Trebor leaned against the moving van kneading the back of his neck.”How did I let myself get roped into doing manual labor on my day off” he muttered to himself.
“I don’t know. How did you” a familiar voice said next to his ear.
“Braylin” he cried jumping a little when the man’s fingers dug into his sore overworked muscles.
“Mmm that feels divine” closing his eyes he let himself relax beneath the hand’s kneading his tired sore muscles. “I thought you had to practice this morning” he hummed slightly. He was sure if he were part cat he’d be purring.
“Practice is over” he leaned forward pressing his lips into the back of Trebor’s neck. “Thought I’d come by to see if you needed any help.”
“OMG this is him isn’t” Elaine’s voice cried shrill with excitement came to them as she came out of the house. “I’ve heard all about you. I didn’t really believe it though.”
Tensing Trebor stepped away from Braylin to face his cousin. “Did you think I made him up or something?”
“Well….” shrugging she turned to stare at Braylin “maybe just the part about him being a famous hockey player.”
“You told them I was famous” he asked eyes twinkling with amusement.
“Well aren’t you?”
“I don’t know….maybe a little” grinning he turned his attention to the girl “maybe I am among hockey fans.”
“I’m not a fan” she gushed “but my boyfriend is. Russell is going to freak.” Turning her head towards the house “Russell come out here. There’s someone you need to meet.”
Trebor reached for Braylin’s hand giving him an apologetic look. “I’m sorry” he murmured.
“Don’t be” he squeezed his hand to reassure him. “I’m kind of used to this kind of reaction from fans.”
The door opened and a tired looking young man appeared. “Elaine what are you doing out here? You should be inside resting.”
“I’m fine” she insisted. Waving her hands around in the direction of Braylin she announced “look.”
Russell’s eyes became large and round. “You’re you’re” looking to Trebor as if he needed confirmation for what his eyes were telling him “is this your boyfriend?” Receiving a nod in response to his question he continued to stare at Braylin too tongue-tied to say anything.
“Are you a hockey fan” Braylin asked when the silence lengthened into awkwardness.
Nodding Russell blinked slowly as if coming back into focus. “Ssssorry. It’s just I never expected to meet you in person.” He gave Eli a glare who was snickering behind his back but resolutely continued “you never know how much to believe when your source is that guy.” He jerked his head towards Eli.
“I would have told you if he were lying” Trebor said softly.
“Don’t be upset” Elaine quickly stepped in “we just thought it was a case of love being blind and all that jazz. We assumed you wouldn’t know if he was famous or not. You never seemed to be all that into hockey when we invited you over to see any of the games.” Giggling a little “it’s not like you were all that interested or ever actually watched the game.”
“You got me there” he admitted scratching his head. “Before Braylin I didn’t know anything about hockey. I barely knew what a puck was.”
“You’ve come a long way babe” Braylin beamed at him wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling Trebor to him. “So how much more do you have to do? Trebor and I had plans tonight. I don’t want him to miss that movie he’s been talking about for weeks.”
“Are you taking him to the new dragon movie” Elaine asked as they all converged on the van.
“That was the plan” he said “but the last showing is at 3:30 so we had to cancel.”
“Cancel” she cried “why did you do that?”
“Laine it’s alright” Trebor assured her “I’ll see it when it comes out on Netflix.”
“You’ll do no such thing” she shook her head at him resting her hands on her slim hips. Turning to Braylin “do you know he collects all things dragon? He’s wanted to see that movie since he saw the previews. He absolutely loves dragons.”
“I don’t see how we can help you move and make the movie” Trebor pointed out picking up a large box.
“Put that down” she ordered.
“What” he asked almost dropping it.
“You heard me. Put it down” she pointed towards the floor of the van. “If you leave right now you’ll be able to get cleaned up and still make it in time to see the movie.”
“Are you serious” he asked slowly setting the box down.
“Of course she is” Russell encouraged coming up alongside kissing her cheek. “She’s a romantic at heart.”
“Shush” she leaned into him “I would have insisted you stop working a while ago if I had known.”
“Are you sure” he asked again “I don’t mind helping. I don’t want to leave you with all this work yet to do.”
“Don’t worry about it” she waved a dismissive hand towards the boxes. We have the truck until Monday. We’ll finish tomorrow if you want to come back in the morning to help.”
“We’ll be here” Braylin grabbed Trebor’s hand and hurried from the van.
“But…” he stammered “we should finish and I’m not dressed….”
“You look fine” Braylin assured him.
“Have fun you two” Eli shouted “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“I wish I had time to have a shower at least” Trebor mumbled under his breath as they found seats in the middle towards the front.
“You smell fine” Braylin flashed his trademark toothy grin.
“That’s something at least” taking a handful of the buttery popcorn Braylin insisted on getting.
“I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist this buttery goodness” winking at him nonchalantly munching on a handful of popcorn.
“I’m starving” Trebor explained “we were waiting for Lana to come back with lunch.”
“Oh” the movie theater darkened. “Would you like some nachos? I could get you some?”
“Don’t worry about it” he munched on more popcorn “I’ll survive.”
Most of the movie Braylin found himself watching the man beside him. Trebor’s eyes were glued to the screen jumping whenever something tense or exciting happened in the movie. He especially liked the almost childlike wonder that Trebor had allowing him to suspend reality and fully give himself over to the movie.
Walking from the theater Trebor asked “what were you thinking about during the moving? You kept watching me.”
“I didn’t think you noticed” he brushed a street of hair from Trebor’s eyes.
“I could tell you were watching me not the movie” he turned to leave disappointment in the sag of his shoulders and eyes.
“Hey don’t be like that” Braylin caught his arm slowing him down.
“Like what” he challenged “we could have watched something else. We didn’t have to watch that particular movie because it’s the one I wanted to see.”
“I liked the movie well enough” he protested.
“What was it about” Trebor challenged.
“It was …. Um” he shrugged “I don’t know. Maybe I needed to know more about dragons to really enjoy it.”
“We could have gone to something else” anxious now that he knew Braylin wasn’t as into Dragon’s as he was.
“I enjoyed it” he insisted.
“But you didn’t like it” Trebor shook his head “you probably think I’m being silly for liking it so much.”
“Not at all” he shook his head taking Trebor’s hand and leading him from the empty theater. “I enjoyed watching you enjoy it. It was all worth it.”
“You’re not just saying that” he asked looking up watching Braylin contritely.
“It’s like you watching me play hockey” he explained “you don’t understand it but you still have fun. That’s how I feel right now.” He watched the anxiety melt from Trebor’s face and eyes and smiled. “That’s better” he teased touching his face “I missed that smile.”
“Sorry it’s just after all the talking I did about the movie and how great it was going to be” he shrugged “then you didn’t like it. Don’t say you did. I’ve gotten familiar with the way you crease your forehead when you don’t like something. You may not dislike it but you’re just tolerating it because of me.”
“Oh” he was chagrined “I still had fun though.”
“I don’t know how if you hated the movie” he persisted.
“I had fun watching you enjoy it” pausing flicking Trebor’s nose playfully. “You were so engrossed in the movie. I would have paid to watch the way your face lit up. That’s what I found the most enjoyable watching you.”
“What do you want for supper” Trebor asked changing the subject.
“I thought you were going to feed me a gourmet meal” he teased.
“I don’t know how gourmet it will be but I can cook” Trebor said “Do you like lasagna?”
“I’ll eat anything you make.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“I’m not fond of Italian” he grinned “but it beats eating Chinese take out again.”
Frowning as he drove up outside Trebor’s building. “This isn’t a very good neighborhood.”
“Don’t worry. Your car will be safe” he assured him getting out. “I can’t afford anything else with all my school loans” he said.
Pointing in the direction of the little diner packed with customers. “Have you ever eaten there” he asked.
“Not often” he said leading the way towards his apartment. “It’s always packed and yes their food is that good.”
“One day we should try it” he suggested.
“Are you saying you don’t like my cooking” he asked.
By the tone of his voice Braylin knew he was teasing “I didn’t say that.”
“No? You just implied it” he held the door open for Braylin to enter first. He walked past the elevator going towards the stairs. With a groan Braylin followed.
Several flights up Trebor exits the stairwell and going towards his door. Holding it open allowing Braylin to enter first. Whistling softly Braylin said “not bad.”
“Not quite the hole in the wall you expected” he challenged.
“Nope” he went to inspect the view “wow you’re super close to the train.”
I’m kind of used to it by now” he said moving around the kitchen gathering the ingredients he needed to cook. “I hardly notice it now. After we eat we’ll need to go up to the roof to check out the view. It’s my favorite spot.”
An hour later Braylin was leaning back at the kitchen table. “That was delicious” he patted his stomach. “I might have to do extra laps tomorrow to run it all off.” Silence greeted his announcement. Giving Trebor a concerned look only to find him staring at his phone. “Something wrong?”
Shaking his head he looked up meeting Braylin’s gaze. Eyes moist with tears not yet fallen. “It’s my little sister. She quit college.”
“Her choice” he asked sensing that her quitting school wasn’t the real problem.
“She only has a few months to go before getting her degree” he took a deep breath. Putting his phone away saying “my parents don’t know where she is. They were hoping she’d come here.”
“I don’t think so” he drummed his fingers on the table a far away look in his eyes. “We used to be really close when we were kids. Now” he shrugged “I don’t know her.”
Pushing away from the table Braylin stood and began to clear the table. “I’ll clean up” he offered “why don’t you give her a call?”
“Are you sure” he asked frowning as he watched as Braylin stacked the dishes haphazardly. Biting his lip to keep from saying anything he stood up too.
Sighing Braylin looked at the dishes in his hands “I know I haven’t learned your method yet but I promise I’ll get them clean.”
“Alright” he nodded reluctantly taking a few steps towards the living room before turning back. Wrapping his arms around Braylin he whispered “I don’t know what I’d do without my hockey player.”
“Well Doctor Bennett I hope you never have to find out” he smiled letting the warmth caused by Trebor’s words to spread through him. Briefly he felt the warmth of Trebor’s lips on the side of his neck just below his ear lobe.
Turning Trebor stood in front of his dragon tapestry letting his mind wander to the movie he’d seen earlier that day. How would it be if he actually had a real dragon? His hand traced the dragon’s tail while he listened to his phone ring waiting for his sister to pick up.
Frowning as the automated message played he took a deep breath to leave his message. “Ava this is your brother. Where the hell are you? Mom and Dad are hysterical. I know you’re going through some sort of experimental phase or whatever you call it. That’s no excuse to make everyone worry about you. Call me.”
He slowly turned around coming face to face with Braylin. “Don’t say anything” he snapped not happy with the message he’d left.
“In my experience that’s the last message I’d return” he said drying his hands on the back of his jeans. “What kind of trouble is she in?”
“I never said she was….”
Walking over to the other man he gently lifted Trebor’s chin up to gaze into his eyes. “You didn’t have to.” He could the indecision and trouble in the light blue eyes as they stared up at him “tell me” he requested softly.
“She’s just the typical college senior” he mumbled turning away. “She drinks too much and … “ wrapping his arms around himself he stared at his feet.
“Is she into drugs” Braylin asked making a guess.
Nodding he looked up “I found the drugs in her room when we were both home for the holidays last year. She promised she’d stop.” His voice rose “now I don’t know. She may have just been telling me what I wanted to hear.”
“All you can do is wait to hear from her” he murmured.
“She won’t call” he said jerking from the well-meaning arms of the hockey player. “She’s too stubborn. Always doing her own thing. I thought if I was a good enough big brother she wouldn’t have to go down this path.” Turning he reached for the door knob “maybe it’s karma come to bite me in the ass.”
Frowning Braylin wondered what he meant by that. But before he could ask Trebor said “want to go up to the roof?”
The plea in his voice and the sadness in his eyes made him want to do anything he could to wipe that expression from his face forever. “Sure babe I’d like that” he followed him out and up the stairs. Reaching the top he said “you know you can tell me anything right?”
A pause ensued at Trebor stared at the busy bridge in the distance “I know. I just need a little time.”