“Trick or treat!”
Sterling stared at the four little kids on the other side of the door.
“Another witch. You’re the fourth one I’ve seen tonight. Not very original.”
Aubrey pushed him out of the way. “Dad,” he muttered.
“Hey!” He exclaimed to the little devils. “Don’t listen to him, you all look so cute.”
He glanced at the little witch. “And you have purple glitter all over you, that’s different than the rest of witches we’ve seen.”
The little black haired girl beamed at Aubrey.
Sterling shook his head and chuckled. His boy made everyone feel that way; like they were special.
Aubrey handed out candy, smiling at each little kid.
“Thank you!” They all exclaimed as they skipped away through his propped open patio gate. That had been Aubrey’s idea. He had said the kids trick-or-treating needed to know there was candy at this house.
Sterling hated handing out candy to little kids, but his boy had wanted to do it.
“You can’t keep saying stuff like that every time a kid shows up in the same costume,” Aubrey said as they closed the door.
“Why does every kid want to be a witch or ghost? How fucking unoriginal. I always wanted to be a gremlin.”
Aubrey chuckled. “A gremlin?”
He shrugged. “I was a kid, I didn’t know that dressing up as a furry little demon was stupid.”
Aubrey laughed as he wrapped his arms around his waist. “You’re so cute.”
Sterling glowered at him. “I’m not cute.”
His boy just laughed harder, rubbing his face between his pecs. Sterling loved when his son did that. It was something he’d done even when he was little; a move that was innocent, a move that had been carried over into this new level of their relationship.
Sterling kissed his head and pressed his body closer to Aubrey’s. There was such freedom in allowing himself to hold, kiss, and touch his son. To do whatever the fuck he wanted to him. Once he’d stopped resisting, once he’d embraced it, he didn’t feel like a fucked up human being. He didn’t feel like a pervert anymore. He felt free.
A knock sounded.
“How many kids are we going to have to hand out candy to tonight?” Sterling just wanted to enjoy this Saturday night with his boy, not pretend to be happy about little kids dressed up as not-so-scary monsters.
They were standing by the front door, the bowl of candy by their feet. “Just a few more,” Aubrey said.
They opened the door.
“Trick or treat,” said Banner.
“Fucking hell, why are you half naked?” Sterling groused. He could see Banner’s bellybutton because he was wearing a fucking half shirt.
Aubrey wrapped his arms around Sterling’s side as he stood next to him. “He’s Superman,” he chuckled.
“A half naked Superman.” Sterling shivered. “You’re not sitting on my couch with your junk hanging out like that.”
“These bottoms cover more than my regular underwear.” Banner motioned at the red briefs.
“Fuck, I don’t want to hear about your fucking underwear.” He groaned. “Shit.” He squeezed Aubrey against his side.
“What are you supposed to be?” Banner stared at him. “A homeless man?”
Sterling was wearing black basketball shorts and a gray t-shirt. Aubrey was wearing the same thing, only in white and a bright blue t-shirt. They weren’t wearing fucking costumes like Banner.
“I don’t dress up. It’s stupid.”
“Why are you handing out candy then?”
“It was his idea.” Sterling pointed at Aubrey.
“I think it’s kinda fun,” Aubrey said.
“C’mon, get in here before some kids walk in and get traumatized from seeing your ass.” Sterling motioned him in.
“That’s so funny,” Banner said as he walked inside. “I’m laughing, I am, you just can’t see it because it’s inside.”
Sterling chuckled. “I’ll go get you some pants.”
“I’m wearing a costume.”
“It’s underwear and a little shirt with a short cape attached to it. You look like you’re heading to a frat party.”
“Good. Maybe then I’d get fucked.”
“What’s with you and getting fucked?” Aubrey asked as they went into the living room.
Sterling chuckled as he went to the stairs. “Baby, it’s only you that wanted to wait. Every other teenage boy on the planet thinks only about sex.” He headed up the stairs, grabbing sweat pants for Banner.
“I think about other things too,” Banner said as Sterling came back down the stairs.
“Like what? Whether you want to give or receive?”
Banner stared at him, then the pants in his hands. “I’m already wearing clothes.”
“You’re wearing a little bit of clothes.” Sterling clarified.
“I didn’t take you for a prude.”
Aubrey snickered from the couch.
“A prude I am not, but I’ve never been into the idea of half naked boys.” He scowled. “And you’re half naked. I don’t want to see the bulge in the front of your underwear all night.”
“I’m not a boy.”
“So is your son.”
“I still don’t want to see it.”
“I’m not even hard. That must mean I’m big. If you notice a bulge then I’m clearly not a boy.”
“Put the damn pants on. Every guy has a bulge.” He tossed the pants at Banner. “And I don’t want to see it.” He sat next to his boy. Aubrey immediately leaned into his side.
“Guess you only want to see one bulge,” Banner muttered.
“No more bulge talking,” Sterling said as he grabbed the remote.
“Oh, yay,” Banner said drily. “Another rule.”
Sterling couldn’t help the smile that pulled at his mouth. “Just put the damn pants on.”
Banner started pulling on the black sweat pants. “These are a bit big.”
“They’re fine. They’re Aubrey’s.”
Aubrey glanced at Banner. “You’re not that much smaller than me.”
“That’s only two inches shorter,” Aubrey said.
“I’m also thinner.”
Aubrey snorted. “By like an inch.” He laid his arm across Sterling’s stomach, his head resting on his shoulder.
“I notice,” Banner said as he finished getting those damn pants on.
“And I believe that,” Aubrey said. He curled his legs up, pressing them against Sterling’s thigh.
“I brought a movie,” Banner said as he went to the TV.
“Where? In your red underwear?”
Banner held up his phone. “I have movies downloaded on my phone.” He turned back to the black console the TV was sitting on.
“What are you doing?” Goddamn, Banner was always messing with his shit.
“Getting my phone set up.” And that’s all he said. Fucker certainly knew a lot about technology. Sterling knew next to nothing expect how to play Bluerays and watch Netflix.
A knock sounded.
Sterling groaned. “How the fuck are we supposed to watch a movie when we’re going to be interrupted every five seconds by trick or treaters?”
“It’s probably the pizza.” Banner didn’t even turn around.
“I didn’t order pizza,” Sterling said.
“I did,” Banner said.
Aubrey chuckled as he got up. “Thanks I was getting hungry.”
“It’s already paid for, tip too.”
Aubrey went to the door. Sterling heard him thanking the pizza guy.
“Sure, no problem,” the guy said.
“He said it’s been paid for and the tip too,” Aubrey said.
“Yeah,” the guy said.
Sterling heard shuffling feet. His brows lowered when he realized the guy wasn’t leaving. What the hell? Normally those guys rushed off after handing over their delivery.
“I, uh, my name’s Ferris,” the guy said. Sterling could hear the nervousness in his voice.
Oh hell to the fucking no.
“Hi, Ferris,” his boy said.
“Oh look, pizza boy’s about to die,” Banner said without even glancing away from the goddamn TV.
Sterling shot to his feet as he heard the stupid guy say something else.
Aubrey shifted the three pizza boxes in his arms. He looked at Sterling as he appeared next to him. “Can you take these? They’re hot.”
Sterling took them and then glared at the skinny little kid with the tiny little jeans on and the stupid red work shirt.
“Oh, uh, I’m sorry.” Ferris laughed nervously. It sounded more like a fucking squeak. “They are hot. I’m sorry. I should have thought of that. But, uh, well...” his pimply face burned bright red. He brushed his brown hair away from his eyes.
“I was distracted,” he whispered.
Yeah, Sterling just bet he was distracted. His boy was fucking beautiful and his eyes were as bright as the goddamn sun. Who the fuck couldn’t notice that?
“He’s taken,” Sterling growled.
“Dad,” Aubrey muttered low enough the kid wouldn’t hear. “It’s okay.”
The kid turned wide eyes to Sterling. “Oh, uh, no, I wasn’t, that is, I would never...what I mean to say is—”
“I don’t need to know what you mean to say, you little shit. Stop flirting with my partner and get a fucking move on.”
The kid’s eyes widened even more. “I’m sorry. Really I’m sorry. I thought he was my age, he looked like he was in high school, I didn’t mean anything by it.” He backed up a step. “I know I’m weird. I’m sorry. I just realized I like boys. Well, guys. Men.” He squeaked. “I mean men my own age. Not men men. Well, not men...not yet. I’m only seventeen. Probably in another year.” He backed up another step. “I don’t know. I mean, I won’t be liking boys when I’m an adult. That’d be weird. And wrong. Oh god, so wrong. I don’t want to go to jail.”
Sterling and Aubrey stared at the rambling kid. Jesus H. Christ, Sterling had never seen someone talk as much as this kid did.
Banner appeared at their side.
The kid stopped mid-sentence. “Holy shit,” he breathed as his eyes landed on Banner.
Aubrey and Sterling both looked at Banner, then back to the now quiet Ferris.
“Why are we all standing in the open doorway talking to the pizza guy?” Banner said.
“Kid wouldn’t shut up,” Sterling said. “And he was flirting with Aubrey.” He glared at the kid.
Ferris shook his head. “No, I wasn’t.” He hadn’t looked away from Banner.
“Yes,” Sterling said slowly. “You were.”
Aubrey leaned against the doorjam. Ferris briefly glanced at him, then blushed.
“Okay, maybe I was.” He swallowed. “But I didn’t know...” he looked at his feet.
“He’s a caveman,” Banner said. “Don’t take anything he says too seriously.”
“When it comes to my boy, he better take what I say fucking seriously.” Sterling growled at Banner.
“I’m scared,” Banner deadpanned.
The delivery boy peeked at Banner. “Is he yours too?” He said softly.
Sterling shoved the pizza boxes at Banner. “What the fuck? Hell no. Why the fuck would both of them be mine? Who the hell do you think I am?”
The kid backed up, his hands raised. “No one. I mean, no one bad. I didn’t mean it as bad, I didn’t mean anything. Well, uh...I mean, I only meant...”
“Christ, you’re frightening the poor guy,” Aubrey said.
Banner had put the pizzas on the table, now he was back and staring at the nervous, rambling kid.
“I’m sorry, oh god, I’m so sorry. I know my mouth runs away with me. I can’t believe...well, uh...”
“Are you hungry?” Banner asked.
Sterling turned wide eyes to him. “What the hell kind of question is that?”
“I think it’s pretty clear cut. I’m asking the guy if he’s hungry.”
“He’s working,” Sterling said. “And he just hit on Aubrey.” He pulled his son to his side.
Aubrey smirked as he wrapped his arms around his middle. “Aww, you’re jealous,” he muttered.
“Aubrey’s hot, why wouldn’t the guy flirt with him?” Banner said.
Sterling growled. “Don’t ever say that again.”
Aubrey laughed as he rubbed his face into Sterling’s side.
“Oh my god, he’s going to kill you,” Ferris the delivery boy, whispered.
Banner waved Sterling off, like he was nothing more than a pesky fly. “He’s harmless.” He turned his stare back to the boy. “So are you hungry?”
Ferris just stared at him. “I’m working.”
“I can see that,” Banner said.
“I can’t eat until I’m finished.”
“When is that?”
Aubrey and Sterling watched the exchange between the two of them.
“Uh, in about an hour,” the boy said. His cheeks turned an even brighter shade of red and he glanced away from Banner’s stare.
“Why don’t you come back when you’re finished.”
“Uh, no,” Sterling said. “You can’t invite someone to my house.”
“Fine,” Banner said without looking away from Ferris. “Why don’t you come to my house later?”
The kid jerked his gaze to Banner’s face. “T-to your house?”
“Give me your phone. I’ll put my number in.”
The boy fumbled to get his phone out of his pants. His hands were shaking so much it was a fucking miracle he didn’t drop the phone as he handed it over.
Banner entered his number, then handed it back. “Text me when you’re done.” And then he turned around and went into the kitchen.
Ferris swallowed. “Wow,” he whispered.
Aubrey chuckled. “Well, it was nice meeting you, Ferris.”
He glanced at Aubrey then quickly lowered his gaze. “Yeah, you too.”
Sterling hugged Aubrey even tighter to his side.
“I can’t breath,” Aubrey said.
“Later, kid.” Sterling watched as Ferris nodded jerkily, then rushed from the patio.
“You didn’t have to scare him,” Aubrey said as the door slammed shut.
“I hate it when people want you.”
Aubrey laughed. “It doesn’t matter, I only want you.” He leaned up on his tiptoes and kissed Sterling on the lips.
He cupped his boy’s ass as he kissed him back.
“That’s why I wanted Ferris to stay,” Banner said.
Aubrey dropped back to his feet. Sterling didn’t let him go though. He kept his hands right there on Aubrey’s ass. He didn’t give a fuck that Banner was standing right there in their kitchen. He was the one person they didn’t have hide around.
“Ferris would have had sex with me while you two were off fondling each other.”
Aubrey’s eyes widened. “What?”
“Probably not sex, just a blow job,” Banner said as he set plates next to the pizza on the table.
“You’re not allowed to have blowjobs in my house,” Sterling said. He pressed Aubrey a little firmer against him. His cock rubbed against his boy’s stomach.
Aubrey grinned up at him, his fingers digging into his lower back.
“And that’s what I’m talking about.” Banner put two pieces of pizza on a plate.
“Talking about what?” Sterling said without looking away from his son.
“I need someone to help relieve the tension.”
Aubrey glanced at him. “And you thought Ferris would do that?” He stepped out of Sterling’s arms.
Sterling wanted to pull him back, but he didn’t.
“I’m hoping he will.” Banner went into the living room.
“That guy was too scared to do anything more than tell you his name,” Sterling said as he grabbed beer from the fridge.
“He did think you were hot though,” Aubrey said. He plated pizza for both of them, then they walked into the living room.
Banner was sitting in the middle of the couch, his legs spread out.
“He thought you were hot,” Banner said.
Aubrey chuckled. “Yeah, but then he saw you. I think he’s got a crush on you.”
“Move over,” Sterling said.
“I’m comfortable,” Banner said.
“I don’t care. There’s no more for Aubrey to sit next to me if you’re right there in the fucking middle of the damn couch.”
“Why do you need to sit next to him? If it’s because you want to cuddle, I’m okay with that. You’re hot too, Mr. Sterling, for an older man.”
Aubrey flopped on the other side of Banner, chuckling. “What do you mean for an older man? He’s the hottest thing on two legs.”
Banner shook his head. “If I was into threesomes I’d beg to be between you two.”
Aubrey scrunched this nose. “Eww, Banner. C’mon, don’t say shit like that.” Aubrey scooted a little farther away from him.
“I’m not cuddling with you, now move over. And you’re never seeing my boy naked.” Sterling sat on the left end of the couch. It was the same place he always sat, and Aubrey had always sat next to him. “And don’t call me Mr. Sterling.”
Banner inched over. “Aubrey’s mom wanted me to call her Ms. Allyson. I thought maybe it was a thing.”
Sterling scoffed. “Who knows why that woman does the things she does.”
“Dad,” Aubrey said. “Be nice.”
“Move over more. There’s like an inch for Aubrey here.” Sterling put his feet up on the coffee table.
“Why can’t we all cuddle?” Banner said.
“After your fucking comment about threesomes I’m not letting you anywhere near my boy.” He leaned over and pushed Banner further across the leather.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to push an underage child.”
“Now you’re an underage child?” Sterling huffed. “Christ, you’re exhausting.” He patted the now empty space beside him.
Aubrey smiled as he handed him his plate. Sterling lifted his right hand and Aubrey fit right into his side.
He heard Banner sigh. “I could have had Ferris next to me right now.”
“He wasn’t your type, Banner,” Aubrey said.
Sterling turned on the TV.
“When you’re horny any mouth is your type.”
Sterling choked on his pizza. “Shit,” he coughed.
Aubrey quickly grabbed a beer and handed it to him.
Banner just ate his pizza and fucking stared at him.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” he wheezed.
Aubrey rubbed his back. And he was the only person in the world who could get away with that. Sterling hated anyone coddling him. But Aubrey, well, he could coddle the shit out of him.
“Why would that make you nearly die?” Banner was still staring at him. “I’m sure you’ve had your cock sucked hundreds of times.”
Aubrey glared at Banner. “Can we not talk about my dad’s cock? Or the many people that have touched it?”
Sterling sat back. “I don’t care how many people have sucked my cock, I don’t want to hear about yours.” He shook his head. “Christ, you’re a fucking kid. And I know you.” He frowned. “It’s fucking nasty.”
“My cock is not nasty.”
“Why do we have to talk about cock whenever we’re together, Banner?” Aubrey leaned against Sterling’s side again.
“I’m sixteen, what else would I talk about?”
“Good point,” Sterling mumbled. “But I still don’t want to hear about it.”
“Fine. I’ll just tell Matt about it.”
“Who’s Matt?” Aubrey asked.
“My fighting betta.”
“You named your fish Matt?” Aubrey said.
“After Matt Bomer. Hottest guy in the world.” He glanced at Aubrey. “Well, aside from you.” His eyes shifted to Sterling. “And then you, Mr. Sterling.”
“Stop saying how hot Aubrey is and stop calling me that.”
A knock sounded. Sterling sighed. “Can’t we put a sign up that says, ‘no more candy left’ or something like that?”
Aubrey got up. “I’ll hand out the candy.”
Sterling went back to his pizza as Aubrey answered the door.
“What’re we watching?” Sterling tipped his chin at the TV.
“Creepshow. It’s all ready to go, you just have to select it.”
“Select it? Creepshow? What the hell is that?”
“Hand me the remote.” Banner held out his hand.
Sterling heard Aubrey laughing at something the kids said and he smiled. Aubrey had always been the light of his fucked up life. Now, he got the chance to spend the whole goddamn thing with his son by his side.
It’d been three weeks since his birthday weekend. Three weeks of staying with his mom during the week and missing his dad. Aubrey hated that he had to wait until the weekends to see him, but that was the way it’d always been, and they’d decided not to upset the routine of things.
After Remy, they were both trying to be extra careful. But Aubrey was the first to admit, it was damn hard. He loved his dad, he literally burned with it. It was this out of control thing, swirling around in his gut, causing a physical ache when he was parted from him for too long.
“I thought we could visit Aunt Sarah for Thanksgiving.”
Aubrey glanced up from his dinner. He’d gotten lost in his head again, picking at the meatloaf on his plate. It was Saturday night, the weekend before Thanksgiving break, and he was at his mom’s house. She’d gone on and on about how she hadn’t had much time to spend with him since she’d gotten back. She’d been working a lot, but had this weekend off. She’d wanted to spend it with Aubrey, and he’d had to say yes. In the past, he’d never brushed her off when she’d come right out and asked to spend a day with him. He loved her, a lot, but he loved his dad more.
He couldn’t tell her that though.
“What? Why?” He was surprised she was mentioning this now. Thanksgiving was Thursday, in just a few days time.
“Well, you know she’s been recovering nicely since being back home, even though I wasn’t there for most of her therapy.” A frown creased the sides of her mouth.
He knew she still felt guilty about that.
“Yeah,” Aubrey said slowly.
“I thought it’d be nice to spend this holiday with her.” The lines smoothed out as she smiled at him.
They were sitting in the cramped dining room. She liked to use it for dinners sometimes, even though it was just the two of them.
“But I’d told you I was spending Thanksgiving with dad.”
She dropped her fork to the plate and sighed. “I don’t know what is going on with you, but you have been spending an awful lot of time with him.” She gazed at him, hurt shining in her brown eyes.
He felt a fraction of shame at hurting her. He loved his mom. She was a good mother, even though she was crazy religious. But she’d never forced him to stay away from his dad, even though she approved of nothing his dad did.
“You spent Thanksgiving with him last year, this year I spend it with you.” She looked like she was fighting tears.
Aubrey glanced down at his half eaten plate of food.
It was true. His mom rotated the holidays.
“I never said yes to you spending Thanksgiving with your father.” She tossed her hands up. “Frankly, I don’t understand it. I have given you so much time with him over the years. And I didn’t have to.” Her voice rose a bit. “We were never married. He has no rights to you. I —” she pointed at herself. “— have the rights as the mother.”
He turned round eyes on her. She’d never talked like this.
“Legally I don’t have to give that man anything. I never took this to court because I wanted to be fair.” She stood up, her fists clenched at her sides. “I didn’t want to be one of those women that kept their child from seeing their father. I have been more than fair since the moment I found out I was pregnant with you.” Her voice was shaking now.
“I have given that man so much time with you. And...and...I never wanted to!” A tear dripped from the corner of her eye. “He’s horrible! Horrible!” She thumped her chest with her fist. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to let your child—” her voice caught on that one word. “—spend time with someone like that? Having no idea what he’s exposing your son to?”
Aubrey stared at her, half in shock and half in anger.
That man? Horrible? Exposing him to?
He slowly rose to his feet. The chair scraped softly against the tile floor. His mom’s rapid breathing made her nostrils flare and her chest swell.
“I love you, Mom, but I won’t let you say those things about dad.”
Her eyes widened in outrage. “Let me?! You won’t let me?” She yelled. And she rarely yelled.
“I’m who I am today because of him,” Aubrey said evenly. He didn’t yell or raise his voice.
“Because—” She stared at him like she didn’t know him. “Him?” She whispered. “Because of him?”
She looked so crushed that he almost took his words back. But he found he couldn’t. Because it was true.
Her hands relaxed at her sides. Her chest stilled. The anger fell from her face like a cloak dropping to the floor. Tears brimmed in her eyes.
Aubrey deflated at those two quietly spoken words. “Mom...”
She shook her head. “No,” she choked out. “I...I’ve failed,” she whispered the last word.
Aubrey felt like shit. “No.”
She backed away from the table, bumping into the wall. “It’s...”
But she was already leaving the room.
Aubrey stood there, listening to her shuffle through the house, until he heard her bedroom door close.
Sterling was a lame motherfucker.
What the hell did he do before Aubrey had become his other half?
All day, he’d done nothing but clean his townhouse, wash his truck, and then order groceries online. All shit he hated, but it had to get done.
Now, here he was, sitting on his couch flicking through Netflix.
It’d already been thirty fucking minutes of this shit.
Travis had texted, wanting to head out to a bar. His girlfriend was out of town.
He’d said no, because heading to a bar didn’t sound fun at—fucking—all.
Goddamn Allyson and her need have a weekend with Aubrey. He’d only seen his son once since last weekend. Tuesday they’d met for dinner, but then his boy had gone back to Allyson’s.
His phone rang next to him.
He looked at the screen.
“Hey baby.” A smile instantly took over his face. He probably looked like a fucking scary-ass clown.
“Hey,” Aubrey said.
“What’s wrong?” He sat up.
“I’m a dick.”
He sighed. “I told mom I was who I am today because of you.”
Sterling didn’t say anything. Partly because he couldn’t believe his son felt that way about him. And partly because he could imagine how Allyson had reacted.
“She wants me to spend Thanksgiving with her and Aunt Sarah. Since I spent it with you last year, she said it’s her turn.”
They did swap the holidays every year, that was true. It was the way it’d always been. But things were different now.
“I want to spend Thanksgiving with you too, Aubrey, but you’re still seventeen.” He sat back and sighed to the ceiling. “I think we need to leave this alone. It’s only one more year until you’re legally an adult.”
“Yeah.” He sounded so fucking sad.
“Your mom loves you.”
“I know that, and I love her, but I love you more.”
Sterling felt his heart beat a bit harder at those words. “I love you too.” It didn’t seem like those words were enough. What he felt wasn’t able to be put into words.
“I guess I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with Aunt Sarah in Orlando.” He sounded like it was the last thing on the planet he wanted to be doing.
“Why not bring Banner? I doubt that kid is doing anything for the holiday. His parents sound like assholes. Worse than mine, if that’s possible.” He paused. “Probably a toss up.”
Aubrey chuckled softly. “I’m not sure Banner hanging around mom is a good idea.”
They didn’t say anything for a few minutes, just sat on the phone, breathing.
“Will you stay on the phone with me until I fall asleep?”
Sterling swallowed. “Yeah.”
And that’s what he did.