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Beyond Kissing

Ash loved the night. He had since before that fateful bite that awakened the vampire hunter blood. It had been a night much like tonight – cold and crisp, the kind of weather that froze your nose from the inside out. Tonight was different. Tonight, instead of giving in to fear and walking away from the pretty girl making eyes at him, Ash was treating a wonderful woman who knew his secret to a special evening simply because she made his head swim with her cunning, playful, freckled smile.

It was weird and it was wonderful.

Ash stepped ahead of Ginger to push open the door. He stepped through and held it for her. He fell in beside her on the sidewalk, heading back toward the T-station.

“It was magical!” Ginger did a little skip-twirl move that was similar, yet nothing at all like a pirouette. She wasn’t tall and lithe like the ballerina on the stage, but Ginger’s happiness made her a hundred times more beautiful.

Ginger skipped ahead and spun around to face him. Ash stopped walking and just took in the vision of his lovely girlfriend.

His girlfriend. He never thought he’d be able to say that.

“It was,” he said. He nodded.

“I don’t want to go home yet.” Ginger reached for Ash’s hand and pulled him along as she turned and started walking again. “It’s a nice night.”

“It’s cold. I can see your breath.” Despite his objection, Ash didn’t steer them toward the steps to the T. He let her lead him right past.

“Nonsense.” She waved her free hand, dismissing his words. “Given the weather we’ve had so far this year, this is downright balmy.”

He chuckled. She had a point. Most of the snow had melted, but there were still dirty piles here and there. Before that last storm, the temps had been rocking into the teens. In November.

She squeezed his hand and slowed her walk. When he looked at her, her smile had faded from glowing to a normal level. “If you’re cold,” she started.

“No.” He brushed a hand down her cheek. “Well, yes, a little, but you keep me warm.” Cheesy, he thought, as soon as the words left his lips, but Ginger must’ve disagreed because her smile returned to a beaming grin.

Her voice dropped low and knowing. “I’ll keep you warm. Boiling, if you’d like.” Her gaze held a wicked glint, daring him to take her up on her not-so-subtle offer.

He didn’t know what to say. She knew he wasn’t normal. Maybe it’d slipped her mind. Instead of bringing the conversation down, he kissed her. As their lips brushed, he hoped she didn’t notice him trembling. She was a smart girl. By the time they returned to her place, she’d remember and he wouldn’t have to tell her no.

“Ash.” She did that often, whispering his name against his lips after a kiss.

“Ginger,” he whispered back, and kissed her again.

When he pulled away and nodded his head to the side to indicate they should keep walking, Ginger resisted. She squeezed his hand, and held his gaze for a long moment.

“I get it. You’re scared.”

“Don’t–”

“Okay, hesitant. But, Ash.”

He covered her mouth with one finger. “Can we talk about this later?”

Her gaze filled with doubt, but she nodded. When he moved his finger, she said, “Will we talk about this?”

He wanted to please her. He was attracted to her – that wasn’t the problem. The problem was, well, she knew. It’d gone beyond blurting out his secret at that first coffee date. She knew he still needed surgery. They’d talked about that. Briefly. Any attempt at intimacy beyond kissing and holding hands would result in frustration and embarrassment. He couldn’t.

Ash forced a smile. Already, she meant so much to him. He would hate every moment, but he would talk about it as much as she needed to. He wanted her to understand that if he could, he’d make love to her every single night, all night long.

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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Ash, Relationships, transgender

 

My Friend Confessed

Mike woke with a start. He froze momentarily, listening but hearing nothing, and then tightened his arm around Crandall. They’d dozed off, still naked and damp with sweat and cum, front to back, spooning. In response to Mike’s embrace, Crandall wiggled against him and sighed softly.

“It’s just Ash,” Crandall said, his voice thick will sleep.

“Mm…” Mike pressed his face against the nape of Crandall’s neck and canted his hips, pressing his crotch to Crandall’s ass. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift with thoughts about how warm and comfortable and happy he was curled around Crandall, flesh to flesh from head to toe.

“I bet he was with that girl all night.”

“Hm?” Mike kissed Crandall’s neck. Then his mind kicked in. “Oh, the girl you work with? Wasn’t that this afternoon?”

“Yeah, and they blew me off.” Crankiness crept into Crandall’s tone, pushing back the sleepy comfort of their afterglow haze.

“Must’ve gone well.”

Crandall snorted and sat up as Ash’s silhouette darkened the doorway.

“You’re awake? I can go–”

“Nope. Done.” Crandall slipped from Mike’s embrace and stood up.

“Sorry!” Ash turned his back.

“For what? What do I care if you see me dress?” Crandall grabbed a pair of pajama pants off the top of his bureau, and then stepped into them.

“I don’t like it.” Ash glanced over his shoulder. “Seeing you–” Ash swallowed the word “–reminds me of my own inadequacies.”

“How’d your date go?” Mike asked. He remained stretched out and covered up in bed, more aware of Ash’s discomfort around the nude male body than Crandall would ever be.

“Well,” Crandall said. “Otherwise he’d have been home hours ago.”

Ash laughed, but it wasn’t all mirth. “Right, I suppose. Though I could’ve been wandering the city trying to soothe a broken heart.”

“In just one afternoon, doubtful.” Crandall turned to face Mike. “You going back to sleep?”

“Nah, I want to hear about this big date.” Mike grinned and waved Crandall away. “Just give me a minute.”

Crandall rolled his eyes, but had the sense to do it with his back to Ash so only Mike could see. “I’m going to grab a beer. You want one?”

Mike nodded. Once Crandall and Ash left, he slipped out of bed, dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and headed out to the living room. Crandall handed him a bottle of beer as he sat beside his lover. Crank had found a shirt somewhere along the way.

With a nod to Ash, Mike first took a long drink from his bottle, and then asked what Ash wanted to share. “So, spill it, man. How’d it go?”

Mike waited patiently. Ash had never tried to be a macho man, but he had often vented his frustration at emotional responses. Mike had always done his best to remind Ash that men had emotions too and not to worry about it. He could tell Ash was wrestling with his emotions now, but at the same time, the grin that kept popping across Ash’s lips told Mike enough despite his friend’s silence.

When Ash spoke, he’d clearly surrendered. The big smile remained. “She’s wonderful, Mike. She’s beautiful and smart, and I can tell already she’s strong too.” He shifted his gaze to Crandall. “Thank you, for setting this up.” He paused, staring off between Mike and Crandall as he sipped at his beer.

“Did you get laid?”

Mike frowned at Crandall. “Really? That’s what you want to know?”

“Coffee doesn’t take that long.”

“I wouldn’t tell you if I did.” Ash’s frown melted away as quickly as it formed. “I did tell her I was transgender.”

“And?” Mike couldn’t wait for Ash to collect himself again. He’d broken new ground today, and Mike was eager to hear how it went.

“She kissed me.” Ash laughed, and then slapped a hand over his mouth. When he lowered it, a rare curse slipped out. “Shit, guys, she actually kissed me.”

They finished their drinks, including a second round, while Ash filled them in on his afternoon. After that kiss, Ash had walked Ginger back to the office. As soon as she left him on the sidewalk, he pulled out his phone to research the perfect restaurant for dinner. He called ahead for a table by the window so they could watch people walking by on the street. He also found a bouquet of rainbow colored daisies at a nearby flower shop. At first, he almost passed them up, thinking rainbows were too cliché, but she’d mentioned daisies over coffee and he had to buy them for her.

“I’m going to see her again Friday.” Ash grinned. He stood and collected the empties.

“You still owe me a coffee.” There was a hint of a smile on Crandall’s face as he said it. Mike had noticed Crank paying close attention to the conversation. While he complained about the girl, Mike would place money on Crandall being genuinely happy for Ash’s success.

“Crank, I owe you an entire coffee shop.”

Crandall just snorted and said nothing, but the smile snuck through once Ash disappeared into the kitchen.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Ash, Friends, Love & Lust

 

Stupid Boy

Originally I was going to make you wait for Ash and Ginger. Nica has a scene coming up, and Crank is, well, cranky over being blown off. But those scenes won’t take place after dark, and boy, wouldn’t I look foolish if I left Ash and Ginger at the coffee shop all day when she only gets a ten minute break? Feel free to thank your merciless bosses who’d never let you disappear for the afternoon, even for a cute boy.

~*~

Ash couldn’t breathe. He felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. What a scientific paper that would be – make a coffee shop into a vacuum by planning to confess a gigantic secret. He laughed, but then remembered she’d have no clue why he was laughing and cut it short. Despite his nervousness, he knew he sounded a tad bit crazy. And maybe he was, thinking this was a good idea. Any of it. Dating. Telling a stranger he was trans. Thinking anyone who didn’t already know him would accept it. Fuck, his parents knew him all his life, and they couldn’t.

Ginger squeezed his hand, bringing his focus back to her. She smiled, part sweet and curious and part wary and concerned. “What is it?” she asked, and she might have meant what he wanted to say, or why he was suddenly acting like a crazy guy who missed his afternoon meds.

Ash opened his mouth, but couldn’t speak. With his free hand, he picked up his coffee and sipped at it. It’d grown cold as they’d talked. Talked so much. Clicked every which way.

Don’t blow it now.

But she’ll find out eventually.

Maybe she’s not interested in more than a friend. I need a friend.

“Whatever it is, Ash, you can tell me, or not.” She smiled. She was beautiful when she smiled.

“It’s… hard.” He swallowed the lump in his throat.

Get it over with now. Don’t wait.

But if she gets to know me better first…

A disgusted look in her eyes will hurt more.

“As long as you haven’t killed anyone, I can’t imagine anything that would make me not give you my phone number. So whatever.” She shrugged her pretty little shoulders, and rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand. Her expression brightened, and she said, “Why don’t you walk me back to the office? You look like you need some fresh air, and I need to get back to my month end reports.”

Ash had his doubts over whether it was the best choice, but he’d already decided, and if he didn’t say something, it’d eat at him until he did. Hours. Days. Weeks. It wouldn’t matter. It’d crawl under his skin until he took it out on a vampire or blurted it out untactfully. The vampire idea appealed in that moment, but dusk was still hours away, and he tended to be sloppy when his mind was distracted. Tonight would not be good, or safe, hunting.

Unless… tell her!

Ginger was standing now, looking at Ash expectantly. “Coming?” She held out her hand, and only then did Ash realize he wasn’t holding it anymore.

Now or… Just now.

“I’m transgender.” Ash stared hard at the table. It anchored him. There, he’d said it, but he wasn’t ready to see the look on her face. He wanted to remember her laughing and smiling, and getting along with him more than any other person he’d met in… forever. If he stared at the table long enough, she could walk away unseen, and he could savor the memories up until those two words came out of his mouth.

She hadn’t moved away. He hadn’t been sure at first, but then, despite his effort not to see her, out of the corner of his eye, he saw her crouch down beside him. Her small hand landed on his thigh, near his knee, and her long, slender fingers squeezed gently. The touch was so kind, so gentle, that he couldn’t help but look up.

“Thank you,” she whispered softly when he met her gaze.

“I’m sorry,” he said just as quietly. “For wasting your time.” He looked at the table again, but the surface couldn’t hold his attention. She had moved, but not to stand up and run, instead to lean closer.

“Ash, look at me.”

He did. Her face was inches from his. Her eyes met his and held none of the pity or disgust or anything that he’d braced for. Instead, she smiled, and he knew it was not forced because her eyes crinkled and sparkled when she truly let her emotions free. He smiled back, glad that he’d noticed that – that he’d been watching her so intently to learn the difference between a regular smile and an I-like-you smile.

“Thank you for trusting me with that,” Ginger said.

He blinked. Sure, her smile said she wasn’t disgusted, but could she be supportive and understanding too? It was too good to be true. He must have read too much into her words. Afraid to sound foolish, he remained silent. Instead, he covered the hand on his thigh with his own, and nodded once.

Her smile widened, and he couldn’t be sure, but he thought she might be holding back a laugh. He frowned and opened his mouth, but wasn’t sure what to say. She had him completely tongue tied after not having to think a moment about a topic to discuss during their entire coffee date.

“You’re adorable,” Ginger said. “So confident and outgoing all along, but now, suddenly this adorable little introvert. Oh!” She covered her mouth with her hand. When she lowered it she smiled shyly. “I’m sorry, not little. I know guys don’t like that, though it’s probably closer to a pet name than anything serious when girls say it. Like we need an extra word and little and cute go together and…” She laughed then, waving her hand in front of her face. “Never mind me. I’m just nervous. Since you suddenly seem to think I might not want to continue, I feel it’s up to me to ask you to dinner tonight, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked a guy out before. How am I doing?”

And with her brief rambling giddiness, the self-imposed spell broke over Ash and his true nature rose to the surface once more. He smiled and brushed his fingers lightly down her cheek. He was nervous still — he hadn’t tried dating much at all – but he liked her, and it would seem he couldn’t chase her away so easily. Instead of answering, he leaned in and brushed a light kiss over her lips. It was so quick and light she didn’t have a chance to kiss him back.

“Hey!” Ginger pouted, her lower lip sticking out. It looked comical. Ash laughed. Her pout turned to a frown, but the corner of her lips curled upward. She couldn’t seem to help the smirk. “Don’t you laugh at me, buddy,” she said. She poked his shoulder.

When Ash stopped laughing, Ginger leaned in again and whispered, “Do that again. I’m ready this time.”

He did, and this time, she caught him with an arm around his neck, and held him still so she could return the kiss with a quiet urgency that spoke more than words could ever say. That kiss said: You stupid boy, how could you think I’d walk away?

He wasn’t sure how he could’ve thought that either. Not anymore.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in Ash, Ginger, Secrets, transgender

 

On The Tip of HIs Tongue

“Was that horrible of me?” Ash asked with a grin. He’d already figured out Ginger wasn’t Crandall’s biggest fan, so he wasn’t worried about her reaction. The relief on her pretty face when Ash sent Crandall back to his cubicle alone was almost funny. He couldn’t even say why he and Crandall were suddenly getting along, but he’d been through it too. Ginger needed a miracle to get on Crandall’s secret friends list. Or so it had seemed to Ash while he had suffered Crandall’s abrasive side.

“He’ll get over it.” Her smile wavered. “He will, won’t he?” She slowed her pace to look up at Ash.

“I think so.” He gave her a reassuring smile, and then they continued walking toward a small coffee shop with a scattering of tables along the sidewalk. “I still won’t claim to completely understand him.”

“Not surprising,” she said with a snort. She took a deep breath and sighed, shaking her head. “I’m sorry. I know he’s your friend.”

“It’s okay.”

“I’m not really this catty. Honest.”

“Crandall, he…” Ash paused. He didn’t know what Crandall’s story was. He only knew the man had been difficult – very difficult — at first, but Mike vouched for him, and finally, Crandall came around. But not until Max forced Ash to out himself to Crandall. He expected snotty comments from the man, at the very least, and possibly downright denigration, but Crandall had surprised him. He’d not only accepted the truth, but embraced their wavering friendship, supporting it with all of the same strong energy he’d previously put into being a jerk.

“You don’t need to explain,” Ginger said, interrupting his musings. “I’m sure he has a good side.”

“Yes, he does. That’s why he came for me the night of the fire.”

“That’s a true friend: one you can call at any hour of the day or night and know they’ll drop anything for you.” She stopped at the door of the café and studied Ash. “I bet you’re that kind of friend right back too.”

With a smile to hide his surprise at her declaration, he asked, “Why do you say that?”

She shrugged. “I just know.”

He raised an eyebrow and held back a smirk. “But you don’t ‘know’ about Crandall?”

She laughed. It was loud and musical. She wasn’t afraid of letting it out, but the sound was still feminine, like a playful ditty with no lyrics. “I tried to be friends before asking about you. He pushed me away.”

“Don’t give up.” Ash reached for the door, holding it open for her. He placed a hand at the small of her back, ushering her in. She didn’t pull away – maybe even slowed and leaned into his touch, though that could’ve been him reading too much into things – but it still gave his confidence a boost. He knew his way around vampires. He also made friends easily enough when he wasn’t distracted by work, and losing his home, and, well, vampires, but pretty girls had always been harder for him. He’d promised himself he’d start out with the truth this time.

It scared the crap out of him. More than any vampire he’d ever hunted. He doubted the decision all day long, but refused to let doubt change his mind. He’d tell her. Maybe not while they waited for coffee at the counter, but before they parted ways. Definitely before he asked for her phone number, so he’d know if she’d be someone he’d want to visit again.

As they sipped coffee and talked, Ash absorbed everything she said. They like a lot of the same music. She barely watched TV; he didn’t own one, not even before the fire. She found ways to relax him with gentle teasing and subtle flirtations, while he never struggled once to find a topic she’d find interesting. It was going well. Too well. Doubt crept in again, warning Ash against revealing his secret. He didn’t want to lose this so soon.

“What kind of martial arts?” Ginger’s gaze sparkled with curiosity sprinkled with flirtation.

Ash smiled, pushing aside the worried little voice in his head. “You don’t want to hear about my job.”

“I do,” she said. She spun the Styrofoam cup between her hands. “I took Jujitsu when I was a kid. I’ve always thought I should give it another try.”

“That’s one.” Ash tried not to get too excited about the common ground. It could just as easily become a chasm of disgust if he told her about his… He shook the angry, fearful words from his head, and refocused on Ginger.  “Wednesday evenings.” He felt the blush rising up his neck. “That is, if you’re interested.” He couldn’t seem to help himself. She was going to break his heart with one coffee date.

“I’m interested.” She glanced down to her cup, and when she met his gaze again her shy expression took on a mysterious, mischievous tint. “Do you offer private lessons?”

He returned her smile easily. “I’m sure I could arrange something.”

“Where’s your phone? I’ll give you my number.” She reached a hand across the table, her fingers brushing over his wrist. Her touch sent tingles through his body, making him crave things he’d denied for too long.

“I’d like that,” Ash said. He turned his hand to take hers. “But first I want to tell you something.” He squeezed her hand and lifted her fingers to his lips for a light kiss. “I like you, Ginger. A lot. So I have to get this out in the open up front. It just gets too weird to…”

He shook his head.

Just say it.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Ash, transgender

 

First Impressions

The lobby had a full wall of windows facing the setting sun. Brightly colored chairs, arranged in pairs, bathed in the sunlight. Ash tried to sit in one but bounced right back up to pace in front of a row of turnstiles. As he walked past them the security guard-cum-receptionist glanced up, narrowing his eyes at Ash. Ash raised his hands in a surrendering hands-off gesture and walked back to one of the comfortable-looking chairs by the windows. He had too much nervous energy to sit. He crossed his arms and frowned at the chair, but then a moment later decided he didn’t want his first real impression to look defensive and dropped his hands to his sides.

He heard voices coming from the far side of the turnstiles. He spun around, sighing out his disappointment when he spotted three men in jeans and collared shirts chatting animatedly as they pushed through the turnstiles. He was about to drop into a chair again when he heard Crandall’s voice carrying down the hall.

Ash suppressed a smirk. Crandall was being… Crandall. “I told you,” Crandall said. “I don’t fucking care. Just. Shit. Here.” Crandall appeared around the corner and pushed through the turnstile. “Hey, Ash, you owe me more than a coffee. This girl is a pain in the ass.”

Crandall stopped in front of Ash and glanced over his shoulder. Ginger had stopped just past the turnstile, shyly studying Ash. The sunlight shined off her pale red hair and glossed her small round lips as she offered him a small smile. “Hi,” she said softly. “Crandall, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“You know who he is.”

She was adorable. Ash had suspected Crandall hadn’t noticed just how pretty Ginger was, but even assuming Crandall had other things on his mind, Ash was still pleasantly surprised at the woman standing beside Crandall.

“Ashland Keating,” Ash said offering his hand.

Crandall snorted. “Ash this is Ginger. She, you know, pestered me to meet you.”

She took his hand, and Ash turned it in his, lifting it to his lips to place a gentle kiss on her knuckles. “A pleasure to meet you, Ginger.” Ash smiled, his nerves no longer bouncing wild butterflies in his stomach. She charmed him with just that shy smile. He took a small step backwards and took her in. She was nearly as tall as he was, which worked for her while he always felt short. She was slender, but curvy too. She dressed like she cared about her looks without coming off as vain. Ash liked her snug jeans with embroidered swirls down the sides of her legs. Though if forced, he’d have to admit he liked her legs more than the jeans that encased them.

And her eyes.

And her small, round mouth with pale pink lips.

And her voice when she giggled at his old-fashioned greeting.

It took him only a second or two to look her over and meet her gaze again, and in that brief moment, he was smitten.

“May I have my hand back?” she asked. When Ash started, and then nodded, Ginger giggled again, obviously pleased with his reaction to her.

“I was about to head out for some coffee. Would you like to join me?”

“I’d like that,” Ginger said.

“Shit, you didn’t say you were bringing her too.”

Ash tore his gaze away from her summer sky blue eyes to frown at Crandall. “This was the point,” he started, but trailed off. True, he hadn’t said specifically he’d invite her. Mike had warned him months ago that everything was face value with Crandall.

“Come on, Crandall.” Ginger reached for his arm, but then pulled back and clasped her hands together. “Can we please call a truce for one coffee break?”

“For fuck’s sake, that’s not what you said this morning.”

“Crandall…” Ash recognized the pleading in her eyes, begging Crandall not to ruin the moment, or make her look foolish. Ash knew Crandall didn’t understand, or didn’t care. Sometimes he wasn’t quite sure even though Mike swore Crandall was alright once you learned to navigate his gruff exterior.

“Hey, okay, this is my fault,” Ash said. He touched Ginger’s arm lightly and loved the smile she turned on him in return. He focused on Crandall, but let his hand linger. “I’ll bring you back something, and we’ll catch up for dinner. Does that work for you?”

Crandall narrowed his eyes and stared hard at Ash. Ash was starting to get used to that reaction, though he still couldn’t make heads or tails of it. When Crandall spoke, it was all Ash could do to not laugh at him.

“I suspected you were using me to get laid,” Crandall said. “But I couldn’t convince you to give it up and relax, so I dismissed the idea.” He turned his glare on Ginger, but she only turned her nose up and pretended to look anywhere else. “You could use it though, so I’ll forgive you for a large extra cream and extra sugar.” He turned back toward the turnstile and waved his badge in front of the reader. Once he walked through, he glanced back and said, “And make her tell you where she got that cupcake. I’d stake a vampire for another one of those cupcakes.” He grinned wickedly, and then Ash did start laughing. It was a sight he’d rarely seen. It must’ve been one amazing cupcake.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Ash, Ginger

 

A Favor Asked

Mike slowed as he crossed the living room. He could hear Crandall and Ash talking in the kitchen. While he’d fallen right asleep after fucking Crandall into another screaming orgasm, he’d woken feeling hung over and restless. They hadn’t had any beer last night, but Crandall had dropped a helluva bomb on him instead. He wanted to marry Ash. Nightmares of Ash and Crandall disappearing from Mike’s life haunted him all night. He knew – knew, without a doubt – that it was exactly as Crandall said, just for the health insurance, but Mike still felt nauseated, and his mind scrambled for another solution – any other solution – to help Ash without letting his lover marry someone else.

“The surgeries aren’t even covered by most insurance plans.” Ash. Smart Ash. He’d know, of course. Mike knew Ash would’ve long ago explored all of his options. He approached vampire hunting on instinct mixed with daily drills. His own life, he’d likely do the same. Going after what he wanted, but when he got stuck, researching all possible avenues to get to that goal.

“I’ll find out,” Crandall said. “Don’t write this off without finding out for sure.”

“It’s not just the money,” Ash said. “I love you guys. If this is going to weird Mike out, I won’t do it.”

“He’ll get used to it.”

“Crandall–”

“It’s not his fucking choice. Shit, Ash, didn’t you tell me you had to see a shrink too? I know my insurance covers that much.”

Ash laughed, but it was soft and sad. “That’s true, but I don’t really need the talking part anymore. I know what I am. I’ve done a lot of research, and chatting in online forums.” Mike could almost hear a shrug in Ash’s tone. “I’d only need the appointments to get an official sign off on surgery.”

In the silence that fell, Mike suddenly felt awkward and ashamed for eavesdropping. He hadn’t realized he’d stopped walking until that moment. He shuffled forward and, as he stepped through the kitchen doorway, Ash started talking again. Mike hesitated for a second, as if caught, but then grumbled at his own bad behavior and headed for the coffee machine.

“Anyway,” Ash said, “if you have the time, I’d like to meet up for lunch today. You pick your favorite place.”

“I don’t eat lunch,” Crandall said.

Mike filled his coffee cup and then turned and leaned against the counter as he sipped. Crandall glared at him from the kitchen table, but that could just be Crandall being Crandall. He didn’t tend to hold a grudge. However, last night wasn’t the first time he’d chided Mike about remaining so far in the closet he may as well be living in Narnia.

“Coffee break?” Ash offered.

Crandall turned his glare on Ash. “What do you want?”

Ash lowered his gaze, his fingers flexing and curling around a coffee mug. Quietly, he said, “I want to meet that girl.” He looked up, a rare coy glance, and then diverted his attention back to the cup in his hands. “Would you mind introducing me?”

“I don’t know her.” Crandall pushed away from the table and brought his mug to the coffee pot. Mike slide to the side, giving him room while watching Ash. Ash had firmly denied any interest in dating for the entire time Mike had known him. It took years for the reason to come out. He wondered what changed that Ash was asking about the woman at Crandall’s office.

“I’d owe you one.” Ash glanced at Mike. “’Morning, Mike.” And then, to Crandall, “You just told me I needed to do something other than hunt vampires.”

“Fucking use that against me,” Crandall muttered.

“What’s the big deal?” Mike asked. He moved behind Crandall as Crandall sipped his coffee in the middle of the room. “Introduce them, and then you’re off the hook. It’d be up to them to hit it off.” He wrapped his arms around Crandall’s waist and brushed his lips along Crandall’s neck. “And maybe you can cheer through the wall next time.”

Ash had the good graces to blush. “Sorry about that,” he said.

Mike attempted a smile, but it was more of a smirk. He’d been embarrassed last night, but despite his objection to Crandall’s wedding plans, he did believe in supporting his friends. If Ash wanted to meet this girl, Mike was all for it.

“Alright, fine, what-fucking-ever.” Crandall shrugged Mike away, and walked out of the room muttering about fucking up his work schedule to arrange “play dates”.

Mike laughed, and after a brief hesitation, so did Ash.  When they returned to their liquid breakfasts, Mike asked, “What is it about her?”

Ash looked away, again shyness crept over his face. “I’m not sure why. I’m lonely. I’ve been lonely for a while, but for some reason when Crandall mentioned she asked after me, I felt disappointed that we wouldn’t have a chance to meet for a while.”

“Still no word on the apartments?”

Ash shook his head. “They won’t promise any ETA.”

“So meet her on neutral grounds?”

“Not very neutral when she works there too.”

Mike smiled. “Um, go for it anyway?” He laughed. “I’m not very good at this, am I?”

“Yes, I want to try. I’m going to tell her the truth right up front. I may fail miserably before we even get started, but if there’s going to be a chance, I can’t begin our friendship with a lie.”

Mike nodded, at a loss for words. He’d been living a lie his whole life. It came naturally now, and even around those who knew he was gay, he automatically pretended otherwise. It took conscious will, and a lot of it, to admit his feelings for Crandall in front of Ash and Dragon. He knew, deep down, they wouldn’t care, because Ash had come out well before him, and yet, it’d been one of the most difficult confessions of his life.

“I hope it works out for you, Ash.” Ash had a point. If this woman could get past the initial revelation and see Ash for who he truly was, they could create a strong bond. If. Hopefully it wasn’t a huge, impossible if.

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Ash, Friends, Identity

 

Ally or Enemy

Crandall lay on his side with his legs hugged to his chest. Mike had, as was typical whenever they argued, suddenly decided he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, and that was that. He left. Hunting. Crandall would’ve gone with him if he had even a sliver of suspicion Mike would actually be looking for vampires. No, they were an excuse for Mike to brood alone. Crandall closed his eyes, but they popped open again a second later. He wasn’t tired anymore. He was too fucking pissed off to sleep. Damn fucking Mike. He loved the guy, but he was a hypocrite of the highest ranking. Mike didn’t want the world to know he loved men – and Crandall did understand that it wasn’t just him; Mike feared judgment on his desire for men, not on which man he desired – but when Crandall had a solution that would deflect suspicion from them, and help their friend, Mike took it personally. Bastard!

Crandall was still staring viciously at the wall hoping for sleep when he heard the soft knock on the door. He wasn’t surprised Ash was checking on him. He was just that kind of guy… in touch with his feminine side. Crandall snorted. Ash would deny it of course, wanting to be as masculine as possible to make up for his physical imperfections, but yeah, Ash fucking cared. He looked out for his friends, and as far as Crandall was concerned that made him a damn good guy. Besides, Mike, with his pouting, was more girly than Ash with his tits and compassion.

When the knock came again, Crandall said, “Go away.”

The door squeaked slowly open. Crandall made no move to turn around. “Crandall?”

“No one else here,” Crandall said.

“Do you want to talk?”

“No.”

The mattress sunk as Ash sat. “What happened?”

“I said no. No, I don’t want to fucking talk about it.”

“Okay,” Ash said. “If you change your mind–”

“I’ll let you know,” Crandall snapped.

Ash stood to leave, but paused as a knock sounded from the apartment door. “Who would visit at this hour?”

As Ash headed down the hallway, the presence of the late night visitor washed over Crandall. “Fucking shit,” he said, and rolled out of the bed. He rolled out of bed, taking only a second to glance around his cluttered room. He couldn’t remember where he’d dropped his stake holster and he didn’t have time to go to Mike’s room for holy water before Ash made it down the short hallway to the front door.

Ash had already thrown the latch and turned the handle by the time Crandall caught up with him.

“Wait!” Crandall shouted.

Ash pulled on the handle even as he looked up, startled at Crandall’s sudden flurry of energy.

Before either man could speak, the door blew open, knocking Ash back several feet. Nica strutted into the room on knee-high five-inch platform boots as red as the vibrant curls framing her heart-shaped face. She looked deceptively young, but certainly not innocent, as she spun around with a sweet smile on her plush, red lips and something dark in her emerald eyes. She ignored Ash and winked at Crandall.

Her smile fell quickly when Ash screamed and rushed her. He slammed into her with all of his weight. Though lanky and thin, Ash had muscle, leverage, and surprise on his side. Nica squealed as she hit the floor. Ash sat on her, grabbing at her wrists, putting all he could into holding her down as he shouted, “Hurry, Crandall, grab a stake!”

Instead Crandall grabbed Ash’s arm and pulled him off Nica. “Stop, she’s not going to hurt us.” Nica, as the weight was removed, lashed out with her fury, and her feet, planting both platform boots square in Ash’s stomach.

“Hey!” Crandall shouted, glaring at Nica for a long second before rushing to where Ash lay on the floor gasping for breath. Crandall crouched over Ash with both hands on his shoulders to hold him down. “Slow deep breaths,” Crandall said. “Is anything broken?”

“I…” Ash gasped and winced. “Maybe. No. I don’t… don’t know.” His eyes widened and his gaze snapped over Crandall’s shoulder. He tried to push Crandall away, but Crandall held him down.

“Lie still for a fucking minute and listen to me.” Ash made no sign of hearing Crandall, staring over him until Crandall glanced back and growled a few choice words at Nica. When she didn’t move, he said, “Back off or I let him stake you.”

Nica snorted. “Not likely,” she said, but she did turn away and move to the sofa where she perched  on the edge with her hands in her lap, shooting a frown around the room. “Where’s your boyfriend?”

“Shut up.” Crandall pinched Ash’s chin and turned his face away from the pretty vampire. “Ash? Listen to me. Are you hearing me?”

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Ash, Blood Hunter, confrontations