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Sunday, September 4, 2016

TLR Chapter 83

The weekend had been brutal at the bakery, with guests leaving and stocking up on fresh baked goods before they left, and new guests coming in to take advantage of the fine weather. Brendon and Tristan left on Sunday evening, tired but happy that they had the next two days off.

Monday morning Tristan woke at eight and stretched languidly, enjoying the extra time to sleep in. Normally he'd be up and out by 3:30 so the extra sleep felt good.  He made a pot of coffee and took a shower while it brewed.  He was just about to sit down to a bowl of cold cereal when the phone rang.

Brendon had gotten up a bit later than usual, frowned at himself and scolded, 'You're gettin' soft old man.' He grinned and shook his head. He puttered around, showered and sat down to a cup of coffee, a glass of juice, a hardboiled egg he had taken out of the refrigerator and a couple of slices of toast. He didn't do much with breakfast usually or lunch either as it got real busy at the bakery. His dinner he usually ended up eating at the bar at the lodge. Looking at the unappetizing food and a feeling of loneliness creeping over him he picked up his phone and on a whim and a chance before he lost his nerve called Tristan. "Tris?"
Tristan picked up and heard Brendon's voice. He had to admit that he was somewhat surprised. "Hello, Bren," he replied uncertainly, "do you need me to come in to work?"

", I was just wonderin' if you had plans today?"

"Not really," Tristan replied, still a little confused.  "Just the usual boring stuff, do laundry, hang around, maybe watch some TV or read a book. Ah, how about you?" he asked to be polite.

Brendon cleared his throat. "I'd like to take you to an early dinner and a movie in Stonemill...The Martian is playin' and I'd like to see it, but I don't want to go alone. Would you be willing to come with me?"

Tristan was stunned at first. The other guys from the bakery had included him in a lot of their activities and while he and Brendon had made their peace he was still a little surprised when the man invited him anywhere. "I... I guess so. I haven't seen that one. Sure. Th-thanks."  It meant a lot to him that Brendon seemed to be willing to put their past behind them and be friends again.

Bren asked hesitantly, "Tris?"

"I'm here Bren, is something wrong?" he asked, afraid that Brendon had changed his mind and didn't want to go after all.

Brendon said, "No there's nothing wrong. I didn't hear you so I wondered if you were still here."

"Sorry, Bren. I said... I said I'd like to go. It sounds like it could be fun. When did you want to leave? What time is the movie and where is it playing?"

Bren said, "How about just after lunch? We can have a light lunch and then a dinner say around 4 o'clock and then the movie will start about five or so and by the time we get back it will be late."

"Thanks, Brendon. It'll be nice to have a night on the town with a friend," Tris smiled.

Bren said, "Umm...Tris, this is a date." 

Tristan swallowed a sudden hard knot in his throat. "A... a date?"  He was worried that Brendon was going to tell him that it was all a joke and he held his breath, waiting for the anvil to fall.

"Yes, I'm askin' you out on a date...if you don't want to go I'll understand," Bren said disappointment clear in his voice.

"No! No!" Tris replied, a little too quickly. "I'd love to go on a date with you... I'm just... I didn't... I mean... yeah, of course, I'd love it."

Brendon said with a smile in his voice now, "Then it's a date and I'll pick you up at noon.  We'll have a light lunch and head for Stonemill."

"That's... that's fine," Tristan replied with a broad smile on his face. "Should... should I dress up or are jeans ok?" he asked.

"Wear a nice pair of jeans," Brendon told him.

"O-ok, I'll do that. Thanks Bren. I'll see you around noon. Um, are we having lunch at the lodge?"

Bren asked, "Would you like that?"

"I could make us lunch here, if you like? Otherwise, wherever you want to go is fine," Tris said, suddenly nervous that he might have said the wrong thing.

Brendon said, "That would be nice, thank you. I'll come at noon then and we can drive to Stonemill in my vehicle if that's all right?"

"That's great, soup and sandwiches?" Tristan suggested.  "I make a mean tomato soup and some killer grilled cheese sandwiches. Italian style." He grinned.

"That would be great and I seem to remember that as one of your specialties," he said with the smile still in his voice.

Tristan tried to control the thrill he felt building up in his chest. "See you at twelve then. Bye for now," he said.

Brendon said, "See you then, and bye for now." He hung up, his heart pounding with mixed anxiety and anticipation.

As soon as he hung up the phone Tristan let out a whoop of joy.  He left his soggy cereal and his mostly cold coffee and ran to his room to pick out his clothes for that afternoon.  Once he'd picked out what he thought would be an appropriate outfit, he slipped on his flip flops, and still wearing his pajama pants and a tee shirt, ran to the store to pick up the ingredients he'd need for the lunch.


Brendon took care to dress well and took particular care with his hair. When he was satisfied with how nice he looked he splashed on a light cologne he knew Tris liked as he had given it to him at one time and although he'd held onto it hadn't actually used it. He straightened the cuffs to his shirt and grabbed a sweater in case it was cold in the movie theater or later as the sun went down. He walked the distance to Tris's bungalow and knocked on the door promptly at noon.

Tristan jumped when he heard the knock on the door and once again fought down the feeling of elation he'd been feeling all day.  He didn't want to seem overly excited and jumpy for Brendon.  He went to the door and opened it sedately, although his hands were cold and shaking slightly.  "Hiya, Bren. Everything is ready. Come on in," he invited, opening the door wider and gesturing Brendon in.

Brendon smiled as Tristan answered the door. "Somethin' smells heavenly in here and it's not baked goods for once," he teased as he followed Tris into the kitchen and took a seat as the young man dished up the food.

Tristan smiled. He turned to the stove and picked up the pot of fresh, homemade tomato soup which he ladled into the bowls he'd set out. The cheese sandwiches were in the warmer, so he carefully took them out and placed one on each plate. The mozzarella oozed slightly from between the two slices of grilled Italian bread.

"I've missed your cookin'," Bren told the younger man. "I like to cook, but I get tired of my own meals. I’m a fabulous baker, a cook..." He shrugged. "Not as creative as you."

Tristan couldn't help a pleased blush. "I learned a lot from my mother," he admitted. "What would you like to drink?" he asked. "I have coffee, tea, soda, water...?"

Brendon said, "Coffee is fine."

Tristan turned to the pot of fresh coffee he'd just made and poured out two cups. He put three dollops of cream and three spoonful’s of sugar into Brendon's before stirring it and placing it in front of the man.

"I hope this is how you still take it," he said, worried that he'd overstepped himself by fixing it for him instead of letting Brendon do it himself.   It just seemed to come naturally to him, to want to do things for Brendon.

Brendon smiled. "Yes, it's still how I take my coffee. I couldn't stand the stuff otherwise. Never could figure out how people drink it black."

Tristan took his own coffee black, placed the pot back on the warmer and sat down across from Brendon, waiting for him to take the first bite.

Brendon took a bite of the sandwich. "Mmmm...just as good as I remember. You haven't lost your touch Tris."

Tristan smiled happily and bit into his own sandwich after dipping a corner of it into the tomato soup. "Thanks," he said, "I'm glad you like it."

After lunch was over, Brendon helped clean up the dishes and they headed out toward the parking lot to Brendon's pickup truck.

Gentleman that he was, Brendon opened the door for Tristan and helped him into the passenger seat before closing the door. Tristan blushed with pleasure. Brendon had always been so considerate of him.  He squashed down the feeling that he didn't deserve to be treated so kindly and tried to relax.

Brendon looked at Tris across the expanse of the bench seat of the truck. "Is there any particular kind of music you'd like to hear? I know you used to like country, but I'm not sure if your tastes have changed."

Tristan smiled shyly. "Yes, I still like country. Thanks for remembering."

"You're welcome." Brendon punched the radio on which had already been tuned to the local country station. "We might lose this station as we get further away from the resort, but I have CD's in the console so just pick out your favorites and put it in the player."

Tristan grinned and looked at the selection of CDs. He picked out one by Kenny Chesney and put it aside for when they lost the signal. "Thanks, Bren."

Brendon smiled. "You're welcome and you have good taste. I like Kenny and there's a couple by Toby Keith too."

Tristan went back into the collection and brought out Blue Moon and Dream Walkin' and put them along side of the Chesney CD. He grinned at Brendon. "All set?" he asked, excited for their date to begin.

Brendon smiled. "Yes." He put the truck in gear and headed to Stonemill.

They drove in companionable silence for a while until the radio signal gave out. As co-pilot, Tristan picked out a CD. He put in Toby Keith and the strains of Closin' Time at Home began.

Tristan hummed along with the music and then began to sing, "Budweiser clock says it's almost twelve, I tipped the bartender, he rang that old bell, San Bernardino nights are great but they sure don't feel like home, right now in Tulsa they've turned up the lights. The band has stopped playin', they've called it a night, she's makin' her way to the front door, I know she won't be leavin' alone."

Brendon smiled and as the refrain played he began to sing to the CD.   He whistled when he didn't know the words and drove along contentedly.

Excitedly, Tristan went back into the collection of CDs and rummaged around some more. He picked out Collin Raye. He played with the selector until he found the song he was looking for and turned up the volume. He started laughing as he belted out the lyrics of That's My Story and I'm Stickin' To It.

"You have an awesome collection here, Bren!" Tris said happily, sorting through more CDs.

Brendon laughed heartily. "That's my theme song," he joked, then asked, "Put in Toby and find I'm as Good Once as I Ever Was."

They listened to the rest of the Collin Raye song while Tristan looked for the right Toby Keith album. He found the song and had a great time singing along with Brendon.

“When I could really lay it down, and if you need some love tonight then I might have just enough. I ain't as good as I once was, But I'm as good once as I ever was,” they belted out.

Before they knew it they'd arrived at Stonemill. Tristan was almost sad that their trip was over, but then remembered that there was more to come and he cheered right back up.

Brendon smiled and pulled up into a parking lot. "This is a place called the Cookie Jar...they sell homemade cookies to their customers and the food is great."

"I can't wait." Tristan smiled.  They got out of the truck and went inside. The scent of fresh cookies made Tristan's mouth water. "Do they have chocolate chip with walnuts?" he asked.   He was more than willing to forego the food in favor of sampling as many cookies as he could see.

Brendon chuckled. "They have every kind of cookie you can imagine. I'm sure they'll have chocolate chip with walnuts. We'll pick up cookies to bring with us to the movie once we get our meal."

Tristan tried not to pout, but he was only partially successful. "Can't we just have cookies now and get popcorn and stuff at the movie?"

Brendon chuckled. "All right, one cookie after our meal and then some to take with us as well. We can also get popcorn and whatever else you'd like."

"Nachos with cheese? Soda? Milk Duds! Can't see a movie without Milk Duds," Tris added sagely.

Brendon laughed. "Of course, and a bottle of Tums to go with it all."

Tristan laughed and picked up the menu. "Thanks, Bren." he said shyly from beneath his long, dark lashes.

Brendon grinned. "You're welcome." He reached out and gently touched the curve of Tristan's cheek. "You're still beautiful," he commented.

Tristan instinctively leaned in toward the touch. He'd missed it so much over the years. No one else he'd ever dated had touched him the way Brendon did. "Thanks," he smiled softly, "so are you."

Brendon blushed slightly and smiled. "Thanks," he said. "Let's look at the menu." He removed his hand from Tristan's face.

It was almost a physical ache when Brendon took his hand away. Tristan worried that he'd said the wrong thing and focused on his own menu. Even though they'd already had a light lunch, he found that the scents in the restaurant were making him hungry again. He quickly decided on a bacon cheeseburger and fries and put his menu aside, searching for something he could say that wouldn't offend the other man.

Brendon smiled and said, "I think I'll get the mushroom Swiss burger."

"Sounds good," Tris said, unsure of what he should say or do next. He was afraid he was making a total pig's ear of the whole trip. He was so worried that he was going to say or do something to upset Brendon, or worse, convince him that he'd made a mistake in asking him out. He did his best to smile, though, and make small talk while they waited for the waitress to take their order.

Tristan nervously tucked a strand of his longish hair back behind his ear and fiddled with his utensils, unsure of what to say next.

Brendon, once the waitress had taken their orders, reached out and placed his hand over Tris's. "I've missed you hon," He said softly.

Tristan's heart leapt. He looked into the amber eyes he loved so much and said quietly, "I've missed you too. I'm glad that we had the chance to meet again, and that I could apologize for... what a jerk I was."

Brendon smiled and tracing Tris's lips with his finger while still holding his other hand over his hand said, "Well you've apologized and explained. We said we were goin' to start new so no more old stuff all right?" he asked softly.

"No more old stuff," Tristan promised, kissing the tip of Brendon's finger as it glided over his lips.

They were both surprised and a little embarrassed when the waitress cleared her throat as she stood nearby, a plate in each hand and a knowing smile on her lips.

The two men broke apart with sheepish smiles and allowed her to place their meals in front of them.

Brendon thanked the waitress as she placed their plates down and throughout the meal had eyes for no one but Tristan. It was like he couldn't get enough of the other man.

With a final glance at each other, they bit into their burgers.

For his part, Tristan barely remembered eating his meal and was surprised to find it had somehow disappeared.  He'd been so intent on looking at and re memorizing every detail of Brendon's face. How he loved those amber eyes.

The waitress hated to interrupt them again, she knew a couple in love when she saw one. "Would you gentlemen like more coffee? Dessert?"

Brendon said, "We'd like cookies and some to go as well please. What kind of cookies do you have today?"

"Chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal nut, chocolate chip with walnuts, butter pecan, sugar and cinnamon, peanut butter blossoms, my personal favorite," she added with a grin, "and we have several bar cookies as well."

Brendon asked, "Do you have any Oatmeal raisin? With or without nuts is good either way."

"Oh, both of those are staples here. I'm sorry I forgot to mention them, I just take them for granted. Yes, we have both," she smiled.

"We'll have one oatmeal raisin with nuts and one chocolate chip with walnuts to eat here, and three of each to take with us."

"Umm, is it alright if I get a bunch of those Peanut Butter Blossoms to take home?" Tristan asked, afraid he was going to sound ungrateful for asking.  "My mom used to make those but they were always a Christmas treat. I could never get enough of them," he explained.

Brendon smiled. "Sure, what if we get a dozen, six for each of us? I’d also like a half dozen of the butter pecan cookies as well."

"Good choices. I'll be right back. Did you want more coffee?"

Brendon said, “Yes, thank you."  Then he smiled at Tristan.  "Seems I remember her lettin' us have some of those peanut butter blossoms and we'd pig out on them."

"Do you remember the time we ate almost the whole plateful?  I thought she was gonna murder the both of us," Tris laughed.

Brendon laughed, "I remember she threatened to take her wooden spoon to the both of us."

Tristan giggled at the memory. "For some reason I remember that spoon being bigger than it actually was, especially when she was waving it under my nose."

The waitress quickly brought the cookies and the bill to the table. "Have a great day, gentlemen," she said as she turned away. She really didn't want to disturb the two of them again.  They seemed so wrapped up in each other and she hated to break the spell they seemed to have over each other.

Tristan bit into his cookie and rolled his eyes in appreciation. "These are really good," he said, a little surprised. "It's so nice to eat something that I didn't have to bake myself," he laughed.

"I'm sure that wooden spoon felt bigger too when she smacked you with it. It did to me." Bren shared with a grin. “I’m glad you’re enjoying your cookie.” He bit into his own oatmeal nut raisin cookie and grinned at Tristan. “You’re right these are really good and I too like something I didn’t have to bake myself.

Brendon noticed the bill and picked it up and then opened his wallet and laid the money down with a generous tip. "Let's head on over to the movie theater."

Tristan scowled. "You should at least have let me pay half, or left the tip. Let me pay for the movie at least."

Brendon arched an eyebrow and said mildly, "It's usual for the one who asks another on a date to pay for everything so no arguments. When you ask me on a date you can pay."

Tristan gave a sheepish grin. "I'm sorry, you're right. Next time it's on me. Next week?" he asked hopefully.

Brendon smiled. "Next's a date."

Tris grinned and tucked the stray lock of hair back behind his ear again. "Thanks, Bren. Ready when you are." Tristan would never tell Brendon but the look he'd given him sent chills of the good kind down his spine and left a pleasurable tingling sensation. He loved it when Brendon took charge like that.

Brendon smiled. "Well then let's head on over."

"Lead the way, Mon Capitan," Tris joked.

Brendon grinned and putting an arm around Tristan's waist guided him out of the restaurant and to his truck. "Hop on in," he told Tris.

Tristan got into the truck and smiled as Brendon, ever the gentleman, closed the door behind him. He thought that he could get used to this.

Brendon, after closing Tristan's door walked around his truck and climbed into the driver's seat. He fired up the truck and drove them to the movie theater. "Have you seen the advertisements for The Martian? It looks interestin' I hope you'll like it," he said a little edge of worry to his voice.

"Yeah, I saw a trailer for it. It looked really good. I'm really looking forward to seeing it," especially with you, he added mentally.

Brendon grinned. "I'm lookin' forward to seein' it too and I think it will be more enjoyable seein' it with you rather than by myself."

Tristan smiled and blushed. Leave it to his man... yes, his man.  He was determined to win him back completely no matter what it took... to say what he was too afraid to say himself. "Same here," he said shyly.

Brendon smiled. "Good. Let's get balcony seats and sit way in the back if that's okay with you?"

Tristan smiled, his mind immediately going to a hot and heavy make out session, and then pushed that idea away. As much as he wanted to, he worried that Brendon would think it was too soon, and he wasn't going to push it. He'd let Brendon set the pace. "Sounds good," was all he said.

Brendon smiled and paid for two balcony tickets. "Do you want an extra-large popcorn to share, or smaller ones for each of us and some other goodies?" He asked.

"Um, a small buttered popcorn and a soda each?" Tris suggested. He couldn't help eyeing the Twizzlers. He considered paying for them himself but he didn't want to offend Brendon. "Remember when we used to get balcony seats and toss bits of popcorn down into the gallery?" He laughed. "I wonder if we can get away with that now?"

Brendon chuckled, "Maybe, do you want those Twizzlers? I seem to remember you like them real well."

Tristan blushed at being seen through so easily.  "Yeah, I'd like them, but I didn't want to ask for too much. You've already done so much for me," he admitted.

Brendon shook his head. "Some kind of date if my date keeps apologizing for his wants," he teased. "I'm gettin' chocolate covered almonds and gummy life savers."

Tristan's brat came out and he grinned. "Then I'd really like some Milk Duds, and those little ice cream bon bons, and gummy worms." He wanted to see how much he could get away with.  "Can't see a movie without Milk Duds," he added. "It's just not the done thing."

He was already planning their date next week in his head. He had to come up with something truly wonderful to top this, so far, fantastic date.

Brendon gave Tristan a look. "You have the Twizzlers, choose which of those three you really want, milk duds, but then no ice cream bon bons or gummy worms. You can share my gummy life savers if you get a cravin' for gummy things."

Tristan blushed, a little embarrassed but also feeling that little thrill go through him when Brendon laid down the law like that. "I'll share your Gummy Life Savers, if that's alright?" he smiled bashfully.

Brendon smiled. "Of course it's all right or I wouldn't have offered."

"Thank you. I'd like that and the milk duds." He grinned. He took the treats and popcorn that Brendon bought for him and they headed into the theater and up into the balcony seats. He loved that no one else was there, at least not yet, and wondered again if Brendon was going to try to kiss him. He hoped he would.

He tried to put that thought out of his mind and concentrated on his buttery popcorn and the trailers for upcoming movies. There seemed to be a lot of good ones coming out. Maybe he would bring Bren to another movie next week for their date.

Brendon smiled at Tristan as they took their seats and munched on some of his popcorn and taking a drink of his soda. He smiled at the other man.

Tristan saw Brendon looking at him and he turned toward him. "Looks like we have the place to ourselves for now," Tris said.  "Hey, do you remember when we used to make shadow puppets on the screen by putting our hands in front of the projector? Man we had a lot of fun," he said half to himself. "Bren? I'm really glad you asked me out. This is bringing back a lot of good memories. I... I've... missed you a lot. Thank you for... forgiving me."

Brendon grinned. "Yes, I remember and we did have a lot of fun...I'm hopin' we can have more fun again, but hopefully nothin' as juvenile as that anymore. We're older now."

Tristan was grateful for the semi darkness so that Brendon couldn't see him blush. "I didn't mean we had to do that stuff anymore," he said. "Just that it was fun when we were doing it."

He turned back to look at the screen where the trailers were just ending and the lights dimmed some more in preparation for the upcoming movie. He couldn't help but feel embarrassed that he'd even brought it up. He tossed some popcorn into his mouth and chewed that slowly so he didn't have to talk again.  He was worried that he was making a mess of the whole thing and that Brendon wouldn't want to date him anymore. 

Brendon put an arm around Tristan and squeezed his shoulders. "Well, it was fun and now we can have different kind of fun. It's fun just bein' here with you."

Tristan initially resisted the hug but couldn't help feel happy that Brendon was doing it. He leaned in and put his head briefly on Brendon's shoulder. "Same here," he said quietly, a hint of a smile on his face.

Brendon smiled. "Good, I liked when we were on the beach and the raft together on the lake."

"It was like old times, only better," Tris agreed. "Think we can go again before the weather turns?  Maybe that's what we can do for our date next week? I'll make a picnic lunch and we can go to the beach. Get one of the tables near a grill and make a day of it. Sound good?"

Brendon said, "I hope the weather holds. I'd like to do that again. Yes, that sounds good."

"Great, it's a date," Tristan grinned happily. He had no idea what he'd done to deserve Brendon but he vowed he wasn't going to do anything to mess it up this time.

Brendon unconsciously stroked Tristan's soft hair as they watched the movie.

For his part, Tristan was more focused on the wonderful feeling of having his hair touched by Brendon than on the movie, but he did try hard to concentrate on the story line since Brendon had paid for not only the movie but the treats as well. He wished he had the nerve to kiss Brendon but he knew it was too soon.

"Wow, that guy's a genius," Tris whispered instead, talking about the main character played by Matt Damon. "He's a space age McGyver," he joked.

"He's really resourceful. Fortunately, he's a botanist and knows all about plants and how to grow them," he commented to Tristan, still stroking the soft hair.

"Mmmmm, yeah," Tristan purred, not sure whether it was a response to what Brendon had said or to the soothing sensation of having his hair stroked.

Brendon smiled down at Tristan. "Want some gummy life savers?" he asked as he moved his hand to open the package of goodies.

Tristan was a little miffed that the stroking had stopped but smiled at the offer. "Yeah, thanks. Do you want some of my Milk Duds?"

They traded treats and Tristan found himself leaning in toward Brendon for the rest of the movie, not even aware that he was doing it, but loving the closeness on another level.

Brendon liked the feel of Tristan cuddling close and put an arm around him and pulled him close and held him there for the rest of the movie.

When the credits were done playing and the lights came back up, Tristan realized he'd been resting on Brendon's shoulder. He hated to move but they did have to head home at some point. "That was a great movie, Bren. Thanks for bringing me. Ummm, what do you want to do now?"

Bren said, "It'll take us a few hours to get back to the resort. Maybe we'll stop in Masonville for coffee and pie or some kind of dessert."

"Mmmm, pie... sounds good. A perfect way to end the night, I think. Thanks, Bren." Tris smiled.

"You're welcome Tris." He put his arm around Tris's waist once more and guided him back to the truck. He waited for him to get in before closing Tristan's door and going around to his side and firing up the truck once more. "I don't know if I'd be able to have survived up there." He commented.

"I know I wouldn't have," Tris agreed. "I'm ok with baking and some cooking, but I can't even have a houseplant without killing the poor thing. I even killed a cactus, if you can believe that." He laughed.

Brendon laughed. "I can believe it because I did it too.  Over watered the poor thing."

Tristan giggled. He loved how much the two of them had in common. He'd almost forgotten over the years and now it was all coming back to him. He just felt... right... being with Brendon again. He hoped the other man felt the same.

Brendon smiled across at Tristan. "I'd forgotten how much we enjoy together. I've been so brought down by the hurt and confusion it's nice to see some things are still enjoyable between us."

Tristan smiled, but it was forced. He knew he had a lot of making up to do with Brendon, but he hoped that he wasn't going to spend the rest of his days apologizing for the past. He felt terrible about what he'd put Brendon through. Maybe he did deserve to be reminded of his screw ups. Maybe it was the way things were meant to be. But could he live like that for the rest of his life? He bit his lip and looked out the passenger side window at nothing in particular, his eyes unfocused, lost in thought.

Brendon realized Tristan had withdrawn into himself. "Tristan...Is there anythin' wrong? You're awfully quiet all of a sudden."

Unwilling to tell Brendon what he'd been thinking for fear that the other man would tell him to go to hell, he changed the subject. "I'm just tired, I guess." He forced another smile. "You don't have any Kansas do you? I thought we could listen to some music."

Brendon said, "Yes, I do, but I'd like to know what you're thinkin' first."

Tristan looked into the compartment and found what he was looking for. He placed the CD into the player and the strains of Carry On Wayward Son filled the truck's cabin.  He began to sing softly with the music.

Brendon shot a look at Tristan. "So talk to me Tris."

Tristan lowered the volume a little and took a deep breath. "I know I hurt you, Bren, badly and I'm more sorry for that than I can say. Words don't begin to cover it," he said, nearing tears as he listened to the music for inspiration. "But... I can't... I don't think I can live with this hanging over our heads... over my head... for the rest of my life. You say you forgive me but then you remind me of how much I hurt you and... sometimes I just wish you'd punch me out. Hurt me the way I hurt you, and get it out of your system.  If you want to punch me out you can.  I just want to leave the past in the past and not continually be reminded of what a prick I was."

He waited for Brendon to pull the truck over and ask him to get out. It would be no more or less than he deserved for being such an ungrateful jackass.   Especially after Brendon had shown him such a wonderful time tonight.

As the silence stretched on Tristan slouched into his seat once again staring out of the window into the darkness. It began to rain as though nature could feel his desolation and wept with him.

Brendon gave Tristan a look and when it was safe to pull over to the side of the road did so. He turned off the engine and gave Tristan a stern look. "Look Tris...I'm sorry for bringing up the past.  I didn't realize just how much it hurt you but I'm not goin' to put up with you gettin' down on yourself or bein' disrespectful to me either. We need to start a new page." He put an arm around Tristan and before the other man realized what was happening unbuckled is seatbelt and pulled him face down across the bench seat and partially over his lap and administered two sharp swats to the now upturned backside.

Tristan gasped and sat back up almost immediately. He looked at Brendon stunned. He'd expected a lot of different things but this hadn't been one of them. He swallowed, eyes wide and looked into the amber eyes he loved so much. "I... I... I'm sorry. You're... you're right. I..." he licked his lips. He took a deep breath and visibly relaxed. "Thank you," he said finally.

Brendon allowed Tristan to sit back up and as he said thank you he pulled him into his arms and cuddled him. "You're welcome Tris...I still love you," Brendon said softly.

"I love you too, Bren. Always have. Always will," Tristan whispered, happy in the embrace and feeling freer than he had in a long time.

Brendon gave Tris a kiss on the head and held him tight. "I'm glad for that. It will make it easier for us to mend things."

"I'd like that, Bren. I want to leave the past in the past."

Bren nodded. "Okay let's both do that and move on if that's alright with you?" Bren fired up the truck once more, put it in gear and pulled back out carefully onto the road leading to TLR.

Tristan was silent for a while, thinking while Brendon drove, not even aware of what was playing on the radio half the time. Brendon had swatted him and he hadn't freaked out this time. It had felt... good. Grounding. Safe. Safer than he had felt in years.

Brendon looked over at Tristan. "You alright?" He asked in concern.

"Yeah. I'm fine, Bren," Tristan said, looking at Brendon in a new light. "I haven't felt this good in... years."

Bren smiled back. "I'm glad then. You were so quiet I was gettin' worried," he said as he guided the truck into the resort. “I hope you’re not disappointed we didn’t stop in Masonville for pie. It seems we have things to talk about and it might be better here. We still have cookies.” He grinned.

"I was quiet because I was just doing a lot of thinking.  Wishing on stars, I guess," Tris joked.  

Bren smiled. "Then I hope all your wishes and dreams come true."

"They're starting to," Tris said quietly. "I just wanted to tell you that I had a great time tonight, Bren. Thank you. For everything. The movie was great and the food was even better. Thank you for the cookies.  It's really nice to eat something that I didn't have to bake myself, for some reason," he laughed.

Brendon grinned. "You're welcome and you're right that it's nice to taste someone else's bakin' for once." He parked the Truck in the resident's parking lot. "Would you like to come to my place and talk for a while?"

"Sure, maybe we can have some coffee and finish off these cookies?" Tris grinned.

Bren said, "Sure, we don't have to get up early tomorrow since we both have the day off."  Brendon led the way to his bungalow.  He opened the door and ushered Tristan inside. "Here's my humble abode.

Brendon's bungalow was pretty spartan. He had a couch, two chairs and a coffee table. There was a dining table only big enough to put two chairs on it.   Brendon hadn't been interested in decorating. He was a utilitarian kind of man.

Tristan looked around. "Nice and neat. I like it," he said. His own bungalow didn't have much more in it. He wasn't big on having 'things'.

Brendon gestured toward the couch. "Have a seat and I'll rustle us up some coffee. Don't eat all the cookies," he teased as he headed for the kitchen.

Tristan blushed and took his hand out of the bag that held the cookies. He sat down sinking into the comfortable couch. He could feel all the tensions he'd been stressing him most of the night ebbing away.  It felt good. Normal. Natural. For the two of them to be sitting home at night, just relaxing. He looked forward to mending the broken fences and reconnecting with Brendon again.

As Brendon prepared the coffee he wondered about Tristan. He hadn't really meant to swat him again. It just seemed to be the right thing to do at the time just like it had just come to him that fateful day Tristan left. He was grateful Tristan didn't get all upset and get out of the truck or anything but allowed Brendon to bring him home. He wondered what he should do about it though. He was never a coward and so he thought they should talk about it. He hoped things wouldn't end up like that other time but Tristan, so far had seemed more steady and at least hadn't tried to hit him. He waited for the coffee to finish, then took the carafe and put a couple of mugs on a tray along with sugar and creamer. He brought into the living room and smiled. "Coffee's here," he announced placing the tray on the coffee table in front of the sofa.

Tristan grinned and slid the cookies out of the bag and onto the tray so that the two of them could take their favorites. He immediately snaffled one of the chocolate chip with walnut and bit into it, washing it down with a sip of the delicious brew.

"You make some great coffee," Tris said, grinning. "Mine comes out like crude oil."

Brendon smiled and said, "Thank you. It took a while to learn to make good coffee.” Taking one of the oatmeal raisin pecan cookies and biting into it he smiled.  “These cookies are really good.”  He looked thoughtfully at Tristan while sipping his coffee.

He asked the younger man, "Are you willin' to share your dreams with me?"

Tristan nearly choked on a sip of coffee and looked at Brendon, "D-dreams? What... what kind of dreams?"

The fact of the matter was that Tristan had many dreams, most of them centering around Brendon. Was it possible the other man knew? Was he that transparent he wondered.

"When we were in the truck and I asked why you were so quiet you told me you were wishing on stars. If you wish upon a star, if fate is kind, your dreams come true. I was just wonderin' is all," Brendon said carefully.

Tristan swallowed a bite of cookie and took another sip of coffee before answering. "Isn't it like making a wish on a birthday cake? If you tell it won't come true?" he hedged. He didn't want to scare Brendon away with his 'wishes' before they'd even properly begun dating again.

Brendon shrugged. "I'm not sure, it seems if no one knows your wishes or dreams they can't help them to happen."

Tris looked down at his half eaten cookie. He leaned forward and put it down beside his cup. Finally he looked up at Brendon.

"I wish that the past hadn't happened. I wish that I could take back all the bad stuff and make it like it never happened," he began quietly. "I dream about... you and me getting back together again without any baggage. No anvils hanging over my head, no doubts or fears hanging over yours.  I want to get back with you, like we were. Better than we were, but I won't be able to deal with it if I'm constantly being reminded of what I did back then. The way I acted. The things I did. I want the past in the past, and a clean slate to start a future."

Brendon also place the cookie he'd been eating down as well as his coffee cup. "We can't undo the past. I also wish those things hadn't happened but I've been watchin' and thinkin' and I can see what Heath told me about you are true. You do seem to be steadier and less aggressive and tonight I really enjoyed bein' with you. It felt pretty good..." Brendon stopped for a moment and then said quietly, "I felt scared earlier in the truck when I swatted you. I wasn't sure if you were just goin' to jump out and run off or what...I'll try to be more careful with that from now on," he said softly.

The corner of Tristan's mouth twitched up and he looked shyly at Brendon. "It wasn't like it was the first time. I mean, the first time you did it, I knew I deserved it but I was so far gone... so... manic at the time... I... tonight was different. I didn't feel threatened or scared or... jeez I'm not saying this right," Tris said, knuckling himself on the forehead as he tried to think of the words he wanted.

"This time I knew it was because I was stewing. Letting things bother me. You... what you did... helped me release all the pent up... confusion. Am I making any sense?" he asked, wincing, worried that Brendon was going to think he was crazy.

Brendon cocked his head and then nodded. "Yes, believe it or not, it does. I've heard Spencer and Arnie as well as others on the resort say similar things. Discipline relationships are very common at TLR, in fact it's what the resort is all about. Learning about and practicing discipline relationships correctly, so there’s no harm to either partner," Brendon said quietly. "I've not practiced any of it as I've not had anyone to be in a discipline relationship with since you and I were together."

"I've been in abusive relationships," Tristan admitted finally. "I didn't think I deserved anything better, to be honest. Until the last time, when the guy broke two ribs sitting on me, trying to stick a joint in my mouth because I wouldn't take it willingly. The classes that we've gone to since I arrived here have shown me that... I don't deserve to be abused, in any way. They've also shown me that I need... structure... guidelines... boundaries...," he huffed a self-deprecating laugh. "A swat every now and again to bring me back to earth when I'm lost in my head and stewing.  What you did tonight... helped.  I... it wasn't like that first time when I was so out of control I didn't even know what I'd done til after I'd done it."

Brendon looked at Tristan curiously. "Tell me more about how my swattin' you helped."

Tristan thought several moments, considering his words. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "When you swatted me in the truck, it was because I was letting things eat at me rather than telling you. It... you knew. You could see it. Sense it. And... those swats... brought me out of the funk I was in. They showed me that you cared enough to get me back into a good frame of mind so that I could think clearly, speak clearly.  Say the things that wouldn't come out any other way. And... what you did... made me feel... safe. Safer than I've felt in a long time."

He thought a moment longer and finally said, "I was on a high wire and you were there to be my safety net.  Am I making sense?"

Brendon reached out and took Tristan's hands in his. " don't deserve to be used or abused."  His eyes darkened for a moment. "Be glad I wasn't around then or those guys wouldn't be able to do anythin' but cry as they rot in prison." He squeezed Tristan's hands. "No matter what happened between us, Tris, I wouldn't have ever hurt you in that way. I'd have walked away first, but I'm glad you feel safe with me and that swattin' you grounded you. I could sense you needed that but I was scared afterward. I'm glad you shared your thoughts with me goes a long way toward creatin' trust," Brendon told him. "And yes, it makes sense after some of the things we learned in the classes we have already taken and with what I've observed with other partners here at TLR over the years."

Tristan looked sadly at Brendon. "I trust you, Bren. I always have, or I think I never would have acted quite as badly as I did even on my good days. But my trust isn't what's needed now. I'm going to need you to trust me. Trust that I'll never do what I did again. If I were still the man I was, then we'd have gotten into a fist fight the first week we worked together. But I kept it together. I retained control for the most part until the day I stormed out," he admitted guiltily.  "But even then all I wanted to do was go back inside and beg you to forgive me. I was afraid to do that.  I was afraid you'd just throw my apologies back in my face and I couldn't take that."

Brendon shook his head. "Tris...I know you trust me and always have. I only meant that your sharin' with me went a long way toward me trustin' you, not the other way around," Brendon explained gently. He reached out and pulled Tristan closer to his side and putting his arms around him gave him a reassuring hug.

That hug meant more to Tristan than he was able to put into words. He buried his face in Brendon's shirt front and hugged him back for all he was worth. It felt so good to be held again.

Brendon smiled and stroked Tristan's soft hair, hugging him until Tristan was ready to let go.

Tristan could have stayed like that all night but he knew he had to be getting home. He gently released himself from Brendon. A little self-conscious now for some reason.  "I guess I'd better be getting home now. It's getting late." He smiled, still a little sad.

Brendon hugged Tristan tight once more. "All right, but let's spend more time together and start this relationship new."

Tristan smiled, the heavy feeling in his chest lifting at Brendon's words. "I'd like that," he said once again wrapping his arms around Brendon and breathing in the light scent of his cologne.

Brendon returned the hug in kind and said, "Good, but I think it's time we bid each other a good night.  I'll see you tomorrow and we'll continue our dates for a while and talk a lot okay?"

"I'd like that too, Bren. Good night," Tristan said, grinning as he allowed Brendon to escort him to the door. With one final hug he went down the stairs and smiled all the way back to his bungalow.

Brendon watched Tristan go with a smile and closed the door when he could no longer see him. He then put out the lights and went to bed.

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