Part Three: The Western Shores
Chad slapped at the alarm clock blaring next to his head before sitting up and stretching. He rested his head on his knees for a moment, trying to recall a sweet dream of his past lover, before getting out of bed and dressed.
It was five years, this summer. Five years since he fell in love, got arrested, ran away from his hometown, and left his lover behind. Five years since he came out here, broken hearted and bitter and alone. A long time and he had yet to forget Tibial's face.
It was on his mind that morning as he got ready for work and left his house, walked through the hot humid air, the salty tang of the sea in his nose. He had headed west after leaving Tibial, had gone further and further and further west until he had run out of land. He had settled down here, in this small beach town. He found work for a company that built boats, grand fancy sailboats and yachts for the summer tourists, small, practical boats for the fisherman population. Work got slow during the off season and he sometimes had to pick up the additional odd job here and there to make ends meet, but it was summer now and business was booming.
And he was happiest when business was booming, when it was busy, during those hard hot summer days. Those were the days when he woke up before the sun, worked until the light was dying, and fell asleep completely exhausted each night.
When he was busy he had less time to think, to think about him, to think about what they had, to wonder how he was doing.
Less time to miss him. It was better that way.
Chad spent the day at work, putting the finishing touches on one of their finer crafts, sweating under the hot air. He left that evening with a satisfied sense of a well done job and a hefty pay off coming up.
He returned home that evening, pulled off his shoes and was about to try to find something to eat, when there was a sharp staccato of knocks at his door. He glanced up at the door, torn between curiosity, concern and annoyance. A knock on the door used to bring something else, a quick sharp burn of hope, followed by a sick, crushing disappointment, but fortunately that had faded away as the years went by.
Chad opened the door. Tibial stood on the other side.
Chad had pictured this happening before, opening the door and seeing Tibial there. Imagined it and hoped for it over and over until he was sure he would lose his mind. But now here he was, real and breathtakingly beautiful. He was no longer a teenager, but a grown man, tall and slender, with the same dark eyes that had originally ensnared him. His face held a handsome maturity, but there was something there, something that had changed him. Chad didn’t care. Chad was looking at one of his deepest most passionate dreams blooming to life in front of him. He couldn't speak. He could barely breathe.
“Hi,” Tibial said. His smile was gorgeous, beautiful, blinding him.
“Hello,” Chad said, pushing the word through his suddenly numb lips.
Tibial glanced down shyly for a second and ran a hand through his hair. "Look, I know that I'm-”
“Daddy!” A very young girl, blond haired and green eyed in a pink and white sundress came running up, pulled on Tibial’s hand. “Daddy, daddy!”
He looked down and crouched to meet the child at eye level. "Yes, Miss Jenna? I thought I told you to stay in the truck."
"I haveta go," Jenna said, hopping from one foot to another.
Tibial looked up at Chad, and despite his nervousness, briefly enjoying the wide-eyed surprise Chad was trying to hide. "I'm sorry. Do you have a restroom?" Tibial asked.
"Where's your sissie?" Tibial asked the little girl.
"In the truck."
"Go get her and tell her to go too."
The girl turned back and ran back to the pick up truck parked in the drive. Chad shifted his stance slightly so he could get a better view and saw another girl, the identical image of the one just at the door climb out of a truck and the pair ran back towards the house, holding hands. Chad pointed them towards the bathroom.
"Yours?" he finally asked after a long moment, his throat unsticking. He didn't know why he was so surprised. Mia was already pregnant when he had left, and he had known Tibial would be a father.
"Yeah. Both of them."
"Twins, huh? Nice."
Tibial smiled, and Chad could clearly see the pride and devotion in Tibial's expression. "They're my angels. The first one that came up is Jenna, the other is Jessa."
"So is their mother out there too?" Chad asked, trying to keep his tone neutral.
"No." Tibial's expression darkened. "No, she's not."
One of the girls came running back up to Tibial. "Jessa is crying. She got soap in her eyes."
Tibial gave a sigh that indicated that this was not terribly uncommon news and excused himself. The girl looked up at him.
"Jessa is my sister," she said unnecessarily.
The girl ran after her father and Tibial returned a few minutes later, another girl with red teary eyes in his arms.
Jessa, Chad guessed.
"Sorry," Tibial said. "They're tired, hungry and have been on the road for too long." He pressed a kiss against the girls hair. "Go wait in the truck. I need to talk to Mr. Devon for a moment."
"Don't wanna," the girl whined, winding long skinny arms around her dad's neck.
"My landlady will watch them if you want,” Chad said. "She lives right below me. Loves children."
"I don't want to inconven-
"It's not a fucking inconvenience--sorry," he added as Tibial glared at him. He had forgotten about the children. "Besides, I'm guessing that whatever you want to say isn’t something young ears should hear."
Tibial thought about it. "Okay." He passed Jessa over to Chad, who took her with the awkwardness that comes from not handling children very often. Tibial stepped away and returned a minute later with a quizzical looking Jenna by he hand. Chad led him downstairs and knocked on Metta's door hoping that she would be in.
Metta opened the door, her plump, cheerful face lighting up.
"Chad, you devil you, how are you doing? And who is this?" She looked Tibial over with open curiosity.
"This is an old friend of mine. We were hoping you might be able to watch his two girls, Jenna and Jessa while we catch up on some things. They've been riding all day and need some rest."
“Oh, they are just the two most perfect little angels I have ever seen," Metta exclaimed. She squatted down to look at Jenna as Chad untangled Jessa's arms from around his neck and put her down. "Do you like kittens?"
"My cat had a litter not long ago. You want to take a look?"
Jenna's eyes grew wide and she grabbed her sister's hand, pulling her inside. Metta laughed and turned to the two men. "You take as long as you need. If they get tired I'll put them down in the spare room. They can stay overnight if you want, it's awfully late to be going back onto the road."
"Thank you Metta." Chad said smoothly before Tibial could interrupt. Metta shut the door.
"You sure she'll take care of them?"
"She's great with kids. She does some babysitting on the side, children love her. Don't worry. C'mon."
Tibial followed Chad back up to his apartment. When they were both inside, Chad turned to close and lock the door.
“I prayed that you would come after me,” Chad finally said, staring at the door. “I prayed that you would not.”
“You know why.”
“No, I don’t, not really. I’m not the one that left.”
“I know that.” Chad turned around, looked at him. He took a step towards Tibial, touched him for the first time, his hand on Tibial's cheek. “I know that very well.” Chad slid his hand around to Tibial's neck and stepped in closer until their bodies were touching.
Tibial couldn’t stand this, couldn’t stand having Chad this close. He could smell him, his scent and it made him dizzy with desire and heartache. This wasn’t what Tibial came here for. This wasn’t what Tibial wanted, but with Chad closing in, kissing him, touching him, he couldn’t do anything, think anything, but kissing him back.
Chad felt Tibial’s body pressing up against his and stepped back until he hit the door. He was painfully aware of everything at once; the familiar heat of Tibial's mouth, the strange sensation that his added height brought, the way the lock on the door was digging into his back and Tibial's thigh coming up to press against his crotch. Chad brought his hands up to Tibial’s back, pressing his body up against him with a hungry desperation he didn’t even know existed until right now. He wanted to feast on Tibial, indulge himself in his touch, his scent, bury himself deep into that taut lean body again and again.
“You shouldn’t have come back,” Chad said in between kisses. “Dammit, you never should have come back.”
“I know.” Tibial gasped out before biting on Chad’s bottom lip, hard, and pulling off his shirt.
Tibial knew that this was a mistake: too much, too fast. There were still too many things unresolved between them, too much left unsaid and too many unpleasant emotions beneath the surface sheen of lust and desire. But right now Tibial just wanted Chad so bad he couldn't think straight. Chad's skin was so warm under his hands, muscles thick under his fingers.
Goddess, it felt so good to touch him again.
Felt so good to be here right now, with Chad's lips on his neck as he unbuckled Chad's belt and tugged open his pants.
"C'mon. Bedroom." Chad's voice was rough and heavy in his ear. "I'm not going to fuck you on the floor."
The words sent a hot thrill through Tibial's body. This wasn't why he had come here, but now that he was here and Chad was all over him, his hands, his lips he didn't want anything else. Right now all he wanted was Chad to keep going. Keep touching him, tasting him and yes, fucking him.
Tibial continued to kiss Chad as the older man led them back into another room, heedless of his surroundings. He felt himself fall onto something soft with Chad's weight heavy on top of him, and his hair sliding through his fingers, the wet heat of his mouth. Then it was Chad, over him, sliding into him and nothing else mattered except the heat, the explosion and the wet mindless pleasure that followed.
* * *
Tibial was tired enough, from traveling, days spent in a truck, driving with two bored impatient little girls in the back seat that he actually fell asleep for a few hours. When he opened his eyes it was dark, the small room cast in dim murky shadows.
Tibial sat up, grimacing a little. He glanced at Chad, soundly asleep next to him. He buried his head in his hands, cursing himself.
This was not his intention, this was not what he wanted.
He was already confused, uncertain, still hurt and a little angry. The last thing he needed to was to further complicate things by throwing sex back into the equation.
Quietly, feeling a bit like a thief, Tibial got up, gathered up his clothing and got dressed before creeping his way through the small, unfamiliar rooms to reach the front door. He found his way back to the downstairs building, where that woman had been watching his girls. Goddess, he had left his own children in the hands of a total stranger. What the hell was wrong with him?
He knocked and waited a few moments before Metta opened the door, flashed him a bright, guileless smile.
"Your girls are fine," Metta said before he could say a word. "They were pretty worn out, so I put them down in the spare room."
"Thank you so much. I really appreciate it."
"No problem. Since they are already asleep, why don't you stay here for the night? It's awfully late to be waking them back up. I rent the spare room out, and I usually don’t allow strange men here, but you’re a friend of Chad’s and you have two darling little girls, so you’ll be fine.”
“Thank you,” Tibial said genuinely, and she smiled.
"Did you enjoy your visit?"
"Yes," Tibial said. "It's just a little strange. It's been so long since I've seen him."
"Did you know Chad from before he came here?"
"Yes Ma'am. We grew up in the same town."
"How lovely. Chad is a very nice young man. Very kind. But he never talks a lot about his life before he came here. It's nice to know he has old friends that still keep up with him."
"You sound like you know him very well."
Metta shrugged. "I'm just his landlady. I own all of these buildings around here. But let me show you something."
She went into another room that looked like a study and flipped on the light, pointed to a framed painting on the wall. "That is my little girl, my own little angel. The Goddess took her when she was only eight years old. When Chad found out, he did this and gave it to me."
Tibial looked at it. A little girl with a chin length bob of red hair and a face full of freckles smiled out at him.
"I come in here and look at it every day," Metta said. "It looks just like her. And he wouldn't let me give him anything in return. He just wanted me to have it. He's a good man."
"It's beautiful," Tibial said, feeling like his heart was breaking all over again. He didn't know how anyone could not love the person who did this. Himself included. Before he knew what was happening, tears spilled over his lashes and down his cheeks. Goddess, he loved Chad so much. He had thought that the years would mellow those feelings, temper them, soften them. But it only took a matter of hours to discover they were still there and stronger than ever. Tibial closed his eyes. Goddess, he was a fool. What was he supposed to do now?
He felt a warm hand on his shoulder.
"You're tired," Metta said softly. "Come on. I'll take you to join your girls and get some sleep."
He followed her upstairs and into the room where his girls were lying, asleep. He thanked Metta and once she had gone, he sat on the bed for a few minutes. He felt better just watching them and felt himself grow calm.
The two girls slept holding hands, their bodies curled into each other forming a funny little heart. Their faces were pressed together, noses mashed up against cheeks and lips slightly parted, so whenever one breathed out the other would breathe in, a rhythm of perfect synchronization.
He kissed them both, pulled off his shoes and laid down next to them.
Tibial loved them both, dearly and fiercely, more than anything. He knew that there was something special about them. The bond between the two of them was deep, primal, something untouchable, unbreakable, which he would never be able to breach or fully understand. And that was fine with him. He was blessed in so many ways to have them.