"Thanks for the ride." Ronny shut the door carefully behind him as he got out of the car. He glanced back over his shoulder for a long moment, staring at the roof of the car while his mind toyed with a thought. An absurd thought, but a thought nonetheless. What the hell, he only lived once, right? Turning, he leaned on the doorframe and smiled at Gerry through the open window.

"Do you want to come in?" It was a long shot, he knew, but he couldn't help but try.

Gerry gave him one of 'those looks'. Really, he should be used to them by now but it still kind of hurt when he paused to think about it for more than a second. It was the same look he got from everyone on the team, anytime he so much as mentioned someone coming over to his apartment, so full of disgust, fear, revulsion, and guilt all rolled into one that it made his stomach churn every time he met that look face on. Never crossed their minds that hey, maybe he was a bit lonely living all by himself in a strange town and that maybe all he was interested in was some friendly, one-hundred percent platonic, companionship. All they saw was that he was gay and maybe coming into his room would make them gay too.


"Huh?" His ears must be playing tricks on him because could have sworn he just heard Gerry Burtier say yes.

"Yeah, sure. I don't have anywhere to go right now so I guess it'd be alright to hang out for a bit." Gerry looked at him funny. "You alright there, Sunshine?"

He realized his mouth was hanging open and slowly recovered enough wits to shut his jaw and stand up straight. "Yeah, I'm fine just... thanks." Gerry probably had no idea what Ronny was thanking him for but he meant it.

The car door opened and shut, and then Gerry was gesturing for him to lead the way. He smiled, probably the closest thing that he'd managed to a one of his patented radiant Sunshine smiles in close to two weeks. Gerry smile back and followed him up the creaky wooden steps to the second floor landing. Third door down was his. Digging out he keys he had the door open in a snap, flicking on the lights as he walked into the sparsely furnished apartment.

Gerry entered slowly, his eyes roving over the large combo room they stood in. The little kitchenette section was in a corner to the right, all white and sterile and pristine. Right next to that in the opposite corner of the same wall was what Ronny though of as his dining room, nothing more than a decent sized table and four chairs really. Not that anyone other than his dad had ever been in here to use it. The rest of the room was fairly empty. Just an old, battered but still comfortable couch, a low table in front of it, and a TV in a wooden cabinet against the left wall. An open doorway across from them gave a glimpse of a low bookshelf and a rumpled bed, with a small bathroom set off of that room.

Tossing his backpack by the couch Ronny casually shut the bedroom door on his way around to the kitchenette, suddenly feeling a little subconscious about the disaster that was his bedroom floor.

"You want anything to drink?" Ronny tossed over his shoulder as he stuck his head into his refrigerator.

"Yeah, thanks. Anything's fine." He heard Gerry moving around over near the couch. "Mind if I turn on the TV?"

"No problem, go for it." Rummaging through the refrigerator he tried to find something a bit more normal than the blended teas and juices he kept stocked in there. Ah! There in the back were two brown bottles of root beer. "Root beer alright?"

"Yeah, sounds good." The TV flicked on, sound flaring and dying intermittently as Gerry flipped through the channels.

Pulling the bottles out, he popped the caps, flipping the little metal lids into the garbage pail before joining Gerry on the couch. He was careful to keep his distance, handing one of the bottles over and then retreating to the opposite end of the couch. They both stared at the TV. Gerry'd found a baseball game on but neither of them seemed really attentive to what was going on. Ronny kind of half stared at the TV but really his attention was more focused on the bottle in his hand.

"You always lived alone?"

"Huh?" Ronny belatedly realized he'd been asked a question and then shook his head. He was doing real good today on the attentiveness factor, just full of witty replies. "Just in California and here. Lived with my mom a bit before that."

"What was before California?" Gerry sounded confused and Ronny guessed to a man who'd lived his whole life in one town what he'd said would have been a little weird.

"New Jersey and Nevada and Washington and... well, a couple of others." He shrugged, not feeling like listing all the states off.

"Shit. You really moved around that much?" The way Gerry stared at him, eyes and mouth both open wide made him chuckle a little.

"Yeah. I've lived in twelve different states so far." He tried to sound casual about it but maybe a little bit of boasting crept in. It was nothing really to boast about but the way it made Gerry's eyes go wide as saucers was way too amusing.

"How can you stand that? I couldn't think about just up and leaving all my friends like that. You had to move what? A little over once a year?"

He shrugged again nonchalantly. "It varies. California was the longest, been there three years, not consecutively. Before we moved here I'd been there for almost two years straight."

"Don't you miss your friends?" The way Gerry looked at him was a bit hard to take so he turned away under the pretense of scratching the back of his head and taking a drink.

"Not really. I never really made any friends over there." It was a little hard to say that out loud but something was pushing him towards honesty. Somehow, without him noticing, this afternoon had turned into a 'bare you soul, bleeding open heart' kind of thing.

"What? Why not? Seems like there'd be more people like you over there..." Ronny winced and saw a look flash through Gerry's eyes before he looked over sheepishly. "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that."

He knew what Gerry meant, though, and it didn't really bother him. It was another one of those things you got used to being the only gay man in a fifty mile radius. "It's okay." He ignored the blunder and went back to answer Gerry's original question. "I don't know. It's just a habit I guess. Got so used to getting up and moving that I stopped trying. I mean sure, I was still friendly and all but never really connected with anyone."

"You have friends here." The words caused Ronny to look up in surprise and he saw genuine honesty in Gerry's face. He meant it.

Ronny smiled again, his face melting into one of those radiant smiles of his and he beamed, just like sunshine. "Thanks."

"No problem."

Conversation lolled and they both went back to watching the television-but-not. Ronny toyed with his bottle, twisting it around in his hands like he was turning Gerry's words around in his head. He had friends. It was a nice thought. He knew he kind of liked some of the guys, in the friend-only way. Well, a few of them in the bit more than friendly way but that was never going to happen so he didn't really give those thoughts more than one night's wet-dream before he pushed them away as absurd. But knowing they though of him as a friend as well... That was cool. Well, that was more than cool, it was fantastic and a little corner of his mind was doing back flips at the thought until he told it firmly to stop being such a queer and act like a man for a change. Not that it listened to him, but it helped him keep his composure somewhat instead of breaking out into a stupid sappy grin.

"What's it like?"

Ronny snapped out of his thoughts to look over at Gerry in confusion. "What's what like?" He really hoped he hadn't just blanked out on a conversation 'cause that would so look bad.

"What's it like being... you know..."

Oh. For a brief moment he thought about playing with Gerry's mind, forcing him to say the one word everyone in this town danced around and refused to say. Instead he gave in, took pity on the man, and answered his question honestly. "I can't really give you a comparison. I've always been gay."

"Always?" Gerry looked positively shocked.

"Well kind of. I mean, it's one of those things where you're kind of just born that way." He had to chuckle a little at the look on Gerry's face, probably at the thought of little gay babies running around touching other babies. "I didn't always know I was gay, though. Not 'til I was around 15."

There was a sort of morbid fascination etched on Gerry's face and Ronny could see the nerves he was ridding on just to get the questions out. That's probably why he was taking it so easy on the man. He could tell how much it was costing the man just to say those few words and he didn't want to jinx it. After all, curiosity had lead to some good things for Ronny. "How'd you find out?"

"I had a girlfriend." Oddly enough, Ronny didn't think he'd ever told this story to anyone before. Everyone in California had just kind of assumed and before then, well... there hadn't really been much before then in the way of friendship or experimentation. "She was nice and all. A real beauty too. Most guys would have killed for a chance to go out with her. And I thought that way too, at first, because, well, that's the way they tell you you're supposed to go so I did."

"What happened?"

Ronny looked off at the far wall as he searched for the right words. "It was... weird, I guess."

"Weird?" There was a strange hitch in Gerry's voice and Ronny had a feeling that maybe Gerry knew a bit about what Ronny was talking about from personal experience. Or maybe it was just Ronny's mind being cruel and taunting him with fantasies about one of his crushes turning gay in his living room.

"Yeah, weird." He used the words to distract himself before his mind got too far in its imaginings and he focused his attention on the past instead of the present. "A little wrong, I guess you could say. We'd kiss and it just wouldn't feel right. And there was the other thing. That, um... didn't go well." He coughed slightly, not out of embarrassment so much as the lingering discomfort the memories brought back.

"So you didn't?"

"No, I did." The girl hadn't been too thrilled with his performance afterwards but they'd at least made it all the way through. "But it was odd. Kinda like walking through a door backwards, that feeling that things were completely opposite the way they were supposed to be."

Gerry went quiet for a long moment and Ronny almost though he was done until one more tentative question filled the air. "So how'd you find out you were gay?"

"I got curious," he said with a shrug. "I asked a boy I knew in California and he... showed me things. Turned out that way was right."

"You mean you just..." Gerry gestured wildly in the air, his face red with shock.

"No. We just kissed, the first time. It went to more later on, but starting out, all it was was kissing."

"Oh. Was it any different than being with a girl?"

"Depends on which side you're on?"

That earned him a confused stare and he laughed outright. "There's two roles, kind of, that you can do. Top or bottom. One's kinda like being with a girl 'cept it's a different part you're fondling to get the other off. The other way's nothing like women but so much better. At least in my opinion it is."

"I don't get it."

Ronny smiled, more than just a little confused at how his friend didn't look and see the possible angles. "There's still a hole you can put it in."

"Oh." And then Gerry got this strange embarrassed/contemplative look that seemed to turn his entire expression inward until Ronny wasn't half-sure Gerry even remembered he was there.

Well, this had been a rather strange day so might as well go for broke at pushing his luck. "Do you want to try?" He couldn't believe he'd said that almost as soon as the words left his mouth.

Apparently Gerry couldn't believe it either 'cause he snapped out of his thoughts and stared at Ronny like he'd sprouted five more heads and one of them was doing a tap dance. "What?"

He weighed his options, pros versus cons. The way he figured it, he'd already kind of kissed Gerry once so they both knew there was an attraction. The worst that would happen was that Gerry would deck him without the other players to hold him back, though really he wasn't kissing him just offering and Gerry had been cool with the first kiss later, after camp was over.

"Do you want to try kissing me?"

There. He said it. It was in the air, out in the open, nothing he could do about it anymore.

"I'm not gay!" The protest was only half-hearted and that gave Ronny a bit of hope.

"But you think you might be."

"What? How?" Ronny just stared calmly as Gerry spluttered, still not moving from his end of the couch. He viewed that as a good sign.

He tried again, slowly. "You're curious. I'm offering a way to figure it out. One kiss. If there's nothing, hey, you're straight. If not, well... that's not so bad either, really. No one has to know. I'm certainly not going to go blabbing and I know you won't, so what's the problem?"

"But I... you..." Gerry tried to find an excuse, desperately looking for anything, and he failed. "Fine."

For the second time that night, Ronny really thought he was hearing things.

"You stay there."

Apparently he wasn't because Gerry was suddenly shifting closer, timidly, and Ronny didn't think he could move if he tried. Gerry stared at him for a long time, their faces close but not too close until suddenly Gerry's face twisted and then he was there, kissing. It was light and tentative at first, barely there, but then Gerry pressed just a bit closer and Ronny opened his mouth just slightly, half expecting Gerry not to know what to do. He was pleasantly surprised by the tongue that slipped in, probing cautiously and tasting, and he really had to work at not pressing up into that touch. His hands found the cushions of the couch beside him and he clutched at them tightly as he tried to swallow down a low moan. He really hadn't expected Gerry to be that good. Then a moan did escape and Gerry jerked them apart like he'd been burnt.

They stared at each other, less than a foot between them on the couch but it seemed so greater and Ronny had the feeling if he reached out Gerry would bolt and he'd never see the man again. Thankfully he seemed plastered to the back of the couch, his head supported by the back of the couch as he panted for breath. Oh yeah, he'd forgotten about that whole needing to breathe thing. Having a guy's tongue down your throat kind of did that. He licked his lips once, saw how hungrily Gerry's eyes followed his tongue and did it again just to be a tease.

"You like that?" Gerry seemed half-shocked that Ronny'd like the kiss. The man obviously thought very little of his own skills.

"Yeah, I did. Question is, did you?" That was the big thing here. Ronny knew he was gay. No surprise to him that guys made him hard.

Gerry seemed to give it some serious thought, though his eyes never strayed far from Ronny's still parted lips. A couple minutes later, he had the answer.

"I did." For being a supposedly straight man in a rigidly straight, backwater community, Gerry was taking the news surprisingly well.

He waited a moment, bating his breath and then offered. "You wanna do it again?"

Shock and want battled across Gerry's face and after a minute of no answer he took the decision out of the man's hands. He crawled over slowly, arms coming up to rest around broad shoulders as he straddled Gerry's lap. With a smile at the dumbstruck look on Gerry's face, Ronny kissed him firmly, using his lips to promise exactly what would happen if Gerry ever wanted to do anything more.

Apparently the idea went over well because he could feel Gerry's pants getting tighter beneath him. Gerry gave a little resistance to the kiss, a mere momentary delay before he surrendered to emotion and kissed back, fiercely and passionately and this time Ronny didn't hold back the moans that those kisses urged from him. Two hands wavered near his sides as if unsure where to settle so he again took the option away and placed them firmly on his backside. They froze there for a second, unsure and then they were pressing him in tight and Ronny pressed down into them. The movement brought two clothed groins together and he had to break the kiss to gasp for air as strong hands flexed over his ass. Gerry didn't seem quite sure what to do when Ronny let his head roll back and moaned, so he figured he'd take it easy on the man.

With mischief in his eyes, he captured Gerry's gaze and held it while he slipped a hand between them to the button of Gerry's fly. Just as his fingers closed on the prize a look of panic swept across Gerry's face and he grabbed Ronny's wrist tightly.

"Don't." There was warning implicit in the tone, but also, buried in the back, a strong thread of need and want.

"Shh," he breathed slowly as he leaned down to flutter light kisses across Gerry's cheek before moving down to nuzzle and suck at the exposed bit of neck. "It's alright." He whispered the words into pale flesh and Gerry's hold relaxed enough for Ronny to slip his hand free. As his hands slowly worked open the fly of Gerry's pants he let his eyes lock with Gerry's, holding him with his gaze. "It's just like a girl," he promised with both eyes and words.

Sliding back, he slipped off the couch to kneel on the floor between Gerry's knees. Gerry watched him, disbelief and wonder tattooed across his face as Ronny slowly slipped Gerry's erection free of his pants. Ronny looked up once, meeting confused eyes with a look of promise and then he focused on his target. Leaning forward, he opened his mouth to blow hotly across the head and he could feel Gerry shudder even as Ronny tentatively began stroking the erection before him very lightly. He followed a warm hand with a tongue and heard the change in Gerry's breathing as it got louder, deeper, coming in more harsh pants and deep swallows.

In one swift motion he straightened his head, opened his mouth wide and then swallowed as he forced himself down over Gerry's member. The strangled curse that rung out would have made him smile but he was a little too occupied at the moment and he moaned as just a tiny bit of salty fluid hit the back of his throat. He left one hand on Gerry's hip for balance, let the other move down to open his own pants and start jerking himself off in an echo of the bobs of his head. Gerry's hands wound down into his hair, not pushing, just holding on, like a lifeline, and Ronny quickened his pace, throwing in every trick in the book. He moaned again, as the thought came unbidden to his head of what it would feel like to have this hot, thick length pressed up inside him, and apparently his moan was enough to get Gerry off because suddenly there was all this gushing fluid pouring down his mouth. He came in his own hand as he tried to swallow down every droplet, almost chocking as he greedily took in too much too fast.

A few last lazy licks and he pulled back, wiping his hand on a tissue from the table behind him and carefully tucking Gerry back into his jeans before he finally looked up to meet Gerry's eyes. The man looked terrified and he glanced once at Ronny's parts, still hanging out of his jeans before he bolted to the door. He stopped in the doorway, and looked back once before disappearing.

"I'm sorry."

The door clicked shut, leaving Ronny alone again but he didn't mind it so much now. He knew what it was like, to be scared and confused about why things were changing and he guessed maybe he had pushed things a little too far too fast. But what was done was done and only tomorrow would tell how they both got through this. Without bothering to close his pants he wandered into his bedroom for a much needed shower.