|Mary Sue Fiction|
Bryant, hands on hips, surveyed the boxes sitting on Lynette Vittelli's kitchen floor. He called back, "Is this it, Trenton?"
The younger boy appeared from his bedroom, carrying another box. "Of course it isn't. No one ever gets everything on the first go-round when they move." He set the box down, dusting his hands. "Well, maybe obsessive-compulsives, but then they aren't likely to be moving--too much chaos."
"Getting your money's worth from the abnormal psyche class, aren't you?"
Trenton grinned. "It's fun watching the reactions of the other freshmen in the abnormal sexuality lectures. Now that everyone has access to the Internet, it's hard to credit that they're still managing to reach college that naive."
Bryant tweaked his nose. "Don't judge 'em by yourself, Trent. You're a special case."
"So I've been told."
Bryant glanced casually at the cabinet doors. "I guess you don't need anything from here?"
"Don't be so sure about that." Trenton opened one door and pulled out several pans. "Spring form, souffle pan, Mom said I could have the fondue pot she and dad got as a wedding present..."
"I forgot that you're also a budding chef."
Trenton shrugged as he tucked the items into a box. "It's a different form of creativity." He cut a look at Bryant. "If I get time, after I finish with my cosmetology training, I was thinking about looking into studying culinary arts. Clive is still talking about some day setting up a restaurant with Elise, and he isn't one for spinning daydreams without acting on them."
"Nope. Clive is pretty much a 'make it so' guy."
Bryant watched as Trenton removed a half-full box of chocolate snack cupcakes, and raised his eyebrow questioningly. "These are mine," Trenton said defensively. "I bought them, and Mom doesn't eat them, anyway." Bryant said nothing. "And I like Henderson, but I'm not leaving my goodies for him."
Bryant laughed, shaking his head. As Trenton hefted one of the boxes and started for the front door, he said, "You're not going to wait for Lynette to come back?"
Trenton paused, looking back at him, and his eyes were serious. "No. She's visiting with Henderson, and she's going to stay there till this evening." He hesitated, then said quietly, "She's happy this is happening. She knows that it's what I want, and she wants it for me, but it's still hard for her. For the longest time it was just us, and now..." He trailed off.
Bryant went to him, putting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing gently. "You're very lucky, Trent. You've had so much love in your life, and the terrific thing is that you know it, and appreciate it. Lynette's going to be all right. You both are."
Trenton nodded soberly. Then he smiled and bumped Bryant with his hip. "Make yourself useful, wouldya? With both of us, this shouldn't take long."
Bryant gave Trent's hair a quick scrub. "Bossy bottom."
He received a shrug and a grin in return. "Bryant, you don't mind being pushed out into the smaller room, do you?"
"Are you kidding? You never saw where I was existing before, did you? Notice I said 'existing', not living. Clive has made it clear that's MY place for as long as I want it. I'm taking advantage of his generosity for a while longer, but as soon as I really get my situation shaken down, I'm going to want my own apartment. After all, I'm starting to get my own social life." He winked at Trenton. "And though I don't think you or Clive would mind, some of them might be a bit shy."
They finished carrying the boxes downstairs, then loaded them on the dolly that Toddy had lent them from Lavender's Green. Clive had given Trenton a choice--do it this way, or wait till his day was done at Attitudes, because Trenton was not getting his car to move. "You're careful, love, and so is Bri, but at your age insurance companies practically pee their pants, and that pesky piece of paper can make a BIG difference in my budget if anything happens. If Bryant is willing to drive, you can go ahead."
Downstairs they loaded the boxes into the trunk of the car. As Bryant shut the lid, he shook his head. "Three trips."
"And it's a good thing we have a backseat, too. If this was one of those bucket seat jobs we'd have been all day. It's amazing how much a person can accumulate in their life, and mine hasn't been all that long."
Bryant clapped Trenton on the shoulder. "I moved with a couple of garbage bags, but then I wasn't really coming from a home. I didn't really have anything that was mine. I'm looking forward to accumulating my own pile of stuff." He grinned. "Including what Mrs. Havasnark refers to as 'tchochkies'. She gave me my first one." He held up his thumb and first finger, a couple of inches apart, measuring. "It's a little cat figurine, no bigger than that. She said she wanted to be the first person to give me something totally useless."
"Snarky's one of a kind."
"Thank God. Can you imagine how exhausting a gaggle of her would be?"
They drove over to the apartment. With the two of them, it didn't take long to get the boxes upstairs. There was a covered plate sitting by the door in the upper hall, with a note on it. As Trenton unlocked, Bryant picked it up and read it. He grinned. "It says 'Trent, pretend I don't do this all the time, and consider this a welcoming gift. Love, Snarky--who now has three good looking mentshes living upstairs.'"
"It's a good thing I swim. The practice keeps me from porking up. What did she send us this time?"
Bryant peeled the foil up off the plate. "Hm. Can't say. It looks like a sort of butter cookie, but with nuts and... Well, the only thing that luridly red would have to be chopped marischino cherries."
"I love it when she experiments. I can't wait to see what she names these."
They moved the boxes into the apartment, settling them with the ones they'd brought up on the previous trips. Bryant locked the door, and turned back to find Trenton hugging himself, gazing around the room with shining eyes. He looked at Bryant silently, and Bryant just nodded. Trenton had been her countless times, but this time--he had come home. "Trenton, would you like me to find somewhere else to sleep tonight?"
Trenton went to him and hugged him. "No. Part of this being my home is that I'll have a say in who comes into it, and I can't think of anyone else I'd want here more than you, Bryant." He put his head on Bryant's shoulder and whispered, "I've had some rough spots in my life, but I know I'm blessed. You... You've had so little, and you deserve so much. I'm happy that I can give to you."
Bryant returned the embrace, gripping Trenton's hair and gently shaking the boy's head. He could feel tears pricking his eyes, but he knew they wouldn't fall. He wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to cry again. *Was I ever this young? There's only a couple of years difference between us, but I feel like I've been old all my life.*
He pushed Trenton away gently. "Trent, you just being happy with Clive is a gift to me. Let's start putting this stuff away."
Trenton came pelting out of the kitchen. He skidded to a halt in front of Clive, almost vibrating with excitement, and Clive said, "What on earth are you waiting for? Give me the first 'welcome home' kiss." Trenton proceeded to wrap himself around Clive. Since he was the taller of the two, he was pretty damn effective at it.
He kissed his lover thoroughly. When he broke the kiss, Clive took a deep breath, and Trent grinned at him. "Made ya breathless."
Clive kissed him again, briefly, then smacked his ass and pushed him gently away. "You always take my breath away, darling. Of course the fact that you have lungs like bellows from all that swimming helped you, here." He sniffed. "You didn't have to cook your first night here."
"I know," said Trent cheerfully. "But since this is now MY place, too--I WANTED to. I'm making pot roast--Mom's specialty. We have about another half hour." He trotted back into the kitchen.
Clive sat down beside Bryant. Bryant noticed his fond look after Trenton, and said wryly, "You do realize that you might own the rest of the apartment, but that is now his kitchen?"
"Bri, dear, that's been his kitchen for a long time now. I have no problem with him having his little domain."
"That's nice. With Pri the kitchen was my responsibility, but it damn sure wasn't my kingdom."
"Speaking of assholes, has he been giving you any more trouble?"
Bryant scowled, but said, "Not really."
Trenton was coming out of the kitchen, carrying two bottles of beer. He handed one to each of them, then said, "Tattletale warning: he is so. He's being a real creep, Clive. Coach has never been all that lavish with praise, but now Bryant can't do anything right. His push offs are wrong, he isn't cutting the center of the lane clean enough, he needs to do more practice laps."
"Bri, he gave you a demerit for bad hygiene because your toenails were too long! Since when does he check toenails except to look for athlete's foot? And if he's going to do that, what about Clancy? He looks like he has werewolf blood--claws!"
"Trent!" Bryant's voice was firm--the voice of a Dom--and Trenton instinctively bowed his head. "I don't want you getting upset by this. It's irritating, yes, but it's nothing compared to what I've been through. Right now I think that it's most effective to just ignore him. Pri wants either submission, or confrontation," he smiled coldly, "indifference stings him like vinegar on raw skin. Just let me handle it in my own way." His tone gentled. "I don't want you making a target of yourself trying to defend me. Understand?"
Trenton peeked up, biting his lip. "Yes, sir." He went back into the kitchen.
Bryant let his head drop back on the sofa, staring up at the ceiling. "It's strange."
"What is?" Clive asked.
"Having someone care about me. I'm not used to it." He smiled. "It's nice, though."
"Isn't it? Reciprocating is nice, too."
"Yes, it is." He glanced at Clive. "Okay, enough of the stoic crap. Priory is being a dick. I thought when he got a little time between him and my leaving he'd start to get over it, but he's getting worse. I mean, I used to feel like he desired me, but didn't really LIKE me--now I think he hates me."
"I wouldn't be surprised. He's the sort to hate what he wants, but can't have. You dared to leave, instead of waiting to be discarded." Clive half turned toward him, propping his elbow on the sofa back. He took a thoughtful sip of beer, then said gravely, "Bri, any social worker or psychologist will tell you that the most dangerous period in any domestic abuse situation is just before and just after the victim leaves. You avoided some of it because the break was so abrupt. If Lowell had the time to sober up a little, it might have been a lot nastier." Bryant nodded his understanding. "I want you to be very, very careful. So far Priory has relied on his fists and his attitude to keep you in line. Well, you've shown him that isn't enough. There's a chance he might... escalate."
Bryant grunted. "I've thought about buying a gun. I don't want to."
Clive's expression was sober. "I won't advise you on that. It's a very, very personal thing. I don't like them, but the sad fact is that they're readily available to the worst sort of people. I will ask that if you decide to do that, you don't keep it here."
Bryant nodded, then smiled. "If I decide to, I'm sure Snarky will be happy to hold it for me."
Clive laughed. "Snarky will take you to her shooting range on 'Bring a Friend Friday'."
Trenton leaned through the door. "Anybody interested in making a salad?"
Bryant jumped up. "Me! Has Elise showed you the quickest way to clean and chop a bell pepper?"
As he went toward the kitchen, Trenton was saying, "Bell pepper? Ew! If you make me eat raw bell pepper, I'm counting it as a punishment."
Clive chuckled, listening to the teasing banter in the kitchen. The chuckle faded a little as he took another drink. Yes, Trenton was a bit of a worrier, and yes, Bryant had to handle this situation himself. But when Clive considered Priory Lowell, he couldn't help but feel that somehow Bryant's break with him had gone too smoothly. He just had a premonition that anything involving Priory was going to be a lot uglier.