Cheers for the reviews, sorry for the delays. Last chapter.


'Ezra.'

'Luke.'

'Ezra.'

'Luke.'

'Ezra! Stop mocking me. You're my boyfriend and you're supposed to love me.'

He grins cheekily. 'Can't I love you and mock you at the same time?'

'No,' I sulk. 'Please change the CD.'

'Why? I think it suits your driving.'

'You spin me right round? I'm not spinning you around,' I scoff.

'But the band is 'Dead or Alive'.'

I lean over and hit him. The car swerves dangerously on the road. Ezra breaks into laughter before opening the glove box and retrieving the magic eightball we procured from a McDonalds conformity meal. We use it on occasion to make minor life decisions.

'Will we die as a result of Luke's bad driving?' Ezra asks the ball. He snorts with laughter when the result appears. 'Yes,' he reads aloud.

Stupid eightball. I grab it from him and ask 'Is Luke a better driver than Ezra?' The answer is a frustrating 'maybe', which only serves to make Ezra laugh harder.

Five minutes later we arrive at Michael's house. I haven't been here since Ezra and Will's formal introduction to each other two months ago, and neither has Ezra. My lover and his friend still socialize, just outside of the house.

We're not here tonight to socialize with Mike and his boyfriend, though. No, the pair have gone away, and we've come around at Will's behest. He wants to 'try again'. He's thought the matter over, discussed it with a few close friends, and decided that it's in everyone's best interests that he and his brother heal old wounds.

'Is it good or bad that Michael won't be here?' I whisper as we walk to the front door.

'Better,' Ezra replies. 'I don't have to worry about…there are certain things that I don't want him to know about.'

'Will probably feels the same way,' I agree.

'Probably,' Ezra replies honestly.

Tom greets us at the door, and tells us to come in and sit down. We follow him into the house and to the lounges in the living area, where Will is helping the latest foster kid to enter the house with his homework. Ezra, Tom and I sit and watch the two of them, listening as Will delves into the horrors of algebra. I have to suppress a shudder; I passionately hate math.

'Sorry,' Will apologises, realizing that we're waiting for him and turning a deep shade of red. 'We can do this later.'

'You don't need to stop for us,' Ezra replies.

Will shrugs his bony shoulders and bites at a ragged fingernail. 'Ben's probably sick of it.'

'Actually, I was enjoying it,' Ben replies sardonically. He grins at Will. 'I've had enough. Thanks for the help, though.'

Ben packs his homework away while Tom pours us drinks. Will takes a seat on the couch and rests his over-sized feet on the edge of the coffee table. Juxtaposed against Ezra, who actually has, you know, a butt, Will seems thinner than he usually does. It's weird that two brothers could have such different body types.

I shift my gaze back to Ben. He's young, in his early teens, and has dark skin and strong facial features. His teeth and nose are too big for him, but I expect that when he 'grows into' them, he'll have a striking face. He'll probably be one of those people who can travel quite far on looks and confidence alone.

'How are you settling in?' I ask him.

He hesitates. 'Slowly. It's very different to Mum and I. She knew everything there was to know, and it was more comfortable with her.'

'I felt that way when I moved in with Ezra,' I agree. 'Living with someone really makes you aware of your bad habits.'

Ezra stifles a laugh. I not-so-subtly kick him. I, too, have precise memories of our first few months of living together, and believe me, they aren't pretty. While Ezra has ongoing problems as a result of childhood abuse, I was an outright brat for the first year or so of our relationship. I've always loved him, but that doesn't mean that I was always good to him. I'm glad he can look back on it and laugh, because I don't think many people could, but that doesn't necessarily mean I want him 'telling stories'.

Ben, Tom and Will watch my exchange with Ezra with interest.

'So, what bad habits do you both have?' Ben asks, cracking a smile.

'Luke is a slob. A slob who owns a lot of clothes,' Ezra nudges me, ignoring the dirty look I'm giving him. 'Tell them about the dry cleaners. Go on. You tell all everyone else, so don't get shy now.'

'I tell everyone about the dry cleaners, because the dry cleaners screwed me over,' I protest.

I narrate the story to our hosts not because I particularly want to, but because I need to be exonerated. Those sneaky bastards pulled a Seinfeld on me and wore my clothes while they were apparently being 'cleaned' and then tried to deny the fact. This resulted in a six month battle of whether or not I was going to pay my latest dry cleaning bill and if not, if I was going to be able to retrieve the last set of clothes I sent in to be cleaned.

It's not a funny story, but apparently the way I tell it makes it amusing. Maybe it's because I get so outraged. Maybe it's because it's so ridiculous it's almost unbelievable. Either way, it amuses my companions. Even Ezra, who has been subject to the saga and my associated whinging countless times before, finds it funny.

'So you see,' I finish defiantly. 'I'm in the right.'

Will smiles and glances at his brother. 'I heard you've been with Luke for over five years?' he confirms.

'It's almost six years now,' Ezra replies.

'Damn,' Will grins. 'You poor thing.'


On Wednesday evening, I return home from work to find Ezra in the kitchen. He's going through our cupboards, pulling out all the packets and containers of food.

I grab a can of diet coke from the fridge, sit on a bench, and ask him what he's doing.

'I'm getting rid of the junk,' he replies. 'I'm going to give all the extra stuff we have to charity.'

I regard him carefully, wondering what's caused this change of heart. Ezra's a food hoarder. He buys far more food than we need, and then refuses to eat half of it. If we 'only have six' cans of diced tomatoes and I want to use one, he'll go to the supermarket to stock up. We do our shopping weekly, what possible need could there be for two men to have more than six cans of diced tomatoes?

With fairly frequent power blackouts, we (I) can regularly purge our fridge and freezer of perishables and frozens, but when it comes to long-life foods, we have so much that there are boxes of it in our garage. Ezra sorts stuff out, by expiration dates and contents and the colour of the tin, and he stresses if he drops a can and it dents.

'That's a good idea,' I praise lightly.

'Well, yes,' he admits, flushing. 'Um, did you want to help me? I'm not really up to date on what normal people keep in their cupboards.'

We sift through the mess, boxing up the stuff we don't need, and returning the stuff we want to keep to the cupboards. The process becomes painful for Ezra; the subconscious fear that he'll be denied food, as he was in his childhood, is hard to overcome. He wants to keep things 'just in case'. He wants to ensure he won't go hungry again.

I'm pleased – really pleased – that Ezra is finally confident enough to take the step of purging our cupboards of excess junk. Michael and Will no doubt play some part in his newfound confidence. Mikey has turned out to be a pretty good friend to him, and our Saturday night visit with Will, Tom and Ben went terrifically. Finally, both Ezra and Will are viewing themselves as brothers again.

An hour and a half later, we've finished. We have cupboards that we can open in front of friends and family without them asking if we're worried about a nuclear holocaust. Our tins are no longer stacked on top of each other, and there is room to put the plates and cups away inside the cupboards where they belong, instead of resting them on the benches.

'Shit,' Ezra swears, surveying the kitchen table, which is filled with row upon row of stacked cans. 'I wonder how much this is all worth?'

'Nothing,' I reply confidently. 'Nothing is also the amount that the good people at VISA charge me on my credit card balance.'

My boyfriend laughs. 'Funny, Luke. Do you know what your balance is?'

'Three thousand four hundred dollars.'

'Seriously,' he rolls his eyes.

'Seriously,' I confirm. 'Are you proud?'

'Very,' he replies genuinely. 'We should celebrate your relative lack of debt and, um, my lack of food.'

'Could we celebrate with sex?'

'We certainly could.' Ezra agrees. 'After you have a bath.'

'I keep forgetting I stink when I come home from work. I'm so used to working in retail.'

'Really? Still?'

I consider his answer on the way to the bathroom. Ezra follows behind me.

'No. Not really. I like my new job. I like the money, and I like that there's nobody breathing down my neck. I'm even getting muscles.' I flex and show him what happens when you spend your days undertaking tasks more physical than hanging up clothes. 'Aren't you lucky to have such a sexy boyfriend?'

He grabs me around the waist and kisses the back of my head. 'Yup.'

We have a shower together; washing away the dirt and sweat while kissing up a storm. God, tall men are hot. He's a gentle giant, and I always feel safe around Ezra. Aroused, too. Now that we rarely have a day at home together, we really have to make the most of evening and early-morning sex.

It all starts becoming a bit too much for me, too exciting too soon. I turn off the shower, grab a towel, and tie it tightly around my waist, trying to wrap my hard-on flat. Ezra smiles faintly and grabs a towel of his own.

'I think I should watch some TV before bed,' I apologise.

'That's cool,' he agrees, heading to our bedroom. 'I'll be out in a second.'

I head to the living room and switch on the idiot box. It takes my mind off sex – kind off – and puts me in a less lustful frame of mind.

Ezra comes out and joins me, dressed in a pair of pajama bottoms. He sits alongside me, and hides something under a couch cushion.

'What have you got?' I ask him.

He flushes. 'Nothing.'

I lean over and try to find out for myself, but he swats my hand and pushes me away.

'Ezra, tell me what you've got,' I demand.

My lover turns a deeper shade of red. 'Shut your eyes.'

I shut my eyes.

'And don't peek,' he adds, glaring at me.

'Don't glare at me.'

'You wouldn't know I was glaring if you weren't peeking.'

I dutifully shut my eyes.

Ezra's hands carefully pull at my towel, loosening it and pulling it away. He drops it on the floor, while reminding me that I'm not to open my eyes. He sounds nervous, which makes it really very difficult to do as he's saying. I'm curious as to what I'm going to get. Ezra gives some nice, unexpected, presents from time to time.

I wait to be given a gift of some sort, but instead of placing something in my hands, Ezra snaps on something cold that's made of metal. My eyes flicker open and I stare down at my hand in surprise.

'A handcuff! Oh my God, Ezra, you bought handcuffs. This is so cool.' I eagerly offer him my second hand. 'Cuff me up, baby.'

Ezra carefully places the second handcuff around my other wrist, and pushes the two metal pieces into place. 'You're not…er…this doesn't bother you?'

I shuffle forward and kiss him. 'Not at all. I trust you completely.'

He tugs on the handcuffs experimentally, making a pleased-sounding noise in the back of his throat. The expression on his face makes me burst into laughter. Romantic, no, but he looks so bloody pleased with himself I can't help myself.

Ezra's never been like this before. He's never been quite so secure and confident, and it's such a great thing to witness.

'Shhh,' he orders, looking every-so-slightly uncomfortable. He pushes me down onto my back and lies on top of me, kissing my neck. 'I love you. It's time for us to, um, celebrate things my….um...little pet.'

'My little pet?'

'Um, yes,' Ezra agrees. He tries to hold back a snort of laughter. He fails, miserably.

We break into laughter. We laugh so hard that tears start rolling down our cheeks and I end up coughing uncontrollably. Ezra pulls me up into a sitting position, and kindly goes to the kitchen to fetch me a drink of water.

'Ezra?' I call out, as he's standing over the sink. 'I'm really proud of you, sweetie. Really proud. Over the last couple of months you've done a lot of things I didn't think you were capable of.'

He shrugs, embarrassed. 'It was nothing,' he replies, coming over and giving me my glass of water. 'Nothing compared to your lack of credit card debt.'

'I think that's debatable.'

Ezra takes the glass from my hand and lays me down on the couch. 'Mmm. Let's talk about that later,' he murmurs into my ear. 'You keep stopping me. I don't want to talk to you, I want to…'

I lie on my back on the couch, with the comfortable weight of my lover pressing onto me. Talk? I don't want to talk. I don't think there's anything left to be said.