begged.

“I don’t pretend you don’t exist,” he argued.

“That’s right.” I pressed closer, got right in his face. “You look right at me while they shove me around, call me a fag and threaten worse.”

“I hate that they—”

“Shut up,” I snapped. “You don’t get to hate it. You don’t get to—”

His hand on the back of my neck and his lips against mine cut off my words, my thoughts, my sanity. His fingers slid into my hair, nails scrapping my scalp, and I groaned. Wrenching away, breath quick, I frowned at him.

“What are you doing?”

“What I want to do every fucking day,” he bit out, “but can’t.”

He used his hold on me to reverse our positions. Back to the wall, I held his gaze, waiting—waiting for him to explain, to make sense of all of this, of the last year.

“I hate it,” he whispered. “Hate seeing you, wanting you and knowing I can’t have you.”

“Why? Why can’t you? What changed?” Shit, how could I ask that? Even if I didn’t understand it, I knew what changed.


He took my mouth again and pressed close. The drag of his cock against mine, even with the layers, had me canting my hips forward, desperate for more. I couldn’t stop, even though everything in my head was screaming at me to push him away, save myself the pain. But every slick glide of his lips and tongue, every touch, every movement of our bodies muzzled those thoughts, drove them out until there was only him.

He murmured my name against my lips, breath hitching as we ground against each other frantically. I squeezed my eyes shut and held on tightly to his shoulders. His hands slide down to cup my ass as his movements quickened. My head thudded against the wall, and immediately, he dropped his head to mouth at my throat.

It didn’t last long—how could it? I’d wanted this for so long, and even if this was just complicating things impossibly, my body didn’t give a shit. A low groan rumbling in his chest, he bit down just above my collarbone as his body stiffened. I could feel his cock pulsing against mine, and that was all it took to push me over.

We didn’t move right away, just stay wrapped around each other against the wall—breathing heaving with come in our pants.

Then, he pressed a kiss against my neck and whispered, lips tickling, “I’m sorry.”

I kept my eyes closed a moment longer, determinedly ignoring the stinging behind the lids. Sliding my palms down to his chest, I pushed firmly until he stepped back. His eyes were red-rimmed and glistening. He wet his swollen lips and opened his mouth to speak. I didn’t give him a chance.

“Nothing’s changed, has it?” I demanded. “We’re going to walk out that door and it’ll be like this never even happened. We just, what? Forget?”

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “I wish—”

“Don’t.” I held my hand up then sidestepped to get away from him. God, I had to get away from him.

“Please.” He reached for me but I moved quickly enough to avoid it. “Nothing’s changed—it can’t—but…but I won’t forget this.”

“Well, I’m going to do everything I can to try to. Fuck you for jerking me around, again. Fuck me for letting you.”

“I’m sor—”

“Stop saying you’re sorry!” I yelled, stepping back into the bathroom. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I lowered my voice and added, “Just be gone when I come out. And I’ll…I’ll figure out somewhere else to sleep.”

“You don’t need to do that,” he protested. “I don’t have a problem being here with you.”

“I do.” I slammed the door, shutting out the way he jerked back as if struck and the hurt expression on his face.

Leaning my forehead against the wood separating us, I took several deep breaths, trying to still the quivers wracking my body. Nothing had changed, I told myself. This meant nothing. I’d forget about it and keep on going as I had been. And escape it all when I left in the fall. And this would mean nothing.

Damn, I really wished I was better at lying to myself.


Bronwyn Green | Kayleigh Jones


July Song Writing Prompt – “Love at First Sight”

songprompt4This month’s song is “Love at First Sight” by Kylie Minogue.

For this one I went back to my boys – Michael and Aric. Here are the previous bits of their story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

“It’s fine. I bought it yesterday on the way home.”

The quiet words seemed to echo though the kitchen, and Aric nearly dropped the container of orange juice he’d brought up to his nose to sniff cautiously. He turned slowly to find Michael hovering in the doorway. Aric ran his gaze down the other man’s body—from his damp, finger-combed hair, over the threadbare t-shirt and gray sweats that barely hung on his hips, to his bare feet—and had to bite back his moan, shove aside the urge to close the space between them and just touch. The only thing that made it easier to do was the worry that filled him when he again noticed how…unwell Michael looked. Pale skin, dark circles under his eyes, and he’d lost weight. Weight the already lanky man couldn’t spare.

“Wasn’t taking any chances.” Aric congratulated himself on sounding normal, unconcerned. “Do you even know what you had growing in the fridge?”

He moved to grab the plate off the counter and grimaced at the paltry amount of scrambled eggs and the lone piece of dry toast. When he turned around to set it on the table, Michael was still in the same spot, fingers plucking at the hem of his shirt, eyes cast downward.

“Sit down and eat.”

Aric went to the cupboard and rolled his eyes when he found it nearly empty—not that it was a surprise considering the amount of dirty dishes littering nearly every flat surface in the house. He’d managed to to fill the dishwasher with just what had been on the damned table. Pulling the lone mug from the way back—the one with the chipped rim and missing handle—he filled it with OJ and set that down with a clank next to Michael’s plate.

He lowered himself onto the chair across from Michael and watched as the other man ate slowly, still refusing to meet Aric’s eyes.

“You didn’t have to—” he started, then shoveled another forkful of eggs in his mouth.

Aric’s chest tightened. “What?”

Michael swallowed and lifted a shoulder. “Any of this—coming over, making food, picking up.” He gestured toward the running dishwasher.

Opening his mouth to response, Aric was struck dumb by the words that followed—muttered words he barely made out.

“I don’t deserve it.”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then another. And another.

“And you don’t have to stay,” Michael added in a rush.

“Do you want me to leave?” When no answer came, Aric leaned forward. “Look at me.” Michael’s head lifted, revealing wide and scared gray eyes. “Do you want me to leave?”

“No. Never did.”

The whispered words, the tears clinging to his insanely long lashes, the way his fingers trembled broke Aric’s heart.

“Then, I’m not going anywhere,” he said simply, even though more questions swam in his mind, swelled in his mouth, and burned his tongue.

With a jerky nod, Michael set his fork down and reached for the mug, but he didn’t pick it up. He just ran his finger along the chips on the rim and the two larger ones where the handle had once been.

“I don’t know why you insist on keeping that,” Aric said with a laugh. “Should’ve been tossed long ago.

It was something he’d said again and again over the years—when they’d moved in together, the cup was already broken—but any time it was brought up, Michael would just smile and shake his head.

Just like he was, now. Even as sadness seemed to radiate off him, his lips curved as his fingers continued to caress the damaged ceramic.

“Never going to happen,” he murmured. “Means too much.”

Aric frowned. He’d never really questioned why Michael kept the old thing. “A gift, then?” He wondered from who. Who was important enough to Michael to hold onto it.

With a snort of laughter, Michael glanced up. “No, got this from a dumpy thrift story when I moved into my first apartment.”

“Oh…so it reminds you of being out on your own, your first place?” He guessed he could understand that.

“No, that’s not the memory it holds.” The mug was now cradled between both of his hands, almost lovingly held.

“Gonna share what one it does hold? Or am I to wonder for the rest of my life?” Aric teased, cautiously since he wasn’t sure what this was—the air around them teemed with…something. And he didn’t know if that something was good or not.

Michael’s eyes went soft, unfocused for a few long moments. “It reminds me of when I fell in love with you, okay?”

The bite of defensiveness in his tone made Aric consider his next words carefully, even as the hope he’d been feeling grew exponentially.

“The night we had the party—at mine and Oli’s place,” Michael said before Aric could speak. “I was pissed because he hadn’t told me about it, and I’d just come back from my dad’s and was so not in the mood for anyone, let alone an apartment full of people.” His smile broadened, and his grip tightened around the mug. “And then, you were there. I’d been hiding out in the kitchen, and you just jumped up on the counter beside me and started talking. And I thought you were insane, but fuck, you made me laugh. Made me forget…all the shit I’d been so wrapped up in.”

Aric chuckled as he remembered, though he was a bit confused by the apparent change of subject. “That was the night we met. I saw you sitting on that counter, away from everyone, and just had to talk to you. You looked so lost…and so fucking gorgeous.”

Michael’s cheeks pickened, and he ducked his head slightly. “I noticed you the second you walked in. I didn’t know who you were, but I couldn’t look away. I was standing there, staring like an idiot…and I dropped and broke the damned mug.” He lifted it slightly, like he was giving a toast.

“Love at first sight?” Aric joked even as his throat threatened to close.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Michael said seriously. “Didn’t believe in it before, before you. But there I was in a fog of it, telling myself I was an idiot of epic proportions. I didn’t know you from Adam, didn’t even know if you gay or would give me a second glance. I convinced myself it was just a punch of lust, something to get over, and cleaned up the mess and resigned myself to wait the damned party out. Then, there you were—being goofy and lovely and just so you. And for the first time I could remember, everything felt right. Even after the bullshit my dad had dealt out that night—hell, my whole life—you made everything feel right in my world at that moment.”

Aric blinked stinging eyes and drew in a shuddered breath.

“So yeah,” Michael said with forced brightness as he set the mug on the table. “This isn’t going anywhere.”

“When did you—” Aric cleared his throat, trying to banish the suffocating fear. “When did that stop? When did you fall out of love with me, M?”

Michael jolted back then shook his head frantically. “It never stopped. I didn’t… I didn’t—” His voice cracked. “Aric, please.”

“Do you still love me?” He asked the one question that mattered. The others that clamored for attention in his head—they’d have to be asked, eventually. He and Michael would have to talk and work though so much, but this… Right now, this was the only question he needed answered.

“Y-y-yes, but…”

“But what?” He shoved to his feet and rounded the table.

“It doesn’t matter,” Michael snapped then seemed to deflate before my eyes. “I fucked everything up, and—”

Grasping Michael’s upper arms, Aric hauled him to his feet and pulled him close. “I love you, too. That never stopped.”

“It might,” Michael whispered, even as he lifted his hands to comb through Aric’s hair. “If you knew everything, everything with my dad and… You might not feel the same way, and I don’t know if I can survive if you hated me.”

Aric rested his forehead against Micheal’s, understanding filling him. Michael had pushed him away, out of his life, because he’d seen it as a foregone conclusion. Fuck.

“Do you think so little of me? What I feel for you?” he asked quietly, shifting so his lips slid over Michael’s mouth. “You’re not the only one who fell hard that first night, M. You made everything right in my world, too. And it’s been all wrong the past two months. Until now. Just being here with you… It’s right, again. Don’t shut me out, anymore.”

Michael pulled back, staring at him intently, as if searching for all the answers. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed heavily. Aric hated the building panic he saw in Michael’s expression.

“I’m not going to stop loving you,” he said firmly. “You’re mine, and I’m yours, remember? We chose to be each other’s family. Everything else? We’ll figure it out; we’ll deal with.”

He held his breath as Michael continued to study him, then he cupped Aric’s face with shaking hands.

“I hope you’re right,” he said, desperately. “God, I need you to be right.”

“I am.” Aric murmured, wrapping his arms around Michael and drawing him close. I’m right, he thought as he closed his eyes and just breathed in Michael’s scent. I have to be.

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