Tuesday, November 29, 2016
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining. There was a slight breeze that picked up on the scent of freshly mown grass and freshly overturned dirt. The clucking of hens could be heard intermixing with the birdsong drifting through the air from the local bird population, with the occasional bleat or sneeze from a goat. Yes, it was definitely a beautiful day.
Caiden sighed as he scrubbed the sweat off of his forehead with the back of his gloved left hand.
“Again, I gotta ask,” said Oliver, “*why* are we doing this? It’s too nice of a day to be doing this. We could be, I don’t know, fishing or something.”
“I know,” replied Caiden. “I don’t really want to be doing this right now either, but the fencing really did need to be fixed. I don’t know how the goats keep managing to break the fence, but I can’t let it go or there’ll probably be another ‘Incident’.” Caiden shuddered remembering when Chris had gotten a little too…playful…with Kathleen. “I’m not sure my butt could survive another ‘discussion’ with Daniel about Chris’s penchant for playing tag. Besides, you don’t even *like* fishing!”
“So not the point here. Fine,” Oliver grumbled. “But don’t say I never do anything for you. And you totally owe me. I’m thinking some kind of dessert would be in order.”
“Sure, as long as you quit grousing and start helping,” Caiden smirked.
“I do *not* grouse,” came the suspiciously grouse-like reply.
Caiden chose not to answer. He just snickered quietly as he pulled the barbed wire taut and began to secure it to the wooden post.
Inside the house, Daniel was working on an upcoming case with his law partner and best friend, Quinn Thacker. Well, it would be more truthful to say that Daniel was working. Quinn was looking pensively out the window watching the two younger men as they struggled with the fence repair.
Daniel looked up at Quinn. He’d noticed that his friend watched the two Brats more and more often these days…Oliver in particular. He couldn’t help but wonder if Quinn was attracted to Caiden’s best friend. Actually, he rather liked the idea of his best friend falling in love with his lover’s best friend. In Daniel’s opinion, it would only serve to make their close little family just that much closer.
“Hey, Quinn,” he said with a quirky grin, “not that I want to interrupt your viewing of ‘Young Farm Studs in Action,’ but the case files are over here, not out there working on the fence.”
Quinn couldn’t stop the slight flush that graced his cheeks. “I wasn’t watching them. I was simply fascinated by the mechanics involved in fixing a fence. I’ve never actually seen it done before.” He picked up a file and began to study it in earnest, carefully avoiding the amused smirk that was adorning Daniel’s face.
“Just interested in the mechanics of fence repair, huh? That’s pretty good, Quinn. Have you been taking lessons from Caiden on avoidance answering?” Daniel laughed as he dodged the wadded paper ball that Quinn sent his way, and then they both settled back down to work.
Daniel did notice how Quinn’s eyes would flick over to the window every so often when he thought that Daniel wasn’t watching him. It was becoming increasingly obvious to Daniel that Quinn was attracted to Oliver. The problem was, it was like pulling teeth getting the stubborn man to admit to it. Daniel had to wonder just what it was going to take to get Quinn to face the reality that he was falling for the younger man.
It was about three hours later when two hot and sweaty young men came in looking rather wilted. Caiden sidled right up to Daniel and promptly gave him a very sweaty and dust-covered hug, pecking him on the cheek. “Ugh! Caiden, really! You’re a mess! Go shower! And make sure that Oliver gets one, too.”
“Love you, too, oh bossy one,” came the mischievous reply.
“Off with you, Brat!” Daniel ordered, with a smack to Caiden’s backside as he turned.
Caiden let out a yip. “As ordered, oh captain, my captain!” he responding with a crisp salute. “Come on, Ol. Let’s go get cleaned up and let these two continue to drown in an unforgiving sea of legal forms. Maybe we can send the Coast Guard out to rescue them in time for dinner.”
Quinn and Daniel watched with bemused smiles on their faces as the two young men headed to the bathrooms, Quinn already familiar with the lifestyle of his best friend and his best friend’s lover, even if he didn’t understand it completely. Oliver could be heard as they left saying, “I still demand the dessert of my choice. No complaining allowed, either!”
“Fine, fine,” came the answer wafting down the hallway behind its owner. Daniel and Quinn shared a snicker at the antics of the other two.
“So, are you going to stay for dinner?” Daniel asked.
Quinn looked up as if the idea hadn’t yet occurred to him. “Oh, I might as well,” he replied nonchalantly. “That way we could maybe get a bit more work done afterwards.”
“Right…work,” Daniel couldn’t help but roll his eyes at his best friend as they both settled back into their work.
Dinner was delicious. Caiden had wheedled his way into getting Oliver to help him and between the two of them; they’d made a wonderful meal. They had made apricot chicken served with spaghetti, zucchini, walnuts and raisins (which Oliver was quite unsure of, but Caiden insisted was actually quite good). The pièce de résistance was the Bavarian Apple Torte served with homemade vanilla ice cream that Oliver had demanded in payment for spending the afternoon ‘slaving away’ with Caiden.
Both Daniel and Quinn were impressed with their culinary efforts and didn’t hesitate to tell them. “Caiden, Oliver, this is fantastic!” Daniel praised them.
“I couldn’t agree more,” added Quinn. “This is really amazing!”
Both young men preened under the compliments. “Well, it was mostly Caiden,” Oliver admitted. “I just followed directions.”
“But you followed them perfectly and helped me get it all together. I couldn’t have gotten it all done on time without your help,” Caiden told him.
“Well, my compliments to the chef and the assistant chef,” Quinn said after swallowing a mouthful of pasta. “You both did a great job!”
Both young men smiled and Oliver ducked his head, pink staining his cheeks at Quinn’s obvious approval. Daniel and Caiden shared a look. Daniel could see that Caiden had come to the same conclusion that he had, Quinn and Oliver were most definitely interested in each other.
After dinner, Caiden and Oliver cleaned up while Daniel and Quinn finished the preparations on their upcoming case.
Later, when they had seen both Oliver and Quinn off later, Caiden and Daniel made their way into their bedroom to retire for the night.
Caiden stripped down to his boxers, leaving his clothing piled haphazardly on the armchair in the corner. He was about to slip between the sheets when he heard Daniel clear his throat. He looked over at Daniel with a coy little smile on his face. “Yes, Daniel?”
“Either the hamper has somehow morphed into a totally different design, or you’ve just tossed your clothes on the chair again. Pick ‘em up and put them away properly, Caiden.”
“Fine,” Caiden huffed. “I was just really tired. I was going to do it in the morning.”
“Sure you were,” came the disbelieving answer. “We both know your theory on ‘tomorrow’ and procrastination. Do it now, please.”
Caiden put the offending articles of clothing into the hamper and headed back to their bed with a jaw-cracking yawn. He slipped beneath the sheets and cuddled right up to Daniel’s side, tucking his head against Daniel’s strong shoulder. Daniel wrapped his arm around Caiden and pulled him snug against his side. Caiden sighed. In his opinion, this was the most perfect place in the world to be. His heart dropped a bit with his next thought…Oliver.
He didn’t like thinking of his best friend still being alone. Oliver was a fabulous person. He was smart, he was funny, he was loyal, and he was handsome. It just wasn’t fair that he was still alone. ‘If I could find Cupid, I’d punch him in face for ignoring Oliver,’ Caiden thought. He shifted a bit in Daniel’s arms. The idea of Oliver and Quinn just wouldn’t leave his mind.
“You wanna tell me what’s eating you up, or were you just planning on keeping us both awake all night while you stew on it,” said a soft, deep voice near his ear.
Caiden looked up to see Daniel’s deep blue eyes looking at him in amused concern. “Sorry, Daniel. I was just thinking about Oliver. I hate that he’s still alone. Honestly, I’d thought he’d have found someone already.”
“I worry about him too, Scamp. But what else are you thinking? And don’t bother to lie about it. I can see the hamster wheel spinning in there.”
Caiden gave Daniel a hurt look, “I’m offended. I never lie. I merely…obfuscate sometimes. Or practice a little bit of ‘creative truth telling.’ But that’s all.”
“Uh huh,” chuckled Daniel. “You wanna pull the other one now? And in my line of work, obfuscation and ‘creative truth telling’ are called lying. Now stop trying to change the subject and tell me what’s crawling around that magnificent mind of yours.”
Caiden nestled back down onto Daniel and sighed, “I was just thinking that it seems like Quinn and Oliver really seem to like each other. But it’s like they don’t realize that the other one is interested.” He let the rest of his thought hang.
“I know there’s more to it, Cai. What else are you thinking,” Daniel asked.
“Well, I was just thinking that perhaps we can give them, you know, a little nudge in the right direction, just a little subtle hint or two…”
“Subtle? You?” snorted Daniel. “Caiden, I love you, but sometimes you’re about as subtle as a freight train in the living room. Maybe you should just let nature take its course.”
“You’re kidding, right?” came the incredulous answer. “We *have* been letting nature take its course and those two are completely blind, deaf, and dumb to the fact that the other’s interested. If we keep letting nature take its course, they’ll both die old, gray and lonely. And I really don’t want to face an angry Quinn or Oliver in Heaven. I’ll just bet that they could do a lot of damage with one of those golden harps! And just imagine the uncomfortable places that they could shove Gabriel’s horn! No way, Daniel! I’m thinking plans here, schemes, plots, the whole nine yards!”
Daniel had to laugh at that, but he also felt the need to deliver a warning, “You just be careful. You know that every…”
Caiden cut him off, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Every time I come up with a great idea, I get into trouble. But it’s all for a good cause.”
“You just remember that when it all blows up in your face,” Daniel warned him.
“Oh ye of little faith,” chided Caiden.
“It’s called experience. Now go to sleep.”
Caiden gave a small snort, but snuggled down and let himself drift off.
At the same time that Caiden was settling down into a peaceful sleep, Oliver was just walking in the door of his apartment. He dropped his keys onto a small table near the door with a long sigh.
Sometimes being at Caiden’s was almost too difficult. It wasn’t that he didn’t like spending time with Caiden and Daniel, he did. Caiden was like a brother to him, closer even, because he didn’t have the urge to kill him all the time. But it was hard, sometimes, to see Caiden and Daniel so happy. It just made him feel all the more alone. He gave a humorless chuckle. How stupid is that? He would feel more lonely when he wasn’t alone than he did when he actually was alone.
He went into his bedroom, stripped off his clothes and padded into the bathroom. Turning on the shower, he looked at himself in the mirror, but had to turn away. He couldn’t stand seeing the empty sadness in his eyes. No wonder he was still alone. If he couldn’t stand to look at himself because he felt so pathetic, why would anyone else want to?
Oliver shook his head and climbed into the shower, washing quickly. When he was finished, he quickly toweled off and headed back into his bedroom. He flopped down onto the bed, not caring in the least that his hair was still basically dripping wet. He just wanted to fall asleep, fall asleep and not have to think about how dismal and sad his life was.
Several weeks passed by and Caiden spent them watching Oliver and Quinn intently whenever they were together. He was one hundred percent certain that they were head-over-heels, utterly and completely in love…or at least really attracted to each other. Now he just had to plan the perfect scheme to get them together. The question was…how?
He had a few plans, he just couldn’t decide on the right one. Now, he could ‘accidentally’ lock them in a room together. But that was sort of cliché and overdone in his opinion. He felt that such a simple plan was beneath him.
He didn’t like watching Oliver look longingly at Quinn and vise-versa. To Caiden it was simple; I love you, you love me, I tell you, you tell me, and, voi la, happy family. He didn’t see the need to drag it out.
By the time a month had passed, Caiden decided to attempt a more direct approach, he confronted Oliver.
Caiden and Oliver were grocery shopping. It wasn’t a chore that either man particularly enjoyed; rather they considered it a necessary evil if they wanted to eat. Caiden was pushing the cart whilst Oliver meandered along beside him, perusing the shelves for anything that looked particularly appetizing.
“Ol?” Caiden casually addressed his friend.
“Huh?” Came the slightly distracted reply.
“You need to ask Quinn out,” Caiden blurted. As Oliver looked at him, jaw scraping the floor, Caiden could hear Daniel’s voice in his head, ‘As subtle as a freight train in the living room.’
Oliver’s face flushed pink as he stammered, “I-I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Me ask Quinn out? Why would you even suggest it? Tha-that’s just ridiculous!”
Caiden stopped pushing the cart and turned to his best friend, “Look, I’m sorry I just sprung it on you like that, but I’ve seen the way you look at him.” Oliver’s blush deepened, but before he could open his mouth, Caiden continued, “And I’ve seen the way that *he* looks at *you*, too. You like him. He likes you. I’m really not seeing the problem here, except that neither one of you seems to notice the other one…notice, ya know?”
Oliver looked at him, hope glinting in his light green eyes, making them look like Chinese jade. “Do you really think he’s interested?”
“Remember last week when you helped me build those extra roosting boxes for the hens?” Oliver nodded. Caiden smirked, “You took off your shirt when you got hot, remember?” Again Oliver nodded. “Well,” Caiden leaned in conspiringly, “I noticed him watching you. He could hardly take his eyes off of you. I swear, if he’d drooled anymore I could’ve dug a pond and he would’ve filled it!”
“He did not,” Oliver said disbelievingly.
“Oh yes he did!” Caiden replied. “You can even ask Daniel. He saw it, too. He’ll tell you, and you know that he won’t lie to you. It goes against the Top Code, or whatever it is they have.”
Oliver just stood there, not sure what to say or what to think. It was almost too much to hope for. He was tired of being alone. He hated it. He envied what Caiden shared with Daniel, even the discipline aspect of it.
He, Daniel and Caiden had spent quite a bit of time discussing it after the first time Oliver had accidentally walked in on Caiden getting a spanking. He understood the fundamentals behind a discipline relationship. He’d even received minor discipline from Daniel when he and Caiden did something that Daniel called reckless or overly impulsive. Unlike Caiden, however, Oliver wasn’t spanked. Daniel said that it wasn’t his place to spank Oliver since they weren’t partners, but Oliver had been given lines to write, or spent weekends at Caiden and Daniel’s doing chores after being grounded. He’d even spent time with his nose firmly planted in a corner. But that was as far as Daniel was willing to go. He understood why, but still it made him feel…well…lonelier for a partner, a Top, of his own.
Oliver couldn’t help but feel hope blooming in his chest. He’d realized that he was falling for Quinn eight months ago; it was hard not to. Quinn was a walking, talking dream in Oliver’s opinion, all six feet, four inches of him. He loved the way his light blond hair looked almost like white gold in the sunlight, and how his gray-blue eyes would darken like storm clouds when he was upset or excited. He even liked the soft, slightly out-of-shape roundness of his stomach. Sure, he wasn’t some chiseled Greek god, some perfect male specimen, but to Oliver it didn’t matter. To Oliver, it was his imperfections that made him perfect. He was well matched to Oliver’s own 5’7 ½” frame and dark blond hair, at least in Oliver’s opinion.
“Daniel noticed, too?” he had to ask. He had to be sure.
Caiden rolled his eyes and said in exasperation, “Yes. Do you want me to call him and have him tell you himself?” Adding under his breath, “You’d think the word of his best friend would be good enough…”
“Okay, I believe you,” Oliver capitulated. “But what am I supposed to do about it?”
“Ask…him…out!” Caiden said slowly, as if to a small child.
“Says the one who tripped over his tongue when he met Daniel,” Oliver shot back.
“Shut up,” snapped Caiden. “We aren’t talking about me, we’re talking about you. I think you ought to do it. Just take a deep breath and *do* it.”
“I don’t know,” Oliver hedged. “Let me think about it, okay?”
“Fine, but don’t think too long. You’ll just end up creating a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place and never do anything.” Caiden gave Oliver a sly smile, “Or I just might have to do step in and do something about it myself.”
Oliver’s face paled in horror, “Don’t you dare! I mean it, Caiden! Don’t you dare!”
Caiden just gave an evil cackle, then smiled innocently, “Not to worry. I’d come up with a plan. It would probably be a bad plan, and would probably fail spectacularly, but it would still be a plan. Which is more than *you* have!”
Oliver looked entirely unamused.
“Oh! Look at the time,” Caiden said, looking at his watch. “We’d better hurry up. Daniel has this whole ‘artistic culture’ night planned out. He’s making me watch some musical movie called Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and some movie called Casablanca with some Boogie guy in it with him tonight.” He grimaced at the thought. “I’m not so sure if I’d consider old movies to be art, but Daniel says if he has to watch American Ninja Warrior and Mythbusters with me, then I have to watch his ‘classic’ films with him.”
“It’s Bogart, dumbass, Humphrey Bogart. He’s a famous old guy actor. Even *I* know that,” laughed Oliver.
“You know, you could be, like, the best friend in the world if you came over tonight and watched them with us,” Caiden said with a slight tinge of begging.
“You can’t be serious,” came the incredulous reply.
“Oh, come on, Ol! It’ll be great. Really. We’ll have snacks. We’ll have drinks. You can stay over in the guest room. It’ll be fun,” Caiden pleaded, adding under his breath, “You’d *have* to be drunk to watch this stuff…”
Oliver looked at his friend and sighed. He didn’t really relish the idea of an evening of old movies, but he supposed that it beat the heck out of the alternative, another lovely evening of wallowing in his own loneliness. Rolling his eyes, he smiled and agreed to “suffer through the trauma of Daniel’s movie night” with Caiden.
The rest of the shopping trip went smoothly…well, as smoothly as any shopping trip of Caiden’s and Oliver’s could go. But as they only ran over one man’s foot with their cart and only offended one elderly woman’s sensibilities by talking too loudly about certain noxious bodily functions, and managed to walk out with everything on their lists (plus a few extras), they considered it a successful trip.
Oliver dropped Caiden off at his house and proceeded to drive back to his apartment in the city. He wanted to grab a change of clothes and whatnot for the overnight movie fest. While he was looking forward to it, a small part of him dreaded it, too. He felt like a first class heel for being jealous of their relationship. It wasn’t that he wanted them to break up, not even close. He just wanted what they had. He wanted to have someone of his own. He wanted to stop feeling like the odd man out. Three wheels were fine for a tricycle, but completely wrong when it came to friends and lovers.
Oliver could feel the tears prickling behind his eyes. He slammed his fist into the steering wheel in frustration. Why did it have to be like this? Why did he have to be alone? Why did it have to get to him like this? He hated feeling like this.
His thoughts drifted to Quinn. Was Caiden right? Did Quinn like him? Or did he just feel sorry for him? What if Daniel talked about him to Quinn? What if he told Quinn how sad it was that Oliver was still alone? What if all Quinn felt was pity for the pathetic little friend of his best friend’s lover? What if he *did* tell Quinn that he liked him, and Quinn laughed at him…or worse, was disgusted that the wretched little friend mistook the pity that he felt for him as something else?
The more Oliver thought about it, the less he wanted to say anything at all to Quinn. During the drive home to get an overnight bag and back to Caiden’s, he’d managed to convince himself that he was being incredibly stupid and that saying anything to Quinn would be suicide.
Oliver was just coming out of the guest room after putting his overnight back away, when he heard a familiar, deep voice call out, “Hey, Daniel? Caiden? Where do you want me to put these drinks?”
Oliver froze. What was Quinn doing here? No one said anything about Quinn being here!
Daniel walked out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a small towel, “Hey, I didn’t know you were coming, too.”
“Really? That’s odd,” replied Quinn with a confused look on his face. “The way that Caiden talked, I thought it was your idea…something about movies, culture and male bonding over shared suffering. And what did you mean ‘too’?”
“It would seem that Caiden’s taken it upon himself to make this into some sort of mini movie party,” Daniel explained. “He’s apparently invited you and Oliver.”
“Ah,” was the only answer.
Oliver turned and walked quickly to the sliding door leading to the yard. ‘This had better not be that epically bad plan he mentioned,’ he growled internally.
He sought out his ever-so-helpful friend out at the chicken coop. Sure enough, there was Caiden, watering the chickens.
Oliver leaned against the nearby oak tree and glared at Caiden. “This wouldn’t be some pathetic attempt at matchmaking, would it?”
Caiden gave him his most wide-eyed, innocent look, “I have absolutely *no* idea what you’re talking about.”
“You invited me *and* Quinn over tonight,” snarked Oliver. “You don’t really expect me to believe that you just decided to invite Quinn on the spur of the moment, do you?”
“I’m wounded!” Caiden grabbed at his chest. “I can’t believe that you have so little faith in me, your best friend! I’m not planning anything, nothing at all. I just figured that the old cliché was perfect, ‘misery loves company’. If I had to suffer through tonight’s so-called entertainment, then I might as well drag others down with me. I’ve no other motives, none at all.”
Oliver didn’t look convinced. But he supposed that it had to beat sitting home alone indulging in self-pity. No one likes a downer, after all.
He pushed himself off the tree and sighed, “Fine. But if I find out you did this as some sort of pathetic scheme, I just may have to hate you forever.”
“Moi? Scheme? Nope, I’m just sharing the misery of an evening of culture and sophistication.”
“I’m hurt that you would even accuse me of such a sad little transparent plan,” Caiden sniffed. “Honestly, don’t you think that I could come up with something a hell of a lot better than that? I am, after all, the king of schemes, the master of manipulation, and the lord of obfuscation. Such petty plotting is far below my particular expertise. I could come up with a better strategy in my sleep! Honestly, grow up with a guy, live with a guy…dude, I was even there when you had your first wet dream, and this is the way I get treated? That’s wrong, man, that’s just wrong.” Caiden shook his head with a mock look of disappointment and dismay on his face.
“Geeze, Cai, relax! You’re such a friggin’ drama queen!”
Caiden just smirked at his friend and gestured toward the house, “Come on, dude. Let’s go see what the ‘cultured’ and ‘sophisticated’ men have to offer us poor little plebeians for our ‘artistic enlightenment.’”
Oliver snickered at that and turned to go back into the house, Caiden trotting up beside him.
Once the snacks were ready, they all settled into the living room and Daniel put in the first movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Daniel and Caiden snuggled on the loveseat whilst Oliver and Quinn took the sofa, Oliver stuffing himself into the corner, making himself appear as small as possible.
Caiden looked at his oldest and best friend and heaved a frustrated sigh into Daniel’s chest. Daniel looked down, “Something chewing at you?”
“No,” came the slightly sullen answer.
“Then pay attention. The movie’s about to start,” Daniel said, wrapping his arm more snuggly around Caiden’s shoulders.
With another exasperated glance at Oliver, Caiden looked back at the screen just as the beginning credits began to roll.
The first movie swept by, faster than either Caiden or Oliver thought it would. As it turned out, it wasn’t that bad of a movie; although Caiden did have to laugh uproariously at the choreographed dance/fight scene.
When asked by Daniel what he thought of the movie, Caiden answered, “It’s not something I’d choose, but it was pretty good. Ol, what’d you think?”
Oliver’s eyes snapped up to meet Caiden’s and Caiden could see that his friend wasn’t exactly thrilled about having his presence called to attention. “Well?” Caiden prompted.
“Well,” replied Oliver, “Firstly, I think that if someone had me named Frankincense, I’d be pretty pissed a lot, too.”
Caiden snorted at that and Daniel gave Oliver one of his ‘no gratuitous cursing’ Looks, although Oliver could see the smile trying to pull at his lips.
“Secondly, seems like women were pretty hard to come by if you had to fight for ‘em like that. They’d have been better off gay. Besides, some of those city boys weren’t too bad looking. So were the brothers, but it’s kinda hard to take a guy seriously as tough-guy-lumberjack type when he’s slow dancing with an axe,” Oliver delivered with a straight face.
The other three men just stared at him for a minute, until Caiden let out another indelicate snort of amusement. Suddenly all three men were laughing wildly.
As soon as the mirthful mood eased a bit, they all took a quick break bathroom/snack-fix break before Daniel started movie number two.
As the movie began, Caiden looked up at Daniel petulantly, “Black and white? Really?” Daniel’s only response was to give him a light swat to the hip and told him to shush.
The mood watching this movie was a little bit more sober than it was during the first movie, but there were still a few snickers from Oliver and Caiden at, what they considered, cheesy lines.
As the movie ended, Caiden leaped off the couch, threw himself to his knees in front of Daniel, grabbed his shirt front and pulled him toward him saying overly dramatically, “Of all the coffee joints, in all the towns, in all the world, you walked into mine. Kiss me, Daniel! Kiss me like it’s the last time!”
Daniel grabbed Caiden by the upper arms and drew him into a hard kiss.
Caiden laughed as they pulled out of the kiss. “I don’t know if I’ll ever like these movies as much as you do, but once in a while…maybe…they aren’t *too* bad,” he grudgingly admitted.
Oliver watched their interaction trying to push down his loneliness and envy. He glanced over at Quinn with a hint of longing in his eyes.
Caiden noticed the quick look and huffed in frustration, “Oh puh-leese! Just kiss him and get over with already, Ol!”
Oliver’s face blanched. He looked at Caiden and then Quinn in absolute horror. Then suddenly jumped up off of the sofa and ran out the back door, grabbing his car keys as he went.
“Caiden, could you, just once, try to engage the filter between your brain and your mouth!” Daniel said in complete exasperation.
“Daniel?” Quinn said, looking completely confounded by what was happening.
“Sorry. Caiden noticed that Oliver seems to have some feelings for you and took it upon himself to try and jump start a relationship between the two of you. A decision that he’ll soon be regretting.”
Now it was Caiden’s turn to go pale. “Go find your corner, Caiden. I’ll be in to ‘discuss’ things with you shortly.”
Caiden just stood there, wondering how things had gone so bad so quickly. Daniel simply turned him towards the door and sent him on his way with a rather firm swat to his hindquarters. Caiden squawked, but high tailed it to his corner.
“Daniel?” Quinn still looked completely baffled.
“Quinn, sit down, please? I think we need to talk,” Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and sat down. “Here’s the deal…Oliver likes you. He’s been interested for some time now. But he seemed reluctant to do anything about it. Honestly, I think he was worried that you wouldn’t like him and he didn’t think he could handle the rejection. He hasn’t had the easiest of times when it comes to relationships. He’s a great guy, but let’s face it, he’s a Brat, just like Caiden. None of the men he’s been with before have been Tops, so they didn’t really know how to handle him.” Daniel paused, wiping his hand over his face.
“You mean like you handle Caiden,” inquired Quinn.
“Exactly,” said Daniel. “In fact, I’ve disciplined him a number of times along with Caiden in the past for one crackpot scheme or another.”
“Did you ever spank him like you do Caiden?” Quinn wanted to know.
“No,” Daniel sighed. “I didn’t think it was right. Oliver isn’t my Brat. And I don’t want to foster false feelings in him. Since you aren’t in a discipline relationship, you don’t realize that there’s quite a bit of trust and love that goes with spanking. In some ways, it’s more intimate than sex. Caiden has to trust that I’m disciplining him out of love and trust that I know how far to take it without it becoming abusive. And I love him enough to know when he needs it and when it would do more harm than good. While sex can easily be a one off and purely physical, a discipline relationship is much deeper. It may not seem like it to most people, but Caiden and I *are* equals in this relationship, even if I do discipline him.”
Quinn looked at his hands thoughtfully, twining his fingers. “And you think that Oliver needs a relationship like that, too.”
Daniel nodded, “I do. I’ve seen his responses when I discipline him. He responds to it just like Caiden does. But like I said, it’s not something to jump into lightly. You need to be sure you can do it. And you need to be sure how you feel about Oliver, date him first, get to know him.” Daniel stopped suddenly and looked at Quinn. “Are you trying to say that you really *might* be interested?”
“Uh…yeah…I guess I am,” Quinn replied. Then he smirked at Daniel, “What’s with the surprised look? Come on, if Caiden knew Oliver was interested, you had to know that I was.”
Daniel grinned sheepishly, “Okay, you got me. I did know. Especially when you were ogling and drooling all over him through the windows.”
Now it was Quinn’s turn to sigh, “So what should I do now? You know Oliver better than I do.”
Daniel cocked his head thoughtfully and then said, “Go after him. He’s probably gone home. Go talk to him. Tell him how you feel.” Daniel then stood, “And while you’re doing that, I’m going to go have a ‘discussion’ with Caiden.”
Quinn got up and fetched his car keys. As he was leaving the house, he heard the low rumble of Daniel’s voice followed by Caiden’s, “Daaannnielll, it was an accident! It’s not like I did it on purpose!” Quinn just chuckled, he had a feeling that a certain Brat was *not* going to weasel out of that discussion.
Quinn spent the entire drive to Oliver’s apartment thinking about what he wanted to say to the young man. He knew that he was definitely developing some deep feelings for him. It was easy. While he was just as fun loving and witty as Caiden, he also had a quiet, pensive side that Quinn found enigmatic and adorable.
When he reached Oliver’s, he knocked on the door. He heard a thick voice say, “Whoever you are, I’m not interested, I don’t care, I’ve found God, I’m too poor, and it’s too friggin’ late to be bothering me anyway!”
“Oliver, it’s Quinn. Can I come in?”
There was only silence behind the door for a bit. But then he heard the rattle of a chain being removed. The door opened a mite, and there was Oliver…with suspiciously reddened eyes. “Can I help you with something?” he asked cautiously.
“I just want to talk. I really think we need to talk. Don’t you?”
Oliver just stared at him uncertainly for a minute, then he pulled the door open and said apprehensively, “Okay, you can come in. But if you’re just going to pat my back or ‘let me down easy,’ don’t waste your breath and my time.”
Quinn sighed, realizing that this wasn’t going to be easy, but he just knew that it would be worth it. “Can we sit down?” he asked.
Oliver eyed him warily, but gestured toward his battered, secondhand, but well-loved sofa. “Go ahead. You thirsty or anything?”
“No. I just want to talk,” Quinn told him.
They both sat. Oliver worried his bottom lip and stared at the floor while Quinn tried to formulate his thoughts. This was *not* a discussion that he wanted to go badly. “Oliver, look at me, please?” As he looked into Oliver’s light green eyes, he realized, for certain, that this was a pivotal moment in his life. This was someone that he could really let himself fall in love with. He couldn’t let himself mess this up.
“Oliver, I know that you’re embarrassed by what Caiden said,” he told him.
Oliver opened his mouth to respond, but Quinn cut him off before he could. “I just need you to know that you have nothing to feel embarrassed about.”
Oliver’s face crumpled in pain, “How can you *say* that? He just up and said…he told you that I…he…” Oliver’s voice broke off and he slumped back onto the sofa, his face turned away from Quinn.
“What? What did he tell me about you? Can it really be that bad?”
“Yes,” Oliver spit back. “Yes, it can! He wasn’t supposed to tell you! It wasn’t any of his damn business to tell you! But no, he just had to open his dumbass mouth and blast it to the friggin’ world!”
“Not the world, Oliver. Just Daniel and myself, and apparently Daniel already knew.” Oliver looked up at him, a shocked look on his face, he had still been unsure that Caiden had been completely honest about that. “That’s right, kid. It wasn’t such a huge secret after all. Seems the only two who weren’t in the loop were you and me.” He tapped Oliver on the end of the nose with his index finger and said, “And I really would rather not hear any more curses come out of that mouth. You’re far too intelligent to have to rely on those four letter words to express yourself.”
Oliver’s face darkened in a blush. He looked down and stammered out an apology.
“It’s okay. Just file it away for future reference, eh?” Quinn said with a grin.
Oliver looked up at him, a tentative smile lighting his features. “Does this mean that you aren’t angry, upset or disgusted by this…me liking you, I mean?”
“Look at me, look at my face. Do I look upset, angry or disgusted? Because I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m flattered.” He put his fingers under Oliver’s chin, keeping the younger man’s gaze on him as he continued, “To be honest, I feel basically the same about you. I think I have for a while now, I just didn’t realize it. You kind of snuck into my heart when I wasn’t looking. And I would really like it if we could explore this and see where it leads. If you want to, that is?”
He could see the hope building in Oliver’s eyes. “Are you sure? You’re not just saying this because you feel sorry for me or anything…are you?”
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? I’m interested, very interested. I wouldn’t be sitting here with you if I weren’t.”
Oliver cleared his throat. “Um…okay then. I think that sounds good.”
“I’m glad,” murmured Quinn. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against Oliver’s. He could feel Oliver’s body stiffen and then gradually relax as he wrapped his arms around the younger man and pulled him closer.
As they came apart when the need for air presented itself, Oliver looked up at him shyly, “So…what now?”
“Now? Now comes the fun part. Now we get to know each other…and probably kiss a lot, too.”
Oliver smiled, “I think I can handle that.” Then he paused, looking down at Quinn’s chest. “Um…what about…you know…like Caiden and Daniel…are you…” He broke off his thought uncertainly.
Quinn pulled him close again, encouraging Oliver to lay his head on his shoulder. “Why don’t we spend some time really getting to know each other first, and then see where that takes us, hmm? We have a whole lifetime to work out the rest of details.”
“Yeah,” Oliver agreed quietly. “That sounds like a plan I can live with.”
Quinn had to smile. It may have taken a while, but he finally realized that he’d hit the jackpot. He’d won the universal lottery. He’d begun the journey toward winning Oliver’s heart…and he was going to treasure it forever!