Winter Holiday by Bruin Fisher – Day 5

I woke after the most satisfying night's sleep in a long while. I was lying on my side with my knees tucked up in front of me. My body was a little twisted so that my shoulders were flat on the mattress and the back of my head rested on the pillow. Without opening my eyes, I swung my shoulders over and brought my arm up to the pillow. But instead my arm draped itself over another body with its back to me. I broke into a smile and hitched myself closer, tucking my chest against Gary's back and my legs up against the back of his knees. I allowed my hand to wander over his broad flat chest, feeling the v-shaped patch of fur just below his collar bones and the two sharply defined pectoral muscles each with a little reactive nipple like a cherry on a cake. A little sigh of contentment escaped from me.

Gary's form in front of me was inert. He was still sleeping. I wondered if he'd like to wake to a cup of tea. I slipped gently off the edge of the bed, trying not to disturb him. I pulled the jeans I'd been wearing the evening before over Gary's boxers that I was still wearing, and grabbed a white tee from the drawer as I headed through the flat to the kitchen. In the living room, Candy was standing with her tail wagging furiously and a happily expectant look on her face.

“Okay, Candy,” I mumbled. “I'll attend to you in a moment.”

In the kitchen I filled the kettle and turned it on. I found two mugs and put a teabag in each one. I turned and Candy was right there behind me, still looking at me hopefully.

At the top of the stairs I investigated the shoe rack and tried on a pair of comfortable-looking trainers. They were perhaps a half size too large but by tightening the laces I could wear them okay.

“Come on, then, Candy!” I whispered and she jumped at me joyfully and gave a single loud bark.

Damn I wished that hadn't happened. So much for Gary's lie-in. But Candy still needed a walk and I bowled down the stairs with Candy pattering behind me and out into the crisp early morning sunlight. The snow was thawing and I was walking through slush. It didn't seem to bother the dog but I had no socks on and Gary's trainers were far from waterproof.

I took her across the road and found a field empty of livestock which I let her into. She bounded off happily to check the latest batch of smells and relieve herself in as many places as possible and I stood savouring the fresh cold air and and warm golden sunlight. A perfect day in the Lakes.

Candy did her tour of duty in a few minutes and we headed back to the coach house. I left Gary's trainers, now rather wet, just inside the door and ran up the stairs to the radiator in the living room to warm my fingers and toes. Gary put his head out of the kitchen door and asked:

“Milk and sugar?”

“Dash of milk, no sugar. Thanks! Sorry I was hoping not to wake you and to bring you one of those in bed!”

I stayed where I was, warming my hands at the radiator under the living room window and enjoying the view out over the village below and the lake beyond it. I flinched very slightly when a pair of arms snaked around my waist and a body pressed against mine gently. Gary tucked his chin over my shoulder and nuzzled against my cheek.

“Turn around, handsome!” he ordered.

I turned, leaned the backs of my legs against the radiator and pulled him to me, my arms around his back and my lips against his. I tasted toothpaste and I smelled warm body.

Gary spoke first. “I think I'm falling in love.”

He leaned in and kissed me again, pressing his hips and chest hard against mine.

“Ow!” I jumped and Gary stood back, with concern all over his face.

“Sorry, sorry, what's wrong? What have I done? Are you alright?”

I collapsed in giggles. “It's okay, really, not your fault at all. It's just the radiator – the heat just got through my jeans and...”

Gary reached around me and rubbed my buttocks, and moved in again for another kiss. This time I shied away, still giggling.

“Are you going to calm down, or am I going to have to hose you down?”

“Okay.” He backed off half a pace, releasing me to stand upright.

“Breakfast?” he asked.

“Please. I want to shower first though.”

“Be my guest. Bacon and egg?”

“Mmm. Great. See you in a minute.”

“Here. Take your tea with you.”

Some time later I emerged from the bathroom to the aroma of frying bacon. With a towel wrapped around my waist, I dived into Gary's bedroom to raid his clothes drawers again. I came out wearing a pair of black chinos and a thin black v-neck jersey.

Gary looked up as I walked into the living room and motioned me to the table.

“You look good in those – better than I do!”

“Thanks I like black. I really love this jumper.”

Gary served a breakfast of bacon, eggs, fried bread, beans and tomatoes. Just the way I like them. We ate silently for a while.

Finishing the food on my plate, I said: “We need to talk.”

Gary glanced up with an unreadable expression.

“Okay, let's sit on the sofa.”

I poured us each a cup of coffee and we made ourselves comfortable at either end of the sofa, our legs stretched out at an angle towards each other so that our toes could touch.

“Gary, “ I started. “Something special has happened this weekend.”

I glanced at him and he just nodded, giving me time. Looking down at our toes and extending mine so that my toes could stroke the little blond hairs on the top of each of his, I continued:

“This is so far away from what I expected from this weekend. I'm blown away and I don't know how to handle it. I'm really sorry if I'm making a mess of this, but what I want to say is that I think I'm falling in love with you,”

Gary interrupted “That makes two of us!”

“Really?” my eyes snapped up to his and we both grinned broadly.

I forced myself back under control.

“.. but I think we should take it slowly. We hardly know each other yet and there's a lot against us here. And the worst is – I have to go home. Now.”

“What? Why? You've only just got here!” he protested, grabbing my hand and holding it.

“It's the university term. It starts tomorrow. This was only ever going to be a long weekend holiday and I have to get home today and head on to Southampton tomorrow early. It's the only way I can avoid missing lectures. I'm sorry.”

There was a long pause before Gary spoke.

“I won't pretend I'm not disappointed. But it's okay, really it is. But please, come back to me, and as soon as you can? You've no idea how lonely it is here with no-one I can really talk to.”

“There's Stephen isn't there?”

“Stephen's a great guy but he's young and we will only ever be just friends. And he's away studying most of the time, too. And it's you I want.”

I smiled my gratitude at him. After a moment I asked:

“Gary, do you think we could be a couple? I mean live together?”

“Well I don't see why not but there would be things to sort out.”

“Like what?”

“Well, look, Joel, I don't want you to feel any pressure or anything, but I'm openly gay here. Everyone knows who I am and it's a small village. If I suddenly have someone living with me the village will assume you're gay too – and that we're a couple. Are you ready for that?”

“What if we didn't live here, if we moved away somewhere neither of us is known?”

The hint of a frown passed across Gary's eyes and he paused again. “I don't think I'm ready to do that. I have deep roots here and good friends.”

“Yes of course. Forget I suggested it - I'm sorry. Okay there are things to sort out. But that doesn't mean we can't consider it?”

“No of course not. But I gather you're not planning to move in here today. Get some more clothes on and we'll take you to the station.”

“Thanks Gary.” I leaned across the couch and kissed him, gently, on the lips – and the sudden shock like an electric discharge ran through me again.

We both put socks and shoes on, and coats and scarves. I left my washed clothes with Gary and left the flat wearing Gary's clothes. Neither of us mentioned it. Gary took me to the cottage and came in with me while I packed my things away and we cleaned and tidied the house ready for next time it would be used. Then we locked it up and drove to Windermere to the railway station. Gary parked in the station car park and came onto the platform with me and we sat waiting for the train, holding hands unobtrusively between us. We didn't talk much, though we wrote our address and contact details on pages of my photography notebook and exchanged them. I hadn't noticed a computer at Gary's place but apparently he had one, and an e-mail address, and since everything at university now is done on a PC, I anticipate frequent e-mail exchanges until we meet again. I hope to come up halfway through term. That's only six weeks away but it feels like forever. When I was doing my master's I used to get absorbed in my studies and half term would intrude so soon after term had begun that I used to get fidgety wanting to get on with lectures again. But try as I might I couldn't now see six weeks as a short period of time. So that proves that time is relative..

I boarded the train when it pulled into the station. Gary came in with me and helped me tuck my luggage in the gap between the seats. Then he sat with me until the whistle blew. And he leaned across and gave me a final kiss that lasted the longest ten seconds in the history of time and left me to my seat. As the train moved slowly off we waved to each other through the window. I stood up so I could see him better and waved until the train curved a little and I lost sight of him. I sat down and blew my nose, wiping my eyes as I did so. I love you, Gary.

2006 Bruin Fisher

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