Finally! The day was over and he could go home. As Derrick clocked out at the Salem Inn, he thought back over his work week. So glad the week was over but sad because he hadn't seen Paul at all since last Sunday . Normally he saw him in passing a few times a week , more if he was lucky, but this week, not once.

"Well what did you expect? Paul was going to suddenly realize he had undying love for you and he'd ask you out? idiot!" Derrick mumbled under his breath.

After they had left Will and Sonny's apartment, after their little "chat" with Zoey, Paul and Derrick had gone to Club TBD for a coffee. They sat and talked for hours. About this, that and the other thing. Unfortunately, Derrick had apparently read way more into it than there had been. Story of his life! When would he learn? He always seems to be attracted to the men who feel nothing but possible friendship, if even that, with him.

Well things needed to change, and now! He needed to get over this infatuation with Paul and move on. Hopefully find someone who could care for him as much as he cared for...well shoot! Great! He had finally done it. Finally fell in love and with a man who couldn't see him. Well ok, so that wasn't entirely true. Paul DID look at him. He did flirt with him a little but he was still hooked on Sonny and Derrick could see no good coming for him hanging on to the hope that one day Paul would want him for anything more .

Turning from the time clock, Derrick headed for the door of the break room. As he excited, he was still mumbling to himself about how stupid he was and that he needed to "get a grip" on his life. After all he was 24 years old. It was time he figured out what he wanted to do and where he wanted to spend his life. Maybe he'd hit that club in town near the campus. Surely he could find someone there who might want him for a permanent relationship? Well, maybe not...after all it IS a bar. No, better to not go there, and end up with a "MR. ok for now". He needed , no he WANTED someone who not only took him seriously but who he could respect and take home to meet his parents. He came out to them when he was 14 and luckily his parents were awesome. They supported him and had his back in everything. Not many people had that and he was so grateful that his whole family were there for him.

As Derrick exited through the employee side door,since he was not paying attention to where he was going, he walked into a wall. Well ok, not a wall , but it sure felt like it! "I am so sorry!' he said as he looked up...into Paul's face. Paul's hands were on his upper arms to keep him from falling back after the impact.

A grin slowly appeared on Paul's face as he watched Derrick's eyes widen. Derrick blushed and stepped back, out of the close, almost, embrace.

"Hey you need to watch where you're going. What if it had been a big mean dude or something or a little old lady?" grinning he folded his arms and waited for Derrick to speak.

"Yeah, sorry about that. My mind was miles away. Need to work on that. Thanks for stopping me from landing on the gorund."

"Well, I wouldn't want you to damage yourself. I mean you do have a cute butt." Paul winked at him.

Derrick took another step back. Paul frowned at him as he tilted his head to the side. "What's the matter Derrick? Did I say something wrong?"

"No..no you didn't it's just that I have to go." As he tried to walk around him, Paul lightly grabbed his arm and stopped him.

"Derrick? What's wrong?" I was only teasing you. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"No you didn't it's ok. I just can't do this anymore that's all."

"Do what?"

"Nothing..never mind." Again he went to walk away and Paul once again stopped him.

"What?! What do you want Paul? I am sorry but I just...can't talk to you like this anymore." He whispered under his breath "it hurts too much".

Paul , now looking confused , "What do you mean by that...talk to me like what anymore? I don't understand."

"Paul, really it's nothing but I just can't do...whatever this is" he motions back and forth between them, " anymore. I just need to stop and try to.."

"Try to what Derrick?! Come on stop talking in riddles. I am trying to understand what you are talking about but it makes no sense. Just tell me what you are talking about. Didn't we get along great after we went to Will and Sonny's place? We went to Sonny's club and had coffee and talked. I know I had a great time...I thought you had too."

"I did too Paul..honest"

"Ok so what happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well we had a great time. Now you can't take five minutes to talk to me?"

"Paul...I don't know what you want. I haven't seen you all week but that's fine, I mean why should I? Now I am just trying to go home. I am tired. It's been a long week and all I want to do is go home , shower and plop in front of the tv and maybe watch a Star Wars movie and relax. So can we hurry this up..please?."

Looking concerned and confused , Paul let's go of Derrick's arm reluctantly. "Well I'm sorry I didn't mean to keep you I just thought..."

"Thought what Paul?' Derrick runs his hands through his hair, then rubs the back of his neck. Closing his eyes as he does.

"Well...I thought that we...that maybe we could.." Paul sighs in frustration. "I was hoping that we could pick up ..you know where we left off last week?"

Derrick stood there in total shock..not exactly knowing what to say but knowing it was now or never. Strike while the iron is hot, like his Aunt Geneva used to say. He smiled then. His aunt Geneva had been an awesome lady and she would have loved Paul.

A soft smile played on Paul's face and his eyes were smiling as well. "Why are you smiling Derrick?"

"I was just thinking about something an amazing woman said quite a bit. Advice really."

"Oh really? What was it ? If you don't mind my asking?"

"Strike while the iron is hot." Derrick grinned at Paul, eyes twinkling.

Paul chuckled and asked "So ...what made you think of that?"

Derrick walked over to Paul. He stopped about a foot away and just looked at him. Slowly he reached out with his right hand and hesitated, while Paul just watched him, he then took hold of Paul's left hand. When Paul didn't object, Derrick pulled Paul slowly towards him. By now Paul's smile had been replaced by a look so intimate that it made Derrick blush.

Paul still hadn't said anything yet so Derrick did what he wanted to for months. Slowly he raised his left hand and placed it on the side of Paul's face.

"Do you have ANY idea how long I have wanted to be alone with you? Wanted to kiss and hold you? I am sorry if this is too bold or fast for you but, if I don't do this now, I never will."

Paul stood there , just looking into Derrick's eyes...waiting..hoping this was what he thought it was..that Derrick wanted to start something that could be the best thing that had ever happened to him. He had no clue how Derrick felt but it was looking damn promising.

Derrick was shaking. This was a risk he had to take. This might be his only chance to see if they could have anything special. Shoot, to even see if Paul could even be interested in a serious relationship. He knew all about Paul's reputation with women, which was a big fat lie. However , his relationship with Sonny had been serious. It still could be for Paul. Even though Sonny was happily married to Will, it might not be over for Paul. It was worth the risk though. he HAD to know.

Taking a deep breath , he slowly pulled Paul's face down to his. Their eyes locked and they kissed for the first time. It was a soft kiss. One of tenative exploration on both their parts. Both desperately wanted to be loved but were afraid that they may never find it.

This however...this was amazing! For such a soft or some would call innocent kiss, it blew both their minds. They both pulled back. Looking at each other and they smiled at each other.

Paul reached up and took hold of Derrick's hand , the one that was still cupping his cheek, he intertwined their fingers together and pulled him up. Still holding Derrick's hand Paul said. " Did that knock your socks off too or was it just me?"

"No it wasn't just you." Derrick smiled and let out a long breath. "This may sound corny but I don't care...for it being such a innocent kiss may I just say...Wow!?"

Paul chuckled "Yeah I thought that too."

"So what do we do now?"

Paul looked down at their hands, still tightly wrapped around each other, then back up at Derrick seraching his eyes he said. "I say we get out of here and go get some coffee and talk. Figure out what we want to do, where we hope this will go. We don't have to give it a name just yet . Know this though, I really want to give this a chance. I want to take it rush it like I have almost all of my other relationships in the past. See where it takes us. If that is ok with you?"

Derrick looked deep into Paul's eyes. "Paul..I have to ask this question. I need to protect myself, protect my heart. I have been hurt so many times before. How do you feel about Sonny? I can't and won't get involved with you if you still have strong feelings for him."

Paul raised his hand and slowly ran his fingers down Derricks cheek. Looking him straight in the eye he said. "Derrick. Sonny was a long time ago. Yes when I first saw him here in Salem and for quite a while after, I thought I still loved him. Until this handsome blonde man slowly worked his way into my every thought. What I had with Sonny was amazing but that was back then. He is extremely happy and I am very happy for him. It is time I found that perfect person for me and...I think...hope that it is you and you feel the same."

Derrick pulled Paul into his arms, wrapped him up tight and whispered in his ear. "Let's go get to know each other better and figure where this takes us ok?"

"Ok but you do know don't you that Will and Sonny will take all the credit right?" They both chuckled because they knew it was true. Will and Sonny would like nothing more than to be proven right. They would claim they knew it all along and there would be no living with either of them.

That was ok though. They'd give them credit because honestly, if it wasn't for Will and Sonny putting them in a room together, time after time, they might not have realized how it was for both of them to try and see if they could be a couple.

"Alright now. So let's go give Salem something to gossip about."

They walked hand in hand through the park and to Sonny's club. Guess who they just happened to run into, coming out of the club? Will and Sonny of course. Who just looked at them, their hands and they grinned like loons. Yup...no living with either of them.

All four of them grinned like idiots at each other. Then Paul and Derrick continued into Club TBD and Will and Sonny headed home to relieve the babysitter and have some much needed "alone time".

Paul and Derrick found the most secluded booth and they began to talk about their lives, hopes and dreams. Still holding hands.

Behind the bar T watched them. He knew what they both liked to drink, so after a signal from Paul, he made their coffees and brought them to their table.

As he walked away, T grinned and said to himself "ahhh Love...ain't it grand?" Hopefully some day soon it will happen to him..like Will said it would.