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bruised love

Chapter Four

By Daniel M June 22nd 2005

Lying in bed Andrew and Cameron chatted idly when Cameron rolled onto his side and looked at Andrew.

   "We're meant to be having a deep and meaningful conversation here aren't we." He said more than asked. Andrew sighed and nodded.

   "We are. I just didn't know if you, or I for that matter, was actually ready for it." Andrew said to Cameron. Cameron looked up at the ceiling then back at his friend.

   "I don't know if I ever will, but I also know that you want to and we need to work out what is going to happen now on." Cameron sighed a little.

   "Well, I guess the first thing we need to cover is, why did that happen? I mean we'd just finished saying that it could never happen then next thing we know it did happen. Seems a little strange don't you think? I'm not complaining, I have never felt closer to you. There were no barriers between us and I liked it." Andrew said.

   "I loved feeling that close to you. We have been close before but I guess that doesn't even compare to what happened then between us." Cameron said. Andrew nodded in agreeance. Cameron stifled a yawn and leant over to kiss Andrew on the forehead. Andrew smiled and wrapped his arms around Cameron.

   "Well, I think we need to sleep on it." Andrew said. Cameron smiled at the slight reprieve and rested his forehead against Andrew's. Leaning up, Andrew kissed Cameron gently on the lips then curled in against him, drifting to a quiet and contented sleep.

Waking the next morning, Andrew was slightly disorientated by his surroundings. As he became more awake, he was aware of more of his surroundings. More so, aware of the warm body pressed up close behind him. Smiling softly to himself he rolled over and watched Cameron sleep. Grinning, he felt tiredness start to wash back over him as he closed his eyes.

Opening his eyes again he saw Cameron pulling on some clothes. Cameron looked at Andrew and smiled slightly then kissed him on the forehead and walking out the door, gym bag over his shoulder. Andrew started to get up when Mitch appeared in the doorway.

   "What's wrong with Cameron?" He asked. Andrew cocked his head the side.

   "What do you mean?" Andrew asked.

   "Cameron just walked by me and patted me on the shoulder.  He had this really sad smile on his face." Mitch said. Andrew's alarms instantly started ringing.

   "Can you get my cell phone for me please?" Andrew said panicked. Mitch picked up on it and got fearful. Racing down the hall, he went to fetch Andrew's phone. Andrew scanned the floor for his clothing. He located his boxers and dived for them, pulling them on before Mitch returned. Turning around, he saw Mitch standing there bright red.

   "It's an ass Mitch, I'm sure you've seen them before." Mitch hung his head and stepped back. Grimacing for his insensitive comment he looked at Mitch apologetically.

   "Sorry, I'm just worried about Cameron if he's upset." Mitch nodded.

   "I'm sorry I didn't mean to startle you." Mitch dropped his gaze to the ground like a wounded pup. Andrew walked over to him and hugged him lightly. Mitch returned the hug then quietly left the room as Andrew dialled Cameron's cell number. Andrew was a little surprised when the call went through to his voicemail.

   "Hey Cam, I'm just calling to check on you. Mitch said you looked a little upset when you left. Give me a call, I'll have my cell with me all day." With that, Andrew ended the call and tapped it against his lips and pondered on what to do. Sighing he walked out of the bedroom and down towards his own room to gather some clothes. Mitch appeared by his side.

   "So what are your plans for today?" Mitch asked.

   "I don't know. I was thinking of going to see a movie before work. Just a little bored at the moment so I need to fill in the time." Andrew told him.

   "Well, would you mind if I came with you? I mean if it won't be too much trouble. I haven't been to the movies in like ages." Mitch said shyly. Andrew looked at Mitch and wondered if what it would be like if things had been different. What Mitch would be like if he had never met Jay, if he hadn't given way to Vanessa's pressure and gone to the club. The results of the final thought scared him. Andrew smiled at Mitch.

   "Of course you can come Mitch, just let me have a shower and we'll head off." Mitch grinned like a kid in a candy store with a years worth of allowance. Andrew was struck by a vision from Willy Wonka and pictured Mitch swollen and turning blue. Andrew shook his head and fetched his clothes before heading to the bathroom.

As Mitch and Andrew walked into the cinema Mitch grabbed Andrew's arm and pointed.

   "Hey look, there's Cameron." He said excitedly. Andrew's head shot around to look in the direction Mitch pointed. Mitch looked over to see Cameron standing there with his arm around a girl's waist. Andrew felt his stomach lurch. He grabbed his wallet and handed some cash to Mitch telling him to go buy the tickets, he just had something he needed to do. Mitch looked at Andrew uneasily. Andrew smiled warmly at Mitch.

   "It's ok, I'm paying for you and I'll only be a few seconds." Andrew smiled at Mitch who smiled back. Mitch walked off and Andrew pulled out his cell phone. Adjusting the settings, Andrew hid his number as he called Cameron.

   "Hello Cam speaking." Came a familiar voice.

   "I guess we should have discussed monogamy." Andrew said quietly. From where he stood he saw Cameron's head jerk up and scan the crowd quickly. As Cameron's gaze came to settle on him, Andrew clicked off his mobile and looked over and smiled as Mitch came back with tickets in hand. Andrew smiled and put his arm around Mitch's shoulders and they headed off in the direction of the cinema leaving Cameron looking after them.

Walking out of the cinema Andrew and Mitch discussed the movie animatedly. Both laughing and arguing playfully over the high and lows of the movie. Andrew glanced at his watch then back at Mitch.

   "Look I gotta get to work, so let's get going." Mitch looked down and then back off.

   "Could you drop me home? I just don't want to walk. This is near where Jay lives and I'd rather, well, not walk." Mitch said. "I know it's out of your way and stuff, and I really don't want to be a burden." Andrew shook his head.

   "It's all good, I understand, that's why I asked." Said Andrew who put his arm around Mitch's shoulders again as they headed for the door. Remembering his cell phone, Andrew pulled it out and turned it on. After a few moments, his cell started to bark at his announcing he had a message. Opening his messages, he saw it was from Cameron.

   'Game of two wrongs and nothing right is it? Talk to you at home.' was all the message said.

   "Everything ok?" Asked Mitch to Andrew who nodded his head.

   "I was thinking, do you want to go out to a club tonight?" Asked Andrew. Mitch looked at Andrew in surprise.

   "Um, ok I guess that'd be cool." Mitch said unsuredly. Andrew smiled brightly.

   "Ok, well get ready to bounce tonight." Andrew said with a wink.

Pulling up out the front of the apartment after work, Andrew saw a new car parked out the front and figured there must have been visitors at a neighbours. Walking in the door he came to a stop outside Cameron's door where he heard a woman moan from inside. Andrew bashed his hand against the door.

   "Turn it down before I gag you like the rest of his tissues." Andrew snarled through the door. Through the door Andrew heard a thud as something hit the floor followed by profuse swearing, as though in a competition to see a sailor blush. Andrew smiled, walked down the hall and into his room where Mitch sat, headphones in his ears and music up. Mitch looked up as Andrew entered and pulled the headphones from his ears.

   "Have they stopped yet?" Asked Mitch. Andrew stopped at turned his head to listen. No noise travelled up the hall so he turned back to look at Mitch and grinned.

   "Thinking so." Mitch grinned back as Andrew grabbed his clothes and dashed to the bathroom to change. Coming back he picked up his cell and dialled a number.

    "Hey, long time no speak. I know I know, yeh already started. Two and fifty? Sweet. Regular place'd be great. See you in an hour. Yep sure, catch." Andrew spoke into the phone. Clicking it off Mitch looked at Andrew.

    "What are you up to?" He asked.

    "Bouncing." Was all Andrew said with a smile.

The music was loud and pounding away with the beats of some trance track belting out of the speakers. Standing at the bar, Andrew's gaze kept scanning the crowd as he and Mitch stood drinking.

    "I can leave you alone if you want to try for someone." Mitch said in Andrew's ear. Andrew's head turned in shock.

    "Hell no, I came with you. Why find someone else? I mean, then I have to train them and the whole explaining in the morning? I'll pass." Grinned Andrew. Mitch grinned back shyly. Andrew put his hand on Mitch's shoulder and smiled. Glancing to the side, he saw a face he'd been waiting to see then looked back at Mitch.

   "Look, I'll be back in five ok." Mitch looked alarmed. Andrew bit his lip.

   "Ok, well come with, but what you see don't repeat." Andrew said cryptically. Mitch nodded his head confused. Andrew made his way through the crowd holding Mitch's hand so they didn't get seperated. Approaching the new arrival, Andrew greeted him warmly.

   "Chessy, good to see you m'man." Andrew said with a quick hug.

   "Spook, heard you were out of all this now." Chessy said with an arched eyebrow, a smirk lingering on his lips.

   "Times man, times." Andrew said. Mitch looked between the two, bewildered.

   "Mitch, this is a friend of mine Dale aka Chessy." Andrew said as an introduction. Mitch nodded dumbly, not sure what was happening in front of his eyes. Andrew reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, money following. Andrew handed the money to Dale who counted it quickly. Mitch looked at Andrew.

   "So how do you know each other?" Asked Mitch. Andrew opened his mouth to reply but Dale cut in.

   "My dear Spook here used to be a hard core raver who liked his candy and I'm always happy to be a candy man." Mitch shook his head not understanding.

   "We used to party hard together." Said Andrew, offering nothing more. Mitch arched his eyebrow again as Dale deposited the money into his pocket and handed Andrew a pack of gum and smiled.

   "The candy man delivers again and now has to go make the aquaintance of some ladies I saw over there. By the way, the candy is a floor mover. Be careful, half at a time, they hit hard. Guy went over last week from this shit." Dale warned before moving off. Mitch looked at Andrew.

   "That was certainly different. You paid $140 for a pack of gum?" Mitch asked astounded.

   "Not just the gum but the fun you didn't see." Andrew said. Mitch suddenly felt recognition hit him.

   "Two pills and a fifty of speed?" He asked. Andrew noddedd and moved the gum from his hand, revealling two small plastic bags with the chemicals inside. Mitch shook his head and looked away. Andrew grew troubled.

   "You don't approve?"

   "I've watched people do it before, but never understood it." Mitch said.

   "Would you like to try some?" Andrew offered. Mitch stopped and thought.

   "What'll it do to me?" He asked.

   "Affects all people differently." Andrew said.  "Mostly, I just want to dance." Mitch looked doubtful then smiled.

   "Promise you'll look after me?" He asked. Andrew nodded smiling.

   "Won't let you leave my side." Andrew said. Mitch smiled and nodded. Andrew nodded towards the gents and grabbed Mitch's hand leading him towards it.

Inside a locked cubicle Andrew offered Mitch a pill.

   "What's in it?" Asked Mitch. Andrew shrugged and Mitch frowned.

   "Can I just try speed then. Rather try something that you at least know what it is." Mitch said. Andrew nodded and racked up a line on top of the toilet for Mitch. Mitch looked at it doubtfully as Andrew swallowed his pill.

   "I don't have to lick it do I?" He asked distastefully. Andrew laughed and shook his head.

   "No, you block one nostril and snort it all up through the other one." Andrew instructed Mitch who looked slightly dubious. Andrew smiled and pulled Mitch to him for a hug and kissed his forehead.

   "Relax Mitch, I won't let anything happen to you. It's ok." Andrew reassured. Mitch nodded sagely and bent down and snorted the white line up his nose. Coming up, Mitch rubbed his nose profusely. Andrew carefully took Mitch's hands away and tilted his head back. Andrew then blocked Mitch's nostril and instructed him to sniff. Mitch gagged as the last of the drug hit the back of his throat.

   "Now relax and be free." Andrew said smiling, his hands still gently holding Mitch's. Mitch smiled and gently extracted his hands from Andrew's. Andrew looked concerned.

   "Are you ok?" He asked.

   "Kind of?" Mitch replied.

   "What's up?" Asked Andrew.

   "I know what happened between you and Cam last night, I'm not stupid." Mitch said quietly, his eyes downcast.

   "Shit." Swore Andrew.

   "Are you two together now?" Asked Mitch. Andrew shook his head.

   "You heard him and his tissue tonight didn't you?"

   "I did. I also know that you called him while we were at the cinemas and you made sure he saw you put your arms around me." Mitch said, his eyes still downcast. Andrew sat down on the lid of the toilet. He looked up at Mitch who was standing there, backed into a corner, trying to close his body off from the world. Andrew looked down, ready to cry. He looked back up at Mitch contritely.

   "Mitch, I'm sorry. I never meant to bring you into some kind of fight between Cam and I. You are a very special person who I think a lot of. I only want you to be happy." Mitch looked up, searching for something in Andrew's eyes.

   "I want to believe you, but Jay..."

   "Hurt you badly. I understand you're having troubles with trusting me and I can't blame you." Andrew said. Mitch tried to crawl backwards into the wall as if it were to consume him. Andrew stood up and moved the two steps to Mitch who cowered and brought his hands up to cover his face. Tears welled in Andrew's eyes but could not fall. Gently, he reached out to Mitch's cowering form and gently pulled down on the hands that hid Mitch's face. Mitch pulled backwards until he looked up and into Andrew's eyes and saw the tears building there. Andrew felt Mitch relax and pulled Mitch close to himself. Wrapping his arms around Mitch's timid form, trying to enclose him in a safety, so far fetched from Mitch's hidden world of torment and deformed demons.

   "I want to reach out to you Andrew, but I'm not sure how." Mitch said.

   "Easy, reach out half way and I'll meet you there." Andrew said gently. Mitch sniffled quietly against Andrew's chest. Finally letting go of Mitch, Andrew looked at Mitch.

   "How are you feeling?" He asked.

   "Not a lot different." Mitch said, Andrew thought for a moment.

   "Have you ever taken anti-depressants?" He asked. Mitch shook his head.

   "Well just wait a while and I'm sure it'll kick in." Mitch nodded and smiled slightly at Andrew.

   "C'mon, let me buy you a drink." Andrew told Mitch, unlocking the cubicle door.

Standing at the bar, Andrew felt the first hints of his pill starting to kick in. He looked over at Mitch who was seemingly ok.

   "How you feeling?" Asked Andrew. Mitch nodded.

   "Kinda full of energy but just like I'm excited and stuff." Mitch said.

   "It's starting to kick in." Andrew advised. With drinks in hand, the pair made their way to some seats where they settled, letting the drug and music wash over them. Mitch sat in his seat fidgeting. Andrew looked at Mitch and smiled.

   "Would you like to go dance?" He asked. Mitch looked at Andrew and grinned.

   "My dear Andrew, are you asking me to dance with you?" Andrew nodded his head as he put his hand out, the way you see in the old time movies. Mitch giggled and took it daintly. Shaking his head, Andrew dragged them out to the dance floor and let his chemicals and the music take over his senses.

Returning to the bar some time later, Andrew ordered two bottles of water and handed one to Mitch.  Mitch took it gratefully and took a mouthful before putting the cap back on. Mitch looked at Andrew for a moment and then away. It wasn't missed by Andrew, who chose to say nothing. Reaching into his pocket, Andrew pulled out his second pill and put it slyly into his mouth and washed it down with a swig of the water he's just bought. Mitch nearly fell over when he realised what Andrew had just done.

   "Chessy said only take halves. That's two full ones." Mitch said worriedly. Andrew shook his head.

   "Four, I had some before I got home." Andrew admitted quietly, then broke into a large smile. "It's ok, I'll be fine. Don't stress. Chessy is always a cautious one. If you get worried about how I'm acting either get Chessy or the bar staff. Tell them what I've done and what's going on. They know what to do." Andrew advised him. Mitch nodded then started to instinctively twitch to the music. Andrew grinned, grabbed Mitch's hand and led him back to the dancefloor. Mitch happily grinned and bounced along beside Andrew.

A short time later Andrew felt the second pill start to kick in and his stomach lurch. Unsettled, Andrew signalled to Mitch that he was moving off the dancefloor. Mitch came to an all out stop and came straight to Andrew's side, wrapping his arm around Andrew's waist guiding him off the floor. Sitting down in a chair, Mitch looked at Andrew's face was flushed. Mitch went to the bar and got a bottle of water and returned to Andrew handing it to him. Andrew's hands shook hard as he tried to open the bottle. Giving up he passed the bottle back to Mitch who opened it and held it to Andrew's lips who sipped it slowly. Andrew pulled his mouth back from the bottle and looked up at Mitch and nodded. Mitch held onto Andrew's shoulder reassuringly. Looking around for Dale, Mitch failed to see him. He then reached for Andrew's phone only to have Andrew feebly try and stop him. Fishing it out, Mitch scrolled through Andrew's address book. Calling the number, Mitch blocked his other ear to hear. Hearing a garbled response under the pounding of the music. Finally he heard Dale tell him to message him. Diconnecting the call, he sent Dale a message with where they were and that it was urgent. Moments later Dale appeared at their side. Shaking his head he looked at Mitch.

   "He did wholes didn't he." More of a statement then question as Mitch nodded dumbly, no idea what to say. Dale slipped his shoulder in under Andrew's arm and hoisted him up.

   "We need to get him outside to fresh air. He's peaking way hard." Dale called. Mitch followed closely behind. Sitting in the fresh air outside, security walked up to them and looked down at them disdainfully.

   "He ok?" They asked. Mitch nodded quickly as security grunted and walked away. Pulling out his cell phone, Mitch dialled Cameron's number quickly.

   "What?" Came a mumbled voice.

   "Get the apartment ready, Andrew's not good." Mitch said worriedly. Andrew tried to give Mitch an annoyed glare but failed with the drugs awash within his system. Mitch heard Cameron become awake.

   "What's wrong?" He asked.

   "Tell you when we get home. Right now, just get his bed ready." Mitch told him before clicking it off. Mitch looked at Dale.

   "Did you drive in by any chance?" Dale shook his head. Mitch cursed and looked around helplessly. Dale pulled some notes out of his wallet and handed them to Mitch.

   "Get a cab and get him home." Mitch started to protest. Dale shook his head.

   "Forget your pride just get him home." Yelled Dale at Mitch who went down to a near ball on the ground.

   "Chessy, don't yell at him." Andrew stammered out, his eyes rolling in his head. Dale came around and crouched beside his friend.

   "He's been abused by his ex, that shit freaks him man." Andrew said in a hushed tone. Dale swore under his breath then looked at Andrew.

   "He needs you and you go and get fucked up like this? Hell man, what you doing? You don't need to run from him, you need to run to and with him. He ain't no Troy man. Troy woulda left you on the floor shakin, he cares. Y'know the candyman loves you, but his bar is closed now on man." Dale breathed.

   "It's not because of him, it's Cam." Andrew said. Dale's eyebrow arched so far it just about slid over the top of his head.

   "We had sex alright." Andrew admitted quietly. Dale shrugged then went over and touched Mitch on the shoulder. Mitch looked up timidly. Dale smiled warmly at him.

   "Sorry for yellin man, I love him as much as you do. You're a strong guy y'know. Most guys would have freaked and run. God knows Troy did." Spat Dale. Mitch looked alarmed.

   "Ask Cameron about Troy." Said Dale. Mitch nodded. Helping Mitch to his feet, Dale flagged down a cab then helped haul Andrew into the backseat. Standing back, Dale waved as the cab sped off.

Falling in the door with Andrew pulling down on his shoulder, Mitch struggled to regain his balance until he felt the weight lift from his shoulder. Looking up he saw Cameron standing there supporting Andrew's weight. He followed slightly behind as Cameron carried Andrew's still twitching body down the hall and into the bed. Cameron looked at him then at Mitch and sighed.

   "I have seen him like this before. It was just as scary then as it is now." Cameron rubbed his face and sighed.

   "Look, Chessy helped me get him home. He paid for the cab. He..."

   "Dale? What the fuck was Dale doing going near Andrew?" Cameron fumed.

   "Cam, Andrew called Dale." Mitch said. Cameron looked at Mitch in disbelief.

   "Look, Dale said to ask you about someone called Troy. Said that at least I hung around and didn't freak like Troy did." Mitch said. Cameron looked away then back at Mitch.

   "I take it Andy hasn't told you about him then." Cameron said. Mitch shook his head. Cameron looked at Andrew who still lay on the bed moving to his own internal dance track. Andrew's face was ashen and covered in sweat.

   "Ok, well someone has to stay with him, he can't be left on his own. Stay here with him, I'm going to go get a juice. If Andy knew he was going to be doing this tonight, he'll have some." Mitch looked confused.

   "It induces a come down." Cameron explained. Mitch nodded and sat down beside Andrew who looked at him and continued to move. Mitch gently took Andrew's shaking hand and held it in his own. Andrew's eyes focused on Mitch as his dry throat crackeled speaking.

   "I remember the first day I saw you. You were standing there lost and confused, with your heart before you. I saw it and was scared it would be battered and bruised. I wanted to take it and warm it with my own." Andrew said his eyes not leaving Mitch's, before they switched to a new object to focus on. Mitch felt tears grow in his eyes as he watched his helpless friend being forced to move ceaselessly by the chemicals caressing his nervous systems. Cameron returned to the room, a glass of apple juice in his hand. Sitting Andrew up Cameron spoke clearly to him.

   "We need you to drink the juice Andrew." Andrew's gaze locked onto Cameron for a moment before drifting away, his body not stopping moving. Mitch took the glass and motioned for Cameron to move.

   "Andrew, I need you to come back to me for long enough to drink this." Andrew's eyes turned to Mitch and stayed there as he slowed his movements briefly. In the quiet, Mitch held the glass to Andrew's lips and he drank as much as he could. Cameron looked on in amazement.

When the glass was eventually emptied, Mitch sat it on the bedside table and rolled Andrew onto his side and made sure there was nothing to block his breathing. Cameron stood back as Mitch took care of his friend. When Andrew was settled, Cameron stood next to Mitch looking at Andrew who was still moving under the light sheeting which covered him.

   "So you going to tell me who Troy is?" Asked Mitch without looking at Cameron. He heard Cameron sigh.

   "Troy is Andrew's ex-boyfriend." Cameron said.

   "I guessed that. What is the story?" Persisted Mitch.

   "Ok, well Troy met Andrew through me. Troy was good enough to Andrew at the start. Then it started. Troy started to want to go out more than he should. Andrew went along. He loved Troy deeply and would do anything for him. Andrew actually had a part time job in a bank and was on a reasonably good wage for a part time worker. I started to think something was wrong when they would come home at six or seven in the morning then go straight off to college or work depending on the day."

   "I approached Andrew a couple of times only to be told he was ok. I went to Troy who told me that it was none of my business. Finally I cornered Andrew on one of his days off and wouldn't let him leave the apartment until he told me what was going on. Andrew told me, after six hours of persistance, that he was hooked on drugs and was starting to run out of cash. Troy wasn't working and was getting Andrew to pay for it all. I had suspected Troy was living off Andrew but didn't want to say anything."

   "Troy came around later that night and I got to him before Andrew did. I demanded to know what the hell was going on. Troy brushed me off. I told him that I knew about his drug habbit and that he had to stop sponging off my friend. He just sneered at me and told me that I was jealous I had taken my piggy bank from me. It kinda stung me deep because I had borrowed money of Andrew while I was trying to get money together for rent and stuff and was paying him off when I could. It was an agreement between Andrew and I. Troy had been in his ear telling him that I wouldn't pay him back and it started hell trouble between Andrew and I."

   "Anyways, that night they went out as they usually did. The only difference is this time I got a call to come to the hospital. Andrew was in there getting his stomach pumped because he nearly overdosed, or went over as they say, from going to hard. Andrew was on the floor and Troy was running out the door, all of Andrew's cards in his pocket. Eventually Andrew was cleared that he would be all good. When he finally came home, his bank account was gone and saw was Troy. Troy came back a few months later and wanted to make amends swearing he had gone clean. He didn't realise Andrew didn't have money anymore. With the time off from having his stomach pumped and the fact he had been smashed so often, the bank had let him go."

   "As soon as Troy realised there was no money, he headed for the hills again and we haven't heard from him since. That was near two years ago. Andrew hasn't been out or met anyone in that time since. Now he's gone out and done it all over again." Cameron sighed. Mitch looked at Cameron.

   "What aren't you telling me?" He asked. Cameron looked up and at Mitch.

   "Why do you think I'm not telling you everything?" Mitch shrugged.

   "There's usually something that people hold back in a story." Cameron arched an eyebrow.

   "You been reading Andrew's psych books?" Mitch looked confused as Cameron pictured Mitch and Andrew sitting there swaping notes on the books of human behaviour.

   "Well, you're right there is something I didn't want to admit to." Cameron said. Mitch looked at him expectantly.

   "Troy was, well is, my brother." Mitch sank to the bed with the revelation. Andrew moved in the bed behind him and Mitch leapt to his feet and clung to Cameron. Cameron wrapped his arms around Mitch. When Mitch was calm again he looked at Cameron.

   "Thanks for telling me." Cameron nodded. This time it was Cameron to ask a question.

   "How did you know that Andrew would stop when you went to feed him the apple juice?"

   "I didn't really. It was blind hope."

   "Being left out of this story is?" Cameron asked. Mitch smiled as Cameron used his own words against him.

   "While you were out of the room, Andrew came good and looked at me and spoke to me then drifted away. Something in that moment just made me hope I guess."

   "Well, I hope it helps." Cameron said as he looked over at Andrew. Nudging Mitch he nodded over towards Andrew's now still form.

   "Guess it all payed off in the end huh." Mitch smiled at Cameron.

   "If I was to say that I caused tonights little outing would I be correct?" Cameron asked. Mitch nodded his head sagely. Cameron sighed.

   "I was overwhelmed I guess, like there was a connection with Andrew and I at the time, but I don't believe I will ever be with another man again. I love Andrew but I don't think I could ever do that again. It was a moment of curiousity, desire for a human touch and, well, I guess love." Cameron said emotionally. Mitch nodded.

   "Well tell that to him in the morning. For now go and get sleep, I'll watch over him." Mitch smiled. Cameron rubbed Mitch's shoulder.

   "I hope he loves you like you love him, despite what either of you say." Cameron smiled. With that Cameron kissed Mitch's forehead then walked out the bedroom door.

Lifting his head from the pillow, Mitch checked on Andrew's steady breathing. Smiling to himself, he was relieved to see Andrew still blissfully asleep. Sliding out of the bed he grabbed his cell phone and headed out of the bedroom. Stumbling into the kitchen he found Cameron standing there, staring vacantly at the wall.

   "Morning." Ventured Mitch. Cameron jumped a mile in the air before turning around.

   "Christ Mitch, we need to get you a bell or something. You nearly gave me a heart attack." Cameron breathed.

   "Sorry, I didn't mean to." Mitch said half looking down. Cameron arched an eyebrow.

   "How you holding up?" Asked Cameron.

   "I'm ok, just glad Andrew's ok." Mitch replied and Cameron shook his head.

   "No, I meant with everything." Cameron said and Mitch looked confused.

   "Well, that was first time since I've know you, that you've received a half reprimand and you haven't tried to disappear into everything around you. It's reassuring to see."

   "There were two people who helped me a lot. Dale did as well. He reminded me I can be strong. You and Andrew have been kinda drilling into me that I'm ok as I am, I don't need to be better."

   "No, you're perfect as you are." Came Andrew's voice from behind Mitch as his arms circled around Mitch's waist. Cameron laughed.

   "So I need to get his and his bells?" Cameron cheekily jibed. Colour returned to Mitch's face as he turned to look at Andrew.

   "You're an asshole y'know that." Mitch demanded. Andrew put on an affected look of hurt. Mitch shrank.

   "I'm sorry I didn't mean it, you're not an asshole..." Mitch began. Andrew dropped the hurt look and held Mitch again.

   "Mitch, it was a joke, I know you didn't mean it. Calm down, it's ok." Andrew said pulling Mitch's head into his shoulder. From where his face was buried, Mitch began to calm. Andrew took Mitch into the lounge room and sat down on the couch with him.

   "Thanks for your help last night. I would have been gone last night without you. I spoke to Chessy just before I came out here. He said you were really strong last night. You wouldn't leave me and stood right there the entire time and really took charge. It's a good sign you're heading in the right direction. Faster than most cases I've ever heard of." Andrew said.

   "Thanks, you and Cam get credit for most of it. Though is that all I am? A case for you to practise on?" Asked Mitch, hurt lacing his voice.

   "Hell no Mitch. You're right up there with Cam on the people I care about." Andrew said earnestly. Mitch looked at Andrwe and smiled before leaning forwards and hugging Andrew then leant back and looked at Andrew.

   "I want you to promise me something though." Said Mitch. Andrew arched an eyebrow.

   "I want you to promise that you won't ever repeat last night. I don't want to see you get hurt." Said with misty eyes. Andrew blinked at Mitch.

   "Sorry, I shouldn't have asked that, it's not fair of me." Andrew shook his head and put his hand on Mitch's.

   "No, it's ok. I won't do it again. I don't want you to think you shouldn't ask that. You were trying to help and were caring. I won't do anything like last night again." Andrew said. Mitch looked at Andrew and smiled as Cameron walked into the room and looked at Andrew.

   "Is it time we talked?" Asked Cameron to Andrew, who glanced at Mitch who nodded. Cameron motioned to leave the room to Andrew who shook his head.

   "No we can talk infront of Mitch, he's a part of this household now." Cameron nodded and sat down and took a breath.

   "Well, where to start..." Cameron began.

   "Shouldn't have happened between us." Andrew said. Cameron looked down then nodded.

   "I was curious but, I don't know, it wasn't right to be curious with you. I freaked out the next morning because, well, I let my hormones control me the night before." Mitch cleared his throat and Cameron looked at him then sighed.

   "Ok, well I let my hormones and emotions control me. It was curiousity, lust and love." Cameron said looking at Mitch who gave a nod of approval.

   "I've been with a man now and I don't want to again. It wasn't that you were bad or anything, it's just..."

   "Not who you are." Finished Andrew. Cameron nodded and looked down.

   "I'm sorry for using you as my toy." He finally said. Andrew nodded then stood up. 

   "Look, it's that past history. It's time to move on. Now I'm still feeling fairly fucked up and want to go lie down some more." With that Andrew exited the room. Mitch and Camerone exchanged glances.

   "Go after him." Cameron told Mitch who nodded and walked down the hall after his friend leaving Cameron sitting alone in the lounge on his own.

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