"To Have one good friend, you have all the riches the world has to offer; when you have many, the blessing is indescribable."
Bruce opened the door to his house, standing aside to allow Walter and Alex entry. In what was a rare circumstance, all three men had a free Saturday afternoon, as did Bruce's fiance, Zoe. Walter and Bruce planned to watch football while Alex and Zoe browsed their way through the local used bookstores.
"You guys sit down," Bruce told them. "Alex, Zoe'll be down soon. Lorraine called to talk about a case. Y'all want something to drink?"
"I'll have a beer," Walter said.
"Just water for me," Alex called to Bruce's retreating back.
When Bruce returned with the requested drinks plus a beer for himself, he made himself comfortable in his favorite chair. Leaning back in a casual pose, he looked from Alex to Walter and back again. "You guys got plans for the holiday?"
"My cousin invited us to dinner at the farm," Alex answered.
"What are you and Zoe doing, Bruce?" Walter asked.
"We're going to Mama's. She told me to invite you guys along."
"That's very kind," Walter replied. "You'll have to tell Miss Lillie that if we weren't celebrating Thanksgiving with Alex's family, wild horses wouldn't be able to keep us away."
"I will. So what about the rest of the crew? What's Jack doing?"
"Roger's bringing the kids to the shelter," Alex reported happily. "They're all helping out with Thanksgiving dinner. Then Jack's making dinner for the kids. He's ecstatic, to say the least."
Bruce grinned widely. "Just what I like to hear."
Zoe came downstairs, stopping to kiss Bruce on the top of his head. "Hey, guys. You ready, Alex?"
"Yeah, I'm ready."
"Okay, we'll get going. Walter, try and keep Bruce out of trouble while I'm gone."
"I'll do my best," Walter said, laughing.
When they were in the jeep and on their way, Zoe asked, "So, Alex, what are you looking for today?"
"Russian fairy tales, for my cousin's kids. I don't guess I have to ask what *you're* looking for, do I?"
"Not really," she laughed, knowing Alex was familiar with her collection of antique law books. "Although I am looking for something with wedding vows, too."
"Aren't the vows straight from the bible?"
"I suspect the vows from the Book of Common Prayer are used most often, but Reverend Jones said he was willing to work with us if we wanted to personalize ours."
Alex glanced away from the road, looking thoughtful. "I think I met him at the shelter once. He has formidable presence, if I'm thinking of the right man."
"A little shorter than Walter, a good thirty pounds heavier, and skin the color of good chocolate?"
"Usually wearing a prayer stole that's orangy-gold in color."
"That's got to be him," Alex asserted.
"The Reverend Jawara Jones. Bruce met him on a Habitat for Humanity build and they hit it off. Which was a good thing as Bruce isn't a member of a church here in Washington and I don't know who we could ask if he hadn't agree to marry us."
"As popular as you and Bruce are? I don't think you'd have any trouble at all."
"That's sweet of you to say. I'm glad the Rev. Jones is officiating though. He's a good man. Now if I can just find vows that the three of us can agree on, I'll be all set."
"Is that going to be a problem?"
"I hope not. I know Bruce is hoping for something short. He'll be nervous enough without having to memorize long passages, too."
"Ah, he'll he fine."
"Did he tell you we're getting married the Saturday before Christmas?"
"Yeah, he might've mentioned it," Alex teased. He waited for Zoe's smile, then added, "Bruce's excited and happy, Zoe. He lights up when he talks about you."
"Thank you, Alex," Zoe said, touched. "I love him so much. I can't even talk about it, I get so emotional."
"I know what you mean. Most people assume I don't talk about Walter much because men *don't* talk about their feelings. And it's true, we don't. But sometimes I think about all he's been to me, all he *is* to me, and it's overwhelming."
"Walter feels just as strongly about you. You don't notice it, but I do. He looks at you, or talks about you, and you can see it in his face, how much he loves you."
"You think so?"
Zoe nodded. "I watch his eyes." She waited until Alex worked his way around the minivan trying to squeeze into a parallel parking space on the busy side street before commenting "I've never seen him really angry, but I bet he's scary."
Alex laughed. "Oh, believe me, he is. I know firsthand. And he has quite a reputation at work. But he's one of the kindest people I know."
"Bruce is the same way. When I first met him, I thought he was callous, hard-nosed, --"
"Sexy," Alex interjected.
Zoe laughed. "Yeah, that too. Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realize just how sweet he really is."
Alex nodded. "Walter says that Bruce has always been there for him. And for all his friends."
"We're lucky, huh?"
"We sure are."
Bruce and Walter made themselves comfortable, watching a rerun of "This Old House" until it was time for the game to start.
"Bruce, I've been meaning to tell you, you did a great job fixing up this place."
"Thanks, man. It was a ton of work, but I always did like playing with power tools."
"Alex and I were discussing looking for a place in the country after I retire. Something we could fix up, work on together."
"The country, huh? I prefer city livin' myself."
"Both have their advantages. Are you telling me that if Zoe wanted to live in the country you'd say no?"
"Luckily, that's not an issue. Seriously though, I have something to ask you."
"I'd like for you to be my best man. You up for that, Walt?"
"I'd be honored."
"Cool. Zoe's already asked Fee to be her maid of honor. She's got the whole thing planned, already reserved the reception hall, bought her dress, all that stuff. Now all we have to do is break it our families that we're havin' the wedding here."
"Where do they want you to have it?" Walter asked.
Bruce chuckled. "Zoe's folks want it at their house. Mama wants it at our church. So we compromised, and decided to have it here in Washington."
"Good way to keep down trouble."
"Yeah, but truthfully, I'm worried."
"Getting my family and Zoe's together."
"I'm sure they'll all be on their best behavior."
"Even Maurice? I can't *not* invite him."
"Well ... We can ask Alex to watch him. I'm sure Alex will make him mind his manners."
"Now see, you're joking, but I'm serious."
"I'm completely serious. And I'm sure Alex will be glad to keep an eye on him for you."
They settled back to watch their game.
When Alex and Zoe returned, they were still in the same spot. Bruce looked up.
"Hey, baby. You guys find anything?"
"Yeah, Alex found some Russian fairy tales, and a couple of cookbooks," Zoe said, going to sit on the arm of Bruce's chair, while Alex went to sit by Walter. "I didn't find any law books, but I found a book of wedding vows."
"With some really short ones?" Bruce asked hopefully.
"Well, none of them are quite what I want. But I think I can come up with something, using pieces of several. There's even one where the best man and maid of honor are included."
"Hey, I like that. Hear that, Walt?"
"Yeah, I hear."
Zoe smiled. "Good, you asked him. Now, we have to ask the others, and we should be all set."
"I'll call Brian about being a groomsman, and ask Eric and Gerald while we're down there."
"Oh, yes," Walter spoke up. "Alex, Bruce is worried Maurice will act up at the wedding. Would you watch him, make sure he behaves himself?"
Alex smiled. "I'll be glad to. I promise, Maurice will not do *anything* to spoil your day."
"See, Bruce, I told you."
"So, did you guys have fun?" Alex asked.
"Yeah, we did. I guess we should get going. You ready?"
"Sure," Alex said, getting up.
Alex was on the phone with Nancy when Walter came downstairs carrying a box.
"So, Nancy, what can we bring? Walter makes great pumpkin pie, how about that?"
"That would be great," Nancy replied. "I'm doing the turkey, and Georgia's making chicken and dumplings, Glen's favorite. It's just a basic, traditional Thanksgiving. We're going to watch parades in the morning, eat a huge dinner, and then veg in front of the TV watching football. And later on, we'll put up our Christmas tree and have turkey sandwiches."
"That sounds great. We're looking forward to it." Hearing a child crying in background, Alex added, "I'd better let you go, but I'll call you again before we leave for your place."
Alex hung up the telephone and followed Walter into the kitchen. "Walter, what are you doing?" he asked.
"Just making some room in the closet."
Alex followed him to the kitchen. Walter set the box on the counter and opened it. He pulled out a handful of old sporting goods catalogs and a paperback book with a broken spine, depositing them in the garbage can.
"Alex, hand me the rest, will you? Everything we throw away, we don't have to store."
Alex passed over a stack of old newsletters and magazines, then paused as he pulled a leather-bound book from the bottom.
"This looks important."
Walter took it, a strange look on his face.
"Walter? What is it?"
"Oh. Can I look? Do you mind?"
"No," Walter said softly, "I don't mind. Let's go to the table."
They sat, the photo album between them.
Alex looked with interest at the much younger Walter shown in the pictures.
"Yes, I did have hair once."
Alex laughed and leaned over to kiss Walter. "I love you just the way you are."
"You're not going to sing Billy Joel, are you?"
"Not a chance." Alex turned serious. "You and Sharon looked good together."
"We *were* good together, at first. But I messed up, not talking to her, keeping everything inside. She put up with a lot. Alex, promise that you won't let me make that same mistake twice."
"I promise." Alex hesitated. "Walter, what about Joey? Can you talk about him?"
Walter nodded. "I can now." Walter smiled. "Joey was great. He was from California, looked just like a surfer should: blond, blue eyes, great tan. And he was truly a nice guy, easy-going, loved to tell jokes, always made people feel at ease."
"You have a picture of him?"
Walter frowned. "No. When I came home and met Sharon, I got rid of them. I figured she'd be hurt if she saw them." Walter shook his head. "Let's finish this up."
Alex caught his arm. "Walter, I didn't mean to bring back bad memories."
"You didn't. They aren't necessarily bad memories. I've just avoided them for a long time."
"I'm going to put the photo album on the bookcase, Walter. It'd be a shame to pack it away again. Is that okay?"
"That's fine, Alex. And you're right." Walter reached out to cup Alex's cheek. "Thank you."
"For what?" Alex asked, puzzled.
"Just for being here. Loving me."
Alex pulled Walter to him, kissing him softly. "That goes both ways, Walter," Alex said huskily. "And it's not a chore."
Walter kissed Alex then, hungrily, then sucked his way down Alex's neck. "I want you, Alex. Make love to me?"
Alex looked up with glazed eyes. "Here?"
Alex's eyes darkened. "I'm going to get lube and a condom. Why don't you take off your clothes and pick a comfortable position while I'm gone?" Alex said in a voice rough with desire.
When he got back to the kitchen, he was confronted with the sight of Walter's firm, naked ass facing him. He stared at his sexy lover spread over the table. Wondering what Alex was doing, Walter turned, staring back at Alex, his gaze following Alex's every move as he undressed. Neither man said anything, letting their hungry eyes say it all. When Alex was naked, he prepared Walter, carefully breeching the small pink rosebud with a single finger, gently loosening the tight ring of muscle. Alex increased the depth of his strokes and the number of fingers as Walter's body responded, Walter making little sounds of pleasure that went straight to Alex's cock. Walter was groaning steadily before Alex slipped the condom on and plunged into Walter's welcoming heat. Taking him with long, slow strokes, Alex repeatedly brushed against Walter's prostate, leaving Walter gasping with ecstasy. When Alex felt his climax approaching, he leaned over to reach Walter's straining erection, pumping it as he began to thrust harder. Walter came first, exploding all over Alex's hand and the floor. Alex slammed into Walter then, fucking him hard and cumming with a deafening roar of pleasure. He rested, exhausted, against Walter's broad back for a few moments, then stood on shaky legs, chuckling.
"What's so funny?" Walter asked.
"I'll never be able to eat another meal at this table without having impure thoughts about you."
On Monday, Alex stopped by Bruce's office. Walter's comment about not having a picture of Joey had gotten him thinking.
"Hey, Bruce, you have a minute?"
"Yeah. Anything wrong?" Bruce asked as he watched Alex close the door.
"No, nothing's wrong. Walter mentioned the other day that he doesn't have any pictures of Joey. Do you have one? I wanted to get one for him, maybe have it enlarged and then framed."
Bruce smiled. "I'm sure he'd like that. And I know just the photo to use too. Want me to bring it in tomorrow? You planning to give him it for Christmas?"
"Yes, it's for Christmas, so not a word to Walter, okay?"
"I know how to keep a secret," Bruce replied, his dark eyes sparkling with merriment. "I'll get it out of the box tonight and bring it in with me in the morning."
Bruce looked shrewdly at Alex. "You guys have been together for a year, right?"
Alex smiled widely. "A full year, as of the Friday after Thanksgiving. Can you believe it?"
"I can. You've been good for Walt. And you've done great here. Matter of fact, I'm glad you stopped by. I've been wanting to tell you how much I appreciate knowing that I can count on you to handle things when I'm not here."
"You aren't nervous, leaving me in charge?"
"Not at all. You pay attention to detail, and you have good instincts. You've taken a lot of the load off me."
"-- you, Alex?"
"Uh, what, Walter?" Alex said.
"I said, is something bothering you? You seem to have a lot on your mind tonight. I asked twice if you wanted to watch TV."
"I do have something on my mind. Let's go to the living room and I'll tell you." Alex sat on the couch, motioning Walter to sit down at the other end, and to rest his stocking feet on Alex's lap. Alex began massaging Walter's feet, and as Walter grunted in satisfaction, he began telling him about Bruce's comments.
"That doesn't surprise me, Alex. I knew you'd be great at this job. And Bruce wouldn't say that if he didn't mean it."
"I'm worried I won't be able to live up to the level of trust Bruce places in me."
Walter sat up and pulled Alex into his arms. "You will, Alex. I haven't seen anything you haven't been able to do once you've put your mind to it."
Thanksgiving morning was cool and crisp and gorgeously sunny. Walter and Alex left early for the trip to Glen and Nancy's, taking time to enjoy the scenery and the few trees still exhibiting fall colors.
When they arrived, Georgia opened the door and ushered Walter and Alex in, relieving Walter of the pies he was carrying. "Come in, you two. What do you have there, Alex?"
"Green bean casserole."
Walter laughed. "He'd never had one until they had Thanksgiving dinner at work and someone brought one. He loved it."
Georgia set the pies down and took the dish from Alex.
"It's one of my favorites too, so I'm glad you brought it. And I hope you like chicken and dumplings."
"I'm looking forward to trying it. Nancy says it's wonderful."
"What's that?" Glen said, coming in with Nancy.
"My chicken and dumplings," Georgia explained.
"Oh, you'll love it. Mom's specialty. Walter, Alex, glad you could make it," Glen said, shaking their hands.
Nancy was next, hugging both men.
"I'm so glad you could come. Georgia and I have the cooking underway, and Glen and James were watching the parade with the kids."
"Can we do anything, Nancy?" Walter asked.
"No, I've had the turkey in for a while, and Georgia's boiling chicken. Walter, you brought pumpkin pie, right?"
"Yes, and Alex brought green bean casserole."
"Oh, good, the girls love that. And Donna, Glen's sister, sent us a 14-layer chocolate cake."
"*Fourteen* layer chocolate cake?" Alex asked with interest.
"Yes, it's *so* good. You'll see. Now, go watch the parade," Nancy said, shooing both men out.
Entering the living room, they greeted James, Anna and Mia, and sat down to watch the parade. Alex sat on the floor at Walter's feet, with the girls by his side. Anna explained who each of the balloons was, when Alex told her he didn't know. Walter sat back, not really caring for the parade, but loving the sight of Alex with the girls.
The morning passed swiftly, and soon dinner was ready. Everyone pitched in to get the table set and the food dished up.
Nancy and Glen sat at opposite ends of the table. Nancy pulled Jamie's high chair up beside her. Glen had Mia between him and Alex, with Anna on the other side, next to Georgia. Walter and James shared the other side of the table.
When everyone was seated, Nancy spoke up. "If no one minds, I'd like to say the blessing today."
"Go ahead, honey," Georgia said, taking Nancy's hand and reaching for Anna's. Anna took it, then took Alex's in turn. When everyone joined hands and bowed their heads and Nancy began.
"Lord, we thank you for all the blessings you've given us in the past year. Thank you for the health of our family and for giving us Jamie. We also thank you for the joy of rediscovering family and for new friends. We ask you to bless this meal, and all the ones who partake of it, and please bless the ones not as fortunate. All these things we ask in Thy name. Amen."
James stood to carve the turkey while the other passed the various dishes around, with Glen jumping up to retrieve the forgotten cranberry sauce from the refrigerator.
Nancy was complimented on the turkey, as Georgia was on the dumplings, with Walter asking for the recipe. The meal was pleasant, with remembrances of Thanksgiving meals past. Georgia told of a Thanksgiving dinner she had to cook over the fire in their fireplace because a storm had knocked out the power.
"Mom, tell the one about great Aunt Millie and the possum," Glen said of his favorite story.
"Well, when I was little, we were very poor. Mama always had everyone in the family over for Thanksgiving dinner, even our snobby old aunt, the one who turned her nose up at everything and everyone. Well, one especially rough year, we couldn't get a turkey, or even a chicken for the dinner. Two of my brothers went hunting, and came back with a few possums, the only game they could find. But Mama fixed them, baked them with some sweet potatoes and rice. Me and my sisters refused to eat anything but the sweet potatoes and rice, but Aunt Millie insisted the meat tasted wonderful and kept trying to talk us into having some. We didn't, but she ate quite a bit. She thought it was pork, you see. Later, my brother Bob made the mistake of telling her what she'd really eaten, and she got *so* sick that I actually felt sorry for her."
Glen, laughing, said, "I love that story."
Nancy snorted. "I believe it. If you had been there, you'd have been the one to tell her, I'm sure."
After the meal, they were all too stuffed to want dessert. Nancy and Glen sent Georgia and James to the living room to relax. Walter and Alex volunteered to put the food away, so Glen helped Nancy take Jamie and Mia upstairs to get them cleaned up. Anna stayed behind, insisting that she had to help Uncle Alex and Uncle Walter.
When the chores done, everyone gathered in front of the TV to watch football. Or in the case of Alex and Nancy, snuggle with their respective mates while their men watched the game. The girls fell asleep on the floor.
It was already dark by the time the last football game ended. Nancy gently shook Anna's shoulder, waking her up. Anna was remained groggy and thick-headed until reminded that it was time to set up the Christmas tree. Her excited squeals woke her younger sister, and Glen was summarily ordered to bring in the boxes of ornaments and strings of lights.
"I'll give you a hand," Alex volunteered, rising up from the couch and bending backwards to stretch out his back.
Walter stood up, grinning. "Lead the way, Glen."
When the men returned with the ornaments, Nancy and Georgia draped the tree with lights, checking to make sure all of the bulbs were lit. Satisfied with their handiwork, Nancy handed the first ornament to Anna, directing her to one of the lower branches.
Picking up a small rocking-horse ornament, Nancy helped Mia hang it on another low branch, showing her how to hook it into place.
"You do the high branches, Uncle Walter," Anna instructed, "while Uncle Alex helps me reach the middle ones. But don't do the star, I want Uncle Alex to put it on top."
Walter glanced toward Alex, meeting his amused eyes. "I guess I know where *I* rate!" he said, laughing.
"Anna!" Nancy admonished, "be nice!"
With the parents handing ornaments to the children, the tree was decorated in short order. Stepping back, Nancy admired the glowing lights glittering off the colorful glass balls hanging from the branches. "Good work, everyone! Now, who's up for turkey sandwiches?"
"Me, me," Anna cried.
Following her big sister's lead, Mia chimed in with a "Me!" of her own.
"Sounds good," Walter agreed.
A few hours later, Alex and Walter stood at the door, saying their goodbyes.
"You sure you don't want to spend the night?" Nancy asked. "The guest room's open."
"Thank you, but no," Walter replied. "There's a report I need to work on, and we have reservations at Chez Guevara for tomorrow night."
"Chez Guevara?" Nancy asked excitedly. "I had my heart set on going there during Glen's conference, but when I called to make a reservation, I was told that the waiting list is months long."
Walter nodded, smiling sympathetically. "I made ours back in July."
"The article in the paper said it's *the* place to dine in DC. That not only is it where the trendy folks go to see and to be seen, but that the food's superb."
"Cuban food prepared in a French style," Nancy said dreamily. "That sounds *so* good."
"We'll let you know," Alex promised.
Skinner bristled visibly. "What do you mean, you can't find our reservation?"
"I'm sorry, sir, it's simply not here," the maitre'd said, trying to appease Walter, who was focusing his best AD glare on the man.
"So, work us in. This is a special occasion. And you are at fault."
"I can't do that, sir. It's Friday night, and we have people with reservations waiting for tables."
"Now listen --"
Alex put his hand on Walter's arm. "Walter, it's all right. Let's go. We can eat somewhere else."
Walter glared one last time at the nervous maitre'd, then followed Alex.
"Dammit, I wanted tonight to be special."
"It will be. We're together. Now, what do you feel like? Chinese? Thai? Italian, maybe?"
Walter grumbled something indistinct.
"How about French? We could try to get a table at Les Halles."
"There's no way we'll get a table without a reservation."
"Don't be such a pessimist. They're just down the street, what will it hurt to ask?"
Walter glared at Alex, but walked with him the few short blocks to Les Halles. "You go in, I'm waiting right here."
Alex smiled, not at all perturbed by Walter's stubborn streak. "Be right back," he said cheerfully.
True to his word, Alex returned just a few minutes later. "The maitre'd says they'll have an open table in ten to fifteen minutes. Is that all right with you?"
Walter didn't try to hide his surprise. "What did you bribe him with?" he demanded.
Alex grinned cheekily. "Not a thing. Didn't even have to threaten gross bodily harm."
Walter's bad temper dissipated and the hint of a smile cracked his stern countenance. "Well in that case, I think I can stand to wait."
"Good," Alex replied. "Let's go inside. I think you'll appreciate the decor. It really does look like the places I remember seeing when I was in Paris."
Walter followed Alex indoors, looking around with interest, noting the pressed-tin ceiling, mirrors, and wooden floor, before focusing his attention on his mate. "When were you in Paris?"
"Must have been around, '95 or '96."
"Business or pleasure?"
Alex raised an expressive eyebrow. "You know the Consortium didn't believe in allowing operatives vacation time."
Walter had the good grace to look abashed. "Sorry, wasn't thinking."
Alex shook his head, no. "I don't mind. And you're right, I would have liked to explore the city, to spend some time there as nothing but a simple tourist. Have you ever gone?"
"Not to Paris. Marseilles."
"Yeah," Walter agreed. "It's quite a city."
They passed the remainder of their wait for an open table talking about France and comparing their experiences dealing with the natives. Walter was talking animatedly when the maitre'd appeared and guided them to their table.
Perusing the menu, both men quickly decided to join the other restaurant patrons in selecting the onglet and frites. When they gave their orders to their waiter, he praised their choice, reminding them that French cut hangar steak was difficult to find outside France. He assured them that they would enjoy both the onglet and the fries, and then suggested adding frise'e aux lardons to the order.
"What's that?" Alex asked.
Informed that it was a savory salad, made of chicory studded with hunks of bacon and toast, and then thickly smeared with Roquefort dressing, Alex looked at Walter questioningly.
"We could split the salad," Walter offered.
Alex smiled his appreciation, and, having successfully placed their order, the men resumed their discussion of France and the French.
The salad, when it was served, proved to be a greater hit with Walter than Alex, but both men enjoyed their dinner immensely. The steak was every bit as good as the waiter had promised and the frites were exceptional. Best of all, in Walter's opinion, was the easy conversation that flowed between them. Walter's irritation with Chez Guevara was completely forgotten by the time they left the restaurant and walked back to Walter's car.
A scant ten minutes after Walter pulled back into traffic, Alex heard an usual sound. Unsure if it the "wup, wup, wup" was being caused by the road or tires, he asked for Walter's opinion.
Walter shook his head in denial. "Oh no, not a flat tire." He slowed down and edged over to the side of the road. "I cannot believe the night we're having."
"Come on," Alex said. "It'll only take a minute to change, then we'll be on our way again."
Walter sighed heavily and popped the trunk. Alex got the jack while Walter pulled out the spare.
Squatting down next to the flat, Alex tried pulling off the decorative caps covering one of the lug nuts. It didn't budge. Noting threads in the metal, he tried unscrewing it, but it still didn't move. He repeated his actions on three more covers, all with the same lack of effect. Exasperated, he asked, "Walter, how do you get the cover off the nuts?"
"Don't they just unscrew?"
"*I* don't know. How'd you get them off last time?"
"I didn't. I called a garage."
They took turns struggling with the stubborn covers, cursing fluently as they refused to budge. Alex searched the trunk for something they could use. He discovered a set of rusty channel locks hiding in a far corner, but when he tried to grasp the cover, he discovered the head was too thick to reach into the cavity and he was unable to get a purchase on the covering.
"That does it," Walter declared. "I give up. I'm going to call a professional." He got his phone out, turned it on, and then cursed vividly again.
"Let me guess. Low battery?" Alex asked.
"No, no signal."
"Oh well," Alex said, going back to struggling with the covers again.
"Alex, wait, there's a house right there. Let's go ask to use their phone."
They walked to the house and knocked on the door. It was answered by an old man who looked at them curiously.
"We're sorry to bother you, sir," Walter said. "Could we use your phone? We had a flat tire."
"Sure, you can, but it'll take them forever to get here. You don't have a spare?"
"Yes, we do, but we can't get the covers off the nuts."
"If you don't have too far to go, I've got a can of Fix-a-Flat here somewhere. It would get you home."
"That would be great."
The man located the can in his garage and handed it to Walter.
"Now, if you have any trouble, you just come back down here."
"Thank you. Could we pay you for this?"
"No, that's fine. I'll never use it. I don't do much driving these days."
They inflated the tire and Walter drove home slowly. It was a quiet, tense drive, with Walter annoyed and Alex unsure of what to say. When they got home, Alex headed for the phone, but Walter stopped him.
"Leave it until tomorrow, Alex. It's late."
Alex shrugged and went into the kitchen. Walter fixed himself a glass of scotch and sat down on the couch. Alex came from the kitchen with a cup of tea and joined him, pausing to unbuckle his prosthesis and shove it to the opposite end of the couch.
Walter shook his head. "I'm sorry, Alex. I had such a nice evening planned."
"Walter, I know you wanted this to be a perfect night. But do you remember what happened a year ago today?"
"I'll never forget it."
"Tell me, Walter."
"Well, I'd been thinking about you all day --"
"Liar," Alex accused fondly.
"I thought you wanted to hear this story."
Alex laughed and turned, lying down with his head in Walter's lap. He looked up innocently. "Go ahead. Tell me."
"As I was saying, I thought of you all day. I fell asleep, right here, and you woke me up when you knocked on the door. And it scared the hell out of me when I saw how pale you were and realized you'd been stabbed."
"And you took care of me."
Walter grunted. "You wouldn't go to the hospital."
"Nope. And I fell asleep, *right here*, and you had to wake me up from a nightmare. And you held me. And then ..."
"And then we started to make love. You were shy about your arm," Walter said, stroking Alex's left arm.
"Yes. But you told me how beautiful I was."
"You still are."
"I wanted you to fuck me right here. But you were afraid you would hurt me."
"Well, we've more than made up for that. This couch has seen plenty of action since then."
Alex laughed. "True. But we went upstairs, and made love. And then my wound started to bleed, and you had to call Scully... My point is, this night is a lot less fucked up than that one was. And that night turned out perfectly. For the first time in more years than I could remember, I felt safe and loved. All that matters to me is that I'm here with you, Walter. Don't you know that you've given me so much more than I ever expected to have? A home, a family, a man who loves me."
"I do love you, Alex. I love you so much. That day when I saw you at the shelter, I thought that my life was good. But having you to share my life with the past year has made me realize how truly empty it was before."
Alex reached up to touch Walter, pulling him down for a kiss. When it ended, Walter spoke. "Why don't we go upstairs and recreate that night? I bet it'll be even better this time."
Alex reached back up, pulling him down for another long kiss. "You know, I bet we can make this night better than last year."
"What do you have in mind?"
Alex smiled. "You know when we had sex in the kitchen? Walter, you looked so hot spread out over the table. I want that. I want you to fuck me there. I want to feel what you felt."
Walter almost whimpered thinking of Alex bending over the table. "Let's go to the kitchen, then," he said, stopping to get lube and a condom on the way.
When Walter got to the kitchen, Alex was undressing. Walter stopped and watched, struck, as always by how sexy his lover was. When Alex was naked, he went to Walter and helped him get his clothes off, taking his time, enjoying the sounds Walter made as he sucked his nipples. Almost reluctantly, Alex broke contact with Walter momentarily to drape himself over the table.
Walter groaned. "Alex, you look ... amazing. Unbelievably sexy."
Walter quickly lubed Alex, and slipped on the condom. He positioned himself and slid in smoothly as Alex pressed back against him. Walter thrust in and out at a leisurely pace, watching Alex as his head came up and his back arched. An intense need to watch his lover's face enveloped Walter.
"Alex, turn over for me? I need to see you."
Alex stood up and turned around, then scooched into position on the table, spreading his legs to allow Walter easy access to his hole.
"Pull your legs up," Walter directed. Alex complied, tensing his stomach muscles to hold them up. "You look incredible," Walter commented, reaching for Alex's legs and resting them on his shoulders as Alex inched forward. Walter easily slipped into Alex's body, and resumed fucking him, just as slowly as before. In the new position, with Alex's ass hanging free, Walter was able to push farther inside, his cock filling Alex more deeply than ever before.
"Oh shit, Walter, that's good," Alex panted. "Your cock feels so good, so big this way."
Alex shivered in pleasure. Walter went to touch Alex's cock, but Alex shook his head.
"Don't, Walter, please? Just fuck me. This is incredible. I could stay here forever."
"I don't know about forever," Walter grunted, "but I'll try." Walter was unbelievably turned on, even more so by Alex's plea.
Alex tightened his legs, curving his feet around Walter's neck and pulling Walter closer. At the same time, Alex fiercely clutched the table's edge, desperate to prevent the force of Walter's thrusts from pushing him backwards and decreasing the depth of the strokes. Walter, unable to resist, leaned down to kiss Alex, not pulling back until Alex's lips were red and swollen. Walter's kiss, coupled with the friction on his dick trapped between them nearly drove Alex past coherence. "Kiss me like that again?" he managed breathlessly.
Walter did, leaning down further to suck Alex's neck right under his ear, in the spot that always drove him insane.
"Oh, God, Walter, it's never been like this, I love this, love the way you make me feel," Alex rasped against Walter's ear. "I -- oh, shit, I --" he broke off into Russian as he came, white ropes of cum painting both his own and Walter's chest. As Alex came, his ass spasmed, clamping down, and Walter's own orgasm hit. Screaming Alex's name, Walter pumped out his climax, amazed to feel Alex still shuddering beneath him.
Walter got up, pulling the condom off and disposing of it, then wet a kitchen towel with warm water and lovingly cleaned his Alex. After pausing to stare for a moment at his sated, sexy lover, Walter give himself a cursory wipe, and then pulled out one of the kitchen chairs. He reached for Alex's hand, helping him to rise into a sitting position.
"Alexei, you are so beautiful, never any more so than right now."
Alex smiled as he moved from the table to Walter's lap. "That was incredible. I've never experienced anything like it."
"It was for me, too."
"It made up for all the trouble we've had tonight, don't you think?"
"Oh, yes. I'm sorry I let everything get to me, Alex. I just wanted to show you how much you mean to me."
Alex stroked Walter's cheek tenderly. "You do, Love. Every day."
Walter, hugging Alex tightly, whispered "Good."
Feeling no need for further words, the men sat entwined in each other's arms, savoring the feeling of closeness and the unlikely happiness they'd found together.