*** Chapter 4 ***
A few weeks went by, and Robert was healing as expected, getting close to the point where the casts could be removed. Brad had continued to work cheerfully to help Robert in every way possible, and was relieved when Roberts’ friend Charles had come to visit. He could hear the two men talking and laughing in the bedroom, and it truly lifted some of the burden from his shoulders. He had taken the opportunity to walk the trails outside, make sure everything was in order, getting some fresh air and peace for himself, then come back into the house to check his e-mails.
There was a message from his boss, asking how things were, wishing Robert a speedy recovery, with other messages from his co-workers saying that all the presentations he had done before leaving had panned out, and that the workload was crazy, which made him worry about his work situation. Messages from his friends were also filled with best wishes, and a desire to be able to go out again, and news of dates and boyfriends and fun; yet their attempts at light conversation only served to remind him of how mundane his own life seemed to feel right now. He told himself over and over that things were OK, but didn’t seem to believe it. With a sigh, he sank his head into his hands and just breathed deeply, frustration and sadness and uncertainty warring within him. As a single tear escaped his eye, he told himself that he wouldn’t cry, he couldn’t cry.
Taking leave of Robert, Charles quietly came up behind Bradley in the kitchen. He placed his hands on his shoulders and gently started to massage. At first Brad relaxed a bit, then realizing who it was pushed a bit backwards and jumped to his feet, taking a couple steps away.
“Charles, uh, nice to see you. I hope you and Robert had a nice visit.”
Charles took a step towards Brad, and in a low voice said “Yes, we had a very nice chat. Hard to see him laid up like that. It’s obvious he’s in no shape to take care of you, satisfy you. He isn’t man enough for you anymore.” Charles was a big man, at least as tall as Robert, though his shoulders weren’t quite as wide. He had dirty blonde hair, cropped short, and a matching beard, with piercing blue eyes. He took another pace forward, and put his hands on Brad’s arms. “I’d be happy to step up and take care of you. Either a quick fuck or a long one, whatever you need. It’s the least I can do.”
Visions of his near rape flashed through his head, and Brad was motionless for a moment, stunned to disbelief. But that is quickly overridden as he became enraged at the slur to Robert, the thought that he isn’t man enough anymore. “Robert is more man than you’ll ever be. Get your hands off me!” he snarled at Charles. He took the half smile that formed on Charles’ face as a smirk, and really let him have it, his voice rising in volume. He shrugged Charles’ hands off his arms and poked his finger into his chest. “What kind of friend are you to behave like this? I trusted you, Robert did, too; and this is how you act? I’m not some cheap slut, and Robert isn’t an invalid. You’ll see,” Brad shouted.
THUMP. Both men heard a loud sound from the bedroom. “What the hell is going on out there!” Robert bellowed as he stumbled into the kitchen, his face red. “You get away from Bradley, Charles, or I’ll…”
“Robert, calm down, it’s OK,” Brad said, rushing over to his side, worrying that he had hurt himself getting out of bed in a rush, or that the stress would set him back in some way. “We just had a little misunderstanding, that’s all, and I overreacted. Nothing to get you upset over.”
Robert glared over towards Charles, who held his hands up. “Yes, Robert, nothing happened, there’s nothing to worry about. I was just leaving, I’ll see you soon.”
With that, Charles quickly left the house through the kitchen door.
“Bradley, it sounded like you were upset. I want to know what is up. This isn’t nothing.”
“Robert, it’s nothing for you to worry about. Just a simple misunderstanding. You shouldn’t have had to get out of bed like that, you could have hurt yourself. How about you sit down and I’ll get you some lemonade.”
“Are you sure? You aren’t hiding anything from me?”
“Sssshhhh, Robert, it’s all OK. Sit down. Do you want a snack with the lemonade?”
“How about a beer and pretzels?” Robert says, still certain that there is more that he’s not being told.
“Now, Robert, with those casts on, you can’t hold a beer, and you won’t like it with a straw …” Brad saw Roberts’ face fall at the mention of the casts and his limitations, and kicked himself inside for reminding him of it. “How about we share a beer and I can help you with it?” he offered.
“No, no, I don’t want to be a bother, I should just go back to bed.”
“It isn’t a bother, it would be really nice. Sit down. Please,” Brad said, pulling out one of the stools near the island.
Robert hesitated, and then plopped down on the stool with a loud sigh, and Brad grabbed a microbrew that they both enjoyed from the fridge, and filled a bowl with pretzels. Standing in front of Robert, he held the bottle to his lips for the first swig, letting Robert have a nice long pull, then drank himself, the cold beer tasting good, the knowledge that Robert’s lips were so recently on the same bottle feeling even nicer. He reached down for a pretzel and carefully put it up to Robert's mouth. Seeing the smile on Bradley’s face, realizing that it was genuine, Robert relaxed, and in a moment of silliness, lunged for the pretzel with a loud “nom”, catching it with his teeth as his lips brush Bradley’s fingertips. Brad giggled, relaxing himself, happy to see Robert break out of his distant mood. It had been a long while since they had done something so simple together as sit in the kitchen and share a snack, made more intimate by the fact that Brad was hand feeding the pretzels and helping with the beer but in a fun fashion rather than one simply of need.
As Brad helped Robert with the last swig of beer, having to tip the bottle high, he noticed a small layer of foam on Roberts’ upper lip. He leaned in without thinking and licked it off, then kissed Robert gently. Their eyes met, and as Robert instinctively tried to wrap his arms around his partner, reality yet again sank in for both. Almost shyly, they broke apart again, and Brad bustled about, putting the beer bottle in recycling and the pretzel bowl in the dishwasher. Yet instead of going their separate ways, Robert stayed on the stool as Bradley began to prepare dinner, and they spoke of inconsequential things from the news for a bit. All too soon, however, the lack of support of the stool made Robert uncomfortable, and he moved back to the hospital bed.
Later that evening, once Robert had settled in for the night, Brad’s cell phone began to vibrate. He looked; it is a number that he didn’t recognize.
“Hello, this is Brad.”
“Don't hang up! Bradley, this is Charles. Please don’t hang up.”
“What? Why shouldn’t I? How dare you call me? How did you get my number?”
“Robert gave me your number, just in case something happened. I want to explain about today, please listen.”
“I don’t know why I should. If this is another come on …”
“Bradley, listen. I want to help.”
“You said that this afternoon.”
“Don’t be offended, but you really aren’t my type.”
“It sure didn’t feel that way! And if you were really doing us a “favor”, then what does type matter? How about that?”
“Seriously, Bradley, I’m straight. You aren’t my type.”
“Look, Bradley, just let me explain. I’ve been worried about Robert. Even when he was wounded in the Middle East, he didn’t sink into a funk like this. I had to know what was going on, if it was physical or mental. This afternoon was all a setup, to see how you would both react, because I’m afraid that Robert is losing the will to fight and get better. I didn’t know what else to do. But seeing the love and drive in you, seeing Robert’s passion re-ignite, I know now it isn’t hopeless.”
“I could have told you that.”
“Could you have? You seem pretty dejected yourself when you aren’t putting on a show for Robert.”
“Yes, a show. I see how much effort you put into being totally positive for him. Even over simple things. No one can be that cheerful all the time.”
“Things aren’t that simple.”
“I think they are. Look, you’re pampering Robert too much, and it’s wearing you both down. He needs to feel like a man, to learn to take care of himself again. That isn’t something you can do for him.”
“Well, he can’t, and I don’t mind at all, he deserves to be pampered.”
“Bradley, I think he can start to do more for himself, and he has to if he is going to get back to being the man he was. I was a drill sergeant back in the day, and I know all about “tough love”, and what it takes to build a man’s confidence, to believe in himself. That is central to who Robert is.”
“But, I need to help him, it is my fault …”
“No, he told me you felt that way, and that you’re wrong. You need to move on from that, and focus on how to make the future better.”
“I see some of that, but, I don’t know.”
The two ended up talking for a quite a while, Charles finally convincing the reluctant Brad that this was best for Robert, that he must work for himself to get better, put the effort in, with Brad for support only when truly needed at this stage.
At first, it was all little things – not rushing to Robert’s side, not getting him exactly what he wanted when he wanted it. Robert’s loud complaints could be heard throughout the house and made it much more difficult, as he still felt the need to help; but he had promised Charles that he would give it at least four or five days to see what happened, unless there was an unforeseen medical need.
Two things happened on the fourth day to truly convince Brad that he was on the right path forward. First, he noticed that instead of bellowing and badgering and complaining, Robert was exhibiting much more civil behavior. He remembered to ask instead of demand, to thank Brad for efforts made and do so sincerely, to praise what was done rather than complain if it wasn’t exactly as expected. This in turn caused Brad’s own behavior and attitude to change, actually being happy to do things instead of the enforced cheerfulness he had been exhibiting. He began to feel a renewed confidence in himself, and realized the Charles had actually seen things more clearly than he would have thought possible.
The second issue was another message from Logan, letting him know that the additional workload had gotten to the point where they could no longer handle it with the staff on hand, especially given the tight deadlines expected. He had looked at temp agencies, and found nothing that matched their needs.
Brad thought long and hard about it, and determined that no matter what happened, he wasn’t ready yet to leave Robert home alone all day every day. But his job and career were important as well, he was not just a satellite orbiting around Robert’s needs. He decided to offer Logan a counter proposal, and decided that if it wasn’t accepted, he would resign in order to have that weight off his shoulders. Robert had told him often enough that his military pension and the income from his business were more than enough to support them, though he had never pressured him to stop working. Once when it was mentioned, Robert had simply told him that he needed to do what made him happy, that he was a partner, not a pet. Right now, he couldn’t be happy being at work all day while Robert was home alone in casts.
Channeling what he called his “inner Robert”, he mustered his courage and called Logan, explaining his proposal. While he was out of his normal comfort zone being rather aggressive on the issue, he knew it was the only way he would get what he needed.
“Look, Brad, what you are saying makes perfect sense, it is just different than how we’ve always done things. For you to stay behind the scenes and do the grunt work while others work directly with the clients and get the credit, I don’t know if that is the best thing for your career.”
“Logan, I appreciate you looking out for me. You know I can do all the background work, and prep everyone on how to deal with the clients on those issues via phone. I can certainly run to the office and get hard copies when needed, though with scanners, there really isn’t much I can’t handle from home.”
“I know you can, but how do I explain that to everyone else? Corporate has a policy about telecommuting.”
“I know. You can present it as a temporary solution to get us over the current hurdle. You know that there is no one else you can get up to speed fast enough. I’m willing to work with you if you are willing to work with me.”
“Brad, I agree with you. Hold on while I talk to HR.”
Brad listened to the on hold elevator music for a bit, feeling much more relaxed that he had expected. Eventually, after a long pause, Logan came back on the line.
“Brad, HR says no, that it would be an abuse of policy. I argued as best I could. I’m sorry.”
“No, Logan, I am sorry. I quit. Guess there is no point in two weeks notice even.”
“Brad, please, we do need you. There has to be some way to work this out.”
“How about this, Logan. I quit, that is said and done. But, you could hire me on as a consultant for now. It’ll cost you more per hour, as I’ll need to pay insurance for myself, but you won’t have to pay benefits. It’ll be just like a temp service.”
“What temp agency will you be at? Have you been thinking of this for long?”
“No, I really haven’t, I always hoped to come back. But, there is no reason I can’t work as a consultant under Robert’s company. I can get you all the liability and insurance paperwork via fax within an hour, and his non-disclosure agreement is far more aggressive than ours, so the lawyers should have no problem. What do you think?”
“We’d need to set it up as a new vendor, so that we could pay, and you know we don’t do anything other than net 60 terms, can you live with that?”
“I was willing to live without a job, I think I can manage.”
“Otherwise, I can try to force a retainer through.”
“Thanks, Logan, but you are sticking your neck out enough, I’ll deal with the net 60 day terms.”
“Get me the papers as soon as you can then, we need you right away.”
“Will do, and thank you.”
“No, thank you Brad. You’ve pulled my ass out of the fire work-wise with this, and my conscience out of the fire as well. I still think it is ridiculous how you’ve been treated.”
After a few more pleasantries, they hung up. Brad quickly checked on Robert, who was napping (and constantly complained about how the medicines made him drowsy enough to do so), then called both the attorney and the accountant for Robert’s company and got all the required paperwork started. It turned out that no new vendor paperwork would be needed, as Robert's company already provided several forms of security for a subsidiary of the marketing firm. It also so happened that, without Brad knowing it, Robert had made him a full partner in the company some time back, and he could execute all the documents himself. The lawyer laughed when he explained it, saying Robert was determined to do it that way, and that nothing would stop him once he set on a course. Amazingly, when all was said and done, Brad discovered that he could start work again within the next couple of days.
With the weight of the work dilemma off his shoulders, and Robert’s improved attitude, Brad set forth with a vengeance with Charles’ plan. Immediately he determined that Robert would no longer eat in bed, instead he would get up and eat at the table, even if he still had to be fed. He brought Robert’s laptop into the bedroom and had him become involved with work again, using voice recognition and command software, which while not perfect enough to do detailed tasks, did allow him to do emails, participate in phone calls, run reports, and more. Once both were working, it seemed that when they talked, they had so much more to talk about, even if it wasn’t work. This included the new work arrangements for Brad.
“Robert, before you get to deep back into work, you should know a few things.”
“Sure, shoot Bradley.”
“First, I know about how you set me up as a partner. You could have said something.”
“Well, I didn’t want you to think you had to do anything. I didn’t do it to rope you in or anything.”
“I know that, but I would have helped anyway I could, especially while you’ve been recovering.”
“You have your own career, your own desires. I didn’t intend to force fit you into mine. I just wanted to be sure the company was in the family, no matter what. Because you are my family. I shouldn’t have kept it from you, I know we should have talked about it, but I didn’t want to impose.”
Brad hugged Robert, and kissed him. “Of course we’re a family, but it sure sounds nice hearing it out loud.”
“Of course you are. I get why you did it, and it was sweet in your special bullheaded way” Brad said with a wink. “So, another thing, and why don’t you forgive me right away.”
“Forgive you? For what? Of course I will, but what?”
“Well, I am active in the company now, in a way. I sort of had to set up a consulting operation within it, as I’ve used up my leave at work. That way, I can still be here, yet do the parts of my job I really am good at. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve already set the paperwork up, that is how I am working at home now. It doesn’t have to be forever, I don’t know how long it will work out.”
Instead of the explosion Brad thought might have happened, or the patient sigh, instead he saw a glistening in the corner of Robert’s eye, and a big smile on his face. “Bradley, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Not just the staying home part, but the fact that you could work it all out like that. Of course it’ll be fine, and as long term as you want it, it isn’t like my clients couldn’t use help in that area now and then, or as if I couldn’t use the help if I want OUR Company to grow.”
With that, Brad carefully laid down on the hospital bed beside Robert, his head on Robert’s chest, and the men cuddled for a while, talking softly of plans for the future.
Not all was sunshine and light however. Robert had become used to using a bedpan to piss most of the time, as some of his earlier medications had acted as diuretics, and getting him in and out of bed quickly and frequently had gotten old fast. So he’d yell for Bradley to fetch it for him, and expect him to wait until he was finished and then dump and rinse it. While Brad understood the need, it had become a task he found hard to be cheerful over.
“Bradley! I need to take a leak. Bring the bedpan over, would ya cub?”
“Shake a leg, I gotta take it now!”
“Maybe you should have asked sooner then” mumbled Brad from the bathroom where he was fetching the bedpan, after getting up from his laptop in the middle of a set of graphic re-renderings.
“Nothing, nothing, be right there.”
Brad helped Robert roll to his side, moving the sheets, and positioned everything properly. As Robert let his flow start and sighed, Brad spoke up. “I need make sure nothing times out during this re-rendering, or the last hours’ work is lost. I’ll be right back.” Without waiting for a response, he left the room and commenced typing on the laptop.
At first, Robert was a bit miffed but thought nothing of it. He finished his business, and waited. After a minute or so, he called out “Bradley, I’m done” only to get a distracted “Uh huh” as a reply.
He continued to wait, holding still as he didn’t want to cause the bedpan to spill. He couldn’t even shift himself away at this point. “As if it isn’t embarrassing enough needing a bedpan, but now this too?” he grumbled to himself.
“Bradley, I’m done. The bedpan needs to be emptied”
“Uh huh” tap tap tap click was all he heard.
After waiting another minute or two, he felt ready to explode, then thought better of it. “Bradley, could you please help me? I’d clear out the bedpan myself, but I’d spill it.”
“15 seconds more and I’ll be there, sorry about the delay” though Brad wasn’t particularly sorry. He finished processing what he needed in order to save, and walked over to Robert. “Wow, you did really have to go. Let’s get rid of that.” He carefully slid the bedpan away and lifted it, walking it careful to the bathroom, emptying it in the toilet and flushing. He rinsed the bedpan with warm water in the tub, then sprayed it with disinfectant and let it sit while he got a warm washcloth ready and went to gently wipe Robert off, carefully cleaning his cock then his balls with the other end of the cloth, causing Robert to spread his legs and sigh.
Brad put the washcloth aside, and without being asked, just sensing the need, feeling it himself, he lowered his mouth over Robert’s rising cock, taking it all into his mouth before it was fully hard. He sucked it then pulled back, letting his lips slide up over the shaft, running his tongue in circles around the head.
“Oh Bradley, that feels so good” moaned Robert.
“Tastes good, too.”
Brad ran his tongue up and down the sides of Robert’s shaft, then started licking his balls. He’d run his tongue back up the underside of the shaft, flick it across the glans and slit, then back down where he’d either lick the sack or gently take a ball into his mouth and give it a tongue bath. Soon Robert’s cock was covered in a mix of Brad’s saliva and his own pre-cum. Brad continued to suck Robert’s balls, and wrapped his right hand around the hard, wet penis, stroking it slowly yet firmly. Robert’s eyes closed, his breathing became heavier, and his hips started to move.
“Oh, no, not so fast, stud,” Brad whispered softly, running his tongue around his fist and up Robert’s belly, squeezing his hand tightly closed to prevent movement. He licked his way up the furry stomach, running it over the now healed scars, feeling the shortened fur where it had been shaved. He licked the beads of sweat forming under Robert’s pectorals, slowly, enjoying the salty taste, then went for the left nipple, flicking his tongue across it at the same time he flicked his thumb along the underside of Robert’s cock head. He held his finger still every time Robert started to buck, and started going from one nipple to the other, keeping Robert poised for almost 20 minutes before moving up and shoving his tongue into Robert’s mouth, past parted lips, and renewing his stroking. As Robert passionately kissed him, pushing his own tongue into Bradley’s mouth, Brad stroked him faster and harder, until Robert’s back arched. Brad held tight for another moment, the released Robert’s cock, and cum spurted up, glazing the fur on Robert’s chest and the sleeves and side of Brad’s shirt. The kissing became gentler, loving, but the awkward bend of standing beside the hospital bed and leaning in left Brad ready to straighten out.
“I love you, Robert” he said softly as he stood.
“I love you, Bradley” Robert replied, not softly in the least.
Brad smiled as he retrieved the washcloth and got it wet with warm water again. He again cleaned Roberts’ cock and balls with the washcloth, and the ropes of drying cum from his stomach and chest.
“Your shirt needs to get cleaned off too, Cub” said Robert.
“I guess someone needed some release” Brad smiled, taking off his shirt and quickly rinsing it in the tub, at the same time rinsing out the bedpan and setting it to dry.
He walked back to Robert, shirtless, and leaned down to kiss him again. As he rose back up, Robert crunched his stomach muscles, following below him, and licked Brad’s right nipple, which quickly hardened.
“Seems like something else needs some attention. Lean over here a minute, Cub.”
Brad leaned over, with Robert telling him to move a bit higher, a bit left, and Brad gripped both railings of the hospital bed, his chest over his lover, who soon engulfed his right nipple with his mouth, licking and sucking it, nibbling it. He turned his head and treated the left to the same. As Robert alternated between teasing Brad’s nipples and getting rough with them, Brad’s cock grew harder, poking into the side of the bed, and as he arched up, into the side of Robert’s leg.
“Pull that cub cock outta those pants, Bradley.”
“Do it. C’mon, do it. Now.”
Releasing the closer railing, Brad unzipped his jeans and released his cock, feeling how wet his underwear was from how aroused sucking Robert had made him. It slapped down on Robert’s leg, leaving a trail of pre-cum.
“Yeah, Cub, you jerked daddy’s cock, now jerk yours, that’s it, do it” Robert growled, teasing Brad’s nipples more.
Brad slowly started to tease his own cock, sliding his hand up and down the shaft, rubbing the pre-cum across the shaft with each stroke. Robert matched the timing of his tongue and mouth on Brad’s nipples with Brad’s strokes, and started to get more vigorous as Brad jerked harder, then easing off as Brad slowed down. The pleasure in two separate erogenous zones became incredibly intense for Brad, linking to his entire being. All too soon, Brad’s arm on the rail began to tremble slightly, and Robert knew it was now or never. He moved his leg over, under Brad’s cock, pressing carefully against Brad’s balls, and rubbed it back and forth. Then he bit down on Brad’s left nipple, not hard enough to break skin, but enough for pain to become pleasure, and release inevitable, and Brad’s cock throbbed, then erupted. Cum flew forth, coating Robert’s leg, cock, and belly, as Brad called out his name.
Panting hard, Brad released the railing as Robert released his nipple, and leaned in to rest against Robert’s chest, panting.
“Looks like we both needed some release Bradley. Sorry to make you do most of the work.”
“Work? That was all pleasure, Robert, thank you,” Brad said, raising his lips to Robert.
Soon enough, Brad went to get the washcloth a third time, and clean everything off, shucking his now damp pants as well. “Guess we’ll both be naked for a while today.”
“Now, having you naked for the day, that makes waiting on the bedpan completely worthwhile!”
Both men laughed, relaxed and sated for the time being.
Things were not always so amusing when Brad was slow with the bedpan. Very quickly, Robert realized that he didn’t need to be fully dependent on it, that he could now get himself out of bed with an effort and get himself to the bathroom. Yes, he had to sit to piss. Yes, he still needed Brad’s help to wipe. But it was far better to ask for that than constantly bellow for the bedpan and expect it. He became more and more assured of his own recovery, and put more effort into speeding it up again.