Next Step

Copyright November 14, 2010
by Matthew Haldeman-Time

Dedicated to krondr, with sincere apologies.

I write about men having sex with other men.  You must be eighteen or older to read my fiction.  This site is for consenting, responsible adults only.

            Tyler winced when Jackson got out of the car.  “I’m sorry, I know this isn’t-”

            “Shut up,” Jackson muttered, grabbing Tyler’s luggage.

            “Xavier was going to-”

            “Shut up.”

            Wincing again at the way Jackson hurled his luggage into the trunk, Tyler tried again.  “If Isaiah’s car weren’t-”

            “Shut up!” Jackson growled, slamming the trunk shut.

            All right, now, Tyler understood that Jackson wasn’t happy about being dragged away to drive him to the airport, but, “Being rude is only going to make things worse.  There’s no reason we can’t be civil to each other for the length of a car ride.”

            With a clear and distinct, “Fuck you, Tyler,” Jackson got into the driver’s seat.

            Well, then.  Determined to be polite, Tyler said, “Thank you for coming,” getting in beside him.  Coming?  Coming, really?  “I mean, thank you for the ride.”  Oh, shit.  That was even worse.  Clearing his throat, Tyler decided to stop while he was ahead.  Belting himself in, he flipped down the visor, checking his reflection in the little mirror.  Ugh, this heat, it was so humid, he couldn’t do a thing with his hair.

            “ so lucky,” Jackson muttered, backing down the driveway too fast.

            What?  What had the beginning of that been?  Which one of them should be so lucky?  Oh, did it even matter?  Jackson was hurt and damaged and defensive and furious and therefore acting like a petulant child, and Tyler hated himself for hurting Jackson and hated Jackson for casting him as the evil jerk.  He wasn’t a villain and it wasn’t fair for Jackson to treat him like one.  “You know as well as I do that I love you just as much as you love me.  If you-”

            The car stopped so suddenly that Tyler was jolted forward against the seat belt’s restraint.  Surprised, he caught his breath, looking around hurriedly to see what had caused the accident.  He saw no wandering child, no stray dog, only Jackson’s dark, threatening scowl.

            “Shut the fuck up.”  Jackson’s voice was low, seething.  “Or get the fuck out.”

            That wasn’t fair.  “I haven’t-”

            “Shut the fuck up,” Jackson repeated harshly, “or get the fuck out.”

            “If you’ll just - - fine!” Tyler said hastily, when Jackson’s hand reached down to unfasten his seatbelt.  Pointedly sitting back, Tyler pressed his lips together.  Fine.  If Jackson wanted to act like a surly kid, Tyler would humor him.

            It just wasn’t fair!  Sneaking glances as Jackson started down the road, Tyler felt his heart absolutely melt.  Those strong, wide hands flexing on the wheel.  Jackson’s broad-shouldered, tense body.  Sunlight streaming through the windshield picked up the soft blond stubble across his chin.  He looked pissed off and resentful and ready to haul off and punch someone in the face.

            Jackson was angry.  Angry at Tyler.  Unfairly, unnecessarily angry, since Tyler was as upset and burdened and hurt by all of this as he was.

            They wanted each other.  They’d fallen in love with each other.  They wanted to be together.  They absolutely adored each other.  Getting into a relationship and getting familiar was the obvious next step.

            Except that Jackson wasn’t over his last boyfriend yet, and Tyler lived across the country.  Jumping directly into a relationship and calling each other “boyfriend” and getting serious wasn’t the best idea.  Not yet.  Not until Jackson took a little time and they talked about how to work out a relationship long-distance.

            When Tyler had pointed that out, Jackson hadn’t liked a single word of it.  They’d had a rather lengthy discussion where it came out that Jackson had expected Tyler to move in with him, formally or informally, officially or unofficially, during his stay.  When Tyler had sputtered in protest, Jackson had asked, “Wasn’t it kind of inevitable?”

            And, oh, such a blissfully romantic notion!  But Tyler couldn’t live by inevitabilities; Tyler had to live by long-term realities.  He wasn’t going to move in with Jackson, not even just for the length of this trip.  He just didn’t move that fast!  And then came the revelation that Jackson expected him to delay going back home if things worked out between them, and he tried to let Jackson down gently on that point, but Jackson was already frustrated with him for staying with his brother and acting like staying with Jackson would be a big deal, but how in the world was living together not a big deal?!

            Oh, it was all back and forth and shattered expectations and misunderstandings from there.  Jackson wanted a relationship immediately, wanted sex and cohabitation and for Tyler to start life all over with him.  Tyler already had a good life set up, albeit elsewhere in the country, and wasn’t ready to abandon all of that simply because he’d met a hot guy who pressed all of his buttons and happened to need him.

            Tyler asked Jackson to slow down and give him a chance to assess the situation and give the long-distance thing a shot while he figured things out.

            Jackson wasn’t willing to wait until Tyler left town again to start their relationship; he wanted to get things moving right then.

            When they’d parted ways after that whole big talk, Tyler had felt incredibly unsettled.  Going back to his brother’s house, he’d felt passion burning in his chest.  While he made dinner for his brother Xavier and Kim and a guest he assumed was Kim’s brother Isaiah, he decided that he’d be miserable if he didn’t spend this time with Jackson, that he’d only be frustrating himself if he tried to set up rules and establish boundaries.  Maybe destiny had thrown them together for a reason, or maybe it was just his libido talking, but he wanted to be with Jackson while he could.  Maybe not living together, precisely, but he was old enough to spend his nights where he pleased.

            Feeling much better and eager to talk to Jackson as soon as dinner was over, he’d outdone himself and made a superb meal.  To which his brother had invited not Isaiah, as it turned out, but a gay acquaintance he’d thought Tyler might hit it off with.  It was, in effect, a romantic set-up.

            Kim mentioned it to Isaiah during a call on her way home to dinner, and when Isaiah spoke to Jackson and Jackson muttered something about Tyler, Isaiah mentioned the blind date.

            Jackson’s oh-so-mature response to that had been to go out, get drunk, and take some guys home.  Not one, but two.

            Tyler considered that sufficient proof that Jackson was not ready to be in a relationship.  He’d also considered it reason to cry his way through a box of tissues and rant at his sister about what a ratfucking jerk Jackson was, but he’d gotten over that.  He did think that Jackson might want to consider better coping mechanisms, however, and he was going to make it clear that such destructive behavior would not be acceptable once they were together.

            He still wanted them to establish a relationship.  He just wanted them to take their time and assess certain realities.  He couldn’t move across the country just because he’d met a hot guy.

            His brother had greeted that announcement with a shrug and a, “Why not?”

            Because he had clients back home.  He had friends.  He had suppliers.  He had little places he went to for sushi and ice cream and antiques and funky accessories.  He’d have to give up his favorite local radio station and his local paper’s crossword puzzle and…  And how much of that was truly irreplaceable?  How much of that honestly meant more to him than Jackson did?

            But how well did he know Jackson?  How much of his life was he willing to rip up and transplant for the sake of a guy he hadn’t even had sex with?  Jackson might have unpleasant sexual desires or might be hell to live with or might just not be right for him, long-term.  He couldn’t start all over in a whole new place just on the hope that things would work out.

            And things hadn’t worked out at all so far.  He and Jackson had kept calling each other and kept arranging meetings, and kept butting heads, frustrating each other, yelling, cursing, making each other absolutely miserable.  Sometimes they didn’t even raise their voices; sometimes they just sat there in quiet despair, not wanting to fight, not sure how to make it work.  The last time, though, the last time it had gotten ugly.  Jackson had gotten nasty, and Tyler had brought up Jackson fucking those two guys the instant things had gotten rough, and Jackson had brought up the guy Tyler had somewhat inadvertently made dinner for, and Tyler had pointed out that he hadn’t even known it was supposed to be a date and hadn’t treated it like a date and hadn’t seen the guy since, and Jackson had said something along the lines of, “How was I supposed to know you wouldn’t end up with his dick down your throat?  The first time we met you were all over me, twitching your ass.”  Tyler had, quite justifiably, pointed out that he had not been all over Jackson, that Jackson had moved on him, and that if he had been all over Jackson, a lot more would’ve happened than one sizzling kiss.  And then Jackson had dropped the quite interesting information that he considered Tyler’s underwear choices and lip gloss to be an obvious “invitation.”

            Invitation.  Tyler had thrown out some retort about, “I have enough men trying to get in to this party without issuing invitations,” but inside, he’d been on fire.  He absolutely fucking hated it when people conflated being femme with being easy.  He might, at any time of the day, be femme.  He might, when he chose, be easy.  The two had nothing to do with each other.  He wore lip gloss because he liked the way it looked, not because he was trying to attract erections to his mouth.

            Maybe Jackson was just an ass, and things were never going to work out between them, and he shouldn’t even bother.  Maybe he should just go home and not look back.

            Had he really been so wrong about Jackson?  Had he really misread Jackson that badly?  He’d been so attracted, so drawn to Jackson, that he’d really felt like they had something between them.  He’d really thought that they could make a happy little future together.  He’d imagined finding a nice little apartment to share and decorating it together.  He’d wanted to arrange his schedule to accommodate Jackson’s hours, getting up in the morning to fix Jackson’s breakfast, maybe stopping by Jackson’s office for lunch, making sure that they had dinner together more evenings than not.  Planning little dates sometimes on Jackson’s days off.  Getting to know the area better, inviting Jackson to take him around town and show him points of interest.  Not general points of interest, but places that Jackson liked, places Jackson frequented.  They’d have quick, crude sex some nights, just to get off, and he was looking forward to that, looking forward to being so used to each other that it didn’t always have to be a big production, looking forward to not always needing to impress each other anymore, looking forward to knowing how to make Jackson come fast, looking forward to Jackson getting off and groaning in pleasure and passing out moments afterward.  And some other nights they’d have hot, passionate, steamy sex, making love, teasing each other, whispering sweet delights into each other’s ears.  Jackson would get used to him bringing home new discoveries from the local antique shops, would get used to him scouring rummage sales, would get used to a new end table or a new area rug showing up in their apartment.  And he’d get used to Jackson’s odd habits, one of which Isaiah told him involved never admitting that he was ill even when he was hoarse and sneezing and running a fever.

            Oh, he’d take such good care of Jackson if Jackson were sick!  “You have no idea how handy it is that I can determine my own hours,” he said.  “If you got the flu, I could stay at home with you.  Or, if you don’t like people hovering when you’re not feeling well, I could just stop by to check on you once in a while, to see how you’re feeling and bring you medicine or soup or DVD’s to watch.  Do you mind people hovering?”

            The car slowed, Jackson pulling over to the curb.  Too late, Tyler remembered: shut up or get out.  But that was ridiculous!  “You don’t honestly expect,” he began, but Jackson was already unbuckling his seatbelt for him.  “This, this, is why I keep saying that you’re not ready for a relationship,” Tyler insisted.  “Look at you!  You keep acting like a kid!  You pout, you sulk, you won’t communicate, you make unreasonable demands, you refuse to compromise, you accept absolutely no nuance whatsoever.  You’re impulsive and stubborn, you-”

            “Get out.”  Jackson reached across him to push open his door.

            “And do what?  Do you expect me to walk to the airport?  Walk back to Xavier’s house?  And what about my luggage, are you going to keep it?  Be reasonable!”

            “Reasonable?!”  Jackson’s light blue eyes hardened to crystal.  “I’m in love with someone I just met, I can’t be in the same room with you without fucking up, I can’t stand the thought of being without you when I’ve never even had you, I spent half of this week in the bathroom at work, jacking off in the stalls, moaning your name and telling my supervisor I had a stomach virus, you’re leaving and you’re not coming back and I can’t stop tasting your kiss, fuck, it’s that motherfucking lip gloss, I want to kiss you in the sun and count the freckles on your shoulders, I’m in love with you and you don’t even want to be with me and I hate you for that, fuck, I hate both of us for that.  I’m not - - reasonable.  Fuck,” Jackson unbuckled his seatbelt, “drive yourself to the goddamned airport.”

            “Jackson!”  Trying to process all of this new information, Tyler grabbed Jackson’s arm, dragging him back into the car as he determinedly tried to climb out.  “You can’t just say that and disappear!  What are you going to do, walk home?”

            “Fuck,” Jackson said, and he sounded so tired, so angry, so adrift that Tyler’s heart just ached for him, for how lost and hurt and frustrated he was.  And then Jackson was back in the car and in Tyler’s space, greedy hands cupping Tyler’s face, all of Jackson’s passion and all of Jackson’s tongue taking over Tyler’s mouth.  Gasping as Jackson devoured him face-first, Tyler brought his hands up, not sure whether to push or pull, to encourage or discourage, but there was hot, hungry rhythm to Jackson’s kiss, and the aggressive slide of Jackson’s tongue had Tyler aching in all of the right places, and Jackson kept making this soft, rough noise that sounded so much like sex, Tyler wanted to have sex just to hear it properly.  God, if Jackson made that noise right in his ear, while they were fucking, maybe from behind, Jackson’s dick opening him up, ugh, yes, unh, he wanted it, he wanted it, “Oh, Jackson,” he breathed, his hands fondling and squeezing Jackson’s arms and chest and thighs and hair and whatever else he could reach.

            “Yeah,” Jackson grunted, fingers crawling down his chest and in between his thighs and oh!

            “Ah!  Mmm, wait.”  Turning his head to break the kiss, Tyler pushed lightly at Jackson’s chest.

            There was one long moment, where he felt Jackson staring at the side of his face, where his heart was up in his throat, where his body acutely remembered Jackson’s hand so warmly, so intimately cupping him.  And then Jackson was cursing under his breath and buckling back in and forcing the car back onto the road, back into traffic.

            Flustered and hot and still burning in intimate places, Tyler sucked in a deep breath.  Okay.  So he was as vulnerable to Jackson’s desire as a leaf was to a hurricane.  One kiss and everything was upside-down again, Tyler’s heart was Jackson’s plaything, Tyler’s body was hungry for Jackson’s touch.  Oh, that had all happened so fast, but it had all been so good, so very, very good.  Tyler wanted to let the moment simmer, to let it all echo through his body for a second, and to think about what this meant, to think about what Jackson had said.

            But Jackson was tense again, closed off again, grim, jaw clenched, shoulders up.

            “Sweetheart.”  Tyler put his hand on Jackson’s thigh.  Mmm, so firm.  “You have to stop reacting to the word ‘wait’ as if it’s a complete and utter rejection.  I’m not rejecting you!  I want to be with you, I want to figure this out.  But you’re so all-or-nothing, we can’t get anywhere.”

            “Wait.”  Jackson shook his head, shifting restlessly.  “Wait for what?  For you to leave?  For you to decide I’m worth it?  What are we waiting for, and why am I the one who keeps waiting while you’re the one who keeps slamming on the brakes?”

            “We’re waiting for you to be ready for me.  We’re waiting for me to figure out what to do with my life.  Neither of those things can be rushed.”  He knew that he should stop stroking Jackson’s thigh, but he didn’t want to.  “I want to call myself your boyfriend and wake up in our bed every morning and know you better than anyone else ever has.  I love you, and it’s so easy to see myself with you.  I just don’t want to uproot my entire life for someone who’s going to bail on me two months in.  I have to know that you’re going to be a solid partner I can rely on.  And so far, you haven’t shown me that.”

            “If you’re not going to give me a handjob, get your hand off of my leg.”

            Not sure whether to be offended or not, settling on irritated, Tyler crossed his arms over his chest and stared out through the window.

            Jackson’s hands flexed on the wheel, a frustrated gesture.

            “Common ground,” Tyler heard himself say.  He couldn’t stop trying, he couldn’t give up, why did he find it so impossible to stop trying?  “Let’s establish what we do agree on.  We agree that we’re in love with each other.”  That should’ve been the hardest part, but somehow it was the easiest.  It should’ve been the most uncertain part, but somehow it was the most obvious.  It’d been so easy, so wonderfully and frighteningly easy, to fall in love with Jackson.  “We agree that we want to be together, that we’d like a monogamous and committed relationship.”  He glanced at Jackson, waiting for a response.  Wanting to feel the sweet burn of Jackson’s stubble again.

            “Yeah.”  Jackson’s voice was tense, his gaze burning through the windshield as if it could penetrate right through the highway.  “We agree on that.”

            “We agree that if I, when I, move here, we’ll live together at your place.  We agree that you’ll top and I’ll bottom.”  Flames gnawing through him as he gazed at Jackson’s angrily set lips, he asked, a little fuzzily, “You do give head, don’t you?”

            “I’d be sucking your dick right now if you’d stop shoving me away.”

            That wasn’t fair at all, but it sent hot shivers of desire racing through Tyler’s veins anyway, damn everything.  What was he supposed to do with that?  What was he supposed to say to that?  He didn’t want to go too far sexually while everything else was still up in the air, while Jackson still resented his stance, while things were this emotionally strained.  But, oh, the way Jackson kissed him, the way Jackson’s passion for him burned right through him like setting tissue paper on fire.

            “What about you?”  Jackson’s voice was low.  “Are you going to give me head?  How high is your sex drive?  How often are you going to want it?”

            Groaning, Tyler stared through the window, his muscles tense against the need rising and pumping and sparking within him.  He wanted it so badly, he’d wanted it since he’d met Jackson, and he still found it hard to believe that he hadn’t had it yet.  He could imagine it so vividly, the way Jackson’s sexy, athletic body would fit over his, the way Jackson’s hard, slick dick would thrust and slide and push right into him, stretching him open and filling him up, the, oh, unh…  “S-s-six inches?” he whispered, nails digging into the seat beneath him as he tried to breathe evenly.  “Five?”  He’d take three inches, he’d take two, he didn’t care, he just-

            “Eight,” Jackson said.  “And a half, if you’re counting.”

            “Oh, sweet mother of,” and Tyler moaned, squeezing his eyes shut, feeling a wave of need pass achingly through him, making his hips rise up against the seatbelt, his heels digging into the floor.  “Please, god, pull over, stop the car, stop the, shit.”  As soon as the car was over, he was up, he was out, he was pacing around to the back and sucking in deep gusts of air and trying to think about anything but the way his body churned with need.  He was aching, buzzing, he hadn’t had it in too long and Jackson wanted to give it to him and he was so, so good at taking it and he knew, he just knew that Jackson would give it to him so well, so right, so-

            “Mmf!  Mmm,” oh, Jackson was on him, kissing him passionately, hungrily, pushing him back against the trunk, lifting him onto it, and he loved Jackson’s strength, Jackson’s insistent desire, Jackson’s need for him.  They were in public, they were on the side of the road, they had to stop, he had to pull away, but he needed one more second, one more kiss.  He shouldn’t indulge himself like this, but Jackson was kissing him deeply, and he needed it so badly, and lust was burning right through him, and his hands were rubbing greedily over the firm muscles of Jackson’s chest when Jackson took his hand and dragged it down and, oh, sweet fuck, the hardness of Jackson’s dick sent heat throbbing between his own thighs, and he moaned, shuddered with need, palm rubbing over that thick hardness, fingers sketching out the length.

            “Do you like it?” Jackson whispered, kissing him, voice gruff, kisses wet and hungry.

            Moaning, Tyler kept rubbing it, because yes, he liked it, he needed it, he knew that he had to let go, he had to push Jackson away, but he felt this feverish craving for more, for this, for Jackson.

            A deep grunt and the rhythm of Jackson’s kisses was making him dizzy, making him moan.  “You want it?” Jackson whispered, and Jackson’s dick was so hard in his hand, so big, further proof of the heat raging between them.  Rubbing, squeezing, making some desperate sound in the back of his throat, Tyler clutched at the front of Jackson’s shirt with his other hand, as though trying to drag Jackson closer, needing to be closer than this, needing, oh, needing.

            One of the cars rushing by honked.

            Inhaling, Tyler turned his face aside.  Panting lightly, he realized how hot he was, the warmth in his face.  It took incredible effort to force his hands off of Jackson and into his own lap; he balled his hands into fists, lowering his head.  Considering how badly Jackson took any hint of rejection, he didn’t even want to see Jackson’s expression, but he wanted to be clear.  Licking his lips, he cleared his throat.

            “You’re in love with me and you want me,” Jackson said, his voice low and tense.  “I’m in love with you and I want you.  How much more common fucking ground do you need?  What the fuck do you want?  What, do you want me to sign something?  Promise you something?  I won’t cheat on you, I won’t leave you, I won’t forget your birthday.  I earn decent money and I cook decent meals and I can do your laundry with mine, I don’t mind, but I don’t fold socks.”

            Interested in this information, Tyler looked up, gazing into Jackson’s light blue eyes.  “You don’t fold socks?”

            “They’re all the same kind, anyway.  I just grab two and put them on.”

            Tyler could tell that he was really in love with this guy, because his heart was melting.  Maybe it was from the effect of Jackson’s words, or maybe it was because of Jackson’s nearness and his desire to run his hands over that muscular chest again, or maybe it was because when he gazed into those crystal blue eyes, he just didn’t care about anything else.  “You’d really do my laundry?”

            Jackson shrugged like it was something Tyler should’ve already assumed.  “Sure.”

            “Are you going to be annoyed when I’m in the bathroom for an hour, soaking in the tub and making myself exceptional?”

            “No.”  Jackson looked puzzled about why that might annoy him.  “Just warn me before you get started in case I need to take a piss first.  Can I fuck you when you’re finished?”

            Mmm, he’d like that.  Slowly rubbing his hands over Jackson’s ribcage, Tyler smiled, imagining it, warm from the fantasy.  “I’d love that.  Do you prefer sex in the morning, or at night?”

            “Both.  At night, I,” Jackson shrugged uneasily, skimming the backs of his fingers along Tyler’s jaw.  “I like to take my time and enjoy it.  In the morning, I like it,” his gaze skittered down to the trunk of the car, as if he were self-conscious describing his desires so plainly, “less complicated.”

            Passionate, thorough, luxurious lovemaking at night.  Quick, crude fucking to start off the morning.  Tyler liked the sound of that.  Mmm, yes, he definitely liked the sound of that.  “I never put the cap back on the toothpaste.  I leave my socks and shoes everywhere all over the house.  I always forget at least three important things every time I go grocery shopping, no matter how extensive my list is.”

            Jackson met his eyes, holding his gaze.  “I’ll buy the groceries if you’ll take over the dishwasher.  I hate dealing with dishes.”

            Laughing, Tyler tugged lightly at the front of Jackson’s shirt.  “The dishwasher’s one of the easier chores in the house!  It’s as easy as watering plants!”

            Jackson frowned, but amusement shone in his eyes.  “You’re supposed to water plants?”

            “Yours are dead?” Tyler guessed.

            “After I killed the cactus, my mom bought me fake ones.  They just got dusty so I threw them away.”

            Tyler couldn’t wait to water Jackson’s plants, to see the ways they fit into each other’s lives, to create a happy home together.  But, oh, he was getting caught up again!  Letting the romance of it propel him forward, far deeper than he was ready to go.  He had to go back home, he had to plan, he had to weigh his decisions.  And he couldn’t do any planning at all, couldn’t even think straight, when he had those crystal blue eyes looking at him!

            Taking a careful breath, Tyler nudged Jackson aside, slipping down from his perch.  “Let’s,” he patted at his hair, remembering with a streak of heat the feel of Jackson’s fingers threading through his hair, wondering how badly disordered it looked, “let’s figure this out.  The-”

            “Figure this out.”  Jackson’s tone was flat and disbelieving.  “What’s left to figure out?  What the hell do you still need to know?  Do you need maps and charts and a colored graph?  You’ll move here, you can move into my place or we can get a new place, you’ll reopen your business and work here, we-”

            “Just like that?”  Tyler stared at Jackson in disbelief.  “Do you know how much work it took to build my business the way it is?  I can’t just order a new set of business cards with some new address and get right to it!  And what if it doesn’t go well?  No one here’s going to care about the reputation I’ve built among my clients back home!  It might take me years to get things off of the ground.  Are you going to be happy supporting me?  Have you ever been in a relationship with financial problems?  If I have trouble finding work, it could break us up faster than finding another man’s whiskers in the sink.”

            “I might not be able to take you on a three-month European vacation, but I make enough to take care of both of us,” Jackson said.  “I’ll help you spread the word and push for clients, if you want.  Your brother could probably get you a dozen customers as soon as you move.  And if we have financial problems, if you have trouble finding work, that’s part of life.  That’s the bullshit we all have to deal with, one way or another.  I’d rather be pissed off and frustrated and have you to talk to about it, than be going through something and not have you around at all.  And if you’re the thing that’s pissing me off, then that’s part of being in a relationship.  We’ll work it out.”

            So matter of fact.  Was that based in blasé ignorance, or maturity?  “What if things don’t work out?  What if we break up?  What if I uproot myself and move across the country just to see everything crumble around me?”

            Frowning, Jackson looked impatient.  “I don’t know.  Do you want me to promise that will never happen?  Do you want a contract or something?  I want you to stay with me.  I want to be with you.  Do you want me to move in with you?  Do you want to switch it around?”

            What, now?  “Move in with me?”  It sounded so different, phrased that way.  Jackson, move in with him?  His home, his city, his established haunts, his life.  With Jackson.  It sounded impossible.  It sounded exciting.  “Your family’s here, you-”

            “Can you support me until I find a job?”

            “Of course, I - - I can get you a job, I - - but you don’t want to move, you don’t want to uproot yourself and-”

            “You have clients out there.  It makes more sense for me to move.”

            “Your family’s here!” he exclaimed again.  “My family’s here.  I’ll move.”

            “You’re getting on a plane and you can’t tell me when you’re coming back,” Jackson said.  “I’m going with you.”

            Tyler almost gasped at the excitement, the romance, the daring.  His heart pounded with love at Jackson’s devotion, Jackson’s insistence, Jackson’s willingness to take risks to be with him.  “You can’t.  Your job, your-”

            “Do you want me to come with you?  To stay with you until we figure out long-term plans?”

            “Could you?”  The prospect of it thrilled him.  To have Jackson come home with him.  To show Jackson around town, to introduce Jackson to everyone, to make love with Jackson in his bed.  “We’ll talk and spend time together and figure everything out.  We’ll make plans and we’ll make love and we’ll decide what we really want, long-term.”

            “I want you.”  Jackson’s fingers caressed beneath his chin as Jackson gazed into his eyes.  “I can figure out the rest as we go.”

            “That’s not how life works,” Tyler protested, but his heart was fluttering and his arms were winding around Jackson’s shoulders and when Jackson hugged him, he didn’t ever want to let go.  “Why are you like this?” he whispered.  “Why are you so stubborn and impulsive?  How are you so sure?”

            “I’ve been safe and careful my whole life.  I was safe and careful with my other boyfriends.  It hasn’t gotten me anywhere, it hasn’t won me anything.  You’re not the smart, safe choice, but I’m ready for a risk.  I think you’re worth it.  And if it doesn’t work out, I guess I’ll learn not to take risks, to go back to what’s safe and comfortable.”

            It was so impulsive, so spur-of-the-moment, so impossible.  “Are you sure that you want this?  Are you sure that you won’t wake up tomorrow and hate me for disrupting your life?”

            “You disrupted my life the day we met.”  Jackson’s hands were caressing his body, stroking his torso, and Tyler couldn’t help but move with his touch, pressing into his hands.  “I thought that I hated disruptions, but I can’t resist you.  I’d rather change everything and still be with you, than say good-bye and watch you go.”

            “So you’ll come with me.  For a visit.  And we’ll figure out what we want.”

            Jackson kissed him.  “Tyler.”  Jackson’s voice was a whisper, patient now.  “I already know what I want.”
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