The Irregular Regular 6

Okay, so I’ve finally finished this wee (LOL) story. As usual, this chapter came out of prompts offered on the Torquere Social LJ, this time on January 26, 2012. Hope thos of you who’ve been waiting will enjoy this conclusion to the saga of Berg and Dan! 🙂

* * *

Bergen didn’t have a single clue what Dan thought he could do to make things better. In fact, Bergen was only humoring his boyfriend by agreeing to let Dan try. He already knew he was going to have to give in to Carl Black’s demand for the bareback club-show Carl wanted done. Bergen hated the idea — of course he did, because that whole portion of his life was supposed to be in the past, damn it, and Dan… well, finding Dan and starting to fall for him had actually given him hope that he could have a decent present and maybe even a future.

That hope was swiftly dying, even if it was still gasping for breath. It was shocking that someone as sweet and kind and worthy as Dan had been willing to overlook Bergen’s past, what with the porn and the drugs, but Bergen couldn’t even begin to believe that Dan would forgive him for the show Berg was going to have to do. He also wouldn’t be able to blame Dan for that. Hell, Dan would never want to even look at him again, but that was fair enough. Bergen doubted he’d be able to look at himself in the mirror after he’d been… God, used as a cum-bucket by however many men were in the disgusting club that was offering Carl Black so much for Bergen’s services. He would never feel clean again, after, and that was even assuming he didn’t acquire some horrible disease in the process.

His entire life — the life he’d finally managed to build and actually liked — was about to come crashing down around his ears and Berg knew it. There would be no more working at the Dark Crescent, no more funny-and-funny-looking Federer to boss him around on the job. No more little apartment over the shop, with the small items Berg had started collecting, like the snow globe with the Cheetos-orange penguin inside, or the lavender scented candle that was as big around as Berg’s leg, or the bag of runes made of molded plastic that were supposed to resemble carved bone. He could take those things with him, he supposed, but he knew he wouldn’t. They wouldn’t be anything but painful reminders of what he’d lost.

Dan’s hand tightened on his own and Berg did his best to smile as they strode quickly to the final corner that would lead them to Dan’s apartment and tried not to shiver. It wasn’t a particularly chilly night, but Berg was colder than he remembered being even in the midst of a snow filled winter, though that might be psychological rather than actual. Still, he was cold on the inside. So fucking lost.

“Come on in, Berg,” Dan said, and it was only then that Bergen realized they’d stopped. More than that, it had been a little while, because the front door to Dan’s building was open and Dan was doing that shifting from foot to foot thing he only did when they waited on lines. Berg had first noticed it during their second movie date, but it didn’t bother him. It was actually cute, God help him. “And if you could maybe stop dwelling on stuff for a little while, that’d be good,” Dan added, leading Berg inside.

“I’m not dwelling!” Except maybe he had been because it was only when he spoke that Berg realized he hadn’t said a single word since leaving the coffee shop where Dan worked.

“Okay,” Dan agreed, but Berg thought it was only because Dan hated confrontation. “Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s making you frown, though, and that makes me feel all… weird inside. It’s better when you smile.”

God, it really, really was. Bergen liked things better when he could smile, too.

“I’m sorry,” Bergen said quietly as he closed the door behind him and trailed Dan up the stairs to the second floor. “It’s been a really messed up night, baby. Maybe I should just go back to my place.” He couldn’t call it home anymore, not when he was going to lose it thanks to Carl-fucking-Black.

Dan didn’t answer right then but Berg felt those strong fingers grip his own even tighter. Then Dan unlocked the apartment door and tugged Berg inside.

Once the door was closed, Dan moved closer, staring into Berg’s eyes from just a few inches away, and while Bergen could have pretended he didn’t know what that look was for, he did know. He not only knew but was entirely unable to deny Dan what he knew the guy wanted.

Berg’s free hand rose slowly, sliding over Dan’s t-shirt covered chest, then to his shoulder. His fingers sought out the back of Dan’s neck, and Bergen didn’t have to apply any pressure at all before Dan dipped his head just enough and Berg felt those soft, mobile lips against his own.

The kiss was bittersweet, largely because Bergen knew it would be one of the last times. God, he was already starting to mourn a relationship that had barely even begun. He couldn’t help it, though, and something of that must have transmitted itself to Dan because when Berg released him, Dan stepped back with a sigh, his head shaking slightly.

“I guess I should start making those calls,” Dan said softly, “unless you want something to drink first? Maybe I could make some iced tea.” Berg shivered, already cold again inside. “Or hot chocolate.”
Berg made a face, only knowing he had when Dan mirrored it, scrunched up nose and all. “Um. Something hot sounds good, but I kind of hate that powdered shit.”

Dan laughed a little and cupped Berg’s cheek. His palm felt nice there. Warm. It actually soothed some of the internal shivers Bergen hadn’t noticed he was experiencing until just then. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” Dan answered, sounding both apologetic and amused, “but I wouldn’t serve that crap to anyone I actually liked. I’m talking about real hot chocolate. Milk, sugar, cocoa powder and milk chocolate, all melted together. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. It’s even better with peanut butter cookies.”

That surprised a laugh from Bergen. “You and the peanuts, baby. Or do I just mean you and dessert in general? But sure. If you feel like making hot chocolate, I guess I’m willing to try it.”
The broad smile that spread across Dan’s face then had Berg determined to drink the stuff, even if it tasted like shit. He really liked making Dan smile, and he might not have a whole lot more chances. He needed to make every opportunity count.

* * *

Dan knew a lot of things. A lot more than most people ever expected from looking at him. He hadn’t wound up working in a coffee shop by accident. He’d deliberately chosen the job because he wouldn’t have to make any decisions of his own. People came in, they told him what they wanted, and Dan saw to it that they got it. It was his comfort zone. He liked making people happy. Making Berg happy, on the other hand, wasn’t something Dan liked. It was something he loved.

He hadn’t always held jobs that suited him so well, though. He’d worked for his father for a while, then for his uncle. Those positions hadn’t worked out, largely because both of them had wanted to groom him for running parts of the business and just hadn’t understood Dan’s extreme lack of interest in telling other people what to do. They still didn’t get it, but they did accept that Dan wasn’t exactly suited to ‘management’. He tended to let people walk all over him rather than being willing to push back.

Honestly, Dan was pretty sure his entire family had been relieved when Dan had finally just told them that he didn’t want to be involved in their business. It had taken him a long time to work up the nerve, but yeah. When he’d told them — in a series of emails, because he couldn’t stand to do it face to face — they hadn’t fought him. Dan’s cousin Val had called him after and suggested they have a party because Dan ‘wouldn’t be fucking shit up’ anymore.

So Dan had known his own strengths and weaknesses, just like he knew about distribution networks and economics and accounting from the work he’d once done. What he didn’t know was what it was going to cost him to get his family’s help for Berg, because there was always a price. The idea had him cringing a little, but it would be worth it. Whatever concessions he needed to make, Berg was worth it.

“You probably want to pulse the chocolate in the food processor,” Dan suggested, forcing himself to pay more attention to what he and Berg were doing, rather than the past. “If you just hit the on button and let it go, the friction from the blades will start to melt it, and then it’ll just be a big, soggy mess. Um, I can work with the mess if you don’t feel like pulsing it, though.”

He felt Berg’s eyes on him, but Dan was okay with that. He might not be smiling as much as usual, but Dan knew he looked pretty darn good in an apron. ‘Cute,’ as Bergen had told him the one time Dan had cooked dinner. The meal hadn’t been much of a success because Berg kept distracting him, but Berg had blamed it on how Dan looked in the same apron he was wearing right then, so Dan focused on moving his whisk gently, stirring the heating milk in the saucepan on the stove in front of him. Then Dan heard the stuttered, halting whir sound of the food processor being pulsed and he grinned. No gross mess of chocolate to try blending in later. Good.

The rest of the preparing went smoothly, with the various ingredients combining to make a thick, rich liquid that Dan watched Berg try. God, it was adorable, the way Berg tried to look like he wasn’t reluctant to even taste the hot chocolate. It was even cuter when Berg’s reddish brows rose in surprise after that first tiny sip. Dan actually had to restrain himself from doing a little dance at the first real smile he’d gotten from Berg all night.

He waited until later — nearly dawn, once they’d finished their drinks and spent some time cuddling, then doing a good deal more than just cuddling — and Berg was asleep, before he called his uncle. It was early, but Dan had no doubt that Uncle Sal would be awake.

He took his phone out on the landing in front of his apartment door and sat on the steps, keeping his voice down once he’d dialed and heard the gruff answer of “What’s wrong?” Dan almost rolled his eyes at the proof that his uncle had caller ID, but he didn’t. The question was fair, considering Dan usually only called once a month or so and he’d just done that a week earlier.

“I have a problem, Uncle Sal,” Dan said, doing his best not to stutter. “Have you ever heard of someone named Carl Black?” Judging by the sudden spate of profanity he heard, Dan figured that was a ‘yes’.

“How the hell do you know anything about a fucking piece of shit like Black?” Uncle Sal demanded once he’d seemed to wind down. “Jesus Christ, Danny, you’re in the middle of bumfuck and Carl Black doesn’t even operate in your area. What have you gotten yourself into? If you’re working for that fucker, I’ll…”

Dan took a shaky breath and let it out, but not softly enough because his uncle clearly heard him, judging by the immediate “Sorry, kid. I didn’t mean to yell at you. I’m just surprised that you’ve ever heard of that fucking… Sorry. You said you have a problem.”

Dan took another breath, this time deeper and more steady. He was actually proud that his voice was only slightly higher than usual when he spilled everything. Uncle Sal had already heard Berg’s name and knew Dan was involved with him, but now Dan finally told his uncle the rest.

“…and this Carl guy said he was going to make me work for him somehow if Berg doesn’t do this show thing and I’m afraid Berg might actually be considering it and I don’t want my boyfriend doing that! I mean, it’s okay that he used to but he doesn’t want to again and he’s off the drugs Black got him on, and… I don’t know what to do, other than calling you!”

Dan was blushing bright red by the time he finished talking. He could feel the heat in his own face, his chest heaving as though he’d just run a world-record mile. He never lost control like that, especially when he was talking to someone as strong and… well, dominant, as his uncle.

Uncle Sal was silent for a good thirty seconds. Dan knew because he’d started counting in an effort to slow his own heart rate and shuddering, desperate gasps for air.

“Are you sure this Berg guy is worth all this?” Uncle Sal finally demanded, but there was something in his tone that kept Dan from feeling defensive. “Wouldn’t take but a phone call to relocate you, Danny. You could be back home in less than twenty-four hours.”

“I’m not leaving Berg,” Dan said, swallowing roughly. “I don’t want him to do this show or whatever it is, but if I have to, I’ll go with him. I… I don’t know if we’ll last forever, but right now, I… really, really love him. I think we could have a good chance if this whole Carl Black thing would just go away.” Actually, Dan was sure of it. He didn’t have a single doubt that he wanted to be with Berg forever, but his uncle would have taken that as ‘romantic nonsense’ so Dan had deliberately chosen to sound more reasonable than he felt. He’d already considered and discarded the idea of the two of them disappearing somewhere, too. Without help from his uncle or possibly someone in the government, Dan didn’t have any way of making that happen. And he didn’t want to abandon his life, anyway. Not without Berg.

Uncle Sal made a sound that Dan could only interpret as a growl. “Fuck that,” the man snarled. “My sister would roll over in her grave if you ever worked for a piece of shit like Carl Black. Especially doing what he wants you to do.”

“Um, Mom’s not dead,” Dan managed to squeak out.

“Hah. You think that wouldn’t kill her? No, that man’s a fucking moron. Hell, he wasn’t that bright to begin with, but threatening to turn my nephew into one of his strung-out party-whores? Uh, no offense to your… friend, because he got the fuck out, but that’s what Carl Black’s ‘actors’ are. Threatening to make you one of them is so far beyond stupid, I’m wondering how he manages to… Never mind. I’ll take care of it. He won’t bother you or this Berg guy with his bullshit games again. You two just lay low for a couple days, yeah? Take some time off and don’t go anywhere alone.”

Dan blinked. “Um. Usually you want…”

“Something from you,” his uncle finished, and Dan nodded even though the man couldn’t see him. “We’ll get to that. Let me set some wheels in motion on my end and I’ll call you tomorrow. Later today, I mean. You just relax, Danny. You and your… You know. Your friend.”

“Boyfriend,” Dan corrected, feeling bold, all of a sudden. “He’s my boyfriend.”

Uncle Sal groaned. “Fine, your ‘boyfriend’. Whatever you want to call him. Guess I can’t really say too much about it since that gay marriage shit is legal here now. You know I’m still not thrilled about it, but I’m guessing it’d be just as hard for you to start liking women as it would be for me to turn gay. That means impossible, just in case you were wondering. Now let me get the fuck off the phone so I can solve your fucking Carl Black problem. Make sure your ringer is on later.”

Dan wasn’t sure about what he said to his uncle by way of goodbye. He knew he’d said something, but he’d been too busy trying to wrap his brain around the degree of acceptance his uncle had expressed. Uncle Sal had never been mean or nasty about Dan’s sexual orientation. He and Dan’s father hadn’t even let any of the people working for them do so much as sneer. But they’d definitely done their best to throw women at him ever since Dan’s mother had started to suspect Dan’s bent.

Uncle Sal clearly didn’t accept everything about Dan’s proclivities, but his statement — that it would be just as hard for him to turn gay as it would be for Dan to go straight — seemed to imply that he at least understood that much, regardless of the fact that he didn’t like it much. That was actually more than Dan had ever hoped for.

He was smiling as he went back into his apartment and set his phone down to charge. Then he smiled even more as he slipped into bed beside Berg because Berg turned to him, still sleeping, and rested his head on Dan’s chest.

God, Berg looked so sleep-soft and innocent in the streaks of dawn coming through the window. So young and carefree. And with any luck, Dan told himself as he pressed his lips to Berg’s hair and wrapped his arm around that lean, warm body… with any luck, he’d be able to spend the rest of his life seeing that.

There was still a bit of trepidation about what Uncle Sal — and Dan’s father, because they’d been thick as thieves, no pun intended, for years, and there was no way his dad wouldn’t weigh in — would want as payment for dealing with the Carl Black situation. Dan couldn’t deny that. But whatever it turned out to be, Dan didn’t care. As long as it didn’t involve him leaving Berg, Dan didn’t give a single crap.

* * *

If he hadn’t been there and watched Dan making the hot chocolate, Berg might have suspected that there had been some sort of sedatives included in the mix, though he knew that wasn’t likely. They’d spent ages afterward, snuggled together and fucking. Even if they hadn’t, though, Dan wasn’t the kind of man who would drug anyone against their will, and if Dan had felt an urge to do so, he would probably have asked if it was okay first.

Some guys might find that degree of transparency laughable, but Bergen wasn’t one of them. He liked it that Dan was happy to be reliant on him for direction. Liked it that Dan didn’t bother with the mind games Berg found so manipulative. And he loved it that Dan had actually tried to be in control for once, though only because he wanted to help Berg. Hell, maybe he just loved Dan, if it came to that.

His feelings didn’t matter, of course, because there was no way Dan could do anything to help. The situation was fucked, but a good of sleep had allowed Bergen to steel himself to the facts, without the depressed panic, this time.

Dan would miss him for a little while, but in the end would be better off for not tying himself to someone like Berg. And Berg would go back to Carl, with the understanding that the man would never even blink in the direction of Dan again. Berg might not be able to save himself, but he could for damned fucking sure save Dan.

Berg sighed and reached out, hand seeking the gentle heat of Dan’s body beside him, and frowned when he encountered only cool sheets. Then he opened his eyes and looked at the clock, sitting up when he saw that he’d been asleep for more than seven hours. No wonder he felt so well rested.

He rolled from the bed, considered pulling on his pants, then shrugged. Dan had seen him naked more than once, so why bother?

The soft, intermittent rumble that Berg had assumed to be the fan over the stove resolved itself into Dan’s voice as Berg approached, and when Dan looked up and saw him there, the smile that creased Dan’s face literally took Berg’s breath away. God, he wished he had a chance to get used to that happiness. Wished he could just stop time and live in a bubble where Dan would smile that smile every day. As well as a world in which Dan never wore more than he was wearing right then — a very tight pair of boxer briefs.

“Hey, I’m on with my uncle,” Dan said quickly. Then he blew a kiss and went back to talking and Berg frowned slightly but made his way to the coffee machine on the kitchen counter. Caffeine couldn’t hurt, even with having slept so long and so well.

“Tell him I said hi,” Berg offered over his shoulder, teasingly, but damned if Dan didn’t repeat it.

“Berg says hi.” Then silence for a minute or so, during which Berg pulled his favorite mug — the blue glazed one with the leather-wrapped handle — from the dish rack. He didn’t actually spend much time at Dan’s place, but he’d been there enough to have a favorite mug for his morning coffee, even when morning came at almost one o’clock in the afternoon.

The first cup of black nirvana went down easily enough that Berg poured himself another, smiling at the soft sound of Dan’s voice breaking the silence in the otherwise still apartment every now and then. He was halfway through his second cup when Dan’s voice rose just enough to register as something other than entirely welcome ambient noise.

“Um, Berg?”

Berg topped off his mug and joined Dan on the couch. “What’s up, baby?”
“What do you think of Miami? Or possibly San Diego. Or Mexico?”

He would have assumed Dan was just curious except for the way Dan’s bottom lip was being held between Dan’s teeth. That and the fact that Dan looked both curious and worried about whatever Berg might say.

Berg gave it a bit of thought, then shook his head. “Sorry, baby, but I’m not sure I understand the context. Do you want to go on vacation or something?” It wasn’t actually a bad idea, when Berg thought about it. A week or so, somewhere sunny and warm — possibly with a hammock built for two — where he and Dan could just be together before never being together again. It would hurt like a motherfucker, but it would also be nice to have those memories to carry him through the rest of his life, however long that might be.

He heard Dan say, “Um, Uncle Sal? Let me call you back, okay? I need to tell Berg… yeah. No, I will. Soon. Um, give me half an hour? Okay, thanks. You too.”

“So, what’s going on?” Berg asked when Dan had ended the call but didn’t say anything. He set his coffee mug down on the end table and turned more towards Dan, taking the man’s closer hand in his own. “Dan?”

“We’re free.” It was said so softly that Berg almost missed it. In fact, he credited the quiet of the apartment for the fact that he had.

“What? What do you mean ‘we’re free’? Free of what?” Because there was no way Dan could mean…

“Carl Black won’t ever bother either one of us again.” Yeah, that was exactly what Dan couldn’t mean. It had been said much louder that that first ‘we’re free’ but it wasn’t possible. “He won’t,” Dan added, like he was desperate for Berg to believe him, and while Bergen wanted to, he couldn’t find any way for Dan’s words to be true. He also couldn’t find any way of saying so that wouldn’t have Dan thinking Berg thought he was lying.

“How?” Okay, he didn’t sound bad, just curious. Thank God. The last thing Berg needed was to fuck up whatever time they had left by upsetting Dan. “How is that possible?”

Dan blushed and he looked just as darling with his cheeks red as usual. “Um. Okay. You know I’m a Shaughnessy. But my mom was a Desanto until she married my dad. My uncle Sal… um, can I just say he has connections? And people?”

Berg blinked. Then he frowned, his mind going a mile a minute. Then he blinked again. “Wait. Uncle Sal Desanto? As in…” He couldn’t even say it. “Jesus!” If anyone in the entire world could get Carl Black off Bergen’s ass, Salvatore Desanto was the man. “Your uncle is Sal Desanto? Fuck me! And you’re…”

“Just his nephew,” Dan said, so quickly the words almost blended together. “And I’m not part of the family business because I’m not suited to being… you know, a Desanto, even with me being a Shaughnessy! But my mom and Uncle Sal weren’t happy when I decided to move away and Uncle Sal took care of the Carl Black thing, so now he wants me — us, I guess, because I told him I wouldn’t go anywhere without you — to do him a favor, and we can choose between Miami, San Diego, and somewhere in Mexico. Um, I forget where he said. But we can say no. I told him that, so we can, but I had to ask, you know?”

God. No, Berg didn’t know. He didn’t have a single clue about how they could say no when Salvatore Desanto was asking them a favor in return for whatever he or his people had done to get Carl Black to go away. Then again, Carl would have to be the stupidest stupid man in stupidville to say no to Salvatore Desanto, and while Bergen didn’t think Carl was overly bright, he also doubted that Carl Black was enough of an idiot to refuse.

“It’s nothing illegal!” Dan still sounded panicked, but Berg chalked that up to the way he himself had been silent while working through it all in his mind. “My family has houses there, and a whole bunch of other places, but Uncle Sal just found out a few weeks ago that one of his on-site caretakers was selling off original art from the house and replacing it with forgeries, so he needs someone he can trust, and he trusts me, so he’s giving us a choice about where and he can shuffle around the people he already has if he needs to! Um, if we say yes.”

It was a lot to think about. The whole idea of moving wasn’t entirely unwelcome, but Berg had a job, an apartment, a life to think about. Except when he really considered it, Federer could find someone else to work in the shop without much effort. Hell, Berg could even find someone for his boss. The apartment above the Dark Crescent went with the job, or could, and Federer would be thrilled if whoever replaced Berg wanted the same deal — minimal cash, but no rent payments. And Berg didn’t have much. Mostly clothes and the trinkets he’d collected, most of which had come from the shop.

“I’ll need a few weeks to make sure I’ve taken care of everything,” Bergen said, and while he hadn’t planned to announce it quite so quickly, he didn’t feel any regret. “I can’t just ditch my boss or the shop. I mean, he kind of sucks, but he was the only one who was willing to give me a chance.”

Dan’s eyes went wide and that damned heart-melting smile appeared again. “I. You mean it? You’re really willing to…”
Berg couldn’t be upset when Dan was flashing that smile. He just couldn’t. Yes, he was worried about what Salvatore Desanto might say or do if he refused to fall in line, but he also couldn’t find any real reason to say no. He trusted Dan enough to be sure that ‘caretaker of a house’ meant exactly that. And he wasn’t so locked into staying where he was. It had started to feel like home, but only since he’d met Dan, and maybe that meant something. Maybe it meant that anywhere he went would feel like home as long as Dan was there.

“Besides,” Berg said, thinking out loud as his arm wrapped around Dan and dragged him closer on the couch, “if we don’t like Miami, we don’t have to stay. Or wherever we end up. But Miami has the best Cuban food, or so I’ve heard.”
He allowed Dan five minutes to be giddy, then another fifteen to call his uncle back.

“Find out if there’s a pool,” Berg murmured during the call, and Dan asked, then looked confused for a minute before saying “Why in the world…” apparently asking the uncle rather than Bergen.
Dan’s uncle must have answered because Dan giggled slightly after a while. “Okay. It’s still weird, but I guess that makes sense. So it’s okay if we take like a month to get there?”

By the time Dan finished on the phone, Berg was more than impatient. He’d spent God knew how long sitting beside Dan and while Dan was slightly clothed — those damned tight boxer briefs — Berg was still naked. And he’d been touching Dan, which had caused the usual physical reaction.

“Come back to bed,” Berg ordered, and Dan’s speed in leaping from the couch and dashing for the bed made it clear that he was anything but reluctant. So did the way Dan was stark naked on the rumpled sheets, legs spread, cock standing proud as Dan stroked it.

“Stop touching yourself,” Berg murmured, but Dan obviously heard him because that hand stopped moving, then released and dropped to the side. “God, you’re gorgeous. And mine, right?”

Dan moaned softly, his eyes already heavily lidded. “Always, Berg,” Dan answered, his voice somewhere between a whisper and a moan. “From the very start, even if I didn’t know it for a week or so.”

Bergen smiled. He couldn’t help it. “You saved me,” he said as he crawled onto the bed, body skimming Dan’s legs, cock, chest on his way to Dan’s mouth.

“No,” Dan answered, more gasp than anything else. “I saved us. Both of us. I had to. We deserve our happily ever after, don’t we?”

Well, Berg wasn’t sure that ‘happily ever after’ generally involved house-sitting for people like Salvatore Desanto, but he couldn’t swear that it didn’t, either. It didn’t even matter much right then.

“We do,” he agreed, putting all thoughts of Dan’s family from his mind. They didn’t matter. What mattered was Dan and showing Dan just how much he was appreciated for the gentle, kind, wonderful man he was. More submissive than not, granted, but that only meant they suited each other. And Dan had taken care of him, so Berg had no problem with taking care of Dan. Wouldn’t have had any issue even if Dan hadn’t gone so far out of his comfort zone.

It probably wasn’t the best blow job Berg had ever given, but Dan didn’t complain. A few minutes later, Dan was moaning and pleading for more as Berg pressed latex-sheathed heat deep inside Dan’s body. As worked up as Berg had been, he didn’t last long, but Dan still came again, and that was good.

“So what was the big deal about the pool?” he asked, yawning a little, though he didn’t know why. He’d slept a lot. Then again, he’d just expended an awful lot of energy, and hoped to do so again after a nap and possibly a bath.
Dan chuckled and settled more firmly against his side, which only made Berg smile.

“Okay, it’s kind of weird,” Dan said, sounding just as worn out as Berg felt. “But the whole pool area is done in what Uncle Sal called ‘pseudo-Egyptian’. Like… weird plants, plaster hippos, something that looks like an Egyptian crypt as a mini pool house. Changing house? Whatever.”

Berg frowned, trying to keep his eyes open. “Okay… and the pool itself? Tell me it’s not shaped like a crocodile or something.” He wasn’t sure he could swim in it if it were. He wasn’t exactly afraid of crocs, but he didn’t much care for them. Crocodiles and alligators. They weren’t snakes but weren’t quite lizards, either.

Dan yawned and rubbed his cheek against Berg’s chest, and if Berg had been any less exhausted it would have been arousing. “No, not a crocodile. The man my uncle bought the house from was selling it because his ex-wife was an amateur Egyptologist and he couldn’t stand to look at the yard. The pool’s shaped like an ankh, with the hot tub in the middle loop. Stupid shape for a pool.”

It really, really was, but Berg couldn’t manage to care right then. Besides, he was already thinking about spending time in that inner-loop hot tub with Dan. He could already picture it in his mind.

Those pictures followed him down into sleep, along with the certainty that he and Dan really were safe.

He wasn’t sure what Dan’s Uncle Sal had said or done to make Carl Black back off, but he also didn’t care. There was a whole new future — a happy one — in front of him, and Bergen was more than happy to get on with it.

* * *

Six weeks later, when he and Dan were settled in at their new Miami home, he checked the website Carl Black had been so proud of, and when he saw the link to several free streaming videos, he clicked it and almost felt sorry for Carl.
Only almost, though, because Carl Black being topped — bareback — by every guy Berg had ever worked with, plus a few he’d never seen before? Oh, there was a sort of poetic justice to that. He wasn’t even bothered that Carl was obviously enjoying it.

“What are you up to?” Dan’s voice from behind him had Berg closing the window and turning off the computer.

“Nothing,” Berg answered. “Just thinking about spending some more time in the hot tub.”

Dan grinned and turned away. “That sounds like a really good plan,” he called over his shoulder and Berg abandoned the chair he’d been sitting in, following the lure of Dan’s naked ass, though it was more Dan’s naked heart that drew him.



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