Justin turned the heat on, and Donnie went through to the bedroom where he dropped his bag and took off his jacket. Justin was in the kitchen. Donnie called out, "You have a minute?"
Justin came through the doorway to see Donnie disarming. He had two zippered cloth cases and was zipping each of the guns into one.
"I'm storing these in my bag. Just wanted you to know. I don't usually stay with other people, but I want you to know where they are. Since we're going to be together, I'll take you to the range sometime and show you how to make them safe. I mean, if you're okay with that."
"I've never thought about it. I'm okay with learning but I don't think I want to carry one around."
"W A, I'm not an NRA member or a gun nut. I've seen enough damage from guns for a life."
Justin couldn't overcome his curiosity. "Have you ever …?"
Before Justin could figure out how to frame the question, Donnie sighed and said, "Yes. When I was in the army, I got in the middle of a drug bust gone bad. No choice, and they were very bad people as people go. I don't regret what I did in the circumstance, but I got no pleasure from it. Justin, these things," he said, pointing at the cased guns, "aren't magic, they're tools. Safety doesn't rest with the tool; it rests with the mind that wields the tool."
Justin regretted the question. "Sorry, that was insensitive. I'm glad you came out of that alive, though."
"Me, too. Every time put them on, I remind myself that they might help one of my partners or me to go home at the end of a tour. And, now, I'd regret not coming home a whole lot more."
Justin smiled, and crossed to Donnie, grabbing him and kissing him deeply. "You fucking better come home every day."
"Yeah, I know."
After stripping down to underwear, they sat on the couch in the living room. "You want to watch a movie?" Justin asked.
"No, put some music on for me."
"What do you want?"
"Surprise me. I listen to too much crap from the seventies. But, the Beatles I can't live without. You've been very patient about not changing the stations on my car radio."
Justin took a chance and played a live album by Panic! at the Disco on his docked iPhone. He sat back down, and without thinking, pulled Donnie over so that he was lying across the couch with his head in Justin's lap. Donnie looked at him with curiosity.
"So, tell me more about your family."
Justin tried to organize a family biography. "Let's see, parents who know they shouldn't care if I'm gay, but aren't happy about it either. Dad's a software engineer and Mom's a HR specialist. I have an older sister who couldn't believe it when I came out. By then, she was born again, and I was consigned to the fiery pit. I do have an aunt and uncle who really are okay with me. They always want to meet boyfriends, so you're probably on the list, if you think of us that way."
Justin had been stroking Donnie's chest with one hand and his hair with the other. Donnie put his own hand on top of Justin's, and Justin realized that Donnie hadn't been wearing the wedding band for a few days.
"W A, I have some experience at being a boyfriend, just not in having one. This music is nice. I like the singer's voice. I know coming out can't have been easy for you. You have to live with the parents who beget you and your siblings. The nice thing is that you get to choose another family as you grow. You've done well at that so far. Now, for something entirely different, I promised you I'd talk a little about how I'm feeling." He looked up at Justin, almost awaiting permission. Justin nodded.
"The last time I found myself in love, it was with someone I had known a long time. It was also a while ago, so I've lost touch with the process. No, that's not a very romantic way of thinking about falling in love, and the last time it didn't feel like I was falling. This time, it does. Can you adjust that, or at least give me a pillow for my head? I could get you for battery with a pry bar," Donnie laughed.
"Shit, sorry," Justin said, as he adjusted his hard-on. "That better?"
"I'm flattered, and yes." But, Donnie adjusted his head in Justin's lap and rubbed his dick lightly with the back of his head.
"You're avoiding an issue, old man."
Donnie stuck out his tongue, a ridiculously incongruous act for him. "Right, sorry. Does anyone know how one person ends up loving another? I do know that my feelings for you are like the ones I had the last go around. I am concerned that being in love with you means that we'll have to work through a lot of things that were already settled in my last relationship. I'm willing to give it a go, but we have to agree on how to deal with conflict."
Justin smiled. "You've really thought about this a lot."
"We're important. I always think about important things a lot. There are a bunch of built-in problems here. Age is the big one, not in and of itself, though. We have different formative experiences. Our personalities are different. Our work environments are different. Then there are a lot of built-in strengths: our ages, experiences, different personalities, different interests, and sex, which has, from my point of view, been very good. And, I promise, if we practice, that I'll get better."
"You feel in love with me?"
"Yes, I do."
"I love you, too, and I'm not sure I've ever really been in love."
"Like I said, different experiences can be helpful. I have. Now, about conflict resolution, here's my proposal. We talk about our own feelings, and we don't attribute motives to the other person. We agree to listen, or if we're too pissed off to listen, we postpone the discussion. We clarify so that we're sure we understand the other person. My experience is that we can get through most problems that way. It also helps that we care about each other. See, this wouldn't have worked in the car."
"That's a good plan. I also suggest that, if possible, we don't go to bed angry."
"So, old man, we're official?"
"I hope not, W A. We are what we are, and to me that's a great start."
"Anything else you need to say before we go to bed and use my pry bar?"
"Nope. I won't have you with blue balls," Donnie laughed.
'Here I go,' he thought. 'Thanks, Lynn, for teaching me about love.'
Justin turned off the music. "Did you really like Panic!? They're in Portland next month, and I'd be happy to drag your ass over there."
"Would I have to wave a cell phone?"
They got to bed shortly after Justin disappeared into the bathroom for ten minutes, and then they made out for while, just having fun with each other. Boys will be boys, no matter their ages. After Donnie practiced his oral skills on Justin a little while, Justin asked Donnie to get a condom and KY out of the nightstand.
"You sure?" Donnie asked.
"Yes. It's time you got to fuck someone, fuck me, I mean."
"So, we haven't talked much about fucking. I take it you like to be fucked. Do you also like to do the fucking?"
"It's called being versatile. And yes, I'm versatile, but that doesn't mean I necessarily have to fuck you."
"Turn about, W A, turn about."
Justin knelt on the bed beside Donnie and put a little KY on Donnie before rolling the condom on. It was a tight fit. Joey had been smaller than Donnie, so this was going to be a challenge.
"Okay, old man, I'm going to sit on this. Do me a favor, let me do all the work."
"I'll be an observer only."
"You never did this with Lynn?"
"Nope, no anal. It never occurred to us."
Justin kissed Donnie as he straddled him. "Hold it up."
Donnie did, and Justin grasped him, positioning him, and starting to settle on him. He hadn't done this in a while and the pain surprised him. He tried to relax and control his breathing, until finally he had it all. He felt really full. He looked at Donnie, who had remained absolutely still.
Donnie asked, "You okay?"
"Oh yeah. You are a big boy." He leaned forward, resting his palms on Donnie's chest.
"You looked as if that hurt you."
"Hell yes, it hurt. No pain, no gain. It feels great now."
After a few minutes, Justin tired of doing most of the work and realized that Donnie was afraid of hurting him. Rising, he unplugged Donnie, who immediately looked like a dog kicked by his master. Justin rolled onto his back, inviting Donnie to climb on.
"Old man, you're not going to break me. It takes two to fuck. Come on."
Donnie eased into his supine boyfriend, and, looking into Justin's eyes, began fuck him. Justin saw Donnie get more comfortable and saw that, for Donnie, the connection between them became less about observation and more about expression.
'Finally,' thought Justin. Donnie leaned over, and bit Justin lightly on the neck.
Justin whispered, "It's not a pussy, fuck me like you mean it."
Donnie snapped up, almost looking angry, then his look softened and he nodded, grunting, "Be careful what you ask for, W A."
By the time they ended, Justin was almost a puddle. He had jerked himself off while Donnie orchestrated the rest. Damn, Donnie could seemingly go forever. Justin thought about the first time with Joey, who had come in about thirty seconds. Finally, Justin had reached up to lightly pinch his boyfriend's nipples, like pulling a trigger. Donnie's eyes had narrowed, and he came with a series of groans.
'Finally,' Justin thought, 'some noise.'
When he sensed that Donnie was going to get up, Justin held him tight in a hug that glued them together with Justin's semen. He realized that Donnie was still hard, and wondered briefly if Donnie had faked an orgasm. He just wanted to stay here for a long while. Donnie remembered the first orgasm he had given Justin, and relaxed onto him. He figured that Justin would let him know if he couldn't breathe.
"You're still hard."
"No blue pills, honest. Sometimes, when it's really good, it's like this."
Justin had been too nervous to call it really good but was happy that Donnie thought of their first fuck that way.
"You okay staying here like this for a while?"
"Not my natural reaction, but I like resting on you."
Justin moved his hands to the nape of Donnie's neck and played with the hair there. "I'd love to fuck that thing into submission, but anymore and I won't be able to walk for a week."
"I was afraid I was hurting you."
"I guess I just thought my dick would hurt. I mean your ass was wonderfully tight. And, by the way, I was clearly aware that I wasn't fucking a pussy. Different, but it could be habit forming."
Donnie had only talked like this, in circumstances like these, with one person in seventeen years but he owed Justin as much openness as he could muster.
His mouth next to Justin's ear, he whispered, "If I lose control, I'm not sure what would happen. I've never purposefully hurt anyone I've loved and I'm not about to start now."
"You won't hurt me if you let go. I trust you. You need to risk letting yourself go. What to do you think is hiding in there?"
Donnie disconnected from Justin's ass, his dick deflating a little, but he didn't run away. He rolled onto his back, turning his head to keep eye contact.
"You're too young to remember the National Lampoon, but they had a parody once that said, 'A walk through the ocean of most men's souls wouldn't get your ankles wet.' In a lot of ways, that's my world. I have to stay controlled or I might hurt some of the idiots I come across. This is hard for me to admit. It's also why we have agency shrinks. Ours used to tell me that Lynn kept me in balance, and maybe I've lost a little of that balance. I feel as if I'm getting it back with you."
"I promise that I'll get you wet to the top of your head, old man, and thanks for trusting me enough to talk like this. I'm pretty sure this how people in love talk. I also know you're ready for a shower, so let's do it."
After the shower, which was rapidly becoming a favorite activity, they straightened the bedclothes and slept.
Donnie was awake first and tried to leave the bed quietly to go downstairs to make breakfast. He wasn't that quiet, and Justin had wakened when Donnie left the bed.
'How could this guy survive with so little sleep?' Justin asked himself. 'Put this issue down on the potential problems list.'
Justin dozed a bit before joining Donnie in the kitchen. One of them was a morning person and one of them definitely not. Donnie had the makings of omelets ready and cooked them while Justin watched. His ass was tender, and he thought, 'He can cook, too. Lucky me.'
"You were walking funny when you came out."
"I had a dream where I had a fence post up my ass," Justin laughed.
"Funny, I had a dream where I had an ass around my fence post, and I'm walking just fine. You'll have your chance to see me walk funny."
As Donnie served the eggs, Justin started to say, "You know, you don't have …"
But Donnie cut him off. "I meant what I said. Turn about, W A. Besides, I want to see why you looked so blissful while being impaled. No one's going to accuse me of not being versatile."
Justin just nodded and continued eating. They both had a few hours before they had to be at work. Justin suddenly realized that he was afraid to let Donnie go to work. Fuck, he wished he could talk to Lynn about how she handled the fear.
He pushed the thought away and asked, "You want to go for a run before work?"
"Where do you run, around here?"
"I don't, old man. Let's go to your place. I love being by the river."
"Grab the clothes and stuff you want to keep at the place. We might as well get you moved over now. If you want, we could spend tonight by the river. And, if you really like running in the morning, you could just stay over there. I don't want to crowd you, but you'd always have a haven here, if I drive you crazy."
"Oh, man, Donnie, I don't want to be a constant guest."
"Fair enough. You won't be a guest. I told you, I want a partner. You're pretty enough to be a kept man, but too smart and independent. It'll be your home, too. You can even rearrange the furniture or paint the walls, if you want. I'd like to come home to you every day; I'm tired of leaving the gym alone, and running the river from there would be more convenient. Try it. If it doesn't work for you, we'll figure something out."
"Okay. A bit scary, but I'm up for it."
They took clothes and a few of Justin's things over to the condo. On the run, they passed by the gay runners again. This time Justin and Donnie looked at each other and smiled, giving them a small wave.
'Justin was right,' Donnie thought, 'they're family.'
He was now, at least in some ways, family, but he still looked at women. Current definitions weren't useful for his situation. You fell in live with whom you fell in love, surprising as that might be. They ran on past the Hilton and around Esther Short Park before heading back. Justin was beginning to set the pace sometimes.
When they were back in their condo and had downed some water, Justin said, "We need to get something straight."
"Straight, really? Okay."
"I'm going to help with rent or the mortgage or whatever. I absolutely won't freeload."
"Thanks, W A, I know you're no freeloader. Look. First, you have the rent on your place, and you need to keep that. Second, Lynn's estate wasn't small. There is no mortgage, just homeowner's association dues and taxes. I could walk away from work today and not worry for the rest of our lives. How about you pay for the food when we shop? We need rituals. We have one, our long showers. Food shopping together can be another."
"Let me think about the finances. I like rituals."
"Let me know, when you've decided. Oh, my unit is having the annual get-together with families and all. You okay going with me?"
"Do they know about me? You can't just unveil me at a public event."
"No, they don't, but I'd like to introduce you there. I don't think there will be any problems. No matter how they feel about male couples, I've pulled their asses out of the fire often enough, and most of them have done the same for me. That's all they really care about—that I'm competent and have their backs when things go sideways."
"You are so fucking naïve, Donnie. They're going to look at me as a queer interloper. I am not up for that. They'll think I turned you."
"Okay, okay. I know them better than you, and I think it would be all right. But, I'm not going to drag you, if you're anxious."
"No. How about you talk to them first, before the party or whatever it is? That'll give them time to sort through their reactions. Are there any family in your unit?"
"Not that I know of."
"Great, I suppose I'll be expected to hang out with the wives and girlfriends."
"Oh, I hadn't thought about that. You definitely wouldn't fit in with the second and third wives club. It's not for a couple of weeks. If I lay some groundwork and promise to keep you with the guys, will you come? We can leave if anyone makes you feel weird. I mean I know you're going to feel a little weird anyway because you won't know anyone. We have to start somewhere."
"This means a lot to you, doesn't it?"
"Of course it does, W A. I told you that you weren't going back in the closet for me."
"You've never used an indirect solution to a problem, have you?"
"I'll have you know that I'm a master of subterfuge."
"Sure you are," Justin laughed. "Let's try your strategy, then. Now, before work, I'd like to perform ritual number one."
An hour later they were both on the way to work. Donnie was glad that Justin had stood up for himself. He realized that, in his need to charge ahead with a new life, that he wasn't fully considering the effects of revealing his new relationship to his colleagues on Justin.
'Bonehead,' he thought.
When he arrived at his office, he checked the board. They'd made a fair amount of progress in his absence. He saw that the most difficult case he had been working on was still open. That's where he would begin. He asked the junior investigator who was working with him on the case to come in when he was free.
Robert, never Bob, was only a little older than Justin. Robert came in after only a few minutes and they reviewed the binders of statements and the working theory of the case. After they decided on next steps, Robert began to leave to go to work in his cubicle.
"Robert, hang on a minute."
"What you need, chief?"
Donnie frowned at the nickname but let it go. "I'm bringing someone to the holiday thing."
"Yeah, we kind of expected that. Good for you. Everyone can't wait to meet her."
"It's not a she, it's a he."
Robert looked like the floor might swallow him. "Beg your pardon. You're bringing a friend?"
"Robert, you're not an idiot. I'm bringing a boyfriend."
"Jesus, Don, I don't know what to say. I mean, have you always been …?"
"No, I just happen to fall for a guy this time."
Robert seemed to ponder for a few seconds. "Well, as long as you're happy, good for you," Robert said with a smile.
'One down,' Donnie thought.
"The thing is, Robert, I want you and everyone to know that I don't give a shit about people's opinions, but I will not be happy if anyone makes Justin feel unwelcome."
Robert was fixed with the Goren stare. "Sure, chief. I got it."
Donnie knew that word would spread in no time. Telephone, telegraph, tell a cop. An hour later, the Director knocked on the door. After coming in, he looked at the white board. "Robert tells me you're close."
"Yep. You need an update?"
"Fuck, no. Have you gone over the edge? This is a game, right? It's not funny, even for you."
"Sit down, Jim, and shut up before you really piss me off."
The Director sat, and Donnie continued, "It's no joke. Sorry my life has thrown a monkey wrench into the machine, but that's the way it is. I'm still me, and being in a gay relationship doesn't get me a ticket to the shrink these days. You know me well enough not to make this harder than it has to be."
"All right, all right. Give me a little background. Help me out here."
"My personal life isn't your business as long as I'm not crossing ethical, legal, or policy guidelines, but you and I have always been candid with each other, so I'll help you out."
They spent thirty minutes with Donnie giving Jim the summary of how he came to love Justin.
"Well, despite the fact that you are a pretentious asshole sometimes, most everyone here likes you, and you're a great investigator. I'll take responsibility for making sure that …"
"… Justin doesn't feel like he has a target on his back. Bring him to the party."
From most bosses, Donnie wouldn't place any stock in what Jim had said. Jim was different. He'd been there, and all the guys knew it. He would never move higher in the agency because he had the annoying habit of speaking the truth.
Donnie called Justin, and said, "I love you, and the shit's hit the fan. We're going to come out clean. No guarantees on what's in the hearts of my colleagues, but I promise none of them will give you any shit."
"Okay. I'll trust you on this one. It won't be any harder on me than it will be for you at my uncle's and aunt's."