Tom watched him drive away in his car, the suspension groaning under the weight of the belongings he’d accumulated over the years. The car’s brake lights shone red at the stop sign at the end of the street, and in a tiny corner of his heart he hoped the car would do a u-turn and he would come speeding back. That he would jump out of the car and throw his arms around Tom and tell him that it was all a big mistake. That he hadn’t meant it. That he wanted to stay. But he didn’t. The car turned left and he was gone.
Sighing heavily, Tom sat down on the swing seat on the porch and ran a hand through his hair. He was tired, bone weary, having spent the night awake, tossing and turning, knowing that today would be the last day he’d see those blue eyes look at him over the breakfast table. It’s not that he hadn’t known it was coming. They’d agreed everything and nothing had been left unsaid. They knew that this was the right thing to do, make a clean break, just like tearing off a band aid he’d said. Tom had tried to summon a smile in response to that, but his lips had just wobbled and threatened to reveal the broken mess he really was. He knew that he had to retain some dignity. Didn’t want him to leave with the memory of Tom sobbing desperately and begging him not to go.
Except the car was gone. He was gone. Now he could cry great hiccupping breaths that started deep in his chest and made their way up his throat before he could stop them. Huge sobs that fell from his lips and echoed in the stillness around him.
The swing seat rocked slightly and strong arms enfolded him. Leaning into the familiar scent that meant comfort and safety, he held on tight. “He’s gone,” he sobbed, leaving a snotty trail on the shirt as he rubbed his face against the cotton. “I can’t believe he’s really gone.”
“Sssssh, it’s okay. Hey, I’m still here,” the voice was rich and warm, the Texan drawl evident, even after all these years of living in LA.
Tom slowly lifted his head and looked up into deep green eyes. Eyes that glittered with unshed tears of their own. Eyes that he had been looking into for the last twenty years, although now there were a few more wrinkles around them and a whole lot more laughter lines. “Thank, God. Because I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Tom rubbed at his face and snorted inelegantly. “I must look like shit.”
Laughing, Ross leaned down to kiss the wide mouth, whose bottom lip still trembled slightly, tasting the salt of Tom’s tears as he tried to sooth away his loss, their loss. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say shit…but if you snot anymore I may have to rethink.” Standing up, he pulled Tom with him and urged him inside the house, closing the door firmly behind them. “Besides,” he smiled, easing Tom down onto the sofa and cover the long, still muscled, body with his own. “You’re allowed to cry and sob and look like shit today. But you do know he’ll be back in six weeks with a bag full of dirty laundry and his hand held out for more cash?”
Tom chuckled, capturing Ross’s lips with his. “How do you do that?”
“Always know the right thing to say to make everything better?”
Kiss-biting up the tanned column of Tom’s throat, Ross smiled against the warm skin. “Years of practice, baby, years of practice. Now, would you shut up so I can make you feel even better?”
“Yes, sir,” Tom snorted, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Ross’s strong shoulders, the sunlight streaming through the windows glinting off the gold of his wedding ring. He let Ross sooth away his pain and bring the smile back to his face, although, as Ross said, he was allowed to cry, just for today.
Today was special. Today was the day their baby left for college.