It wasn't to be.

Kade had been walking to work and noticed Garrison talking animatedly with a few of people. He walked faster, hoping not be spotted. Didn't work.

"Kade!" Garrison left his friends and jogged up beside him. "Hey. We uh," he paused, and glanced behind him. Probably making sure his friends were far enough away so they couldn't hear, Kade thought. "We still on for tonight?"

Kade hated that, the way Garrison would check before mentioning they were hanging out. As if it were taboo for two male friends to have plans for a Friday night.

"Yeah, course we are. Seven? Or eight tonight?" Kade didn't look at Garrison, just kept on walking.

"Eight. Rebecca has class tonight. I'll meet you after she leaves."

Kade hated that as well. Rebecca, Garrison's girlfriend. His cover, he called her. Kade didn't need a cover, then again Kade wasn’t buried in the closet as deep as Garrison was.

Garrison smiled, not noticing Kade's mood. "I gotta jet. See you at eight!"

Kade kept walking, head down, as Garrison jogged back to his friends.

 

Later, ten minutes after eight, Kade buzzed Garrison in.

"You okay?" Garrison asked after Kade closed the door. "How was work?"

"Yeah, Gary, I'm fine, work was fine. She make it to class okay?" Kade leaned his back against the door as Garrison went to the fridge and pulled out two beers. "Yep. College isn't fun. I feel like I'm thirty instead of twenty." He held a beer up towards Kade before heading to the couch.

Kade laughed and met him there, plopping down and swiping the extra beer from Garrison.

"Careful, it's open. Don’t wanna damage the upholstery."

Kade laughed again. The couch was over 15 years old and already had various rips and stains. "Nope don't wanna do that." He took a long pull from the beer then set it down on the coffee table. "What do you wanna do, if you don’t want to damage the couch?"

Garrison didn't answer and Kade didn't expect him to. After a few minutes of tongue-war, Kade pulled away and pointed a thumb at the the bedroom. Again, Garrison didn't answer, he just pulled Kade up by his hand and led him into the room.

 

Forty minutes later, panting but sated, Kade rested his head on Garrison's sholder. They didn't speak for a while and Kade had started to fall alseep when Garrison whispered. "Kade? You asleep?"

Kade raised his head before dropping it back on Garrison's shoulder. "No. Almost was though."

"Sorry."

They were silent again. "Gary?"

"Yeah?"

"Was there something you needed to say? Or were you just checking?"

"Um." Garrison pulled away and sat up. Kade did as well and flicked the lamp on.

Garrison was biting his lip. That was unusual. Kade was the worrier, not Garrison.

"What's wrong?" Kade reached out a hand but Garrison flinched from it and he dropped it.

"I asked Rebecca to marry me this afternoon. She said yes."

"You..." Kade was stunned. Rebecca was only supposed to be Garrison's cover. Unless...

"Is she pregnant?"

"No! No, of course not." Garrison got up from the bed and started pacing. "I can't be like you. I can't be out. My family. How will I find a good job? I do want kids. I can't-" he paused and looked at Kade. "I can't be gay. I just... can't. I'm not... strong like you. I..." he seemed at a loss for words.

He sat back down on the bed and put his head in his hands. Kade started to reach a hand out to him but pulled it back before it made contact. He didn't say anything, waiting for Garrison to collect himself.

It was a few minutes before he turned towards Kade and spoke again. "You remember Ryan Merril? From high school?"

Of course Kade did. Ryan had been full back of the football team and one of his main tormentors. He didn't say any of that, just nodded, not trusting his voice.

"It was on the news this morning. Ryan was killed last night. They are saying it was a gay bashing. They are saying Ryan was gay and was walking with his-" Garrison's voice broke and he cleared his throat. "With his boyfriend from a movie and two men attacked them with baseball bats."

Kade's mouth was open by this point, his head spinning.

"Ryan died on the way to the hospital and his boyfriend is in critical condition. Don't you see. That could me, could be us. I can't. I simply can't do it."

Garrison started to dress but he kept talking. "I like you Kade, I admire you. I just can't be like you. I'm sorry."

He sat back on the bed to tie his shoes and Kade finally spoke. "We can keep hiding. You don't have to-" he placed his hand on Garrison's back and Garrison flinched away again and stood up.

"I would like you to be my best man."

Kade wanted to laugh at that but controlled himself. "No. Absolutely not. I will not stand by and watch you get married to some clueless blonde bimbo."

Garrison nodded and wouldn't meet Kade's eyes. When he leaned down to kiss him on the lips, Kade avoided the kiss and, with a hand to Garrison's chest, pushed him away.

"I hope you to are very happy together." Kade said calmly, pointing to the door. "Now get out."

He waited till he heard Garrison's car start up before he let himself cry.

 

11 Years Later

 

Kade sang along to the radio as he drove home from work. He liked working on computers. Liked how all the components fit together and how, when a computer broke, he knew just how to fix it. Unlike his previous relationship. Noah was confusing, irritating and unpredictable. Not to mention a cheater.

Kade turned the music up louder to block his thoughts but it didn't help. Two weeks ago Kade had found Noah in bed with another man. They had been fighting for the past two weeks and yesterday Kade had told Noah to pack up his things and leave. And he did. Leaving Kade alone again.

Kade was tired. Wrong men everywhere but where was the right one. Where was His Man? The One?

Kade sighed and beat his hands on the steering wheel, not in time with the music but in frustration.

His cell rang. He smiled. A distraction. Just what he needed. Ignoring the law in Connecticut, he turned off the radio and answered it.

"Hello"

"Hey Kinkade. It's Henry. Think I found you a snow blower."

"Really? Is it working? In good shape?"

"The owner got it when he bought his house. Already had one. He had to replace the gear box on this one but it runs. He says you can have it for $250."

"Where are you?"

Henry told him the address.

"I think I'm close. I’m on Route 2, going home."

Henry gave him directions.

"I need to leave, Mary's making dinner, but the owner will be here. You driving the truck?"

"Yeah. What color is the house?"

"Blue with white shutters. I gotta head out or Mary will put me in the dog house."

Kade laughed. "Give her a kiss for me and tell her I'll see her Saturday."

"Lost another one, eh?"

"Yeah." Kade laughed to himself. "Get going, old man."

"Bye Kinkade, see you Saturday."

"Bye"

Kade hung up the phone. Henry was Kade's ex-boss and neighbor. Mary, his wife, always made him feel better when he got dumped, cheated on or cheated on and dumped. At least this time he was smart enough to be the one to do the dumping.

Still contemplating Mary's cookie's, Kade almost missed the driveway and had to stomp on the breaks. Good thing no one had been behind me, he thought as he turned into the short drive.

A small blue house, one floor with a separate garage. He would have known it was the place even without the boy, about 10, Kade guessed, standing by the snow blower on the lawn.

"Dad! He's here!" the kid yelled before waving at Kade as he parked.

He ran over and opened the trucks door. "Hello. I'm Kyllian. Are you gunna buy the snow blower so I can fit my four-wheeler in the garage?"

"Maybe" Kade reached out and ruffled the kid's hair. Kyllian grinned at him.

"Kye?" A man's voice rang out and Kade stiffened, he almost recognized that voice. "Kye, are you bothering our guest?"

"No." Kyllian said but his grin fell and he scuffed his foot on the drive way. "I was helping him, Dad. Honest."

"Alright. I believe you."

The man came from behind the garage, dusting his hands off on his jeans. He smiled at his son, who had run up to him, and spoke softly into Kye's ear, not looking at his guest yet.

Kade wanted to bolt, needed to bolt. This couldn't be happening. He must be...

"Hello, I'm," the bright smile flashed for a minute, before faltering.

"Dad?" The boy looked worried.

"Yeah, Kye, I'm fine."

The smile turned back on Kade, a little less bright this time. "I'm Garrison Almeida. Folks usually call me Gary." He held out his hand.

Kade couldn't smile back but he managed to shake his hand. "Kade Saucier. So." He cleared his throat. "Henry tells me you have a snow blower for sale?"

Kye smiled and ran over to it, his father and Kade following slower.

As Gary explained the problem with the gearbox, the previous owner had blown it out, and showed him that it did indeed work, Kade tried not to stare at Gary. He nodded politely and smiled at the boy whenever he caught the Kye looking at him.

"Kye? Will you go fetch us a few beers? Me and Kade here need to discuss some things."

"Sure Dad. I promise I won't shake them up." Kye grinned at his father before running into the house.

"Where's Rebecca?" Kade didn't mean to ask but it slipped out as soon as the boy was gone.

"Divorced me. Two years ago. I wanted Kye, she didn't." He shrugged and led Kade to the porch where a few wooden chairs waited. He sat in one and gestured for Kade to take another. "Moved down here to get away from her."

"You?" Gary asked. "How's your love life?"

Kade laughed and shook his head. "Bad. Horrible even. Caught my last... one cheating on me." He changed the word boyfriend when Kye came out of the house.

"Thank you, Kye." Kade smiled at him when the boy handed him the unopened bottle. "How old are you?"

He deftly twisted the cap off and, true to his word, Kye hadn't shaken it.

"I'll be 10 next month. September 19th." He said proudly.

"Ten, wow." Kade took a pull of the beer. "You must be a big help to your dad."

"Yep." Kye said, but peered anxiously at his father.

"Yes. Kye is good help. He's the one that cleaned the garage and found the snow blower."

Kye grinned and Kade couldn't help noticing how similar they looked. Same black hair, same blue eyes, same overall face, though Kye had his mother's nose.

"Kye, why don't you play while me and Kade talk?" Gary suggested.

"Okay." Kye waved at Kade and then whistled. "Tyler! Come on boy!"

A black lab ran out of the open house, and circled around Kye. The dog was almost bigger than the boy. They both raced down the porch steps and into the yard.

The two men watched the boy and dog play fetch for while. A few times Kade glanced at Gary as he watched his son. He seems happy, Kade thought. Maybe he moved down here to get away from his wife, but maybe he moved here to get closer to me as well. Maybe...

"Does she know?" Kade asked, breaking the silence.

"About..." Gary gestured back and forth between them with his free hand. "No. I was afraid-"

Kade got up. I've had been fooling myself. Why did I even think-

Gary stood up too and placed his hand on Kade's arm. "I was afraid I'd lose Kye. He's my son. I can't lose my son."

Kade shook off his hand. "I can't do this. For some reason, some stupid reason I had hoped for one second, just one, that you had moved here to find me." He shook his head and put down the beer on the railing. "I can't believe I... But I just get another excuse. I'm sorry. Thanks for the beer. I need to go."

He raced down the steps and walked quickly past the boy.

"You're not gunna buy it?" Kye asked, running up to him.

Kade stopped and smiled at Kye. No reason to yell at the son for his father's mistakes.

"Sorry kid. Can't afford it right now. Maybe your dad will find another buyer. Okay?" He ruffled the boys hair, waved towards the porch and got back in his truck.

He didn't even try to stop me. Kade thought as he backed down the drive and onto the road. Why am I not surprised.

 

Saturday

 

"Yep. Found him cheating but this time, I tossed him out" Kade told Mary as he chomped on another cookie. "Thing is, he didn't even feel guilty for cheating on me. That’s what we most fought about." Kade sighed and Mary patted him on the shoulder.

"I'm sorry Kade but I knew Noah wasn’t right for you. He was too serious and never made you laugh." She went to the fridge and poured out two glasses of milk. "Laughter is important in a relationship. Henry and I laugh every day."

She set the glasses on the table, on in front of Kade. He dipped a cookie into it. "Well, what about Frank? Or Dylan? Or Jordan? They all made me laugh? Where did I go wrong there?"

Mary didn't answer him. They had this conversation every time a new love failed.

"Mary?" Henry's voice sounded from the front door. "There are still some cookies left, right?"

"Yes, we only ate half." She called back and grinned at Kade. Kade had eaten half.

"Good." Henry came into the kitchen, his hands on Kye's shoulders, pushing the boy ahead of him. Kade saw the boy and looked behind Henry. Sure enough, there was Gary.

"Kyllian, this is my wife, Mary. Mary, this is Kyllian."

Mary smiled at the boy and went to shake his hand. "Nice to meet you, Kyllian." He shook her hand solemnly.

"He usually goes by Kye." Gary told her and introduced himself, offering her his hand. "I am Gary Almeida."

She shook it.

"Kade!" Kye smiled at him.

"Hello there, Kye." Kade couldn’t help but smile back. "Want a cookie?" He offered the tin.

Kye looked up at his father who nodded and smiled at Kade.

 

 

 

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