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By Any Other Name [MultiFormat]
eBook by Tia Fielding

eBook Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Dru and Thom have been together for three years, and despite Thom's occasional bouts of insecurity and Dru's fear of rejection, their relationship is rock solid. Then Dru's long-lost friend, Skye, suddenly reappears, shocking them both. Skye suffered years of inconceivable abuse before escaping it, and while he's back on track, he has nowhere else to go as he begins to rebuild his life. Dru, Thom, and Skye each want to belong somewhere, to belong with someone--or someones--with no fear of being hurt, set aside, or left behind. It's a challenge with daunting odds, especially for Skye, who's never loved before. He's determined not to come between his two friends who so clearly belong together, and it will be up to Dru and Thom to conquer their fears and convince Skye to stay.

eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2011


14 Reader Ratings:
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Chapter One

Thom

"Will you make me muffins today?" Thom asked, leaning over his lover's shoulder.

Dru was sitting in his ergonomic desk chair and tapping away on his keyboard. The text in front of him seemed like some sort of code, one of those Thom had no understanding of but his lover of three years was fluent in.

"Yeah... if you go and take out all I'll need and figure out what kind you like. Just... give me fifteen minutes...," Dru said in the tone that told Thom that he was registering what was being said but was still very much wrapped in the code mentally.

Thom kissed Dru's neck and patted his shoulder before jogging down the stairs from the loft that acted as Dru's office. It was the easiest place to contain the mess of papers and books and computers and screens and.... Living with a total nerd came with clutter. Luckily, Thom happened to love said nerd more than anyone in the world, so he could put his own OCD tendencies aside and let Dru have his clutter.

Thom walked to their large open kitchen, once again considering the fact that they had top-notch equipment and all the space they could need but cooked very rarely. When they did, it was usually together. Dru baked sometimes, mostly when Thom asked nicely like he had just done, but they were both too busy to cook regularly. At least that was what they told themselves and each other if the question of ordering takeout again was brought up. They were busy professionals, but it seemed to be ingrained in Thom to feel a bit guilty for not cooking more often. The baking thing, though, it was something like an indulgence, Dru doing something for Thom despite the fact that Thom was capable of doing it himself.

It wasn't that they didn't want to. It was more about the fact that when Thom got home from work, it was usually after either a long day in court or an even longer one in the headquarters of Gibson, Royce, and Roberts. Sadly, none of those was Thom's last name, but one day he hoped that it would be there along with the senior partners of the law firm he had worked in for the last five years. Thom was thirty-three and nearly a decade older than Dru. He would've been lying if he had claimed it never bothered him. After all, Thom was just a boring lawyer, and Dru was an intelligent, extremely talented younger man with the looks of a model. He could have had anyone, yet he still chose Thom. It was baffling sometimes.

Thom didn't realize he was frowning as he gathered the ingredients for the muffins and searched the cabinets for chocolate and cocoa powder.

"We run out of chocolate again, or did something else make your mood turn sour?" Dru's voice asked from the bottom of the stairs.

"No... just having... a moment again," Thom confessed, feeling his cheeks heat up. Damn... it had been a while since he had last felt like this, but it always sneaked up on him. Much like Dru did, because there were suddenly strong arms around his waist, and he felt the warmth of the other man against his back. By now his "moments" were well known by his lover. At least they were rare these days.

"I've told you you're being stupid, right? And that I love you? And that I like making muffins for you?" Dru murmured against the back of Thom's neck, getting his lover to relax in his arms.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry about that," he said as he turned around, leaning to kiss Dru's lips gently. "This wasn't even ten minutes; what happened to fifteen?"

"Thought I could use a break," Dru said and then grinned at Thom's expression, which bordered on shocked. "Oh, shut up. I take breaks."

"Oh, I'm still looking for cocoa powder, so you'll have to give me a moment," Thom said, remembering, and turned around again before turning to look at Dru once more. "Not that kind of moment. Promise." His tone was a bit sheepish. He knew better than to question Dru, but sometimes there was nothing rational about emotions. Hell, maybe that was true most of the time.

The doorbell rang in the silence of the large, modern house, and Dru jumped off the island he had just sat on. "That has to be Kara," he said like it should explain something to Thom.

"Oh," the dark-haired man said, turning to look towards the door in the other end of the large space that made most of the main level of the house.

Dru walked to the door barefoot, and once again Thom gave him the once-over he usually did when there were other people to be around. Dru had no real concept of modesty, and this time was no different; the jeans he had on were well worn and very low on his hips, and the white tank top wasn't exactly hanging loosely on him either. Damn.

"Hey, Kara," Dru said, and there was some chatter Thom blocked in favor of finding the damn cocoa powder. He finally did just as the others were coming to the kitchen.

"Hi, Thom!" their neighbor and undoubtedly their best female friend said. "Muffins?" she asked with a smirk, whipping her long red hair over her shoulder as she leaned in to see the ingredients.

"Yeah, he's pampering me," Thom said, kissing Kara's cheek.

"He should do that more often, being high maintenance as he is. You know that, right?" Kara glanced at Dru, who stuck his tongue out at the woman.

"So, what brings you here this fine afternoon?" he asked Kara to cut that train of thought short.

"Dru didn't tell you? I was going to ask if I could borrow the Third again?" Kara asked, glaring at Dru briefly before making her eyes huge and puppy-like and turning back to Thom.

"Sure, just make sure you--"

"--fill the tank and if you injure her you take her to the garage to be fixed on your own expense," Kara and Dru chorused, making Thom blush.

"Yeah... that," Thom said, ducking his head. Sometimes it wasn't easy being older than the "kids" who had met each other in some evening classes Dru had taken a couple of years back. It had turned out Kara lived in the house nearest theirs, across a patch of forest.

"Thanks, Thom, really. I'll make sure she's okay and all that," Kara promised, and she looked at the clock on the wall. "Shoot, I gotta run if I'm going to make it to my dentist's appointment in time."

Dru walked the woman to the door and handed her the keys to the "Third," an old Ford Fiesta with sentimental value for Thom. The car was fire engine red, and even though Thom now had a nice BMW with value at least ten times that of the Fiesta's, he still preferred to have the old car in the garage for emergencies. Like if someone needed to borrow one or if the BMW and Dru's more practical SUV weren't running... as if.

"Everything ready?" Dru asked when he got back to the kitchen again.

"Yes, cocoa and chocolate-chip muffins, please." Thom smiled, and Dru chuckled a bit.

"Fine... but we're going for a run tomorrow morning. Just so you know."

It was Dru who kept them both fit, though Thom had become better with it in the years they had lived together. They had a little home gym in the downstairs bedroom. Mostly because they liked the biggest bedroom upstairs and there wasn't a basement in the house to put the equipment in. There was an additional guestroom upstairs as well. The house was really too large for just two people, but they had fallen in love with it when they began house-hunting after dating a few months. They had just known it somehow, even if Dru had been just twenty-one at the time and Thom had tried to resist the handsome younger man who worked at the coffee shop near his office.

Thom went to sit at the breakfast bar and flipped open a magazine to keep the baker company. Just as Dru began to mix the flour and the cocoa powder, the phone on the end table near the island rang.

"I'll get it," Thom said automatically and picked up the phone. "Thomas Williams," he answered.

"This is Dr. Albert King from the Haven Institute in Boston."

"Good afternoon, Doctor, how may I help you?" Thom asked with a puzzled tone that made Dru turn around to face him with an equally puzzled expression on his features.

"I'm looking for an Andrew Beckett Jr., and this is the number I found online," the man on the other end of the line said in a deep bass voice.

"Ah, yes, I'm Andrew's partner, could you wait a second?" Thom asked and placed his hand over the receiver.

When Dru looked at him, he said, "Some doc from Boston... for you."

Dru blinked and then looked at the bowl in front of him on the counter. "Ask him if he can work with speaker, not stopping this now."

Thom grinned internally; this was typical for his Dru, not taking anyone's directions and certainly not stopping something he was doing for a stranger.

"Yes, Doctor? Do you mind if I put you on speaker?" Thom asked.

"Well, it's not--"

"It's just that there's no one else here but me and him, and he's baking. Besides we don't have any secrets, so he'd tell me immediately anyway...." Thom let the end drift off and heard a sigh from the other end.

"All right, then," the man said, and Thom pressed the button.

"Good afternoon there, Doc. This is Dru Beckett, how can I help you?" the blond said, emphasizing his nickname to make sure it was known how little he appreciated his given one.

"Afternoon, Mr. Beckett. This is... a bit of a strange cross-country call, I'm afraid. One I haven't been able to properly prepare for, but here goes." There was a low chuckle from the doctor, and Dru turned to look at Thom with a slight questioning frown. Thom shrugged, and the doctor began to speak again.

"You see, I am the head psychiatrist at the Haven Institute in Boston. Now, for the last two years we've had a patient here, and now that he's been deemed ready to face the world again, he gave your name as a person to contact." The voice stopped as if the doctor was hesitant to continue.

"Wh... what?" Dru asked, obviously mentally going over a list of people but not really able to think of anyone. "Who?" he added and turned completely, leaning his back to the counter now, barely registering Thom, who moved closer to him to offer his support.

"The patient's name is Skye Walker. He said you two were close growing up?"

The complete silence that followed the question on both ends of the call was deafening. Thom wanted to wrap his arms around Dru but couldn't, not with this. Not when the name Dru avoided mentioning popped up like this.

"I know this must have come as a bit of a shock," the doctor began again, only to be cut off by Dru.

"Wait, wait," he said and shook his head as if to clear it. "You're saying Skye, who I haven't seen or heard of in... seven years, has been in a mental institution for two of those years?"

"Yes, you see...." Another slightly frustrated and awkward sigh was heard as the doctor tried to figure out how to say what he had to say. "I have Skye's permission to speak about this with you, the basics of it at least, even though it's against patient confidentiality. The gist of things is that the uncle who took him in... he wasn't the man everyone thought he was. In fact he imprisoned Skye, brainwashed him, and used him as a... as a sexual slave for nearly five years."

Another long silence.

By then, Thom was ignoring the fact Dru might need space like he usually did when upset and had wrapped his arms around his lover to be there for him whether he wanted it or not. When Dru didn't seem to be able to speak and the doctor was waiting patiently, Thom cleared his throat.

"You must understand this is a shock to Dru," Thom said loudly enough for it to reach the speaker phone. He soothed Dru's arm and cloth-covered stomach with his fingers just to do something. He could feel Dru trembling slightly, and it terrified Thom. His lover was the strongest man Thom had ever known.

"Yes, I understand, but... I won't lie to you, when Skye came to Haven, he was a shell of a man, and... I wasn't sure he'd pull through. But he did. He's much better now, but the problem is that even though he's ready to go back to the world, we don't really have anywhere for him to go. He has been rehabilitated, but there are still some issues." The doctor came to the reason for his call.

"How did he get to the institution?" Dru asked, his voice betraying his suspicion.

"The uncle worked in construction, and one day he fell off some scaffolding at a site and died on impact. When the man he had rented their house from went to check on things, they... they found Skye in the basement."

There was another, shorter pause before the doctor spoke again. "The police officer that was first on the scene had some connections with the institution and managed to get Skye in here. They raised some funds in the Boston PD, and then, after the story leaked to the local papers, some other people pitched in. As there was no will, naturally all of the little money the uncle had left was used to make sure Skye had a safe place and all the resources to get better."

"Is... would it be possible for you and... and Skye to work on an e-mail or a fax with some of the information on what he has been through and what his situation is now and so on for us?" Thom, always the organized lawyer, asked.

"I suppose that is fair...." There was a silence that could only be described as thoughtful. "Though you need to understand that the departure date was set some time ago and Skye is to leave Haven first thing Monday morning. If we don't find... alternatives... the only place he can go is the halfway house, and I have seen enough in my thirty years doing this to know that someone like him is likely to be found in a homeless shelter inside a few months."

"I understand, but we need to discuss this, all of it, and know more to be able to make an educated decision instead of jumping into anything," Thom said and nudged Dru's side.

"Yes, yes, Thom is right. We need to... to know more," Dru said in a slightly shaky voice.

"All right, I got this number from the website of your business, Mr. Beckett. So I'll use the fax that was there later today, once I've spoken with Skye about this. We tried to find other options, at Skye's request, but there didn't seem to be any. I wouldn't ordinarily spring something like this on anyone. Just... it's Friday evening already; time is of the essence here."

"Yes, thank you for the call. We'll be calling you back as soon as we get your fax and have reviewed it," Thom said, and they disconnected the call. Then he led his shocked lover to the couch in the living room area under the loft.

They sat in silence for a while, Thom's arms around Dru, holding him tight as if to keep him together.

"What's your first instinct about this?" Thom asked when the body in his arms began to relax a bit again.

After a deep sigh, Dru nearly whispered, "I'd do anything for him."

That was what sealed the deal for Thom. He'd do anything for Dru, and if it was helping his childhood friend and first love, that was what Thom would do, no matter how he felt about it.

"Okay... we'll take a look at the fax and think this through, and you'll decide what we'll do," Thom said firmly.

Suddenly Dru's eyes snapped to his as the younger man twisted in his arms to look at him. "No. I'm not deciding, we are. This is our life, Thom." This was a tone Thom knew very well: the one that told him Dru was being serious, that this was final and he had no say in it.

The relief he felt at hearing the words took his breath away for a while. The name of the boy, now a man, who had been the first person ever to capture his elusive Dru's heart had always made him feel slightly uncomfortable. There was history there, even if nothing sexual had happened between the boys. Thom knew Dru had never truly been able to get over the loss of Skye, no matter how serious his relationship with Thom became or how much time passed. Seven years was a long time not to know why the person you loved, and who you thought was your best friend, never contacted you again.

"I'll go put the coffee on. We need caffeine. And something to eat. Takeout?" he asked while getting up from the couch.

"Yeah... okay, sure... Italian okay?" Dru asked, clearly wanting comfort food. He had gotten the idea of Italian being comfort food from Thom's mother, who was half Italian and liked to cook for her family, especially if there was a crisis.

"Sure, I'll be right back, babe," Thom said and kissed Dru's cheek before retreating to the kitchen to think about the possibilities the fax would open up for them.

* * * *

Chapter Two

Dru

Dru sat on the couch, his legs folded next to him on the seat as he looked out of the large windows. The view was one of the reasons they had bought this house together. His life with Thom was... perfect. There were occasional issues, but didn't every couple have those? Now--now his secure life with the man he loved with all his heart was being threatened by a ghost from the past.

Skye. Just thinking the name made his heart beat faster.

If he let himself think about what had happened, he could still feel the emotions like it had truly been yesterday and not all those years ago. It had started one day when he was thirteen and lasted until he was seventeen, and then it had all been taken away from him again.

He let himself think, just this once, about the past. Just for this moment, when he was still secure with Thom in the kitchen, he'd think about it and then let it go again... maybe.

It had been early February when the scrawny kid in too-big clothes had walked in the doors of Dru's school. Or he hadn't really been Dru then, he'd been Andrew Junior or, as his mother seemed to like to call him, Andy. He had loathed both names and didn't really like any of the variations, either.

The expression on the new kid's face was one Andrew had seen before; it was almost apologetic, like the boy was embarrassed to be there. It had been clear what he was from the first moment Andrew laid eyes on him: trailer park kid. "Trash," as his parents liked to call "those people."

Andrew was an observer and a mastermind. He could make anyone do his bidding, and the other kids, even the older ones in the school, knew it. It wasn't so much that Andrew was better than the others; he was just richer than most of them. A lot richer. Money could buy you anything, or so he had learned at the mature age of thirteen.

The new kid, Skye, who mumbled his name in front of Andrew's math class, intrigued him somehow. He didn't know what it was about the boy that held his interest for more than a few moments, but when the other kids made fun of his name, Skye Walker, Andrew felt enraged. It was the stupidest name he had ever heard, but it was actually quite cool too. So when he heard the other boys trying to pick on Skye in the cafeteria, he went and coolly told them to back off.

The strange awe in Skye's eyes as he looked shyly at Andrew melted his reservations. Someone needed to make sure this kid was safe. Naturally, the fact that Andrew's parents were appalled at dinner when he told them about his new friend didn't hurt. The Becketts didn't socialize with trailer trash, his father said. "What will the women in the book club think?" his mother wondered.

It got even more fun when the boys became friends for real. Until then, Andrew had never had a friend who liked him for who he was. Everyone liked him for what he could afford, buy, bribe. No, Skye wasn't like that. When he shyly asked Andrew why he didn't really have a name everyone called him but many names instead, Andrew had to confess that he didn't know. The next day, Skye declared Andrew needed a name, and that name was Dru, with a u instead of ew. Nobody had ever cared enough to insist on giving Andrew a name before. Not a name for just himself, anyway. Andrew was his father's name too.

For some reason, Skye's family had decided that Rowan Falls was the place for them, the one where they'd stay longer than a few months. A year and a half after the Walker family arrived in Dru's hometown, the boys set up a campsite in the vast backyard of the Beckett family's house. They had found a nice spot in the back of the garden, and that was where they put up their tent.

Dru's parents allowed this as long as they didn't come into the house more often than absolutely needed. The boys were still served breakfast and dinner in the kitchen while Dru's parents and their occasional guests ate in the dining room, but that was about it. Not that they minded. They were living the best summer of their lives. Skye's family didn't care much. It was easier for them to do their thing--his dad was trying to get sober once again, and his mom was trying to find another job, which seemed to be a full-time job in itself for an uneducated woman, so having one less teenager to care for suited them just fine.

When the boys were sixteen, in the first hit-and-run in the history of Rowan Falls, Skye's mother was killed while walking home from her first day at a new job.

Dru did all he could, which was basically just staying by Skye's side when he was needed. Supporting his friend in his pain seemed like a good idea, and the nights they slept together in Dru's bed after Skye sneaked in through the window were kind of nice. Dru had known by then that he was gay, but he was still scared. He couldn't even come out to Skye even though they shared everything else. This was something Dru couldn't come clean about. Seeing rejection in the brown depths of his best friend's eyes would surely have killed Dru.

From the moment Mary Walker was laid to rest at the Rowan Falls cemetery, her husband began to lose his grip on the world. Ken began to drink more and more, not giving a damn about anything, least of all his son, who was just as alone now. Or maybe not--after all, Skye did have Dru to lean on. Even though Dru had never thought Skye's parents had been happy together or that there had been love between them, he could picture the loss of a life partner doing something like that to a man.

It took Ken about a year to end it all. Dru and Skye thought the man went and killed himself or got himself killed, but if he had, he managed to do so without ever being found. Everything but his wallet was still at the trailer the day Skye got home to find his father missing. For a few days he thought it was okay; Dru was staying with him, and the boys weren't too worried. But when days turned into a week and then another one, the school and social services got interested in the situation.

It was then that the boys got really scared. There were conversations that they overheard at school, the principal and some social workers talking about putting Skye in foster care if there wasn't a family member to take him in. Skye was only a year and a half from turning eighteen; surely there was someone? They decided to let Skye be under the guard of the local social workers until they concluded their research. While they didn't find Ken Walker, they did find a distant uncle, unrelated by blood.

Walter Davies was the widower of Skye's biological great-aunt Emily. Not that Skye had ever met the woman, but Walter had been the only relative anyone could find. He had married Emily, a woman twenty years his senior, a few years before she passed away from a brain aneurysm while exercising or something like that. After being told about the unfortunate situation, Uncle Walter had driven into town and scooped Skye up and taken him away to somewhere in Montana, where he lived.

That was the last time Dru had seen his best friend, despite the fact that they had sworn to stay in touch.

"Babe, the food is here," Thom said from behind the couch, making Dru snap out of his thoughts. Just in time before he could get teary eyed over the exact details of the last time he had seen Skye.

"Okay... thanks," Dru said and got up with shaky legs just to burrow himself under Thom's arm for a moment before walking into the kitchen to eat.

They ate in silence, and Dru noticed that Thom had cleaned up his almost-baking.

"Sorry about the muffins," he said, and Thom smiled a bit. The smile was sad, and he could understand why.

"Don't worry about it," Thom said, and his smile turned a bit sneaky. "The next time you'll bake twice as many."

Dru chuckled at that while digging into his meal and felt better for a while. That was, until there was the distinct sound of the fax machine from upstairs.

"I'll go get it, eat the rest," Thom said firmly, and somehow Dru managed to do as he was told.

When Thom came back with a pile of papers, he placed them facedown on the island. "How do you want to do this?" he asked, and Dru released a breath he had been holding since he had seen the papers.

"Let's clean these up and get the coffee and go to the living room," he said, and Thom nodded.

In five minutes--which seemed to be both the longest and shortest in Dru's life--they were sitting on the couch again. Their knees were touching, and Thom was holding the papers.

"So...," he started, and Dru closed his eyes for a moment to think.

"How about... you read them and tell me what they say? So I can hear it from you and...."

"Okay, I can do that. Though there's one that's handwritten and addressed to you. So you have to read that, I won't look at it. But the rest of this I can read," Thom said and extracted the letter before putting it under the other sheets in his hands.

Thom took a look at the documents and sighed. "Okay... so...," he started before taking a sip of his coffee. He could probably distance himself from this using his professional skills of reading all sorts of papers from police reports and autopsy records, or so Dru thought.

"The uncle, Walt, took him to his house in Montana and pretty much immediately drugged him. He then kept Skye drugged and chained to a wall in a spare bedroom. He did get food, but he was left alone during the days when Walt went to work. The... the sexual abuse came later, and by then he had somehow managed to make Skye think it was the only option the kid had...." Thom seemed to block out Dru's reactions to what he was reading, probably to be able to continue.

"They moved around a lot, but since Skye didn't really have anywhere to run to, he was convinced by Walt that he was better off with where he was, 'safe and fed'. When Skye began to grow up, Walt became more interested in... in hurting him. In the last house, he kept Skye in the basement." Thom sighed a little bit. Skye had also been chained to a wall, gagged so that he couldn't scream for help. Not that he would have, in the end.

"It says here that Skye was nearly catatonic when they found him after Walt fell off the scaffolding. There were signs of malnutrition, beatings, and rape, and it seemed like he had been in the basement for months because his eyes couldn't deal with sunlight at all."

There were other things in the paper, things Thom didn't want to read to Dru, that much was obvious. When the older man looked at Dru questioningly after the few details, something seemed to break within him. "Stop, stop," Dru begged, tears streaming down his face. This had been Skye's reality for years? Being treated worse than an animal? How the hell was he even alive?

"He spent two years at Haven," Thom pressed on but skipped over the more morbid stuff, "where they made sure he got therapy and was treated for all the physical abuse. It says here that he's on two kinds of medications and that routines help him a lot. He has his schedules, and he'd like that to continue if possible. And there's this note from the doc in which he says that Skye isn't dangerous in any way, but he's never been out in the world as an adult on his own and lacks a lot of skills other people his age have. There are also some things like getting scared or having panic attacks and so on, but all he really needs is a stable environment where he feels safe. The doc seems quite positive that Skye would be able to recover as completely as one can if just given the chance."

He then held out the sheet with the handwritten note and put the rest on the coffee table, picking up his nearly-too-cold coffee. Thom sipped his caffeine while waiting for Dru to be done with the reading.

Dru took the paper and willed his hands not to shake.

Dear Dru,

I know this is not what you expected. You probably didn't expect to hear from me ever again. I'm sorry, if I could have stayed away from your life I would have. But I want to get better, to be independent again. To be human again, Dru.

I don't have any money left, I can't get a job without an education, and I never went to school after Rowan Falls. I literally don't have anyone, and when they pressed on, yours was the only name I could come up with

I'm sorry for all the pain Al caused with the call. I understand if you don't want anything to do with me, but he made me do this

Skye

Without having noticed, Dru had been tracing the scar on his knee through the hole in his jeans--the scar he had gotten their last summer while hiking in the forests in Rowan Falls. The forests were only about fifty miles from where he and Thom now lived, but they could have been on the other side of the world for all Dru cared. He pulled his hand away from his skin and glanced at Thom, who averted his eyes from his knee almost in time, but Dru still noticed the action and the almost pained look in his lover's eyes.

He had no idea what to do. To bring someone from his past here, someone who had left him--even though Dru kept telling himself over and over again that it had been unintentional. Skye hadn't left him, he had been taken from him, and he hadn't been able to stay in touch. The hell Skye had been through.... No, Dru needed to get over his hurt feelings.

"What do you think our options are?" Dru asked Thom, not showing him the letter for some reason he couldn't quite understand.

"Well... we could give him money. I mean, we could because we have it," Thom said, and he was right. Dru had inherited money from his grandparents, and Thom had a job that paid more than well. Naturally Dru was making money with his business as well. "That would enable him to live in a halfway house or somewhere until he's back on his feet. We don't know how long that might take, and it seems like the key is to have him in a secure environment where he can relax and trust people around him. So that doesn't seem like such a good idea," Thom said.

Dru nodded. "No... it doesn't." He sighed, running his fingers through his short hair in a frustrated manner.

"Or we could have him here. Which is not ideal either. We don't know him even if you did know him once. But we could get him to go to therapy in the city and keep an eye on him and all that. You're at home almost all the time even when you work, so he wouldn't be alone. We could show him the real world out there and really be sure that when he finally goes out into it on his own, he can do it." Thom spoke quietly, looking out of the window instead of at Dru.

"What... what do you really think we should do?" Dru asked hesitantly. He didn't want to make this decision.

"I don't know. He meant the world to you, babe. He did, and I know you loved him. If he was worthy of your love, then he's worthy of surviving the hell he's been in for the last seven years," Thom said and turned to look at Dru finally. There were tears in the older man's eyes, and Dru moved quickly to sit on his lap to get as close as possible.

The real possibilities were sparse. He needed to do something, if for nothing else than the fact that once upon a time Skye had been Dru's everything, his best friend and the help he had needed to get through his teenage years in a cold, loveless home.

After a long while of cuddling and just drawing strength from Thom, Dru made a decision.

"I think we need to call the doc. Tell him we'll be e-mailing Skye the flight information to get to Oregon and the city from Boston. I can't let him drift away with no one there to help him." He looked at Thom, who nodded back.

"Okay, babe. I would have chosen the same thing. No matter who it was, a person who has gone through what he has deserves a chance. The fact that he was your best friend once means everything. So we'll give the doc a call." Thom kissed Dru's cheek and picked up the paper with Dr. Albert King's phone number. "You should do it," he said, and Dru took the paper.

Walking to the kitchen and to the phone took enough steps to make him stronger in his resolve. He could and would do this. No matter the past, he still felt responsible for the kid Skye had once been.


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