Part 1

I’m horrible. I was going to give you all of this in the second installment, but decided to make you wait for the punchline. *evil grin* (Maybe there’s a bit of sadist in me after all…)

Without further ado, the next part of Mark and Duncan…


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Mark’s serious blue eyes studied him for a long moment, before he kissed Duncan softly on the cheek and sat up. He smiled, then grinned and dove at the end of the bed. Duncan struggled to a sitting position, still taking care with his leg and blinked in puzzlement until Mark picked something up he’d apparently left on the floor.

Duncan’s eyes widened when he sat up with… two wrapped presents. His mouth opened in shock when Mark said, “Happy Birthday.”

“You… I… how… Holy shit!” He laughed, grinning and tugging on Mark again. Mark fell forward, sitting next to him and accepting the kiss Duncan pushed on him. When Duncan pulled back, he took the two packages Mark offered him. “How did you know?”

“Well, I’m not positive it is the exact right date. I mean, I haven’t been paying that close attention, but I figure it’s pretty close. And, uh, I found your wallet on the floor. You’d dropped it and I looked in it because I didn’t know whose it was.”

Duncan chuckled. “Don’t know why I bother keeping it. Not like I need I.D. anymore.”

Mark laughed. “Old habits die hard.”

“No doubt,” Duncan agreed. He ran his hands reverently over the paper, trying not to let the simple gesture shatter control over emotions he’d been fighting hard against letting out. In three years, he’d only let himself cry a handful of times. When his sister Angie died and a couple of times after, when the grief got to be too much. But he’d been alone, always, his tears a scary, private thing. “Thank you. You didn’t have to do this.”

Mark shrugged. “It’s… I don’t know, I think it’s important to hang onto some things. We’ve lost so much, some of which we will never get back.” He brushed a fingertip along the edge of one of the presents. “I figure this is something we can do.”

Duncan blinked at him, swallowing around the lump in his throat. He finally managed to nod. “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Well, you can start by opening the gifts,” Mark pointed out.

Duncan laughed, the tears receding. “Right.” He picked up the heavier of the two, testing its weight in his hand. It felt like a book. He pulled the blue ribbon off carefully then eased the paper open at the end. Sure enough, he saw the bottom of a book, pristine from the looks of it. He glanced up at Mark, who was watching expectantly, then turned back to the gift. He carefully slid the paper off to find a brand new copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

He’d been frustrated to find the book missing from the collection in the house they’d taken. He’d read the books before, of course, and knew what happened. But he’d wanted to be able to finish it. And with the last missing, he’d been disappointed.

“Where did you get it?” Duncan asked, running his hands reverently over the cover. He was being a little silly, he guessed. There were millions of copies of the book lying around. But it touched him, showed him how Mark felt about him in ways the three words couldn’t.

“Uh, the Food Lion down the road a ways had it. I was collecting some things there—that store is surprisingly untouched—and was on my way out when I found it at the register in their books. I know… I know I didn’t buy it or anything, but—”

Duncan reached up, yanked him in, and kissed him within an inch of his life. Hunger for this man, for his touch, clawed at him but he pushed it down. Now wasn’t the time, but he had to show Mark how much it meant and for once, words escaped him.

He pulled back and Mark panted. Blue eyes danced over Duncan’s face, and he could see the heat he felt reflected back at him. Mark closed the distance this time, but the kiss he gave in return was much lighter. “We’ll never get out of bed if we don’t stop this.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Duncan asked. He couldn’t care a whit that his voice came out breathless.

Mark smiled and shook his head. “Not really, but then you won’t see the rest of my surprises.”


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