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“So, this is it.” Bettina opened her palm and showed Marc’s her copy of the house key.  The key to the house they used to own together.  Everything that she’s taking with her were now in the removal van.

 

“Right.  Ok...” Marc carefully took the key from her hand.  He still hasn’t looked at Bettina directly today.  Maybe it was a bad idea to ask him to help her move.  Marc was obviously uncomfortable, probably still feeling guilty - which he rightly should - she thought.

 

But she’s done caring about Marc’s feelings, she needed a pair of strong arms to lift things and for Marc to sort out stuff they used to share.

 

“Keep anything you want from the house.” Marc had said.

 

Of course he would say that.  Bettina believed he would have done anything to make her feel better.  Anything.  Except, of course, leaving Kay Engel.  

 

Not that Bettina would ever take Marc back.  

 

She knew Marc had flown to London to chase after Kay a month ago, probably the single most romantic thing Marc has ever done.  So, no, she has no interest to be a supporting act in their great love story.

 

Marc has also bought out her share of the house.  After much consideration, Bettina has decided to stay close to Frank and Claudia and bought a smaller house in the same area with the money.  Even though living so close to Marc’s parents was not her idea of fun, it’s a price worth paying for.  Not to mention, she knew Marc was moving out to live with Kay somewhere closer to Stuttgart.  

 

So, this is goodbye.

 

“Erm.  You don’t want to keep this?” Marc asked.  In his hand a picture frame with a photo of their holiday in Mallorca.  

 

“That was a fun holiday, no?  I remember you got sunburnt and couldn’t sleep on your back.” Marc said with a faint smile. His eyes, Bettina noticed, were pools of sadness.  She took the small solace that it must be hard for him too.

 

Bettina took the photo frame from him.  They looked so happy in the picture.  Sunglasses and cocktails with umbrellas; all smiles and tanned skin.  

 

Then she thought of that strip of photos she found in Kay’s apartment, the ones that started all these.  That look on Marc’s face.  The way he looked at Kay in those photos... she knew right then and there, that she had lost Marc already.

 

She took one last look of the living room.  Then she handed the photo frame back to Marc and shook her head.  “No, it’s ancient history to me.”

 

Time to move on.

 

 

Nearly two years later...

 

(Marc)

 

 

“I don’t know why you think this is fun.” Marc said.  He touched the purple-ish bruise under Kay’s jawline.

 

Kay winced.  “It’s part of the learning curve.  My legs need to move faster.” 

 

“You are a runner.  You are fast.” 

 

“Not reaction-fast, that’s a different skill set.” Kay demonstrated his point by throwing fake punch to the left side of Marc’s face.  Marc ducked away and flicked a finger on Kay’s forehead.  

 

“Ouch.” Kay whined but didn’t seem to mind.  He tilted his head and moved closer to Marc.  “Don’t worry. I’m still pretty, right?”

 

Marc snorted.  

 

Kay has taken up kickboxing few months ago and since then has been coming home with bruises occasionally.  It frightened Marc sometimes, the relentless, fearless way Kay handled himself, he did everything head first, always jumping in with both feet.

 

Much like the way they fell in love.

 

“What? Something on your mind?” Kay smiled slowly, getting even closer to Marc, to force him to look at him.

 

Marc turned away.  When Kay persisted, like he always did, Marc finally rolled his eyes and said, “you know people might think we are into some kinky stuff with you looking like this every couple of days.”

 

Now Kay’s slow smile started to turn into a smirk.  “Oh. Who would think that?  Or maybe you are interested in something kinky?” He put his arm around Marc’s shoulders and said in a lower voice, “you know I’m open to anything you want to try...”

 

Don’t I know it?  Marc quietly thought.  Nearly two years they’ve been together now - properly together, not sneaking around - they’ve tried everything... or everything that wouldn’t shock Marc too much.  Marc knew Kay has always been careful with that.

 

Marc decided to stay away from that subject for now.  “Don’t forget we have to go to Frank’s party next week, I hope it heals in time.  I don’t want to have an awkward conversation with anyone about that bruise.” 

 

That deflated Kay fast.  He pursed his lips. “Ugh.  How can I forget?  I’m so looking forward to be in the same room with your parents and Bettina.” 

 

Marc watched for the visual cues of Kay’s eyes, his mouth, to see if he’s saying that in jest or he’s really distressed about the party.  Kay could be unreadable when he wanted to.

 

His parents have been taking a tolerant approach to their son’s relationship with a man.  Civil but cool.  Marc had paid back the loan they gave him for the house - partly from selling the house, partly from Kay’s inheritance, which Kay insisted they used.

 

“People who say money doesn’t solve anything are usually people who never have to worry about money.” Kay had reasoned.  “I have the money and it would help us start a new life together, so who cares whether it’s mine or yours?  Maybe your parents would hate me a fraction less if they don’t lose money on top of of everything.”

 

So Marc used that money and they also bought a small place together somewhere between Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg, so both of them would be able to commute to work within half an hour.

 

Yes, it could have been worse.  Right now, Borgmann seniors would invite them together for meals, even though Kay was never warmly accepted. 

 

The few times Marc had tried to gauge how much it bothered him, Kay had just shrugged and said, “my father moved to London, then my mother remarried in Austria, I don’t really have much experience interacting with parents as an adult.  I don’t care what your parents think about me, as long as they don’t try to break us up.”

 

It bothered Marc, though he couldn’t seem to find a way to make it better.  He thought he had disappointed his parents enough, he didn’t want to force the issue too much.  

 

“You know if you want to go to Frank’s party on your own, that’s okay. I’ve got things I need to study for my exams anyway.” Kay suddenly offered.  He had an examination for a potential promotion coming up.

 

It was tempting.  Marc would admit it.  It was tempting to snatch an opportunity to get away, to enjoy an uncomplicated afternoon with friends and families, not having to worry about how everyone reacts to Kay’s presence... 

 

But no... Marc quietly observed Kay again.  Kay’s face was sincere, a look of understanding, but there was a little something lurking in his eyes.  Not hurt... but like... like Kay was preparing himself for the bad news, to be disappointed.  

 

No, Kay is his family.  He’s done with hiding Kay away to make his own life easier.

 

He kissed Kay’s lips. “No, I’m not letting you off so easily.  You are going to have to suffer with me.  But I promise I won’t leave you alone at the party, ok?  We will deal with any shit come our way, together.” Marc said solemnly.  He could see Kay struggling to stay stoic and knew he’d scored big-time.  

 

Kay lowered his lashes, tried to hide the small smile on his face before he went back to his joking self. “Well, I do have a good right hook punch to defend myself...”

 

******

 

“Breathe.”

 

Kay whispered in Marc’s ear, kissing the side of his face, while he pushed his lube coated finger inside Marc.  

 

Marc settled his chin on his folded arms in bed.  He tried to relax and breathe through his mouth like Kay told him to.  “Ahh....” Marc slowly exhaled through his mouth.  “It’s cold.”  His body gave a shudder as Kay’s finger went deeper. 

 

“Just the lube.  My hand is warm...” there’s smile in Kay’s voice.  

 

If Marc was being honest, one of the reasons he wanted to try it - wanted Kay to fuck him -  was because he thought Kay would like to.  He knew Kay liked it both ways with his... previous lovers. Not that Marc spent much time thinking about Kay with anyone else, past or present; he thought it was only fair that he offer Kay the chance to do that.  The other reason was... Marc wanted to know - the pleasure behind the blessed out look on Kay’s face when they made love... what was it like to give up control like that?  To trust someone to “invade” your body?

 

Marc held still again as Kay inserted a second finger in him and ever so slowly, Kay began to form scissors with his fingers, his other hand, making long strokes down Marc’s flank.  Soothing and pressuring at the same time.

 

 The stretch, it burned.  Marc reminded himself to breathe again.  The pain was there, but not overwhelmingly.  Marc welcomed it, it felt incredibly intimate.  Just when he was about to tell Kay that he’s ready for the real thing, he felt Kay curled one of his fingers and rubbed something inside.  And bang! Marc’s whole body jumped and shivered.  

 

“Oh.... fuuuuccck.” 

 

It’s lucky that he has put a pillow in front, so his head hit it instead of the headboard.  Marc swallowed and waited for the shivering to subside. 

 

That was... unexpected.

 

“That’s your sweet spot.” Kay murmured in his ear, he half hovered above Marc, eyes bright, enjoying whatever expression he saw on Marc’s face.

 

Marc half turned to kiss Kay.  Jesus.  And it was just his fingers, Marc thought; as another pleasurable tingle went through his body.  

 

Kay slowly removed his fingers and got behind Marc, he stroked Marc’s spine smoothly again.  

 

Marc couldn’t see what Kay was doing, but he could feel the patience and gentleness.  Hazily, he recalled the first time they fucked... in the pouring rain.  A mind-blowing experience for Marc, but now he wondered if he might have hurt Kay with his eagerness and inexperience... but Kay had seemed happy with...

 

“Oooooh...” Marc grunted.  Kay pushed into Marc, agonisingly slow, inch by inch. Marc slowly breathed out.

 

He felt stretched and something else.  Something full and floaty... and thankfully, he finally began to relax.   Kay’s arms holding Marc’s chest tightly as he gave another push.

 

They both held still for a second.  Kay kissed the side of Marc’s face. “You ok?” He asked.  He sounded short of breath, like he’s holding back.

 

But Marc didn’t want him to hold back, he wanted all of Kay.  Taking and giving.  “Move.” Marc’s own voice sounded raspy.  He tentatively pushed back against Kay, rocking into him.  

 

Kay let out a soft grunt and thrust back and began to settle into a steady rhythm.  “God... this feels incredible.” He murmured next to Marc’s ear.  

 

Marc no longer felt full, but instead all his senses were heightened.  He felt everything.  Could feel Kay everywhere; inside his body, outside his body.  That floaty feeling was back, like he’s flying.  He closed his eyes and reached down to touch himself, trying to match Kay’s strokes.  

 

Kay changed his angle and rolled fully on top of Marc’s back.  His arm holding Marc’s waist tight as he thrust more powerfully into Marc, hitting the spot that sent Marc wild every time.  

 

“I’m close, so close...” Kay breathily announced.  “Ahhh... Marc!”

 

Something about Kay saying his name when they made love always did something to Marc.  

 

Marc heard his name.  And all he needed was another pull, then he’s coming harder than ever.  Every time.

 

 

******

 

(Kay)

 

 

“I guess we are old news now.” Kay drawled.  Wiggling his eyebrows to Marc.

 

Marc shook his head and slid his arm around Kay’s shoulders, pulling him to Marc’s side, and Kay wrapped his arm around Marc’s waist in response. It felt good to stand like this, the heat of Marc’s body and the smell of the citrus soap from their home gave Kay a sense of solidarity.  

 

Kay still hung out with Britt from time to time, but Frank’s promotion party today was the first time he saw nearly everyone from his old unit.  Marc has kept his word and stayed by Kay’s side.  After the initial few awkward minutes and a few stares from old colleagues, no one batted an eye when Marc touched Kay on his shoulder or held his hand. 

 

Just when Kay was ready to relax, he looked up and dropped his hand on Marc’s waist.

 

“What?” Marc turned to him.  

 

“Your 4 o’clock, incoming.” Kay said through gritted teeth.

 

Marc followed Kay’s direction and looked ahead.  They both stood comically straight side by side as Bettina stepped into the garden.  A tall bookish looking guy was a step behind her.   

 

Frank had told them about Bettina’s boyfriend, he’s the newly appointed vice principal from the school where Bettina was teaching.  Sounded like they were quite serious.  Frank said marriage might be on the horizon.  If Kay needed anymore proof, Marc’s happily relief expression when he heard the news, showed whatever remaining affection Marc had for Bettina, it carried no romantic element.

 

Marc touched Kay’s elbow. “Come on, we should go say hi.”

 

Bettina looked nice.  She dressed in an elegant green summer dress and white sandals.  Kay hasn’t seen her for nearly two years.  They were careful not to cross path. Marc would pick up and drop off Jonas from Bettina’s house on his own.  Every Friday and Saturday, Marc got to be with his son.  Their life settled into a pattern built around this schedule.  They still go clubbing and drinking in bars sometimes, but Kay surprised himself by how quickly he adapted to the domesticity.  

 

Kay had no idea what Bettina thought of him, if she considered Kay as the main culprit for the demise of her relationship.  Kay harboured no resentment towards Bettina, he only wished... he only wished Marc was available when they met.  Every relationship has its casualties.  Kay could well have moved to Frankfurt if Marc hadn’t...

 

Bettina greeted them coolly, her eyes lingered on Kay’s face for a second, assessing him.  Then she turned to the tall guy next to her.  “Mats, you’ve met Marc already.  This is his boyfriend, Kay.” 

 

His boyfriend - to Kay, this still sounded surreal, coming out of Bettina’s mouth.

 

Kay put on his most charming smile. “Hi.  Nice to meet you.” 

 

He gave a small nod to Bettina and shook hands with Mats.

 

 

******

 

Kay took off his T-shirt and got into bed.  Even with the windows open, it’s still quite warm in the house.  Maybe they should consider installing an air-conditioner... what with global warming.

 

“Hey.  What are you thinking so hard there?” Marc embraced him from behind.  His chest touching Kay’s back, turning up the temperature in their bedroom even more.

 

Kay turned his head and kissed Marc on the lips.  “Air-conditioning.”  

 

Marc chuckled.  “I know how to make you sweat even if we have one.” 

 

“Promises.  Promises.” 

 

Marc snorted. He reached over and turned off the lamp. The darkness was instant and all encompassing. For a few moments they lay quietly, simply enjoying being together after a day of semi-scrutiny by pretty much everyone they knew.

 

“Today went ok, no?” Marc whispered in the dark, rubbing Kay’s leg with his under the summer blanket.

 

Kay grinned.  

 

“What’s so funny?”

 

“Huh?” 

 

“I can feel you smiling.” 

 

“Just thinking how different that Mats guy is from you.” 

 

Kay could tell Marc’s brow furrowed at that. “So?  Maybe she doesn’t have a type.”

 

“Yeah.  Maybe.  I’m happy for her.” Kay sighed.  It’s true.  He wanted Bettina to be happy.

 

“Me too.  It’s a load off my mind, I have to admit.  Mats seems decent.”

 

“Losing you must be hard for her, especially under such circumstances.” Kay turned around and watched Marc in the darkness.

 

Marc reached out to rub Kay’s stubble, like the way he did that night in the hospital. “Nearly losing you that time was the scariest moment of my life.” Marc confessed.

 

Kay cupped Marc’s hand on his face, his voice gentle and full of love. “Because things that matter are scary.”

 

 

 

The End