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On 9/15/2019 at 7:38 AM, KarenGranger said:

Awesome again... these stories are going so great and I LOVED Robbie's point of view. Great story and can't wait for the next. I wonder what will happen then?!

I'm so glad you're enjoying it!

On 9/15/2019 at 11:11 AM, Melificentfan said:

I loved Robbie's point of view that was a fantastic part 

Thank you! I liked getting to expand Robbie's character a bit :) 

On 9/16/2019 at 8:10 PM, Spectator9 said:

I was wondering how the two of them could establish their relationship, and this chapter was almost - logical!  That rarely happens when someone is writing a pee-story.  This is much more than that!  

A great story, well told.  

Thank you so much!! I do try to make my stories reasonably plausible. 

On 9/16/2019 at 10:11 PM, AliasnameTO said:

I would have preferred you stuck with TJ, because the shift from scared, shy victim to bold, decisive caretaker powered by his feelings and risks with Robbie would have made an excellent arc.

But regardless, it was beautiful as always. I'll admit it was nice to see the "perfect" Robbie show some insecurity hehe.

You know, I didn't even think of that - how using TJ's point of view would allow me to explore that shift a bit more. I was thinking more about how a what a person thinks of themself might be really different than how they're seen by other people. So Robbie isn't as "cool" as TJ thinks he is, and TJ isn't a "useless" as he sees himself. 

On 9/17/2019 at 12:26 PM, Pilly said:

I just loved this chapter too!

I was happy to read about Robbie's thoughts as well, and it was cool to see him in wet pants too. 🙂 And that movie night can be a good possibility as well... 😄 

Sorry, darling, we're not going to be exploring the movie night! I only have one scenario idea left, and it's not exactly a smooth transition!

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I do love these characters. This scenario has nothing to do with continuity, but then again, I never planned this to have multiple parts, anyway. I have no more ideas for these two, so I hope you like this last story!

***

    “Hey.” 

    The sound of Robbie’s voice pulled TJ out of the haze he hadn’t realized he’d fallen into. TJ turned to smile at his boyfriend, marveling that he got to be on the receiving end of the affectionate look on Robbie’s face. 

    “Already tired?” Robbie teased. “It’s only been a half hour, and we’re supposed to take care of these rug rats all weekend.”

    “I’m not a rug rat!” One of the first graders sitting behind Robbie on the bus yelped indignantly, and TJ grinned. 

    “Oh, yeah?” he teased the boy, leaning out into the aisle. “What are you, then?” 

    “I’m Batman!” 

    Both TJ and Robbie burst out laughing at the kid’s growly attempt at an impersonation, and the boy beamed, all rug-rat-based annoyance gone. 

    TJ turned back to Robbie, still laughing. “I’m good. I just forgot how exhausting it was wrangling all these kids.” 

    Robbie nodded in agreement, eyes wide. “Who knew that getting 40 elementary school students on a bus was such a challenge?” 

    “I should have warned you.” 

    Robbie waved his hand dismissively. “You did.” He grinned at TJ, and TJ let out an involuntary sigh of contentment. “I knew what I was getting into.” 

    It was a pleasant, early-spring weekend. TJ and Robbie had been officially dating since November and were now reveling in the delightful period of adoring each other and hanging out as much as possible before they really started facing the fact that they’d be graduating soon and would have to confront not being together nearly every day. 

    In the spirit of that emotional revelry, TJ had invited Robbie to join him as a volunteer on his yearly youth church retreat. TJ’s church took their elementary school parishoners to a retreat center, about an hour away, for a weekend of singing, crafts, and other tangentially-religious activities. TJ had attended as a child, and, for the past few years, he’d volunteered as a youth leader. Unwilling to spend an entire weekend away from Robbie, TJ had been delighted when he’d agreed to come along.

    Now, they were both sitting toward the front of the bus, on opposite sides of the aisle. Though not exact, the retreat participants were generally arranged in order of increasing age, with the first graders sitting behind Robbie and TJ and the fifth graders occupying the seats in the back. TJ had told Robbie that they didn’t have to share seats with the kids, but he wanted them both to sit on the aisle, so they could be readily available. 

    The bus was an old school bus, with flat, bench seats. There were seat belts installed, but TJ was pretty sure that most of the kids hadn’t bothered putting them on. It had been a hard enough battle making sure that the kids stuck to sitting two per bench. 

    They weren’t long into the drive – despite what he’d said, the actual loading of the bus hadn’t taken too long – so they still had a little over 45 minutes to go. The bus was filled with cheerful chatter, but nothing overly loud or obnoxious. 

    Leaning back against the seat again, TJ allowed himself to become a bit distracted again. He hadn’t lied to Robbie, of course – loading the bus had been chaotic – but he was also focusing a little bit on his own body. Much to his own chagrin, TJ had to pee. It wasn’t bad, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it on the bus, a fact that made him more anxious than it would have a year ago. 

    He was fine. His need wasn’t urgent at all, but wetting yourself twice in a matter of weeks as an 18-year-old sticks with a guy. 

    It wasn’t even that he was worried about what Robbie would think. Over the course of the academic year, as he and Robbie had gotten to know each other, TJ had been more than a little surprised to find out how much they had in common. They were both problem-solvers, unwilling to just sit back in the face of a challenge. Granted, TJ’s skills were much more tangible and functional – first aid, navigating, and, obviously, building and engineering. In contrast, Robbie was a negotiator, a comforter, with social and verbal skills that TJ still marveled at. 

    It was quite a good match, really. In most given situations, TJ could fix things and Robbie could fix people. 

    With that thought, TJ smiled reflexively to himself. He loved and trusted TJ, and the gratitude he felt for this weekend they were about to spend together relaxed him momentarily. 

    That relaxation was abruptly shattered by a bone-rattling clap of thunder. 

    TJ jumped in his seat, and several children screamed. He wasn’t surprised to hear Robbie instantly respond with light, calming words. 

    TJ looked out the front window, and his stomach sank. Some of the darkest storm clouds he’d even seen loomed ahead, directly in their path. He pulled out his phone and quickly examined the forecast – sure enough, there was a bright red line of storms across the highway. The system wasn’t wide, thank goodness, but it looked rough. 

    The pastor was speaking in low tones to the bus driver, who was assuring him that it would be safe to drive through. TJ agreed with that assessment. It wouldn’t be fun, but the highway they were on wasn’t in a flood zone, so, as long as they went slowly, they weren’t at risk to get washed away. 

    Of course, the 40 or so six-to-eleven-year-olds on the bus might not feel quite as comforted. 

    Robbie locked eyes with TJ, who shrugged and nodded to communicate yes, they’d be going forward. Robbie nodded back, then stood in the middle of the aisle. 

    “Friends!” he called in a voice that was miraculously loud without ever being harsh. “I know that was some really loud thunder, and those clouds look scary, but we have the best bus driver in the whole world, and we are totally safe.”

    All of the kids, both those teasing and those who were genuinely scared, had quieted at the sound of Robbie’s voice, so he continued. 

    “We’re gonna slow down a little bit when we get into the rain –“ In fact, rain was already starting to slap against the bus windows “- but we will get to Sunrise Acres really soon!”

    Robbie had barely sat back down (the pastor smiled his thanks) when a small voice piped up. 

    “Mister TJ?” 

    TJ turned to see little Batman (whose real name was Davis) staring at him with wide eyes. “Can…can we sit with you? Me and Auggie don’t like thunderstorms.” 

    “Of course, buddy.” TJ could practically feel Robbie’s admiring gaze on him as he stood and shifted back to sit between the boys. 

    “Us, too!” Another pair of kids from across the aisle requested, and Robbie imitated TJ’s move to join the young boys. 

    The sky had darkened sharply, and rain lashed loudly against the bus. Cars in front of them had slowed, their hazard lights flashing red. Thunder, though not quick as loud as the first crack, boomed sporadically. They were going well below the speed limit, and TJ and Robbie both had first graders snuggled against their sides. 

    TJ squirmed slightly. The initial crash of thunder had snapped his nerves into high alert, which was not good for his bladder. Now, knowing that not only would their trip take substantially longer, but that he was functionally stuck in his seat, unable to do much to alleviate any urgency, TJ felt a lot worse about his chances than he had ten minutes ago. 

    “You OK?” Though quiet, Robbie’s question reached TJ in the now-quiet bus. 

    Attempting a smile, TJ turned to his boyfriend. He knew he couldn’t lie; just the fact that Robbie was asking in that tone meant that he’d already noticed TJ’s discomfort. 

    “I’m…a little disappointed that the trip is gonna take longer,” he explained vaguely. 

    Robbie’s shoulders slumped in sympathy, and TJ knew he’d gotten his point across. He felt his face warm with the veiled admission. He felt stupid and childish – he was fine, he knew he should be able to hold it for the rest of the ride, and nothing in Robbie’s response had given any indication of disgust or embarrassment. 

    Still, TJ felt his muscles tense slowly. He’d never explicitly discussed his accidents with Robbie, not even after Robbie had wet himself while hiking (TJ still felt awful). They were dating, so clearly Robbie wasn’t that bothered, but TJ couldn’t help but question himself now. Just the knowledge that it could happen, that wetting himself was far within the realm of possibility, made him feel nervous and unsteady. 

    There was a bright flash of lightning, followed by a near-simultaneous crash of thunder. Davis squeaked, and he and Auggie buried their faces under TJ’s arms. TJ looked across the aisle and saw that Robbie was in virtually the exact same pose. 

    TJ wasn’t sure how far they’d gone. It was too dark to recognize any of the landmarks around them, so he could only hope that they’d get through the storm soon. He pressed his legs together, frustrated at how much his need had grown over such a short time. 

    Staring forward, TJ thought he could see a tiny bit of light on the horizon, signaling that they were nearing the back edge of the storm system. He didn’t know how fast the clouds were moving, but the bus was traveling at about 25 miles per hour (much slower than the posted 65-mile-per-hour speed limit), and TJ estimated they only had about ten more minutes before the rain started to let up. 

    He was just about to tell Davis and Auggie that they were getting close when the loudest thunderclap yet shook the bus. Auggie – and half the kids on the bus, it sounded like – shrieked, and Davis started to cry. 

    Robbie, whose charges were huddled but comparatively calm, glanced over at TJ, who started rubbing Davis’ back. 

    “It’s OK, bud,” he murmured. “We’re almost out of the storm. You’re safe, I promise.” 

    Davis sniffled and mumbled something against TJ’s side. 

    “What was that, bud?” 

    Davis sniffled again, but lifted his face out of TJ’s shirt. “The thunder made me pee my pants,” he whispered, voice shaking. 

    TJ looked down and realized that he could feel wetness against the side of his leg. The sensation only worsened his own desperation, but he made sure not to show his discomfort to the boys.

    “That’s OK,” he assured Davis quietly. “Thunder can be scary sometimes.” 

    Davis wiped his nose on the collar of his shirt and nestled under TJ’s arm.

    “We’ll get you cleaned up when we get to the cabins,” TJ promised, squeezing his own thigh muscles as discreetly as possible. 

    Davis didn’t respond, so TJ just sighed quietly and sat back. He’d been right before; they were definitely close to coming out of the storm. The rain had lessened slightly, and TJ felt the bus speed up a little. Some of the older kids in the back had already noticed the decreased tension and had picked up some more casual conversations. 

    TJ breathed a sigh of relief a few minutes later when they officially crossed out of the storm. Driving out from under the clouds was like going from night to day. He felt Auggie straighten a bit beside him, though Davis kept leaning against his side. 

    He made eye contact with Robbie, who raised his eyebrows in a silent question of how TJ was doing. TJ raised and lowered one shoulder. He was definitely uncomfortable, but tried to convince himself that he’d be OK now that the bus was driving the speed limit again.

    “Another half hour, guys!” the pastor called, resulting in a semi-sarcastic cheer from some of the students. 

    TJ shifted his hips. “What’s the plan when we get there?” 

    The pastor looked at his watch. “It’ll be nearly time for dinner by the time we get there – much closer than we intended, obviously. I think we’ll take the group straight to the dining hall and let the retreat staff supervise. We’ll sort out the bags and take them to their respective cabins.” 

    Nodding, TJ looked down at Davis, who was doing a poor job of pretending not to listen. “We might have a few kids who want to change before dinner,” he said, trying to be tactful. 

    The pastor leaned into the aisle a little and seemed to realize what TJ was implying. “No problem,” he said. “I’ll have Nurse Laurie take any kids who need it to change in the med building before dinner.” 

    TJ felt himself relax the slightest bit. He, Robbie, the pastor, and a few other high school volunteers were the only “grown-ups” on the bus, but there was a caravan following them with other parents and church staff. And that meant that TJ might not have to be wholly responsible for the kids and their stuff when they got to the retreat center. 

    Holding onto the thought that he could more or less run to a bathroom as soon as they arrived, TJ clenched his muscles to prepare for the remainder of the trip. Robbie gave him some comforting looks, but they didn’t talk much, as none of the first graders next to them seemed to be willing to let them return to their original seats. 

    Thankfully, the rest of the trip went as smoothly as possible. The sun was on its way down by the time they pulled onto the retreat center property, but it was still plenty light out to see all of the buildings. 

    “Now listen!” the pastor called as the bus pulled into the parking lot next to the dining hall. “We’re gonna go straight in to dinner. Please go to the bathroom to wash your hands first, and then we’ll pray before we eat. Volunteers, please make sure anyone who needs it goes with Nurse Laurie to the med building, which is right over there.” He pointed out the window to the smaller building next to the dining hall. 

    The ride had been tense, and virtually every passenger stood up as soon as the bus parked. Robbie looked eagerly at TJ, who was standing very stiffly. He desperately wanted to be able to hold himself but didn’t dare until all the kids were gone. 

    Sitting at the front meant they got to be some of the first ones off the bus, which helped. TJ clenched his jaw as he climbed down the steep bus steps, and nearly groaned when he felt himself leak. He quickly pushed aside the shameful sensation and looked around, still holding Davis’ hand. 

    The adults from the cars behind them were already pulled luggage from the storage spaces under the bus and sorting it into piles. Smiling retreat staff were waiting off to the side, ready to usher the group into the dining hall. TJ spotted the nurse and led his little friend over to her. 

    Nurse Laurie, who TJ knew from pretty much all his previous trips to this retreat, smiled and took Davis’ hand. “Hi, buddy! We’ll get you ready for dinner in no time.” She turned to TJ. “Can you find his bag?” 

    TJ was nodding before he could even consider the implications of the extra minutes it would take to find Davis’ luggage and bring it to the nurse. He wouldn’t have said no, of course, but he really didn’t have any time to spare. 

    Next to the bus, Robbie had already joined the luggage-identification process. TJ felt a surge of affection for his boyfriend. Robbie wasn’t just tagging along to spend time with him; he was really helping out in any way he could. 

    Robbie smiled encouragingly, if concernedly, as TJ approached. In response, TJ could only manage a slight grimace. He needed to go so badly, and not being able to physically hold himself was agonizing. 

    “Just go,” Robbie whispered. 

    Nearly tearing up at his boyfriend’s concern, TJ shook his head. “I need to get Batman’s bag.” 

    “I’ll get it,” Robbie insisted. “His last name is Holland, right? Just go. We’ve got this.” 

    Overwhelmed with gratitude, TJ considered kissing Robbie, but decided against it. Instead, he jogged off toward the volunteer cabin. 

    As he rounded a corner, TJ grasped frantically at his crotch. He’d chosen this route in an instant, knowing that there would be lines in the dining hall bathrooms and, this way, he could hold himself and be much less likely to be seen. 

    TJ stumbled through the door of the familiar cabin, fruitlessly trying to hold back the leaks that were springing against his hand. He slammed open the door to the bathroom, but it was too late. Being out of sight of everyone else and in sight of a bathroom, was too much, and his bladder gave out entirely. 

    Moaning unconsciously, TJ curled forward. Streams of warm liquid snaked down both of his legs, pooling on the old, tile floor. The toilet was right in front of him, but the shame of having already wet himself was paralyzing, and he made no effort to move in front of the bowl. 

    The entire cabin was silent, save for the sound of a few final drips of urine trickling onto the floor from TJ’s wet pants. He drew in a deep, shaky breath before reaching for the paper towel dispenser. 

    His movements were almost robotic. He felt completely empty, not just physically, but emotionally. He didn’t cry, or even tear up. He was the Tin Man, his bladder and his chest utterly hollow. 

    TJ wiped up the puddle on the floor, even going so far as to wet some paper towels in the sink and run them over the tile to try to clean any stickiness. Once the floor was cleaned, however, he stopped. 

    Standing in the middle of the bathroom, wet pants clinging to his legs, TJ realized that he couldn’t do anything else. His bag was still back with the bus, so he couldn’t change, and he certainly wasn’t going to risk going out to find it. Not looking like this. 

    Shoulders slumped, TJ slunk outside. The sun hadn’t completely set yet, but the east side of the building was shadowed. TJ slid down against the outer wall of the building, burying his head in his arms. 

    “Teej?” 

    Robbie’s voice came from inside the cabin, and it occurred to TJ that he hadn’t shut the front door behind him. Rude. 

    Before he had time to respond, Robbie appeared around the side of the building. 

    “Hey,” Robbie murmured, joining him on the ground. 

    “I had an accident.” TJ wasn’t quite sure why he felt the need to say that out loud. Robbie knew the situation, and it was still plenty light enough for him to see the stain all down TJ’s pants. 

    Robbie was silent for a moment, and TJ looked up to see his boyfriend gazing at him with a look of unadulterated tenderness. He opened his mouth to say something, but TJ spoke first. 

    “I know,” he promised, anticipating what Robbie was going to say. “I’m not…I know you don’t care. I know you’re not gonna break up with me or think I’m gross or…”

    TJ trailed off. He wasn’t as good with words as Robbie, and he couldn’t quite describe what he was feeling. 

    After a moment, Robbie spoke softly. “I’m glad you know that.” He had the barest of smiles on his face. “It means I’ve done something right this year.” 

    TJ’s lips twitched, but he was still feeling to empty to smile properly. 

    Robbie reached out and brushed the back of TJ’s hand lightly. “So what can I do?”

    TJ tilted his head to the side, and Robbie took the signal to scoot closer, his shoulder pressed against TJ’s. TJ leaned over, resting his cheek against the top of Robbie’s head. 

    “I don’t know if you can,” he said honestly. Robbie squeezed his hand, but didn’t say anything, so TJ continued. “I know you don’t care,” he repeated, “but I’ve…I’ve pissed myself three times now.” 

    His voice started to shake, and he inhaled to steady it. “It’s not just in front of you. It’s that I’ve done it at all.” 

    TJ finally felt himself start to tear up. “I’m eighteen, damnit. I’m not supposed to be wetting myself at all, much less three whole times, dead sober, awake…”

    Verbalizing his accumulated shame from the past several months made TJ feel like his sternum was cracking in half. Robbie shifted even closer, holding TJ’s hand between both of his. 

    “I don’t like it,” TJ said, “and I don’t know if I can feel better right now, because I’m an 18-year-old guy who’s pissed himself three times since September, and…”

    He sighed, learning into Robbie. “I don’t like it.” 

    Robbie was still quiet, gently stroking TJ’s hand. TJ felt drained, even though he hadn’t spoken that much. 

    “OK.” 

    TJ was too tired to sit up, but he wrinkled his eyebrows at Robbie’s simple statement. “What?” 

    “OK,” Robbie repeated. He turned his head to kiss TJ’s shoulder. “I won’t try to talk you out of being upset, but I will stay with you and do whatever I can to keep you from feeling worse.” 

    Now, TJ did sit up, almost awed, but Robbie’s face was utterly guileless. “You…how…”

    Robbie’s eyes sparkled with affection. “Teej, you know if I had my way, you’d never be sad, ever, but that’s not how life works. So I will be here in whatever capacity you want me to, but I’m not going to deny you your right to be unhappy.” 

    Now, the tears filling TJ’s eyes were ones of love and gratitude rather than humiliation. He pressed his forehead against Robbie’s, unable to verbally express how perfect Robbie’s support was in that moment. 

    The pair stayed like that for a few minutes, Robbie keeping his promise to do whatever TJ needed him to. Finally, TJ drew in a deep breath and raised his head. 

    “I have to change,” he mumbled. 

    Robbie nodded, kissed TJ quickly, then pushed himself up so he could help TJ to his feet. They walked into the cabin, where Robbie had brought both his and TJ’s bags from the bus. 

    TJ grabbed his bag and headed toward the bathroom. “You go ahead to dinner. I think I’m gonna jump in the shower.” 

    He gave Robbie a half-smile, signaling that he was okay enough to be left alone. “See you down there?” 

    Robbie smiled, but didn’t move. “No way. I’m gonna wait right here, and we’ll go down together.”

    TJ paused in the doorway of the bathroom, then grinned. 

    “OK.” 

    He shut the door behind him, still smiling. 

    Together. 
 

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It looks like their relationship arc is complete, but this was a delightful entry. Picturing the cuteness of a desperate TJ with a frightened kid on each arm is just too much. <33

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Okey, they are officially my favourite ones from all of your characters. I love their dynamics and their conversations. I'm so happy to see them together, they are a good couple. They made me smile while I was reading.

I would be happy to read about them more - even without omorashi, I guess -, but I'll be here for your next stories as well. 🙂

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On 9/22/2019 at 1:37 AM, Melificentfan said:

Amazing chapter I am so enjoying this story 

I'm so glad you liked it! 

On 9/22/2019 at 3:35 AM, AliasnameTO said:

It looks like their relationship arc is complete, but this was a delightful entry. Picturing the cuteness of a desperate TJ with a frightened kid on each arm is just too much. <33

I have to admit, I was a sucker for that image myself! 

On 9/22/2019 at 11:56 AM, Pilly said:

Okey, they are officially my favourite ones from all of your characters. I love their dynamics and their conversations. I'm so happy to see them together, they are a good couple. They made me smile while I was reading.

I would be happy to read about them more - even without omorashi, I guess -, but I'll be here for your next stories as well. 🙂

Oh, yay! I was kind of surprised by how much affection I developed for these characters. They're definitely going to end up happy in the long run 🙂

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OK, I had another idea. Y'all don't mind if I just write every story from now on about these two, right? 😉

***

    Robbie gripped the handles of the wheelchair tightly to keep his hands from shaking. The nurse was explaining some basic care instructions, and he really was trying to listen, but the fact that TJ was finally coming home had Robbie overwhelmed by a flood of conflicting emotions. 

    “Yes, sir,” TJ said in response to the nurse’s instructions, looking infinitely less stressed than Robbie. Which, Robbie supposed, meant that he was doing something right. 

    “And you’ll come back next week for Dr. Carter to check your progress, and they’ll evaluate you to see if you’ll need physical therapy,” the nurse continued. He was talking to both of them, but looking at TJ. Robbie nodded robotically, regardless. 

    “Then you’re all set!” The nurse reached out to shake TJ’s hand. “Glad to see you go, Mr. Masters!” 

    TJ beamed. “Thanks, Allen. I really appreciate all your help. And everyone’s.” 

    Robbie resisted the urge to reach out and stroke TJ’s hair. He’d only been in the hospital for a week, but Robbie’s stomach still clenched at the thought of seeing his boyfriend lying in a bed, post-surgery, monitors hooked up to his chest and abdomen. 

    Taking a deep breath, Robbie pushed TJ through the automatic doors. Although he was excited to have TJ back in their dorm, physically setting foot outside the hospital suddenly felt terrifying, as if TJ would shatter without the safety of medical professionals around him at all times. 

    “Please breathe.” 

    Robbie blinked at the unexpected request from TJ. “What?”

    “I can feel how tight you’re holding the chair,” TJ explained. “You’re gonna give yourself arthritis.” 

    Looking down, Robbie saw that his knuckles were indeed white with tension. He forced himself to relax his grip as he pushed the chair to the adjacent parking lot. 

    “Sorry.” 

    They reached Robbie’s car, and TJ pushed himself out of the chair before Robbie could protest. Even injured, TJ’s every movement spoke of the work-honed strength of his capable body, and Robbie found himself briefly marveling at his toughness. 

    TJ locked eyes with Robbie. He opened his mouth to say something, then seemed to reconsider. Instead, he smiled, and Robbie felt some of the tension in his own chest release. 

    “You ready to go home?” Robbie asked, trying to sound nonchalant. 

    Exhaling, TJ nodded. To Robbie, he already looked tired, just from standing for a few seconds. Robbie unlocked the car door for TJ to slide inside, making sure he was settled before closing the door and returning the wheelchair to the hospital entrance. 

    On the short walk back to the car, Robbie closed his eyes briefly, steeling himself for his responsibilities. 

    According to all the doctors, TJ’s prognosis was flawless. His surgery had gone perfectly, his shoulder was healing beautifully, and his general youth and fitness had both protected him from more serious injury and expedited his recovery. Still, healing from a rupture spleen and dislocated shoulder (among other, more minor injuries) was no joke, and Robbie was determined to provide every bit of care that TJ needed, no matter what. 

    Back in the car, TJ’s eyelids were already drooping, but he opened them when Robbie arrived. 

    Preempting an anticipated apology, Robbie reached across and opened the glove box. “Look at this!” He pulled out a temporary accessible hangtag and attached it to the rearview mirror. 

    TJ blushed faintly, but smiled. “You only did that because you knew I’d be too tired to fight you on it.” 

    “Damn straight,” Robbie smirked, trying to ignore all the other answers that had popped up in his mind. He knew that TJ wouldn’t appreciate being babied or pitied, and Robbie knew that a big part of caring for him would be making sure that care wasn’t smothering or condescending. 

    Robbie drove more carefully than he usually did, periodically glancing over at TJ to make sure he was OK. It wasn’t too far of a drive from the hospital to campus, and Robbie was able to park in a designated spot right next to their dorm. Robbie grabbed TJ’s bag from the back seat and positioned himself right at TJ’s shoulder for the trek up to their room. 

    As freshman, Robbie and TJ had been able to request each other as roommates. Although many students lived off campus in later years, TJ’s work study allotment gave him free dorm housing, so Robbie had willingly stayed as a sophomore. Though basic, their room was in the corner of the hall, so it was quiet and benefitted from windows on two sides. They had enough space that they didn’t have to bunk or loft their beds, a fact that Robbie was currently more grateful for than ever.

    TJ wordlessly consented to taking the elevator, and flopped onto his bed as soon as they entered the room. 

    “I should check my email,” he said, even though his eyes were already shut. 

    “It can wait,” Robbie insisted, emptying the contents of TJ’s bag into the laundry hamper. 

    “I need to catch up on work,” TJ mumbled, though the quirk of his lips indicated that he knew he wasn’t going to accomplish anything just yet, and any assertion otherwise was mostly to tease Robbie. 

    “You don’t have much,” Robbie promised, “and I have everything you need listed and organized on your desk.” 

    TJ’s eyes fluttered open, and he fixed Robbie with a disarmingly sleepy smile. “You’re the best.” 

    Robbie attempted a smile in return. “Rest,” he ordered. “It’s not even 10 AM. You have plenty of time to start catching up.” 

    TJ may have been asleep before Robbie even finished talking. Robbie stared lovingly for a few seconds before resuming his work of cleaning out TJ’s bag and preparing the laundry. After making sure TJ’s phone was on silent, Robbie sent him a text to say he’d be down in the laundry room, just in case TJ woke up when Robbie wasn’t there. 

    Having never really dealt with any trauma or emergency before, Robbie had been somewhat surprised to find out that he was not the kind of person to melt down in the face of stress. On the contrary, it turned out that he was an organizer, and he’d filled his time since TJ’s accident with everything from communicating with TJ’s professors to sharing updates with Mr. and Mrs. Masters back home to researching surgery and recovery studies. 

    Now that TJ was back on campus, Robbie figured he would continue filing his time with work. He’d skipped his own classes for the past week (not that he would have been able to concentrate on lectures, anyway), but TJ would be appalled if Robbie kept up his absences. So it would be class, meals, watching over TJ, making sure TJ ate, helping TJ catch up on work…

    Robbie all but sprinted back up to their room after putting the laundry in the washing machine, but TJ hadn’t stirred. He slept until after noon before blinking awake with a scratchy groan. 

    The entire afternoon and evening passed not entirely unlike a pre-accident weekend day. Both young men worked on a few assignments, watched TV, and ordered a pizza for dinner. Of course, TJ didn’t go to work, and his movements were slower than usual, but, other than his arm sling, there were no overt signals that he’d spent the past week in the hospital. 

    Still, Robbie watched carefully, unable to fully relax. The past week had been the worst of his life, and he wanted to do everything possible to prevent TJ from feeling even the slightest discomfort or strain. 

    At around 9:30, TJ sat up from his position on the couch and yawned. “I think that’s about as much as I’ve got in me today,” he said. He leaned over and kissed Robbie on the cheek. “Thanks for such a great welcome home.”

    Robbie smiled back. “Couldn’t wait to have you back.” 

    He watched TJ brush his teeth and slide into bed. Robbie turned off the overhead light and flipped on his desk lamp, but he couldn’t make any progress on his term paper. He kept looking over at TJ, checking to see if he was comfortable, if he had woken up, if he was still breathing…

    After another half hour or so, Robbie gave up. He was tired, anyway – he’d gotten up way earlier than he usually would have on a Saturday to get to the hospital in advance of TJ’s release. 

    He looked over at TJ one more time before turning off the light and slipping under the covers.

***

    It was an unseasonably warm March Saturday, and Robbie was breathing deeply as he strolled across campus to meet his boyfriend. TJ was scheduled to get off work at 5, and he and Robbie had plans to go to dinner and a movie.  

    The worksite was a new psychology building on the east side of campus. Most work-study students were assigned to jobs in the dining hall or something, but due to the many new construction projects on campus, TJ had been able to leverage his substantial contracting experience into a building job that both covered his work study and paid extra. 

    At the site, Robbie was immediately able to pick out TJ from through the fence. He was standing stop a three-story scaffolding tower, doing…well, Robbie didn’t know exactly what TJ was doing, only that he looked better than anyone had a right to in a hard hat and day-glo safety vest. 

    The foreman called up to TJ, likely signaling the end of his shift, and Robbie raised his hand to wave as TJ turned around, but stopped when he heard shouting. 

    A backhoe or a forklift or one of the machines that Robbie never bothered learning the name of was rumbling toward the partially-constructed building, not fast, but clearly out of control. Men shouted and scrambled, and TJ stepped toward the ladder to climb down, but it was too late. The machine clipped the pole at the bottom, and the entire scaffolding structure came crashing to the ground.

***

    Robbie bolted awake, sitting straight up in bed and clapping his hand over his mouth to muffle the gasp he'd let out. He felt himself peeing through his pajama pants, just like he had upon awakening every night for the past week, but knew by now that it was useless to try to stop. He looked over at TJ’s bed, blinking in the darkness, but thankfully, he didn’t seem disturbed. 

    Robbie let out a slow sigh, wiping the tears that had gathered in his eyes with the back of his hand. His stream slowed to a stop, and he was left sitting in a shallow puddle that wouldn't sink into the plastic university mattress. He’d half-hoped that the nightmare would stop now that TJ was back in their room, but clearly, the terror of watching his boyfriend tumble in three stories of wood and rebar wasn’t going away that easily.

    As quietly as he could, Robbie peeled back the blankets to inspect the damage he could feel around his groin. The horrifying dream wasn’t the only nightly occurrence Robbie endured since TJ’s injury, though now, he was faced with cleaning up without waking his boyfriend. 

    Closing his eyes, Robbie sat for a moment. He was still shaking from the nightmare, and he tried to remind himself that it was all OK. Despite how horrid the collapse had looked, TJ had never even lost consciousness. His abdomen had taken the brunt of the damage, including a ruptured spleen, and he’d dislocated his shoulder, but it could have been much worse. Robbie had been allowed to ride in the ambulance, and TJ had (unsurprisingly) remained calm, even when rushed into surgery. 

    The cognitive exercise of focusing on the positives didn’t really do a whole lot to slow Robbie’s racing heart, though, so he decided just to get on with it. His wet pajama pants clung to his legs as he stood up. He didn’t dare turn on a light; he just gathered all the sheets from his bed, hoping that his pillow and blanket had been spared. 

    Stepping softly, Robbie placed the wet sheets in the empty hamper (he’d make up some excuse tomorrow if TJ commented on the additional laundry). Of course, his second set of sheets had been washed earlier that afternoon, so he pulled them out from the bottom of his wardrobe. He decided against fully making up the bed, though, and just unfolded the sheets and laid them over the mattress before turning to clean himself up. 

    “Robbie?” 

    Robbie froze. He was facing TJ’s bed, but surely it was too dark for him to see anything. 

    His shock and worry prevented Robbie from responding right away, and before he knew it, TJ was pushing himself up into a seated position. 

    “Is everything OK?” 

    “It’s fine! Go back to sleep!” Robbie responded far too quickly and intensely to be of any comfort, and TJ reached over to turn on his bedside lamp. 

    “Rob?” TJ blinked in the dim light, concerned. “What happened? Are you OK?” 

    “No, I’m fine,” Robbie pleaded, his voice shaking. “Go back to sleep, it’s fine.” 

    TJ started to push his own blankets back. “Rob, what’s-“

    “No, stop!” Robbie begged, unable to stop his eyes from filling with tears. TJ had gone to bed without a shirt on, and his surgical scar stood out down the middle of his upper abdomen. 

    TJ’s eyebrows drew together, and he moved to stand. “Robbie, let me help.” 

    “You’re hurt!” Robbie blurted, his voice breaking completely. 

    TJ froze, sitting on the edge of his bed, poised to stand. Then he relented, looking sad. 

    “So are you.” 

    Robbie felt his lower lip start to quiver. He just wanted TJ to turn off the light and go back to sleep; he just wanted to throw himself in TJ’s arms and let himself be comforted. The conflicting desires, coupled with the lingering terror of his recurring nightmare, paralyzed Robbie, leaving him standing in the lamplight in urine-drenched pants. 

    For a few moments, the two simply stared at one another, each silently pleading for their own outcome. Finally, TJ spoke again. 

    “Rob, it’s OK. Go get changed. I’ll wait for you.” 

    Robbie wanted to protest, but TJ had made up his mind and he did, in fact, need to get changed. He hesitated for only a moment before grabbing a clean pair of sweats from the drawer, taking his washcloth from the rack, and heading to the bathroom. 

    He hadn’t bothered to check the time, but the hallway was empty and silent. In the bathroom, Robbie took deep breaths and splashed cold water on his face. He was determined to at least look calm when he got back to the room, so he could convince TJ that everything was fine. He changed quickly, wiping down his lower half. He didn’t want to keep TJ waiting. 

    Back in the room, TJ was sitting propped up against the head of the bed. The lamp was still on, casting low shadows around the room. TJ didn’t say anything when Robbie walked in, giving him a moment to deposit his wet things in the hamper. 

    Although Robbie had sworn he would be calm and reassure TJ that he could just go back to sleep, seeing his boyfriend wait so patiently destroyed Robbie’s determination. 

    “Come here,” TJ said gently, patting the space on the bed next to him, and the last of Robbie’s resolve melted. 

    He sat on the bed and curled under TJ’s waiting arm. TJ held him for a moment until Robbie was able to speak. 

    “I’m sorry I woke you up,” he murmured. “You need sleep.” 

    “Have you been sleeping?” TJ countered. 

    Robbie teared up again, frustration rising from his desire to care for TJ. “It’s not about me!” he exclaimed. “You’re the invalid, here. I’m supposed to take care of you.” 

    “You are taking care of me,” TJ said softly. 

    Robbie hummed a slight dissent. 

    “No, you are,” TJ insisted, “but listen.” He drew his arm back from its embrace around Robbie’s shoulders and grasped his hand instead, threading their fingers together. 

    “Do you think for one second that I would be OK with seeing you hurt?” Despite the early (late?) hour, TJ’s voice was full of emotion. “If I had to watch you in a hospital after emergency surgery, I’d be an absolute mess.” 

    Robbie gripped TJ’s hand. “But I’m supposed to take care of you,” he repeated, trying one last time to claim emotional high ground. 

    TJ squeezed Robbie’s hand back. “But you need taken care of, too. And as long as I’m capable, I’m gonna try to do that.” 

    Robbie leaned against TJ’s shoulder, suddenly exhausted. Over the past two and a half years of their relationship, he and TJ had developed a wonderfully effective mutual support system. It wasn’t until this very moment that he realized how much he depended on TJ’s support and how much having that balance upset over the past week had affected him. 

    “Seriously, Rob,” TJ said. “how much have you been sleeping?” 

    “Some,” Robbie answered, vaguely but honestly. 

    “So this has been happening every night?” Part of their successful mutual support system was that TJ and Robbie had learned each other’s respective language – what they were and weren’t saying. So of course, TJ had accurately interpreted Robbie’s one-word response. 

    “Yes,” Robbie admitted, almost shyly. Even to the person you love most in the world, it’s not fun to acknowledge that you’ve wet the bed every night for a solid week. “I keep dreaming of the collapse.” 

    TJ leaned his head against Robbie’s and sighed. “I’m so sorry I scared you,” he whispered. 

    “I’m sorry you got hurt,” Robbie replied. 

    “So am I,” TJ said, “but you know it’s going to happen. Not an entire scaffolding collapse, hopefully,” he added quickly, “but shit is going to happen to both of us. Big things, sometimes. And we can’t…” 

    TJ trailed off, and Robbie smiled. TJ wasn’t the talker in the relationship, but Robbie knew what he was trying to say. 

    “We can’t burn ourselves out trying to support each other without letting ourselves be cared for in return,” he finished TJ’s thought for him. 

    TJ sighed in relief at not having to verbally express himself any further. 

    “So you promise, then?” TJ said, clutching Robbie's hand in his. "You'll let me help next time?"

    Robbie lifted TJ's hand and kissed it. "I promise." 
 

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Hurray! 😄

I was secretly hoping for a new chapter, and now I was soo happy. It's good to see them again in a different age and situation. I love both of them, and in my opinion their dynamics are sooo cool! I hope that TJ will recover soon and Robbie will feel better too.

Thank you for this amazing chapter!

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On 10/6/2019 at 5:09 AM, plas broek said:

New chapter! You made my day.

Aww, thank you!

On 10/6/2019 at 11:30 AM, Melificentfan said:

A fabulous chapter and adorable to

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

On 10/7/2019 at 1:27 PM, Pilly said:

Hurray! 😄

I was secretly hoping for a new chapter, and now I was soo happy. It's good to see them again in a different age and situation. I love both of them, and in my opinion their dynamics are sooo cool! I hope that TJ will recover soon and Robbie will feel better too.

Thank you for this amazing chapter!

It was a total fluke, but I'm glad you liked it! 

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