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Where He Ends and I Begin
by Cardeno C.

Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Jake Owens, aggressive, physical, blunt and brave, is a football hero turned city cop. Nate Richardson, his best friend since before forever, is thoughtful, quiet, and kind, a brilliant doctor who has always known who he is and that Jake is the love of his life--and loyal, courageous, straight Jake has never had a clue. But Jake has been nursing his own case of the unrequiteds, and he's never been as straight as Nate assumes. Nate may think their passionate explosion is a fluke, a result of too much closeness for too long, but Jake is bound and determined to prove to him otherwise. For Jake, the question isn't how they ended up in bed together... it's how can he convince Nate that he wants and needs to stay there.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011


42 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [326 KB]
Words: 80733
Reading time: 230-322 min.

Chapter One


I looked over at the body next to me--long legs, flat stomach, smooth chest--and closed my eyes, wondering how the fuck I got here. Not literally, of course, because "here" is the bed in my hotel room. I know damn well how I got here. But "here" as in how did I get to a place where I want--no, where I need to touch another man; to feel that stomach, that chest under my fingers and those long legs wrapped around me. And not just any man--Nate. My best friend since the day I was born. And that I mean literally.

* * * *

Our mothers had grown up together in a small Southern town. Next door to each other, in fact. My mom was the fifth child in her family--four older brothers. Nate's mom was third in a family of eight, also the only girl. Both wanting to get away from all that testosterone, they'd been inseparable since childhood. Same classes, same Girl Scout troop, same church group. Same everything. So it was no surprise that, when my mom got engaged to her high school sweetheart, Nate's mom followed a month later. They had their weddings two weeks apart, the summer after graduation, bought houses next door to each other in that same town, and then decided together a few years later that it was time to start a family. They announced it to their husbands only after they came to the agreement with each other. And yes, I mean "a family." That's how we grew up--like we were one family.

Luckily, my father was very easygoing and Nate's dad? Well, he just wanted to please his wife. Besides, they each knew what they were getting into when they started dating our moms. It was a package deal. You couldn't have one without the other. So it was no surprise to anyone that as soon as Nate's mom went into labor, my mom's contractions started. Several hours later, Nate and I were lying side by side in one hospital bassinet, right in between the two hospital beds occupied respectively by each of our mothers.

The doctor told Nate's mom that something had happened during her labor, fuck if I know what, but the bottom line was she couldn't have more kids. So that was it for my mom too. When I asked her if she ever regretted not having more children because her best friend couldn't, or if she ever wished she had a bigger family, she laughed and said we were a family of six (including Nate and his parents) and she didn't want a family any bigger than that.

So you see: Nate and I were destined to be best friends. I don't even think I had a choice in the matter. Not that I minded, of course. How could anyone mind being friends with Nate? He was always so fucking likable. As long as I can remember, Nate's had nothing but kind words for everyone around him. He's one of those people that everyone is drawn to. And when he's talking to you, you always feel like you're the only person in the room, like you have all of his attention. Well, almost always, that is. When I happen to be in that same room, you have to fucking share Nate's attention with me. Tough shit, I had him first.

Anyway, he always seems to know when I walk into a room. Even if I'm not saying anything and his back is turned. He somehow knows and he stops whatever he's doing (coloring with crayons when we were in preschool, learning how to write his letters in kindergarten, standing at the front of the room in the ninth grade writing the answer to a calculus problem), turns around, flashes me that Nate smile, and then gets back to work.

Of course, that road goes both ways. I can always sense when he's walking into a room too. It's almost like things are empty until that moment and then suddenly they aren't. Suddenly, things seem right. That's when I look up from whatever I'm doing (breaking some fucking toy when we were in preschool, learning how to spell "fuck" when we were in kindergarten, fucking some cheerleader in the corner of a basement full of drunken teenagers when we were in the ninth grade), and I see him walking into the room and, of course, flashing me that Nate smile. That might seem weird, I guess, but no one thought anything of it in our town. Not even that cheerleader when I stopped mid-pump to turn around, catch his eye, and return his smile, before I could focus on her again and finish the deed. After all, we were our mothers' children and everyone knew they were inseparable. Besides, that's just the way it'd always been between us, since the day we were born.

Other than that deep connection, the connection that I can't even put into words, we've always been completely different. And I mean completely fucking different. Where Nate is fair, with blond hair and piercing blue eyes, I have an olive complexion, black hair, and green eyes. He's always been very slender, a swimmer's build, whereas I'm more muscular, big biceps, six-pack even when I'm not in the middle of a sports season. So even though we're about the same height (his 6' 1" to my 6' 4"), I outweigh him by a good fifty pounds.

But the differences aren't only in our appearance. Like I said, Nate has always been mister kind, mister nice to everyone. I swear he actually rescued a kitten from a tree branch once. A fucking kitten from a tree branch. I'm not all that nice. In fact, I can be a real prick. I have a violent temper and sometimes I just want to hit something or someone, feel the adrenaline running though my body.

After I got into a few fights in high school, some people in our town started thinking that I was a little crazy--fuck, maybe they thought that I was a lot crazy. The thing is: I didn't care. I've never given a fuck about what most people think, and unless someone is a good friend, and really that's just Nate, I really don't think about them at all. I've always been too busy with practice (in high school it was football in the fall, basketball in the winter, then baseball in the spring), trying to get into some girl's pants, and, of course, hanging out with Nate. The rest of it, well, it just never mattered to me.

The other thing about Nate is that he's a fucking genius. Seriously, even as a kid he was scary smart. Our small town never had anyone like him go through that school. They didn't know what do with him, how to teach him. Shit, that's why he was always at that front of that room, doing calculus problems on the board--even the teachers couldn't figure that shit out, but to Nate, it all just made sense somehow. He once told me he could see the numbers and how they worked together in his head. I never understood what the fuck that meant. I'm surprised they didn't graduate him early, especially when he took the SATs during our sophomore year and got a perfect score. He didn't miss one fucking question. That's how he got offered a full ride to so many colleges.

Now I'm not stupid but I'm no Nate, not even close. Thankfully, I'm not too bad at sports and my rough side turns into an asset on the football field, so I, too, had my choice of a few schools. Senior year, Nate and I looked over our lists of schools, found the ones that matched, and picked a school with a good football team and a great science program. That's how we ended up moving to New York when we were eighteen.

* * * *

I started thinking back to that first day in New York, ten years ago, but I snapped back to the present when Nate sighed and moved a little. It was enough, though. Enough to move the sheet over his leg, enough to have the moonlight shine across his waist, his hips, his cock. It's perfect--pink, smooth, long, and thick when it's hard. Until last night, I had never seen it hard.

All those years of friendship, all those nights sleeping over at each other's house, in each other's bed. Somehow, I had never seen it hard and I sure as hell never thought it would happen like it did last night. Last night--fuck! We've always been almost like one person. I've never known where he ends and where I begin. But that was never more true than last night, when I licked him, sucked him, heard him moan.

My entire body shuddered with that memory when I looked over at Nate. I worried the movement would wake him, but he was still breathing heavily, fast asleep. I closed my eyes, draped my arm over them, and thought about last night. His slender, almost concave stomach, his smooth chest, both of them heaving as I ran my hand up and felt his skin. I had to run it up because I was on my knees in front of him, opening the buttons on his jeans, pulling them down to his ankles. I could see his excitement as he bulged to get free from his boxer briefs, and I was more than willing to help. First though, I let my face rub over the bulge. Let myself feel him through that fabric that was becoming more and more wet by the minute from his leaking dick. I wanted to taste it. To taste him.

My hands were shaking with anticipation, with lust for him, as I slowly pulled the briefs down and saw him in the flesh. God, I wanted him so much that I couldn't stop shaking, and then it wasn't just my hands. My whole body was trembling with anticipation, need, and desire. I tried to calm down. I looked down toward the ground, closed my eyes, hoping I could regulate my breathing, but he was so close to me. I could smell him; I could feel his heat against my face. Fuck calming down!

I opened my eyes, took his cock into my mouth, and swallowed him down to the root. I don't know how I did that; it was the first time I'd ever touched another man's cock, let alone sucked a man off. But it was Nate, my Nate. My desire to consume him was so desperate, my need to have him be a part of me physically so overwhelming that I think any gag reflex I might have had just shut down, went to hide, knew it had no fucking place in my throat. Not when Nate was there. I moved my head up and down, let my tongue twirl around his skin, and then he moaned.

I hadn't ever heard him make that sound, hadn't ever seen him experience that kind of pleasure until that moment, and realizing I had evoked his reaction was almost too much. I almost came right there. I took a moment to calm myself down again--thinking, I am twenty-eight fucking years old and that is way too old to be losing my load in my pants.

I pushed the orgasm back down and kept going. I took just the head of his cock into my mouth and sucked hard. Again he moaned and he put his hand on my head, combed his fingers through my hair, and started crying out my name, over and over again as his hips bucked forward and he pushed himself into me. Slowly at first, then more quickly, still moaning my name, pulling my hair toward him until he was completely buried in my mouth, and then he released.

I could feel his warm liquid in the back of my throat and I swallowed furiously. I didn't want to spill a drop. This was part of Nate in me and I was going to keep all of it. When he stopped pumping into my mouth, I looked up at him with my lips still wrapped around his cock. I didn't want to move. I wanted to keep him in me forever. But then his knees buckled, his eyes closed, and he crumpled to the floor.

I caught him in my arms and at first I was petrified, but his breathing was regular. I guess he'd had more to drink than I realized, and that, combined with the orgasm, just knocked him out. I carried him to the bed. Then I sat and watched him sleep, made sure his breathing remained even and he was okay.

After I was certain he was just tired and sleeping it off, I noticed the wetness in my pants. Fuck, I came just from sucking him off. Hopelessly pathetic, I know, but then, he's Nate, my Nate. No one else does it for me like him. No one else ever has, no one else ever will. I just hope, when he wakes up, he'll forgive me for sucking him off while he was so drunk. I just hope he'll understand. Fuck, what a mess.

* * * *

Chapter Two


I leaned my head back in my seat and listened to the plane's engine rumble as it started to drive down the runway and prepare for takeoff. A week away from the lab, lying on the beach, relaxing, and having a good time. That's what Jake told me as he packed my bags, explaining that he had already cleared it with my boss and that it was ridiculous that I hadn't taken a vacation in a year, especially after all those fourteen-hour days in the lab. And even though I knew there was way too much work for me to just take off for a week, I couldn't say no to Jake. No one could ever say no to Jake. He's a force, an incredible, powerful force. I made it through middle school and high school intact solely because of the force that is Jake Owens.

* * * *

I was short and skinny then. Didn't have my biggest growth spurt until I was seventeen--late bloomer, I guess. So I was one of the smaller guys in the class all those years we lived in our small town. I also spent most of my time with my nose in a book or writing formulas, trying to understand the mysteries of science. And if that nerdy picture I'm drawing for you isn't enough to get most guys a few good ass-kickings in high school, the fact that I came out in the eighth grade sure as hell would have.

When I came out, Jake was the first person I told. Seemed only fair, seeing as how he was the reason I knew I was gay--not that I told him that, of course. When puberty hit and the other guys started talking about girls, all I could think about was Jake. They'd look at pictures in magazines of this actress, that singer, and talk about how hot they looked, how they wanted to fuck them, and I could only see Jake. When I'd sit alone in my bed at night, he occupied all my fantasies. Even when I tried to think of someone else, anyone else, when I masturbated, my mind always came back to Jake before I could get off.

So that's how I realized I was gay. The realization terrified me. I didn't know what to do. So, of course, I had to talk to Jake. I knew it would only be real after I said it out loud to him and I knew I could only figure out what to do by talking with him. Math, science, things I found in books, those things I could do on my own, understand all by myself. But life, people, my own fucking feelings, those things required my whole person, and I wasn't whole without him.

I'd been trying to get the nerve up to tell him all night. We were out with a bunch of kids from school. Everyone was drinking, hooking up. Jake was on the couch with some girl--hard to remember which one because he spent time on some couch or some bed or some corner with every cute girl at our school, and the neighboring schools, at some point or another before we moved away. Anyway, she was laughing at everything he said, twirling her fingers through her hair, basically working straight off the "I want you to fuck me right now" playbook, and then Jake looked up at me sitting across the room and told her that he had to take off. She was stunned, but he just got up, adjusted his obvious boner (guess that flirting was working), walked over to me, squatted down so that we were eye to eye, and said, "Let's get out of here. You look like you need to talk."

I was quiet as we walked home, trying to find the words, trying to gather the courage. We were spending the night at my house that night--we did that every weekend, either slept at my house or his. We had been doing that as long as I could remember, so it really didn't seem weird when we walked into my room and he immediately started taking off his clothes. Of course, I chose the moment that he had his underwear down and was standing fully naked in front of me, rummaging through the drawer where he kept some clothes, looking for sweats or pajamas, to blurt out, "Jake, I think I'm gay."

Now, you announce that to almost any other thirteen-year-old boy in a small Southern town and you're likely to get a beat-down. Make that double when the guy you're announcing it to is nude and standing in your bedroom. Not Jake, though. He just stopped rummaging through the drawer, walked over, and sat down next to me on the bed, wearing nothing but a smile.

"Gay? Cool. Hey, do you have any sweats or something that'll fit me? I think I wore my last clean pajamas last time I was here and it's too fucking cold to sleep naked."

And just like that, all my fears went away. Jake didn't mind, didn't seem to think anything was wrong with me, so I decided that nothing was wrong with me.

The next day I told my parents (of course by "my parents" I mean both sets--Jake's and mine). They were surprised but not too upset, except for their fear that I'd have a hard time at school. Our moms started telling me that maybe I should just keep it to myself. Jake had been sitting on the couch next to me while I was telling our parents, but he was reading a magazine and I didn't think he was listening until that moment.

He put down his magazine, looked up at our parents, and said, "No one will hurt Nate, no one will tease him. He outshines every kid at that school and he has no reason to be ashamed of who he is because he is fucking incredible." Then he picked his magazine back up and kept reading. That was it.

At school, I stopped pretending I was interested in girls. It didn't take long before everyone knew I was gay, and I didn't deny it, but like Jake promised, they never hurt me, never even teased me. Not once. That's because of Jake. He was the most popular kid in school, best athlete, best-looking, and he had a mean left hook--even then. People knew better than to mess with him, and I was his best friend, so I was safe by association.

* * * *

The plane landed with a bit of a shake, waking me up.

"We're here, sleepyhead. Get ready for a fan-fucking-tastic week."

That deep voice poured over me as his hand gently patted my thigh.

"Wake up, Nathaniel."

I was already awake but I didn't want to let him know. I hoped that he'd keep his hand on my thigh a bit longer. Eventually, I looked up and saw him smile.

"I'll get our bags. You look beat."

And he did--he took both suitcases and walked us through the crowd, always making sure I was still beside him. Then he hailed us a cab and opened my door for me before putting the suitcases in the trunk.

"I saw online that there's a great sushi place right by our hotel. I thought we'd check it out tonight. I mean, if you're up to it. Shit, Nate, you look so tired."

Now you tell me, how can I not love him? I mean, the guy doesn't even like fish, for fuck's sake, but he is looking up sushi restaurants because it's my favorite. He holds my door open, carries my luggage, feels genuine concern over my well-being. Is it any surprise that, at twenty-eight years old, I've never been able to maintain a relationship for longer than a few weeks?

No one can hold a candle to Jake and it doesn't take long for them to realize that. And I could never pretend otherwise. I would always rather be with him, sitting on the couch watching a movie, than out at some bar getting a blow job in a back room. Even when I was getting those blow jobs, I'd always close my eyes and see his face. That's still the only way I can finally get off. And when that's done, I want to go home, always hoping he's still up so we can talk about our day.

I think most gay guys at some point or another have a thing for some straight guy, a hopeless crush that eventually ends in heartbreak or at least extreme frustration. Now imagine if that straight-guy crush had been going on as long as you could remember. Imagine if that was the only man you'd ever loved, ever cared about, ever really wanted.

It was hopeless. I always knew that. Jake likes girls. He'd slept with enough of them to fill one of those football stadiums he played in all through college. Well, slept isn't the right word. He'd fuck them, then always come back to our apartment to sleep afterward. The point is, though, Jake likes girls and I have a dick. So the situation is, was, and always would be hopeless.

I always knew that and I'd resigned myself to it. I had decided long ago that I could live my life with him as my best friend. That it was enough somehow. I'm not sure what changed in that cab as we pulled away from the airport, but something did. Something in me snapped and I was mad as hell.

He could tell something was up all through dinner at the sushi restaurant. If my foul mood and dirty looks weren't enough, the fact that I was drinking more sake than I was eating sushi surely tipped him off.

"Hey man, slow down on that liquor a bit, okay? I don't want you to get sick."

He was speaking softly, looking across the table with concern in his eyes. I almost felt guilty, until he reached over and stroked my arm.

"Talk to me, Nate. What's wrong?"

My skin felt like it was on fire. It always felt that way when he touched me. His fingers on my arm turned me on in a way that nothing else ever had, and I mean nothing--not even a tight ass wrapped around my cock. Nothing.

"Don't fucking touch me, Jake!" I pulled my arm away and stood up too quickly, knocking the chair down. "Don't you ever fucking touch me again!"

I stormed out of the restaurant and back up to our hotel room, slammed the door to the room behind me, kicked my shoes off against the wall, and marched to the closet. He'd unpacked all of our clothes when we'd gotten to the room, giving me time to rest. As I flipped my suitcase open and started ripping my clothes from the hangers, his kindness just pissed me off more.

It was just like him--always taking care of me, always protecting me. He loved me, I knew that, but not like I needed him to love me. He loved me just enough to keep me from ever being able to love anyone else. I was stuffing the last of my things into the suitcase when I heard him come in and sit down on the bed behind me.

"What did I do, Nate? I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. What did I do?"

His voice was so soft, almost trembling. I had never heard him sound so vulnerable, but I was too tired, too mad, too drunk to calm down.

I turned to him with rage in my eyes and yelled, "I'll always be alone because of you!"

Pain and confusion crossed his face.

"You're not alone, Nate. I'm here. I'll always be here with you. You know that. I'll never leave you."

I was sobbing by then.

"Yes, you're here, you've always been here, but it's not enough, Jake. I need more."

And I knew it was true. I did need more. I needed a complete relationship. I needed someone to hold me and touch me and love me. And I needed to love that someone back. The problem was... I couldn't love anyone but him.

"More? What do you mean, Nate? I'll give you anything you need, buddy. Please, just talk to me."

If I had been sober and calm, I probably would've explained it to him. I would've said that I was in love with him, that I'd always been in love with him. But I wasn't sober and I sure as hell wasn't calm, so instead I just said, "I need a blow job, Jake. Still think you can give me anything I need?"

I started to turn back toward my suitcase when he got up from the bed and dropped to his knees in front of me. It was such a shock that, at first, I couldn't process what he was doing, but then I felt his hand reach under my shirt and rub across my stomach and chest, leaving a trail of heat so powerful I started to sweat.

I ripped off my shirt to cool down, then realized he must have been using his other hand to unbutton my jeans because they were down on the floor. I gasped as I felt his hand caress my cock through my briefs, and then I felt his face rub across me before he pulled my briefs to the floor. My naked cock grazed his face and I almost exploded, but then he stopped.

I saw him lower his head and close his eyes and I thought, "He can't do it. I disgust him. What the fuck was I thinking?"

Then he opened his eyes, looked up at me, and swallowed my cock whole. All my senses came alive. It was like I could feel his tongue and his mouth all over my body. I moaned, and he stopped moving.

I realized then, at some level, that he couldn't be enjoying it. He was just doing what he'd always done--he was taking care of me. I should've stopped him. I should've told him a blow job was way beyond the bounds of any friendship, even ours. But I couldn't. I needed him so desperately, and the thought that he'd stop was more than I could handle. So when he kept licking, kept sucking, I decided to accept his token of friendship.

Knowing I'd never get the chance again, I let go completely and lost myself in the feelings. I stroked his hair and pulled him toward me as I pushed into his mouth. I remember hearing moans and then realizing they were mine.

"Jake, Jake, oh God, Jake."

I came hard. It was the most powerful orgasm I'd ever had and I felt myself falling into the warm, safe, darkness.

* * * *

Chapter Three


I woke up and looked around, trying to remember where I was and why I had that dull, thumping feeling in my head. I rubbed my eyes and it hit me like a slap in the face. I'd been so mean, so childish, so damn selfish. Oh my God, what did I make him do? How could I have pushed him to suck me off when all he was trying to do was talk to me, help me, be my friend?

I got up, surprised my head didn't hurt more than just the faint throbbing I was feeling. Looking around the room, I noticed that the clothes I had worn the previous night were no longer in a crumpled pile on the floor. My suitcase wasn't on the other bed anymore either, and all the clothes I'd stuffed into it during my rage were back neatly on the hangers in the closet. For a moment, I wondered whether none of it'd actually happened or if it was all just a nightmare. But I wasn't that drunk and I knew the previous night wasn't a nightmare, or should I say dream? Well, whatever it was, I knew it'd happened.

I got into the shower. The warm water felt good running over my head and body, and I rubbed the soap all over, pausing a little over the scar on my stomach from the accident.

* * * *

The time after that accident was the worst time of our lives. Neither of us was hurt too badly, physically. Jake mostly had bumps and bruises, and I was fine once they stitched me up and gave me some blood.

Jake's parents weren't so lucky though. They both died on impact. I was sad, of course. It was almost like losing my own parents. But mostly, I was worried for Jake.

He didn't sleep well for a long time after that. I would hear him crying out during the night, so I'd run into his room and see him flipping around on the bed, trapped in some nightmare. Then I'd crawl into bed next to him, wrap my arms around him, and whisper in his ear.

"It's okay, Jake. I'm here. It's all going to be okay."

He'd calm down after that, press his head into my chest, and sleep peacefully. Neither of us said anything after those nights when we'd wake up in bed together, holding each other. We just got up, got ready for school, and went about our days.

I had a hard time concentrating, though, after spending all night pressed against him. It all just made me want him even more, and then I'd be angry at myself for getting off on his pain. That's what it was, after all. He was in pain and needed a friend after losing his parents, and I couldn't take care of him without sporting a painful boner the entire time. The whole thing put me on edge.

I tried asking him about the nightmares and about the accident--I was unconscious from the moment the truck hit us until after my surgery, so I don't remember any of it--but he looked uncomfortable and said he'd rather not talk about it. I didn't want to press him, so I let it go. After all, what was there to say? A truck driver fell asleep, hit our car, and killed his parents on impact. Anyone would have nightmares after that.

* * * *

I shut off the water and dried off. I'd just finished getting dressed and was starting to wonder where Jake had gone when the door opened and he walked in, holding a paper bag and a huge cup of coffee. He set the bag and the coffee on the table, tossed me a bottle of aspirin, and said, "You don't look so bad, considering how much you had to drink last night. Still, I thought a couple of aspirin, a cup of coffee, and some food in your stomach would help."

I looked into his eyes and tried to read his emotions. He seemed nervous, guilty. Well, I guess that's what happens when you force a straight guy to suck your cock.

"Look, Jake, about last night...."

I was going to apologize, blame it all on the alcohol and the long nights in the lab over the past few weeks. I wasn't ready to tell him the truth: that my feelings for him had somehow grown to the point where I could no longer focus on anything but him. That my desperation for him was so all-consuming I couldn't function without some physical release, some way to let my body express what my heart felt. But he cut me off.

"I'm so sorry, Nate. Really, I feel like shit about it. Let me just grab a shower and then we can talk. I feel disgusting and I just need to get cleaned up."

He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. His words sliced through me. Disgusting. I made him feel disgusting. I felt tears stinging my eyes.

* * * *


I must've fallen asleep for a few hours, because when I opened my eyes, the sun had started to stream in through the sheer balcony curtains. Nate was lying next to me, still asleep and still naked.

I remembered how good his skin had felt the previous night when I touched him and I wanted desperately to reach out and run my fingers over his chest again, but I didn't want to wake him. Instead, I got up, picked up his clothes, lying in a pile by the closet, and unpacked his suitcase. I hoped, when he woke up, we'd talk and make up. Then I threw on some clothes and quietly left the room.

The morning air was still cool and there was a light breeze that felt good across my face. I remembered seeing a coffee shop not too far from the hotel as we were driving in, so I figured I'd go there to get us some breakfast and coffee. Lots of coffee. I'd always tried to take it easy on the stuff, because it's not really good for athletic performance and I'd spent so much of my life on a football field, but Nate was a caffeine addict. I actually considered having an intervention when he seemed to be living off of the stuff, but settled for a vacation, thinking he just needed to get away from the lab and relax.

He'd been wound so tight. He was so edgy. I'd never seen him like that. Not even after our parents died. Well, technically they were my parents, but then, we'd always been one family.

* * * *

It was the summer after our sophomore year in college, and we both came home to visit for a few weeks. Nate's dad had had a business dinner one night and his mom went with him. My parents thought it would be fun to take us to a new restaurant that'd opened in the next town over. It was pretty rural where we grew up, so a new restaurant in the next town was kind of a big thing.

We had a great night, laughing and catching up. Nate and I told my folks all about school, New York, our apartment, everything. We finished eating and started the drive home. It was pretty late by then and the road home was deserted. Suddenly, I saw a bright flash and we were flying through the air. I felt steel across my body and heard crunching so loud I couldn't figure out what was going on; then everything was silent.

I looked around and realized our car had been thrown off the road. The next thing I noticed was blood. Lots of blood. My parents were in the front seat of the car, and their doors were so crumpled that they were wedged in with no way to get out. My mom was cut up and unconscious. My dad was in the driver's seat, moaning. And then there was Nate. He was slumped next to me with a piece of metal through his stomach and blood gushing out.

I threw off my seatbelt, pressed on his wound, and desperately tried to stop the bleeding. I knew we weren't too far from town. I could open my door and run to get help. I told my dad I'd go just as soon as I stopped Nate's bleeding. He wouldn't make it otherwise. He had lost so much blood. My father turned his head and assessed the situation. Then in a voice tired and weak, he spoke.

"You're not going to be able to stop the bleeding with anything I have in this car, Jake. That gash is too big, too deep. I don't have anything to close it, and without your hands putting pressure on him, the ambulance won't make it back here in time to save him. Not in time to save him."

I looked at the front seat and understood what my father meant. My mom was still unconscious and breathing, but very slowly. My dad had his hand across his stomach and I could tell he was in a lot of pain. They were hurt too, really hurt, and if I left and ran into town, help might arrive in time to save my parents. But not in time to save Nate.

I knew what I had to do. I told my father I loved him but he couldn't hear me because he'd passed out. Then I gently picked Nate up, squeezed us out of the car, and ran, all the while keeping my hands pressed firmly over his wound in order to curb the bleeding.

I'd always been a fast runner, but I'm not usually running at night while carrying a man in my arms. It slowed me down, but I didn't stop until I got to the hospital. When I came through the door, I screamed for help and they came running. I put Nate on a gurney, told them his blood type, and only removed the pressure I was putting on him to curb the bleeding when they started wheeling him down the hall. Then I told them where to find my parents and explained they needed help right away. Even though I knew it'd be too late.

I just hadn't been able to make good time, because I was carrying Nate and focusing on putting pressure on his wound. I knew by the time the ambulance got to my parents, they'd be dead. But I also knew that Nate would make it. Nate, my Nate. I knew he'd be all right.

* * * *

I'd been wearing the same clothes since the previous morning, and I knew I smelled pretty ripe. I couldn't sit and talk to Nate, couldn't apologize for taking advantage of him while I still had the cum stuck to my body reminding me of just how pathetic I was--taking advantage of my best friend while he was clearly going through a hard time and after he'd had way too much to drink.

I gave Nate the food and coffee and took a quick shower, then wrapped a towel around my waist, and opened the door.

"Hey, man. Can we talk?"

Nate was sitting on a chair, drinking his coffee and eating the plain bagel I'd brought him. He wasn't yelling at me anymore or shooting daggers with his eyes, so I thought maybe everything would be okay. I even let myself hope he'd liked it, that he'd want to do it again, that he'd want me. But then he looked up, raked his eyes over my body, and I saw anger again.

"Damn it, Jake, put some clothes on! How can I talk to you when you look like that?"

My heart sank into my stomach.

"I get it, Nate. You're not attracted to me. You've never been attracted to me. But I'm not such a monster that seeing me with my clothes off should repulse you to the point of losing the power of speech."

Shaking, I turned toward the closet.

"Not attracted to you?"

His voice was quieter; he was no longer shouting at me.

"What are you talking about, Jake? How could anyone not be attracted to you? You're perfect."

Was that sarcasm? Was he fucking with me? I didn't think so. He sounded sincere.

"Look, Nate, it's okay. We can't choose who we're attracted to. But let's not pretend, okay? I've been in love with you since we were kids, and you know it. You've never given me a second look. Hell, when you told me you were gay, I was so happy. I thought maybe you felt about me the way that I felt about you. But then when I sat down next to you--completely naked, by the way--you didn't touch me, you didn't even look at me. So I got the message loud and clear--we're just friends. And I've lived with that for the last fifteen years. I've never gotten in your way, even when you left those bars with every Tony, Bill, and Tom that walked in the door. And I never touched you. But last night--"

He interrupted me.

"How do you know about Tony? I told you about Bill and I dated Tom for a few weeks, but how do you know about Tony?"

Shit. Shit. Shit. He hadn't ever told me about Tony and now I was caught. Oh well, I was already waving the "how could you be more hopelessly pathetic" flag so I may as well raise it to full mast.

"I know about Tony because I saw you with him at the bar. I was following you, making sure that you were okay. It wasn't that long after the accident and that bar is in a sketchy part of town. Frankly, you should thank me, because if I hadn't been there, you might have had an unwelcome introduction to some homophobic pricks that were scoping out the place."

I hadn't meant to tell him about those guys outside the bar. I was frustrated and being defensive, so I'd said too much. I needed to calm down. I sat on the bed and put my head in my hands. He was quiet for a long time, then he sat down next to me and put his hand on my shoulder.

"How can you think I've never been attracted to you?"

We were sitting right next to each other on the bed and I was still wearing nothing but that towel. I could smell his hair and feel his body heat radiating against my skin. And his eyes, the look in his eyes. I couldn't control my body, couldn't stop it from reacting to him, and it was pretty clear to both of us what he does to me because my cock was rock-hard and pushing up against the towel, making a very obvious tent.

He looked down at my lap and I thought he'd laugh at me or yell at me to get dressed again, but instead, he reached his hand over and untied my towel, letting it drape on the bed, and exposed my erection. Then he looked back into my eyes, stroked my face, leaned in, and kissed me.

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