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 Roses and Thorns, April 29, 2167 | Reese Marshall
Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 10 2018, 10:19 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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Reese hesitated. He trusted Bruce implicitly, whether or not he had ever admitted it. If Bruce had told him that the world was flat, he would have believed him with no way to prove otherwise and no drive to do so. His friend had never betrayed his trust; and he didn't think Bruce would now.

He let go. The hesitation was not uncertainty, but unwillingness. Like a lover wrapped around their other half before they boarded an airplane on a Disney Land vacation (The similarity stood, even if the Magic Kingdom did not.)

Moving around the other side of the bed, tears still marching their way from his eyes to his chin, he waited for Bruce to fix the bed so that he could crawl onto it, and when it was finished, he did exactly that. He got into the bed and moved until he was in approximately the middle before he looked up at Bruce, expectantly.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 11 2018, 05:56 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce strongly identified as a man of integrity and strove to embody this in every aspect of his life, from his strict adherence to contracts and confidentiality at Shangri-La to his generosity and commitment to friendships and family life in his personal sphere, to his refusal to run a negative campaign despite the myriad opportunities to do so provided by his opponent. He had never lied to Reese, and he would not begin now, when his friend, vulnerable and half out of his head, relied on his words for guidance.

When the younger man slipped from his arms, Bruce smiled softly, silently assuring him that this was the correct course of action and that his trust was not misplaced. Then he pushed off from the floor, rising to his feet. He paused long enough to pluck Reese’s discarded swimsuit and the towel from the floor, wrapping the former in the latter and setting them aside on the nearest end table to prevent the carpet from growing damp or staining. When they finished for the night, he could hang them in the washroom to dry overnight.

Stepping around to the bed, he found that his friend had made half an attempt, managed to pull it out and had tossed the cushions in any direction they might land, without making the bed comfortable for himself. Bruce could fix that in short-order.

Between the childhood expectation that he would make his own bed that carried into adult bachelorhood without a housekeeper, maintaining a bedroom for his girls, and his years in the hospitality industry, the mental manipulator folded hospital corners, smoothed a comfort, and fluffed pillows with enviable skill. Once the cushions were out of the way and the bed made, and Reese had scrambled into the center of the bed to watch with anticipation, Bruce slipped out of his robe, folded it over the arm of a chair, and joined the younger man. Wrapping his arms around his friend, he pulled him close and held him securely. “I’m here.”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 11 2018, 06:41 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese watched him with silent interest. Despite the way someone from the outside might have expected him to look, he didn't watch his friend with anything that resembled lust. Adoration might have been the right word, but even it was too profound for what Reese would have explained.

Affection might have been the word. Bruce affected him--Bruce's presence and Reese's demeanor had a positive correlation that was undeniable, though Bruce only knew through hear-say. He liked it -- Bruce and the affect that he had.

When Bruce got onto the bed, he scooted closer, pressing his head against Bruce's shoulder. His fingers ran all over Bruce again, desperate, until his fingers slipped under the hem of Bruce's shirt as the other settled into his hair. If there was any illusion that he was going to be watching a movie at the moment, it was lost in the way he curled against his friend, entwined except for their legs.

He closed his eyes, but it wasn't out of exhaustion. He felt safe in Bruce's arms.

He never wanted to leave them.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 11 2018, 06:58 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce had this effect on people.

Rather, he had all manner of effects on people, often uniquely positive. He could charm a bank manager to give him a loan for a project that never should have existed. He could impress a committee into admitting him to Nocht despite the EMJ designation on his bright blue ID card. He could convince people to vote for him based on a well-researched platform and a winning smile. He had cultivated a loyal clientele who invited him to Haven events outside of his job and paid him for the privilege of being brainwashed. The cult leader rumor was inaccurate because of his ethics and agnosticism, but the potential was not entirely missing.

He never wished to take advantage of his friend, but he appreciated that he could soothe the younger man and that he had the opportunity to do so. How many people, prickly or distrusting, had given themselves over to his care in the decade and a half since opening Shangri-La? Where they trusted him to keep them safe?

He would never shirk that responsibility, least of all for a friend he cared for as deeply as Reese.

With the younger man in his arms, Bruce leaned against the back of the sofa and tightened his embrace. One hand drifted to Reese’s hair, fingers carding through the curls, while the other rested on the younger man’s back.

It was not quite as stimulating as watching a film together, but he took seriously his role as caregiver. Perhaps when his friend had relaxed a bit, they could try a holo or the music compilation. For now, it was the rhythm of Reese’s steady breathing.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 11 2018, 09:56 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



One day, Bruce would understand why aftercare was so complicated for them. Why Reese's previous lovers (who could not boast the title most patient person in Ark City) had been able to sooth Reese then.

The accident had of course made it worse. (It had, overarchingly, made everything worse.) From the ease of waking up in the morning to staying asleep at night, Reese struggled every waking moment (and resting one) to try to get to the next moment, and the one after that.

He seemed to be less anxious than he had been. Bruce's fingers in his hair and his words soothing, even if Reese didn't fully process them, he liked how close his friend was; how nice he smelled; how warm he was; how soft his shirt was under Reese's cheek. But as he shifted and re-positioned for the dozenth time, it was not something that was wrong with either of them, it was merely that Reese couldn't find enough skin to sooth himself. Finally, he pulled away in entirety without explanation.

As if aftercare were the literary foil to play, Reese was as silent now as he was loud in Bruce's bedroom. He looked withdrawn now where he had looked engaged. His motivations had been clear, and now they were impossible to read. Still, moving away at all was not how Reese had ever acted before in aftercare. He usually tried to get as close as possible for as long a duration as he could manage. Now, he wandered away, looking back now and again to check if his friend had moved.

Bruce moving at all made him anxious; but he found his bag, tugged it open, rummaged around a little, and then found what he wanted, setting it to the side before he pulled his shirt over his head and replaced it with a short sleeve shirt -- one that was a bit more form fitting. Then he came back over, crawled back into the bed, and pressed back against Bruce.

One day, Bruce would understand why aftercare was so complicated. Skin to skin; bare body wrapped around bare body, Reese almost never fought or struggled. His hands didn't search for something to anchor him like they did now. Ironic or not, naked, Reese felt safe.

He could feel Bruce's skin all over his arm as he tucked his hand beneath his friend's shirt again and wrapped his arm around Bruce's neck, letting his fingers play with his hair. Then he let out a little sigh. It wasn't ideal, but it would do.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 12 2018, 05:36 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce held the other man securely for several long moments as Reese shifted in his arms, seemingly unable to find his perch or become comfortable. At first, the mental manipulator attributed this to the disappointment of being forced away from his role coupled with the lack of distraction. After all, the younger man had told him explicitly that movies helped if he was falling to pieces in the aftermath, and while he had yet to cry or shrink back like a frightened or wounded animal, his other behavior was more concerning than in past encounters.

After yet another failed effort to settle, the younger man pulled away; Bruce allowed him to slip from his arms with no effort to restrain him. What Reese required now was full bodily autonomy, as well as consistency. The latter kept Bruce in the center of the bed when the younger man scooted to the edge and, for the first time in any of their aftercare, climbed off the bed, leaving him behind. Occasionally, Reese glanced back at him, and like a parent reassuring their child on the monkey bars that they were still watching, the mental manipulator met his eyes each time.

Until Reese pulled a new shirt from his bag and began to divest the one that he wore. Propriety dictated that Bruce not look, and he shut his eyes and turned his head, ensuring that the younger man had privacy to change when he lacked the presence of mind to seek it for himself.

Only when the bed sank under the weight of a second adult did Bruce open his eyes and turn back around. Reese scooted up to him to resume the skin-to-skin, and the older man wrapped his arms around his friend to hold him steadily once more.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 12 2018, 07:07 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese's eyes closed as he curled up against his friend; as he breathed Bruce in; as he steadied himself against skin and the slow rhythm inside of Bruce's chest. He seemed like things were okay, As if this was going to be, if a bit strange for Reese, and incredibly easy aftercare that involved nothing more than Reese pressed into the perceived safety of his friend's body.

Reese pulled away slightly, shifted closer, rolling into his friend's lap as he had done after every session. His arms pulled away as he situated himself again and his head tucked under Bruce's chin. Here he settled again.

Still, he didn't cry; he didn't abruptly panic; he didn't speak.

He didn't look at the television, stare at the radio, or gaze longingly into the kitchen. He seemed content as his mind washed around trying to surface, and finding nothing he was able to hold onto. There was, however, a single thing that he could get a hold of.

Bruce.

Things were always unsteady, but his friend was never wavering. He considered for a moment what he would do without him. He contemplated as he rested. He knew the answer. It was simple. It was so, so simple. He wouldn't.

When Bryn had been ripped away, he hadn't wanted to ever feel anything again. He'd locked away everything to try to stay steady, and it had worked so well until he'd run into Bruce. Without thinking, he touched the bracelet on his wrist and he pulled back. At first, he shifted so that he could look at Bruce's hand, running his thumb over the palm, then his fingers over Bruce's fingers before he laced their hands together.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 12 2018, 07:28 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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During all five past periods of aftercare, Bruce had allowed his friend to curl up against him in ways that he would never permit were Reese in the right stage of mind. The younger man had warned him, before their first play session, about how he required the closeness and the physical contact to break through his haze and return to himself. It was more traumatic for Reese than for most people, although Bruce had never inquired why.

He didn’t need to. Those degrees from Nocht had imbued him with a body of knowledge wide enough and observation skills sharp enough to deduce the obvious.

In truth, he didn’t need his degrees.

Playing the role of the friend, the guardian, the caretaker, he had never objected to Reese settling in his lap during these few hours between their play session and falling asleep at night. This evening was no different.

As Reese shifted towards him, Bruce adjusted his posture to enhanced his lap – to make it as wide as possible while also reinforcing his legs for his own comfort (so he didn’t go numb). It was a bit more difficult in the bed than when sitting on the sofa where he could plant his feet firmly on the ground.

Then, Reese crawled onto him and settled his head against his chest, and Bruce rested his chin in the younger man’s damp curls. “You’re safe,” he whispered.

“I have you.”

They sat there for several minutes until Reese pulled back. Jarred by the unexpected motion (the second time the younger man had pulled away tonight),he lifted his head and watched him carefully. Rather than move further away, the younger man touched his hand, and Bruce splayed his fingers to encourage him.

Ah. He wanted to hold hands. That was common enough.

They did that outside of aftercare. When their fingers were laced together, he squeezed lightly and favored him with a soft smile.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 12 2018, 08:40 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Another day, Reese would not have been able to explain what was going on inside his head. He wouldn't have been able to put action to thought to words. But in this moment, he could have explained every detail in a way that made perfect sense.

To an outsider, perhaps -- maybe even to Bruce -- it felt like it came from nowhere, but Reese could have drawn a flow chart that encapsulated exactly what he had been thinking in this moment. That started from the first time they'd met and grew in intensity over years and months.

People forgot; but Reese didn't. He had never claimed that he had a photographic memory -- and he wouldn't have called it that. He assumed it was just because he cared. About his family. About his friends. It wasn't a photograph -- and it wasn't everything or everyone. He remembered what Bryn wore the first time they'd met, what her hair smelled like, what song they listened to on the drive to see their first movie together.

Likewise, he remembered the first time he'd heard Bruce's calm baritone, measured evenly between his parents. He didn't remember what Bruce had looked like half a decade ago because he had been staring at his own hands for the majority of this discussion. He remembered long sessions where they sat in silence, and he didn't feel pressure. Bruce had been a steadying force for months; long enough that everyone thought he would be okay, and then Bruce had stayed with him until the doctors rushed him away. (That he didn't remember; he merely knew.)

And then he'd been in darkness, drowning in the depths of his own mind for years until last September when Bruce had strong-armed him into a diner, and not-taken-no-for-an-answer when he was invited to Halloween. Bruce hadn't let him be when Reese had gone silent.

Reese had ghosted enough people to know that most people didn't chase. When it was happening, he didn't realize he liked someone to chase him, but he'd shown up. Christmas had led Reese to reveal secrets that were unspeakable, and Bruce didn't run. Asa had met him and approved (though, he was pretty sure Asa wasn't a great judge of anything at the moment). He'd shattered during Valentine's Day.

Bruce put him back together. Over and over. He saw him in pieces, and he carefully picked up the chip and tucked it back into place with a bit of adhesive.

That was the kind of person that Reese liked. No. That was an understatement. That was the kind of person that Reese loved.

He was looking at Bruce when he felt the squeeze. The eye contact; the reassurance; the physical closeness.

His free hand touched Bruce's shirt and flattened against his chest. Affection. Intimacy. And then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Bruce's. His eyes closed as sigh of relief escaped him.

He had no doubt that this was what they both wanted.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 13 2018, 04:50 PM
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45 YEARS
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce, too, prided himself on the strength of his memory, although it differed from Reese’s and nobody could claim it eidetic, or even so adjacent. Rather, he had a knack for names and faces, and once those were set, it became all the easier for him to remember little details about their lives – their families, their preferences, their fears and dislikes. It served him well in both of his careers – where he could remember intimate details and symptoms for his patients, and now he glided through Shangri-La customizing for each client, able to recall every safe word, every fantasy, every boundary.

He remembered when Reese Marshall first appeared in his office, although at the time he had no means of knowing how significant this would be twice over. At the time, Reese’s parents, concerned after attempts and intractable psychotic grief, had sandwiched the younger man on the sofa while they discussed methods and rules, and Bruce offered no promises beyond doing his best. There had been signs of stability if not improvement, before those illusions had shattered as easily as the bathroom mirror. He didn’t remember every detail of his intake, but he remembered each second of the day that Reese left his custody.

He remembered other aspects too, about Reese, about other clients and friends and family dating back to his manifestation. That was the curse of his powers. When he touched someone’s memory to change it – to mold, to erase – it was burned in his own for all eternity. The memories had to go somewhere, bound in their own way by the same laws of physics that governed matter and energy.

Over the months of their friendship, as their affection found physical outlets and their intimacy grew more intense, he had seen his friend in all manner of situations, expressing reactions across the emotional spectrum.

Reese, reticent but lonely, refusing to engage in conversation beyond single-syllable replies but still sharing a meal. Reese making an effort to share stories about his life and to inquire into Bruce’s, culminating in him actually participating in the Halloween festivities, transformed into Elvis for the evening where the self-loathing had lifted for those few hours and his spirit was free. Reese, two days later, tossing accusations that impugned Bruce’s character that had led to their first…argument of sorts, where Bruce had warned him once about such insinuations and dressed his wound from the broken mirror. Reese, angry and protective this time, owing to an inability to fathom a simple facet of life for many Evolutes in their society. Reese, drunk and lost in time, speaking of his wife in the present tense and sharing secrets that surely he would not remember sober.

Reese, panic-stricken in the middle of Jungle Jamboree, responding to the warmth of human contact. Reese, who so often oscillated between impulsiveness and compensatory self-restraint in the form of shutting himself down. Reese who grunted in play sessions and wept during aftercare. Reese who craved companionship but denied himself at every turn.

Reese, eyes glazed and skittish as a rabbit, who had knelt in the living room after changing from his play outfit, unwilling to face himself and the present.

Thus, when the other man moved closer, Bruce expected it, only insofar as his friend required a lighter touch than usual. When Reese met his eyes, he smiled, encouraging, reassuring him that he was safe.

He did not expect the kiss.

Suddenly (and without warning or reason that he could discern), the younger man brushed their lips together. Reese’s were deceptively soft, unexpected because of the calluses on the other man’s hands and the scars that marked his arms and legs, every part of him that Bruce had prior occasion to touch. Soft. Receptive. Yearning.

Yet, whereas Reese sighed with pleasure and closed his eyes, Bruce shifted, fully alert, his thoughts racing. He still believed that the younger man was straight, and this was the only indication in seven months that flew in the face of that assumption. The black box remained steady, Bruce’s heightened sense of responsibility in aftercare ensured that he denied all self-serving impulses, including any reading of the situation that might include mutual attraction.

First matters first, he had to end this. He had to end it for myriad reasons.

Reese was straight. He only spoke of women and, when distressed, believed that his wife was still alive. Not only was he straight, but he had cleared stated that he had lost his libido, which Bruce took seriously and was why he had backed off playing matchmaker. However the younger man’s body might react to stimuli during play sessions, he had set relationships aside. Relationships with women. Because he was straight.

He was straight and not in his right mind. The other man wanted to recede into the waters of submission, to hide from the real world and from his own identity; he’d demonstrated that readily enough. It wasn’t uncommon for someone as deep in subspace as Reese had been (or desired to be) to want to go the step further irrespective of orientation or typical preferences. And, for all Bruce knew, his friend thought that Bryn was here with him despite the obvious physical differences between them.

He disentangled their fingers and brought the hand to Reese’s cheek; as Bruce pulled back, he gently, so gently, pushed the other man’s face away.

“No,” he warned him, not a threat but a boundary. Evidenced by how he did not eject the younger man from his lap.

“Please don’t do that again.”

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 13 2018, 08:16 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



There were so many things that had changed over the course of these months. Februrary was a long time ago; Valentine's day had awoken something that he thought had been dead -- and he wasn't sappy enough to point out how perfectly timed it was -- but it had been.

The same day that he had told Bruce his libido was gone so that he would stop trying to set him up with dommes and half the female population in Ark; it had been the first time he had considered what Bruce's lips tasted like.

Whether or not Bruce knew (all bets were on 'not'), Reese had assented that day to being kissed in the kitchen with the girls in the next room. He would have assented to having his personal space warmed by another man's body heat.

It hadn't happened.

A few weeks later, Reese had asked him out for dinner. He'd suggested somewhere upscale, but not uncomfortable. Somewhere that they wouldn't draw attention. He'd even offered to pay for dinner and taken him back home. And then they'd watched a movie holding hands. Bruce had affirmed their friendship's significance when Reese, a bit tipsy, tried to put together words that meant something more.

He'd let it slide.

The point was, so far as Reese was concerned, he'd tried to be blunt, but there was a time and place to slap someone's ass and announce your sexuality. For Reese, it was almost never.

He was not shy. Sex wasn't something that he put on some silver platter over a mantle that you had to scale to even think about. He didn't usually play the slow burn game; in fact, Reese couldn't remember a time he'd known a girl more than a few hours (whether it be over the course of a few days or consecutively) before putting his hands where the sun didn't shine. He'd never had to say it before. Everyone except for Bruce Vaughan seemed to get the idea that when a guy held your hand, fell asleep on your shoulder, spent every free moment he had with you, and told you his secrets, it wasn't because he wanted to play. fucking. dolls.

The hand touched his face and Reese's heart leapt into his throat. The word "happy" rarely applied to Reese Marshall, but today it did. And then, just as suddenly as it did, it didn't.

Reese felt Bruce pushing him away.

No.

No.

Then Bruce said the word out loud.

Bruce didn't force him off his lap, but Reese removed himself. He didn't want to leave Bruce, but he didn't know what to do with that. Emotions flooded his system and he reached for a pillow instead of the man that was near him that smelled like the pillow.

Maybe if he had been sound of mind, he might have sworn up a storm. Instead, he cried. Curled up against the arm of the sofa instead of flush against Bruce's body where he had sobbed every other Friday night since this had started, there was nothing to offer as comfort.

He should have known better. He was Reese Wallace Marshall. A man whose past was drenched in blood; a man who couldn't take care of his daughter for twenty hours; a man who couldn't put words together at a family dinner. Of course he didn't want him. He took in a breath that sounded almost painful; it matched the way the shaking waves of misery looked.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jul 13 2018, 08:47 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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All of that would have been news to Bruce.

He lived a life wholly untethered by societal convention or by rigid gender roles. Ethics dictated his behavior, not expectations.

Yes, he and Reese had an atypical friendship for adult men as opposed to young children, but that had not bothered him for the past seven months. Reese took well to the touch, allowing him when he denied some others, and Bruce took that obligation to heart – not to abuse this trust. There was nothing inherently romantic or sexual about holding hands, or else children couldn’t do so without reprimand, siblings couldn’t do it without shunning, and women couldn’t do so without a segment of aggressively straight men leering and hooting.

They shared meals because they enjoyed one another’s company, and Bruce was Reese’s only friend. Reese told secrets because Bruce was a therapist and an inherently trustworthy person who would never breathe a word to another and had yet to judge him. He shared secrets because Bruce had explicitly offered him absolution on multiple occasions, and every person who passed through the doors of Shangri-La viewed Bruce similarly. Their friend, their teacher, their preacher, their authority figure, their guide. He had this effect on people.

Shangri-La existed because he had such an effect on others.

Reese fell asleep during movies because it was a habit, and he responded well to classical conditioning. Bruce was safe, and so he set his guard down enough to rest. Bruce didn’t mind, and he encouraged it not for the vulnerability but because Reese needed that hour or two of peace that a movie afforded him.

None of it struck him as inappropriate or as a signal, because it didn’t have to be. Because he believed their orientations incompatibility and thus he had engaged the black box, and nothing escaped his black box.

Despite allowing Reese to remain in his lap, quite pointedly keeping his arm around the younger man’s back, his friend shifted away. Bruce allowed him, even now his priority was to ensure that Reese not feel trapped or coerced, not with this fragile state of mind. That he began to sob into a pillow only reinforced the mental manipulator’s belief that this was his desire not to return to himself. He had been rejected once on his knees and now in Bruce’s lap. Of course he was dejected.

“I’m grateful for our friendship,” he reassured the other man, offering what he believed Reese needed to hear in his moment. That they were friends. That he had no expectations. That the younger man could safely return to himself without worry that he had let Bruce down in some way, shape, or form. That Bruce didn’t judge him even for this transgression. That they could return to how it was as though this had not happened, that Bruce would not order him from his apartment with the command never to darken the door with his presence again.

To further drive this home, he smiled softly and then slid to the edge of the bed. “I’ll return in a few minutes. I’m not leaving, but I need to put our snack together.”

Reese was sobbing into the pillow when he left.

These were the moments that Bruce wished that he had a different power, not as a substitute for what had given him his confidence and his livelihood but in addition to it – if powers worked that way. The ability to conjure food from nothing or to telekinetically gather ingredients and cook would be so useful in this moment. Instead, he had only his two hands and the appliances in his state-of-the-art kitchen.

Less than ten minutes later, he returned with the tray he used for eating in bed. Two plates rested side-by-side, one with the patty melt he had offered to make earlier and potato chips, while the other contained cold cheese, fruit, and a sleeve of crackers. One of the green sports drinks, top already loosened, which he had begun stocking in his refrigerator for aftercare periods, and a glass of water.

He set it down on the end table before climbing into bed and picking it back up to rest between them. “You should eat something. I made this just for you.”

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jul 15 2018, 06:38 PM
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Typic
39 YEARS
Citizen
Typic
605 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



If Reese hadn't been so sad, he might have been pissed that the response to kissing Bruce had been a standard line from a self help book. Usually, he liked it. He liked the way that Bruce sounded polished at every turn; the way that he used words far too sophisticated for the situation.

So he didn't respond. Even as Bruce spoke to him, he didn't react. The sobbing continued.

When Bruce returned, nothing had changed. Reese was still crying. The tears didn't rip through him anymore, but his body still shook with sadness, even as Bruce tried to coax him out with food. His knees curled up to his chest, arms still wrapped around the pillow, face buried into it.

It took him longer than usual to unwind from his pillow -- face red, eyes puffy, nose running. Unsurprisingly, he said nothing. Tears still worked their way down his face as he reached out for the foot presented to him. Not entirely his normal self or not, when food was placed in front of him, it was nearly impossible for him to ignore it.

Even on the rare occasion that he was pissed with Bruce (it happened now and again; but Reese didn't hold grudges except again himself), a well placed beer or hamburger could make him start talking again. This moment was no exception. Despite saying he didn't want it, his hands reached for the melt.

He scooted closer to Bruce so that their legs touched again (a very minor touch for what he usually wanted and needed in aftercare) and looked at the blank TV screen before his brows knit and he looked at Bruce as if he was confused. (And why wouldn't he be. He responded incredibly to habits and patterns, and they always watched a movie.)

@Bruce Vaughan
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