“So you don’t know how it happened?”
Will shrugged one translucent shoulder. “Nope,” he said from where he stood at the end of Brandon’s bed. Their bed, the one they’d shared until four weeks and three days earlier. “One minute I’m alive; the next, I’m this.” He waved a see-through hand to indicate his current form. “No idea what happened in between. Or why I don’t remember it.”
Brandon shifted his legs under the covers, sure this must be a dream but unable to bear the thought of waking up. Even in death, Will was gorgeous, especially considering the shimmering aura that surrounded him.
“You were in a car accident,” Brandon said, reluctantly. Maybe he shouldn’t say? He didn’t know the rules for this kind of thing. He didn’t know if there were rules.
Will frowned, and his glow seemed to fade a little. “It wasn’t my… I didn’t hurt anyone, did I?”
“No! No,” Brandon said, sitting up straighter. “It wasn’t your fault. You were blindsided. And it wasn’t the other driver’s fault either. He… he had a heart attack. He was probably already gone before his car even hit you.”
Will relaxed and brightened, literally. “That’s good,” he said. “I mean, not the other guy, that’s terrible, but it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Brandon surged forward at that. “Worse than losing you?” he demanded. “I don’t think it could get a lot worse than that.”
Will’s expression dropped and he walked (not floated, some part of Brandon’s mind noted) over to the side of the bed nearest Brandon. “It’s okay, Brandon,” he said, gently. “I’m okay.”
“But I’m not.” Brandon’s voice broke, and he felt as if all his energy spilled out onto the mattress. “It’s been a month, and I don’t know what I’m doing any more. I can’t think about anything else. I try to move on, try to get back to what I was doing before you… before, but I can’t.”
“Oh God. Brandon.”
Brandon was surprised to feel the bed shift as Will sat down. His gaze flicked to meet Will’s, who looked as surprised as he did. They both looked down, and as Brandon watched, Will reached out a shining hand to touch his.
He felt it.
Will was touching him, and he could feel it.
Brandon surged forward again, this time with arms and legs and mouth, wrapping himself around Will and kissing him hard. Will met his every move, hands skimming over Brandon’s body, tongue dipping in to taste him.
When they finally broke apart, it was Brandon’s need for oxygen that demanded it. Will looked like he was breathing, sounded like he was breathing, but even with their foreheads touching and Will’s face inches from his, Brandon felt no air coming from Will’s mouth.
“I don’t understand,” Brandon murmured, his fingers still exploring Will’s body, gaze raking over him. He didn’t look completely solid, but he felt that way. “How is this possible?”
Will laughed, a little shakily. “You expect me to know?” he asked. “I didn’t even know how I ended up like this. I didn’t know how long it had been. Like I said, I was driving, and then I was here. With you.”
He lifted his head, hands cupping Brandon’s face. “This is where I want to be,” he whispered, urgent. “This is where I always want to be.”
Brandon bit back what might have been a sob or a laugh and kissed Will again. He still didn’t know if this was a dream, or how long it might last, but he intended to take full advantage of it, no matter what.
It seemed Will felt the same way. He lowered Brandon onto the mattress, never breaking their kiss, hands skimming down to push away the boxers Brandon wore. Will’s clothes, the loose t-shirt and jeans he’d been wearing the day he died, simply disappeared, and he seemed to be touching Brandon everywhere at once. Brandon moaned into Will’s mouth, eyes filling with tears of joy and pleasure.
Will settled between Brandon’s legs, his skin cool and dry against Brandon’s. Brandon frowned and pulled out of the kiss, running his hands up and down Will’s back.
“You’re cold,” he said.
Will looked confused. “I feel fine,” he said. “I mean, I feel like I always did. Normal temperature.”
Brandon shook his head. “Your skin is cold,” he said. “Not freezing, but not warm.” He wrapped his arms and legs around Will, holding him closer. “I don’t know if I can warm you up?”
Will smiled and touched his lips briefly to Brandon’s. “It’s okay,” he said. “If it’s not too cold for you, I’m fine.”
Brandon grinned, relieved. “You feel a lot better than fine to me,” he said, pressing his hips up so their hardening cocks slid together deliciously, thrilled to feel that Will could harden against him, even like this.
“God.” Will kissed him hard. “I love you so much. I don’t ever want to be without you.”
Brandon did sob then, the tears taking them both by surprise. He couldn’t stop, and Will softened his touch, softened his skin, it seemed, and gathered Brandon up, holding him close. “Shhhh,” he crooned, rocking Brandon gently. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
“But you won’t be,” Brandon gasped against Will’s smooth chest. “I’ll wake up, or you’ll fade away, or something, and I’ll be alone again.”
“No.” Will’s voice was firm, his lips brushing Brandon’s temple. “You’ll never be alone. Even if you can’t see me, even if you can’t feel me, I’ll be there with you. Every step of the way.”
He kept holding Brandon close, soothing him, and gradually Brandon’s crying slowed and trickled off. He took in a shuddering breath and let it out, then another, and another. Will kissed his temple again, still holding him close.
“I can’t do this without you,” Brandon finally whispered. “I don’t know how.”
“You do,” Will replied. “You’re strong. You’ll grieve, and you’ll hurt, but you’ll recover. You’ll move on.”
“No!” Brandon insisted, holding Will closer. “No one else. You’re it for me.”
Will smoothed his hand down Brandon’s back. “I don’t want that,” he said softly. “I don’t want you to live the rest of your life without love. You have too much life left. Too much love to give.” He pulled back, but just far enough to look into Brandon’s eyes. “It would make me sad to see you live like that, Brandon. I want you to love again. It won’t hurt me. I want to see you happy.” He laughed a little. “I don’t know if I’ll see you at all, but if I do… that’s what I want.”
“Why are you so okay with this?” Brandon knew how harsh the question sounded but couldn’t help himself. “I feel like I’m dying, but you’re already… and you’re okay?”
Will paused at that. “I… don’t know,” he said. “I just feel… calm, I guess. Like everything’s fine. Maybe not happy, exactly, but settled. Content.”
He brought one hand up to Brandon’s cheek. “I know you’re hurting, baby, and I’m so sorry about that. That hurts me too. But I’m okay. I’m worried about you, but I’m not worried about me.”
Brandon studied Will’s face, seeing his sincerity, his concern, but most of all, his love. He nodded, slowly, not sure what he believed, not sure of anything except that Will was there, holding him, and he tried to push back everything except the feel of Will’s arms around him.
“Now,” Will said, wiping the last of Brandon’s tears from his cheeks. “Let’s not worry about all that, okay? We don’t know how much time we have together.” He smiled and raised an eyebrow. “I vote we make the most of it.”
Brandon smiled back the best he could, knowing it was still a little tremulous. “What did you have in mind, Mr. O’Donnell?”
Will’s smile widened into a wicked grin. “I think I could come up with an idea or two, Mr. Whittier,” he replied, hands already starting to wander. “Why don’t you just relax and let me do the heavy lifting?”
Brandon laughed and let Will lay him back against the pillows, his mouth covering Brandon’s, kissing him deeply, tongue coming out to slick along Brandon’s, wet and rough. Brandon sighed, hands kneading Will’s shoulders. His skin might be cool, but the muscles beneath were still firm and pliable, flexing and twisting as Will moved from Brandon’s mouth to his neck. Accustomed to the heat of Will’s lips, Brandon found the slight chill very different, but not in a bad way. Nothing about this could be bad, not with Will back in his bed, touching and kissing him like he had so many times before.
Like he never would again.
No, Brandon ordered himself, pushing the thought away. He’s here now. Enjoy what you have and forget everything else.
Will’s lips closed around one of Brandon’s nipples, and Brandon couldn’t think of anything else anyway. He cried out when Will bit down lightly, and Will soothed the small sting away with his tongue, rough surface rasping over the taut peak. He moved to the other side, bringing one hand up so he could rub his thumb over the abandoned nub while he licked and nibbled the other.
Brandon writhed under Will’s attentions. It had been a month since he’d felt any of this. His libido had died with Will, and the few times he’d made a half-hearted effort at masturbation ended only in frustration and longing. No one had ever touched him the way Will did, not even himself.
Will’s mouth wandered lower, kissed and licking his way down Brandon’s stomach, dipping into his navel, tongue twirling through the dark hair leading to his cock, which bumped against Will’s chin, hungry for his attention. Will laughed lowly and paused to give the tip a quick kiss, which sent Brandon’s back arching off the mattress, a growling moan coming from his chest.
“Shhh,” Will soothed again, rubbing his palms against Brandon’s hips. “Relax. Don’t think. Just feel.”
Brandon tried to relax, he really did, but everything Will did to him felt so good that he couldn’t help himself. He twisted on the sheets, moaning almost constantly, skin on fire despite the chill of Will’s touch. When Will took Brandon’s cock in his mouth, Brandon almost came on the spot, so high on arousal and Will.
“Oh God, baby,” Brandon rasped out, hands coming up to rake through Will’s hair, soft brown curls winding around his fingers. “So good. You’re always so good.”
Will hummed, the vibrations sending shivers out over Brandon’s skin, and he cried out from sheer bliss, overcome with happiness at having Will one more time and with pleasure from his ministrations.
Will slipped a finger into his mouth, slicking it up with the saliva that still came even though breath didn’t. Brandon’s mind focused just long enough to realize what Will was about to do before his finger circled Brandon’s entrance, pressing lightly. Brandon spread his legs automatically, and Will slid the finger inside, crooking up, searching for the spot that would send him into the stratosphere. When he found it Brandon jerked on the bed, unable to control his body’s reactions, and Will pushed in a second finger, rubbing hard as he sucked Brandon’s cock deep into his throat and swallowed.
Brandon broke with a shout, pulsing into Will’s mouth, coming so hard and long he thought he’d never stop. He collapsed against the mattress, boneless and empty, hearing soft rustling sounds but not having the strength or brain power to investigate.
Soon Will answered that question for him, his fingers returning to Brandon’s entrance, this time slick with more than saliva. His lips touched Brandon’s. “Want to be inside you,” Will whispered, and Brandon opened his eyes to stare into Will’s, wide and dark and full of love and desire.
“Yes,” Brandon whispered back. “Please. Make love to me.”
Will kissed him gently and pushed inside slowly, never pausing along the way, Brandon’s body opening to let him in as if he belonged there, because he did. He stopped only when he was buried all the way, breaking the kiss to catch Brandon’s gaze again.
“Okay?” he asked, his voice low but urgent, betraying the state of his arousal.
“Yes,” Brandon breathed, lifting his legs to hook around Will’s waist. “Yes.”
Will moved then, slowly at first but picking up speed quickly, long, even thrusts that brushed across Brandon’s prostate every time, filling him up and then leaving him empty and yearning before filling him again. They kissed over and over, wet and messy, every snap of Will’s hips driving a groaning grunt from Brandon’s mouth into Will’s.
Will finally pulled away, burying his head against Brandon’s neck and fucking in hard and fast, driving both of them toward release. He wrapped cool fingers around Brandon’s cock, jerking him roughly, until everything inside Brandon broke again and he spilled with a loud moan, just as Will stiffened and groaned out Brandon’s name, grinding inside, coming hard.
Will collapsed onto Brandon’s chest, driving the breath from his lungs with a soft “oof,” but he didn’t care. He twined arms and legs around Will, holding him close, running his hands over Will’s skin, slick now with a light sheen of sweat from their lovemaking.
It took Brandon a moment to realize that the words he was hearing were coming from him. “I can’t,” he was saying, over and over. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
Will shifted, pushing himself up on his forearms and kissing Brandon to stop the flow. “You can,” he murmured against Brandon’s lips. “You can do anything, Brandon. Anything you put your mind to.”
“I love you.” Brandon’s voice broke. “I’ve never loved anyone or anything the way I love you. I never will again.”
“I love you too, with everything I have,” Will said, pushing Brandon’s hair back off his forehead where it had stuck in sweaty strands. “I loved you until the day I died, and I’ll go on loving you forever.”
He fell silent, and then started to push away, but Brandon pulled him tighter. “Don’t leave me,” he whispered, and Will smiled and kissed him again.
“Just getting something to clean you up,” he said. “Just your chest, though. Saliva and sweat may come standard in this model, but apparently breath and semen don’t.”
He grinned, the wide, happy smile that he had on his face the first time Brandon laid eyes on him, and Brandon’s heart broke and healed in the same moment. He smiled back and let Will go, and Will sat up on the side of the bed, pulling a handful of tissues from the box on the bedside table. He cleaned off Brandon’s chest carefully, almost reverently, laying down a last kiss just above his navel before tossing the tissues into the trash can nearby. Climbing back into the bed, he wrapped himself around Brandon, both of them lying on their sides, heads on the same pillow, faces inches apart.
“I don’t want to go to sleep,” Brandon whispered, tears starting to well up again as he searched Will’s eyes. “I don’t want you to leave me.”
“Shhhhh.” Will smoothed Brandon’s hair back again, kissed his forehead. “It’ll be all right. I’ll stay with you as long as I can. As long as whoever let this happen will let me stay.”
Brandon pressed his face against Will’s neck, ignoring the chill of his skin in favor of the smell of it, musky and sweet. “I don’t want to wake up alone,” he whispered.
“You won’t, remember?” Will said, his hand cupping the back of Brandon’s head. “I’ll be with you every step of the way. I want you to believe that. And when you need me, just close your eyes and remember this, and know that I’m there.”
Brandon shook his head. “It won’t be the same.”
“I know.” Will lifted away a little and reached down to tip Brandon’s head up with a finger under his chin. “It won’t be like this, or like it was before. But I’ll be in your memory and in your heart, even when I can’t be anywhere else.” He ran the backs of his fingers down Brandon’s cheek. “And remember what I said, too. I want you to find someone else one day. Seeing you be happy again will make me happy.”
Brandon nodded. “If it’ll make you happy,” he agreed, not knowing if he’d ever be in that place again but resolving to try if Will wanted him to.
Will kissed him, slowly, lingering, drifting to his nose, his cheeks, his chin but always coming back to his lips. Brandon relaxed under the gentle touches, against the mattress, into the pillows, until finally he couldn’t fight any more, and sleep claimed him.
When Brandon woke up, Will was gone, just as they knew he would be. But the sheets and Brandon’s skin smelled like him, and for the first time in a month, Brandon didn’t feel alone.
He knew Will was right there with him.
“Life After” Copyright 2011 by Shae Connor. All rights reserved.