Summary: continuing onto the next morning…from Tony’s perspective
Word count: 2330
Notes: Thank you all so much for the love! I really enjoy writing these chapters! Ch2 is all about introducing some characters, and setting up for a possible single Tony in the near future…because, well, we need that in our lives ;)
He was vaguely aware that it was morning, sunlight streaming in through the window and falling against his closed eyelids. He took a deep breath, keeping his eyes closed, enjoying the subtle weight of Clay’s head still resting on his chest. The quiet rhythm of Clay’s breathing telling him that Clay was still asleep.
He hadn’t realized how tired Clay had been yesterday, but he had fallen asleep not halfway into the movie, not much past 9pm. For as long as he’d known Clay, he knew him to be a bit of a night owl, so the early night had surprised him almost as much as the cuddling. Almost.
Not that he didn’t enjoy having his arms wrapped around Clay, but he had to ask himself what it meant? As far as he knew Clay had been in love with Hannah. But there had been those rumors in 9th grade that Clay liked men…he had tried not to get his hopes up back then, figuring they were just rumors at the time. He tried telling himself that now too. All just rumors, and rumors had a dark history in their lives…
After all, he was with Brad, and Clay was probably just overly tired; he tried convincing himself. It had been hard for him to pull Clay in with just one arm, however. It felt so good to be next to him. It had felt even better when Clay leaned his body into him. He had allowed himself to lean his head down and ruffle Clay’s hair with his nose, just for a moment, when he was fairly certain that Clay had drifted off, taking in his slightly musky scent mixed with shampoo.
He had always tried his best to never make his friend feel uncomfortable, taking care that any touch was always welcome or initiated by Clay. But they had known each other for a long time, so it was only natural that they stood or walked closer to one another compared to other people, wasn’t it?
Brad wasn’t so easily convinced. He was always saying he and Clay were ‘pretty close’ and that they fought like an old married couple. It was a recurring theme in their arguments as of late.
Thinking of Brad, he felt a heaviness in his chest that had nothing to do with the weight of Clay’s head. He sighed, he had to meet Brad later at Monet’s for yet another ‘talk’. Brad, who had once been so comforting and supportive, especially when he had finally broken down and told him about the tapes, was acting differently. Lately he could tell there was something on Brad’s mind, and Brad was putting off talking about it. Instead, Brad seemed to be picking fights about random things. He tried to shake off the feeling of dread by shaking his head and opening his eyes.
He was just in time to catch sight of his mother rounding the corner.
“Hola mi hijo, you’re up early,” she said greeting him with a smile. “Do you and Clay want some breakfast?”
“Sure mama, thank you. We got to sleep pretty early, what time is it now?” he answered, searching for the clock even as he asked.
“Oh, about 6 dear. And I know, I came in and you all were snoring away. I collected your father and put a blanket on you two. I didn’t want to wake you, Clay looked so pale and tired at dinner I felt it best to just let him rest,” she said knowingly with a nod of her head.
He looked down noticing for the first time the blanket. “Thank you, ma, I’ll get up in a minute and help you with breakfast.” When he looked back up he saw his mother walking away, giving him a slight wave as an indication that she had heard him.
He looked down at Clay’s reclined body and reached up to comb his fingers through his hair. After a few passes through, he heard a change in Clay’s breathing and noticed the stirrings of Clay waking up.
“Morning sleepyhead,” he said quietly, softly raking his fingers down the back of Clay’s slender neck.
“Mmm, morning,” Clay replied. Clay pushed into his hand slightly for a moment, then began to sit up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “Oh man, I was really out of it, sorry about that.”
“No worries man. You needed some rest, nothing to apologize for,” he replied, taking stock of Clay’s still sleepy eyes, lingering on his pouted lips.
“No, I mean I’m sorry for drooling on your shirt,” Clay said, pointing towards his chest.
He looked down to assess the damage when suddenly Clay’s outstretched finger bopped him in the nose.
“Ha, gotcha! You gotta be faster than that in the morning,” Clay said laughing, dodging as he swiped at him with a fist.
“Haha, I shouldn’t worry about you if you’re cracking corny jokes! C’mon, let’s go get some breakfast,” he said, already getting up from the couch and stretching. He felt his back release a few pops and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hey Tony, I AM sorry about that. You could have moved me, I was dead to the world I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.”
“I was asleep to, I didn’t even hear everyone else get home,” he said, which was true. Maybe he had needed a quiet night in just as much as Clay did. They made their way into the kitchen where they could smell the delicious aroma of scrambled eggs.
The three were finishing clearing the table of their small but hearty breakfast of eggs with vegetables and salsa, when his father rounded the corner.
“Ah, early risers on a Saturday, what’s the plan for the day boys?” He said as he made a B-line for the coffee maker, kissing his wife on the way and accepting her offering of leftovers from breakfast.
“Well, I’ve got a shift at 10 at the movie theater,” Clay said, standing at the counter waiting to dry the dishes Tony was washing and handing over.
“I’m meeting Brad for coffee later, then I’ll be by the shop,” he said, sneaking a sideways glance at Clay. He couldn’t say why, but he wanted to see if Clay had a reaction to his boyfriend’s name. He didn’t seem to.
“Mmm, you guys still doing that? You don’t seem to spend much time together anymore.”
“Dad!” he said with a tilt of his head and an annoyed glance in his direction, despite his dad clearly not paying attention. However, he noticed that Clay’s head had shot up at his dad’s statement. He licked his lips and continued with a shrug, “I dunno, all he wants to do lately is argue without saying what’s really bothering him.”
His dad seemed to think on it a bit while he sipped his coffee. “Well, everyone disagrees and argues, it’s part of life. He’ll tell you what’s wrong when he’s ready, you just have to be patient.”
“So wise, mi corazon,” his mother said, giving his dad a pat on the cheek and a kiss. She turned back to him and said, “Before you run off, mi hijo, would you mind running these plates back to Mara? I’ve got to leave for work or I’ll be late!” She gestured to a stack of three blue plates on the island counter and turned to leave. “Oh, and don’t forget to invite her to the neighborhood barbeque next weekend!”
“Of course, ma,” he said, handing off the last dish to Clay. “We got a new neighbor last week and ma just had to have her over to meet everyone. You wanna go with me and then I can give you a lift home?”
“Sure, sounds good!” Clay said, hanging the dish towel.
“You might like her, she reminds me a bit of Skye.”
“You mean scary?” Clay replied, making him and his dad snort with laughter, “Not really my type. I just make an exception for Skye because we were friends when we were kids.”
“Skye’s not that bad,” he tried to say nicely.
His dad laughed, “Skye has nothing on Mara as far as scary goes. And watch out for the dog.”
“Dog?!” Clay said apprehensively.
“It’s fine, she’s not that bad, you’ll be fine,” he said, laughing to try and lighten the mood.
“Mmhmm, well just be careful, you don’t have that kind of dog unless you’ve got something to guard. Girl can take care of herself though, I’ll give her that. Tried to show her some self-defense moves since this isn’t the best part of town, she nearly knocked me out! In my own backyard!” his dad said, shaking his head, making Clay look concerned.
“Really, she’s not that bad,” he said, trying to be reassuring. He grabbed the plates and headed towards the door with Clay in tow. “Oh,” he said turning to meet Clay’s gaze, “whatever you do though, don’t try and touch the dog, he doesn’t like it.” He walked quickly again, not giving Clay a chance to back out.
They crossed the street and took a right, Mara was renting 2 houses down. He spared a glance at Clay, who looked a little nervous. “She really is great, I don’t think she’s hiding anything,” he said, trying again to be reassuring.
Clay looked at him like he didn’t believe him, then said, “Actually, I’m thinking about the dog…I’ve gotten chased by a lot of them on my bike. The Clark’s down the street from me have this collie…” he trailed off, raising his hands in question.
“Ooh,” he said with a raise of his eyebrows and a nod, “that makes sense then why you always take the long way to get to your house.” Clay shot him a surprised look, but they were at the driveway. He stopped and put his hand out so Clay was stopped on the sidewalk instead of going up the drive. The garage door was open and he knew from experience owner and dog were bound to be close by.
“Mara!” he called, ignoring Clay’s questioning look, he would find out soon enough.
“Hey Tony!” came a voice from the backyard. “I’ll be right out!”
As they waited, Tony tried to read Clay’s face. Mara was blonde haired and blue eyed, covered in colorful tattoos, and from his brother’s reactions to her, very easy on the eyes. Again though, he had trouble reading Clay’s response. The wide eyes could have been for her or the giant black mastiff at her side. He frowned slightly, wondering why he cared so much all the sudden who Clay found attractive. He turned towards the pair coming towards them. The dog was quite a sight, he wasn’t sure of the breed as his owner had only vaguely admitted that he was a mixed breed, but he was sure that mastiff had to be mixed in somewhere.
“My mom wanted me to return these to you, and to make sure again that you know about the barbeque,” he said with a slight roll of his eyes. It had become a bit of a joke between them as his mom had invited her no less than 15 times already.
“Haha, well thank you and tell her I’ll definitely be there with some more dessert,” she said as she accepted the plates with a mock bow.
“Will do,” he said with a nod, the he gestured to Clay, “This is my friend Clay by the way. Clay, Mara. Mara, Clay.”
“Nice to meet you,” Clay said as he nervously shot his hand out towards her, earning himself a warning growl from the giant opposite him. Clay immediately retracted the hand, instead grabbing Tony’s arm and stepping in closer. He could feel Clay pressed at his side and it was quite distracting, so much so that he almost forgot Mara was there.
“Sorry about that, he’s not very trusting of strangers,” Mara said, setting a warning hand on the dog’s back. “This is Lewis, by the way. He’s great once you get to know him, but very protective.”
“It’s ok, Clay’s just had some run-ins with dogs on his bike, you know how it goes. And Lewis is a pretty big dog.”
“Oh yes, Lewis loves to chase things. I’d tell you not to run if he comes after you, but either way would end badly,” she said glancing at the dog. “So, Tony,” she continued with a swat to his other arm, “no more Brad then huh?” Indicating Clay’s hand, still on his arm and seemingly reluctant to let go.
“Oh, no, uh, Clay really is my friend, we had a movie night last night and I’m giving him a ride after this. I’m meeting Brad for coffee in a bit,” he tried to look excited at the thought.
“Oooh, ok,” she said, a knowing look in her eye as she looked at him. “Well I hope it goes well, you should come by after.”
“Thanks, I’ll tell you about it later.”
“Ok, well bye boys. Nice to meet you Clay! Hope to see you at the barbeque!” she said as she turned, dog in tow.
“Nice to meet you too,” Clay said from beside him.
“Dude, that dog is huge,” Clay said as soon as they had crossed the street.
“I told you. So, what did you think of Mara?” he asked.
“She seems nice, despite being utterly crazy for having a dog like that,” Clay responded with a shrug.
“You don’t think she’s, I dunno, pretty?”
“I really wasn’t paying attention, dude, a little busy trying not to become a hell hound’s next meal! Uh, I like her tattoos though, they remind me of yours.”
He was glad Clay wasn’t looking at him because he had broken into a smile. That had to be good if Clay met someone attractive and thought of him…Right?