Just past midnight on their last night at the cabin, Vaughn slumped onto the couch at the far end to Bryan, his hands wrapped around his third glass of single malt whisky in as many minutes.
After warming Trev through, they had placed Vaughn's brother in the room Bryan had used, swiftly making up the bed with fresh sheets so Trev would not be lying in the rumpled bedding from Bryan's tryst with Renee. They had taken it in turns to watch over Trev through the rest of the day and evening, each taking a four hour shift while the others sat around, mostly sipping coffee and working quietly through the problems within their friendship. Each of them realized that they had spent too many years letting small things fester and now it was time to clean out the old wounds and start the healing process.
While Bryan took his shift, he heard Vaughn and Jon working through their issues, smiling wryly as the two men cast aside all the pretenses and spoke cleanly to each other of the problems facing Jon's work. Bryan was glad Vaughn had decided to work out a way for Jon to make his art more accessible without Jon losing all copyright. According to Steve, desperation had driven Jon to offer everything to Vaughn on a plate and, perhaps even as little as a full day ago, Vaughn would have taken the deal that was loaded heavily in his favor with just a token gesture towards their so-called friendship. Of course, Vaughn would have justified his greed by saying that he was taking all the financial risk, which was true of course, but still made a mockery of friendship nonetheless.
Earlier in the day, Steve and Jon had worked through the fallout from their drunken fuck the night before, leaving Bryan wondering how different it might have turned out if he had not refused to share the bed with Jon. Vaughn was not the only person who had known for two years that Jon was gay because Vaughn had shared that little piece of information with Bryan at the time. The only one who had not known was Steve and Bryan suspected that this was the true source of his anger at Jon; not that they'd had sex but that it had not been a drunken aberration on Jon's part.
As he nursed his drink, Bryan thought back to how drunk he had been that night too. Perhaps drunk enough even for him to throw gender to the four winds if one of the others had started rubbing his dick. Certainly he had been drunk enough to take advantage of seeing John's phone lying on the kitchen counter, snatching it up and taking it into the bedroom where he had succumbed to the weakness of both mind and flesh and called Renee. That mistake had cost him his best friend for, no matter how much ground they might recover following Trev's near fateful accident, he doubted they would ever regain the rest though, according to Renee, there had not been a lot of respect there anyway. He could still hear her angry words and Vaughn's raised voice as he tried to make her shut up, and yet offering no denial. But then, who was he to talk of respect when he had been fucking Vaughn's wife for the last six months behind his best friend's back?
Bryan felt Vaughn's eyes upon him and he wondered if it was now their turn to try and repair their damaged friendship but he could not look Vaughn in the face, afraid to see no spark of their former friendship left. Instead, he watched as the flames licked at the logs in the fireplace, casting small glances from beneath the strands of his hair. Finally, the heavy silence and the guilt made him speak.
"I'm going to leave Heather."
Bryan felt the couch shift as Vaughn sat up straighter. "I said it's not necessary."
Bryan gave a bitter laugh. "Yeah, well I've had time to think it through and, you know what. If my marriage is so fucking perfect then why... why did I..?" He faltered, unsure how he should phrase, fuck your wife, politely.
"Fuck my wife?"
Bryan swallowed hard at having the words taken out of his mouth. He looked across at Vaughn for the first time and saw resignation rather than anger in his childhood friend's eyes, knowing he had put that there when those eyes ought to have been filled with laughter from the pleasure of long standing friends sharing time together. Bryan wanted that back, even knowing how Vaughn truly thought of him. He could work on that though. He could try to be more of the kind of man Vaughn would be proud to call his friend... given another chance.
"I-I don't know what to do to make amends."
"Maybe it's not too late for a revenge fuck after all. How about an eye for an eye?"
"You want to fuck Heather?" Bryan paled at the thought, not because he hated the idea of Vaughn being with his wife... Actually, it *was* exactly because he hated the thought of Vaughn being with Heather, but for all the wrong reasons.
Vaughn laughed sardonically, no doubt misreading the shock on Bryan's face.
"No offense, Bryan, but Steve's right about one thing. She does have a big ass."
"Yeah," Bryan murmured, hiding his embarrassment behind the glass he raised to his lips because there was no longer any need to deny the truth. Both he and Heather had allowed their gym memberships to expire many months ago and though it was true that Heather power-walked, she treated it as an occasional attempt at exercise rather than a dedicated thrice-weekly activity. Bryan fared no better though for, these days, his only true exercise had come from the twice-weekly sex romps with Renee.
The straight vodka burned on his lips, leaving them feeling tingly, like a warning not to pass on that little snippet of information. He squeezed his eyes closed but opened them quickly as he felt that awful falling sensation that came only when he was too drunk.
"Maybe I should fuck your ass instead," Vaughn mumbled as he took a deep swallow from his own glass, his voice slurring from tiredness and alcohol combined.
"If that's what it takes," Bryan whispered back, unintentionally making eye contact when Vaughn looked up sharply. Within the slightly unfocussed depths, Bryan saw something smoldering in Vaughn's eyes that verged on anger and he shrank back against the couch as Vaughn pushed up to his unsteady feet.
"Then maybe we got a deal."
Much to Bryan's shock, Vaughn glanced meaningfully towards his bedroom, calling Bryan's bluff.
In a moment of defiance, Bryan pushed up too, though he kept his eyes downcast as he followed Vaughn across the living area, hovering just inside the bedroom as Vaughn shut the door and locked it securely behind them. Vaughn stood by the side of the bed, body swaying from the overindulgence in alcohol but his meaning clear. He watched through hooded eyes as Bryan began to strip, taking off his over-shirt and holding it in his hands awkwardly before deciding that he really only had the floor close enough to hand. Bryan placed it down carefully before pulling off his t-shirt, bundling the material in his hands before dropping that onto the over-shirt.
Then he faltered as his hands moved to the fastenings of his jeans until one corner of Vaughn's mouth rose in a sneer that said everything.
Vaughn had called his bluff and now Bryan had revealed how truly shallow he was by his hesitation. His thoughts returned to the hot tub and to his drunken declaration before everything went awry. He did 'love' these guys, and Vaughn most of all. Over the years he had failed Vaughn so many times and yet Vaughn had never called him on it, had never openly ridiculed him or laughed at his dreams. No doubt, if Bryan ever was to cut a disk, Vaughn would be the first person to go out and buy a copy even if he did believe Bryan's songs were crap and his singing voice lousy. Some how, Bryan had lost sight of that over this past year as his marriage sank into the mire, making him easy prey for Renee.
Perhaps it was just the alcohol fueling his blood but, suddenly, Bryan was not willing to let this friendship of twenty-three years simply slip away. If letting Vaughn fuck him - in revenge for what he had done with Renee - was the only way to restore that friendship then Bryan would do it. With numbed fingers he undid the fastenings and stripped off his jeans, barely hesitating before pulling down and stepping out of his boxers. He felt so foolish standing naked before Vaughn, registering the shock in Vaughn's eyes before they hardened.
He felt so pathetic and small as he turned and kneeled on the bed, ass high in the air while his forearms pillowed his head, biting his lips at the sound of clothing being removed behind him and trembling when he felt Vaughn's weight on the mattress.
It hurt. God but it hurt.
Neither of them had a clue and the pain spearing into Bryan sobered him faster than any ducking in an ice-cold lake. Tears stung his eyes, trailing down his cheeks as his ass burned from the inside with every ungainly thrust of Vaughn's dick. The weight of Vaughn's body upon his back was smothering, the thickness of the dick shoved up Bryan's ass made him feel he was going to split wide open but he muffled his cry of pain in the pillow and wiped the tracks of tears on the same clean cotton, praying for it to end soon.
"How many... times did you... fuck her, Bry?" Vaughn demanded between hard thrusts. "How many times?"
"I-I... don't know." Bryan hated the tremor in his voice, unable to keep the pain from showing.
"How many?" Vaughn ground in harder, thighs slapping against Bryan's bare ass, his hard dick stabbing into Bryan, stretching muscles that Bryan never even knew existed until this moment, muscles that screamed in agony.
"I-I don't... couple of... times a week for... for... five... six months."
"Twenty... twenty-four weeks..." Vaughn grunted as he shoved in hard, "...that's forty.... eight times, Bry." He gasped, his hands gripping Bryan's hips, fingertips digging in as he sped up. He gave a hoarse cry, muffled against Bryan's shoulder as he came, hot scalding fluid searing Bryan's raw passage.
Vaughn slumped over Bryan's back for a moment before pulling out and flopping to one side.
"That's one, Bry. That's one fuck I've taken back," he slurred between hard gasps that eased as he fell into a drunken, sated sleep.
Bryan lay still for a long time, listening to Vaughn's soft snores, and afraid to move in case his innards fell out through his burning ass. Eventually, he must have slept, waking up to the trickle of warm water and the swipe of a soft washcloth between his legs.
Vaughn was sitting on the bed beside him, face pale, but he would not meet Bryan's eyes.
"You're right. You should tell Heather. You should leave her."
Bryan nodded slowly. As painful as it had been, even the drunken, rage-filled sex with Vaughn was better than the unfeeling fucks with Heather and the guilt-laden fucks with Renee. Maybe he had not gotten his rocks off on the rough sex with Vaughn but at least he had felt something clean and good about it, some form of penance for his ultimate sin of betrayal.
"Leave Heather and move in with me."
Bryan rolled over. "What?"
"You still owe me forty-seven fucks."
Bryan could not quite believe what he had just heard and yet the words sounded obscenely right to him. He tried to make eye contact but Vaughn continued to keep his face turned aside.
"It doesn't have to hurt... the ass fucking."
Bryan frowned but remained silent, wondering what more Vaughn had to say on the subject.
"Practice and lots of lubrication...it can even feel really good."
"And you know this because..?"
"Because I asked Jon."
Finally, Vaughn looked in his direction and Bryan was stunned by the vulnerability he found there.
Vaughn dropped the washcloth into the bowl of water and ran a warm hand over Bryan's belly.
"Leave Heather and move in with me."
On the fourth fuck, Bryan discovered a previously unknown pleasure derived from having his prostate rubbed in just the right way, giving him one of the best orgasms of his life. By the tenth fuck he was matching Vaughn stroke for stroke with his hand on his dick, pushing back onto the cock impaling him from behind. By the twentieth, he was on his back, legs pushed to his chest with Vaughn above him, beads of hot sweat dropping from Vaughn's forehead to scald Bryan's chest as Vaughn gasped his way to another climax deep inside Bryan's body.
They lay in silence after the fortieth-eighth fuck, knowing the unspoken agreement made less than three months earlier had been paid in full - often twice in one night at the beginning. Neither of them had discussed what should happen next, though Bryan had sensed the growing desperation within him as that time drew nearer. As the count approached the mid-thirties he had felt an equal reluctance for sex from Vaughn too but Vaughn left him no clues as to why so Bryan could only guess.
Having known Vaughn for most of his life, Bryan knew how determined Vaughn could be to see things through to the bitter end, no matter how personally distasteful. His heart sank from knowing that they rarely touched during or after sex, had never even kissed. No brush of lips across flesh or lips, no warm lovers' caresses, no sounds beyond the grunts and moans of lust sated. Afterwards, Vaughn would show token concern with the brush of a hand across his belly or hip and the fetching of a washcloth but then he would roll over, in silence, lying too tense in the bed beside Bryan for several minutes before sighing heavily and returning to his own bed next door.
As Vaughn rolled off him onto his back with one forearm across his eyes, Bryan felt himself torn.
He ought to have been feeling relieved that the debt had been repaid. He ought to have been feeling good from the amazing sex, aware that he never felt so alive than when he was lying in this bed with Vaughn buried balls-deep inside him. Except this was the last fuck. This was the debt repaid and Vaughn had no reason to fuck him ever again.
Bryan recalled evenings spent downstairs in front of the TV, watching sport or the rare good film. He thought of the weekly Guys Night when Jon and Steve would show up for beer and hockey. The events of that weekend in the cabin had cleared the air, reaffirming their friendship.
Were he and Vaughn supposed to just forgive and forget all that now? Perhaps Vaughn would expect him to leave and find a place of his own now the debt was paid. The thought of not seeing Vaughn every morning and evening was heart wrenching, making Bryan realize how much he had come to rely on Vaughn's comforting presence.
The sound of the key in the front door pulled Bryan out of his thoughts and he watched as Vaughn turned a perplexed look towards the open bedroom door. He climbed out of the bed and pull on a pair of pants and a t-shirt.
A female voice drifted up the stairs, one that Bryan knew all too well and he looked around him in shock, seeing the rumpled bed and knowing the scent of sweat and sex hung heavy in the bedroom air.
"Fuck!" he snarled and made to grab his pants and a t-shirt too.
"No... Stay there," Vaughn ordered before pulling the bedroom door almost closed behind him.
Bryan could hear light footsteps coming up the stairs, matching the slightly heavier footsteps heading down. Both sets stopped part way.
"What are you doing here, Renee?"
Bryan heard her soft bark of a laugh. "I thought I lived here."
"You walked out of my life. You can't simply walk back in again."
"I-I missed you, Vaughn."
Bryan could hear the silence stretching between the estranged husband and wife. Like his own failed marriage, Vaughn and Renee had filed for divorce but the final papers had yet to be signed - except Bryan knew Vaughn's divorce would not be as simple as his own. Bryan had offered himself up as the guilty party - adultery - and allowed Heather to take all but the clothes off his back and a few personal possessions. She would keep the house, the car, all their, admittedly limited, savings, and even the dog.
Vaughn's divorce was another matter entirely. Renee was the guilty party but Vaughn had all the money, all the considerable wealth that had seemed meaningless to Renee two months ago but which must have finally struck home after Vaughn instructed the bank to take her name off his credit card account last week.
If it was a ploy to get her to come back to him then it had worked, and Bryan felt a little sick inside, unaware until now that he had been entertaining different hopes for the future.
"I stopped missing you, Renee. I've moved on."
"I've moved on."
"Does that include Bryan too? Did you tell him to get lost after you convinced him to tell Heather all about us? She called me. Told me about their divorce. She's cited me as...as..."
"What did you expect?"
"I thought she was my friend. I-I don't know."
"Fucking her husband doesn't make you much of a friend."
More uncomfortable silence filled the air, followed by one single light footstep coming closer. Just the one and Bryan could picture Vaughn standing on the stairs like an immovable obstacle.
"Who is she? Is she up there?"
Bryan could hear bitterness in her voice but nothing stirred within him for her other than a little pity. It had never been love between them, only lust and a strong desire to escape the shitty lives they had made with the wrong partner. Except, he had found the right partner now. He had found the person he had been looking for all his life right under his nose. But what of Vaughn?
Vaughn had loved Renee once. Despite his proclamation, did he want her back?
"Bryan's up there."
"I see. So you'd take back the shitty friend that screwed your wife... but *not* your wife."
"You unfeeling bastard. I'll see you in the divorce courts, Vaughn."
"Yeah. I guess you will. Leave the key on your way out."
Bryan heard hurried footsteps receding before the front door slammed shut, and he waited, listening for Vaughn's footsteps on the stairs but he could hear no movement going up or down. In desperation, he grabbed the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around him as he padded towards the bedroom door. Peering out, he saw Vaughn sitting partway down the stairs, staring at the closed front door. Quietly, Bryan sank down next to him.
Knowing Renee just a little too well, Bryan sighed. He had caused so much misery because he was unable to keep his dick in his pants when Renee made her move on him that first time. He knew she had a mean streak and that she enjoyed her creature comforts a little too much. She would fight tooth and nail to claw every possible cent off Vaughn, and it was all Bryan's fault.
"It's going to be messy," he stated morosely.
"That's what prenuptial agreements are for."
It took a moment for that to sink in.
"Wait... you had a prenuptial agreement with Renee?"
Vaughn turned his face to Bryan. "I worked too hard to risk it all on a trophy wife who could turn out to be a gold-digger."
"You sneaky bastard."
Vaughn snorted softly. "She'll still get away with far more than she deserves... but I'm not going to contest it."
"Do you still... still want her?"
"No... No I don't." Bryan was certain of that much. "I want..." his voice tailed off. Bryan wished he could tell Vaughn the truth; he had never been happier than when he was in Vaughn's arms, being 'loved' by him.
Vaughn frowned as he stared straight at Bryan, and then a small smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
"I wasn't lying when I told her I'd moved on."
Bryan felt a stab of fear in his gut as he wondered if Vaughn spent those late work nights in some nameless motel with some woman he'd met. Now he understood exactly how hurt and betrayed Vaughn must have felt when he discovered Bryan in bed with Renee. He gathered up what remained of his tattered dignity, drawing the sheet tighter about his naked body and started to rise only to be held back by a strong hand clamping over his forearm. A slight tilt of the head and an incredulous snort followed.
"It's you, Bryan. I've moved on with you."
Relief flooded through him and he laughed softly, shyly, sinking back onto the stairs as Vaughn reached for him, stroking his cheek before leaning in and kissing him full on the lips; their first kiss. One to mark a new beginning in their lives as childhood friendship finally gave way to a bond that was even deeper and stronger.
Vaughn pulled him into a lover's embrace. Warm hands reached beneath the sheet to caress his skin, while his tongue stroked deep inside Bryan's willing mouth, tasting and sucking enthusiastically. Bryan moaned appreciatively, joyfully, more than willing for Vaughn to pull him to his feet naked, and lead him back to bed - to Vaughn's bed - the bed sheet abandoned upon the stairs.
As they made love for the first time rather than simply having sex, Bryan knew this change in their friendship would be enough to hold them together for the rest of their lives... and he could live with that.