Just One Starfish

by Grasshopper

Midnight Blue/Sunrise Gold
Gabriel/Brian
Chapter 16

Brian's cell rang early. He grabbed it before the music woke Chester and Alan.

"Hello?"

"Brian?"

"Yeah, hey Gabriel."

"My brother's taking the redeye home tonight and I want you to meet him, okay?"

"Sure, when?"

"We're going to AHOP for breakfast. You hungry?" Brian heard Gabriel the laughter in Gabriel's voice and defended himself.

"I'm just a growin' boy. I'm always hungry."

"I've seen that. Dom says he's buying, so you can have all you want. See you in about twenty minutes, okay?"

"I'll be out front. I don't want you to have to crawl through the bushes again," Brian chuckled.

"Be careful, you. No smart mouths allowed at AHOP."

As soon as Gabriel said the word 'mouth', all Brian could think of was last night, Gabriel's mouth, hot and sexy, asking for more and more.

"Bri, you there?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, see ya in twenty."

"K, bye."

"Bye."

Brian lay still, holding the cell phone, feeling the pressure building. God, he wanted to jerk off. He could see Gabriel's dark eyes, feel Gabriel's tongue licking the corners of his mouth. His hand reached down, then froze.

"You so don't have time for that. He said twenty and you've got sixteen minutes left. Get your sorry ass out of bed. God dang, I sound like your mother, don't I? Well, except for the 'ass' part," Chester snorted.

"You are such a dork, Ches, a regular peeping Tom listening to my private call," Brian growled.

"Uh, except that a peeper, well, he peeps and I listened. Does that make me a leeper? No, that would be someone who jumps. What would a listener be called, Bri, cause that's what I am, I'm a listener. I do not ever want to peep at anything you're doing when on the phone with the angel Gabriel. Now that would be perving and I am so not a perver plus, well you know, the ick factor."

"Chester?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up and get out of the bathroom. I gotta get dressed."

As he showered, Brian got more and more nervous. This was like stressy, meeting his brother. What if Dominic thought he was stupid or a kid or ugly or something? Oh, wait, does Dominic even know that Gabriel's gay? Does he know I am? Does he know about us? Is there an 'us'? Am I Gabriel's casual buddy? Who am I? Ackkk !

Standing out in front of the dorm in the soft morning light, Brian tried not to look down at the socks and flip flops. His brown hair was still damp from the shower, his chocolate sweater brought out the gold in his hazel eyes and

there were roses in his cheeks from the hot water. He watched the Jeep turn the corner and pull up to the curb. Dog poked his head out the window and licked Brian's face.

"Hey there, Dog. I'll lick you later," he grinned. "Hey Gabriel," he said, his eyes dancing, as he climbed in the back with Dog, and he looked shyly at Dominic.

"Dom, this is my friend, Brian Jenkins. Brian, my brother, Dominic."

Dominic watched the young man, Gabriel's friend, climb into the Jeep and looked from Brian to his brother and back again. Very aware of the new image of Gabriel being gay, Dominic immediately felt the energy that now filled the Jeep. Yeah, these two were much more than friends.

Brian smiled and stuck out his hand. Dominic was pleased to find that Brian's grip was firm and then chided himself for falling back on that tired old stereotype. He had to get over that and fast.

"So, you're a fireman," Brian said, a bit of awe in his voice. "That's every little boy's dream."

"Well, believe me, it isn't all excitement and adrenalin rushes," Dominic replied. "There are days where you just get really bored polishing and

checking equipment, but from a fire victim's point of view, that would be a great day. I like what I do."

"Great," Brian grinned. "I haven't decided what I want to do yet. I wish I had a definite goal."

"You will, Bri, it'll come to you and then you'll work really hard to get there," Gabriel spoke from the driver's seat, looking in the rearview mirror. Then he grinned, "You could always be a pro bike racer, you know, the kind that wear little lights on their caps."

Laughing, Brian reached forward and punched Gabriel on the back of his arm.

"I didn't know superheroes were comedians."

Dominic listened as they bickered happily back and forth. Oh yeah, they definitely had a connection. He wasn't sure how he felt about it, but nothing was gonna put a wall between him and his brother, not ever again.

The Arizona House of Pancakes rolled into view and they clamored out of the Jeep. "I'll bring you some pancakes," Gabriel told Dog who now sat up straight looking out from the shotgun seat. "Blueberry?" Dog made a happy wofwofaroo sound and flopped out his long wet tongue.

"I'm paying, guys, so fill up," Dom said, "I hope you're hungry, Brian."

"He's always hungry. You should see him with pizza. You don't dare reach for a piece without warning. He'll chomp your hand off."

"I so would not," Brian chuckled, "Well, unless it had a lot of sauce on it."

"What can I do for you today?" the waitress asked, her notepad ready.

"I'll have two orders of double blueberry pancakes and bacon; one for me here at the table and one to go, and a large orange juice, please," Gabriel ordered.

Dominic looked up at Melissa, the teenage waitress, and flashed his chocolate brown eyes. "I'll have the ham and eggs." He gauged his affect on her just like he always did. She turned to Brian.

"Okay, I'll have the Happy Wednesday Plate, please," he answered, not cracking a smile.

"Oh Jesus," Gabriel groaned, "We're gonna have to carry you outta here. Dom, you'll have to use that over the shoulder carry."

Dominic glanced down at the menu:

Happy Wednesday Plate

3 eggs

3 strips of bacon

3 pork sausages

3 ham slices

Hash browns

2 banana-strawberry pancakes

Buttermilk biscuits

"Good God," Dominic snorted, "How old are you, Brian?"

"Eighteen, why?"

Dom sighed, "Enjoy that now. In about twelve years that'd be a heart attack waiting to happen."

"I told you," Gabriel said, shaking his head, "Bri is a bottomless pit."

"Well," Brian laughed, defending himself, "My dad is tall and lanky and my mom is tiny, so I figure I'm gonna be okay."

Dominic started to reply. "Yeah, well, our father isn't so............................"

He trailed off, not wanting to bring that subject up.

Silence fell over the table for a few seconds, as they each grasped for another topic, any topic, to get as far from Gabriel and Dom's parents as possible.

Over at the kitchen window, another waitress nudged Melissa, "So, are they at the university or what? That one gorgeous older guy was sizin' you up."

Melissa smacked her gum, "He's cool and hot. The other two are gay."

"Damn, all the beautiful ones are gay. How could you tell?"

""Well, gorgeous eyes gave me the "look", and the other two just kept looking at each other." She looked down at the unbuttoned uniform top that showed too much cleavage. "No straight guy would miss these."

She was still giggling when she brought the food dishes and set them down on the table. "Is there anything else I can get you?" the tone sounding more like 'Is there anything I can give you?'

Dominic smiled, "Not right now, sweet thing, but keep an eye on the orange juice glasses and other stuff, okay?"

"You bet," she batted her eyelashes and walked away swinging her butt.

"Jeez, Dom, just do her right here at the table," Gabriel snorted.

"Well, I didn't wanna waste all that attention. I don't guess either of you were interested, right?"

"Right," both Brian and Gabriel answered.

"Dom, are you okay with, you know, the gay thing?" Gabriel asked, waiting for the answer.

"Could you stop if I said 'No' ?

"Come on, you know better than that. Besides, I don't want to stop; not any more. I like who I am now. I hated myself for long enough." He felt Brian's hand on his thigh under the tablecloth.

"Gabe, I just got you back. I'm not losing you again over who you like. I'm cool with it. Don't worry about me. You and I are tight, just like it used to be."

He started telling Brian stories about growing up with Gabriel. How they'd wait til it rained and then ride the flow of drain water through the pipes out to the lake. Brian got a good picture of the affection between the two brothers and watched as Gabriel relaxed.

They dropped Brian off at the Poly Sci building for his ten o'clock class. "You wanna do something tonight?" Gabriel asked as Brian clammered out of the back. "I'm taking Dom to the airport around eight. Ride with us?"

Brian smiled and Dominic felt it again, the energy in the air around them. This wasn't the way he thought gay guys acted. This actually felt normal and right.

Gabriel and Dominic spent the day laughing and talking, driving around Tucson. "I like it here," Dom said. "I really think this might be a good move for me. He asked, "How long have you known Brian? He seems to be good for you."

"Not too long, at least not like we are now. It's really funny how we met." He told Dominic about 'saving' this innocent kid every time he turned around. "He drank water with drugs in it. He was gonna get murdered in a parking lot. I had to walk a million miles to get him home from hiking. He's a walking disaster sometimes."

"But other times?"

Gabriel grinned, "He's not too bad. Not too bad at all."


As the three walked from the parking garage to the terminal for Dominic's flight back to Baltimore, Gabriel asked the one question he'd been dreading. "Dom, what about Mama and Papa? What are you gonna do when you get home?"

"You let me handle that for now. Just remember, you've got me on your side now and they'll never hurt you again."

The brothers hugged , tight and close. "I'll call you in a day or two as soon as I'm settled back in."

"And the transfer?" Gabriel asked hopefully.

"Already in the works. I made a few calls today." Dominic turned to Brian. "You take good care of yourself, Bri, and watch over this kid here. I'm glad he's got a good friend like you."

They watched as Dominic walked toward the escalator. He turned once and waved, calling back, "Oh, and tell that neighbor of yours I'll be back to visit you real soon. That should piss her off real good."

Gabriel waved one last time and then he and Brian headed back to the Jeep.

Climbing in, he laughed as Dog moaned, wiggling his whole body and giving the saddest wofwofaroo. "Okay, you can have your pancakes. Bri, open the container for him, will ya?"

Three seconds later, the pancakes gulped down, Dog collapsed in a delirious heap on the back floor. "I think Dog liked them," Brian grinned.

"Thanks," Gabriel said softly.

"You're welcome. For what?"

"Being cool with my brother and helping me get through a tough time."

"Oh, sure, Gabriel, you gotta know by now I'd do pretty much anything for you," Brian smiled shyly then looked down, embarrassed.

"Don't go all shy on me, Bri. This is all going so fast. One day I'm lonely and the next, I have you in my life."

"Don't overworry it. Some stuff you just take like a twenty dollar bill you found on the street. Accept it."

"But we're so different."

"I think that's what makes it cool."

And Gabriel kissed him. Just a gentle kiss; a thank you; a smile.

"Wanna go to a movie?"

"Nah."

"Wanna go get something to eat?"

"Nah. Later, for sure."

And Gabriel said what Brian had been waiting all day for, "Wanna finish what we started last night?"

"God, yes. I thought you'd never say it."

The ride back to Gabriel's apartment took forever; at least it seemed that way to both of them. Pulling into the parking space, Dog took off for the woods and Gabriel grabbed Brian by the sweater front and tugged him to the door.

Barely making it through the open doorway, Gabriel slammed the door and pushed Brian up against the wood. No words, both ready, way past ready.

Pulling off sweaters, feeling bare skin, Brian gasped for breath. Gabriel dropped to his knees and jerked Brian's jeans down. Breathing hot wet breath through the white cotton of Brian's shorts leaving a wet trail, Gabriel began to peel them down.

Brian managed to look down at Gabriel's black curls and couldn't stop from shoving his fingers in them. His body was reacting in overtime; his legs felt like spaghetti and his heart was about to pound out of his chest. The heat inside Gabriel's mouth was kicking up to a million degrees.

And finally, he couldn't think at all. Everything he'd ever wanted to feel was rushing through his body, trip-ticking a hot path. He pressed back against the door to keep from falling down and just let the emotions dance. He could hear the sounds, feel Gabriel's hands gripping him.

He came in a forceful rush, felt a giant shiver moving down his body as he slid to the floor. Gabriel rocked back and sat down, his hands still holding on.

"Oh dear lord," Brian tried to get his voice working.

"Yeah," Gabriel echoed.

Brian leaned forward, resting his sweaty forehead against Gabriel's chest, as Gabriel rubbed small circles on his shoulders.

"That was....," he sucked in a breath, "I don't even have any words right now."

"The first time blows your mind, huh?"

"Like a stick a dynamite in a shoebox," Brian managed to grin.

Standing up, Gabriel held out his hand to Brian and pulled him up. Struck with sudden shyness, Brian reached for his jeans, pulled them up and zipped.

He was going for the button when Gabriel's hand stopped him. "You look sexy as all hell. Leave it undone."

No one had ever seen Brian this way and no one had EVER told him he was sexy. He felt his body begin to react. "Well, I'm not much compared to you. God, Gabriel, you're..........." He stumbled on the word. Was it okay to say? Do guys say things like that to each other? He ran his fingers over Gabriel's upper arm and down onto his chest to rest gently at his right nipple.

"What, Bri? I'm what?" Gabriel's voice dropped to a dusky growl and he took a step closer.

"Beautiful," Brian said in a whisper, "You're just beautiful."

Their bodies slammed together, mouths seeking warmth and skin. Brian, up on his toes, licked every part of Gabriel he could get close enough to and his mind just kept him mumbling, "Yes, lordy, yes, there, yes."

He felt something sharp pierce his cheek and the slight burning of a scratch, but ignored it totally. Gabriel backed him through the bedroom door and they fell onto the bed. "Bri, please, please."

Throwing their clothes across the room, Brian climbed up Gabriel's long legs. "Please, little monkey," he heard Gabriel groan.

Brian had always thought that when this time came, he would be concentrating on the rule: watch the teeth, but he forgot everything and just went for it. All he could think about was that he was here with Gabriel doing exactly what he'd dreamed of since the first time he'd seen the black Wrangler.

Exhausted and happy, they rolled apart and lay quietly thinking their own thoughts. Brian reached out and found Gabriel's hand. "Gabriel?"

"Umm?"

"Do you want me to go now?"

"No, you dope, I so don't want you to go now. I want you to come over here and hold on."

Brian grinned and scooted across the sheets. He rested his head in the crook of Gabriel's arm and wrapped his legs around Gabriel's. The light from the living room shone on his face. Gabriel reached out a finger, touched his cheek and frowned. "This is blood. How'd you cut yourself?"

Brian reached up automatically and felt the small cut on his face. "I remember feeling it, but I was kinda busy. I guess it was the necklace you have on."

Gabriel's hand found the silver chain and the little silver starfish. "Yeah, you're right. Sorry. We'll clean it up."

"In a little while. I don't wanna move right now. I've got you trapped," Brian laughed and squeezed his legs tight.

"Like I couldn't bend you into a pretzel," Gabriel chuckled.

"What's on the necklace?"

Gabriel thought back to Christmas at the beach house. How he'd found Chris hiding in the cemetery and taken him to Easy. Markie had given him this little starfish to remind him to always make a difference. He never took it off.

"Wanna hear a story, Scimmietta?"

"What's that mean?

"It's 'little monkey' in Italian."

"Oh," Brian grinned happily, "Cool. Story please." He cuddled comfortably and waited.

Gabriel: 'God, he's adorable.'

"Okay, there was a man walking along the beach early in the morning. He could see someone dancing in the surf further down the shore. As he got closer, he realized that it wasn't a dancer, but a boy running back and forth from the sand to the water's edge.

When he got close, he called out, "What are you doing?"

The boy answered, "I'm saving the starfish that have washed up on the shore during the night."

The man looked down the beach and saw that there were thousands of little starfish lying in the sand. "You can't hope to save all these starfish," he said to the boy.

"No, perhaps not," the boy replied, holding up the starfish in his hands, "But I can make all the difference to this one right here." With that he flung the little starfish far out into the salty sea.

Brian could hear the emotion in Gabriel's voice. "I love that story. The boy was right, wasn't he? We should always try to help all we can, right?"

"Yep, a good friend of mine, Markie Langley, gave me this so I'd remember to always try to make a difference."

"You've made a difference with me," Brian said, touching Gabriel's cheek with his fingers. "You've made me feel happy about being gay. I can't think of any place I'd rather be right now than here with you just talking and getting to know each other."

"Me too," Gabriel smiled. "I've fought some pretty bad demons in the last few years, but you make me feel like I'm worth something."

Brian rolled over to rest on Gabriel's body, looking down into those deep chocolate eyes. "Worth something? Do you not know how great you are?

I know I'm prejudiced but Jesus, Gabriel, nothing that happened was your fault."

"My mind knows that, but my heart hurts just as bad as the first day. I have someplace I want to take you. It's a center for runaway kids, lots of them are gay and confused. I'd like you to see where I spend a lot of my time."

Brian snuggled and smiled into Gabriel's neck. He was doing it. He was getting close to Gabriel. Maybe, one day he would tell Brian what was really eating at him. Brian knew he could wait. Right now, he had everything he wanted right here.

"You wanna stay the night?"

"You want me to?"

"You want to?"

"If you want me to."

Gabriel laughed, "Come here, Scimmietta, I wouldn't ask if I didn't want."


Gabriel was as good as his word. They pulled up in front of the dorm in plenty of time for Brian to make his 8 o'clock class. The top was on, so Gabriel reached over and kissed Brian one last time. "I'll call you later, okay?"

"More than okay. I...... had a great time last night."

Brian: 'Oops, I almost embarrassed myself.'

As Gabriel was pulling away, Chester came running out. "Whoa, Bri, Gabriel, Alan's hurt. Get the hell in here."

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