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Danny cradled Ryan in his arms as their breathing returned to normal. Ryan's head rested on his shoulder. Sweat dripped from his forehead onto Danny's hot skin. Danny could still feel Ryan's cock pulsing inside of him. It felt so wonderful.

Two lovers flushed from joining together in the most intimate of acts between two people. Danny could feel the love he felt for Ryan beating in every thump of their hearts where they pressed together, chest to chest. It was a perfect moment in time.

          Then Ryan started speaking and Danny's whole world came crashing down around his ears. "Danny, we can't do this again I can't see you anymore."

          "What?" Danny whispered in shock. What did he mean they couldn't see each other anymore? They had just had mind blowing sex, the most intense of his life. How could Ryan want to end this?

          Ryan shifted until he was leaning up on his elbows looking down at Danny. His face was filled with regret but there was conviction in his words. "We can't see each other anymore, not like this."

          "I don't understand. Did… did I do something wrong?"

          Ryan shook his head. "Sam's has feelings for you. He wants you. If he found out we were seeing each other it would crush him. I can't do that to him. I can't hurt my son like that."

          "What about me? What about how this hurting me?" Danny cried out. This couldn't be happening. Ryan was everything he had always wanted in his life. He thought that things were perfect between them. They had just made love… hadn't they?

          "How can you do this now? Damn it, Ryan, you still have your cock buried in my ass. What was this? A last fuck before you leave me?"


          Danny pushed against Ryan's shoulders until he pulled out and rolled off of him. He quickly swung his legs over the side of the bed. He rubbed at his eyes with the heels of hands, trying to stop the flow of tears that suddenly sprung up in them.

          "Danny, I'm sorry," Ryan whispered as he scooted to the edge of the bed to sit next to Danny.

          "Please don't do this, Ryan." Danny knew he was begging. He couldn't help himself. He loved Ryan with everything in him. Ryan was his soul mate. Danny that the moment he first met Ryan.

          "I don't want to do this, baby, but—"

          "Then don't!" Danny realized that he was nearly yelling at Ryan. He took several deep breaths to try and regain control of his emotions but his heart sank even more as he watched as Ryan stood up and began pulling his clothes on. He finally looked away, unable to watch his lover of three months walk away from him

          "Danny, you don't understand. Sam loves you."

          Danny's head whipped up to look at Ryan. "What?"

          Ryan's head dropped to his chest, his light sandy brown hair waved around his face as he slowly shook his head. "He told me before I even knew that you two were friends. He's in love with you."

          Ryan lifted his head, Danny could see the pleading in Ryan's eyes for understanding. He had none to give. "Now do you see why I can't do this?"

          "No. I don't love Sam. I love you."

          "Danny—" Ryan began.

          "No!" Danny cried out. "No, I will never love Sam, not like that. I love you."

          "You could love him if you tried."

          Danny stared at Ryan in shock, his jaw dropping open. "You want me to love Sam? What about us?"

          Ryan shook his regretfully. "There can never be an us, not now. I can't do that to Sam. You have to understand. He's my son, Danny, the only family I have left."

          "I could be your family." Danny dreamed about it in fact. Ryan was everything Danny always wanted. He reached out and grabbed Ryan's hands, desperate for the man t change his mind. "We could build a family together."


          "Don't do this, Ryan. Please don't do this." Danny could feel tears start to stream down his face as he begged Ryan not to end what they had together. And he could have cared less that he was begging. What they had together was too important to give up without a fight. "We have something special together. Don't throw it away."

          Ryan pushed Danny's hands away and started backing across the room towards the bedroom door. "I'm sorry, Danny."

          Danny held a hand out to Ryan in desperation. "Please, Ryan, I love you. Don't do this. Please don't leave me," he begged. He knew he sounded pathetic. He couldn't help it. The best thing that had ever happened to him was walking out the door. He'd do anything, no matter how humiliating, to keep Ryan here. Pride didn't matter in the face of losing the only man he would ever love.

          "I have to, Danny."

          "I love you, Ryan. Doesn't that mean anything to you?" The hysteria Danny was feeling as his heart broke into a million pieces started slipping through in his voice.

          Ryan stood in the doorway, staring at Danny for several long moments. He was so quiet for so long that Danny started hoping that he had finally gotten through to the man. Maybe Ryan would change his mind and not leave now.

          Danny slowly stood to his feet and walked over to Ryan. He reached for him, his hands holding Ryan's face still as he started giving him quick little kisses all over. "Please stay, Ryan."


"I love you."


"I can make you happy, Ryan."


"I'll do anything you want."

          Ryan suddenly grabbed Danny's hands and pushed him away so hard that Danny fell to the floor. His beautiful face was a hardened mask of determination as he gazed down at Danny's naked body.

          "Then love my son."

          Danny reached for Ryan as he walked away. "No, Ryan… I love you… Don't… don't go…Ryan!" he wailed as Ryan opened the front door and walked out, the door closing quietly behind him. Danny stared at the closed door briefly before he fell to the floor, curling into a ball, his arms wrapped tightly around his naked stomach.

          This couldn't be happening. Ryan did not just give him away to his son, Sam. It just wasn't possible. This had to be some sort of horrible nightmare and any minute now his alarm clock would go off and he would wake up and this will all be over.

          Danny lay there, waiting for the alarm clock to go off… any minute now… Damn! Why wasn't the alarm going off? He needed to wake up from this horrible dream where Ryan didn't want him…

Ryan didn't want him!

          "Oh, god… Ryan," Danny began sobbing as reality set in. "Please don't leave me… Ryan…" he whispered as the tears continued flowing down his face. This was really happening. Ryan had really left him so Sam could have him. This was a living nightmare and it was never going to end.

          Danny held his arms tight around his stomach as sobs racked his trembling body. The pain in his chest was so intense he thought he was going to die. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think. It hurt to feel. It just hurt.

          Ryan must have fallen asleep because the next thing he knew the morning light shined through the bedroom windows. He still lay on the floor, naked. Another sob started to come from his throat as he realized that he was still alone.

          And Ryan was still gone!

          Danny climbed to his feet and went into the bathroom. He turned on the shower and climbed in. He bowed his head and let the hot water spray on his chilled body. He was so cold, so very cold. He didn't know if he would ever be warm again.

          He washed his hair and scrubbed his body until his skin was rubbed nearly raw. When the water began to turn cold he finally climbed out. He slowly dried himself off and went back to the bedroom to dress.

          Danny on the side of the bed but the site of the dried stains on the sheets from his earlier interlude made him grimace. He quickly pulled the sheets off the bed and went to put them in the washer.

          Just before dropping the last sheet in the washer he lifted it to his face and inhaled. He felt a shock pain shoot through his body as Ryan's scent filled him. He held the dirty sheet against his face for several moments, drinking in Ryan's masculine fragrance.

          He wanted to keep the sheet, to put it away in a safe place so he could pull it out and smell Ryan when the hurt got to be too much. He wanted just one thing to remind him when nothing else would do.

Who was he kidding? He wouldn't forget one damn thing about Ryan. He was ingrained on Danny's soul. Angrily shoving the sheet into the washer, he quickly turned it on before he could change his mind. He stood there and cried as the washer filled with water, taking away Ryan's sweet aroma.

Walking back into the bedroom he sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the phone. He took several deep breaths before dialing the phone number he knew by heart. The phone was answered on the fourth ring.

"Hey, Mom, it's Danny… can I come home?"

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Danny placed the last box in the rental truck and closed the large metal door. Everything he owned was sitting in this little trailer. He walked back upstairs and looked around to see if he had missed anything. Going from room to room he looked. Nothing was left.

          He closed the door and locked it before walking downstairs and dropping the key in the manager's lock box. That was it. His apartment was packed into the rental truck. He cleaned the place to the best of his ability and returned the key. There was nothing keeping him from leaving and heading home.

          Nothing except the desperate need to see Ryan one last time. No matter what Ryan said, Danny couldn't leave without giving him one last chance to change his mind. He had to hold onto the hope that what they had together meant something to Ryan.

          Danny locked up the rental truck and headed down the street towards Ryan's condo. It was just a few blocks away. Within ten minutes he was walking around the corner of the bakery across the street from Ryan's building.

          His steps slowed down as he got closer. He could see Ryan climbing out of his car in front of the apartment. Sam was climbing out of the passenger seat. Danny watched them talking as they walked towards the doors of the building. Ryan laughed at something Sam said, his arm wrapping around Sam's shoulders.

          Danny watched them from his spot across the street, sliding up close to the building. He saw Ryan and Sam paused outside of the doors, words passing between them. He couldn't hear their words but he could see the laughter on Ryan's face. He looked happy.

          That was that then. Danny didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Ryan was happy. Sam made Ryan happy. Danny couldn't take that away from Ryan. He would do anything to make Ryan happy, even let him go.

But he couldn't be with Sam to make either of them happy. Sam didn't attract him in any way. Not like Ryan did. But Ryan didn't want him. He wanted Danny to be with Sam. He didn't want the love Danny had offered him.

          Danny realized, painfully, that Ryan never really returned his feelings of love. Not once did Ryan give Danny any reason to believe that he was anything more than an easy fuck. He had just seen more into it than was really there and just plunged ahead without asking Ryan how he felt about it. It was a hard lesson to learn.

          But now Danny knew. He loved Ryan enough to give him up… and Ryan didn't love him at all. If he had, Ryan would never have asked Danny to be with Sam. You didn't do that if you loved someone.

          Danny watched Ryan until he and Sam walked into the building, knowing he would never see him again. He was heading home to the family farm and he wasn't coming back. It hurt too much to be here and not be able to have Ryan.

          His mother would be disappointed that he wasn't finishing school. But maybe he would… some day. Just not right now. At least, not until Sam had graduated and moved on. Danny couldn't attend the same school with Sam, knowing he could run into him at any time. It was just too painful.

          As the door closed behind Ryan and Sam, Danny slowly turned away and started back for the rental truck. The ten minutes back seemed like the longest in his life. He unlocked the door and climbed in then sat there for awhile, his mind kind of blank fog.

          Finally, with a trembling hand he started the truck and drove into traffic. It was still early enough in the day that he would miss most of the rush hour traffic. It shouldn't take him more than five or six hours to reach home.

          He knew eventually he was going to have to figure out what to do with the rest of his life but for now he just wanted to go home to the comforting arms of his mother and forget that the last three months had ever happened.

          Danny laughed bitterly. "As if I could ever forget…"

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          Ryan glanced at Sam out of the corner of his eye as he shredded cheese for the enchiladas they were making for dinner. "How's school going?"

          "Pretty good. I have mid terms coming up in a couple of weeks so I have a lot of projects due over the next week or so. Then there's all the studying I have to do to get ready for exams. I really hate midterms but finals are worse." Sam laughed as he set a bowl of diced olives on the counter.

          "How's Danny? Anything happening there?" It nearly ripped him apart to ask Sam about Danny. He hadn't seen him in nearly a month, plenty of time for Sam and Danny to start dating. And he had missed Danny every second of that month.

          "Haven't seen him," Sam replied nonchalantly.

          Ryan stopped shredding cheese to look up at Sam in surprise. "You haven't seen him? Why not? I thought you wanted to be with him?"

          Sam shrugged. "I think he dropped out of school or something. I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks. Besides, he really wasn't my type, if you know what I mean, too much of a keep both feet on the ground type. Now this guy Kevin I've been seeing… he's really hot!"

          Ryan stared at Sam in shock as he went on and on about this new guy he was seeing. Danny had dropped out of school? Sam wasn't interested in him anymore? He had given Danny up for this?

          "Wait, Sam, what do you mean Danny dropped out of school?"

          Sam looked up in surprise. "I'm not sure exactly what happened. He just stopped showing up for class. When I found out that he had quit his job I went by his apartment. His manager said that he had moved out. Guess he went home or something."

          "Just like that? Why? Why would he do that?" Ryan didn't know why he asked that. He knew exactly why Danny left school, quit his job, and moved out of his apartment… because of him and what he had asked Danny to do.

          Ryan could feel his heart shriveling up in his chest as he asked that question that he knew would damn him for life. "I thought you wanted Danny. Didn't you tell me that you were in love with him?"

          Sam shrugged, reaching for the tortilla shells. "Yeah, I thought I was. I mean, he's cute and all, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Danny just isn't my type. I want to have fun. Danny was fun to be around but he's ready to settle down into a committed relationship and spend the rest of his life with his soul mate. At least that's what he told me."

          "And that's a bad thing?" It sounded ideal to Ryan.

          "Hell no, it's just not for me. I'm only twenty-two years old. I'm too young to be settling down. I want to experience life some more before I do something like that."

Sam stopped spooning the taco mixture into the tortilla shells and glanced up at his Dad. "You know, Dad, Danny would be perfect for you. You're just his type. I know he's a little young and all but he really has his head on straight." Sam laughed. "Hell, you guys even like the same music," he said as he went back to the tortilla shells.

Ryan stared at Sam, his mouth hanging open. Sam thought Danny would be perfect for him? He wanted to reach over and throttle Sam. Didn't he understand that Danny had been perfect for him and he had given him up so that Sam could have him?

Ryan carefully set the cheese grader down on the counter and walked out of the room. His mind was reeling. He had fucked up big time. Danny was never going to forgive him for what he had done. He walked into the living room and sat down on the couch, his head cradled in his hands. How could he have been so stupid?

As Ryan remembered the tormented look on Danny's face as he left, he felt tears begin in his eyes. Danny had begged him not to go. He had pleaded, saying he loved him. And Ryan and thrown it all away… and for what?

Sam hadn't really cared about Danny. He wasn't even worried that Danny had dropped out of school and had moved out of his apartment. All he could think about was some new guy he was seeing.

"Hey, Dad, you okay?" Sam asked from the entryway to the living room.

"I thought you loved him, Sam," Ryan whispered. "I really thought you loved him."

"Who?" Sam asked curiously as he walked farther into the room.

"Danny, damn it! God, can't you even remember who you fall in love with?" Ryan asked as he looked up at Sam. He knew some of the anger he was feeling was showing on his face as Sam took a couple of steps back.

"Dad, what's going on? Since when have you cared about who I was seeing?"

Ryan jumped to his feet and began pacing around the room, his hands running hastily through his sandy brown curls.

"Fuck, Sam, don't you get it? Danny and I were seeing each other. We'd been seeing each other for several weeks. We were perfect for each other. And then you said that you loved him and…"

"What did you do, Dad?" Sam asked quietly.

At first Ryan didn't say anything. He couldn't. He felt like his throat had closed up. It even hurt to swallow. He walked over to look out one of the floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the downtown area. He rested one hand on the glass, the other clenched at his side.

"Dad…" Sam began again.

"I thought you loved him, Sam," Ryan said quietly. "How could I be happy with Danny knowing that you cared about him?" Sam inhaled deeply when Ryan turned around to look at him. Ryan knew his son saw the silent tears falling down his cheeks. "I told him we couldn't be together anymore, that he needed to be with you because you loved him. That he needed to give you a chance. I couldn't interfere with that. Sam, you have to understand, you're my son, the only family I have. You are the single most important thing in my life. I couldn't be with Danny if it made you unhappy."

Sam's mouth dropped open as he stared at his father in disbelief. "You told him that you couldn't be together because you thought I was in love with him? You left him so he could be with me?"

At Ryan's slight nod Sam let out a low curse. "Oh man, you so fucked this one up, Dad. You have no idea what you've done."

Ryan looked at Sam, suddenly very concerned at the anxious look on Sam's face as he sat down on the edge of the couch, his head shaking back and forth as he mumbled. "Oh fuck… oh fuck… this is bad… this is real bad… oh fuck!"

"Sam, stop it. You're not helping here. I know I fucked up." Ryan raked his hand through his hair an started pacing started pacing again. "Now I just have to figure out how to fix it."

Sam's face had a defeated look to it as he looked up at Ryan. "Dad, I don't think you can fix this."

Ryan stopped pacing to look at Sam. "What do you mean? What do you know that I don't?"

Sam looked down at his hands, twisting them together anxiously.

"Samuel!" Ryan yelled as he went to stand in front of him. "Tell me."

"I assume you were sleeping with Danny?" Sam murmured quietly.

Ryan flinched. "Yeah, we were sleeping together. What of it?"

Sam took a deep breath, running his fingers through his hair. "Then he must have told you that he loved you."

Ryan swallowed audibly. "Yeah, he said he loved me."

"Did he say anything else?"

"Yeah," Ryan choked out. "He said we had something special together. That he could be my family and he would do anything for me." Ryan swallowed hard. "And then he begged me to stay."

"And you still left him?" There were tears in Sam's eyes as he looked up at Ryan, sympathy in his eyes when Ryan nodded. "Then it's too late, Dad."

Ryan sat down heavily on the couch next to Sam. Neither of them said anything for a long time, each in their own thoughts. Ryan wondered how everything could have gone so terribly wrong. How could he have been such an idiot? If he was Danny, he wouldn't give him another chance either.

"What aren't you telling me, Sam?" Ryan asked quietly, breaking the deep silence in the room.

"Did Danny every tell you about his dreams for the future?"

Ryan shook his head. Strangely enough, they had never talked about the future, almost as if it had been a forbidden subject.

"Danny's growing up years were a nightmare. His father slept with anything that walked. When he wasn't screwing around he was drinking and when he was drinking, he was usually beating up Danny or one of his siblings or his mother."

"My god!" Ryan couldn't imagine growing up like that.

"Yeah, but luckily for them, the old man drove his car into a tree when Danny was about fourteen. Danny, as the oldest had to find a job and start helping his mom out with the bills and around the farm. That's why he's so much older than me. He couldn't go away to college until his younger brother was old enough to help out around the farm. That job he had at the bar? Every penny goes home to his mom. He's college tuition, room and board are all on scholarships."

"Why are you telling me this? What does it have to do with…"

"Just listen, Dad, please," Sam said as he laid his hand on Ryan's leg. "This is important."

Ryan nodded, waving his hand for Sam to continue.

"Danny's mom is a wonderful woman that he loves more than anything on this earth, well, except maybe you. Anyway, when she found out that he was gay, she made him promise to wait until he found that special someone, his soul mate, before he did anything with anyone. She told him it would mean more if love was involved. So, he waited."

"Until me…" But that meant that Danny had been a virgin. Ryan leaned back against the couch and pressed his hand over the ache in his chest. Why had Danny never said anything? Why hadn't he known?'

"Yeah, if he slept with you it meant that he loved you and that he felt that you were his soul mate. It also means that you were his first."

"Oh, god…"

"Oh, wait, it gets better." Sam laughed bitterly. "Danny always had this fantasy that he would find his soul mate and they would settle down together and live happily ever after. He wanted to do it all… get married, have a family, build a home together… all of it, the whole ball of wax. And he wasn't going to be with anyone until he found the perfect man. Why do you think I lost interest in him? It was way too picturesque for me."

 "So… so, when I sent him away…"

"Yeah, Dad, you royally fucked up. If he was sleeping with you and telling you that he loved you, he'd already committed himself to you. He would have spent the rest of his life with you, doing everything he could to make you happy, building a home with you, and raising lots of little Danny's."

"Oh, man…" Ryan rubbed his hand down his face. Sam was right. He had royally fucked up. There was no way to fix this. Danny begged him not to leave and he did it anyway. Danny said that Ryan would be throwing away something special and he was right.

How was Ryan supposed to know? He'd never met anyone like Danny before. He wasn't even sure there was anyone alive like Danny. He was a joy to be around, even if they weren't having sex. The sex was just an added bonus, a major one though.

"Dad?" Sam asked, breaking into Ryan's deep thoughts.

"Uh… look, Sam, do you mind if we have dinner some other time? I have some thinking to do."

"No, that's fine. Just call me, okay?" he asked anxiously.

"Yeah, sure. I'll call you. Maybe we can have dinner in a couple of days or something. Right now I just need to figure some things out."

Sam stood up and walked towards the front door, looking back at his father one last time. He was worried about him. Ryan was still sitting on the couch staring off into space, his shoulders slumped, his eyes filled with tears.

He shook his head as he closed the door behind him. He just couldn't believe how stupid some people were. His Dad was at the top of the list. To have the world in the palm of his hands and throw it away? How stupid could he be? 

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"Hello, Danny."

Danny tossed the hay bale in his hands up onto the stack before him before setting his hay hooks down and turning to the man standing behind him.

"Sam," he nodded.

"Can I talk to you?" Sam asked.

Danny pulled his gloves off and stuck them in his back pocket then jumped down from the truck bed he was working on and reached into the cab for a bottle of water. Danny watched Sam over the top of the bottle as he took a long sip. He tightened the lid back on and set the bottle back into the truck through the open window.

"What do you want, Sam?"

Sam stuck his hands in his pockets, kicking at some loose hay on the floor. He looked nervous to Danny. He wondered if Sam had come to the farm to make a play for him. That's just what he needed… a lovesick college boy.


Sam looked hesitant as he looked up at Danny. "I need to talk to you about Dad."

"No," Danny stated firmly as he pulled the gloves back out of his pocket and started to put them back on. He started to climb back up into the truck when a hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Please, Danny, it's important."

Danny bowed his head and rested it against his hands where they gripped the edge of the truck. "I'm not going out with you, Sam."

"Good god, I hope not." Sam laughed. "Cause… eeeww!"

Danny looked over at Sam sharply, one eyebrow raised.

"Okay, look, I'm just going to put all of my cards on the table. I know. Dad told me everything. Yes, I had a thing for you. Can you blame me? You're hot! But it was never anything serious. I told Dad that I had a thing for you but I had no idea that you two were seeing each other at the time or that he would break things off so that I could have you."

It was all Danny could do to nod. Just talking about it brought back all of the pain of losing Ryan to the surface again. He worked so hard to bury everything, to not hurt on a second by second basis. Why was Sam bringing it all back?

"Why are you telling me this, Sam?" he whispered. "Why are you bringing all of this back up? It's over."

"That's just it, Danny, it's not over," Sam said. "Dad's a basket case. He won't eat. He won't sleep. Hell, half the time I'm not even sure he knows what day is it. I'm worried about him, Danny."

Danny squeezed his eyes shut at the picture Sam painted for him. He took several deep breaths as he tried to bury his misery back under a frozen heart. Opening his eyes he looked Sam calmly in the face. "That has nothing to do with me anymore."

"It has everything to do with you, Danny. He needs you. He loves you."

Danny pushed Sam's hands off his shoulder and stalked away. He stopped just inside of the barn doors. One hand on his hip, the other rubbed over his face. He finally turned to look back at Sam.

"You don't throw someone away if you love them, Sam. You don't…" He took a deep breath. "You just don't."

Sam watched Danny walked away, his shoulders slumped. This was going to be a lot harder than he thought. Danny was really hurt. Man, his Dad sure screwed things up. Sam was beginning to wonder if there was a way out of this for him.


Sam turned from watching Danny walk away when he heard the soft voice behind him. He found Danny's mother, Margaret, standing behind him, also watching Danny. He shook his head.

"No, he refuses to talk about Dad at all. I tried to tell him how messed up Dad was but he didn't want to hear it." Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I can't say I blame him. Dad really screwed up."

"Yes, he did but Danny loves him even if he's in denial right now. And, after everything you told me, I believe that your father loves Danny just as much. We just have to figure out how to get them together long enough to beat some sense into both of them."

Sam laughed at the wicked look on Margaret's face. She was one mom he didn't want to take on. "Just what do you have in mind, Mrs. Fitzpatrick?"

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"Come on, Dad, hurry up. We're going to be late," Sam yelled up to his father.

          "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming. Keep your panties on," Ryan yelled back as he walked down the stairs to join Sam. He glanced down at his outfit. "Is this okay?" he asked, referring to the simple faded jeans and baby blue button down shirt he wore.

          "Geez, we're not talking the Taj Mahal here, Dad. It's just dinner."

          Ryan looked down at his outfit again. "Yeah, right, maybe I should go change." Ryan started to turn up the stairs when Sam's hostile voice called out.

          "Take one step up those stairs and I will not be responsible for what happens."

"Okay, okay, I get the point. Let's go." Ryan laughed as he turned to follow Sam out the front door. Geez, when had Sam gotten so forceful? His mother would be so proud.

Ryan climbed into the passenger seat of Sam's car and closed the door as Sam started it up and drove into traffic. He looked over at Sam. "So, where is this place we're going?"

"It's down south a little ways. You'll love it. I've eaten there before. It was great. Real authentic Irish home cooked food. Now, just sit back and enjoy the ride. We'll be there in a little while."

Ryan settled back in the passenger seat and tried to look interested in the scenery shooting past him out the window. He wasn't. Ryan couldn't remember the last thing he was interested in.

"You want some water?"

Ryan turned and smiled at his son. "Yeah, that would be nice." He took the water Sam offered him and drank several gulps, wishing it was scotch but Sam had hidden all of his bottles of alcohol several days ago after finding him in a drunken stupor.

Ryan supposed he couldn't blame his son. Since finding out about Danny, Ryan had fallen into a pit of hell and he didn't have a clue how to climb out. Sam was worried about him, which is why Ryan agree to go on this dinner thing with him.

Ryan yawned.

"Hey Dad, you look tired. Why don't you let your seat back a little and close your eyes. I'll wake you when we get there. We have a ways to go."

Ryan laughed as he covered another yawn with his hand. "Yeah, guess I was more tired than I thought. Sure you don't mind?"

"No, it's cool. I know you haven't been getting much sleep lately. A little rest will do you some good. Besides, we have the rest of the evening to visit."

Ryan leaned his seat back and burrowed into the seat to get more comfortable. A little nap could do him some good. Now, if he could just close his eyes and not think about Danny. 

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          Ryan opened his eyes, realizing that he was no longer sitting in Sam's car instantly. He was lying down on a mattress in some room. Where the hell was he? He didn't recognize the room he was in. Sitting up on his hands he looked around the room.

          It was simply a room. No windows, wood walls and floor, two doors. One led to a small bathroom. He assumed the other one lead out. The only items in the room were the mattress he sat on and a cooler sitting in the corner. There was nothing else in the room. Not even blankets. Nothing except the man sleeping on his stomach next to him on the mattress.

          "Sweet hell," Ryan whispered as he realized two things at the same time. One, the man sleeping next to him was Danny. Two, they were both naked as jay birds. Oh, this was not good, not good at all. Ryan was going to strangle Sam when he got his hands on him.

          Ryan stood up and went to the door. Damn! It was locked. He pulled on it several times trying to force it open. No go. It was locked tight. No open door, no windows. They were stuck. Oh yeah, he was going to kill Sam.

          "Danny! Danny, wake up!" Ryan sat down next to Danny reached shook his shoulder. He briefly savored the feel of Danny's soft skin under his fingers. "Come on, baby, open your eyes."

          As soon as Danny began to stir, Ryan scooted back until he was leaning back against the wooden wall behind him, his knees drawn up to his chest, arms wrapped around his shins. He rested his chin on his knees and watched as Danny began to move.

          Ryan almost groaned when Danny rolled over and he got a good view of his considerable… attributes. He could feel himself instantly harden at the beautiful sight before him. All muscle and smooth skin. Danny looked delicious.

          Danny wiped a hand over his face, rubbing away the sleep in his eyes. He lowered his hand to his side and looked around the room. He looked confused until his eyes landed on Ryan leaning against the wall.

          Ryan watched the welcoming smile that lit Danny's face, wincing slightly when it faded away to a guarded mask of indifference. Danny pushed himself into a sitting position, covering his groin with his hands when he noticed that he was naked.

          "What's going on?"

          "You tell me. The last thing I remember is sitting in Sam's car on my way to dinner. I woke up here, naked, and locked in with you. Any idea where here is?"

          Danny looked around the small room briefly. "We're in the tack room at my family's farm."

          Ryan raised his dark eyebrows in astonishment. "Isn't your farm in southern Oregon, about 250 miles from my condo?"

          Danny nodded. "Yeah, makes you wonder who all is involved in this little fiasco." He ran one hand through his hair, pulling on the soft black curls. "God, what were they thinking?"

          Ryan smirked. "Maybe they thought they were helping."

          Danny looked at him astonished. "How? By locking us in a room together… naked? What? Did they suddenly think all of this was going to go away and we were suddenly going to start fucking like bunnies and live happily ever after? I told Sam when he came down last week that I wouldn't discuss it with him then and I certainly won't to discuss it with you now."

          "So, when will you discuss it with me then?"

          "Has hell frozen over yet?"


          "Look, Ryan, I think everything was said when you left. You made yourself very clear. There's nothing left to discuss."

          "Danny… " Ryan began but Danny just turned away from him and laid down on the bed. Ryan knew Danny was doing his best to ignore him. Ryan watched Danny for what seemed like hours. He didn't even acknowledge that Ryan existed.

          Ryan could see the subtle lift and fall of Danny's chest, the occasional hiccup in his breathing as he silently cried. Eventually, Danny fell asleep. Once he was positive Danny was asleep he crawled across the room to the mattress and cuddled up behind him, wrapping an arm around Danny's waist.

          He buried his face in Danny's hair and inhaled. He smelled so good. Ryan missed him so much, missed the morning waking up with Danny in his arms, the nights going to sleep with him, and every second in between. Hell, he just missed him.

          As Sam had reminded him time and time again, he had been so stupid and it was obvious that Danny wasn't going to forgive him. He didn't know what to do about it. He had known when the words were coming out of his mouth that they were wrong but he hadn't been able to stop himself from saying them.

          He had had this bright idea that if Danny was with Sam, at least he would still be in his life, at least he would still be able to see him and love him from afar. He didn't even want to think about what would go on between Danny and Sam if they had been together.

He couldn't. Just the idea of Danny being with someone else made him sick to his stomach. Danny belonged to him. Or, at least he used to. Now… well, now Danny seemed to hate him. Ryan couldn't blame him. He had done the unthinkable.

It still brought tears to his eyes every time he pictured Danny on his knees begging him not to leave him, saying he loved him and they could work things out. God! How could he have been so stupid? He had had everything in the palm of his hands and had thrown it away. Danny was never going to forgive him.

Ryan started to cry when he realized that this would be the last time he would ever hold Danny in his arms, and it had to be when Danny was asleep and unaware. Danny never would have allowed Ryan to hold him if he had been awake. So this was what Ryan had reduced himself to… copping a feel when Danny was unconscious.

When Danny started to wake, Ryan quickly pushed himself away and began rummaging through the cooler. Well, at least they had all of the amenities… chocolate dipped strawberries, chicken salad in pita bread, and two bottles of red wine. Whoever locked them even included plates, cups, and napkins.

As Danny started to come around and sit up, Ryan occupied himself with preparing two plates of food and two glasses of wine. He even added a couple of strawberries to each plate. Danny didn't say anything as Ryan handed him a plate, just began eating.

Ryan watched Danny eat from beneath his lowered lashes. Danny was even beautiful when he ate with small delicate bites. He didn't even drop any wine when he finished off the cup and held it out to Ryan for more.

It didn't take them long to finish off the food, one bottle of wine, and make serious dent in the other bottle. Ryan was actually feeling pretty relaxed as he continued to watch Danny sitting on the mattress.

Danny's hands no longer covered his groin. Ryan thought he would swallow his tongue when Danny's legs had fallen apart baring him to Ryan's hungry gaze. He suddenly felt hot and achy just thinking about it. Was it getting hot in here? Ryan felt hot.

He realized that he was hard as a rock when he lowered his legs to stretch them out in front of him. He quickly looked up when he heard a small whimper coming from Danny to find his cobalt blue eyes riveted on Ryan's hard jutting cock. Danny was gazing at him like he was a buffet before a starving man.

Ryan swallowed hard when Danny licked his lips. His gaze never wavered from Ryan's cock. Ryan's eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he saw Danny reach between his legs and start stroking his own hard cock.

Ryan felt like his cock was going to explode if he didn't do something. He parted his legs, stretching them apart until it nearly hurt. Wrapping his hand around the stiff shaft he began slowly stroking up, running his thumb over the top, then back down the side.

It felt good but it wasn't enough. No matter how hard he pumped his hand, he just got more aroused. His balls were drawn up tight against his body and aching. His nipples were so sensitive that when he brushed them with his thumb he almost thought he would come from that alone. But nothing happened.

Looking over at Danny he could see that he was in the same situation. He was pulling desperately at the small silver ring in his nipple, his hand pumping fast on his nearly red cock. His head was thrown back on the mattress, his lower lips caught between his teeth.

Ryan didn't know what was going on but he knew if they didn't get relief soon, one of them might get hurt. He began crawling across the mattress towards Danny, resting himself between Danny's spread legs.

Disbelief covered Danny's face as he watched Ryan start running his hands up the inside of his calves. "Ry… Ryan… what are you doing?" he choked out. "No, we can't do this. Ryan…" he moaned as Ryan's mouth sank over the head of his aching cock.

"Have to," Ryan whispered around Danny's cock, the vibrations making Danny moan even louder.

"Oh… fuck… Ryan!" Danny yelled as he began pumping his hips against Ryan, his hands clenching in the sheets next to him. It was unbelievable, all hot and needy. Ryan was going out of his mind listening to Danny's cries. It had been so very long since Ryan touched Danny like this.

Ryan knew just what to do to bring Danny to the brink of release, stop, and build him back up again. He licked and sucked, and caressed until Danny could do nothing more than lay there, whimpering.

"Ryan… fuck… please… finish me," Danny begged as he gripped Ryan's hair. Ryan didn't know if Danny was trying to push him away or pull him closer.

Ryan's smile was evil as he looked up at Danny, but he relented. Pushing Danny's legs up to his chest, Ryan grabbed the suspicious bottle of lube he'd found in the cooler earlier. Now he knew what it was for.

He squirted some out on his finger and pushed it into Danny's sensitive hole. Danny's body bucked as Ryan began pumping his finger in and out, adding a second and then a third until Danny was screaming out Ryan's name.

Ryan suddenly sat up and knelt between Danny's legs. He grabbed the lube and lathered it over his hard cock. Before Danny could protest, Ryan lined his cock up with Danny's ass and thrust forwards, impaling Danny in one thrust.

Neither of them moved for several seconds as they relished in the feeling of being connected once again. It had only been a few weeks but it felt like forever. At the same time it felt like they had never been apart. It was heaven.

Ryan grabbed Danny's thighs, pressing them up to his chest again then apart. He looked down, watching himself move in and out of Danny's ass. He moved his hand down Danny's thigh, over his sac, to rest against his cock as he slowly moved.

"Oh fuck, baby, that's so pretty," Ryan whispered. Danny moaned again as Ryan caressed the soft skin below his sac.

"Harder," Danny begged.

Ryan leaned into Danny as his hips began moving faster and faster until his was nearly pushing Danny up the mattress. When Danny's legs wrapped around his hips Ryan brought his hands up and cupped his face, holding him in place for his lips.

Danny began moaning again, over and over, until it was just one long wail. His nails dug into the skin on Ryan's back. His hips pushed back against Ryan's. The friction of his cock sandwiched between them was driving him wild. Ryan was hitting his sweet spot on every thrust.

The combination of stimulation had Danny arching his head back as he cried out hoarsely. His cock pulsed as he shot between their bodies.

The tightening of Danny's muscles around Ryan's pounding cock had him groaning as he sank his teeth into Danny's shoulder. Another thrust and his felt himself explode, filling Danny to the brim until he collapsed down on Danny.

Ryan's breathing was ragged. His mind was in turmoil as he realized what had just happened. What had just happened?

Ryan pushed up on his arms to look down at Danny's flush face. His head was tilted to one side, his eyes clenched tightly shut. He looked like he was in pain. Had he hurt Danny? Ryan would just die if he had hurt Danny.

"Danny?" he whispered.

When Danny turned his head to look up at him, Ryan was shocked. Danny's eyes looked dazed and hungry. Ryan groaned as Danny started humping his hips again, his suddenly hard cock brushing against Ryan's stomach.

"Again," he demanded.

"Danny… what… oh god…" he growled when Danny's silky muscles tightened around his sensitive cock. He was suddenly just as frantic as he had been moments ago, as if he had never cum seconds earlier. Ryan grabbed Danny's legs and rolled them over until Danny was straddling him. "Ride me, baby."

Danny's grin was impish as he planted his hands on Ryan's chest and brought his feet up to sit on the bed next to Ryan's hips. Then he began riding Ryan, his hips moving at lightning speed as his repeatedly impaled himself on Ryan's steel hard cock.

As Ryan reached down and grabbed Danny's cock and began furiously stroking his throbbing length, he thanked the powers that be for the stamina and strength of young men. Danny's body moving over his was heaven.

They were quicker to reach orgasm this time, their bodies still sensitive from before. Afterwards, Danny collapsed down onto Ryan, his breathing harsh against Ryan's neck. Ryan rubbed his hands up and down Danny's back.

Danny whimpered when he felt Ryan harden inside of him again, his own cock coming back to life with a vengeance. Danny lifted his head and gave Ryan an agonized look. He winced painfully when Ryan's hips began to move.

"Oh god… stop… sore," he whispered even as his own hips started to move in accord with Ryan's. Ryan immediately stopped moving. Danny looked like he was in agony.

"What is it, baby?" Ryan asked as he reached up to caress the side of Danny's face.

"Hurts." Danny looked at Ryan desperately as he moved his hips again, more slowly this time. "Can't stop."

Ryan made a decision in that split second that Danny looked down at him, the agony written all over his face. He reached down and grabbed the bottle of lube again and smoothed it over Danny's aching cock before greasing between his own cheeks.

Pushing Danny off of him, against Danny's protest, Ryan turned over onto his knees and presented himself to Danny. He wasn't sure what was going on here but he had a pretty good idea.

He hadn't been this horny since he was a stupid teenager and taken an herbal aphrodisiac as a joke. He had humped himself silly. Both Danny and himself seemed to be aroused again almost as soon as they came. If he was correct, someone had spiked their food.

Danny's hands landed softly on Ryan's backside. "Ryan, what--"

"Just do it, Danny. You have to."

"But you don't--"

"I do now, Danny. Someone spiked our food. If you don't you're going be hurting a lot more. We both are. Now, just do it."

Danny's hands began caressing Ryan as he stared down at him. "Ryan--"

Ryan looked back over his shoulder. "Danny, baby, it's okay, I promise." He could understand Danny's confusion. Ryan had made it really clear in the beginning of their relationship that he didn't do bottom. He was strictly a top.

Danny slowly reached down and began stretching Ryan, one finger at a time. His eyes stayed on Ryan's as removed his fingers and pushed his way inside. Oh fuck, it felt so good. Ryan hadn't known what he was missing but this was unbelievable. No wonder Danny liked it so much.

"Ryan… fuck…" Danny's head fell back as his eyes squeezed shut. His hands dug into Ryan's hips as he tried to get enough leverage to start pounding into him. Holding tight to Ryan's hips, Danny started pounding into Ryan, their hips slapping together with the force.

Ryan  could hear Danny groaning behind him. He felt the tightening of Danny's hands on his hip and it sent him over the edge. Ryan cried out as he climaxed, spilling himself on the mattress.

Watching Ryan's arms give out and his body collapsing on the mattress was apparently all Danny needed to trip over the top, filling Ryan as he rasped out Ryan's name then collapsed down next to him.

Using the last of his strength Ryan grabbed some napkins and cleaned them both off before falling down next to Danny, pulling his body over to spoon in front of him. Exhausted, both men were asleep as soon as they cuddled together, arms wrapped around each other.

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          Light was shining through crack under the door when Danny opened his eyes next. He went to sit up only to find Ryan's arms wrapped around him. He could feel Ryan's head buried in his hair.

          Danny closed his eyes and relished in the feeling of Ryan's arms wrapped around him again. He knew that when this was all over he would be alone again. He wanted just a moment to pretend that Ryan wanted him, even if it was just sexual.

          He didn't realize he was softly caressing Ryan's arm until the man started to move. Danny moved his hand and quickly wiped the tears from his eyes. He didn't want Ryan to see him cry. That would just give Ryan one more reason to think he was pathetic.

          As Ryan began stretching and moving, Danny pulled away to roll to the other side of the mattress. He pushed his legs over the side and sat up. He could hear Ryan moving behind him. He jerked away when Ryan stroked his hand down his back,

          "Don't," he exclaimed as he jumped to his feet. He paced in front of the mattress before walking to the wall and sliding down to sit on the floor. He wrapped his hands around his knees and laid his head down on them, refusing to look at Ryan's beautiful naked body.

          "Danny, we need to talk."

          "No, we don't!" Danny shook his head, refusing to lift it from his knees. "We have nothing to say to each other."

          "Don't we? We just fucked each other into unconsciousness, Danny. You don't think we need to talk about that?"

          Danny finally looked up to glare at Ryan. "Well, I'm so sorry. The next time I eat something that's been spiked I'll be sure to fuck someone else. Hell, maybe Sam will be available and I can fuck him. Wouldn't that make you happy?" he yelled sarcastically.

          Ryan winced. Danny couldn't help the venom and pain in his voice. He was really angry, which seemed to be better than the all consuming heartache he felt for the last several weeks.   

"Danny, please… "

          "We have nothing to say to each other, Ryan," Danny repeated.

          "Fine, then I'll talk."

          "And what are you going to tell me?" Danny yelled. "That you don't want me? That you don't love me? That you want me fuck your son? Been there, done that, bought the damn tshirt."

          "Danny, you're not helping here."

          "Do you honestly think I give a fuck, Ryan? You threw me away like I was a piece of garbage. We had something together, som--" Danny cleared his throat, his voice low as he began to speak again. "We had something wonderful together, Ryan, and you decided that it was more important for me to be with your son. What else is there to say? Do you want to tell me again how little I mean to you, because believe me, I got the picture loud and clear."

"It wasn't like that, Danny,"

"Then how was it, Ryan? You tell me, how was it? Did I misunderstand you when you told me that I needed to be with Sam? Or maybe it was when you were telling me that I would never be a part of your family? No? How about when you walked out on me when I told you that I loved you, like it didn't matter? Tell me, Ryan."

Ryan covered his face with trembling hands. "I'm sorry, Danny. I really never meant to hurt you."

"Well, you did and I'm never going to forgive you for it," Danny replied. He watched Ryan from across the room as his hands dropped back down to his lap. He had tears in his tormented eyes as he looked at Danny.

"I know," he whispered quietly. He looked so sad. Danny watched as Ryan leaned his head back against the wall and stared off into space. He looked… dejected, like his life was over. Danny didn't know what to think.

"Why did you do it, Ryan? Did you really think I would just go from you to Sam with a smile on my face?"

"No, of course not. I just--" Ryan twisted his hands together.

"Just what?" Danny demanded harshly.

"Oh hell, Danny, I don't know what I was thinking. Sam and I have never been particularly close. You know that. But for the first time we were starting to connect. All I could see was him pulling away from me. I didn't… I couldn't consider anything else."

The sarcasm was dripping from Danny's voice as he replied. "Well, that much is obvious."

          "If I could go back and undue everything I did, everything I said to you, I would. But I can't," Ryan said.

          "And what part would you change? The part where you're pimping me out to Sam or the part where you don't love me?"

          "I do love you, Danny," Ryan cried out as he stood up.

          "Bullshit!" Danny yelled as he jumped to his feet to stalk across the room to stand in front of Ryan, glaring down at him. "You don't walk away from someone you love."

          "You do if you've never been in love before and don't know it until it's too late," Ryan whispered. He looked at Danny, the anguish in his eyes clear for Danny to see as he continued. "I didn't know, Danny. I swear… I… I didn't know. I knew I cared about you but I didn't know I would have this big aching hole in my chest when you were gone. You're all I can think about. I can't eat, I can't sleep. I can't do anything."

"What am I supposed to do about that?" Danny took a couple of steps back, sitting down heavily on the mattress, his hands twisting together anxiously.

Ryan fell to his knees at Danny's feet, his hands grasping Danny's hands in his. "Give me another chance, Danny."

Danny pulled his hands away from Ryan's, wrapping them around his stomach. "I don't know if I can, Ryan. I gave you my heart once and you tore it to pieces. I don't know if I can give it to you again."

        "Have you… have you stopped loving me?"

        "I don't know, Ryan."

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          Ryan closed his eyes as his head dropped down. He didn't want Danny to see the tears in them. Gathering together more strength of will than he ever thought he had, Ryan gently rubbed his hand down Danny's arm, knowing that this time it was over.

          "Okay, Danny," he murmured through the thick lump in his throat. He stood to his feet and walked over to sit in one of the corners, his back against one wall, his head leaning against the other. He wrapped his arms tightly around his legs. He kept his eyes closed.

          Ryan wanted to cry, to scream out his sorrow. But he wouldn't do that to Danny. If he couldn't earn Danny's love the right way, he didn't want to guilt it out of him. He had already hurt Danny enough. It was time to let him go.

          "The mattress is a lot more comfortable, you know," Danny said after several moments of silence.

          Ryan turned his head to look at Danny, trying to be sincere with the small smile on his face. "I'm fine right here."

           Danny was silent for several moments before lying down on the mattress. "I'm cold, Ryan," he pleaded softly.

          Without saying a single word Ryan stood up and walked over to the mattress, lying down to spoon himself behind Danny, wrapping and arm around him and pulling him back against his warm chest.

He rubbed gentle circles on Danny's chest until he heard the soft sound of his snoring. Once he was completely sure that Danny was asleep he pulled his arm away and rolled off of the mattress.

Carefully standing up so he wouldn't awaken Danny, Ryan walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind him, sliding down the wall until he was sitting on the floor beside the toilet. Shoving his hand into his mouth to muffle the noise, he finally let the tears fall.

Danny didn't love him anymore. It was nothing he didn't deserve. He had done it to himself. He had the perfect love in the palm of his hands and he had thrown it away. Just like Danny had said.

Ryan knew he would never love anyone again. No matter where Danny went, what Danny did, or who Danny was with, he would always have Ryan's heart, even if Danny didn't want it anymore.

The soft knock at the bathroom door had Ryan nearly jumping out of his skin. "Ryan? Are you okay?"

Ryan stretched his legs across the small room and pushed on the door, keeping it closed with his feet as Danny tried to open it. He quickly wiped his cheeks with his hands, clearing the tears from his face.

"Ryan?" Danny asked again.

"I'm fine, Danny. Go back to bed." Please, Danny, go back to bed! Ryan begged him silently, more tears falling down his face. Would it always be like this? Would just the sound of Danny's sweet voice bring him to tears?

"Then open the door," Danny demanded, pushing against the door.


"Please, Ryan."

Oh god, he had to use that word. Please… it was the most dangerous word in the world to Ryan because he knew he would do whatever Danny wanted when he said it. Ryan slowly pulled his feet away from the door, allowing Danny to open it. He kept his head lowered as Danny walked into the small space. He could just make out his legs in front of him in the dim light.

"Ryan? Why are you sitting in here in the dark?" When Ryan didn't answer him, Danny squatted down in front of him. "Ryan?"

"Go back in the other room, Danny," Ryan whispered.

Danny asked incredulous as he stared at Ryan's bent head, his heaving shoulders.

"Please, Danny," Ryan begged. The nearness of Danny, the sweet smell of his body, the touch of his hand on his shoulder... it was all too much for Ryan. He could feel more tears making a path down his face as sobs tried to break free from his chest.

Danny put his hand under Ryan's chin and lifted his face, inhaling deeply when he saw the tears streaming down his strong face. Ryan knew his eyes were puffy from crying. He probably looked like hell. He certainly felt like it.

"Why are you crying?"

"It doesn't matter, Danny." Ryan had to get Danny out of there before he completely lost it. "Just go back into the other room. I'll be out in a few minutes."

"It does matter, Ryan. Tell me why you're crying."

Ryan's eyes were filled with anguish as he looked into Danny's concerned ones. How could he tell Danny that he was crying because his life was over, that he couldn't feel the beat of his heart in his chest anymore because it beat only for Danny, and Danny didn't want it.

"I just—"

"Just what, Ryan?" Danny encouraged softly.

"Please don't make me tell you," Ryan pleaded.

Danny sat down on the floor between Ryan's legs, his hand reaching up to gently caress the side of Ryan's face. "Tell me."

Ryan turned his face into Danny's hand, the soft touch of the man's hand sending an aching need throughout his body. If Danny needed to hear him bare his soul, he would do it. He would do whatever Danny wanted, if only he would never stop touching him.

"I'm so sorry, Danny." He leaned his head back against the wall, laughing bitterly. "You can't even imagine how sorry I am. I tried to do the right thing but instead, I destroyed something precious, and I know I'll never have a chance like that again."

"Oh, Ryan—" Danny began.

"Don't please. I know it's over. I know you don't love me anymore, that I dest -- that I destroyed anything you ever felt for me." Ryan felt more tears slide down his face as he exposed his soul to Danny. "I know… I know what I did and I really am sorry, Danny. Just please… please don't hate me."

"Hell, Ryan, I don't hate you. I could never hate you."

Ryan didn't realize until Danny said the words how much he had actually been afraid that Danny did hate him. It wasn't the same as Danny loving him but it did enable Ryan to breathe again.

"Thank you," he whispered after a moment, grabbing Danny's hand and giving it a small squeeze before letting it go. Silence and Ryan's occasional sniffle filled the small room for several moments.

Danny was the first to speak, his words soft and quiet in the silence of the room but to Ryan they were as loud as anything he had ever heard. "I never stopped loving you, Ryan."

Ryan exhaled deeply at Danny's comment, the air in his lungs coming out in a low, tortured sob. Tears blinded his eyes and choked his voice as he cried desperately, "Oh god, Danny."

"I will always love you. There is nothing you can do that will change that. I just don't know if I can trust you."

Hot tears rolled down Ryan's cheeks as he gazed at Danny. "Tell me what to do. I'll do anything, Danny."

Danny was silent for several moments, so silent that Ryan thought he Danny was trying to think of a way to let him down easy, to tell him that he could never trust him again and that it was too late.

"Tell me why you were in here, Ryan," Danny finally said.

Ryan stared at Danny in shock. Danny wanted to know why he was in the bathroom crying? But… why? What did that have to do with anything? It didn't make sense, none of this made sense.

"I knew that things were finally over between us, that you didn't lo -- love me anymore. And I couldn't keep it in. It was just too much." Ryan wiped his hand down his face to wipe away some of the tears. "You didn't do any of this, Danny. I know that. You loved me and I didn't… I didn't do a very good job of loving you back. So, I came in here so that you wouldn't hear me. I didn't want you to feel bad."

"You came in here to cry so that I wouldn't feel bad?" Danny asked skeptically.

Ryan nodded.

"My mother once told me that I would find that special someone to love, my soul mate, if I just looked hard enough. There was someone made for each one of us. I just had to take the time to find him. When I met you, I knew she was right."

Ryan started crying silently at Danny's words. If Danny was bound and determined to rip his heart out, Ryan knew he would do nothing to stop him. He had done it to Danny.

"There was something else she told me too, about how I would know that I had met my special someone."

"What was that?" Ryan asked.

"Do you know that the day I moved away I came by your condo to see you? I wanted to see you just one more time." Danny shrugged. "I don't know, maybe I thought I could convince you to be with me again."


"But when I got there, you were just getting home with Sam. You had your arm around his shoulders, laughing at something he was saying to you. You looked so happy. That's all I wanted… for you to be happy. So, I turned away and left."

"Why are you telling me this? I already know how badly I fucked up. I—" Ryan cried out. But Danny just continued as if hadn't said a word.

"My Mom told me that I would know that I had met my soul mate when his happiness meant more to me than my own, that I would do anything to make him happy, even give him up."

Danny grabbed Ryan's face with his hands, looking deep into his eyes. Ryan was shocked to see a glimmer of tears in them. He reached over and wiped one away, feeling an answering trail down his own cheek.

"Even if meant going into the bathroom to cry by myself so that the man I loved didn't hear me and feel bad because of it. That's what you do when you love someone, Ryan. You make them more important than you."

"I do love you, Danny, I swear I do."

"I know," Danny whispered as he leaned in and kissed Ryan gently on the lips. "I love you too."

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Sam opened the tack room door slowly when he didn't hear anything coming from the small room. Peaking inside he spotted two figures sleeping together on the bed. His Dad was curled behind Danny, an arm wrapped around his waist.

          That didn't surprise him. He figured when Mrs. Fitzpatrick spiked their food that it would lead to a little action on the mattress. What surprised him was the deep smile on his Dad's face and the way that Danny was curled into him, his face buried in Ryan's neck.

          As quietly as he could Sam set the box of clothes down on the floor and closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked this time. Hopefully, two days of being locked up together would have given them time to work things out.

          He walked back into the house and climbed into his own bed, smiling into the darkness. He couldn't wait to see his Dad. He only hoped that he and Danny had worked things out and his Dad would still be smiling come morning.

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          Mrs. Fitzpatrick set another cup of coffee in front of Sam. "How long ago did you say you left them their clothes?"

          Sam looked at the clock on the wall. "Around five this morning. They should have been here by now. You think we should go check on them?"

          Mrs. Fitzpatrick glanced at the clock. It was coming up on 11:00am. "Yes, we'd better. I hope they haven't killed each other yet."

          Sam walked outside to the barn with Mrs. Fitzpatrick, crossing his fingers as they went. They rounded the corner of the barn and came to a sudden halt. The box of clothes that Sam had left earlier in the morning was sitting outside the door, which was locked once again… this time from the inside.

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