Title: Family & Friends
Pairing: Link/Wes, Rick/TC (Tim), Ken/Jess
Info: This extension comes complete with the parents – Jason & Betty Walker, Link's Dad & Mom; Conrad & Liz Cooper, Wes's Dad & Mom.
It was beautiful on the mountain, the perfect day for a barbecue. The gentle breeze that blew across the clearing behind the log house brought with it faint scents from the bay far below.
Jason Walker, Link's Dad, had come up earlier that morning to help his son mow the clearing and was getting the grill ready now. Wes was in the barn when he heard tires crunching on the gravel driveway. He filled the coyote pup's water bowl, ruffled behind its ears and locked the cage. Expecting Ken and Jess, he walked out into the yard. He was surprised to see Rick and Tim climbing out of a vintage 914 Porsche. Wes chuckled to himself, wondering how Rick ever fit into that car. Rick pulled his partner close, whispered something to him, and patted his butt. Then he moved off toward the clearing to join Link and his dad.
"Hey bro," Wes yelled, "come on, I need some help here." Tim jogged over to his buddy, greeting him with a bump of shoulders. Wes pushed him into the barn. "We need to get the chairs," he explained. The young men grabbed armloads of folded lounge chairs and Wes followed Tim to the large old oak tree. The massive limbs of the tree would supply shade when the sun rose higher in the clear sky. They had begun setting up the chairs when Wes looked over his friend's spiked head to see the maroon SUV pull into the yard. Link's mom, Betty, emerged from the back seat while Wes's parents exited through the front doors. Both young men hurried to help unload the food the moms had insisted on bringing.
"Rick, let me introduce my mom, Betty, and dad, Jason," Link said as he pulled his mom into a gentle hug when the little group reached the tables. "Rick's an old friend of Ken's and owns a club in the city."
Rick nodded, "Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Walker."
"Betty and Jason," Link's mom countered. "Nice meeting you, Rick."
"Pleasure is mine, Mrs.…um, Betty." Rick turned and pulled TC to him, "And this is my partner, TC...um…Tim. Wes and Tim went to high school together."
Wes's dad stepped forward, extending his hand to Rick, "Conrad Cooper, nice to meet you Rick." Then he turned to the younger man, "Good to see you again Tim, it's been a long time."
"It sure has, Dr. Cooper," Tim agreed.
"I think it's ok to call me Conrad now, Tim," the doctor invited.
Tim grinned and leaned over to give Wes's mom a peck on the cheek. "Rick, this fine lady is Wes's mom, Mrs. Cooper. She makes the best potato salad on the planet."
"I see you haven't changed, Timothy," Wes's mom teased. "I'm Liz to my friends," she said smiling at him.
"Nice to meet you, Liz," Rick added while shaking her hand. "I'd be interested in trying your potato salad. Then maybe you can fill me in on some of the mischief these boys got up to in high school."
Liz chuckled, "It'll be my pleasure, Rick."
"Hey, are you going to bring the food over here so we can get started?" Link's dad called from the grill.
Both Link and Rick took the baskets from the ladies and carried them to the grill area.
Tim whispered to Wes, "You don't really think she's going to tell Rick everything do you?"
Wes just laughed.
The charcoal was just about ready for the potatoes to go on the grill when they heard the sound of a truck pulling up to the cabin. Conrad and Tim were busy raking off the horseshoe pit. Wes looked up from the back board he was repairing. Ken entered the clearing carrying two 24 packs of beer. He was followed a minute later by Kevin toting a 12 pack of soda. Jess followed along behind, not moving very fast. Wes thought it might be because, as blustery as Jess could be, he was basically shy out of his element. Kevin's eyes were everywhere and Wes hoped the kid could just be a teen today. He had told his parents a little of Kevin's history and they were eager to meet him.
Ken stopped and waited for his partner and the teen to catch up. "Come on guys, get a move on," he directed.
Kevin bounced forward but Jess held his pace.
Link waved as they entered the clearing. "Hey, glad you guys made it," he yelled. "We're about ready to burn the steaks."
Link made the introductions when the trio reached the tables. "Ken, you know my Mom and Dad."
"And this is Wes's mom, Liz."
"Nice to see you again, Jason. Betty, it's always a pleasure. Good to meet you, Liz." Ken pulled Jess forward. "Let me introduce you to Jess Meyers, my partner."
"I am very pleased to meet you," Jess said formally.
Ken coughed to hide a chuckle and Wes was sure he had never heard Jess so formal.
"And the young man hiding behind Jess is Kevin," Ken continued.
Jess stepped aside to reveal the teen. Caught off guard, Kevin ducked his head and mumbled, "Hey."
Wes, his dad and Tim joined the little group. "Hi guys," Wes reached out to take one of the cartons of beer while Tim took the other. He turned to Kevin. "Come on, Kev, let's get these on ice."
"I'm Conrad Cooper," Wes's dad said as he shook hands with the two big men before him. "Good to finally meet you. I've heard a lot about both of you from my son; nothing but good things."
"I think a lot of that son of yours, Conrad. He's the best thing that ever happened to my business," Ken praised his shop manager.
"Thanks, Ken," Conrad beamed. "His mom and I think he's pretty special."
Jess nervously shifted his body, uncomfortable with the conversation.
"So?" Wes's dad asked changing the subject after noticing the other man's tension. "Is anyone up for a game of horseshoes while we wait for the food?"
"Sure," Ken answered, "it'll be fun." He ignored the look Jess gave him and guided his reluctant partner toward the pit. "Rick, we need a fourth," he yelled at his old friend.
Rick grabbed four beers and sprinted across the yard to join the game. Ken and Jess were already waiting at the far end of the pit leaving Rick to pair up with Conrad.
Back by the grill, Liz shanghaied the three younger men to help set the table. As soon as they could, Wes, Tim, and Kev moved over to watch the horseshoe game. Soon, Ken and Jess were victorious. Ken gave his spot to Wes as Jess's new partner. Tim took Conrad's place and the game continued.
Kevin, being a curious teen, explored the barn with the caged animals while the others cooked and entertained themselves. He looked around when he returned to the table, then snagged himself a beer and moved toward the edge of the woods. Conrad and Ken saw the boy pull the beer from the tub of ice. "Damn," Ken sighed and started to go after his charge.
Conrad caught Ken's arm. "Let me go, Ken," the older man said softly.
There was something in Conrad's voice that made Ken step aside. "OK, I guess you've had more than enough practice with your boys."
Wes's dad nodded, "more practice with my older boy than I care to admit. Wes was more of a loner and not as adventurous as his brother. That is until he met Timmy their senior year, but he was never really wild." Conrad chuckled, "We thought of it as testing the waters. Learning who he was. Tim helped him though a confusing time."
"Sounds like Wes was lucky to have Tim as a friend and even luckier to have such understanding parents," Ken observed.
"Thanks, Ken," Conrad beamed at the compliment. Then he added, "Well, let me see what I can do with your young friend." Conrad retrieved a soda then bent to pick up a ball and a couple of gloves and started after Kevin. Walking up behind the youngster, Conrad reached around him, took the beer and replaced it with the soda. Holding one of the gloves out to the blushing boy, the man asked in a non-threatening tone, "How about a game of catch, son?"
"I'm not your son," Kevin spat out. "I'm no one's son."
"Maybe, but are you going to let that stop you from playing catch with me?" Conrad asked flipping the ball to Kevin.
Ken leaned against the rough corner of the barn and watched as man and boy tossed the ball around. Soon they were all called to eat. The pair walked back across the clearing, laughing as they came closer.
During the meal Wes knew his mom was in heaven catering to the youngster. At first Kevin didn't know how to react to the positive attention, but soon he was fitting right in. Plenty of childhood stories floated around the table embarrassing both Wes and Tim. Betty, Link's mom made sure her son wasn't left out of the embarrassment, much to Wes's amusement.
After the meal the three young men volunteered to clean up. By the time they had the food put away and the dishes washed the other men had settled down under the oak to relax. The moms were on the front porch swing quietly talking.
"Hey, look," Kevin whispered looking towards the woods. From their vantage point on the back porch they could see a half grown raccoon ambling along the tree line. "Can we follow it?" he pleaded with Wes.
"Aw, come on, bro," Tim added, "what's the harm?"
Wes looked over at his sleeping partner. "No, no harm, let's go. We need to be quiet," he said leading the others across the clearing.
The raccoon moved into the woods. "Damn, we are going to lose it," Kev whined.
"Shhh," Wes warned, "she's headed to the spring. She'll be looking for food." Wes ducked under the branches and the others followed. Before them a well-worn path appeared. "Come on, and be quiet."
Twenty minutes later the path opened up on a pool. The juvenile raccoon was turning stones on the far side of the pool. They watched in silence from the edge of the opening as the young critter fed on small snails. Moving forward to get closer to the spring, Wes saw the snake a second before Tim did. Tim jumped away, tripping over the small limbs and rocks that were scattered over the ground. He landed hard, his head making a dull thud as it made contact with one of the old broken limbs. Wes scrambled to his friend's side. "Tim…Timmy…are you ok?"
Timmy's eyes were open but he didn't move. Finally he rolled over onto his knees and groaned, "What happened?" He tried to stand up and hissed, "Shit, fuck, shit…ouch."
"Easy, bro," Wes cautioned, "take is easy. Just lie there a minute."
"Whoa, I'm seeing two of you," Tim whispered and closed his eyes.
"Hey, bro, I need you to stay awake." Wes pulled his own t-shirt off, "Kev, can you get this wet in the spring?"
"Huh?" Kevin pulled his eyes away from the injured man in front of him. "Um, sure," he said as he took the shirt and moved to get it wet.
"Does anything else hurt besides your head, Timmy?" Not waiting for an answer, Wes ran his hand over Tim's shoulders and chest before returning to the obvious injury. The shrill whistle that came from Wes's lips told a story of its own. "You already got a goose egg you aren't going to be able to hide, bro," he said shaking his head, "but it's not bleeding."
Kevin returned with the soggy shirt. Wes took it and wrung some of the cold water out before covering the lump. He turned to Kevin, "Kev, do you think you can find your way back to the house?"
"No, give me a minute and I'll be able to walk," Tim interrupted and tried to stand up again only to grab his head.
Wes guided him back to the ground. He didn't even try to argue with Tim. "Kev, can you do it?" he asked again.
"Yeah, I think so," he answered.
"Ok, good, I need you to go back to the house and get Link and my dad. Can you do that for me?
The teen nodded, "Is he going to be ok?"
"Yeah, kid, I'm ok, just dizzy," Tim reassured the teen. "I guess you better get Link before Wes blows a gasket."
"Just go slow and stay on the path, Kev. We don't need you getting lost or hurt. You'll see the house when you clear the woods," Wes instructed the teen. "Tell Link Tim fell and hit his head. Make sure he knows he's awake. Tell him we're at the spring. He'll know what to do."
Kevin muttered a quick "Ok" and took off.
"Shit, Wes," Tim moaned, "I'm in so much trouble."
"Hey, bro, Rick will understand," he said trying to comfort his friend and keep him awake. "It was an accident."
"No, you don't understand," Tim grunted as he carefully adjusted his position. "I wasn't supposed to leave the yard."
Wes leaned back against one of the trees near the pool. "Is that what Rick was telling you when you got here?"
"Yeah, I got in a bit of trouble last week and Rick's been keeping me close. I had to promise I'd stay close today before he would agree to accept your invitation," Tim explained. "I blew it big time."
"I understand, Tim," Wes conceded, "but I don't think this is that
"Rick is more than just my partner. We agreed he can call the shots. So when he tells me to do something, I'm supposed to do it, NO questions, just do it," Tim explained. "But sometimes," Tim laughed, "I just can't help myself."
"Um, Tim," Wes hesitated, "remember that week we spent with Phil and Rusty."
"Yeah," Tim grunted. `Why?"
"I was just wondering if you found what you were looking for?'' Wes watched his friend as he asked the question. "I mean is Rick what you needed?"
Tim looked up into the tree, groaned at the movement, and closed his eyes. Wes was just about to nudge Tim when he finally opened his eyes. Then in order to give his buddy some space, Wes turned his head back to the spring. The raccoon kit was feeding at the edge of the pool again turning over rock after rock. Wes watched her until he heard Tim's voice, "Yeah, he is, bro, he really is. It's a little more than what Rusty had. We work together so Rick is right there all the time," Tim explained when Wes shot him a look. "But you know what? I like being his, his to control," Tim looked away.
Wes mulled over his onetime lover's confession. "Man, isn't that suffocating?" Wes asked. He couldn't understand Tim, his Tim, wanting someone to control him.
Wes saw the red blush spread over Tim's face and watched as he tried not to jar his head when he laughed, "Yeah, it's stifling at times, but most of the time I love it. Just giving over to him is a rush like no other I've felt. I like being his, I like when I can lose myself in his dominance. I hate myself when I disappoint him." Tim pushed himself up so he could lean against the tree too. His voice had a tremor in it when he said, "I was feeling stifled this morning, but now all I want is Rick, even if he's never going to let me out of his sight."
Wes picked up the now warm t-shirt and walked to the spring. He watched the kit stand on her back feet sniffing the air. When she continued on her mission, he wet the shirt again and returned to his
friend. "It's hard to believe the free spirit I knew when we were kids wants to be controlled." Tim suppressed a groan when Wes put the cool shirt back on his head.
"What about you, bro?" Tim asked. "I could tell from the night at the club that Link is more than just a boyfriend."
Wes laughed, "You don't miss much, do you?" He paused forming his words, "Yes, Link is more than just a boyfriend. He's the head of our household." Wes looked back toward the pool. The kit was playing with a small frog at the edge of the water. "I'd say, for the most part, we live a fairly normal life."
"But?" Tim asked.
"Well, ever since our visit to Phil and Rusty's I knew I wanted a bit more in a relationship. Link fills that need," Wes conceded. "It's not as heavy as what you have with Rick, though. We only have a
couple of rules. And Link isn't a hard ass about what I can and can't do."
"Different strokes for different folks, bro, and if it works, then I'm happy for you and Link," Tim said.
"Yeah," Wes said and leaned back against his tree and both men got lost in their own thoughts as they waited for their partners.
Link looked up to see Kevin running across the clearing toward the house. He stood and looked around for Wes. Not seeing him or Tim, Link kicked Rick's lounger, waking him up. "Do you know where your boy is?" he asked his sleepy guest.
Rick rubbed his eye then looked around. "No, the last time I saw him he was with Wes and Kevin in the house.
"I think we have a problem then," Link speculated and pointed to Kevin.
By the time Kevin reached the house, everyone was up and waiting for him. He slowed to a walk, suddenly nervous at being the center of attention. Out of breath, he walked up to Link and blurted out, "Tim's hurt."
Rick was in Kevin's face in a heartbeat, "What do you mean he's hurt, Kevin?" he growled.
"Rick, give him some room and we will get to the bottom of this," Link said gently pulling Rick back.
Ken took Rick's place. "What happened, Kevin?" he firmly but gently asked.
Liz wiggled between the boy and man, "Give him a chance to talk. You're all scaring him." She gave each man a look that said back off. "Ok, Kevin, what happened?"
"Um, a raccoon," Kevin started to explain as the words came tumbling out, "the woods…wanted to follow…Wes and Tim...um…snake…Tim fell."
"Ok, Kevin, slow down a little. Is Wes ok?" she asked needing to know if her son was hurt too.
"Yeah, he's ok. He sent me after Link and Dr. Cooper," Kevin said. "We were at the spring and there was a snake. Tim tried to jump away from it and tripped. He hit his head."
"Did he get bitten?" Liz wanted to know. "Was it a rattler?"
Kevin shook he head, "It was only a king snake, but he jumped like it was a rattler."
Conrad asked the next question, "Kevin, think about this, did Tim black out?"
"No, he just cussed and yelled a lot. He said he's dizzy so Wes isn't letting him get up," he said. "I can show you where they are."
"That's ok, Kev, I know where they are. We'll go get them. You stay here with the others." Link turned back to Rick, "Let me get my first aid pack. We'll take the jeep."
He sprinted to the barn, returning seconds later with the pack. "Dad, can you take care of things here?"
"Sure, son, just go get your guys," Jason answered.
"Thanks," Link said on the run, "Let's go, Rick." Conrad was already at the jeep.
Wes heard the jeep before he saw it. "Sounds like they're here, bro. How you feeling?" he asked, making small talk.
"Ok, for now, but Rick's gunna kill me," Tim said, chewing on his lip.
The jeep stopped next to the pool. Rick was out before it came to a full stop. Wes stepped back as he approached his boy. "How bad is it, Pet? What happened?" Rick asked his boy.
"It's nothing, I'm ok, Rick," Tim tried to convince his lover.
Link came up to the little group and pulled Wes to him, "What happened, babe?" he asked.
Tim started to say something but Rick shushed him, putting his finger over his boy's lips. "You had your chance, Pet, let Wes talk now."
"Ok. Um, well, Kev wanted to follow the kit so we came with him. There was a king snake in front of us," Wes explained. "I didn't see it in time to stop."
"Go on," Link encouraged.
"It startled Tim and he tried to jump back but got twisted up in the rocks. He hit his head pretty hard. Knocked the wind out of him but he didn't black out," he reassured both the two tops. "He's already got a pretty good size lump. I didn't let him move around just in case and kept him awake and talking."
Conrad knelt down in front of this young man who had spent more time at the Coopers in high school than he did at his own home. "Let me have a look, Tim." He produced a small penlight. "Ok, Tim, look at me," he instructed.
Tim looked up, "Ok, Dr. Cooper."
Conrad moved the light steadily from eye to eye then he held it in front of one eye before he moved the light to the other eye. "He's eyes are equal and reactive, but we'll need to watch out for any vomiting or if he loses consciousness."
"Pet," Rick softly said while patting the hip before him, "it'll be ok so stop biting that lip."
Slowly releasing his lip TC looked up at Rick. Sniffing back a tear he whispered, "I'm sorry."
"TC, you falling was an accident. I know that," Rick said. "Let's get you back and fixed up and then we can deal with our other problem, ok?"
TC nodded, "Yes, sir." And Rick helped him to his feet.
Once back at the house, Rick firmly instructed TC, "Plant your butt on that lounge chair and don't move unless I tell you." Liz handed Rick a wrapped ice bag along with a couple Tylenol. TC swallowed the pills without any complaints. His lover placed the ice bag over the goose egg and covered his boy with a blanket. "I want you to rest, Pet," Rick said bending to kiss TC's lips.
Wes heard Tim whisper to Rick, "I'm sorry I disappointed you today and caused all this trouble, Rick."
"You didn't disappoint me, you disappointed yourself. I never ask anything I'm not positive you can give. We'll take care of this lack of thinking things through in a couple of days when your head is better, and I'm going to keep you on a tighter rein but we are good," Rick responded. Wes grinned and knew that Rick was right for his friend.
The parents left just before dark after making sure Tim was out of danger. Conrad gave Rick instructions to wake Tim every few hours and ask the standard questions. He reassured the big man that Tim would be fine. Ken, Jess and Kevin left soon after saying they had to get the kid back to the home. Link insisted Rick and Tim spend the night instead of driving back to San Francisco. The four men moved to the porch. Tim flinched when Rick pulled him onto his lap. Rick raised his eyebrow in question but his boy just looked away.
A few minutes later, Rick stood, pulling TC up with him. "If you'll excuse us, I think it's time to get this boy to bed," he told the others.
"If you need anything, give out a shout," Link offered. "Sleep well."
"I'll show you where the towels and extra blankets are, Rick," Wes said as he led them to the bedroom. Tim leaned against the larger man as they walked into the house. Wes pulled a couple of blankets from the closet and dropped them on the chair in the corner. He looked up to see Rick gently pick up TC and carefully lay his lover on the bed. Pulling Tim's T-shirt up, his hands searched the toned body, finally resting just above a large ugly bruise. TC winced as Rick stroked the purple mass over his ribs. He pushed Rick's hand away, covering the bruise.
"Pet, move your hands." Rick coaxed. "Why didn't you tell me you hurt your chest too?"
"I didn't know, it only started hurting when I got up to go to the porch," TC whimpered. "I'm OK, please don't touch it," he said, still guarding the bruise.
"Obey me," Rick said softly.
TC pulled his hands back. Even in pain, he knew not to challenge that soft, steady tone.
"It didn't hurt before," TC whined, "I would have told you."
"Ok, let's get some sleep. But if it still hurts in the morning, I'll ask Wes to call his dad to check it out," Rick stated. "Thanks for the help, Wes. See you in the morning."
"Night," Wes said stepping out of the room. He got a couple drinks from the kitchen then found Link where he left him on the porch swing. Link smiled at him and patted the seat. Wes passed one of the drinks to his lover and sat down.
They sat in silence, savoring each other, Wes safely tucked under his lover's arm. The lights of the town twinkled in the distance and the lonesome whistle of the evening freight train floated up the mountain to them.
"I was so proud of the way you handled things today, babe, but I think we have a couple of things to talk about," Link said softly.
"Yeah, I guess we do, T-man," the younger man conceded. "I guess I'm in trouble for not letting you know where we were going."
"Tomorrow's soon enough," Link said after he kissed the top of his boy's head. "Go get ready for bed while I lock up." He pulled Wes to his feet and patted his butt to get him headed in the right direction.
Link silently moved about the house making sure everything was secure. Back in the kitchen, he heard a step behind him and turned to see Rick. "Everything ok, bro?" he asked.
"TC still has a bit of a headache. Do you think it's ok to give him a something for it?" the worried man asked.
Link reached into the cupboard retrieving a bottle of tablets. "Conrad said it would be ok to give him a couple more Tylenol to help him relax and get some sleep," Link explained. "Take these with you in case you need them again later."
"Thanks, Link, I really mean it," Rick said taking the bottle. "Letting us stay the night means a lot."
"It's not a problem, now go take care for your brat and get some sleep, my friend," Link gently ordered. He waited until Rick entered the bedroom then flicked off the overhead light and reached down to turn on a small table lamp, just in case one of his guests wandered during the night.
Wes was still in the bathroom when Link stepped into the bedroom. Quietly he slipped into the en suite, pausing to lean against the stones surrounding the fireplace that separated the rooms. He marveled at the scene in front of him. Wes was standing at the vanity still wet from the shower but what Link found fascinating were the faces he was making. The older man silently watched Wes twist his face this way and that way, squinting his eyes. Then with water dripping from his curls Wes frowned and pulled his brows together. Link held back a laugh when Wes pushed one brow up with his fingers and then the other. Finally, the big man couldn't stand it and moved up behind his partner wrapping him is an all-encompassing hug, "What are you doing, babe? "
Wes blushed. "Oh, nothing much," he whispered to his man, kissing his bearded cheek.
"Try that again, babe. What's with all the crazy faces?" Link asked again a little firmer.
"It's pretty simple, T-man. I was noticing that you and Ken and even Rick do the eyebrow raising thing. So I was seeing if I could do it too," he explained to his confused top. "But, I can't do it."
Link laughed. "So what do you think that means, babe?
Now, it was Wes's turn to laugh. "I was thinking it's a peculiar trait that only tops have," he said as he tried to slip out of the muscular arms surrounding him.
Link just threw him over his shoulder and carried him to the bed. "Let me show you another trait we have," he said dropping his brat on the bed and smacking his butt before he draped his body over Wes's.