Jay's car peeled out of the parking area by the beach, the driver's knuckles a livid white from gripping the steering wheel. Jay had been surprised when he'd seen Heath at the college joined by another man, but gave his precious the benefit of the doubt. He'd noted what direction they'd gone when the bike whipped past him, then slid into his car around the corner to put his camera back in its case. He set out for the hardware store, assured that Heath wouldn't cheat on him. Not after their talk last night.

Jay and the store manager had a rather nice chat about what it would take to finish the attic. Jay himself wasn't thrilled about the prospect of a baby around, but Amy and Trish were good tenants and had been with him for years. While they weren't terribly close, he considered them and the Helmsley-Michaelses to be more family than the people he was related to. He could deal with a baby two floors away. It wasn't like he would have to take care of the thing. He wondered if Heath would like it. Maybe Heath would want one of his own someday. He supposed if it ever came to that, Jay could get him one. Yeah, he could do that.

After gathering a few estimates, Jay whistled as he returned to his car and headed on down to the beach. It was the only place Heath ever went on that side of town. Sure enough, after a short stroll he found the redhead eating ice cream with the other man. He lifted the camera around his neck and zoomed in close, captivated by Heath's parted lips and wide, licking tongue, his smile and the laughter that Jay was too far away to hear. He took several pictures of Heath mouthing the ice cream, wondering if those pouty lips would feel cold on his now-throbbing dick. But then...

Jay thought he was angry when he saw them holding hands, but it was nothing to the rage he felt when their lips met. He stared through the lens with wide eyes, disbelieving and sickened as Heath seemed to welcome the betrayal. A cold calm crept into his muscles, leaving him still except for the flaring of his nostrils and the slight twitch of his upper lip. He saw an image of himself with a knife, could feel the blood hot and thick flowing over his fingers. When the long-haired douchebag got down on his knees and pulled out Heath's dick, Jay lowered the camera. He couldn't watch anymore. He'd seen it before, he knew what happened next. Hot tears blazed in his eyes and his breath came in seething pants as he ripped the car door open and flung himself inside. How could he? After all he'd promised, after all they'd done, he just shit all over it!

"Stupid slutty fucking cunt!" he screamed, almost hitting an SUV while blowing through an intersection. It did nothing to ease the ripping pain in his chest. He thought Heath was different from the others. But no, it was all just sex and money to Heath, just like those whores at Bottoms Up. Heath had only worked there a few days and they were turning his precious into one of them! Fuck, he and Heath had shared something. Jay had planted himself deep inside Heath and felt the redhead find ecstasy in his arms. Heath had to know how Jay felt, that he loved him and wanted to take care of him, that he would do cheesy shit like give him the fucking stars if Heath desired it.

"And he just shit all over it. Shit shit shitty shitty SHIT!" He banged on the steering wheel with every word, tears burning trails down his cheeks. The little tantrum left him drained and hurting, and he slowly pulled into his parking space behind the apartments, wiping his face on his sleeve. The upstairs apartments were dark, as they always were on Friday nights. Quiet and cold.

Maybe... maybe Heath didn't understand. Maybe Jay had been unclear. How could he make his precious see how much he cared for him? He got out and trudged towards his apartment, thinking that if he could only have taken Heath on a date like he'd wanted... But Heath was on a date. There on the beach, that was supposed to be HIS date with Heath, not that overgrown wannabe biker asshole. Anger tightened his chest again as visions of Heath letting someone else's mouth touch his body swam in a red haze over his eyes.

Barking caught Jay's attention and he glared at Heath's window as he passed, seeing Boodah peeking over the sill. The red haze faded as an idea dawned in Jay's mind. That's how he'd show Heath he loved him, he'd take care of that fucking dog. Heath adored that silly beast. A plan formed as Jay unlocked his door and ran to the second bedroom, Gangrel's room.

The room hadn't been occupied since David's death, but not a mote of dust could be found on the shelves, not a trace of dirt on the floor. A theatrical black coffin lined with red satin stood propped in a corner, the ornate silver cross on the lid polished to a bright shine. David would often step inside and lean back to think, and if he was in a particularly foul mood, he would close the lid. Jay had tried it a few times, but he found it claustrophobic; he needed to move. His favorite game when David needed coffin time was sneaking around the house, seeing what he could get away with. Bless Uncle David, he always knew. Most times Jay's punishments were fun little games, but sometimes...

Jay stepped around the giant canopied four-poster bed to the table and looked at the implements laid out. Gangrel collected odd torture devices and weapons, many of them antique, and Jay had felt the sting of most. Not the deadly ones of course, but David knew he needed to understand pain, be inured to it. And Jay was in pain now.

He passed over some of the more delicate tools and looked at what was hung on the wall. The mace wouldn't help, nor would the whip. His fingers closed on an old cricket bat, taking it from the wall and feeling the heft in his hand. His fingertips ran over the smooth, flat wood, remembering the bruises it left on his skin with the gentlest of smacks. Perfect. He glanced over at the bed, gazing at the soft black bedspread and remembering David taking him there, making all the pain he'd caused go away, and Jay would love him for it. He squeezed the grip of the bat, cock stiffening as he recalled the lessons of life and love taught on that bed, and in anticipation of passing on that lesson. Jay stepped back outside.

o~o~o

Heath lay cuddled on Drew's chest, listening to his heart slow and wanting to purr as fingers stroked his hair. Did little foxes purr? Heath didn't know. He just knew the last few hours with Drew were the best he's had in a long time. And it had been a long time since he'd enjoyed giving head that much. The best part, he didn't feel dirty at all, just sated. Maybe a little sandy, he thought as he brushed a few grains away from Drew's nipple. It was kind of ironic that he didn't feel dirty after fooling around with a stripper.

"Drew?"

"Hm?" he responded, still pleasantly buzzing from the mind-melting blow job. The kid sure knew some tricks.

"You ever ashamed to be a stripper?"

Drew snorted and slit his eyes open. "Here I am, laying on a public beach with my wee limp cock dangling out me knickers, and you're asking if anything shames me?"

Heath smirked and tugged Drew's boxers back into place, giving him a playful grope as he raised his head. "You ain't wee."

"Oh, no?" Drew murmured with a grin, eyebrows raised. Heath mocked his expression, and they both giggled as Drew rolled to his side to attack Heath's lips, pecking and growling.

"Nuh-uh," Heath said and rubbed the tip of his nose against Drew's, then pulled back to pucker his lips. "But you didn't answer."

Drew's eyebrow quirked, and he raised up on his elbow to prop his head on his fist. "Eh, not really. There've been awkward moments here and there, aye, but I'm not really ashamed of what I do."

"Ever work in the back room? You know..?" Heath asked, trying to sound casual about it and wanting to squirm when Drew's eyes searched his.

"Keen on signing up?"

"No," Heath said, wetting his lips and laying back on the sand. "I just wondered how you felt about it. Y'know, fucking for money."

Drew's eyes narrowed a bit, then he shrugged a shoulder. "I get why people do it. It's a means to an end, or maybe they feel trapped. Some lads enjoy it, easy cash doing what they love. Not exactly the Virgin Mary over here, no room for me to judge."

Heath's eyes slid away from Drew's to stare up at the dock above, catching the sparkle of a couple stars between the planks. He didn't want to think about all that right now, not when they'd had such a great time. Weariness seeped into his body as he realized that it all had to end soon. "I wish I could just sleep here. With you." There went his mouth, getting ahead of him again.

"We could go back to my place," Drew offered, brushing sand off Heath's shoulder.

Shit, this was moving too fast, but Heath was sorely tempted. He was too comfortable with Drew, and he couldn't afford to be too comfortable. He was pushing his luck already, what with his loose lips and the possibility of getting caught in his mind once again. "I can't. It's late, and I gotta get home and take care of my dog. Poor guy's probably running around the apartment with his legs crossed as it is."

Drew chuckled. "All right then. Want me to come with you, keep you company?"

Heath's blood chilled at the thought of Jay finding Drew in his bed. He closed his eyes before Drew could see the terror in them. "Not a good idea."

"You hiding a boyfriend or something?" Drew asked, a hint of teasing in his voice hiding the concern.

"No," Heath answered, a little too quickly, then opened his eyes. "No, it's just... Drew, my life... it's real messy right now, y'know? I don't wanna drag you into it."

Drew reached out to rearrange strands of ginger at Heath's temple. "Then don't."

"Huh?" Heath blinked up at blue eyes as Drew continued to stroke his hair back. Maybe he'd been arrogant to expect an argument, to think Drew wanted to be part of his life.

"Don't drag me into whatever messy shite you think will scare me away," Drew said, his voice as soft as the fingers that touched Heath's face. "But when it all gets too much, let me be your haven."

Heath's eyes widened and his tongue slid across his lower lip, wetting it and making it glisten in the moonlight. "Wow," he whispered. "That was... really cheesy."

One of Drew's dimples flashed in a lopsided grin. "Did it work?"

"Totally," Heath said, and giggled as he pulled Drew down for a searing kiss. He broke it quickly when he heard the ringtone from his nearby jacket. His brow furrowed as he frowned at the heap of leather. "Weird. No one ever calls me."

"Go on, then," Drew said, sitting up. Heath leaned up to peck his lips and give him a half-smile before crawling to their pile of clothes, and Drew admired that sweet round butt shifting in his jeans. Oblivious, Heath tossed Drew's shirt to him and dug through his jacket to pull out his phone. The word on the display brought a lump to his throat and made his hands tremble. LANDLORD. Of course they'd exchanged numbers when Heath and Justin had signed the lease, but Jay had never called him before. He said a silent prayer and answered.

Drew shook the sand out of his shirt and pulled it over his head before buttoning his jeans, then looked up. Heath had turned a sick shade of pale, his brown eyes showing white all around and his lower lip quivering. "Heath? What's wrong?" he asked, his heart sinking. He reached out, but Heath bared his teeth at him and waved his hand to shush him before grabbing a fistful of hair and tugging.

"God, no... Is he..? Please..." Heath choked back a sob and nodded as if the person on the other end could see him. "No, yeah... okay. On Maple Street? Yeah, I'll be right there, just... See you there." He ended the call and grabbed a sock, mechanically tugging it onto his foot as fast as he could. Drew took that as a cue to hurry and went about finding his own socks.

"What is it, little fox? What can I do?" Drew asked as he laced his boots.

"Just take me back to the college," Heath said in a strangled voice. "My dog, my Boodah... he's been hit by a car."

o~o~o

Heath banged on the door of the veterinarian's office. They could be contacted after hours to come in for emergencies, but kept the doors locked. Heath fidgeted and raked his hair back, a bit of sand still falling through his fingers with every swipe. He'd told Drew he could drive fine and someone was waiting for him, then sent him on his way with a promise to call him tomorrow. As much as he wanted that strong embrace right now, the last thing he needed was Jay seeing Drew hovering around him like a concerned boyfriend. He banged on the door again just as a nurse came around the corner.

"My dog's here! Please!" he screamed through the glass, tears dripping down his cheeks. He couldn't lose Boodah, his baby, his best friend. The harried-looking brunette nodded and unlocked the door, letting Heath in and locking up again before guiding him to the waiting room.

"Are you Boodah's dad?" the nurse asked, and Heath nodded. Vet's offices always referred to pets like children, which Heath usually found charming. Right now it just tore his heart in half and made him feel like a terrible father.

"Please, is he okay? Tell me," Heath begged.

"He's stable, and the doctor is seeing to him right now," she said. "Apparently your landlord came home and found him in the alley behind your building? Is that right?"

"Yes, that's right," Jay said, startling Heath. He hadn't realized his landlord was right behind him, and wanted to burst into tears. Why did it have to be Jay? This was too much.

"What happened?" he wailed. "Where's my baby?"

"Come on," Jay said, and gathered Heath into his arms. "I'll take care of you until the doctor comes to talk to us." He nodded at the nurse, who nodded back and went to assist the vet. Heath stiffened and tried to push Jay away.

"What happened?" he said through his teeth. "Why was Boodah in the street?"

"I came home and your door was open. Looks like it was kicked in. Whoever did it must have been spooked by Boodah and run off; the police are looking around there now, but nothing seems touched."

"You called the police?" Heath asked, shocked.

"Of course I did," Jay answered with a frown. "Someone tried to break in. I need to reinforce the doors and locks, I guess... Anyway, I called and called for Boodah, I couldn't find him anywhere. Then, I heard this whine in the alley, and..." Jay ran a hand over the scruff on his chin, blinking hard. "He looked so broken, Heath. There was blood... everywhere... and he just looked so damn small... I hope I saved him in time. I'm so sorry..."

Only then did Heath notice the drying red smears on Jay's shirt, and bile rose in his throat. The thought of his beautiful black lab lying bloody and helpless in a gutter, crying for him while he was out playing on the beach was too much for Heath. "I should have been there," he cried. "Oh god, I'm sorry Boo... I can't lose him..."

Again, Jay gathered Heath into his arms, and this time Heath didn't resist. He crumbled against Jay, sobbing on his shoulder as Jay rubbed his back and cooed. "It's gonna be okay, precious. I made sure to bring him to the best, they'll take care of him." Jay kissed ginger hair that smelled of the sea breeze, his blue eyes hard as ice. "And I'll take care of you. It'll all be okay, I'll take care of everything."