“Come on wake up. We need to go home.” Ben says to Pat.
“Ugh where have you been?” Pat asks.
“I went for a walk with the kids and then to the pub.” Ben says.
“I’d have gone to the pub, why didn’t you call me?” Pat asks.
“I needed some space. Come on lets go. Caroline needs to put the kids to bed.” Ben says.
“Why do you need space?” Pat asks on the walk home.
“Because this last year has been a whirlwind and I’m just catching my breath. I needed to think about everything.” Ben says.
“Is this because I won’t fuck you?” Pat asks.
“Not entirely. Maybe the lack of sex has me focusing. Why did you come on to me in the first place?” Ben asks.
“I always liked you.” Pat says.
“And you waited 15 years to make a move?” Ben asks.
“What is the issue? I freaking married you.” Pat says.
“Did you care about losing Arthur as a friend?” Ben asks.
“Not really. I think our friendship had long run its course. He wasn’t exactly on my side when I spilt with Gavin.” Pat says.
“Were you mad that we tried to stay friends with you both?” Ben asks surprised.
“Yeah of course.” Pat says.
“But you cheated on Gavin. Why should he suffer losing his friends?” Ben asks.
“You cheated on Arthur, we’re both cheats, doesn’t mean we should lose our friends.” Pat says.
Arthur and Joe have a lazy boxing day. The weather hasn’t improved so they stay indoors fuck and watch shitty TV. Arthur has calmed down from the day before, feels like Ben is close to being out of his system. He’s okay being single and ready to get on with the rest of his life.
“You seem calmer today.” Joe says.
“Yeah, I am. I don’t think Ben has it so good without me. I’ve spent so long trying to work out what I did wrong that I didn’t spend much time angry at them. It might be petty but I hope their marriage implodes and they end up miserable.” Arthur says.
“So you are human.” Joe laughs.
“Yeah, no more mr keep the peace nice guy.” Arthur grins.
“So fucking sexy.” Joe grins.
The next morning Joe reaches for Arthur and is surprised he isn’t there. He checks his phone and sees he’s slept in. He gets up and sees Arthur doing his exercises outside. It is cold but the sun is shining. Man Arthur is in great shape, that chest Joe thinks and groans.
“Do you want me to give you a ride home?” Arthur asks coming in.
“Uh I guess so. I suppose I have work tomorrow.” Joe says confused.
“About an hour?” Arthur says.
“Uh sure, I’ll hit the shower.” Joe says figuring he’s outstayed his welcome.
“Are you okay?” Arthur asks in the car.
“Yeah. I thought things were going well. Have you thought any more about me moving in?” Joe asks.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I am not in the right place for a relationship and I don’t think we could live together as just friends. You’re an amazing guy and you’ve been incredible the last few days. Totally saved my life not letting me face Christmas alone. I am grateful.” Arthur says.
“I get it. Look I’ll call you in a couple of weeks.” Joe says and leans over to kiss Arthur goodbye.
“That would be great.” Arthur says.
Ben reaches for Pat, then pulls his hand back before making contact. Gets up and goes to the shower. He turns the spray to cold and doesn’t even give himself a halfhearted stroke. He’s bored. Bored of not working of not doing anything. He thought they were going to travel, take amazing holidays and visit a different beach every month. They had plans but Pat won’t commit to anything and it’s his money.
Maybe he should get a new job. Might as well try and get some bar work and maybe volunteer somewhere. Become useful again. That’s the issue Ben realizes, he feels so fucking useless, not even useful for sex. Having a plan makes Ben feel a lot better. Time for the honeymoon to be over.
“Hey Arthur. I know you told Ben you didn’t want to hear from us.” Caroline says a few weeks later.
“It’s not that I don’t want to hear from you, I will always love you and the kids. It was the most sensible option for me. Ben is married and I have to move on. I can’t hang on to your family pretending they’re my own anymore. It isn’t healthy for me.” Arthur says.
“Well could you please manage one more day? Jake is insistent that the only thing he wants for his birthday is you to be at his party. You don’t need to come to laser quest. We’re going to pizza hut afterwards. It would mean the world to him, and the other two.” Caroline says.
“I really can’t be around Ben and Pat. I love those kids but not that much and maybe it’s time they started forgetting me.” Arthur says.
“Pat won’t be there. A kids party is his idea of hell.” Caroline says.
“What? He’s wanted kids for years.” Arthur says.
“Not any more. Say he’s happy to borrow mine or Gavin’s occasionally but he will not spend two hours with a bunch of 9 year olds.” Caroline says.
“Wow. Send me the details. Don’t tell Jake, let it be a surprise. I can’t guarantee anything.” Arthur says.
“Okay. All the pizza and ice-cream you can eat if that swings it.” Caroline says.
“It just might. I am not great at having food in.” Arthur says.
“Joe not keeping your kitchen stocked?” Caroline asks.
“That was just a Christmas thing.” Arthur says.
“Shame he was good for you.” Caroline says.
“He was. I would have been no good for him.” Arthur says.
“Why did you stay with Ben for so long? You had so little in common.” Caroline asks.
“I loved him, you know that. I loved his enthusiasm for everything. Every career he tried, every class he took. Everyday he’d have something good to say, something to make me laugh. I loved how low maintenance he was. Though I guess he wasn’t as low maintenance as I thought.” Arthur says.
“Those are the things I love most about my brother.” Caroline says.
“Do you think he stayed with me through habit?” Arthur asks.
“No, Arthur don’t sell yourself short.” Caroline says.
“Sorry. This is why I need to leave you guys alone and move on.” Arthur says.
“I started it.” Caroline says.
“You did.” Arthur laughs.
Arthur arrives at the pizza place before the kids. He heads through to use the bathroom and as he’s pissing Ben walks in, also early. Before either of them know what they are doing they are fucking in the stall. Arthur lifts Ben up and fucks him hard against the wall. Ben’s orgasm builds and he gasps and bites his fist to stop himself screaming. It is the most powerful he can remember and Arthur isn’t slowing down, Ben rides the intense wave, his legs are jelly as Arthur places him back on the floor and then bends him over the toilet to pound him properly.
Ben’s second orgasm shocks him more than the first, he can’t remember cumming twice in forever.
“Shit I’m sorry.” Arthur says pulling himself together afterwards.
“It was completely mutual.” Ben gasps totally out of breath and unsteady on his feet.
“Mutually idiotic.” Arthur says.
“Yeah. Fuck, I don’t know what happened.” Ben says.
“I missed the sex the most.” Arthur says as they wash and tidy themselves.
“Yeah?” Ben asks curious. Arthur’s face is so familiar but he’s like a stranger too.
“Most people say it’s the companionship and intimacy they miss but I miss your ever ready attitude.” Arthur says.
“Thanks. I uh. Shit I’m sorry.” Ben says biting his tongue from saying something about Pat and feeling guilty for all the times he was disloyal to Arthur when he and Pat were fucking around.
“What?” Arthur asks.
“Just guilt.” Ben says.
“Yeah, I forgot for a minute that you weren’t mine, that you’re married. I really shouldn’t have come here, it is still too soon.” Arthur says.
“No, Arthur, don’t say that, Jake will be so pleased you came. It will mean a lot to him, they miss you, we all do.” Ben says.
“Your sister can be very persuasive.” Arthur says and the pair sit together at the party table and the kids soon pile in.
Jake really is delighted and insists on sitting next to Arthur for the meal and chats away excitedly.
Ben looks on in regret. Pat isn’t here because no one trusts him not to get drunk and the kids hate him, frightened of him. They’ve lied about Pat not wanting kids, he is horribly depressed about Gavin having them and him not. That is why he won’t make plans. Still Ben promised sickness and in health and that is a promise he intends to keep.
“Ahh Arthur I am so glad you are here. I was hoping to talk to you.” Barbara, Pat’s mom says.
“Barbara, wonderful to see you.” Arthur says.
“Could we go for a quick coffee after?” Barbara asks.
“Sure. That would be nice.” Arthur smiles, he missed Pat’s family as much as Bens’.
“Thanks for coming.” Caroline whispers.
“Hey all the pizza I can eat. Too hard to turn down.” Arthur grins.
“You’re welcome to come back to the house after.” Caroline says.
“I’m going to catch up with Barbara. Kind of weird she’s here.” Arthur says.
“She asked if she could come. She’s family now.” Caroline says and Arthur winces and nods.
“I’d not really thought of that.” Arthur says.
“Sorry, every time we talk I find something new to make things weird and awkward.” Caroline laughs.
“One day I’ll be able to laugh about it. It’s been a year but I think with the sale and moving house and everything I put off my grief until recently and I’m working on it, I really am but it is hard when he was married before I’d been able to process he’d gone.” Arthur says.
“I get it, I do. If I didn’t have the kids I wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed when Rob left. Hell you know, I’d never have got through it without your support.” Caroline says.
“Are things better? Is he paying up?” Arthur asks.
“No and no. He still lets the kids down last minute and he’s working cash in hand to avoid maintenance.” Caroline says.
“Shop him to the tax man.” Arthur says.
“I’ve tried. We manage.” Caroline says.
“You only need to ask if you need anything, if the kids need anything.” Arthur says.
“We’re fine and really not your responsibility.” Caroline says.
“Did you have a good Christmas?” Arthur asks Barbara as they sit down for coffee, trying to not be awkward.
“Yes and no. I’ll cut to the chase. Pat has a drinking problem and I need you to talk to him.” Barbara says.
“No.” Arthur says point blank.
“You were friends for so long. All he does is drink, I’ve tried, his father has tried, and Gavin and Ben have tried.” Barbara says.
“I honestly don’t care. I know it must be painful for you if he’s self-destructing but it isn’t my problem or responsibility. He took everything from me. Everything. And he still isn’t happy. I will not give one more moment to that shit.” Arthur says.
“Please Arthur. This isn’t like you. We need your help.” Barbara pleads.
“No.” Arthur says not caring and feeling good that he doesn’t care, that he has let his old friend go.
“Is there anyone else you can think of who might be able to get through to him?” Barbara asks.
“You should find out who he is fucking. It isn’t Ben. Maybe they can help.” Arthur says and leaves leaving Barbara stunned.
Arthur sits on his terrace with a glass of whiskey when he gets home contemplating the shit storm of a day. He can’t believe he was so stupid to fuck Ben, or that it felt so good.
He grabs his phone.
“Hey Joe, want to go to dinner one night this week?” Arthur asks.
“Finally. So a date?” Joe asks.
“Exactly a date. If you’re still single.” Arthur says.
“Yes I am. I expected a booty call before now.” Joe says.
“So did I.” Arthur laughs.
“So why now?” Joe asks.
“I fucked Ben today.” Arthur says shocking Joe.
“And you want me to be your chaperone for life?” Joe asks.
“I realized he isn’t happy and I decided I wanted to be. If he divorced and came back to me I wouldn’t be happy. But with you, I could be. Or at least I deserve to give it a shot. I thought I was done with relationships, I thought I’d experienced a near perfect one and would never find another man who could match Ben. But I can do better, so much better.” Arthur says.
“I’m in. Lets give it a try, no major expectations, I’m the rebound guy for sure but I like you and I want a shot. Lets date.” Joe says.
Fifteen years later.
“You’ve been a bear with a sore head this week. What the fuck is wrong?” Joe asks kissing at Arthurs neck.
“Fifteen years. I’m bracing myself for you to leave.” Arthur says.
“Babe, I am going nowhere. I love you. I have loved you for fifteen years, since that crazy Christmas. The only place I am going is back to bed so you can ride my fat cock.” Joe grins.
Arthur exhales and follows his husband to the bedroom.