denyce: (CW RPS: TRoM Chad2)
[personal profile] denyce


part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4


It wasn’t the early rays of dawn that woke Jeff, but a constant buzzing sound. Initially he ignored it, but minutes later it’d start again, forcing him to wake. Spotting the deterrent, Jeff moved. His body aching as he got up, finding a cell phone on the dresser, it was Chad’s.

He glanced toward the bed. Finding Chad still sound asleep, Bisou sprawled out, belly exposed, at his side. Her head tilted in Jeff’s direction, he grabbed the cell and hand signaled for her to stay.

Making his way out to the kitchen, he flipped Chad’s cell open. Seeing it had over twenty messages; over a dozen were from the same number. He debated calling the number then decided against it, not knowing who it was, and started to make some coffee. By the time he had filled the carafe with water and started a pot of coffee, Chad’s cell moved as it vibrated against the counter yet again. Glancing, Jeff saw it was the same number.

Again, he ignored it.

By the time Jeff poured his coffee, Chad’s cell had rung three more times. Going outside, he lit a cigarette, and sipped his coffee. Finally, on the fourth call, he picked up. After only a few hours’ sleep, his Hello, was rough, gravely.

It took a moment before the caller realized someone had answered, then she was off and running. “Jesus fucking Christ, Chad I’ve been calling almost nonstop the last couple of hours. When I got Tracy’s message…fuck are you alright? Please tell me you are? That you’re not pissed? Honestly had no idea she’d take it that far. You’re right she’s a skank, and yes I know you didn’t actually call her a skank—I did! I’m the asshole who set you guys up. Shit, you’ve had me worried…” she paused to cough, and sniffle a little.

Jeff took another drag.

Stifling another cough, she added. “Those things are going to kill you.”

On reflex he deadpanned, “So they tell me.”

Silence followed then her staggered breath. “Who the fuck is this?”

He waited, unsure of how to respond. She didn’t give him time, the shock wearing off, her fury rising with every word. “Goddamn sonofbitch, if you don’t tell me, I’ll call the fucking cops. They’ll GPS your ass, now who the fuck are you? Where’s Chad?”

Jeff pulled the phone away from his ear, and stared at it, shaking his head, then answered her. “It’s five in the morning. He’s fine, asleep like most of the world. And you are?”

For long moments he couldn’t hear anything. Finally she demanded. “No, I asked you first.”

“No. Listen, either you tell me, or I’ll hang up and you can wait until he’s up. And after what he drank last night that might be awhile.”

She hesitated, then replied. “Megan, Chad’s manager.”

He chuckled, “Okay good. By the way, I’m Jeff.” He paused, taking another sip of coffee. A possible plan started to form.

*~*~*~

By the time Jeff finished his second cup of coffee he had Megan on board. The day dragged on. He had called Jared, leaving a message. It was brief, if not a bit curt. Not that he wasn’t already feeling a bit protective toward Chad, but now after Chad’s nightmare- knowing what he knew now, and whether Jared knew anything Jeff couldn’t deny that he was feeling even more protective. Deliberately he put Jared on the spot, asking that he give Chad a little time.

His second call was to Chris. Knew Chris would be around, and he didn’t want to leave Chad alone just yet. Chris picked up on the first ring. Then Jeff asked Chris to pick up a few provisions, and to make a few calls that he didn’t want Chad to overhear.

The bottom line was the fewer people that knew that Chad was here, the better.

It was closer to ten; Bisou was with him on the porch when Megan drove up. It was one of the few times Bisou had left Chad’s side.

Once Megan pulled to a stop, she got out and opened the back car door. Neither dog was crated as they excitedly jumped out. Both large, one a Shepherd mix, the other larger. Jeff blinked, recognizing it as a Mastiff, or a similar breed. Though larger than the Shepherd, it appeared smaller than an average Mastiff, possibly a mixed breed, its coat a creamy taupe. As one the dogs turned, must have picked up Chad’s scent as they quickly headed toward the house and him. Though smaller, Bisou immediately blocked their way growling. Chad’s dogs stopped, the Mastiff sat waiting while the Shepherd growled in return.

Dropping the suitcase she had been pulling from the trunk, Megan, a young slip of a girl came running up reprimanding Chad’s dogs, Joe the white Shepherd and Axel the Mastiff. Jeff allowed Bisou to take the lead, to claim her dominance. Tentatively the dogs sniffed each other. Luckily Axel and Joe willing submitted to Bisou. Jeff’s hand reached out caressing Bisou behind her ears, smiling. Then, he moved his hand forward to allow Chad’s dogs to sniff him. Each took a turn, Axel slobbering a bit of drool as he did.

“Huh, that was anticlimactic.” Jeff looked up and eyed Megan, surprised to realize this person was the same brash foul mouth that had cursed him out this morning.

Stretching out her hand in greeting, Megan stated answering his silent question. “Yeah, that was me, how is he?”

Jeff shook her hand, grinning as he recognized the voice from this mornings call. “He’s sleeping.”

“Still?”

Noncommittally, he just shrugged.

Her voice lowered, “Just bruises, right?”

This morning he didn’t want to tell her anything, but she was like a pintsize pit bull. So he told her only that Chad had gotten into a fight, was on the losing end until Jeff and Chris had intervened. That things got a little rough, but otherwise no one knew anything, and Chad wanted to keep it that way. “They’ll fade. He just needs a little time.”

She shook her head. “I’d like to see him before I go, to make sure…” Jeff hesitated, then nodded when she added. “I won’t wake him.”

Going inside, the dogs ran ahead. Jeff could hear as they pushed the bedroom door open and jumped up on the bed. Each barking in greeting so that by the time they entered, Chad had unconsciously settled both dogs, his hand ghosting over their coats until each lay down on the bed. This time Bisou stayed by the door. Jeff almost chuckled out loud as he realized she was allowing them to reclaim their human.

Megan walked past him, slowing as she neared the bed. She didn’t move any closer, but whatever reassurance she needed, seeing Chad seemed to do the trick.

Ten minutes later, after she threatened Jeff bodily and stared him down, she handed him one of Chad’s suitcases. “Have Chad call me.” Jeff nodded, as she climbed back into her car. Headset on, already making calls, she started the car, pulling out and making her way back into town.

*~*~*~

Shortly afterwards, Chris pulled up. Chris didn’t stay. It wasn’t that Jeff wasn’t grateful for everything Chris offered, but it was still awkward. Their small talk had wrapped up in under three minutes. Chad was sound asleep, yet neither could look at the other without thinking about Chad, of what they had walked in on.

Though despite the awkwardness, they each seemed to find a different kind of comfort. It was almost tangible knowing that this wasn’t something they’d ever talk about, but understanding they didn’t have to, relieved a certain measure of pressure.

Instead Chris just dropped off a few bags of groceries. One bag included a box of dog treats, a few chew toys, several cans of dog food, and a twenty-pound bag of dog food. Between what Megan had dropped off, and what Chris had picked up, Chad would be set if Jeff’s plan worked and Chad decided to stay. More importantly, without a word, no questions asked, Chris handed him several business cards -- all therapists’ and possible candidates for Chad to seek counseling.

It was closer to noon when Jeff heard the dogs bark, and realized Chad was up. Walking back inside Jeff moved to go start a fresh pot of coffee.

*~*~*~

Eyes barely open, Chad glanced up at the ceiling. Then he felt either Joe or Axel shifting beside him. Without thinking, he started to move, the pain that came instantly on the heels of that movement forcing him to still. Swearing, his breath halted under the pain.

Opening his eyes further, his head throbbing from the mother of all hangovers, Chad slowly started to take in his surroundings. Most noticeably, he wasn’t home in his own bed. A gasping moan escaped him as he silently cursed himself for drinking. He then tried to revive a few brain cells to work out where the hell he was. He’d already dismissed the idea that it was a hotel, too bare with no lamp, phone, or radio/cd on the nightstand. Also there was no wallpaper, or art hanging on the walls, something that usually decorated the walls of a hotel. At the same time, it was too nice for a motel. Plus that would never explain why and how Joe and Axel got here, barking their usual morning greeting. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself up on his elbows.

The movement was jarring, snapping his eyes closed as he breathed through the pain; his side was killing him. Slowly he reopened his eyes, staring down only to notice he was dressed in different clothes than he was wearing last night, in questionable sweats and a tee shirt. The sweat pants were large, to the point where he was almost swimming in them. His eyes narrowed, wondering if they were Jared’s. Tentatively, he called out, his voice weak, the volume barely above a hoarse whisper. “Jared?”

Nothing. Not that his pathetic voice had carried any weight. Only Axel’s whine answered in return. Sighing, Chad lifted his hand, his fingers burrowing into Axel’s fur, kneading and scratching under his collar.

Joe sat up eagerly awaiting his turn. “Alright, alright, you gotta move, give me some room.” Scooting up, Chad slid back until he was sitting up with his back against the wall; as he moved both Joe and Axel happily moved with him. Axel lay back down, settling his paws over Chad’s lap, his nose sniffing as he shifted, trying to burrow and get his massive head under Chad’s hand, in order to be petted again. Chad obeyed, looking around as he did.

Nervously, Chad reached down and gathered the material of his tee shirt into his palm, his fingers clenching into a tight fist as it rested on his chest; his other hand continued to pet Axel as he took in the room.

The room was large, spacious with only an oversized chair, a dresser, the bed and two nightstands. Even with the essentials it was bare. No knick-knacks, no clothes on the floor, or any other mess scattered around. A large window, or sliding doors were covered; the drapes closed, blocking out the light. Across the room, a doorway Chad assumed led to the bathroom.

Just the thought kicked his bladder into waking. The dull ache Chad had upon waking now demanded that he get up.

The pain in his bladder only slightly more demanding than all of the other pains Chad felt throughout his body. Shushing the dogs so he could move, Chad slowly swung his legs around, using the momentum to slide two inches when his feet hit the floor. Standing, his weight shifted and swayed. Leaning against the bed, Chad held still, steadying his stance.

It was odd, when Chad didn’t feel or smell the permeating alcoholic stink on his skin like he had the last time he had drank this heavily. Almost absently his hand caressed down his chest feeling the material of the tee shirt—staring. Realizing he had to have showered and changed. Chad pushed himself to think, to remember. His head only pounded in answer, this time accompanied with his bladder’s insistence that he move—now!
Awkwardly, Chad hobbled over to the doorway, relieved to see he was right, it was a bathroom. Zeroing in on the toilet Chad stayed focused to take care of his immediate business, his need to piss.

Flushing, Chad moved over to the sink and washed his hands, bending over to splash water over his face. It was refreshing as he wiped away the sleep crust from his eyes. Cupping more water, Chad splashed again partially washing his face, running both hands over his face and neck. Pausing when he felt an inconsistency around his mouth. One side was definitely larger, swollen more so than the other. His tongue poked out feeling the swell of his lip. Slowly Chad stood and stared into the mirror.

Chad jerked, bracing on the counter at the image that was reflected back at him.

Bruises colored the right side of his face. Dark mottled bruises decorated around his mouth, lips, and jaw line on his right side. His headache intensified as Chad tried to remember. Bits of the party came to him, flashes rushing by, almost too fast to identify the memory. Then Chad remembered, walking in on Jared and Jensen, together—kissing.
The Chad that had grabbed a bottle of Jack had wanted to drown his sorrows, do anything to erase the image of them kissing. Not caring about anything else, only to drink enough to forget.

Then images of himself on his knees, of being hit, forcibly held down.

His knees buckled under him, as Chad suddenly remembered more. His stomach heaved, as one image after another came flooding into his mind. He didn’t even take notice as his dogs started barking wildly.

Not all of the images flashing before him were from last night, but some were from another time. Things Chad had pushed away, fought to forget, from years ago when he had been held down—forced…

*~*~*~*

Bisou suddenly started barking, dancing around Jeff’s feet before taking off, going toward the bedroom, barking. Jeff could hear Chad’s dogs, their barking different. Something was wrong. Running after Bisou, Jeff pushed open the bedroom door to find Chad’s dogs, standing there barking at the bathroom.

Jeff found Chad down on all fours, heaving, coughing and emptying whatever he had left in his stomach.

Moving closer, Jeff couched down beside Chad. Remembering last night, his hand hovered not sure if Chad would accept his touch. Unconsciously Chad took the decision away from him as he arched in a cough, Jeff’s hand touched Chad’s back. When Jeff received no adverse reaction, he started to move his hand in soothing circles over Chad’s back. His voice lowered, calm, as Jeff tried to reassure Chad, cooing platitudes to ease the tremors coursing through his body.

Slowly, the heaving and Chad’s coughing receded. It took Jeff more than a minute to realize that the barking had stopped, and that Chad was trying to talk. His voice came small and raw, “…’kay, I’m good.” And followed it by waving Jeff off.

Reluctantly Jeff pulled back, giving Chad a bit of space. Bisou barked, breaking the silence. He turned to her. “It’s alright, he’ll be okay.” She barked in answer. Jeff’s eyes shifted back to Chad as he stood, because he agreed with her that was a lie. Standing, Jeff offered his hand to help Chad up.

Kneeling, for long moments Chad just glared suspiciously at his hand, before hesitantly clasping his hand into Jeff’s, using the leverage to help him off the floor.

Standing, Chad pulled away, his tone angry and defiant. “I am. I am okay.” Jeff just stared at Chad, fully aware that Chad was anything but okay. Though it wasn’t something he was going to argue about. Instead, Jeff finally nodded.

Seemingly satisfied that it was enough of an acknowledgment, Chad nodded in return. Jeff watched as Chad defensively crossed his arms, nearly wrapping them around himself.

The heavy silence stretched awkwardly. Fishing for something to say, Jeff tentatively asked gesturing with his thumb behind him, “If you’re ready, I started a fresh pot of coffee?”

Though Jeff could see Chad’s anger deflate, he fidgeted, obviously uncomfortable and guarded. The raspy timbre of his voice softened as Chad answered, “Thanks, that sounds good, but maybe I could shower first.” Then looked down at the sweats he was wearing. “My clothes?”

Jeff inclined his head toward the bedroom. “In the wash, but Megan packed a couple of bags for you. I put them behind the chair.”

Jeff took in Chad’s rigid stance at the mention of Megan. He waited, but nothing else happened. Chad nodded and tried to say something, but it was unclear, his throat closed as only choked incoherent sounds came out. Chad stopped and coughed, clearing his throat. Emotional, his voice uneven barely above a whisper, “Alright, thanks. You mind…”

Hesitant, but without pushing the issue, Jeff couldn’t think of a reason to stay. “Yeah, no. I… I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.” Jeff quietly left the bathroom. In the bedroom, Jeff paused, turned and grabbed both suitcases and hauled them up over to bed, opening each one. He glanced back toward the bathroom, all three dogs stayed camped out by the door. He was pleased, knowing they’d let him know if Chad needed help. His hand on the bedroom doorknob, Jeff called out, “Suitcases are on the bed, and coffee’s ready whenever you are.” Pulling the door closed, at the last minute Jeff pushed it back - leaving it slightly ajar.

*~*~*~

Chad waited, listening for the click of the door closing, but heard none. Shakily, Chad moved and poked his head out. Jeff was gone. Chad spotted the suitcases on the bed, his eyes shifted to the door. It was closed to, but not shut. Chad could go over and close it, but he’d have to pass and step over the three mongrels blocking his way.

Sighing Chad moved back into the bathroom. Avoiding the mirror, Chad tugged off the sweatshirt, and pulled down the pants. Moving over to the shower Chad reached in turning on the water, adjusting the temperature before stepping in. Bracing himself against the tile, Chad stood under the showerhead, allowing the water to cascade over his body, its heat soothing the aches over his body.

He closed his eyes, trying to remember. Piecing together jumbled flashes of memory. Images split, fragmented. Some were from last night, others from long ago. Chad only wanted to remember what happened last night - he needed to. Needed to know when and how Jeff got involved. Yet for some reason, memories that Chad had worked to keep locked away—were suddenly there, unlocked, a door open. The memories filled his mind. They were still jumbled; bits disjointed, but emotions of pain, loneliness, panic, betrayal and abandonment were in the forefront.

His needs conflicting, Chad wanted to remember what happened last night, but not from before. No, he didn’t want to remember that - ever!

But what Chad wanted and what was happening seemed to be two vastly different things. For the moment Chad couldn’t budge that internal door closed, so instead Chad focused on to the next best thing, to just face Jeff, and mainly how he was going to get out of here so he could be alone. Then Chad could concentrate and figure out a way to recreate - rebuild that internal door, a wall, a moat - anything and everything just so he could move on, and not have those memories taunt him.

With an intent focus, Chad grabbed the soap, lathering his fingers, avoiding and ghosting over spots that flared out in pain. Continuing on autopilot, Chad shampooed his hair and rinsed. Stepping back under the spray, turning the nozzle to cold, he took a final rinse, needing the crisp cold to finally shake awake any last brain cells to deal with Jeff, before shutting the water off.

Opening the door Chad grabbed a towel from the rack and started to dry himself, then wrapped the towel around his waist.

Now awake, he was moving a bit easier though he was still stiff, sore, and bit wobbly. That made itself obvious when Chad bent over to scratch behind Joe’s ear and had to stop mid-bend, catching himself before he fell. Steadying himself, Chad had to focus and give attention to each individual task. Moving toward the bed, Chad glanced at his suitcases, noticing Megan had packed like he was staying for weeks. His stomach dropped wondering how much she knew. . Did Jensen or Jared know?

Dazed, Chad didn’t even see Axel jump up, stepping on his clothes in the suitcase to get closer, until he felt Axel’s tongue licking his face. His hand immediately caressed Axel’s neck, laughing, as Axel didn’t stop. “Okay I get it. Now get your grungy paws off my clothes.”

Axel didn’t move, but instead settled down on top of the clothes in one suitcase. Chad didn’t reprimand him. Instead his gazed wandered through the suitcase until he found and pulled out a pair of boxers. Dropping the towel, and leaning partially on the bed he bent down to step into them.

Out of the corner of his eye, Chad saw the scattering of small bruises over his hip that made him pause. Gulping, not ready to face that reality, he closed his eyes, inhaled and quickly pulled up the boxers. Turning, Chad opened his eyes and shuffled through the clothes until he found a pair of loose jeans and a tee shirt. This time Chad was ready, and quickly averted his eyes as he stepped into the jeans and hustled pulling them up, easily fastening the buttons and zipping. Grabbing the tee shirt, he hauled it over his head, pushing his arms through and let it fall into place.

Showered and dressed, Chad just stood there. He had no real reason, or excuse, of not going out there to see Jeff.

The truth was Chad needed answers before he did anything. Needed to know what actually had happened and who the fuck knew. Obviously Megan knew. Nervously, his fingers raked through his wet hair; exhaling shaky breaths, only to inhale deeply, holding it, trying to calm his nerves. Standing, Chad exhaled, slowly moving toward the door. “Let’s go, I could use some coffee.”

*~*~*~

Jeff looked up as he heard Chad coming down the hall—actually Chad was moving noiselessly, it was his entourage that was noisy. Nails that needed to be clipped back clicked against the wood surface as they walked down the hall.

Bisou was leading; Chad followed her into the kitchen. Whether it was nerves or sudden shyness, Chad stopped, his head bowed almost timidly.

Jeff was about to stand, move in order to help, but forcibly made himself stay where he was. Knew that’d be the last thing Jeff would want, if it’d been him—for anyone to play nursemaid, and he’d bet Chad felt similarly. Tilting his chin, he pointed to the coffee. “Fresh pot. There’s cream or milk in the refrigerator. Otherwise everything else is there on the counter.”

Chad didn’t say anything, just moved. Bisou came over him and sat at Jeff’s feet while Chad’s dogs waited.

Jeff took in Chad’s gait; the slight shuffle, his movements stiff making unclear if the shower had helped. Jeff also noticed Chad had changed into his own clothes similar to the sweats in that they were deceptive and baggy. Enough so that Jeff suspected Chad chose the outfit to hide the extent of his thin frame. Weight loss Jeff believed probably had to do with Chad’s broken engagement as Jeff recalled his own broken engagement, of how easily he had lost ten pounds living on cigarettes and coffee. It was something Chad would have to address as Jeff had seen Chad’s startling thinness, there was no doubt that the boy needed to eat, or he’d start looking like the Olsen Twins’ brother.

Once he fixed his coffee, Chad moved over to sit down opposite Jeff at the table. His dogs sprawled out, one on either side of Chad’s chair.

Neither said a word as they continued to sip their coffee.

Finally Chad looked over, and asked. “So…your place?”

Shrugging, Jeff confirmed. “Yeah, it’s close enough to the studios and close enough to the hills, without actually being in the hills.”

Jeff watched as Chad ran his tongue over his bottom lip, pausing when he felt the swell. Then he audibly swallowed, gazing at Jeff as he asked, “Last night…” Chad stumbled on the rest and Jeff could see he wasn’t exactly sure how to ask, or possibly what to ask.

Jeff looked down into his coffee, then his gaze shifted back to Chad, his voice lowered, gentled into almost a tender caress. “Do you remember?” Chad held his stare, his eyes narrowed into slits, almost accusingly. He noticed when Chad’s eyes shifted as if he was remembering, or trying to, his mouth falling into a frown. “I…. Bits.” Swallowing hard, Chad looked away, then closed his eyes in frustration.

Jeff waited. Didn’t want to push him, allowing Chad to move at his own pace.

Taking a sip, almost as an afterthought Chad asked, “Chris, he was there? Wasn’t he?”

Slowly Jeff nodded in answer, and waited to see what else Chad remembered or would admit that he remembered. Helplessly Jeff watched as Chad’s eyes widened, his breath hitched, his reaction clearly indicating that the memories were racing through his mind. Emotional pain etched across Chad’s face, the vulnerability evident.

Jeff wanted to move, to do something, anything to take away the depth of Chad’s pain. Flashes of last night only added to his helplessness and the growing empathy Jeff felt.

Slowly coming out of his self-imposed shock, Chad asked. “Megan?”

“No. Well, not all of it.” Taking a sip Jeff continued. “For a little thing, she’s a real spit-fire. Kept calling your cell. It shows she called more than a dozen of times, sometimes leaving messages. I wasn’t going to answer, was about to just turn it off, but then I thought it might be an emergency.” He laughed quietly. “Like I said, pure spit-fire. Completely laid into me - thinking I was you, of course.” His caught Chad’s eyes, lips smirking enough that Chad could easily interrupt the language Megan had used. “When she realized I wasn’t you…” Tilting his head, Jeff didn’t bother hiding his amusement as his lips stretched into a wideass grin that had him chuckling as he recalled her threat to GPS his ass. “She got a bit bent out of shape.”

The question was bitter, accusatory. “So you told her?”

His laughter dying, Jeff glanced back, more somber. “Not exactly. She’s not someone you can mollify. I did tell her you had too much to drink and gotten into a fight, and ended up on the wrong end of somebody’s fists.” He paused, shifting his eyes away, swallowing, as he forced himself to not think about the details of what he saw. “That Chris and I got there, but that you were in pretty bad shape, so I took you to my place.”

At Chad’s silence he glanced back, saw the dazed blank stare, too similar to the one Chad had last night. Avidly watching for any reactions Jeff kept talking. “I told her about the bruises, that it was obvious you had been in a fight. Why I brought you here, away from paparazzi cameras. She agreed, thought it was a good idea.” Jeff worried when there was still no reaction. “It was early when she called. We talked, I offered up my place for you to recover. So she packed up a few things,” he glanced down to Joe and Axel, “including those two.”

Suddenly Axel moved, understanding he was being referred to and barked happily. Instantly Chad responded, his hand going out and cupping over Axel’s snout, fingers easily moving as they slid and scratched under Axel’s chin. Axel lifted his chin allowing Chad better access, basking in the attention.

Jeff bit back a chuckle, overly pleased that Chad was responding. Megan’s insistence that she bring his dogs—he’d have to thank her next time they talked. She was right. Though it wasn’t just his own dogs that Chad responded to, but also Bisou. Obviously Chad was a dog lover, if not an out right animal lover.

Jeff took notice when Chad’s fingers stilled, and looked up to see Chad was trying to say something. “I…. thanks.” Shaking his head Chad added, “No man, really, thanks, but I couldn’t too much of an imposition.”

Jeff shrugged. “That’s the beauty of it all - you won’t. I have to leave tomorrow. Have a flight to New York, at least a week there, reshooting a couple of location shots. Then I’m off to Puerto Rico, where production’s already started on my next project, The Losers. Gonna be gone two months, minimum. Meaning you can have the place to yourself—if you want?”

Chad stared, eyes widened in shock, apparently at a loss for something to say. Then shook his head. “I couldn’t, it’s your place…”

Jeff held up his hand. “Hold on, don’t get me wrong, I have an ulterior motive, a few requests.” Pleased when Chad nodded, Jeff continued, “First Bisou. I can’t take her with me. I’ve had to restrict any extensive traveling since her surgery. She’s good now, but the traveling is hard on her. If you stay, I’d like you to take care of her, walk her daily. No running. She misses it, but the surgery was on her hip, so there’s the need to minimize any overt activities. So basically, housesit and care for Bisou.” Jeff watched as Chad absorbed what he had said, and nodded to himself when it appeared Chad was considering the offer. “Even if it’s only for a week or two, just for your face to clear up.” Jeff stood, and opened a counter drawer, pulling out a pad, tapping it. “Not that you have to, ‘cause you can stay regardless, but if that’s the case then I’ll need to call Peggy. She usually takes care of Bisou when I’m gone. If it’s only for a few days and you want to leave before I get back, I’ll let her know that, then you can just give her a call before you leave.” Jeff held up the paper, leaving it on top of the counter easy for Chad to see. “She’s local; her number, address, and email are here.” Leaning against the counter, he waited.

“Alright, so what are the other requests?”

Nervous, Jeff took a deep breath, and reached into his pocket pulling out the business cards Chris left him. “You can stay regardless. But…”

Obvious suspicious, Chad asked, “But?”

Jeff stepped closer, dropping the business cards in front of Chad. “But I’d like you to seriously consider…I think you should talk to someone.” Jeff watched as Chad stilled, staring down at the cards. “Just think about it. Chris checked them out. They’re off the grid, discrete, and specialize in abuse.”

The hard scrape of the chair’s legs sounded as Chad suddenly pulled away from the table, standing. His body was rigid, his anger fuming as Chad got into Jeff’s face. “It’s none of your fucking business.”

Jeff stared back. “Really? Before or after you were almost raped?”

Chad jerked back; his face blanched white, words fumbling out his denial. “I wasn’t, I wasn’t rap…”

“Raped?” The wordwas out before Jeff could stop himself. “Last night, no. We got there in time…but there was no one to save you before, was there?” The implication of what Jeff was suggesting was clear. Chad shook his head, his body trembling.

Jeff cursed, his voice lowered to that pitch he had used before to calm Chad down, his words steady. “You’re safe; it’s not going to happen again.” Chad met Jeff’s eyes, frantically searching, Chad’s stare imploring for answers. Jeff swallowed, his voice reassuring, solid, even-toned. “It is okay, you’re safe here. No one knows, not even Chris. I just want you to seriously think about it.” Jeff waited, suddenly conscious of how close they were standing. Jeff wasn’t sure if Chad was aware of their proximity and that he had moved, until he now stood in Jeff’s personal space. Chad didn’t reach out, but he didn’t move away either. Jeff purposely held his position, allowing Chad to dictate what he wanted or needed. Even if Chad couldn’t or didn’t know how to voice that need, and distance didn’t seem to be the answer.

Relaxed, Jeff waited.

Chad wavered; his body leaned in closer, soft touches of Chad’s body brushed against Jeff’s chest. It was Axel who broke the moment, barking when he heard someone pulling up. Joe and Bisou followed suit. Chad moved first, stepping back, nervously raking a hand through his hair. Even as Chad turned around, Jeff could hear him curse, muttering to himself that he needed a smoke.

Jeff didn’t bother to pretend that he didn’t hear Chad. “You can, you just have to smoke outside. If you need any, mine are on the counter behind you. I’ll be back in a sec.” He didn’t wait, but went after the dogs barking in chorus at the front door.

Passing the front window, Jeff saw it was UPS. Not needing a signature the guy had left the package by the door. By the time he opened the door, the guy was climbing back into his truck. Jeff easily waved his thanks; the three dogs milled around his legs finally trailing off on their barking. “Alright back up.” Absently, he picked up the package, his thoughts still on Chad. Heading back into the kitchen, seeing Chad wasn’t there, he peered outside only to spot Chad leaning against the rail on the back porch, staring out at the view, a cigarette half burnt in-between his fingers.

Putting the package down, Jeff grabbed his cup and poured another cup of coffee, before he went outside to join Chad.

“It was just UPS.” Chad barely registered he heard. Jeff spotted his cigarettes next to the ashtray which contained the lingering snuffed out smoke from the butt of Chad’s cigarette. Putting his coffee down he pulled a cigarette from his pack which he quickly lit and inhaled.

“What time do you leave?”

Jeff shrugged. “Flight’s at three. Richard, my agent, is gonna pick me up about eleven thirty. Should get into New York before midnight. Night shoots, so I don’t have to be on set until three o’clock, Monday.”

“You’re sure you want me to stay?”

“Wouldn’t have offered - especially if my girl didn’t like you.” Jeff looked down only to find Bisou lying down, her head on her paws, Joe beside her. Chuckling, “She doesn’t take to just anyone.”

Turning, Chad squatted down, then just sat. One hand carded over Bisou’s head, caressing so that she crawled closer into his touch. The other hand Chad offered to Joe, leaving both dogs greedy for more. Jeff stood there watching as Axel tried - though ineffectively - to push his large frame into Chad’s lap, not that Bisou and Joe were having any of it as they continued to playfully block Axel’s way. “You’re good with them.”

Chad’s head bounced in agreement. Taking a deep breath then exhaling, he looked up, squinting against the sun. “The requests, any others?”

Jeff nodded, pulling a chair toward him flipping it around so he could straddle it. “Just three more. First,” He took a drag and raised his cigarette, “no smoking inside. Not that I’ve been here long, or that she comes down that often,” he shrugged a bit embarrassed to say it, “but I promised my mom.”

The only indication Jeff had that Chad heard him was the slight nod in his direction.

“Second, you need to call Jared.” He couldn’t see Chad’s eyes, but noticed Chad’s hands had stopped moving. “He knows something happened. Not what. Chris got my number from Jensen after we left. He didn’t say anything though Chris mentioned they seemed to already know that something was up.” Jeff took another drag. “They know you’re here. Jared’s left me more than a dozen messages. I called him early this morning… left a message that you were okay, but he needed to give you some time. He hasn’t called, but knowing Jared, I’m not sure how long that’ll hold. He really needs to hear it from you.”

Chad didn’t say anything, but he started petting both dogs again.

Jeff wasn’t sure why, but something made him wonder and ask. “Something happen between you two?”

Laughing, Chad snorted, his tone bitter, “Between us? No.”

Licking his lips, Jeff stared at Chad. It was evident that something had happened between them, but it was also apparent that Jared was a topic that Chad wasn’t going to discuss.

Chad interrupted asking, “The third?”

“The basics. Get the mail, usually it’s junk mail, but periodically I get personal mail, from friends and family that have this address. Also you’ll need to use the pooper scooper when you take them out. They’re strict about that around here. I don’t get the paper; never home long enough to bother. A few plants inside and out to water. Have a few neighbors that get a bit irate if you blast music, or if they’re outside,” he pointed to Axel and Joe, “and have started barking non-stop. You especially don’t want to piss off Ms. Douvett. She’s two streets over, but seems to have sonic hearing – it’s best to just avoid her. Bisou, she’s not a barker, at least not without reason, but every once in awhile, you might be hard pressed to find her reason.”

Curious Jeff watched as Chad leaned in closer to Bisou. Could see Chad’s hands moving, cupping the sides of Bisou’s face, could hear the soft timbre of Chad’s voice. Though he couldn’t make out what Chad was saying, only that Bisou approved of whatever he said as she licked Chad’s face.

Though Chad never confirmed or declined the invite, Jeff wasn’t worried. Instead Jeff was grinning, crushing out his cigarette, and leaned forward on the back of the chair to just observe Chad’s interaction with the three dogs, especially Bisou. Animated, Chad showed an exceptional comfortableness around Bisou that eased Jeff’s mind, a practiced ease of playing with all three dogs, of catering to each dog in equal measure.

They stayed like that for a while in a comfortable silence. Only the scuffled noise from the dogs, the natural wonders of nature surrounding Jeff’s backyard, and the occasional distant sounds of cars settled into background.

*~*~*~

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