08 Entanglement

There was a buzz at the gate. “Mr. Montrose? Dorian Brandt,” the intercom announced.

Xavier raised his eyebrows but pushed the button. He called out, “Chase! Could you get the door?”

The boy came tromping downstairs in a pair of light cotton pants and a pink polo shirt—dressed for an evening at the beach—with the baby over his shoulder. “I didn’t hear the bell!”

“I just buzzed someone up from the gate,” Xavier said.

“Who?” Chase asked.

“A delivery,” Xavier answered wryly.

When the bell rang, Chase opened the door and knew immediately he had been set up as he looked up at the handsome man at the door. “Dorian! Come in….”

“Who is this?” Dorian asked, confused at the sight of the baby in Chase’s arms.

“This is my son, Alex,” Chase replied with a smile.

“Pardon me, but you seem a little young,” Dorian asked.

“Things happen,” Chase said with an ironic smile.

“He’s beautiful,” Dorian replied with an inscrutable look. Chase led Dorian to Xavier, who was rifling through drawers looking for a few things.

“Sorry Dorian, but we’re off to the beach and madly getting ready. What can I do for you?” Xavier asked. Dorian was about to answer when Aiden entered. “Dorian, this is my partner, Aiden. Aiden, this is Dorian Brandt, the artist I was telling you about.”

Aiden nodded, “Indeed! Well, it’s nice to meet you, Dorian.” Then he cast a look at Chase and said, “When will William be home?”

“Soon,” Chase replied.

“William?” Dorian asked.

“William is my partner,” Chase responded, and Dorian couldn’t help but notice the ring Chase wore on his left hand now.

“I.… Well, I just found one piece I forgot to show you and thought you might like it for your show,” the man said, clearly flustered. Xavier and Chase followed him outside and he opened the trunk and unveiled the painting.

“What do you call it?” Xavier asked, immediately intrigued.

“Inferno,” Dorian replied.

“I’ll take it. Add it to the others when the men come by next week!” Xavier said.

Just then, William walked up then and tickled Alex. “This is William, Dorian,” Chase said.

Dorian gave William a long and appraising look before giving him a strange smile. “Nice to meet you, William!”

“Nice to meet you,” William replied, taking the baby in his arms and kissing him on the head. He thought he noticed Dorian’s jaw flexing behind his handsome smile.

When the young man was gone, William said, “That was weird!”

Xavier snickered and said, “Not really. I took Chase with me to meet him the other day and was pretty sure Dorian was pretty taken with the boy. I think you disappointed him by existing….”

“Ahhh,” William said, nodding. Then both he and his uncle had a laugh at Chase’s blush.

***

On Friday night, Marcus and Chris accompanied Spencer down to the pub. Marcus had been needling him about the guy, so Spencer wanted to get it over with and introduce them. But of course, Chris had to come, so he would have a little fun with the boy in the process.

The three of them sat at the little dining area of the pub since Chris was under age, and Spencer said, “So, Chris, can you guess who my friend is?”

After they ordered dinner and their drinks—the older men beers and Chris a diet soda—Chris tried his hand at identifying which barmaid or patroness was Spencer’s interest. At last, Spencer walked up to the bar and asked Dean, “When you get a minute, can you come over and meet some friends of mine? Oh, and can I also get another ale?”

“Sure! I’ll be over in a minute when Harold gets back from his smoke-break.” Harold was an older man who was the second bartender on busy nights and the lone tender on very slow nights.

When Spencer returned, Chris commented, “The bartender sure is a hottie!”

“You think?” Spencer asked as Marcus nearly blew beer out of his nose. A moment later, the handsome young man took off his apron and walked around from behind the bar. Chris’s eyes widened as the man walked up to their table and settled into an empty chair. “Guys, this is Dean. Dean, these are my friends Marcus and Chris….”

“Hey,” Marcus said with a smile. “Nice to meet you guys! So how do you all know each other?”

“Marcus and I … serve together right now, and Chris is friends with our boss,” Spencer said, leaving out some of the stranger complexities.

But Dean had a sharp eye and was a keen observer of behavior. “Don’t worry, I won’t ask!” When Chris and Marcus gave him a strange look, he laughed and said, “I’m sorry if I’m wrong, but isn’t that you guys’ rule? Don’t ask, don’t tell? You’re like … army, right?”

“Ohhhh,” Marcus said, laughing. “You’re funny! Yes, it’s army, but you can ask. They can’t. And you aren’t wrong.” Marcus inconspicuously snaked his hand beneath Chris’s.

Dean nodded and smiled, giving Spencer a look that no one could quite read. “So, you guys should come down to the coffee house tomorrow night with Spencer. I’m going to be playing with some friends!”

“Sounds nice,” Chris said.

“I gotta get back,” he said with another big smile. Then he looked over at Spencer and said, “I get off at midnight. Harold has to close up.” Spencer nodded, and Dean took his place behind the bar.

“Holy crap!” Chris exclaimed. “That’s a guy!”

“I’m pretty sure,” Spencer said. “Though I’m not ABSOLUTELY certain….”

“Is he—are you—you know?” Chris asked.

“It’s complicated,” Spencer said, taking a drink. “Let’s head back and I’ll try to explain it to you on the way.” Hanging back a little, Spencer whispered to Dean across the bar, “You mind if I drop by your place later?”

“I kinda hoped you would,” the man replied with a smile.

On their way, Spencer explained to Chris that he had always known he was bisexual, leaving out the part that would explain why he’d never tried anything with a guy. At the house, Chris and Marcus went inside, while Spencer went to his quarters to read and pass the time. He almost never watched television, but his mind was so busy, he almost turned it on before he settled on a book he liked.

He was still reading when Marcus stuck his head in a couple of hours later. “So when are you leaving?”

Spencer smiled and blushed. “I don’t want to be waiting on his doorstep when he gets home.”

“Good move…. Then again, it would let him know you’re interested. Good night!” Marcus said.

Spencer smiled. “Night!” When Marcus’s lights were out, he left quietly and was sitting on the steps when Dean got home.

“Hey, Spence,” Dean smiled brightly. “I’m glad you came!”

“Me, too,” Spencer replied.

Instead of unlocking the door, Dean sat on the step next to the man in the cool night air. “Your friends are cool.”

“Yeah, they’re nice guys,” Spencer replied. “Some of the first real friends I ever made!”

“Why is that?” Dean asked.

“My family is prominent in England. I was always well protected. Plus, I was different,” Spencer said.

“What are you, some kind of prince?” Dean asked with a laugh.

Spencer looked at him with a sad smile and said, “In a manner of speaking. My family is very private, so you won’t find me on any register, but our blood is royal….”

Dean smiled strangely at him. “And different, you say?”

“I hope it won’t harm our friendship, but I’m bisexual,” Spencer said.

“Oh,” Dean said, feigning disappointment.

“What’s wrong?” Spencer asked, sounding fragile.

“Gay would have been nice, but bi will do,” Dean responded with a smile. He turned so they were sitting eye-to-eye, and added, “I’ve been wanting to kiss you since you were in my apartment!” Spencer blushed, but leaned in partway, and Dean met him in the middle, kissing him softly on the lips. It wasn’t electric, but it wasn’t far off either. Both men sat staring at each other long after the brief kiss ended. “Want to come up?”

Spencer nodded and followed him like a man under a spell. They repositioned themselves on the couch and kissed more vigorously, before Dean at last exclaimed, “As much as I hate to, I’ve got to put an end to this! I’m absolutely starving!”

Spencer watched the man eat and blushed intermittently, while Dean just shook his head. “What?” he asked between bites.

“I … never really thought anything like this would happen?” Spencer admitted.

“You never thought you’d watch a bartender eat leftovers on his couch after midnight?” the man asked jokingly.

“I never thought I’d … act on my feelings for a … you know,” Spencer said, blushing.

Repressing his smile, Dean said, “A … musician?” Then they both laughed. They turned on the television, and sat close together. Soon they started kissing again, and Dean put a hand on Spencer’s inner thigh.

Before he knew what was happening, Spencer had Dean’s wrist gripped tightly and wrenched high up his back in a policeman’s hold. “YOU’RE HURTING ME!” Dean squeaked, and Spencer immediately released him, stood and backed up until he hit a wall, with a horrified look on his face. “What the hell, man?”

Spencer’s eyes watered, and he said, “I am soooo sorry.” As his tears started flowing, Dean stood to approach him but he kept backing away and circled around the table keeping his distance. “I’m sorry,” he repeated and ran for the door and down the stairs before the man could catch him. Dean was hot on his heels, so as soon as he was out of sight, Spencer cloaked himself and ran as fast as he could back to Sebastian’s.

As he burst through the doors of the barracks, he was mumbling, “Oh, God! Oh, God!” And occasionally he would kick something. Finally he made it to his room.

Marcus sat up and grabbed Chris’s hands. The boy had been giving him a massage, and felt sure he was on his way to the long awaited action. “Marcus!”

“Something’s wrong, Chris!” Marcus pulled on his shirt, and Chris did likewise.

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” the boy said as he followed the man to Spencer’s door.

“Spencer?” Marcus called. “For God’s sake man, what’s wrong?”

“GO! AWAY!” Spencer yelled tearfully.

“Spencer! I can knock this door down!” Marcus shouted.

“And I can make you regret it,” the young man spat back through the door.

“I’m getting Sebastian,” Chris said loudly enough for him to hear.

“Wait!” Spencer called and they heard the door unlock. Marcus opened the door and they found the man sitting on the end of the bed, his head in his hands.

Chris fell to his knees before the man and put his hands on Spencer’s. “What happened?” Chris whispered.

“We kissed,” Spencer whispered his response. Then he spoke a little louder. “And then we kissed some more, and it was great. But when he put his hand on my thigh, something clicked, and I grabbed his wrist and wrenched his arm up behind his back! I think I hurt him….”

Marcus asked, concerned, “Badly?”

“No, bruised wrist, probably. But I freaked him out majorly! I ran out of there so fast,” Spencer said breathless.

Chris gave him a big hug, knowing he was missing something huge but not asking, and Marcus patted him softly on the back, before slipping out of the room. He returned a few minutes later with a portable cot and sat it up near Spencer’s.

“What are you doing?” the man asked, rubbing away his fading tears.

“I’m not leaving you alone,” Marcus said.

“I’m not going to do anything stupid,” Spencer said.

“I didn’t say you would, but some other stuff might bubble up to the surface, in your sleep, say…. I just want to be close by in case you need some help,” Marcus said.

“Okay,” Spencer said glumly.

Chris squeezed the man one last time and headed up to the house. The two soldiers soon sacked out as well. About four o’clock, Marcus’s fear was realized as Spencer started thrashing on his cot and actually lit a fire in his bed in his sleep. Marcus was up in a moment and put it out with his pillow. “SPENCER! Wake up!”

Spencer mentally clawed his way out of a very dark place, his body slicked with sweat. “Oh, God!” the man exclaimed as he sat up and wrapped his arms around Marcus. And the two men sat like that until nearly dawn.