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Friday, November 6, 2015

TLR Chapter 41

Thursday morning before the sun peeked over the trees, Brendon was preparing for the days baking in the kitchen as usual. He glanced at the clock on the wall. If the new man was even a minute late he would send him away. He didn't have time to mollycoddle the new assistant.

Tristan, nervous about being on time for his first day, came running in five minutes early. When he saw Brendon, his stomach dropped and he was finding it hard to breathe, but he pasted a smile on his face and approached the other man with his hand extended to shake.

"Hello, Brendon. I hope I'm not late." he said.

Brendon turned and shook the outstretched hand briefly. “You’re the new guy, Kane right?"

Tristan's stomach knotted. Was it possible that Mutt had it wrong? Did Brendon not remember him after all?

"Yes, I'm Kane. Tristan Kane." He said uncertainly, putting his hand down.

Brendon nodded curtly. "Kane, get started on this." He turned and then handed the young man a recipe in metric measurements.  "Quadruple the recipe." he ordered, turning away.

Tristan's eyes widened. Yes. Brendon remembered him. He knew that Tristan never did learn to understand metric measurements. "Do you have measuring spoons and cups in metric?" He asked.

Brendon gave Tristan a look. "Of course not, do the conversions."

Tristan swallowed down a retort. He knew that he was going to have to prove himself to Brendon and do as Mutt said and take things slowly. He resolved to take whatever Brendon threw at him. He took the recipe and went to find the things he'd need, taking out his smart phone to figure out the conversions.

Brendon gave orders to the others as they arrived regarding bagels, cupcakes, cookies and breads before going to work on the pies.

Tristan was a little relieved to hear that Brendon wasn't treating his other workers much better than he was treating him, so he went to work. He was determined not to mess up.

Brendon glanced over at Tristan. "Kane, we'll never get that recipe baked. What's taking you so long?"

Taking a breath to calm himself he answered, "I have to do the conversions manually Mr. Rheinhart, since you don't have metric measuring utensils."  He tried not to grit his teeth. Brendon had been no better than him at metric measurements, and he knew that the baker was doing this on purpose to embarrass him.

Brendon glared at him. "I was told you had baked for several years, anyone who bakes professionally should already know the conversions." He snapped.

The other assistants exchanged looks at Brendon's snapping at the new guy.  They couldn't figure out what the kid had done and wondered at Brendon's attitude toward him.  None of them had ever been asked to use the metric system to bake anything in the years that they'd been there.

Tristan could feel his face flush but kept his calm. "I worked for a small local bakery. We never used metric measurements." ‘And you know I've never been any good at them.’ he added mentally.

When Brendon didn't answer, he picked up his pace somewhat, doing his best to get the correct measurements and yet still get the cakes ready and baked in a reasonable time. He briefly considered going to James about this but then he'd most likely be out of a job and he'd lose any chance he had of befriending Brendon again.

He worked hard and fast, converting milliliters into teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. He turned grams into the proper amounts of sugar and flour, mixing and stirring each ingredient in as the recipe called for, quadrupling the recipe and putting away things he didn't need any more to keep his work space clear.

Tristan was determined to make these cakes perfectly. Maybe if Brendon saw that he could perform adequately in the kitchen he would let up a little.

Thankfully, Brendon left him alone after his initial irritated comments and Tristan finished the recipe, pouring the smooth, delicious smelling batter into the well prepared pans.  Placing them carefully into the oven, he set the timer and cleaned his work area while he waited to see what Brendon would throw at him next.

When Brendon ignored the fact that he was done he took the initiative and began to make a large batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  He was just putting them in the oven when Brendon yelled, "Just what are you doing? We don't need that. We need to work on turnovers!"

The older man said, "Start with Apple, then cherry and then the peach."  The head baker gave the others orders as to tarts and petite ores and brownies before he began to work on a special order cake for one of the residents.

Tristan wondered how he was going to make peach, since he was highly allergic to them. Instead of reminding Brendon of that fact, he began with the apple and tried to figure out how he'd deal with the peach by the time he had to do them.

As the morning got busy Brendon manned the cash register smiling and being pleasant to the customers, handing over freshly baked goods as requested by each customer. When he had a request for turnovers he said, "Let me check on them. I have a new assistant and he's supposed to be making them as we speak." He went into the back. "Tristan! How are those turnovers coming? I have a customer who wants some!"

"I have the apple and cherry done. I'm just about to start on the peach." Tristan called back, donning a pair of latex gloves so that he could touch the peaches without breaking out into hives.

Brendon said to the customer, "I have Apple and Cherry ready, but no peach yet." The man picked apple and Cherry turnovers and the baker packaged them for him. He went back and saw everyone busy. He started making more rye and pumpernickel bread and called to Warren, "More bagels, make wheat, raisin and blueberry!"

He turned to Tristan, "Tristan, make more cupcakes once you finish the turnovers. And muffins, we need banana nut, poppy seed and oatmeal nut.  Oh and bran muffins as well!"

The young assistant turned a furious look over his shoulder at Brendon's retreating back and thought of some choice things he'd have liked to say, but he clamped his mouth shut and continued working as fast as he could.  If this was how Brendon wanted it then this was how he was going to get it.

The day went on this way and Brendon worked as hard as the others in the kitchen. When it came to closing time he said, "All right everyone, clean up time!" He began to wash the pans and sheets used for baking in hot soapy water. "Tristan, you can dry the things that are washed and the others will show you where they go. We'll start again first thing in the morning. Hopefully once we get the other assistant things can slow down a bit."
He glanced over his shoulder at Tristan and said, "We open at six in the morning. Report at four."

Early hours were no stranger to Tristan so he didn't blink an eyelash. It was finally time to go home and all he wanted to do was take a shower and have some dinner.

"Good night guys." He called, even though he hadn't been introduced properly to any of the other men and they'd been too busy to chat much during the day. Their lunch breaks had been staggered so he hadn't been able to get to know any of them.

Brendon wished all his helpers a good night, locked up and went to the bar at the lodge for a bite before heading home. 


Tristan had been on his way home, depressed and angry, when Vic, Warren and Arnie caught up with him.

"Tristan!  Hey Tristan!  Hold on man, wait up!" Arnie called.

Tris halted and looked back at the three men approaching him.  "Where's the other guy?" He asked curiously.

"Spence just wanted to go home.  Working for Brendon takes a lot out of you," Vic said with an understanding expression.

"Yeah, me too," Tristan replied tiredly.

"Look, we never got to know each other.  The Demon Baker had us all working from the first second we walked in and we never got the chance to talk."  Warren joked.

Tris smiled wanly.  "Well, I'm Tristan Kane, pleased to meet you." He said extending his hand to shake.

Vic, Arnie and Warren all shook his hand and introduced themselves to him.

"Look, we wanted to apologize for Brendon." Vic, who seemed to be the spokesman for the group, said.  "He's a little demanding but we're still shorthanded and he's been on edge lately.  More on edge than usual for the past week or so.  So we wanted to apologize and let you know he's not always that much of a slave driver."

"We saw that he was being a real jerk to you," Warren added, "And we didn't want you to think we held with his attitude toward you today. Brendon just really kept us busy to keep ahead of the demand.  It's not that bad every day, it's just that several of the guests were leaving today, and more were coming in so it was busier than usual."

"So, we wanted to introduce ourselves and ask you to join us for dinner at the lodge.  You just moved in and you just had to put up with the day from hell," Arnie joked, "We're headed there and we wanted you to join us if you're in the mood."

"And if you're not in the mood we'll understand that and drag you there anyway." Vic laughed.

Despite his fatigue, Tristan was grateful for the friendly overture, and couldn't bring himself to say no.  "Sure," he replied.  "I really didn't feel like cooking tonight anyway."

Vic put a friendly arm around the young man's shoulders and led him toward the lodge and the restaurant.  They were laughing and swapping jokes by the time they arrived. The Host smiled at the four men, picked up menus and led them toward a table, leaving them to check out the fare.  Vic, Warren and Arnie knew the menu by heart and had no problem suggesting a dozen different dishes that they thought Tristan would like.

Tristan, a little overwhelmed by the men's friendliness, felt the familiar pressure behind his eyes, so he laughed and smiled along with them and finally decided on a simple but filling dish that Warren suggested.  He pretended not to see Brendon sitting at the bar talking to the bartender, and focused on swapping more jokes with his new friends while they waited for their server.


"Jake, Hi, pour me a Bud would you please?  Brendon said as he sat down on one of the bar stools, "You don't usually work on Wednesdays," He observed.  "Pete out for the night?"

"Yep, I'm covering. Here's your beer, my friend.  Time to sit back and relax."

"Yeah, as always. Thanks Jake." Brendon took a long sip of the cold brew. "Now that hits the spot. Can you order me up a plate of wings please?"

"Sure can, my friend." Jake said jovially before turning toward the kitchen to place the order.

Brendon smiled at Jake. "Thanks. It will be good to eat something other than baked goods."

"I know what you mean. After a night of smelling all the food in here I'm dying for something different by the time I get home. The ribs and wings are very popular but I swear I don't eat them anymore unless I'm starving." He laughed.  "Actually, I go home and have a slice of toasted bread with butter. You guys make some fantastic bread."

"Thanks." Brendon said with a half-smile.  He sighed as he waited for his order.

"So how was work today, Bren? How's the new guy working out?"  Jake asked to pass the time, since it was quiet at the bar at that part of the day.

"My day was crazy. That new guy kept baking things we didn't need and took forever to work on a recipe in metric."

Jake's eyebrows rose to his hairline. "You had him baking using the metric system? You don't even bake using the metric system." He laughed. "You don't even have a metric measuring cup. How did he make out?"

Brendon gave Jake an evil grin. "He was doing the conversions on his phone. He did all right though." he admitted grudgingly.

"Thank God for that then, Chef Ramsey." Jake said pointedly, smiling to take the edge off of his joke. "I'm glad he did alright. So what hoops are you planning to make him jump through tomorrow?"

Brendon grinned, "I'm not sure yet, maybe ask him to bake Rascals, they're nonexistent."

"You're evil, man. You've got to tell me what the hell this guy did to piss you off." Jake said.

A shadow passed over Brendon's face and he grew serious. "Nothing, it's just the usual new guy things we tend to do." He said nonchalantly.

Jake turned away for a moment when one of the servers brought up the plate of wings for Brendon, but he had a feeling that it was more than the baker was letting on. He took the plate and placed it and a fresh beer in front of his friend. "Bon appetite!" He said.

Brendon smiled. "Thanks Jake." He drummed his fingers absently on the bar as he sipped his beer and ate a few wings.

Jake was about to ask Brendon another question, his friend seemed a little off to him and he wondered if it was something he could help with.  Just then, he saw the new guy walk in with Vic, Arnie and Warren, laughing and chatting as they headed toward an empty table in the restaurant, which was visible from where they were in the bar.

Brendon stiffened and deliberately avoided looking at the group of men, his lips a straight line of consternation.

"What's wrong, Bren? Can I help?" Jake asked. "What's going on with you and this new guy?"

Brendon glanced up at Jake briefly, pushed away his food and beer and said, "I knew him in another life."

Before Jake could ask any more questions, Brendon got up and left, conspicuously avoiding the table where his four helpers sat, waiting to order their food.

Jake's eyes followed his friend out of the bar and through the restaurant and then settled on the four newcomers. Tristan had obviously seen Brendon's departure as well, and wore a distinctly sad look.


The next day Brendon was at the bakery before four in the morning as usual and had started the different doughs needed for that days baking, bread dough, pastry dough, pie crust and was just awaiting the rest of his assistants to arrive.

Tristan, not wanting to be late, showed up just as Brendon was finishing up the last of the preparations. "Good morning." He said politely.

"Good morning Tristan. I want you to start on making the rascals today." Brendon informed the younger man.

"Rascals?" Tristan asked. "You want me to make... Rascals?"

Brendon gave Tristan a look. "That's what I said didn't I?  You do know what they are don't you?  Well make them. Don't ask me about them again. I expect my assistants to do as they're asked to." Brendon replied snidely, secretly pleased that there were no such things and there was no way Tristan would be able to make them.

Tristan bristled inwardly at Brendon's tone but grit his teeth and prepared to show this uptight jackass what he was capable of.

Brendon turned from Tristan and as the others arrived assigned them each a task to complete.

Tristan went to his work area and began to collect the things he'd need to make the Fat Rascals, one of his more successful recipes and a big seller at the bakery he'd been working at previously.

He grated citrus peels, found blanched almonds after asking around for them a bit, took out whipping cream and currants and set about chopping, grating, mixing and baking until he had several dozens of Fat Rascals baked. Pleased with his efforts he offered one to each of the guys, including Brendon.

Brendon looked at the offering. "What are these?" He asked.

Tristan looked at him askance. "You asked me to make Rascals... here they are. I wanted you to have one of the first ones."

Brendon hid his surprise and nodded. "Thank you, but since you worked so hard, perhaps you should have one of the first ones and let the other guys sample them. I'll have one later." Brendon was a little suspicious and wasn't sure that Tristan wasn't trying to get back at him for the past. He was still very wary of the young man.

Tristan shrugged and took a bite out of the pastry. "They really should be stored and eaten when they're harder, with a nice hot cup of tea, but, mmmmmm, I like them like this." He said, turning away from Brendon so that he didn't have to see the look of distrust on the other man's face.

After the other bakers sampled the Rascals, Brendon took one himself and was pleasantly surprised. "They are very good." He said to Tristan.

Slightly mollified, Tristan smiled. "I'm glad they meet with your approval."

Brendon nodded. "They do and if they go over well you may be in charge of making them daily."

Tristan had to remember Mutt's words, and not take things too quickly with Brendon. It was going to be a while yet before his past lover might ever trust him again, and he had to take his time.

"Thank you." He said. He was going to add, "It's a honor." but he was afraid that Brendon would shoot him down, so he kept that thought to himself.

"You're welcome; now get to work on the turnovers."

"Yes sir." Tristan said, keeping his face and voice as emotionless as he could.  Inwardly he was jumping for joy. This was the nicest that Brendon had been to him since his arrival and he wasn't going to mess it up.  He returned to his work area, cleaned it up from the Rascals and began the turnovers.

The third day Brendon said to Tristan, "You can put the breads into the oven today. Make sure they've risen all the way before putting them in, and don't let them burn. Once you've done that I want you to start bagels.  Arnie will do the turnovers."

"When you make the bagels make sure the water is boiling before you put them in to cook."

Tristan tried to keep his voice level as he reminded Brendon that he knew how to make bagels.

Brendon glared at him. He approached Tristan with a hand raised, finger pointing just inches from the younger man's face.  "I don't know what you do and don't know right now, so you do as I tell you!"

Tristan resisted the urge to take Brendon's finger and bite it until he drew blood. He also resisted the impulse to 'accidentally' spill the boiling water onto Brendon's feet. Instead he turned and stormed out of the kitchen, holding his arms across his chest. His shoulders were up and his head was down as he headed toward his bungalow, preparing to pack up and leave.

Brendon held himself rigid as he saw the look on Tristan's face, not sure what the other man was going to do. He shook inside, fearing a violent outburst. He tried to show outwardly that he was unaffected, but inside he shook like a bowl full of Jello.

Once the other man stormed off Brendon had no clue as what to do so turned back to his work. "Well, he didn't last long." He remarked.

"If you treated me that way I'd walk off the job too." Vic said angrily. "What is your problem? You've been treating him like a noob since day one."

Brendon scowled. "It's personal so mind your own business."

Warren put a hand on Vic's shoulder before the other man could start a fight, and Vic grudgingly turned back to his work.

Brendon ignored the other men and began beating on some new batches of bread dough to take out his frustrations.


On the way to the infirmary that morning, Heath stopped in at the bakery to check up on Tristan and remind him to take his meds.  He rang the little bell on the counter and waited for the young man.

Brendon Rheinhart looked up and saw the doctor coming in to the bakery. "Hello doc, what will it be for you today?" He asked in a friendly manner that didn't reach his eyes.

"Let me have a bear claw, Brendon." Heath requested.  "And I needed to talk to Tris for a minute."

"You'll need a motorcycle to catch up to that one." Vic said sourly from behind them.

Bren nodded at the doctor’s request and prepared the bear claw. "I'm sorry Tristan isn't here. He stormed off a little while ago."

"What do you mean stormed off?"

Brendon shrugged. "He's a little hot head. Got annoyed at me and left."

"Chef Ramsey here ran him off." Vic butted in.

"Vic," Warren said softly, "Come on."

Brendon gave Vic a look. "That isn't true."

"What happened?" Heath demanded.

"Are you gonna tell him the truth, Bren, or should I?" Vic challenged the other man.

"Someone better tell me the truth before I call James," Heath growled.

Brendon looked at the doctor. "I told him he had to do things the way I told him to. He had a snit fit and left."

"Why would he get upset at that?" Heath still demanded.  "Was he feeling ok?"

Brendon said, "He seemed to be feeling okay as far as I could tell. I pointed my finger at him when I told him that he had to do as he was told."

"He was talking down to the new kid like he was some kind of dim bulb, giving him stuff to do that he never asked any of us to do, like make cakes using the metric system of measurement.  Making up names for stuff and telling him to make it just because.  And then when the kid did it he just gave him more to do." Vic continued, not caring if he had a job in the morning or not.

"Pointed? You had it in his face!" Warren finally broke into the conversation.  "If you'd of done that to me you’d only have a stub where that finger was."

Brendon looked at the two other men and then had the grace to blush. "Well, I might have been a bit hard on him."

"A bit... yeah." Vic muttered before turning away to finish his muffins.

Warren only gave him a pitying look before picking up where Tristan had left off.

“Brendon you better hope that boy hasn't done anything foolish," Heath growled as he too rushed out the door and headed to Tristan's bungalow.

The baker had a look of mixed emotions on his face at the doctor's words as he went back to his baking, wondering if he had been wrong about Tristan, and wondering what Heath's last words had meant.

After Tristan had stormed out of the kitchen, Brendon had to admit to feeling a little guilty about how he'd treated the boy.

Despite his innate desire to be protective toward Tristan, he remembered the anger and the violence he had been subjected to when they were together. 

He remembered Tristan's happiness and energy, but also the fact that Tristan would go back and forth quickly between happy and energetic to sad and only wanting to stay in bed, his laughter quickly turning to tears for no apparent reason.  He remembered the days when Tristan seemed to need little to no sleep where he would be talking incessantly or cleaning at strange hours.  He remembered trying to talk Tristan through his moments of anxiety and laying his lover's fears to rest only to have to do it again an hour, a day, a week later.

He remembered being accused of abuse, which hurt him because he had been patient and kind toward Tristan and he didn't understand what had caused his lover to become so violent toward him, to the point where he got a split lip and a clip across the temple for his troubles.  

He had swatted Tristan once when he was out of control.  The swat did calm Tristan in one way, as he did stop swinging at Brendon, even after Brendon had released Tristan's wrists, but then Tris had packed all of his stuff. 

While Tristan had been packing, Brendon had been trying to calm and talk to Tris but the young man had been either unwilling or unable at the time to listen.  Brendon had tried several times to apologize and explain things from his point of view, but again, Tristan had been unwilling or unable to concentrate on Brendon's words. He'd packed and lugged his overly heavy roll along luggage out of the apartment and out of Brendon's life, until now.

He thought again that he should have spoken to James or Jeff about Tristan's unpredictable behavior and suggest that he be refused the position at the resort.  The fact was that he had never really forgotten the young man, and despite the strange behavior, he had loved him.

He wanted to give the boy the benefit of the doubt, but his own feelings of anger and betrayal had caused him to be harsher and more demanding of Tristan than the other guys.  What scared him most were the feelings awakening in his chest the more he saw his past lover, and he felt he had to harden his heart against falling in love with the volatile young man.  He didn't think he could live with that kind of behavior again.  He'd deliberately been pushing Tristan away in an effort to avoid feeling the love he had once shown to him.


Heath jogged across the compound.  The front door of Tristan's bungalow was open so he walked in.  He called but there was no answer.  Finally he heard banging coming from the bedroom and followed the noise.

Tristan was in his bedroom, tearing clothing out of his dresser drawers and shoving them willy nilly into his suitcases when Heath caught up with him.

"What's going on, Tris?" the young doctor gently asked.

"Nothing.” He sniffed.  “I was taking my time but it wasn't working and no matter what I did it was wrong and he was talking to me like I was an idiot and like I didn't know what I was doing even when he told me to make Rascals thinking I didn't know how to make them but I did and..." Tristan began without pausing for breath.

Heath could tell the young man was close to breaking.  "Easy, kid, come sit down and talk to me."

"Mutt told me to take things slow but I can't take them any slower and Brendon isn't going to ever forgive me and I can't work with someone who treats me like that." Tristan continued breathlessly, fighting tears.

Heath pulled the boy in to a hug.  "Have you taken your meds this morning, Tris?" he asked while he rubbed the young man's back.  Jeff had told James, and James had told Heath that Brendon had admitted to knowing Tristan when he'd been hired.  He'd mentioned Brendon's odd reaction and he worried for both of them.

Tristan got himself under control and sighed, “I don't remember." He admitted.  "What's today?" He asked, getting up and going to a kitchen cabinet to take down his med tray.

Heath followed him. “It’s Friday.”

"No, I guess not." Tristan admitted guiltily, finding the meds still in the little compartment for Friday morning.  "I guess I was so worried about being late for work and making sure Brendon couldn’t find fault with me that I ran out without taking them."

"Do you think not taking them could have been part of the problem?" The doctor asked.

"No, doc.  Not really.  I dunno." Tristan admitted.  "I should have enough built up in my blood so that missing the occasional dose here or there shouldn't be a problem." He rationalized.  "It was just the way he was talking down to me.  He's been doing it for days. I couldn’t take it anymore.  And that finger in my face, he's lucky I didn't bite it clean off." He growled. "No, doc. I think that if I had been off my meds for longer I might have struck out, but I've learned a lot in ten years. I'm not who I used to be."

"Do you have any idea why he would be acting like that towards you?" Heath continued to ask questions trying to understand why Brendon was acting the way both Vic and Warren said he was. He wanted nothing more than to protect this young man.

"Bren... Brendon and I... we... we were together for a couple of years while attending culinary school." Tristan admitted, blushing hotly.  "I... I had a lot of problems that I didn’t know about... that he didn't know about either.  Undiagnosed problems that caused me to be..." He took a breath, “Out of control.  Happy one minute, mad the next.  I was angry, scared. I knew something was wrong but not what. I took it out on Brendon.  All he ever did was love me and I... I ruined it."

"You're not that man anymore, Tris."  Heath said.  "But Brendon doesn't know what you have accomplished in the last ten years.  He is only remembering that man."  Heath paused.  "I think he's scared."

Tristan's eyes widened. "Bren scared? He's a top....he's not supposed to be scared.

Heath laughed.  "Let me clue you in on something, kid.  But I'll deny it if you tell Mutt or Jax." He chuckled.  "Tops can be, and are afraid for a lot of reasons."

"You said the two of you were lovers but was Brendon your Top?"

"I didn't know he was a top, so to speak, or that I was a brat. He only ever smacked me once when I was out of control... that's when I... when I ran away from him.  I was scared. Confused.  I... I tried to..." He trailed off, and began to unbuckle the wide leather watch band around his wrist to show Heath the scar.  "I was in the hospital for three weeks. After that, when I understood what was wrong with me, I just knew that Brendon would never want me back.  Not screwed up the way I was.  So I just tried to get on with my life. All I had were the clothes I took with me.  I never went back for my things.  He probably threw them all away." He said sadly.

"I know Tris, but that was another time and a different you." Heath gently assured the young man.  "Do you think it might be time to share your diagnosis and how you have been dealing with it with Brendon?"

"When I met Paul and he told me where he worked and who he worked for... I thought it was... well, maybe God's way of saying I had another chance with him.  Do you think he would listen? Do you think he would understand, or even care? Maybe... forgive me? Maybe... give me another chance?" He asked hopefully.

"I don't want to give you false hope, Tris, but you will never know unless you try."

Tristan sat down and scrunched his fingers into his hair in frustration.  "I'd like to be able to start fresh, let the past go and just...  get on with my life. If I'm lucky... maybe Brendon will at least want to be friends, if nothing else.  Do you think telling him will help? Or will I scare him more?"

Heath thought for a minute.  He wanted to find the right words.  "Tris, you do not deserve to be treated the way Brendon has been treating you no matter what you did in the past." He explained then paused again.  "If Brendon is the Top I know he can be he will at least listen to you.  If he can't get past it then its better you find out now."

Tristan let go of his hair and sat up straighter to look at Heath.  "How do I approach him about this?  Especially after I ran out like that.  What I did today isn't much different than what I did ten years ago. Do you think he'll listen?  Maybe... maybe I can make dinner for him? Do you think if I called him and asked him to dinner so that we could talk that he'd come?"

"Well, first I don't want you going to him alone.  I can go with you if you want me to." the doctor offered.

Tristan let out a relieved sigh.  "Yes, I think he'd be more inclined to listen if you're there.  Would you please help me?  But... I don't want everyone else to know... about me... my problems.  Do you think we can keep that secret between you and me? And Brendon once we tell him?"
"I would be happy to help you, Tris."  Heath was quiet again for a minute.  “And no one will find out unless you want them to know.  He knows I was upset with him when I left the bakery earlier so I think I'll invite him to the infirmary for a talk." He said.  "A talk among the three of us, although, I can't say much about your condition unless you want me too."

"Thank you, Heath." Tristan said fervently.  "I'd tell him, if you thought it would help. I just don’t want to scare him away any more than I already have." Tristan said, dully.

"Why don't you unpack and get some rest and I'll go request Brendon's presence at the infirmary."

"What time should I be there?" Tristan asked quietly.  "Do you think he'll meet you? Will you tell him it's about me? Do you think he'll show at all?" He asked worriedly.

Heath laughed, "Whoa little one, just let me handle the invitation.  Let me talk to him first and then I'll come back and tell you." the older man answered.  "And Tris this isn't going to work unless you tell him everything."

"E... everything?"

"He needs to know the truth, Tris, and he needs to know you are not hiding anything."

Tristan blushed, a slight smile on his face.  There he went, thoughts racing again.  "I guess I should take my pills after all.  I'll take them and rest, and I'll wait for you to contact me.  And I'll be honest with him. But Heath?  Should I tell him about my scar and how I got it?  Do you think that'll scare him more?"

"If you two do become friends and maybe more again he is going to see the scar at some point.” Heath said. "So my advice is to tell him everything up front.  Its better he hears it from you."

Tristan saw Heath out and then slowly began to unpack his clothes, folding and hanging them back where he'd torn them from the drawers and closet, some with the hangers still on them.  He laughed at himself for his packing techniques.  After he put everything away, he sat down with his laptop to watch reruns of the X Files until he fell asleep on his bed.


Heath walked back to the bakery.  Vic greeted him at the counter.  "How’s the kid?" he asked Heath.

"Resting." Heath answered.  "I need to speak to Brendon."

"Good luck, he's not speaking to anyone right now." Vic groused.  "He's in the back, beating up some defenseless bread dough." He said, pointing with his thumb in the general direction before going to wait on a customer.

Heath shook his head hoping for both Bren and Tris's sakes his plan would work.  They were both miserable as it was.  He walked around the counter and entered the big kitchen.  "Bren, what time is your shift over?"

Brendon glanced up from his kneading.  "We begin shut down and cleaning around 4 and we're usually out of here by between five thirty and six pm.  What's up?"

"Can you get away for an hour or so this morning?" Heath asked his voice firm.

Brendon wasn't sure where this was going but he could make an educated guess.  "If it's about that slacker, Tristan, then don't waste either of our time.  It's just as well he's gone." He said bitterly.

"Brendon, this isn't a request." the other top stated.  "And yes it is about Tristan.  I'm not sure why you are treating him the way you are but it needs to stop."

He turned the dough he'd been kneading back into a bread pan and began to work on another, hoping that if he ignored Heath that the doctor would go away.

"If you want a formal request for a meeting to come from James, I can arrange it." he growled.

Brendon scowled at Heath.  "We don't need a formal anything.  Fine, I'll come. Just don't expect much."

"Good and I expect you to leave the attitude here." Heath demanded.  "Tris isn't the same man you knew 10 years ago so come with an open mind." 

Brendon started to argue that point but asked, “When do you want me there?”

Heath looked at his watch.  It was only eight and the breakfast crowd had thinned out.  “Can you be there at ten?” he asked the baker.

“I think this is a waste of time but I’ll be there.”

Before Heath went back to Tristan’s bungalow he headed to the home he shared with James and Jax.  His younger lover was in the shower so Heath took the time to tell James what had happened and the meeting he had planned for the two men.

“I can be there if you want, Babe?” James offered.

“Thanks JW; I was hoping you would volunteer.” The doctor agreed.  “I think Tris will be ok, but I’m not sure about Brendon.  It would help if you are just in the building if I need you.  Maybe waiting in the conference room.”

James smiled.  “What time?”

“The meeting is set for ten.” Heath revealed. 

“I’ll be there before the guys arrive.” James said then pulled his lover to him kissing him soundly.  “Have I told you how much I love you lately, Babe?”

Returning the kiss the younger man whispered, “I love you more, JW.”

James watched as his lover made his way out and went to Jax, "I'm going over to the infirmary for a ten o'clock meeting. Is there anything you need before I go?"

Briskly rubbing his wet head, Jax grinned at James, "No, I’m good, James."


James went and sat in the room off Heath’s office where he could hear, but not be seen and would come in if he was needed. He wanted Heath to handle things.

Heath got Tris settled in his office and went back out to the waiting room to wait for Brendon.  At two minutes until ten he heard heavy steps on the porch.

Brendon pushed the door open and stomped into the room.

Heath stepped forward.  "Thanks for being prompt, Brendon."

Brendon said in a somewhat surly tone, "You didn't give me much choice in the matter did you?"

"No, no, I didn't, Bren.  But thank you for coming anyway." Heath said.  "I see you forgot to leave the attitude at the bakery."

"Well you'd have an attitude too if I came over here and told you that you had to leave your work to come talk to me in the kitchen and none of this would have been necessary if that little trouble maker had done what he had been told."

Heath frowned, why did he ever think this was going to be easy?  "Come on, Tristan is waiting in my office."  The doctor said as he led the way down the hall.

Brendon followed the doctor and looked at Tristan as they entered. A part of him went out to the miserable looking kid, but Brendon quickly squelched it and gave Tristan a cold look.

"Well, let's get on with this. I'm a busy man." Brendon said staunchly.
"Brendon, have a seat.” Tristan was about to apologize when Heath cut him off.  “Tris, you have nothing to be sorry about."

Tristan looked at Heath, not knowing what he should say or when. He folded his hands in his lap and concentrated his gaze on the floor, trying to avoid Brendon's cold expression.

Heath looked between the two men.   "Brendon, calm down and let Tris say what he needs to say." The doctor growled.

Brendon saw Tristan's reaction to him, but couldn't help staying cold so the heat he used to feel with the boy wouldn't creep in and melt his heart.

"Well you always liked being the drama queen! You're making me waste valuable time!"

Tristan blushed hotly but kept his eyes down.  Brendon wasn't far off the mark and he wasn't sure anything he could say would change his mind.

James, having heard enough stepped into the room and pinned Brendon with his infamous top look. "That will be just enough of that Brendon...sit down, close your mouth and listen to what is going to be said. Heath said he asked you to approach this with an open mind...I'm telling you to do that understood?"

Bren almost pouted, but stopped himself. He gave James a curt nod, sat down and closed his mouth into a straight line and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm listening." He said.

Tristan chanced a look at Brendon. It wasn't much better, but it was better than it had been. 

Heath moved closer to Tris.  Squeezed his shoulder and said, “Go ahead, Tris."

James said, "Relax Bren, you look like you're ready to take someone's head off and I'm sure you can't listen when all that stuff is going through that thick head of yours."

Brendon gave James a look, but uncrossed his arms. He wouldn't look at Tristan, but looked a bit more open and relaxed.

"I really do want to say I'm sorry, Brendon." Tristan said quietly.  "I... well what happened between us back then... I was sick, in a way. I... I have Bipolar Disorder.  I'm in treatment and I take meds that help me now, but back then I didn't know what was wrong... and back then I didn't realize how hard it was on you.  You were never anything but nice to me, and I treated you badly.  I wasn't in complete control of myself, but I am now, with the meds and counseling.  And I really... I wish..." He trailed off for a moment.  "I wish you could find it in your heart to forgive me.  I want to work with you. I want to be friends at least.  Can we start fresh?" He asked wistfully.

Heath kept his hand on Tristan’s shoulder but his eyes were on Brendon.

James watched the interaction.

When Brendon didn't answer immediately, Tristan hung his head again, this time to cover the fact that he was near tears and he didn't want anyone to see his eyes reddening,  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as his therapist had instructed him to do when upset.

Brendon listened. One part of him screamed yes, but another part of him said no. He fought within himself and then said, "We can try, but I want you to know it will be hard to trust you."

Tristan raised red rimmed eyes and looked at Brendon sadly.  It was just as Mutt had said; he was going to have to take his time with Brendon.  There was a lot of hurt to undo, and that would take time and patience on his part.

"I understand." He said quietly.

Brendon pinned Tristan with a look his feelings warring within himself and asked, "How can I trust what you're saying? How do I know you won't fly off the handle or assault me again?"

"Tris, is it ok if I answer Brendon's question?" Heath asked the young man.

Tristan looked gratefully at Heath and nodded, unable to speak for fear that he might cry.

He hadn't expected Brendon to fall into his arms, but he'd hoped that the other man would have understood a little more.  It had been hard to admit his own fault in the matter.

"Bren, as Tristan's doctor I have seen his medical records.  What he told you is true." the doctor assured the baker.  "Tristan has come a long way in the last ten years and now knows how to control the mood swings and the temper flares."

James nodded at Heath. "Go ahead Heath, as long as Tristan is willing to allow you to speak about his condition on his behalf."

"He does feel bad, guilty that he ruined the life you two could have had together."

Brendon narrowed his eyes. "How long can he do that before he erupts again?" He asked

"He's been on his meds and in therapy for the past ten years.  He's agreed to allow me to help him to remember to take his meds on time.  And I'd like to point something out to you that you may have missed," Heath said.  "You've been needling him for days now and he's kept his temper. He's kept his hands to himself and he hasn't yelled back, am I right?  If you had done that to the old Tristan, what would he have done? 

Brendon thought about things and said, "He'd have exploded a lot sooner and would have probably hit me, even if I was trying to help him." Brendon admitted.

"Even with all the crap you threw at him, did he explode?  No, he simply removed himself from the area."

Brendon nodded. "He did...this time."

"I.... I did think of a couple of things I wanted to do, Brendon, but I didn't." Tristan said hopefully.  "I controlled myself.  I can control myself now.  I just want you to be able to see that.  I just need you to give me a chance to prove myself to you."

Heath felt the tension in the room lessen.  He looked at James hopefully.

Brendon said grudgingly, "Well you did this will I know it won't happen the next time?"

"Maybe instead of trying to goad him on, you could help him.  Become part of the solution not the problem." Heath stated.

James said, "If you treat him better than you have lately Brendon, there might not be a next time."

"Why is it all of a sudden my problem? I'll treat him no different than I do my other workers. If you can't stand the heat Tristan, then get out of the kitchen!"

James gave Brendon a look. "Bren..." He said in a warning tone.

Tristan, who had been looking on hopefully, reacted as though he'd been slapped.  He hung his head.  "I deserved that, I guess."

"Tris, you do not deserve to be treated the way Bren is treating you." Heath stated.

Brendon looked at each man. "All right, but no special treatment and he does his work like everyone else."

James said, "And you give him no different assignments than any of the others either."

Bren nodded. "All right. I will give him the same kind of assignments and no more harassing."

"Brendon, you know very well that if you treated Vic or Warren half as bad as you have been treating Tris, they would walk on you."  Heath informed the baker.

Brendon said, "I said I won't treat him any differently from now on."

Tristan felt it would be a bad time to tell Brendon that the guys had admitted that they'd wanted to walk out on him several times in the last few days, as he'd been nearly as brusque with them as he had with Tristan.

"I'm willing to give things a try, a fresh start, if you are." Tristan replied quietly. "I understand that it's going to take time, but I'm willing to put the time in."  He wanted to say more but he knew it was too soon to say half of the things he felt at the moment.

Brendon couldn’t help his protective part from surfacing once again, even though he tried to push it aside, it insisted and he said, "All right...I'm willing to give you a chance."

Tristan's heart leapt but he kept himself under control externally.  "Thank you, Brendon.  It's all I ask."

Brendon said, "You're welcome...stay on your medications and keep yourself under control and we'll get along just fine I believe."

"He will stay on his med's, right Tris?" Heath reminded the boy.

"Yes, sir."  Tristan answered quietly.  He knew that with Heath there to remind him, he wouldn't be missing any more doses for any reason.

"Okay Tris, let's get back to work then, there are muffins to be made."

"Thanks Bren," Tris said.  "I'll be there in a minute."

James walked Brendon to the front door. 

Tristan smiled a genuine smile. He felt as though a great weight had been lifted off of him.  Brendon was willing to give him a second chance, albeit grudgingly, and he'd take any chance he could get.

James said, "I'm satisfied with the outcome of this and I would like it to proceed from here Bren."

Bren nodded. "All right James, I will do my best."

James added. "It's all I ever ask from anyone."

Bren said to Tris, "I'll see you back at the bakery then, if it's all right with you gentlemen may I return back to my work?" He aimed this at Heath.

Heath chuckled at Bren’s question.  "I think that's a very good idea, Mr. Rheinhart?"

"Yes, thank you." Bren smiled at the men and left to return to the bakery.

Tristan waited until he was sure Brendon was out of sight and hearing before he got up from the chair he'd been sitting on to give Heath a huge hug.  He smiled up at the taller man.  "Thank you, Heath! Thank you so much!"

Heath smiled and hugged the young man tightly.  "You're doing the right things, Tris.  Just keep up the good work.  I'll be here to remind you to take your meds until it becomes second nature to you.  Now get going, you have work to do."

Tristan felt a tear of happiness escape but he didn't try to wipe it away immediately.  "Thank you, Heath. James.  Goodbye for now." He said gratefully before leaving to return to work.


  1. 4 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m. is a 13 1/2- to 14-hour day. I'm sure that's not legal.

  2. Those are the hours of the bakery - the staff shares the time.

  3. It's not a large bakery, but they do have more than four people working, and when one shift is over, another crew comes in for the afternoon shift. Hope that clears things up for you. :)