Bodies of Water
by J.B. McDonald

Chapter 6



"Is something wrong?"


"Then why isn't my coffee frozen?" A pause, then, "Very funny."

"You wanted it."

"No," Hank sighed, running his cold mug under hot water in an attempt to make the coffee-ice fall out. "I just asked why it wasn't."

"Oh. Sorry. Misunderstood," Bobby answered, smiling his impish smile. But even he could tell it was only at half-voltage. And it obviously wasn't fooling Hank.

Hank turned and gave Bobby the Hank Look. The one that said you-will-tell-me-what-is-wrong-or-I-shall-do-something-you-won't-like-and-oh-by-the-way-I-care.

Bobby sighed heavily and stirred his cereal into mush. "Remember the time you tried to set me up with a guy?"

Hank sat down, holding a new mug of coffee. "Yes," he answered softly.

"And I told you I wasn't going to go out with a guy, because it was too much hassle?"

Hank nodded, brown eyes -- deep brown eyes, but somehow not as handsome as Jamie's brown eyes -- watching Bobby steadily. "Yes. You said you'd go out with a man if you thought it would be worth the prejudice."

Bobby bobbed his head in a nod. "I think I've found a man I would date."

Hank sat back slightly. "Ah. And the problem would be...?"

"He wants to pretend like he's not gay."

Hank nodded. "Has it occurred to you that he might not be gay?"

Bobby snorted. "Yeah, right, he's not gay. Jamie is ... Jamie's ... he's been screwed up, Hank, and I don't think he realizes it. Or he's in denial."

"And what does being 'screwed up,' as you so eloquently put it, have to do with him being gay?"

Bobby looked up from beneath bushy eyebrows. "I'm not sure. But he is gay."

Hank smothered his grin, but not until Bobby had seen it.

"And now he's mad at me."

"Oh." Hank rubbed his chin. "Go see him," he said at last. "Take Twinkies."

Bobby smiled, puzzled. "Twinkies?"

Hank shrugged. "It always works on you."

Bobby let out a bark of laughter, shaking his head. "Maybe. Maybe later, I will."

Hank set down his coffee mug and stood, nodding. "Just don't wait too long, Bobby," he said, putting a large hand on Bobby's shoulder as he walked by. "Things don't always need time before you act."

Bobby nodded. "Better hurry, Hank," he said as Hank walked into the otherv room. "Your conference is about to start. You need to go dispense some more wisdom."

Bobby heard Hank's rumbling chuckle and smiled.

Jamie wasn't in his hotel, and he wasn't at the pier, and he wasn't at the park. At least, not the four Bobby had checked. He wasn't at the ice rink, or the Burger King, or the other pier. And Bobby was getting worried.

Four o' clock, and he couldn't find Jamie. Forge was at a conference. Bobby didn't know Forge's cell phone number, and he knew Jamie had thrown his on the rocks the day it stopped working, so there was no chance of calling him even if he was suddenly overwhelmed with the knowledge of Jamie's number. Bobby was leaving tomorrow. Early.

I shouldn't have waited so long to try and find him, Bobby thought to himself, stomping down the sidewalk. He glanced up, peering through the trees on one side. Another park. One he hadn't seen Jamie in. I could always call Guido. If I had his number. Or Lila Cheney's number. I could call Lorna. If I knew where she was. Maybe Moira would have an idea where Jamie might go...

Bobby kicked at a pebble, watched it skitter off into the underbrush. Cold danced along his spine, beckoning from a distance. Bobby paused, closing his eyes and letting the Cold wash over him. There was a lot of Cold.

Bobby turned and headed into the wild area of the park, following the Cold.

He smelled the water before he saw it. Bobby blinked and continued forward, the ocean stretching out for miles and miles, reaching to touch the sky in the distance. Cold Atlantic water, calling for the wind to try and freeze it, laughing that it would never be able to. Bobby stopped short of the rocky cliff the led down to the water's edge. The wind blew in fits and spurts, blasting his hair away from his face, then letting it settle around his ears. And the wind spoke.

Bobby strained to hear as air ruffled across his body, flattening his shirt. The gust keened, like a distraught human. Bobby's blue eyes closed, pale lashes resting against his cheeks. And the wind formed words. "I don't -- help me--"

Bobby's eyes snapped open. He stepped closer to the edge of the cliff, peering below. Rocks tumbled down, ragged and jutting angrily toward the sky. A pool of brown crouched on one just below, moving slightly, trembling.

Bobby slid down the first rock, found a foothold on the second. The third he lowered himself onto carefully, hands straining to hold his weight. The last he jumped to, almost landing on the figure, who didn't acknowledge him.

Worry overrode anxiousness, and Bobby put his arms around the narrow shoulders sheathed in a brown trenchcoat. He rested his head on the dark brown hair, pulling the shuddering body closer, almost into his lap. "It's okay," Bobby whispered, hands rubbing up and down the man's arm. "It's okay."

Jamie's head turned into Bobby's chest, and he cried painfully.

Did I do this? Bobby wondered to himself. He felt sick at that, and held Jamie tighter.

The wind picked up, plucking at them, tossing the ends of Jamie's trenchcoat. Both men ignored it, and it howled by them in frustration.

The sun was sinking. Gold dusted the top of the water, making it sparkle until it hurt to look. Bobby rocked back and forth in time to the crashing of the waves below, hands stroking against Jamie's hair, his back, his arms.

The sun peeped out at them from under its blanket of water.

"I don't know what to do," Jamie whispered.

Bobby wanted to say something, but couldn't.

"No one ever told me what to do," Jamie said, his voice breaking. "They didn't tell me. They left, and they didn't tell me and it hurts."

Bobby nodded. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do this to you," he whispered at last.

Jamie didn't answer. "Seven years ago today. They died. And I need them."

Bobby brushed his face against Jamie's brown hair and said nothing.

"I'm so confused."

The Cold brushed up against them, tossing their hair, flattening their clothes against their bodies. Jamie was still crying. Bobby could feel the tears on his neck, soaked into his shirt. But the man was no longer sobbing. The tears were silent; his breathing close to normal.

"We need to go in. It's getting cold," Bobby whispered against Jamie's hair. He felt Jamie nod. Neither of them moved, until Jamie started to shiver.

Somehow, they made it back to Jamie's hotel. Bobby wasn't sure how they did it, but they did. And Bobby was still cradling Jamie like he might break at any moment--and, truthfully, Bobby wasn't sure he wouldn't.

"What if I'm gay, and my friends hate me? I've seen that."

Bobby smiled against Jamie's head. "Then you get rid of your friends and move on."

"But I don't want to lose them."

Bobby closed his eyes, wondering how Hank had managed to get him through this, wishing he had some of Hank's ability to know Just What To Say at Just The Right Moment. "I'm your friend," Bobby said, ignoring the words his memory called up, Jamie's words that they barely knew each other. "I won't leave you."

Jamie's breath caught in his throat, shuddered in his chest. Bobby held him that much tighter, willing this pain away.

"What will Moira say?"

"That you're tracking mud in the house and you'd better not even think of learning to smoke like the other trenchcoat wearing men around."

Jamie laughed, a sort of hiccup in his breath. "Yeah."

Bobby smiled, dipping his head to look at Jamie's face. "James? I'll stay with you."

Dark brown eyes met Bobby's blue ones. They swirled with fear, almost black in the evening light. "Really?"

Jamie's breath curled around Bobby's neck, and the smell of his aftershave wandered up, carried by the heat from their bodies. "Really."

Jamie swallowed hard. His eyes were suspiciously bright, still, and his lower lip barely kept from trembling. "Even if I'm not gay?"

Bobby's gut clenched, and he felt a surge of anger. Still in denial. Almost, he snapped at Jamie. Instead, he bent down the tiniest bit and kissed him.

Jamie stiffened slightly, still leaning against Bobby. And then Bobby felt the slender body relax slowly, and through half-lidded eyes he saw Jamie's brown orbs stutter closed.

And Jamie kissed him back.

Bobby smiled and pulled away after what seemed like a very long time. "Even if you aren't gay," he answered softly, and slid his knuckles over Jamie's jaw. He felt Jamie's shiver, saw the uncertainty and confusion still in those brown eyes as they flickered open.

Jamie's eyes closed painfully. Bobby wrapped both arms around the man, holding him tighter. "I'm sorry," he said after a moment, not knowing what else to say.

Jamie nodded. His breath shuddered in his lungs. "Forge will be back in about fifteen minutes," he said at last. He sat up and pulled away, and Bobby saw a flash of brown eyes -- still hurt, still uncertain, still denying -- before Jamie looked elsewhere. Long-fingered hands wiped at drying tears.

"Should I go?" Bobby asked.

Jamie looked up. "Yeah."

Bobby felt his stomach twist. "Call me if you want -- anything."

Jamie wouldn't meet his gaze. "Yeah."

Bobby nodded after a moment. He knew that look. That was the one he wore when he was refusing to see the truth. "Yeah," he muttered, and stood up. "I'm leaving tomorrow, but you can get my home number from the database."

Jamie nodded, didn't look up.

That was it, then. Bobby hesitated, looking at the man. The long lines of his body were still hidden beneath the trenchcoat, his face sheltered behind dark brown hair. Bobby moved silently to the door, glanced back again to see Jamie still sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor.


Jamie nodded.

Bobby walked out and closed the door.

concluded >>

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