Where It All Began – Part 10

Written by Brad

Three years had seemed to have passed by in slow motion, but in retrospect were gone in the blink of an eye.

Conrad had watched with joy as the budding friendship between his beloved Brat, Raven, and his best friend, Brandon, developed tentatively but steadily at first and then really caught on fire.

Over the short span of these three years, Conrad and Raven’s love for one another had deepened until it left the older man wondering if his Brat would be able to carry on without him. Although aware of neither man crossing the line, Conrad at times wondered if it had not been for his place in their lives, would Raven and Brandon have become lovers. Privately, Conrad hoped they would once he was out of the picture.

Even though Raven had always been included in and had even participated in the few traditions Conrad and Brandon had established over the years, he never did get the hang of socializing. But under Conrad’s firm guidance, he did learn to be polite in social situations.

For the most part during these three years, Brandon had maintained his hectic schedule of travelling around the country to collect data for the mysteries he wrote and promoting them once they were published. When home, he’d spend hours at the computer writing whatever book he was working on at the time.

Raven had experience mixed feelings whenever Brandon was off on one of his trips. He loved having his Top to himself, but at the same time missed the other man and always looked forward to his return.

The young man knew his worse fears were soon to come true as he gazed down at his sleeping lover. His heart tightened at the ever-present lines of discomfort on Conrad’s face and the sight of the once well-muscled body wasting away. Even in slumber, Conrad could not completely escape the pain.

Last month Raven had completed any obligations he had to his customers and had closed the shop for an indefinite period. He wanted to devote all his time to caring for Conrad. Brandon was away once again and Raven was on his own, which for the time being suited the young man just fine.

Raven sadly glanced at the empty wheelchair, now immobile against the far wall. It had not been used in almost two weeks and he missed the soft whirring sound it made when moving about.

He smiled when he saw Conrad’s eyes open and the older man croaked out a ‘Good morning, my beauty’.

“Mornin’, handsome; did you sleep well?” the younger man kept up a light conversation as he set about meeting his partner’s personal needs before getting him some breakfast.

The day pretty much fell into the pattern the two men had found worked best for both of them. Raven passing the time with household chores whenever Conrad was sleeping, which was the better part of the day. If Raven was lonely, he never mentioned it; nor did he ever let on whether or not he looked forward to their neighbours downstairs dropping by to check on them.

Time dragged on as the days melded together and Conrad grew weaker. He was no longer able to sit up for any length of time.

It was when Raven woke up to find himself lying in a wet bed once again, that he finally began to accept the end was near. He lovingly cleaned up his partner and changed the bedding.

“Send for Brandon, baby,” Conrad beseeched in a barely discernable voice.

Raven quickly left the room in order to hide the tears rolling down his face. He sat down at the computer and opened his email address book, clicking on the one he wanted.

‘Time to come home, Bran’ was all he wrote before hitting the ‘send’ button.

Brandon arrived two days later. He was greeted by their closest neighbours; Adrian with his partner Troy and Chad with his partner Devon. They were seated in the main room of the loft, looking solemn and resigned. It was clear the younger two men had been crying and still appeared very teary-eyed.

“We’ve been taking turns going in to see Conrad,” Adrian quietly informed him but didn’t volunteer anything more.

“Glad you made it in time, Brandon.” Chad seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

Leaving his bags by the door, Brandon headed for the master bedroom. He found Raven curled up on the left side of the bed, next to his best friend. Conrad’s breathing was laboured and his eyes tightly closed.

Brandon sat down on the right of dying man and took Conrad’s thin hand in his own. He blinked back tears when his friend opened his eyes. Reaching over to gently run his hand through Raven’s long hair, Brandon softy requested a few minutes alone with Conrad. “I won’t keep you waiting long, honey. I promise.”

Five minutes later, Raven was back by Conrad’s side with his head nestled close to his partner’s heaving chest. He didn’t ask what the two men had talked about as he lacked the strength to even care for anything other that the man he had loved for the past three years.

“Who loves you more than life itself, Shop Kitten?” came the whispered question ever so softly next to his head.

“You do.” Raven’s voice broke.

“Who else?” Conrad insisted. Although extremely weak, his voice still held a spark of authority and Raven responded to it.

“I do.” It had taken almost two years for Conrad to drill that concept into his Brat’s head; most of it done via his backside.

“Thank you, my love,” were the last words Conrad uttered. His breathing slowed and in moments his chest stopped rising and falling.

Raven listened as his lover’s heart beat for the very last time, and then he began to wail. His entire body convulsed as he sobbed out his sorrow.

With tears streaming down his face, Brandon tenderly closed Conrad’s eyes and then reached over to offer comfort to the black-haired beauty on the other side of his deceased friend.

He allowed half an hour to pass while the sobbing gradually diminished before softly suggesting, “It’s time to go tell the others, Raven. It’s time to let him go, honey.”

Raven didn’t want to. He wasn’t near ready, but then he never would be if it had been left up to him.

Rising up onto his hands and knees, Raven looked at Conrad’s face; a face no longer showing signs of fatigue and illness. He glanced over his lover’s now still body; a body finally free of pain. He leaned over and placed a kiss on Conrad’s smooth brow. “I will love you forever; my rescuer, my hero, my love. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for loving me when no one else would. Please rest knowing I will be all right.”

As he pushed himself up and off the bed, the young man imagined he heard a sigh of contentment escape Conrad’s lips. It enabled him to finally acknowledge what was meant to be.

The End