Monday, September 7, 2015
TLF Chapter 6
After they had removed the geese, scattered the nests and gathered the eggs, Mutt had some time on his hands. Not a good thing, as he would be the first to admit. It never ended well. He grinned wryly.
Putting his plan into action he gathered up the ladder, paint and brushes and began painting a neighboring bungalow as he waited for James, Jeff and Heath to leave the one where they were hiding the new guy.
Mutt tried not to pout. Jeff was being a nudge and wouldn't tell him who the guy was or why he was in a bungalow under almost 24 hour guard by either James or Heath. What had the guy done? Why was he in a bungalow instead of a detention area? Why wasn't security involved? So many questions, so little time between what Mutt jokingly called the changing of the guard.
From his vantage point on the ladder he had a good view of the bungalow and the men inside, except for the new guy, which was frustrating. When he saw Jeff get up to leave he shimmied down the ladder quickly, something he knew Jeff would scold him for if he saw him, and ran around the opposite side of the bungalow he had been working on where another can of paint and a paint brush were sitting. That side already had a coat of new paint which would back up his story that he was actually painting if Jeff spotted him. He peeked around the corner and was relieved to see his husband walking purposefully back toward his office. He waited until Jeff was out of sight before putting the lid back on the can and going back up the ladder.
It wasn't long before both James and Heath left and Mutt took his chance. He had no way of knowing when they'd be back so he had to act fast. Picking up his tool belt, he buckled it on and strode across the stretch of grass between the two bungalows. He knocked quietly at the door and waited for the invitation to enter.
Jaxon heard the knock and assumed Jeff must have forgotten something. There would be no reason for either of his guys to knock. Jaxon smiled at the thought that Heath and James were his guys, then shook the thought from his head. Watching them the last few days, he was sure there was something between them which wouldn’t leave room for him once his leg and arm were healed. Hearing the knock again Jaxon said, “Come in.”
Jaxon was sitting in the recliner watching a movie, one leg elevated by a couple of pillows, one arm propped on another and in a sling, a cool drink on the table beside him. Mutt liked him immediately as the man smiled, a slightly confused expression on his face and said hello.
"Heya!" Mutt replied cheerfully. "I'm Mutt, your local handy man. I'm just here to do some general maintenance." He fibbed smoothly. "It's nice to meet you..." He let the question trail off.
“Um, Jaxon,” he introduced himself still surprised to see someone other than the three men he had come to trust.
"Well it's great to meet you, Jaxon. It is all right if I call you Jaxon, right? We're all pretty informal around here, but we do run into the occasional guest who likes to be addressed more formally."
“Jaxon’s cool,” he answered, “or Jax. I’ll answer to either.”
"Cool!" Mutt said happily. "So, what happened? Did you fall while rock climbing?" he asked.
Jaxon squirmed trying to get comfortable. He chuckled and said, “No, nothing that exciting, Mutt. The short story is that I slipped in the woods and dislocated my knee and sprained my wrist.”
Mutt removed his tool belt and plopped down on the sofa then asked, “So, what is the long story, Jax?”
Mutt had such a disarming manner that Jaxon had no qualms about opening up to the other man.
“I did slip in the woods but the reason I was there in the first place was because I was sort of running away from home.” Jaxon paused to judge Mutt’s reaction.
Mutt stared at Jaxon. Should he ask Jaxon why he ran away? Should he change the subject? Finally he settled on, "do you want to talk about it?”
"Not much to tell, Mutt. I'm originally from Maine, but left around 7 to live in California with my Dad," Jaxon said looking down at his good hand as his finger picked at his thumbnail.
"That's great! I was born and raised in Stonemill. It's a nice little tourist town, mostly. What part were you from, do you remember? Hey, do you like to fish? I know some great places we could go. How about rock climbing... I mean... when you feel better and all." Mutt stammered, embarrassed. He wasn't completely insensitive. He could see that Jaxon had some worries and didn't want to bring them up, so he prattled on, hoping to lift the boy's spirits.
Jaxon chuckled to himself as Mutt fired questions at him. "Um, I don’t really remember much from before I went west but I was living in Elmville until a few days ago." The younger man paused. "I'd love to go rock climbing," he answered. "Well, if my two watch dogs will let me out of the house."
"Hey, do you like archery? We have a really nice area set up. Once your arm is better maybe we can go and you can try it out?
Now Jaxon was laughing, "Hey, do you ever take a breath?"
Mutt laughed as well. "Jeff is always telling me to think, take a breath and then talk. As you can tell, I'm still a work in progress.
"I think Jeff has a good idea there, Mutt," Jax laughed
“As far as Heath and James, they're pussy cats. Just get better and they'll lighten up," he smiled.
"I hope you're right about Heath and James,” Jaxon agreed, “because I don't want to be stuck in this chair the rest of my life. ‘Yeah, like I would be here more than a couple of months,’ he thought.
“Right now you're first on their Top’s Things to Worry About list. Jeff didn't really tell me much... well he didn't tell me anything, I had to find out by listening at windows, but there's something that's worrying them about you? Something you're worried about? I mean. I never saw anyone be registered as a guest as quickly as you were. Are you in witness protection or something? That'd be cool."
"No,” Jax laughed, “I'm not in witness protection. They are probably worried about my stepdad coming after me."
"Your stepdad? Jeez man, I'm sorry. Is he some kind of... well, I don't know what but... are you scared of him?" Mutt whispered. "Is he someone we have to be afraid of? Nah, not with James, Jeff and the others to look after you.”
"Tops?" Jaxon asked confused. "What's a Top?" Jaxon asked.
“Um... a Top?" Mutt's tongue stuttered to a halt. He'd just assumed that Jaxon knew..."A top is... well...In one sense a Top is the guy who takes the top position when you're... I mean... when you're making... ah... love." His tanned cheeks burned with embarrassment as he continued.
"Ok, let me tell you about my stepdad and maybe by then you can explain what a top is,” Jaxon laughed.
“OK, that sounds like a deal!" Mutt smiled.
Jaxon laughed again, “I lived in California with my Dad until he died in a hiking accident when I was 17," Jaxon explained. "Then the courts made me come back here to live with my Mom and Gene. He found out I was gay and…well, let's just say, he didn't like the idea," the younger man said. “He wasn’t too thrilled with the fact his stepson was gay and showed it every chance he got.”
Mutt glanced toward the windows as though looking for something. He turned his attention back to Jaxon. "Yeah, my father wasn't too thrilled with my orientation either. My mother was proud as a peacock, but my father just wasn't having it. I ended up running away. Is that what you did?"
"We had a blow up a few days ago and he smashed up my stuff and laptop," Jaxon sighed. “I didn't figure I needed to be there anymore so I packed my stuff and left. I took a canoe from his rental yard and headed west. I was doing good until the canoe sprung a leak and swamped not too far from here.” Jaxon reached over and grabbed his drink and took a long pull on the straw. “I was camping near the lake in the woods when Heath found me. He startled me and tried to run but slipped and this is the result of the fall,” Jax said smacking his leg. “Oww.” Jaxon yelped. “Dad taught me how to survive in the woods so if I hadn't killed my knee I would be long gone.”
“I'm sorry to hear that," Mutt replied sadly, glancing toward the window again. "He had no right to do that. No wonder James is worried about you. Don't worry. You're safe here."
“Yeah, that’s what they all keep saying but Gene is a big guy," Jax said. "I don't think he would waste the time looking for me though."
"I hope not, but I'm not worried. James and Jeff can handle him."
"How do you know they can handle him?" Jaxon asked.
"They can handle anyone, they're retired Marines. They used to eat people like your stepfather for dinner with plenty of room left for dessert," Mutt bragged.
Jaxon's eyes grew bigger. "Really?" he said. "Then I guess there's nothing to worry about," he laughed.
"Nope, nothing at all." Mutt smiled back, his pride in his husband evident on his face.
When Jaxon didn’t say anything Mutt continued. "It's a good place, you know. I mean, Jeff and I, we live here year round. It's a nice little out of the way place, and there's lots to do year round. As James's guest you have carte blanche. The sky's the limit for you," Mutt said with a smile.
The two of them found that they had a lot in common despite the fact that Mutt was a good ten years older. Jaxon showed surprise when Mutt told him that Jeff was his husband. "Yeah, there's an age difference, sure, but it really is just a number. Jeff keeps me hopping, I'll tell you. Snow on the roof but the furnace is still lit and going strong," he joked.
Jaxon laughed with his new friend. “So it really doesn’t bother you? Your age difference I mean?” he asked. “He treats you as an equal not as …” Jax’s words trailed as he wasn’t really sure what he was asking.
“No, as he says, age is just a number. I've been with guys my own age and have never been as happy as I am with Jeff. And yes, he treats me as an equal. It's not a Daddy and Boy relationship, if that's what you wondered," Mutt reassured him. "But he does... Well, he is a retired Marine so he likes to take the lead... and I like it when he does. At least most of the time."
"Are there many relationships with a big age difference? I mean it's not weird?” Jaxon asked his new friend. 'So maybe it wasn’t unreasonable for him to wonder if there could be something between him and James. Or Heath,’ Jaxon thought.
"I've never taken a consensus,” Mutt laughed. “I'm not sure how many couples have a large of an age difference as we do... it's not weird to me. What I can't get my head around is three ways... that's weird to me," he laughed. "Not that I'm judging, mind you."
“Three ways?" Now it was Jaxon's turn to gawk at Mutt. "You mean three men in a relationship? That happens?" Jaxon whispered.
"Heck, if I had two Jeff's I wouldn't mind. Yeah, three guys instead of two... that's more common than an age gap, if I'm honest about it. Are you all right, Jaxon?" Mutt asked concerned at the younger man’s face.
"Um, sure, yeah, I think so, um maybe...” Jaxon replied a bit confused and flustered.
Mutt watched the young man carefully until Jaxon took another drink.
"Ok," Jaxon said then remembered his other question, "so what's a top?
"Well... see... Wow, that's a good question. What do you know about DPs?"
"DP?" Jax thought for a minute, "Nope never heard of a DP."
Mutt looked toward the door and then back at Jaxon. Well, first questions first. “What's a Top?"
"Tops and DP's?" Jaxon reminded Mutt.
"Oh yeah, sorry. Jeff says I have ADD and I tend to get distracted easily." Mutt laughed
"Really, I hadn't noticed?" He chuckled.
"OK... Jeff tops exclusively when we make... when we... you know...” he blushed.
“I’m almost 21, Mutt, I know about sex,” Jaxon confirmed.
"Well in our case, we have a DP... a discipline partnership. Ah... maybe it's a little too much for you to handle right now? Some people find it a little weird. But it's not weird! Not at all!" he said before Jax could reply.
Jaxon was laughing out loud, “If you aren’t comfortable explaining, Mutt, maybe I'll just ask Heath or James,” Jaxon said.
"But it's like they say. Some men's junk is another man's treasure. You know? And... Yeah, yeah, you're right. But don't ask unless they bring it up OK? Otherwise they'll know I was here and talking to you."
"So, we shouldn't be talking about it?" Jaxon wiped the tears from laughing so hard at Mutt from his eyes.
Mutt gave a twisted smile. He was a fixer and a doer. He'd never been good at explaining things, but he was glad that he'd made this young man laugh, even if it was at him. He glanced at the door again, then back at Jaxon. “Yeah, well, maybe," he admitted. Mutt glanced at his watch and looked out the window.
Jaxon had watched him repeat the actions several times in the last 15 minutes. “What’s the matter, Mutt? Looks like you are expecting trouble?” Jax asked when the older man crossed the room to look out the other window.
Mutt said, "If Jeff catches me here..."
Just then there was a knock on the door. Mutt gave Jaxon a pleading look to which Jaxon smiled and nodded his head toward the bedroom. Mutt grabbed his tool belt, scurried into the bedroom, partially closed the door and stood behind it to listen.
Jaxon waited until his new friend was out of sight safely in the bedroom. “Door’s open,” he said pretending to rub the sleep from his eyes and yawning.
"Hi Jaxon, I’m sorry to bother you again, but I just need you to sign one more form. Mutt, why don't you come out and witness the signature for me?" Jeff said.
Mutt came out from behind the door with a sheepish expression. "How'd you know I was there?"
"I can smell the paint, I heard your tool belt jangling, I saw your shadow, and you are very obviously not painting the bungalow next door." Jeff replied. His tone revealed nothing, but to Mutt that set off every alarm in his body. It was when Jeff was at his quietest that Mutt was in the most trouble.
Jaxon signed the paper, Mutt witnessed it and Jeff smiled at Jaxon. "Everything is on the up and up now, Jaxon. Heath and James should be back in a little while. Is there anything else you want or need while I'm here?"
“If it’s not too much trouble could you get me some more juice?” Jaxon asked.
Mutt grabbed the empty glass Jaxon was holding out. “Sure thing, Jax, I’m happy to get it for you.” At the moment Mutt would do anything to put distance between his husband and him.
Jeff patiently waited for Mutt to finish his task. Once the juice was back on the coaster on the table Jeff said, “We'll be leaving now. I'll come back to visit later, if that's all right with you." He smiled.
“Can Mutt come with you?” Jaxon asked.
"That depends on how he's feeling.” Jeff replied in a non-committal tone, still smiling, putting a casual arm over Mutt's shoulders and leading him out of the bungalow, running into Heath who had just come by to check on Jaxon before he needed to head over to the infirmary to check on the newcomers who should be arriving sometime soon.
The doctor raised a surprised eyebrow and looked toward Jeff for an explanation.
"I caught a cat in Jaxon's room. Now I just have to go skin it,” he quipped.
Mutt blushed as Heath smiled knowingly, patted Mutt on the shoulder and bid the two men goodbye for the time being.
When they were out of sight of Jaxon's bungalow, Jeff's friendly arm disappeared to be replaced with a firm hand at the base of Mutt's skull, leading him toward their own little bungalow, and gently pushed his young husband in ahead of him. He then took hold of the neck of Mutt's tee shirt to prevent Mutt from bolting toward the bathroom and locking himself in.
Mutt blushed at being so predictable but stayed still. He was caught good and proper and he knew, from Jeff's grip, that he wouldn't even be able to wriggle out of the shirt if he tried.