~~~Part 2~~~ Jerry and Marshall turn their friendship into More
“Is it bad?” Marshall asked.
The four of them stood in the street and looked at the rundown, off white, Cape Cod styled home in their oversized sweaters that late January day: Marshall, Jerry, Cody and Jacob. Jerry spoke first. “It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just…” He cocked his head to the side. “Why did you buy this house again?”
“Because it’s what I can afford on my salary. It has two bedrooms on the first floor, a large room on top that can be turned into two more bedrooms, we just need to build a few walls and add two doors. Two and a half baths. Unfinished basement. Decent size kitchen, but the cabinets look like they are out of the 1970’s. 2100 square feet. It’s old but it has good bones.”
“And it’s in E-Town,” Jerry said the abbreviation for Elizabethtown, the same town he lived in. “Five minutes from me. And halfway to the meeting room,” he added that last part. Marshall smiled without looking at him. It was definitely a bonus knowing that he was closer to Jerry’s house although he had never been there.
Cody sighed. “Let’s get in there and see what we’re working with.”
He led the way and the rest followed him inside. There was flowery yellow wallpaper everywhere, and where there was no wallpaper, there were peeling walls. Jerry wanted to say something nice so he looked down. “The floors are decent. Just need some sanding and staining.”
“I thought so too! Brenden and I remodeled our house in Baltimore ourselves, so it’s doable.”
“Does the fireplace work?” Jerry asked.
“Yes!” Marshall said excitedly, walking over to it. “I’ve never had a real working fireplace before. I think I bought the house for this alone.”
“And it is a decent size kitchen,” Cody said looking in from the entryway, also trying not to be negative.
Jacob thought otherwise. “This place is the shits.”
Marshall glared at him. “Thanks for your support.”
“Hey, I’m just going to call it like I see it,” he said with a shrug. “But we can fix it up. I remodeled my girlfriend’s kitchen last year after Jeremiah died to have something to do, so I know what I’m doing, kinda.”
“I’ve built homes from scratch before, thanks to my Amish roots,” Cody said. “This is an easy fixer upper.”
They all looked at Jerry. He shook his head. “I change light bulbs. Fixing up houses is not my thing. But, I’m here for you, Marsh.” He smiled at him and Marshall smiled back.
Cody and Jacob exchanged looks and smirked at each other. “Okay.” Cody clapped his hands. “Let’s get started.”
They each began working in a separate part of the house, Jacob in the kitchen, Cody in the living room and Jerry in the bedroom. He was stripping the wallpaper in the master bedroom on the first floor when Marshall walked in. “Hey you.”
“Hey you,” Jerry said back, glancing over with a smile, then going back to his job. Marshall came closer and stood to the side of him. Jerry noticed his hands were fidgeting, which meant he was itching to talk expressively.
“What?” he asked without looking at him.
“Okay, I’m just gonna say it,” Marshall started. He threw his hands up in surrender. “It’s a little awkward between us.”
“No it’s not,” Jerry disagreed.
“Then you’re either oblivious or avoidant.”
“I’m neither oblivious nor avoidant. I don’t feel awkward around you.”
“We haven’t been talking on the phone like we typically do.”
“We’ve been texting like we typically do.”
“We haven’t hung out all month.”
“What are you talking about? We have dinner Wednesday nights after group like always.”
“But not just the two of us, like we sometimes did. You’re still going to pretend like that’s not on purpose?” Marshall questioned.
Jerry sighed, he was caught. The truth was he was being avoidant. He didn’t want to have to face his growing feelings for Marshall and just wanted to maintain the friendship. It was easier when others were around. “Okay. Maybe it’s been a little awkward.”
Marshall ran his fingers through his curly hair, tugged a little, then let go. “Listen, I told you it was going to get awkward. I’m still working through my steps and sometimes I get carried away. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
Jerry smirked. “It’s not AA. There are no ‘steps’ to work through. Grief is a process. Also…” He put down his scraper and turned to him. “You didn’t get carried away by yourself so you have nothing to apologize for. You did not make me uncomfortable. Not then and not now. So stop putting the awkwardness between us on yourself.”
Marshall smiled slyly. “So you admit that there is, in fact, awkwardness.”
“Hmmm…” It was Jerry’s turn to run his fingers through his hair and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t want there to be.”
“So let’s talk it out,” Marshall said, sitting on the window pane.
Jerry almost rolled his eyes but he sat next to him, their thighs touching, hands in their individual laps. They sat quietly illegal bahis for a few moments without looking at each other, then Marshall said softly, “It was just a little mutual jerking. You’ve never mutually jerked off with your high school friends or teammates?”
“Yes. But I never told them I wanted to fuck their mouth, then their ass.”
A moment passed and then they both started snickering, then outright laughing. When they got themselves together, Marshall said, “Okay, that made it a little awkward, but…it’s all good. We had a moment and it passed. Right?”
Jerry turned his face to look into Marshall’s green eyes. He said it casually but his eyes told a different story. His eyes told him that the moment had not passed, that it was growing inside of him the way it was growing inside of Jerry. He had the strongest urge to lean in and taste his full lips. But instead he said softly, “Yeah. The moment… it passed.”
Marshall knew Jerry was lying, simply in the way he looked into his eyes. He drew closer, their nostrils touching and brushed his lips softly against Jerry, and Jerry didn’t pull away. He pressed his lips more firmly and Jerry’s lips parted slightly to trace the tip of his tongue on Marshall’s bottom lip. They heard Cody’s voice before he pushed open the door.
“Hey Marsh, is there another scraper-“
Marshall and Jerry quickly jumped apart, almost running in opposite directions. Cody stopped in the doorway and looked at them, Jerry with his elbow against the wall and his head on his arm, Marshall leaning his back against the other wall with one foot on it. “What are you looking for?” Marshall asked casually.
Cody could feel the heat coming off both of them. “Another scraper, this one is dull, but I can find it, no biggie.”
“Check the box in the front room, it has newer painting supplies.”
“Okay, I’ll do that.”
Cody looked at Jerry again who did not turn around. He wanted to ask if he was okay, but then he looked at Marshall who was watching him, waiting for him to leave. So he quietly excused himself, closing the door completely behind him.
Marshall spoke first. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have…sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Jerry said from his arm. “I think it’s natural and healthy to be curious about each other.”
Marshall sighed, came a step closer to Jerry with his hands moving again. “Okay, if we can just admit that to each other, it would be less awkward. I’ll start. I think you’re hot. Sexy. Mature. Compassionate. Intelligent, which is very sexy to me. And I feel good when I’m around you. You’re my best friend. And I’m not just saying that. I haven’t had one since the last one died, and I would like us to keep being friends.”
Jerry turned around and put his back on the wall. “We are friends, Marshall. That’s not going to change.” He sighed, knowing it was his turn. “I think… I think you’re hot. Sexy. Funny. Warmhearted. Confident without arrogance, which is very sexy to me. And I feel…really good when I’m around you. My best friend died too and I haven’t had anyone that close to me since. I have friends, Cody and I have been friends for years, but somehow we’ve become closer. But I also want us to keep being friends.”
“Okay,” Marshall said.
Jerry turned to look at him. “Okay?”
“Yes. Okay. We’ll keep being friends. Just best friends.”
Jerry nodded. “Okay.”
Marshall smiled and held his arms out. Jerry smiled and they walked toward each other and hugged tightly, one of Marshall’s arms around his neck, Jerry’s arms around his waist. Jerry smelled the soap he used on his skin that morning, a lime and sea salt combination, closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He felt Marshall do the same with his face in Jerry’s neck, taking in his scent. They held each other, then Jerry couldn’t help it, he squeezed Marshall a bit tighter.
Marshall’s feelings for Jerry began to overwhelm him. He pulled back first and smiled at him, patted his shoulder and began walking out of the room. Jerry watched him walk, his shapely ass through the red sweatpants he wore, his barely noticeable gap between his legs, and his cock involuntarily twitched. Considering that he’s never looked at Cody like that before, it was a safe assumption that he and Marshall were more than just best friends.
After dropping Randall off at dance class, Ollie at soccer practice on Saturday mornings and Sundays dropping the kids off with their grandparents, Jerry would join Cody and Jacob in fixing up Marshall’s house. For the next few weeks the four of them sanded and scraped floors, built and rebuilt walls, put in new kitchen cabinets and installed kitchen appliances. Jerry also found himself there with Marshall during the week in the evenings, all while avoiding their feelings for one other. By the last weekend of March, the interior was complete, exterior was painted powder blue with a white door and white shutters, and it was move-in ready.
Marshall rented two large trucks and the four of them illegal bahis siteleri traveled to Baltimore to the house he owned with his late husband, a large four bedroom colonial home. Marshall was quiet on the drive down, concentrating on the road. Jerry could tell something was off with him but wasn’t sure, so he carried the conversation, talking about Randall’s birthday princess party coming up in April, and Ollie not doing so well in 6th grade math and annoyed that Jerry set him up with a tutor.
Marshall listened and laughed at the important parts, but gave little commentary. It reminded Jerry of how he was the first time they met during group.
“Okay, out with it,” Jerry demanded.
“Out with what?”
“Why are your balls all twisted up today?”
Marshall chuckled. “My balls are not twisted up. I’m fine.”
“You didn’t even sound fine when you said, ‘I’m fine.’ What’s up?” He reached over and squeezed Marshall’s leg gently, then pulled his hand back.
Marshall sighed. “Brenden reminded me this morning… It’s the day we found out about his diagnosis, and how bad it was. That it was already spreading from his prostate to other areas. There was little chance but we were going to fight….” Marshall sighed again.
“I’m sorry,” Jerry said softly.
“That and…I haven’t been back to the house since last October to get some of our things. It looks exactly the way I left it. His things are still everywhere. I’m just… preparing myself for the emotional day I’m going to have.”
“I got you in there, Marshall.” Marshall turned to look at him. Jerry said again, “I got you.”
Marshall looked at the road, but then reached out with his right hand. Jerry took it and they squeezed tightly together. “Thank you. Because I’m gonna need it. I’m gonna need you.”
“And I got you,” Jerry said a third time. They squeezed hands again, and Jerry was sad when Marshall let go first.
Marshall’s truck pulled into the driveway backwards and the truck Cody that was driving was parked on the street in front of the house. It was early and they planned to spend the day packing up furniture, cleaning out what they could and having the junk truck take the rest away in the evening so the realtor could stage the house for sale the next day. Marshall got out first and walked up the steps to open the screen door to the sun porch, the three of them behind him. He looked over at the red bench for a long moment, then opened the front door.
Marshall stood in the small entryway and looked around. The rooms were compartmentalized and there were three doorways leading to various parts of the home. He went past the staircase through the doorway on the right into the living room and looked around. It was clean and a layer of dust coated everything. The large, white bookshelf held hundreds of books.
Marshall said, “The only thing that’s coming with us from here are the books and the TV. Everything else goes to the dumpster when they come. I ordered a living room and bedroom sets from Raymour and Flanigan, coming to the new house tomorrow.”
He walked through the living room into the dining room and touched the first chair, sighed deeply and slowly looked to the left. They all turned to see what he was looking at, and it was a 10 by 14 framed picture of Marshall and Brenden on their wedding day hanging on the wall. Both wore all white suits, with Brenden leaned over kissing Marshall on the cheek but still looking at the camera in amusement. Marshall was mid laugh, mouth opened wide and his eyes squinted, but could still see the green in them. They looked incredibly happy.
Jerry walked closer and touched his shoulder, gently squeezing it. Then he moved his hand over to touch the back of his hair and nape of his neck, stroking it with his fingers. Marshall closed his eyes, melting into the feeling of Jerry’s touch, then opened it again. He said quietly, “Everything here comes with us. Everything.”
He walked out of Jerry’s touch through a doorway on the left leading them into the galley kitchen, saying, “Everything comes with us in the kitchen, including the food except if it expired. I’ll sort through the dishes. And someone has to clean the fridge. Good luck.” Cody laughed.
Marshall walked to the breakfast table and said, “There are things in the bench under the window. They come with us too.”
He passed the laundry room with a “We need the washer and dryer,” and made a left again, and opened the single french door leading to an office. Brenden’s office. Marshall walked around the massage table in the middle of the room and went to Brenden’s desk. He grabbed the picture off the desk, one of the four of them at an amusement park, Freya no more than two years old, Memphis around seven. He didn’t look around.
He walked back out the other door leading to the foyer saying, “Everything goes.”
He started going up the stairs, not looking at the pictures on the wall but holding tightly to the picture in his hand. He motioned with canlı bahis siteleri his other hand, “Someone grab all the pictures.”
Jerry took his time looking at the pictures along the stairs and it was a snapshot of their life together: Lots of pictures of a young Marshall and Brenden happy and smiling; Pictures of the family of three before Freya was born; pictures of Marshall and Brenden individually holding Freya at the hospital; soccer games and dance recitals, official school pictures and random pictures of the four of them, happy.
At the landing Marshall opened the first door. It was Memphis’s room. “Everything comes with us. Every little toy and picture too, because he’ll know if something is missing. If you think it’s trash, pack it anyway.”
He opened the second door. “Same with Freya’s room. Everything comes with us. Some clothes aren’t going to fit, but we’ll sort that out later.”
He opened a third door, a smaller bedroom with a full size bed. “This was just the guest room so everything can come with us, even though the third bedroom in the new house is much smaller. We’ll figure it out.”
He opened a hallway bathroom door. “Everything is trash. Even the towels. I can’t take the towels with us,” he said sadly. He walked to the last door, then he turned around and said, “I gotta do this alone.”
They all understood. “We’ll start in the kids’ rooms, Marshall,” Cody said as he and Jacob turned around and headed back to Memphis’s room.
Jerry said, “I can start working on the books in the living room.”
He started walking away but Marshall called out, “Jerod? Maybe not… maybe not completely alone.”
Jerry came back over to him and said, “Whatever you need.”
“Just wait here for a moment.”
“Okay.” Jerry leaned on the wall outside the door. They stared at each other, then Marshall opened the door and walked in.
The room was dark and smelled stale. Clothes were everywhere, they could barely see the floor. Several pill bottles were on the nightstand nearest to the door. Marshall looked at the queen size unmade bed and stared at it for a long time. Jerry watched him from the doorway but did not enter. Eventually Marshall set the picture he was holding on the dresser and started walking to the other side of the room to pull back the curtains, letting the light in.
The room was more of a mess in the sunlight. He opened up the three windows, two facing the front of the house and one on the side, letting a nice breeze through. He came back toward Jerry but walked past him. Jerry heard a door open and assumed it was the au suite bathroom. He didn’t stay long in there, and Jerry began to feel a breeze from that side of the room.
He came back out and walked over to Jerry. “You can come in.”
Jerry stepped over the sacred threshold and looked around. “What stays, what goes?” he asked gently.
Marshall hesitated, then said, “All of Brenden’s stuff needs to go to Good Will. I’ll keep a couple of t-shirts but other than that, his clothes have to go. The problem is, we were the same height and fit, so our clothes got combined a lot. There were his clothes, my clothes and then our clothes. I don’t want to take all of it to the new house so I need to sort it out here. Can you help me do that?”
“Sure, whatever you need.”
“Alright, I’m going to start with-” But something caught his eye and he walked over to it, buried underneath clothes in a chair in the corner. He pulled it out and said softly, “Oh wow.”
Jerry came over. “What is it?”
“Bren’s sweater dress.” He held up a long, burnt orange sweater dress with a hood and pockets.
Marshall smiled at Jerry, whose eyebrows went up and he threw up his hands saying, “Hey. No judgment.”
Marshall laughed. “He wasn’t really a cross dresser, but he liked some feminine things, knee length summer dresses mostly, that he wore in the house. He had this red leather skirt that he liked to fuck me in.” Jerry laughed out loud, making Marshall laugh too. “Listen, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it was pretty fucking hot.”
“Like I said, no judgment,” Jerry said with a laugh.
Marshall said, “When he started getting sick he would get really cold. So we went on Amazon and found these long sleeved sweater dresses that he could wear around the house. This one was his favorite. It still has stains on it.”
Marshall brought the dress to his nose, inhaled deeply and he choked out a sob. He covered his whole face and began to cry.
Jerry gathered him up in his arms and held him to his chest, rubbing his back and letting him wail into the cotton of the dress. Cody and Jacob heard Marshall crying and came over, standing outside the doorway. Jerry looked at them and nodded, as if to say, It’s okay, I got this. Cody understood and tapped Jacob to go back to what they were doing. Jerry continued to hold Marshall, rocking him gently side to side, until his crying turned to whimpering and he began to breathe normally.
Marshall spoke first. “I’m not a crier,” he said with his face still buried in the dress against Jerry’s chest.
“Doesn’t matter if you are or not,” said Jerry softly.
“I think that’s the first time I cried since the day he died,” Marshall said muffled.