Now That You're Here


Chapter 37


Chris laughed at himself as he parked the SUV in the visitor parking area of Zander’s apartment building. It was only dinner with Zan, how could he be so nervous that he was actually shaking? He’d been fine the day before, anxious to spend some more time with Zan so they could work on fixing things. It wasn’t until their brief phone conversation earlier that morning that Chris started freaking out a bit. Shopping with Brian had helped some, but as the clock moved closer to six, he really began to sweat. After what had transpired between them on Thursday, Chris wasn’t even sure how he was supposed to greet the younger man. Was he allowed to kiss him hello now, the way he’d been doing for almost nine years? Or was he expected to smile and nod like he did with the cashiers at the supermarket? Shaking off those thoughts, he climbed out of the car and headed towards the building. He’d let Zander set the pace. He looked around, taking in his surroundings and noticed that the apartment building itself was rather nice; very neat and cozy. He took the elevator, yes it had an elevator, to the second floor and then quickly found apartment 2G. He took a deep breath and then knocked lightly on the door. In seconds he was staring at his favorite blond.

“Hey, come on in,” Zander said as he took Chris’s hand and led him inside. Once the door was closed, Zan leaned in and gave Chris a quick kiss. “Dinner’s in the crock-pot. It should be done in another half hour or so. I made stew.”

“I love your stew,” Chris replied with a smile. Zan kissed him. That helped to ease a lot of his nervousness.

“I know you do. That’s why I cooked it,” Zan laughed. “Would you like a glass of wine?”


“Follow me and then I’ll give you the two cent tour.”

Zan poured them each a glass of Merlot and then showed Chris the rest of the apartment. It definitely wasn’t as nice as their house, but it was a great little place and Zan was comfortable there. When the tour was over, they made their way back to the living room and took a seat at opposite ends of the couch.

“So, how was the store yesterday? Busy?”

“Oh my God,” Zan replied excitedly. “We were swamped from the time I opened at six until just before closing at nine. I stayed the whole time because I didn’t want to leave Stacy alone. I was supposed to be cooking for the boys, but instead they cooked for me and had dinner on the table when I got home. I felt bad, but they insisted that they didn’t mind.”

“That’s great.”

“Yeah, it is. We’ve been pretty busy today, too. I went in for a few hours this morning to help clean up some of the chaos from yesterday and it was a good thing I did. We usually don’t have double coverage until noon, but Stacy was swamped. I know that the economy isn’t that great right now, but apparently everyone is still reading,” Zan chuckled.

“That’s good to know. At least I know that if I ever finish my book, someone might buy it,” Chris teased.

“You’re still having trouble with it?” Zan asked with concern.

“Yeah, you know how it is. Way too much on my mind to sit down and concentrate. I’ll get there eventually.”

“I’m sorry, Chris. I feel like it’s kind of my fault,” Zan said softly. He reached out and laid his hand on Chris’s knee.

“God, Zan, it’s not your fault. If anything, it’s mine. I’m the one who screwed up and caused you to move out in the first place. As much as I hate it, I get that you need time to work things out. I’ve been trying to put myself in your place and I don’t know how I’d be handling it if the situation was reversed,” Chris replied honestly.

“I’m trying, Babe. I’m trying so hard to put it behind me, but it’s not easy. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and imagine you and him together. I don’t know what he looks like, so he’s faceless, but I know it’s him. It’s like I can see him touching you and holding you and it hurts so much to know that…I still don’t know why you did it. I can’t even think about being with someone else. I don’t have any desire to touch anyone but you. I wish I knew why it wasn’t the same for you.”

“It was…I swear, Zan, I never had any desire to be with anyone else either. I’m not exactly sure how this happened. I was just so scared. As much as I love you, and you know that I do, Brian’s my only blood family left. I kept thinking about how close I came to losing him, and honestly…I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had. And then I started thinking about our parents and how they said I’d end up alone and I thought that if something happened to Brian…” Chris stopped, his voice choked with emotion.


“No, let me say this. I don’t know if it’ll help you to hear it, but I have to say it. Zan, you are the sweetest and kindest person I know. I’ve known since day one that you’re way too good for me…”

“That’s not…”

“Hey, don’t interrupt me,” Chris insisted gently. “I know that you’re too good for me and that I’m lucky you ever even gave me the time of day. I guess deep down inside I’ve always been afraid that one day you’d realize this and move on. As the years went by, I became more secure in you and in us, but that thought was always just hanging out in the back of my mind. You, Brian, and now Justin are all I have. Thinking about losing Brian…I don’t know. It made me think about how if you ever came to your senses and left me….well, I’m sure Justin would be right beside you and then I’d be…alone. I know it doesn’t seem rational, but that’s what kept going through my head at the time.”

“But why didn’t you talk to me about it? Maybe I could’ve reassured you if I knew you were having doubts,” Zander said.

“I couldn’t tell you. What was I supposed to say? I’m afraid everyone’s going to leave me all alone. Yeah, that would’ve sounded nice and pathetic. Would’ve made you run even faster,” Chris laughed humorlessly. “If you hadn’t noticed my severe insecurities on your own, I wasn’t about to point them out to you.”

“So instead you slept with someone else?”

“I know it sounds bad…it is bad…but I wasn’t thinking of it like that. Look, Ryan made it clear that he was interested in me on the day we met, but I told him I was in a relationship and very much in love. He seemed to understand and that was that. We got to know each other when we were both in the office, but that was it. We’ve never gone out together, not even for lunch or a drink. When the accident happened, he heard about it through the paper and came to see me. It wasn’t like he forced himself on me, but I could tell he was still interested. I guess I was just so worried about being alone…it felt so good to have someone want me. I needed to feel like I was important to someone and he was right there to tell me that I was. He told me how smart I was and how hot I was…he said all the right things and I just…I can’t even explain it. It’s like I just put you and the boys into this little compartment in my brain away from everything else and didn’t even think about the consequences. In my mind, my life with you was completely separate from what I was doing with Ryan. Please believe me; I never set out to intentionally hurt you.”

“But you did hurt me,” Zan cried. He stood up and started pacing the small room, trying to find the right words to explain what he’d been feeling. “You know, I can still remember the first day I saw you. I was studying for finals and I hadn’t taken a break in two days. My roommate was getting so frustrated that he finally threatened to burn my books if I didn’t go out and have a drink with him. He said I needed to learn to let loose and have some fun. We walked into Jesse’s and I immediately saw you behind the bar talking to a group of girls that were there for a bachelorette party. You were the most beautiful man I’d ever seen and actually took my breath away.”

“I remember,” Chris said. “You walked up to the bar and smiled at me and I remember thinking, wow, I’ve got to know him. That smile of yours…it still makes my knees weak.”

“By the end of the night I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. It didn’t matter that I’d only known you for a few hours. I just knew that you were it for me and in all these years, I never doubted that.”

“Until now,” Chris sighed.

“No, not until now. Damn it, Chris, I still want to spend the rest of my life with you. I just don’t know if I can. When you told me what happened…the minute you said there’s this guy from the paper…I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. The pain of those words…it’s always with me. When I close my eyes, I can see that moment playing over and over again in my head. The moment when you destroyed my belief that what we had together was perfect.”

“Maybe that’s part of the problem,” Chris said softly. “You asked me why I didn’t talk to you about how I was feeling. Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to do anything to open your eyes to reality. Babe, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. As happy as we were, nothing is perfect. You seemed to have these expectations of what our relationship was and I was always so terrified of letting you down. Ryan didn’t have expectations. What he and I had was so simple because I could just be myself and not worry about letting him down.”

“So this is my fault?”

“No, of course not.” Chris jumped up and took Zander by the arms, forcing eye contact. “This is all my fault. I should’ve told you what I was feeling. I should’ve trusted you enough to share my doubts and insecurities. I’m just trying to explain what was going on in my head during all of this. I thought that being with Ryan in a simple, expectation free zone would be easy, but it wasn’t. Aside from the guilt of what I was doing to you, I realized that simple and expectation free meant there was no love. I don’t want that. I don’t want easy…I want expectations and complications and love…I want you.”

Zan looked deep into Chris’s eyes, noting the sincerity there and then pulled away. He walked over to the window and looked out over the large apartment complex. “I want you, too. I really do. I just don’t know how to trust you again. I don’t know how to watch you walk out the front door and know that you’ll be faithful to me. I don’t know how to believe that you’ll never do something like this again when you shouldn’t have done it in the first place. I can’t live the rest of my life surrounded by fear and doubts.”

“What can I do to make it easier for you? I won’t leave the house without you. If I have to run an errand and you’re not around, I’ll take one of the boys with me,” Chris offered.

“Babe, that’s not a solution. I don’t need to know where you are and what you’re doing every moment. I just need to know that I can trust you when I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing. Look, you’ve decided to get some counseling and I’ve agreed to go with you occasionally. Maybe that will help. Maybe an educated third party can offer suggestions on how we can fix this. For now, I think it’s best that we leave things as they are.”

“You here and me at the house with only the occasional phone call between us?”

“I don’t think it needs to be quite that severe anymore. I don’t necessarily need as much space as I did when I first found out. How about if we take things slow; phone calls, a meal now and then? Maybe even go see a movie?”

“You mean like dating?” Chris asked.

“Kind of. I mean, it wouldn’t be too terrible to date me again, would it?”

“Well, it’s not what I would call my first choice, but I’ll agree to anything that will give me a chance to see you and spend time with you. I’ll do anything to fix things so that you can move back home with me, where you belong.”

“Good…now that we’ve gotten that settled, I’d better get dinner on the table. You want to refill our glasses?”

“Right after I do this,” Chris replied as he pulled Zander to him and kissed him deeply. He was thrilled when Zan opened for him. Unfortunately the kiss ended way too soon, leaving Chris panting and needy.

“Now behave yourself and go fill our glasses. Consider this our first date, and I don’t put out on the first date,” Zander teased.

“You’re going to make me suffer for awhile, aren’t you?”

“My dear Chris, I get the feeling you’re going to become very accustomed to cold showers for awhile.”

“You’re an evil, evil man.”

“Yes I am,” Zan answered teasingly. “But you love me anyway.”

“Yeah, I do. With all my heart.” Chris dropped a quick kiss on Zander’s lips and then took the glasses into the kitchen. Zan could make him suffer all he wanted. As long as they were working on their relationship, Chris would happily take cold showers for the rest of his life.



Brian pulled back and looked into Justin’s eyes, trying to decide if he should be concerned or offended. “Is my tongue in your mouth bothering you?” They had been lying on Brian’s bed making out for the last half hour, but Brian could tell that Justin’s mind kept drifting elsewhere.

“Huh? Oh…no…God, I’m sorry, Brian,” Justin said as he struggled to sit up, causing Brian to do the same. “You know I love kissing you. I just can’t stop thinking about Chris and Zan.”

“Well, that’s what every guy likes to hear. That their boyfriend can’t stop thinking about other men during those intimate moments,” Brian replied sarcastically. “What a turn on.”

“You know it’s not like that,” Justin laughed, shoving Brian playfully. “I just hope that their evening goes well. Zander was really tight-lipped about it and Chris hasn’t stopped smiling since Thursday morning. I can’t help feeling that this night is really important for their future, you know?”

“I know,” Brian agreed. “Chris was so nervous earlier. It was great. I had so much fun teasing him and making him blush.”

“Jason and I swung by the apartment while you were out torturing Chris. Zan was actually washing the windows in an attempt to make sure everything was ready. They’re like kids, trying to impress one another. That’s so cute. I just hope it works.”

“I think they have a good chance of working things out,” Brian replied. “Especially after Thursday.”

“Because they were getting along so well? Yeah, it was nice seeing that.”

“I was talking more about the fact that I saw them fucking Thursday morning,” Brian chuckled.

“You what?” Justin exclaimed.

“Settle down, Blondie. I woke up early on Thursday and thought I’d go downstairs and see if Zan wanted my help. I heard noises coming from the living room and figured Chris was having another one of his nightmares. I walked in and there they were. Chris was sitting on the couch with Zan straddling his lap; their clothes were in a pile on the floor. I snuck back upstairs before they could see me and just curled back up with you. You think they could’ve at least gone down to their bedroom.” Brian shuddered at the thought.

“Oh wow…I mean, that’s a good sign, right? Originally Zander didn’t even want to see Chris. If they’re having…you know…s-e-x…then maybe things are working out,” Justin said as a smile broke out on his face. “This is awesome.”

“Jus, are you ever going to be able to mention sex without turning three different shades of red? You’ve had your mouth on my dick and God knows I’ve had mine on yours. When are you going to stop being so shy around me?” Brian asked; his voice was low and purposefully seductive. “When we’ve crossed the line and made love? When you know the feel of my touch from the inside?”

“Brian,” there was a tingling in the pit of his stomach. It only ever took a few hushed words from Brian to get Justin aroused.

“What, Jus? What do you want? Tell me and you can have it,” Brian teased as his gaze raked over Justin’s body before meeting his eyes once again. His hand slowly found its way to Justin’s growing bulge. “Do you want me to suck you off? Do you want me to wrap my lips around your cock and swallow you down? Ask me for it.”

“Bri,” Justin groaned as his cock became increasingly hard. He hated when Brian teased him about his shyness. He couldn’t help it. He grew up in a house where certain things, such as sex, weren’t discussed openly. Being with Brian and having a sexual relationship was still kind of new to him and it was taking him awhile to become comfortable talking about it. “Please?”

“Please what?” Brian quickly undid Justin’s jeans and reached inside, wrapping his hand around Justin’s cock. “Go ahead.”

“Please…please put your mouth on me,” Justin finally whispered as he felt Brian’s hand wrap around him. “God please.”

It only took moments before Brain was able to get Justin undressed and flat on his back. There was no more talking from either of them as they spent the next hour concentrating on pleasing each other.



Jason shivered as Zac ran his hand up and down his torso. They had decided to stay downstairs to watch a movie while Brian and Justin went upstairs to be alone, so they were lying chest to back on the couch with Jason wrapped up in Zac’s arms.

“I hate that you have to leave tomorrow,” Zac said as he continued to rub Jason’s chest and stomach. “It feels like you just got here.”

“I know, but it won’t be for long. I’ll be back in exactly thirty days and I’ll be here for a week that time,” Jason reminded him.

“Yeah, and then you’ll be gone until when? Spring break? If that? I know it probably sounds like I’m whining…”

“Yeah, a little bit,” Jason teased.

“I just hate this. We talk on the phone every night and I hate that I can’t see you,” Zac pouted.

“Would you rather not talk on the phone every night?”

“No, of course not,” Zac assured him, hugging him tight. “Talking on the phone is better than nothing. It’s just that before, all I had to go by was that one night, you know? And that alone was enough to make me want you. Now we’ve spent all this time together and all it’s made me do is want you more. Is that ridiculous? Am I freaking you out? Being too pushy? Shit, I think I’ll just shut up now.”

Jason felt a warm glow flow through him. “Relax, Zac, you’re not freaking me out. I feel the same way. I’m going to try flying back out for President’s weekend in February and then I’ll be here for a week in April. I can’t really afford to take any more time off unless I can swing a day here and there. I missed a week of school after the accident so I need to watch my days absent. Not to mention that I’m spending a fortune in plane tickets. My savings account is almost depleted.”

“I can always help you with money if you need it.”

“Thanks, but I don’t want to take your money,” Jason told him. “I wouldn’t object to you flying to Pittsburgh to see me, though. Maybe you can take a couple days off in March and come for a visit?”

“Is it still…like…really cold and snowy there in March? Cause I don’t really do cold. ”

“Oh stop it,” Jason laughed. “Would you consider coming to me?”

“What about your parents? I know you’re planning on telling them about yourself soon. Are they going to know about me? And would they want me there?”

“I’m going to tell them next weekend, and of course they’ll know about you. As far as they know, I’m straight. I’ve been dating girls on and off for the last couple of years. They’re going to want to know that I’ve given this a lot of thought. Thanks to you, I’m sure of who I am. Once I explain everything to them, they’ll be okay with it. My parents are two of the most gay-friendly people on the planet. If anything, they’ll probably be upset that I didn’t go to them as soon as I realized that I was attracted to men,” Jason replied with confidence. “Besides, it’s not like they won’t know you. They’ll be here in December. You can meet them then.”

“They’ll be here in December? Why?” Zac asked uneasily.

“They’re flying out to check out Arizona State and they want to see Justin while they’re here. They’re only staying for a couple days. I’m taking it by the look of sheer panic on your face that you don’t want to meet them?”

“Um…I don’t know. Are they going to hate me for turning their sweet little boy queer?”

Jason sat up and turned so that he was face to face with Zac. “Oh knock it off. You didn’t turn me queer, you goofball. Seriously, you don’t want to meet my parents? I mean, it’s not like it’s a ‘meet the parents’ kind of thing. They live so far away and they’re going to be here meeting Brian, Chris, and Zander. Wouldn’t it be easier to meet them in a group?”

Zac eyed Jason suspiciously. “You’re not going to let me say no, are you?”

“Well, I certainly can’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do. It’s your call. I just kind of thought that you’d be anxious to see me next month and if my parents are around for the first couple days of my trip, it’ll shorten our time together,” Jason pointed out.

“Oh wow, you don’t play fair at all,” Zac feigned shock. “Alright, you win. I’ll meet Mom and Dad Meyers next month…assuming that they don’t freak out when they find out that you’re batting for both teams.”

“It’ll all be fine, I promise,” Jason said just before leaning in for a quick kiss.

“From your mouth to God’s ears. Now come here and kiss me again.”

All talk of meeting the parents was over. Instead they focused on spending the rest of their night together devouring each other and wishing they could stop time.



Chris was lingering in the open doorway wishing that he wasn’t leaving. He promised Zan that they could take things slow and just date for awhile, but after making out on the couch like a couple of kids for the last hour, the last thing he wanted to do was take it slow. He had his hand on Zan’s waist and kept pulling him in for another kiss, making it hard for them to say goodbye.

Zan pulled away with a chuckle. “Would you behave yourself? I think my lips are bruised.”

“They look fine to me,” Chris growled. “Better than fine.” Chris took Zan’s mouth again, swallowing the younger man’s protests.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Zan said after breaking free once again. “It’s really time for you to go now. I’m exhausted and need to go to bed.” He was struggling with himself. All he wanted to do was grab Chris by the hand and drag him down to the bedroom. It was killing him to be standing in the doorway saying goodbye, but he had to do it. He needed to be the strong one because it was obvious that Chris wasn’t going to be.

“Alright, alright, I’m going,” Chris replied then stole another kiss. “I just want to go on record saying that I hate this.”

“I hate it, too. I really do, but…”

“But it’s for the best. I know,” Chris sighed in frustration. “Call me tomorrow?”

“I will,” Zander promised. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Blondie. Sleep well, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Zander stood in the doorway and watched Chris until the elevator snatched him up and he disappeared. Then he went back inside his apartment and shut the door, making sure to lock it behind him. They had cleaned up after dinner so the only thing left to do was take care of the wine glasses. He washed them quickly and left them to dry, then went down to the bedroom. He brushed his teeth and stripped down to his boxer briefs before climbing into bed. Once the lights were out and he was comfortable under the covers, he rolled over and did the same thing he’d been doing almost since he moved out of the house. He cried himself to sleep wishing that he was lying in Chris’s arms.

End of part 37

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