Ringing in the New Year
Ken omfed slightly when Tippy jumped on his stomach, a plush toy in her mouth. As Ken tugged on the toy gently, the small dog growled ferociously. Well, as ferociously as a small dog can. Ken laughed and told the dog, "you sound like a rabid mouse." He played a game of tug of war with the dog, the stuffed animal squeaking wildly. Who'd have thought to buy a dog Christmas gifts, Ken wondered. All the Coopers had included the pup in their shopping - each of them buying the dog silly, squeaky toys and small bones. Even Link had gotten in the spirit and had bought the dog a pink collar with sparkling stones on it. Ken knew it was a good natured joke on him as well as a place to hang the dog's identification tag.
Tippy shook her head back and forth, gave a high pitched growl, and then stopped to look at Ken who was laughing out loud at the dog with her long grey hair sticking out in a crazy mess. He thought of the gift Wes's mother, Barbara, had gotten the dog. Her gift was probably a not too subtle hint. She'd wrapped a gift certificate to a local dog groomer in a large box. Her eyes had shined in merriment as Jess rolled his eyes and good naturedly unwrapped the gift for the dog.
Thinking of Jess, Ken wrestled the toy from Tippy's mouth and threw it across the room. As the dog bounded after the toy, Ken got up and went to find Jess. Jess wasn't a man to sit and relax; he was always up doing something. Ken decided to head out to their shop in the back to see what he was tinkering with that day.
Going through the kitchen to go out the back door, Ken saw Jess. He was standing at the table folding a small pile of clothes.
"I thought we were all caught up on laundry," Ken said.
"Yeah. These are my dad's clothes."
"Why are you doing his laundry? I thought they did them at the home?"
"Yeah, for a price. They charge 30 bucks a month."
Jess had never said anything about having financial troubles, but Ken didn't know how much a nursing home cost. Hell they'd lived together for almost 2 years now, Ken felt that they should share any and all their burdens. "Jess, if you need mon-"
"It's not the money," Jess interrupted. "I can afford thirty bucks a month."
"Then, why?" Ken asked.
"I need to do this-"
This time Ken interrupted, "Jess you don't have to do this! You do NOT have to prove to him or anyone else that you're a good son, a good man."
When Jess looked at him, Ken saw something he'd not seen too often in Jess's eyes; calmness, a peaceful acceptance.
"I'm not proving anything to anyone. I want to do this." Ken saw something else in Jess's eyes - a plea for understanding. Ken didn't understand, but he'd back off. Jess's body language showed his shoulders down and relaxed, his arms loose as they folded clothes, and he was standing with a natural stance. "This is something for me."
Ken nodded in understanding, even if he didn't understand. Jess was doing what he thought was necessary, and Ken wouldn't take that from him. He headed back into the living room, and sat on the couch. The television was on, but all Ken's thoughts were on Jess.
He and Jess had grown a lot in the past two years with the struggle of building a relationship, the tug of their own particular desires, finding and mentoring a teen, and the care of Jess's elderly father. Ken was content at where they were right now, and the easy way that Jess had talked to Ken just now in the kitchen convinced Ken that Jess too was content.
Minutes later, Jess came in and flopped down on the couch alongside Ken. "Whatcha watching?"
"Not much," Ken replied. A sudden inspiration flooded Ken's mind. He knew Jess wouldn't want to sit watching TV for long. Telling Jess to stay where he was, Ken walked back to their bedroom, to their closet.
Inside the closet, he opened up the toy chest they kept there. Ken pushed the wooden paddle aside and reached for the leather one that drove Jess wild. The year had been tough and the black stinger hadn't been used nearly often enough. Ken decided it was time he and Jess enjoyed the push and pull of power as they reveled in the erotic side of their dynamics.
Ken walked into the living room and laid the implement on the couch where Jess was sprawled watching TV. Jess looked at the paddle, then up in Ken's eyes. His smile was all Ken needed. They'd ring in the New Year their way.