Changes of the Heart
|by Rolf and Gayspankee|
Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original authors only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 22 Mar 2001
It was early Friday morning, the sun just barely peering over the horizon. Matthew was jolted from his peaceful slumber by a gentle tapping on his back. As he rolled over, he began coughing profusely.
"Let me get you some water," Rolf said, peeling the sheets off of himself.
Matthew grabbed his wrist, shook his head 'no' and stumbled out of bed. He walked briskly to the kitchen. He knew Rolf would bring him water and wanted something with flavor to remove his morning breath taste. He poured himself a glass of kool aid, a product masked as Juicey Juice in the refrigerator. Matthew drank slowly, removing the annoying tickle that woke up the house. When he was finished he tossed the glass in the sink and stepped into the living room. Standing by the window, he looked out to make sure the neighborhood was still standing. The sun had risen a bit higher, a few stray beams illuminating the room. Matthew looked at the clock and saw he had a couple more hours to sleep. He walked past the door on his way back to bed and did a double take as he saw an envelope on the floor, directly beneath the mail slot. His heart began to race.
"What the hell is that?" he thought to himself. "It isn't mail. We checked it yesterday and they certainly don't deliver this early."
Matthew crept over to it, as if it would bite. He slowly bent down and picked it up. Written on the front was 'To Fruitcake and Rolf'. Matthew breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was from Marc, but as he began to open it, his heart picked up speed again.
"Why is there a letter from Marc here?" he said quietly.
"Are you coming back to bed?" Rolf asked, standing behind him.
Matthew jumped, dropping the envelope.
"Jeez, you scared the sh-crap out of me."
"Sorry. What's that?" Rolf asked, inquiring about the dropped envelope.
"It's from Marc," Matthew said, bending down to pick it up. "I just found it on the floor, in front of the mail slot."
"Hmm. That's odd. It wasn't there last night, was it?"
"Open it up."
Matthew opened the envelope and sat in front of the window to read it by the sunlight. He sat, staring at it, as a couple of tears rolled down his cheek.
"Well, what does it say?" Rolf asked quietly.
"Dear Fruitcake and Rolf," Matthew began reading, a bit choked up. "Just wanted to let you know that I had to get away for a couple of days. The events of the past two weeks have just taken their toll. I don't know where I am going, but I will be fine. I will be back on Monday, Tuesday at the latest. Don't worry about me. All my love, Marc."
Matthew just stared at the note as tears streamed down his face. Rolf sat next to Matthew to reread the note, just to be sure nothing was missed. Rolf wrapped his arms around Matthew, allowing Matthew to cry gently on his shoulder.
"Shhh. It's alright sweetheart. He just needed time to get away. Apparently he wasn't ready to let Luke go."
"That is why this huuuurrts so much!" Matthew said, crying. "Marc was hurting and couldn't open up to me. He didn't have to run away, at least not alone."
"He felt he did. He just needed some time to grieve."
Rolf held Matthew for a few more minutes.
"Come on, we can still get a good two hours of sleep in," Rolf said, bringing Matthew to his feet.
"I'm not tired," Matthew mumbled.
"Humor me and lay down next to me then."
Matthew followed Rolf into the bedroom. The tears had stopped, the pain had not. Rolf positioned Matthew on his stomach and rubbed his back as he laid next to him. Within five minutes, Matthew had fallen asleep. Rolf smiled as he heard the soft snore. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He too felt horrible, as though he had let Marc down. He felt he should have seen the discontent and sadness in his face, heard the loneliness in his voice. He prayed for Marc's safety and was glad that Marc had the intuition to leave a note, even if it was vague. His mind swirled for an hour before finally falling back to sleep.
All too soon the alarm went off. Matthew sprang to consciousness, certain that he just had a horrifying nightmare. As his eyes scanned the room, he saw the proof that his nightmare was a reality. He reached for the letter and reread it. As he read it, he sensed Rolf was watching him.
"Why, Rolf? Why did he run? Why didn't I see the void this ordeal left him with? And why did this guy mean so much to Marc?"
"I don't know. I asked myself those very questions. Marc is a big boy, he will be alright," Rolf said, trying to convince himself of that fact. He leaned over and kissed Matthew on the cheek. "Go clean up, I will make breakfast."
Matthew knew nothing could be done just by staring at the note, so he did as Rolf requested. He climbed out of bed and made his way into the bathroom, taking his shower and brushing his teeth.
Several miles away, on the sandy, sunny coast, Marc was sitting quietly on a bench overlooking the ocean. He watched the waves crash down and listened to the seagulls' call. His stomach was in knots and he felt such a void in his heart. He hated lying to Matthew and Rolf, but with everything that had happened, he didn't think they would understand. While he said he would be fine, he was far from it.
Luke was the first man Marc had connected with in some time, and his death took it's toll on Marc regardless of what was said. Marc's breaking point was Thursday morning, the day of the funeral. He wanted to stay away, he even pretended to be unaware of it when Rolf mentioned it, but he went anyway. And that closure was even worse than the hateful words spewed at him and his closest friends. Marc went home after the funeral and packed a small bag. He wrote a note letting Rolf and Matthew know he would be gone the weekend, just to save his ass from any grief. He took care of a few odds and ends, and that evening parked outside their house and waited for them to retire to bed. Once the house was dark, Marc walked up to the mail slot and dropped it in. He got into his car and drove for the coast, making it there just before sunrise, taking up camp where he presently was. Marc didn't have a plan, or even know why he was there. Perhaps to get in touch with his soul. Perhaps to get in touch with someone else's soul.
After the sun had risen nicely, Marc realized he was tired from driving all night. He spotted a hotel across the street, and was fortunate enough to find a vacancy for the weekend. Marc entered his darkened, cheap, room and placed his suitcase on the dresser. He turned the television on and stripped to his underwear before walking over to the window and peering out.
Matthew stood by the window in his office, staring out blankly. It was already noon and he had completed nothing. He was a million miles away, his mind focused on Marc, not work. He was so deep in thought and distress, he hadn't heard his secretary enter.
"Mr. Mocoso," The meek secretary whispered. "Uh, Mr. Mocoso?" Finally she realized she needed to speak up. "Matthew?"
Matthew spun around, crashing back to the here and now.
"Mr. Cox would like to see you in his office. Now."
"Ugh, okay. Thank you."
The meek young lady exited the room. Matthew took one last look out the window and steeled his nerves. He had no clue as to what Mr. Cox could want. Matthew exited his office and walked down the hallway, the area seemingly even longer and narrower than it was yesterday. He took a deep breath as he knocked on the door.
Marc sat up disoriented, awoken by a knock on the door. He looked around the room lost, taking a couple seconds to realize where he was. It was three in the afternoon. A knock resounded through the room again.
"Room service!" A voice on the other side of the door yelled.
Marc stumbled out of bed, still clad in only his briefs. He had forgotten that he requested a meal at three, for this very reason, to wake him up! He opened the door and found a gorgeous young male standing there with his dinner bag. Marc motioned for the young man to enter. He walked over to his jeans which he left on the floor in a pile with his other clothes and pulled out his wallet. He searched for a ten dollar bill. The young man had watched him intently the entire time, staring at Marc's firm glutes. Marc returned to the young man, and handed him the money.
"Thanks a lot. I appreciate it." Marc said.
The young man handed back the cash. "This one is on the house."
Marc looked into his sparkling blue eyes and smiled. "Do you have plans for tonight?" Marc asked.
The young man smiled, and shook his head no.
"I am looking for someone to show me the nightlife around here. Would you be interested...um...didn't catch your name."
"Ted. And yes! Pick you up at 6?"
"What sort of nightlife starts at 6?"
"The kind that begins with dinner."
Marc smiled. "You know where to find me."
"I certainly do, sweetcheeks," Ted replied and left.
Marc smiled, and blushed as he realized he held that entire conversation in his underwear. He closed the door and sat on the bed digging into his fast food meal.
Matthew sat at his desk practically bouncing out of the seat. He couldn't believe what had just happened and couldn't wait until quitting time to share the news. He picked up the phone and dialed Rolf's cell phone.
"Hello?" Rolf answered.
"Hey sexy guy, how are you?" Matthew replied.
"I am fine." Rolf said as he looked at his watch. "How are you? Everything alright? Aren't you supposed to be in class?"
"Oh shi--shoot! I totally forgot about it!"
"You forgot?!? Didn't we just have a discussion on forgetting class?"
"Calm down, it wasn't my fault. I just got out of a meeting with Mr. Cox!"
"What was so urgent that he had to speak to you immediately?"
"Well . . . nothing really."
"Nothing?" Rolf asked, getting very suspicious.
"Not unless you consider the spacious corner office and some fancy title NOTHING!"
"You got the promotion?" Rolf said with cautioned enthusiasm.
"Who's the man?"
"You are baby! Congratulations! Tonight we celebrate. I expect you home no later than 5. Do you hear?"
"Yes sir, I'll be there."
"Isn't that enough?"
"Absolutely! Thanks for sharing. See you soon."
"You're welcome. Love you."
"Love you back."
Matthew hung up the phone with a smile. He was too busy gloating now to work, so he decided to double check his class syllabus, make sure nothing was missed in class. The download time seemed to take forever, but that was just because he was on his high! Finally the page loaded, and his heart sank to his feet.
"NOOO! That can't be right!" Matthew said, staring at the screen. "That is due NEXT WEEK!"
He pulled up the assignment in question. A ten page research project, worth 10% of his final grade. Due on this very date, no exceptions! The color drained from his face. All of his high flying energy bounced out the window. He sat back, staring at the screen, frozen. What was he going to do? Rolf would kill him if he knew Matthew was that careless to forget something so important. He needed advice, he needed guidance. He needed help from the only person that could save his tail. He picked up the phone and dialed and as the answering machine clicked, reality set in. He hung up the phone listlessly.
"Marc, I need you. Why aren't you here for me?" Matthew said quietly.
"Punctual. I like that in a man." Marc said, answering the door.
"That's me. I come right on time."
Marc smiled, getting Ted's lewd joke.
"Might I say, you look just as cute fully clothed as you do in them tighty whities!"
"Bet you say that to all the boys."
Ted shrugged. That made Marc nervous. He was still confused and unsure about what he was hoping to gain from this trip. Marc was never the type to be satisfied by a one night stand, but perhaps that is what he needed to rid himself of the void inside. If ever Marc wanted a one night stand, Ted was the man. Gorgeous from head to toe. Trim and tanned, piercing blue eyes, cropped dark hair. Marc made small talk with him on the way to the restaurant, only half listening to him. hec looked up at the slowly setting sun, and then looked over at Ted and for a brief second he could have sworn he saw Luke. He shook his head and tried to snap back into the here and now.
"So where are we going anyway?" Marc asked.
"The Pink Ball."
"WHAT?" Marc asked, eyes widened.
"The Mink Hall. It's a restaurant just up on the boardwalk. We can go somewhere else if you wish."
"No, no that's fine." Marc replied, heart rate returning to normal.
"Good. They have the BEST french onion soup. And the swordfish steaks are to die for."
Marc stopped dead in his tracks.
"You all right?" Ted asked, stopping as well.
"What were you just saying?"
"Are your ears clogged tonight? I said they have the BEST french fries and the porterhouse steaks are to die for."
"I am sorry..." Marc's head was spinning. "I...this isn't...I have...it's not you...I have to go. Th...thanks. Um...sorry. I will be fine, I just have to go." Marc stammered as he ran off back towards the motel.
"What a freak." Ted said quietly, watching Marc, before turning around and contining towards the restaurant.
Marc couldn't run any more. His legs were weak and his head was spinning. He slid down a small embankment onto the beach, sitting down on the warm sand. He pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them as tears began rolling down his cheeks. Soon his tears turned into sobs. Marc was oblivious to his surroundings, consumed by grief. After several minutes of sobbing, Marc felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey fella, are you alright?"
Matthew sat at the table, stabbing his salad with his fork. His mind was no longer on celebrating.
"Matthew, don't play with your food."
Matthew glanced up briefly before eating a forkful. Rolf could see the distance in his eyes, and assumed it was due to Marc's absence.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Rolf asked.
Matthew tensed up. "What? I am fine!"
"You obivously are not. I know you wish Marc was here to celebrate your promotion. He'll be back!"
"I know." Matthew said quietly.
Rolf could see that this was not the topic of conversation. They continued to eat their salads in silence.
"Did you check to see if you missed anything in class?" Rolf ventured a few minutes later.
Matthew stared at his almost empty salad plate and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He remained silent.
"Matthew, answer me," Rolf said sternly.
Just as Matthew was ready to mouth off, his guardian angel swept in. Well, the waitress anyway. She cleared away the salad plates and brought on the main course. Matthew dove in, thanking his lucky stars for her arrival. Things were bad enough, he didn't need his smart talk getting him in deeper. Rolf decided this was not the place to finish that line of questioning, but was far from down with it. The remainder of the meal was eaten in silence.
Marc sat silently, slowly controlling his sobs. A stunning young man sat down next to him on the continually cooling sand. The young man placed his hand on Marc's back, and gently rubbed his back and shoulders.
"My name is Jasper. My friends call me Jasper the friendly bloke." The young man spoke in soothing a voice.
"You don't sound English," Marc said quietly.
"Ah, he speaks! My name is English, my accent is not."
"A lovely name it is."
"Well thank you. I am fond of it. And what do we call you? Besides heartbroken."
"Afraid so. Men only cry for two reasons. Either their favorite sport team just lost the championship, or their heart is breaking."
"I don't care much for sports."
"Me either. That's why I went for the latter."
"I am Marc."
"Pleasure, Marc. Would you like to tell Jasper all about it? I am a superb listener."
Marc looked at Jasper for the first time. His heart skipped a beat. Jasper was everything Marc ever envisioned in his dream man. And he had a personality to boot. Around his neck he wore a rope with seashell in the shape of a heart. The seashell had a small crack running down the center.
"How long you got?" Marc asked, after taking in Jasper from the light of the setting sun.
Jasper kicked off his sneakers and peeled off his socks, sticking them inside his sneakers. Then he readjusted his position. "I have all night."
Rolf pulled the car into the driveway and parked. Matthew snapped back to reality and looked around at his surroundings.
"I thought we were going to the movies," he said, sounding cross.
"Well, I intended to, but you haven't said boo to me in forty-five minutes. I would prefer my silence in bed."
"Well isn't that a fine how do you do? So glad I worked