Always Everything

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Chapter Ten

It was Wednesday and Sterling was ready for the weekend. It'd been one hot ass day and his t-shirt was already soaked through with sweat.

"Hey, you know that girl we met at the bar?" Travis said from beside him.

They were working on the roof of the office complex they'd been building for the last week.

Sterling didn't remember her. "Yeah." He wiped the sweat from his eyes.

"She came home with me Monday night and last night I went to her place." Travis stood up.

"That's great." Sterling didn't even look away from what he was doing.

"It's just sex right now, but, I don't know, it could turn into something more."

"That's great," Sterling muttered. He still didn't remember what girl Travis was talking about. All he remembered from Monday night was the taste of his son's dick. And shit...he was getting hard.

"Her friend Remy said you had to leave in a rush."

Sterling hummed noncommittally.

"Find a girl to hook up with?" He heard the grin in Travis's voice.

"Nope."

All movement and sound stopped from beside him. "Then what the fuck did you leave for?"

Sterling straightened his spine and looked at Travis. "None of your goddamn business."

Just then his phone pinged.

"Always such a grouchy son of a bitch," Travis mumbled.

Sterling pulled his phone from his back pocket. He smiled when he saw Aubrey's name on the screen.

Aubrey: still on for tonight?

Sterling: course we are

Aubrey: I'll meet you at the cafe at 6 then

Sterling: sure thing kid

"Must be your son you're texting."

Sterling glanced up from his phone. "What the hell makes you say that?"

Travis rolled his eyes. "I told you before, no person on the whole fucking planet makes your face look like that." He motioned with his hand at Sterling.

He scowled. "Like what?"

"Like you're in love."

Sterling nearly choked on his own spit. He dropped the tool in his hand. "The fuck you mean?"

"Well goddamn, you don't got to snap my head off for it."

"When you say shit like that you bet your ugly ass I'm gonna snap, not only your head off, but your shriveled up balls too." He stomped to Travis.

"Jesus Christ, Sterling, I didn't mean anything by it. What the hell?" Travis put his hands up.

"Why the fuck would you say something so twisted?" Sterling snarled in Travis's face.

Travis stepped back. "Chill the fuck out. I only meant you're a cold hearted bastard and your kid is the only one that softens it." He shook his head. "Christ, you need to get out of my face and chill."

"You're the one saying sick shit."

Travis furrowed his brow. "I didn't mean anything by it."

Sterling was pissed. It didn't matter how the asshole meant it, he'd said it so he must have thought it was true. Dammit. Was he that transparent? Did his feelings for his son show?

Sterling snatched a water bottle from the cooler and chugged it down. Travis had gotten back to work, but Sterling could feel his eyes on him. Shit.

Way to play it cool, Sterling.

Damn, he had to figure his shit out before he landed in jail.

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Aubrey arrived at the cafe early. His mom had just gotten home when he'd been pulling out of the driveway. They chatted for a bit and then he'd been on his way.

He'd always missed his dad when he wasn't around, but ever since they'd become physical he'd missed him like he'd miss a vital organ.

Aubrey saw his dad come through the door. Damn, he was fine. Thirty-four years old, but you wouldn't think he was older than 25. His dark brown hair was still thick and there wasn't a hint of gray anywhere on his body. Aubrey blushed as he thought of all the places on his dad's body that would have hair. He hadn't seen that part of his dad yet...but he hoped to rectify that soon.

His dad smiled when his eyes connected with his. Aubrey stood up as he walked over.

"Hey kid," he said as he wrapped his arms around Aubrey.

"Hey Dad." Aubrey inhaled the fresh earthy smell of his dad. God, he loved that smell.

They pulled apart and sat across from each other at the small two seater table.

Aubrey grinned as his eyes roamed over every part of his dad. His hair was perfectly messy and his square jaw was scruffy from not shaving for a couple of days. His jean button down shirt was rolled up to the elbows and stretched snuggly across his chest and arms. Damn.

"New shirt?" Aubrey said.

The corner of his dad's mouth lifted slightly. "Maybe."

"Aww, you bought new clothes for our date," Aubrey laughed.

The smile dropped from his dad's face instantly, replaced by a scrowl. "Don't say shit like that."

Aubrey's forehead pinched. "What the hell did I say?"

"Don't play dumb, you know what the fuck you just said."

Aubrey leaned back in his chair. "I'm not playing anything, Dad, maybe you should just tell me what the hell is going on."

His dad scrowled at him for a few seconds more before his expression dropped. He sighed. "I'm sorry, Aubrey," he muttered. He rubbed his face. "It's not your fault." He motioned between them. "None of this is your fault."

Aubrey rested his forearms on the table. "And it's not yours either."

He shook his head. "I wish I could believe that, baby."

His dad looked so torn up that Aubrey wished they were alone. He wanted to wrap his arms around him and hide him in his embrace. He wanted to whisk him away from this world that condemned him and just spend his life loving the man that gave him life.

"Dad," he said quietly. Once his dad's dark eyes were looking into his, Aubrey said, "I. Am. Yours."

They stared at each other, unblinking, for several seconds. The sounds of the cafe faded away. Aubrey had always known his dad was his everything, but he'd never realized just how he could be his everything.

"I don't need, or want, anyone else. You've always been everything, but now? Now you're my always everything."

His dad chuckled softly. "Always everything? What's that even mean?"

Aubrey smiled softly. "It means you're it. You're the reason I breath, but now you're also the reason I live. There'll never be another person like you, because you're my dad, my best friend, the person I love most in the world, and you're my lover. Always. Everything."

His dad's eyes were shiny. "Yeah," he cleared his throat. "I guess I see what you mean."

Aubrey grinned. "Good. Now, do you want to get some food?"

His dad wiped his eyes as he laughed quietly. "Sure, kid."

"Hey, what was that about? When you got upset about me calling this a date?"

His dad leaned forward, bopped him on the nose, and said, "It was nothing. It doesn't matter anymore, because you're my always everything too."

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It was Friday night, and he was on his way to his dad's, when his phone started buzzing on the seat next to him. As he stopped at a red light, he reached over and grabbed it. His mom's name appeared on the screen.

"Hello?"

"Aubrey, honey, are you at your dad's already?"

"In about ten minutes."

He heard her sigh. "Why then are you answering your phone? It's dangerous! How many times have I told you not to talk on the phone while driving?”

"I'm at a red light." The light just turned green.

"That doesn't make it any better," his mom huffed.

"Why'd you call if you knew I'd be driving then?"

She was silent for a few seconds. "Good point." She sighed sadly. “I just miss you,” she said softly.

Aubrey frowned. "Mom, are you okay?"

"I..." she hesitated. "I'm fine."

He didn't believe her. She didn't sound 'fine'. He cleared his throat. "Mom...are you...lonely?" He'd suspected it, but she'd never said anything about it.

Aubrey heard her exhale. "I'm happy, honey, I don't want you thinking I'm not."

He didn't know who she was trying to convince more. But it wasn't working with him. He knew she believed in God, and that she believed God was her happiness...but...he didn't think she was really happy.

"Yeah, Mom."

"I'm just tired and getting old." She forced a laugh. "Don't pay any attention to me."

"You're not old." He switched the phone to his left ear as he made a right turn. "You could, I don't know, even get a boyfriend if you wanted." He'd wondered why she'd not had one after things with Anthony —her last boyfriend from four years ago — had ended.

"Yes, well..." he heard the doorbell ring in the background. "Food's here." She sounded relieved for the change in subject. "I didn't feel like cooking for one tonight."

This was the first weekend she'd had off in three weeks and Aubrey almost felt guilty about still going to his dad's, but...he needed to see him. He'd always loved going to his dad's place, but ever since they'd taken their relationship to another level, he felt connected to his dad in a way he'd never been before. They were more than just father and son now.

"Mom, please try to have a good time this weekend," Aubrey said as he pulled into the parking space next to his dad's truck.

"I will, honey. Be safe."

"I love you," Aubrey said.

"I love you too."

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His boy walked through the front door around 4:30. Aubrey smiled at him, and it lit up his whole goddamn beautiful face. Those fucking eyes sucked Sterling in like a goddamn vortex. He couldn't have escaped even if he'd wanted to.

"Hey," his boy said softly.

Christ, Sterling felt like some sort of pre-pubescent, acne riddled lad that didn't know how to behave around their crush. Jesus motherfucking Christ.

"Hey," he rasped.

Aubrey grinned. "I know you missed me so you can give me a hug, you know." He slipped his Converse off, then walked to where Sterling was standing — like a goddamn idiot— in the middle of the kitchen. He swallowed hard as he watched his son amble across the few feet separating them; those goddamn tight jeans hugging each curve on that fucking perfect body.

Where'd you get those pants?" he grunted.

Aubrey smirked as he came to a stop in front of him. "You sound like mom now."

"Fuck, don't say shit like that. Fuck forbid the day I sound like your mom."

His boy grinned wider. "These jeans are old, I've had them forever."

"Then that's why they're so fucking tight."

Aubrey shook his head, still fucking grinning. "No, you've seen me in them a thousand times." He leaned forward and Sterling's fucking breath hitched. Well, shit. His son's lips grazed his as he said, "You just see me differently now." Sterling licked his lips, the tip of his tongue touching his boy's mouth.

"Damn right I do," he whispered.

Aubrey's lips twitched. "I always knew you'd be a caveman."

Sterling slid his hands up his boy's arms until he was cupping his neck. "I'm not a caveman," he breathed across his son's mouth.

"Haven't we had this conversation before?"

He rubbed his slightly parted mouth against Aubrey's. He heard his boy inhale shakily. "We have."

"Are you just going to tease me? Or are you going to kiss me?" Aubrey's arms came around Sterling's waist.

Sterling gave his son a chaste kiss on the lips. "I have plans for us."

"Really?" Aubrey’s lips slowly tilted up. "Sounds kinky."

Sterling laughed. "Not those kind of plans you horny fucker."

"I seem to remember someone saying I was sixteen and being horny as fuck was apart of that."

"Hm, sounds like something I'd say, because it's fucking true. You should have seen the shit I—"

"Please don't tell me," Aubrey said. "I don't want to hear about any of your gross conquests."

Sterling slapped his son's ass. "What the fuck is gross about me getting —"

Aubrey covered Sterling’s mouth with his hand. "You're not the gross one...it's those people you were with." His son stared at him. "I don't want to hear about you with someone else."

He carefully removed Aubrey's hand from his mouth, then kissed him once on the mouth. "You're right. I'd fucking castrate anyone that touched you."

Aubrey chuckled. "Are you finally owning your caveman status?"

They rocked slowly from side to side, their arms wrapped around his each other.

"I didn't say that."

Aubrey smirked. "You just don't like the word, 'caveman', but you know it's true."

"I know nothing." He slapped his boy's ass again. "Now let's get going."

Aubrey scrunched his nose. "Going? Where?"

Fuck, Sterling loved when his son did that with his nose.

"To grab dinner." He kissed his boy's scrunched nose. "Then we're gonna get a tattoo."

Aubrey jerked his head back. "We?"

Sterling laughed. "Yes, baby, we.

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They went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.

"So, that kid, Banner, he, uh, say anything to you?" His dad asked as they were finishing their burgers.

Aubrey shook his head. "No, which was really weird, because I'd walked into school Monday expecting him to say or do something, but he acted...normal."

His dad swallowed his bite of food. "There's nothing normal about that kid."

Aubrey picked up his dad's beer bottle and took a sip. "He's just different."

"That's a nice way of saying he's a fucking weirdo."

Aubrey put the bottle down. "Isn't everyone?"

"Yeah, guess so." His dad pushed his empty plate away and picked up the beer. Aubrey watched him place his lips exactly where his own had been just seconds ago. Damn, that made him hard.

"Get your mind out of the gutter." His dad smirked at him.

Aubrey leaned forward with his elbows on the table. "You make it hard to not go there."

"Was the pun intended?"

Aubrey laughed. "No, not really." He fell against the booth. "But that was freaking perfect, wasn't it?"

His dad shook his head, a half smile kicking up the corner of his mouth. "You're ridiculous."

Aubrey smiled at him. "For you, yeah, I am."

His dad groaned and covered his face with his hands. "God, please, no. Don't start with the fucking cheesy ass shit lines."

Aubrey burst out laughing. Judging by the looks from the tables near them, it was too loud. "Damn, Dad, way to kill the romance."

His dad dropped his hands. "Romance?" He put his fist to his mouth, like he was covering a cough. "Hell to the fucking no, there will be no romance shit."

Aubrey just grinned harder at him. His dad loved to pretend like he was hard shelled and cold hearted, but Aubrey knew better. "If it makes you feel better, we'll not talk about romance shit ever again."

"Damn straight we won't."

Aubrey smothered his chuckle behind his hand. For him, his dad was loving and caring. There was nothing about his relationship with his dad that he'd change if he could.

"You almost done?" His dad looked at his iPhone. "I got that appointment at the tattoo parlor in less than 20 minutes."

Aubrey grabbed his dad's beer and finished it off. "Yeah, I'm done."

"Good, let's head out."

As they walked out of the restaurant, his dad threw his arm over his shoulders. He shook him lightly. "You ready to get that tattoo?"

Aubrey stuck his hands in his pockets. "You're the one that's getting a tattoo."

His dad rubbed his knuckles in Aubrey's hair.

"Hey!" Aubrey ducked out from under his arm. "Don't mess up my hair."

His dad laughed. "It looks fine."

They opened the restaurant door and walked out into the humid air.

"So what are you going to get?"

His dad pulled his keys from his shorts pocket. "I don't know yet." He unlocked the truck.

"You've been thinking about getting a tattoo for years, you must have something that you want."

They opened the truck doors and got in. When the truck was running and they were buckled in, his dad looked at him. "Yeah, but..." he glanced away. "It doesn't mean anything now."

Aubrey stared at him. "Then get something that has meaning for you now."

His dad didn't say anything, just put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking lot.

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Sterling had no fucking idea what he doing. For ten fucking years, he'd wanted a tattoo— even had the goddamn thing all drawn out. Now? Well, now his boy had happened. The stupid ass — typical — tattoo of AC/DC with a fucking bell under it, just didn't seem right. So why the fuck was he on his way to get one now? He didn't even know what the hell he wanted.

"Then get something that has meaning for you now," his boy had said.

He glanced sideways at his son — the one thing that held any meaning for him. He was staring out the passenger window, bobbing his head and humming to the music. Sterling didn't even know who was playing or what the song was about, it was just something Aubrey wanted to listen to.

The sun was setting outside; sending its rays through the windshield. It caught the gold highlights in his boy's hair, making it fucking shine.

Sterling focused on the road ahead. Each day he felt like he was falling farther and farther down a hole he couldn't dig himself out of it. He was thirty-four years old, and the first meaningful relationship he ever had was with his goddamn underage son. What did that say about him? What was wrong with him? That was a loaded question he'd asked himself too many times to count. And each time, the answer was the fucking same: I don't know.

He tightened his hands on the steering wheel. It was all fine and fucking dandy to not have an answer — but that was before he'd started sucking his kid's cock. Now, he felt like a goddamn drowning man trying to swim to the surface. But each time his fingers would break through, he'd get sucked back under. He just couldn't get a break from the undercurrent pulling him down. It had happened so fast, and had come out of nowhere. Or...had it?

"You're thinking pretty hard over there," Aubrey said.

Sterling propped his left elbow on the door and rubbed his mouth. "Not really."

"You have your thinking face on."

"I don't have a thinking face." He still hadn't looked at Aubrey.

"Dad, what's wrong?" His son asked gently.

Goddamn his life. His boy was always looking out for him. How the fuck did that work out? He was supposed to be taking care of his son, not the other way around. Jesus Christ, it's a fucking wonder he'd made it this far as a father.

He rarely 'took a look in the mirror' at himself, but now, it seemed unavoidable.

He. Was. A. Fucking. Mess.

And he'd always been that way. He'd never cared about anyone. None of the women he slept with, none of his friends, not even his parents. His dad he'd not spoken to in fifteen years, and he'd not spoken to his mom in nearly two years.

Now he was fucking with his son.

Holy. Fucking. Hell.

"I can't do this," he murmured.

"What?" Aubrey leaned toward him. "What did you say?"

Sterling pulled into the gas station just up ahead. He parked in a parking spot far away from the entrance to the gas station, and put the truck in park.

"I can't do this anymore."

Aubrey was quiet for a few seconds. "Can't do...what? The tattoo? It's fine, we can go do something else, you don't have to —"

"No." Sterling clenched his fists around the steering wheel. "You and me. What's....happened. It's can't continue."

"We've already talked about this, Dad."

Sterling finally looked at his boy. "I know, and I thought...I thought I could, but I can't."

"What does that mean?"

"We have to stop. This...whatever this is —"

"You know what it fucking is, don't bullshit me," Aubrey said angrily.

"Baby," Sterling swallowed thickly. "This is wrong." His voice was low and rough.

Aubrey unbuckled and slid across the seat. He took Sterling's face between his palms and made him look him in the eye. "You are my always everything. Do you hear me? We talked about this, you agreed. You said it. You told me I was your always everything too," Aubrey said thickly.

Sterling stared into those fucking wide eyes, now wet. "I know what I said. And it’s still true, but because you’re my always everything, I can’t do this to you."

Aubrey clenched his fingers around Sterling's face. "Don't say that," he whispered.

"I'm so sorry, kid. I've made a fucking mess of this whole thing. I've said one thing, done another, led you on — I'm a fucking mess and I'm so sorry you've become tangled up in it."

"No. Do you hear me, Dad? No. That's not true. You've been confused. Nothing you've done has been unwanted." Aubrey gazed pleadingly into his eyes. "I've wanted it all. Everything. You're everything I want. Can't you see that?"

Sterling put his hands on either side of Aubrey's neck; his thumbs gently caressed the underside of his jaw. "Yes, kid, I see that. But I think...I think...you're confused."

Aubrey started shaking his head.

"Let me finish," Sterling said. "You're too young. I've pushed it away as long as I fucking could. But I can't ignore it."

"Ignore what?" Aubrey whispered. A single tear slid down his cheek; Sterling wiped it away with his thumb.

"That I'm fucked up."

Again, Aubrey shook his head.

"I am, kid, and there's nothing you can do to convince me otherwise."

More tears fell from Aubrey's eyes. "You're not allowed to talk that way about yourself." Aubrey gripped Sterling's face. "Do you hear me? How the hell can I sit here and let the man who raised me — the man who is my freaking everything— say he's fucked up? It's not true."

Sterling wiped the tears away with his thumbs. "It is, Aubrey." He swallowed. "I've never allowed anyone close. I've never had a relationship."

"Me!" Aubrey gritted his teeth. "You've had those things with me!"

"Yes, you. My son. Don't you see how twisted that is? How wrong?"

Aubrey glared at him. "No, I don't. I don't feel dirty or wrong. I don't feel like I've done anything to be ashamed of."

Sterling stared sadly at his son. "No, you haven't. Nothing is your fault. You're perfect."

Aubrey pulled out of his arms. "Don't you fucking start that shit again!" He yelled. "Don't you dare fucking start. Why the hell am I perfect and you're fucked up? How did I get so goddamn perfect, huh?" Aubrey glared at him with watery eyes.

"You think it was the shit I was taught at church? Or from reading the Bible like mom does? You think it was the stuff Mom tried to teach me for years?" He slapped his hands against his thighs.

"It wasn't any of that. Because I don't freaking believe a word of that shit I'm told at church or by mom. I don't pray or read the Bible, I don't believe in a fucking god." His chest heaved and his mouth pursed. "So, just where do you think I became such a perfect person?"

Sterling felt his eyes stinging.

"It's because of you, Dad," Aubrey said softer. "You're the reason I am who I am today. Your love, your care, your support — even your cursing and take no shit attitude; all of it helped shape me into the person I am today. You never once tried to get me to see the world through an atheist's eyes, yet I saw it anyway. You never once tried to get me to turn my back on church or the things mom believed." Aubrey chuckled and wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand. "You were never quiet about how you felt about it, but you always left the choice up to me."

Sterling glanced away. He blinked several times, trying to ward off the flow of tears.

"Dad," Aubrey croaked. "Please don't push me away again."

Sterling couldn't stand the pain he heard in his boy's voice. He couldn't look at the tears in his eyes anymore. But he also couldn't keep doing...this. He couldn't be physical with his son anymore. He couldn't keep him in the fucked up mess that was his life and mind. His boy was too good for that. He would be heading to college in a couple of years, and Sterling wasn't going to stand in the way of that because his son thought he was in love with his father.

"Aubrey," he said thickly. "I'll always love you..."

"Don't you say it, don't you dare fucking say it..."

"But this can't go on."

From the corner of his eye, he saw his son shaking his head. "No, you don't get to decide what I want or don't want. You don't get to take away what has become everything to me."

Goddammit, Sterling could hardly take the sorrow he heard in his son's voice.

"I'm sorry I've allowed things to go this far. I'm sorry I've made such a fucking mess of everything."

"Dad, we've talked about this. We've —"

"You're right, we have, and each time I let myself be swayed...but not this time." He turned around and faced the front. "This time I have to do what's right."

For once in your fucking life, do the right thing.

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Aubrey was numb. He thought they had made progress. He thought they'd finally come to the conclusion, together, that they were made for each other. He'd even let his dad come to him, not pushing the relationship, but it still wasn't enough.

They pulled into the parking space in front of his dad's townhouse. The tattoo was completely forgotten.

"I'm still your dad," he said quietly. Aubrey heard him swallow. "I'll always be your dad."

Aubrey closed his eyes. "I know...but I want more." So much more.

"I can't give you that...not anymore."

Aubrey stared at his fingers in his lap. "So this is what heartbreak feels like, huh?" He tried to make it sound like a joke, but failed miserably as his voice caught on the last word.

"Baby..." his dad choked out.

"It's okay, Dad." It wasn't okay. "I get it." Not really. "I don't want you to do anything that makes you feel wrong." This was anything but wrong.

His dad stared at him for a few moments, his eyes glassy and his mouth turned down. Then he got out of the truck, slammed the door, and walked into the house.

Aubrey sat there, blinking away tears, and trying to reel in his emotions. The past hour almost didn't feel real. How could everything go from amazing to crushing in such a short amount of time?

When Aubrey walked into the house, a few minutes later, the only light on was the one above the stove.

He took his shoes off and slowly trudged up the stairs. His dad's bedroom door was shut. He stood there for a couple of seconds and just stared at it. Then he went into his room.

It was the first night, since he'd been born, that he would sleep on his own at his dad's house.

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