Mike woke up and saw Anthony getting dressed. His black jeans hugged his hips and showed off his butt nicely. Mike smiled before the guilt settled in and he frowned. He swallowed and swung his feet out of bed. He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment rubbing the sleep from his eyes before he said anything.
" Look, Anthony. I'm sorry about last night. It's your choice who you date, and I shouldn't have said everything that I did." Mike apologized. Anthony pulled on his turtleneck sweater and turned to face Mike.
'Damn. He even looks hot in a sweater.' Mike thought to himself. The dark blue turtleneck hugged his body and showed off all the work he put into keeping it perfect.
" Its fine. You have the right to not like him." Anthony said. Mike smiled and Anthony returned the grin.
" I have a few hours until class. Do you want to go get breakfast?" Anthony asked. Mike nodded and they left.
Mike had spent the day with Chris again. They had went to a movie and then out to lunch. Mike knew Chris was interested but he also knew Chris respected him enough to settle for just being friends. After saying goodbye after lunch Mike headed back to his dorm. He walked in the door and saw Anthony sitting on his bed with his head in his hands.
"Anthony what's wrong?" He walked over to the smaller man.
"Nothing." He said and looked up. He had a smile on his face but it was clearly fake.
"Come on, Tony don't lie to me." Mike sat down next to him. He put a hand on his back and began stroking it. Anthony leaned into him and Mike gave him a long hug.
"I'm fine, really. School is just a bit more overwhelming then I thought it would be, you know?" Anthony said.
"Yeah, I definitely know. You'll be ok though. Just let me know if you need help with anything you know I'm always here for you." Mike hugged him again and was surprised when he didn't feel horrible guilt.
"Thanks, Mikey." Anthony smiled.
"Mikey?" Mike laughed.
"You called me Tony so you're now Mikey." He smiled. Mike laughed and nodded his head.
"So do you have plans tonight?" Mike asked as he stood up and began pulling out homework.
"Yeah, James and I are going to a movie." Anthony said. Mike groaned and tossed his head to pout at Anthony.
"You said you were ok with us dating." Anthony said.
" No, I said I respect your right to date who you want. I didn't say anything about not complaining about it." Mike smiled. Anthony laughed and threw clothes at him.
Mike had gotten bored with his homework and had decided to call Chris. After several minutes of talking they both decided that they would go to the club together. When they arrived they both began dancing immediately. Several guys hit on them but they made it clear they were not interested. When Mike finally glanced at his watch he realized it was near one in the morning. Seemed equally surprised and they both headed out. After walking Chris back to his apartment Mike headed back home.
He walked in the door and saw Anthony on the floor crying.
"Tony!" He knelt by the smaller man and stroked his hair. He had his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. He had his head buried in his knees.
"Tony what happened? Are you ok? Talk to me!" Mike wanted his hurt to stop.
"Nothing, I'm fine." Anthony said through his sobs.
"Don't you dare lie to me, Anthony." Mike growled. Mike hugged him while he cried until his sobs slowed, and eventually stopped.
"Now talk." Mike said. Anthony shook his head without looking up.
"Anthony, look at me." Mike raised his head and saw the large purple bruise forming on his right cheek. Anthony looked away trying to hide the mark. Mike looked closer and saw something near the collar of his sweater. He pulled it down and saw the bruise clearly shaped like fingers around his neck. He stroked the bruised skin silently for a moment as the anger grew inside him.
"That son of bitch." Mike stood and began walking out the door. He didn't know where James lived but he would search all night if he had to.
"Mike, no. Please it was my fault I was stupid." Anthony reached out to grab him. Mike scooped him into his arms and pulled him against his chest in a hug.
"You're not stupid." He said. Anthony looked at the floor.
"Tell me what happened, Tony." Mike said. He kept Anthony tucked firmly next to his chest. He felt the guilt eating away inside him but he didn't care. He had to take care of Tony right now.
"The other night, after we left the diner, He was pissed off that I wanted to go there. We got in a fight. He was just mad he didn't mean to hurt me. It was an accident." Anthony said.
"Was his fist connecting with your face an accident too?" Mike asked. "You didn't even want to go there." Mike said.
"I know but he thought I did." Anthony looked down.
"What happened here, Tony?" Mike stroked the swollen cheek.
"He got mad." Anthony said simply.
"There's more to it than that." Mike said. Anthony sighed.
"He... He wanted to fuck me. I didn't want to." Anthony whispered. Mike sighed and pulled Anthony into his chest again. He kissed the top of his head and nuzzled the soft black hair.
"Anthony you have to leave him. You can't just let him do this to you." Mike said and stroked the bruised cheek again.
"It was an accident it won't happen again." Anthony said. Mike sighed.
" I can't force you to break up with him. But I'm telling you now Tony. This guy isn't good for you. He will just keep hurting you. When you come to your senses and want to leave him, you know I'm always here for you." Mike said and hugged him.
"Everything is going to be fine from now on." Anthony said, more to himself then Mike. Mike swallowed and looked at the tiny panther. He sighed and gave him one more reassuring squeeze before standing and getting undressed.
"We should get to bed." He said miserably.
"Ok." Anthony said and crawled into his own bed without getting undressed.
Mike woke up and looked over to see that Anthony had already left. Mike groaned loudly. He didn't want to see Tony hurt. He looked at his picture of Alex and groaned again.
"Life sucks." He muttered.
He rolled out of bed and get dressed. He had class in awhile so he decided to go get breakfast and then head to class. He walked through campus and saw James getting coffee. He wanted nothing more than to walk over there and beat the crap out of him but he knew that wouldn't help the situation. He grunted and headed to class without breakfast
Anthony finally found James getting coffee. He walked up to him and gave him a hug.
"Hi." He smiled. James gave a small, almost annoyed, smiled back.
" Hey." He said while stirring sugar into his drink.
"I'm sorry about the fight we had last night." Anthony said.
"Yeah, whatever." James said and put the lid back onto his steaming coffee.
"Do you want to do something tonight?" He asked.
"Sure. Meet me at my place at six." He said and walked off. Anthony watched him leave and felt hurt. He only wanted to make him happy. It was just an accident that he hit him. He wouldn't do it again.
~ two weeks later~
"Anthony!" Mike threw his bag on the ground and shut the door behind him. He sat on the bed with the smaller man who was hugging his ribs and moaning.
"Mike." He whimpered. Mike stroked his hair and pushed his hands aside.
"Let me see." He whispered. He pulled up Anthony's shirt and saw the large bruise on his right side.
"What the fuck did he do?!" Mike shouted.
"It was my fault. I'm fine." Anthony gasped for air. It was obvious he was having trouble breathing.
"You're not fine, Tony. You're seriously hurt this time." Mike looked over the rest of his body quickly and found large bruise covering the whole left side of his face.
"Jesus Christ. Please Tony, you can't let him keep doing this to you. You keep saying it wont happen again but it does. Every time you see him you come back with a new bruise or cut. What if one of these days he goes to far and does serious damage?" Mike held his face in his hands.
"He won't. It was my fault." Anthony groaned and hugged his ribs again.
"How could it have possibly been your fault?" Mike stood up and paced the floor.
"We were fooling around and it went too far. I wanted to stop. I shouldn't have led him on, I'm a tease." Anthony groaned.
"Let me guess. He's the one who called you a tease?" Mike stopped pacing to face Anthony. By the look on his face he knew it was true.
"Anthony, I'm not asking anymore. I'm begging. Please leave him. Things are going to get worse." Mike knelt down so he was eye level with Anthony.
"I can't" Anthony said. Mike sighed.
"Why the hell not?" He yelled, standing up again.
"I can't because no one else wants me!" Anthony yelled back, bursting in to tears. He gasped in pain and hugged his ribs.
'I want you.' He wanted to scream but he couldn't. He couldn't do that to Alex.
"Anthony..." Mike didn't know what to say. Anthony continued to cry quietly. Mike stood there awkwardly until he couldn't take it anymore.
"Come on." He carefully scooped Anthony off the bed but he heard him gasp in pain anyways.
"Where are we going?" He asked. Mike headed towards the door.
"The hospital, you need help something could be broken." He said. Anthony stayed quiet on the drive there.
"It seems like you have a few broken ribs, Anthony. What happened?" The doctor said as he looked at Anthony's x-rays. Mike opened his mouth to answer but Anthony beat him to it.
"I fell down the stairs. I'm really clumsy." He laughed dryly but regretted it when his ribs screamed in pain. He gasped and held onto his ribs again. The doctor looked skeptical but didn't say anything.
"It will take awhile for them to heal. I want you to stay in bed as much as you can no moving." The doctor looked at him seriously when Anthony was about to protest. He scribbled something on a prescription pad.
"Take these as needed for the pain." He handed Mike the prescription as Anthony got his ribs bandaged.
"Don't worry doc. I'll take good care of him." Mike glared at Anthony. He avoided Mikes gaze by pretending to be interested in something on the floor. After helping Anthony back to the room and settled into bed, under the covers, Mike grabbed his wallet.
"I'm going to go out to get something to eat. What do you want?" He asked. He was still pissed at Anthony.
"I don't care. Do you think Chris could come over and we could watch some movies or something?" He asked. He reminded Mike of a little kid who was home with the flu.
"I'll call him." Mike said and walked out the door.
Mike returned a half hour later with an armful of Chinese food and Chris following him, holding a stack of movies.
"You guys put the movie in. I'll be right back." Chris said and walked down the hall towards the bathroom.
"Did you tell him..." Anthony asked.
"No, I said you fell." Mike didn't look at him as he pulled the food out of the bag and put the movie in the DVD player.
"Mike-" Anthony started.
"Don't." Mike interrupted him before he finished.
"I know you don't want me dating him but-"
"You think I'm mad because of who you date? Anthony I don't care who you date. I'm mad because you don't respect yourself enough to know when your being mistreated." Mike said seriously. Anthony opened his mouth to say something when Chris stepped in. Chris could feel the tension in the room and stopped in the door way.
"Is something wrong? I can go..." He looked down the hall.
"No. Everything is fine. Come on." Mike lay down on his bed to watch the movie and Chris laid down next to him. Anthony stayed alone on his own bed.
After several movies and making sure they were put in a Chinese-food-coma Chris said goodbye and began walking home. Mike walked through their room getting ready for bed and cleaning up the mess.
"Mike..." Anthony didn't know what to say.
"Go to bed, Anthony." Mike said and put one of the pain pills on Anthony's nightstand, next to a glass of water.
Anthony looked like he was about to cry but he swallowed the pill and laid back to sleep.
Mike woke up and saw Anthony still sleeping in his own bed. God he wanted to say something to him, to let him know that he isn't alone and that someone does want him. But how could he do that to Alex. He was the love of his life. He rolled out of bed, took a shower, and then got dressed.
"Morning." Anthony said.
"Hey." Mike muttered.
"You're still mad." Anthony said.
"Yup." Mike said and tied his shoes.
"Mike please can we talk?" Anthony tried to sit up but his ribs wouldn't allow it. He gasped and whimpered and Mike was by his side in a heartbeat.
"Hold still, damn it." He grumbled and used pillows to support Anthony's back. When he was settled Mike handed him another pill and then sat back down to put his other shoe on.
"Mike you don't understand. No one wants to date an infected. James does, and he's good to me, most of the time. He just gets angry. I don't want to be alone. No one could ever love me." He had tears streaming down his face by the time he finished talking.
"I do." Mike snapped at Anthony. His breathing was loud and quick. They stared at each other in shock. Mike finally broke the silence.
"I have to go to class." Mike grabbed his bag and headed out the door, slamming it on the way out.
Mike skipped class and headed over to Chris' apartment. He knocked on the door and it was answered by Chris, who looked like he had just woken up.
"Mike?" He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"Can I come in? I need to talk." He said. Chris was awake instantly and looked at him worriedly before moving aside so Mike could come in.
"Where are your roommates?" He asked as he look around the apartment.
"They were out partying last night and crashed at a friends place." Chris said as he walked into the kitchen. "Do you want some coffee?" He asked. When Mike nodded he started a fresh pot and went to sit next to Mike on the couch.
"What's going on?" He asked worriedly. Mike burst into tears and was glad when Chris pulled him to his chest and held him close while he cried. It reminded him of Alex. He allowed himself for just a moment to think that it was Alex holding him and stroking his hair. Mike broke down and told him everything. About Alex being infected and the day they met. When he was assaulted and then when he was shot, about the court date and meeting Anthony, The fight they had had and Mike blurting out his confession. He told him everything except what was going on with James and Anthony. Chris stayed silent through the whole thing and only listened. Mike was hunched over with his head wresting on Chris' lap while the small man stroked his hair and back to try to calm him down.
"I don't know what to do." He sniffed when his tears finally calmed enough to be able to speak.
"I don't see what the problem is, Mike." Chris said and shrugged. Mike looked up at him wondering if he had been listening at all.
"You care for Anthony and its obvious he feels the same way about you. Why don't you two start something special?" Chris stood to go get their cups of coffee.
"I.... I can't." Mike looked at the floor.
"Why the hell not?" Chris asked.
"I... I still feel like I'm cheating on Alex. It hasn't even been a full year since he died and I'm already finding someone new?" Mike sighed and took a sip of the coffee Chris handed to him. He set it down on the table and leaned back into Chris. Chris stroked Mikes back with one hand and sipped coffee with the other.
"Mike do you think Alex would have wanted you to be miserable like this? I didn't know him but from what you have told me it sounds like he was a fantastic guy, a guy who wouldn't want you torturing yourself and being lonely." Chris said. Mike laid there silently for a moment, thinking.
"You loved Alex, and there will always be a special place in your heart for him. But that doesn't mean you cant love somebody else." Chris said. Mike realized he was right and for the first time in months he felt the guilt that gnawed at his soul start to recede.
"I have to go find Anthony." Mike stood up and ran out the door. Chris smiled; he wanted Mike to be happy.
'He does want me?' Anthony repeated the question over and over in his mind. He was shocked at Mike's confession. He thought Mike wouldn't want anyone after Alex, especially not him. He shifted in the bed and grunted in pain. He heard a knock on the door and wondered if it was Chris.
"Come in." He said and tried to cover his ribs with his blanket. He was surprised when James walked in. He didn't know how he felt about him now.
"Your still in bed? It's 11am. Get up." James threw a pair of shoes on the bed. Anthony felt his anger flare. James had broken his ribs and he didn't even care.
"I'm not getting up. You really hurt me yesterday." Anthony said. James stared at him and he could see the anger behind his eyes.
"I said get up." He walked over to the bed to stand over Anthony.
"No. You broke my ribs, James. The least you could do is apologize ." Anthony said.
"Don't be such a tease next time." James glared at him.
"I don't like it when you talk to me like that. I'm not a tease I just don't want to go that far with you yet." Anthony said trying to keep his anger under control. James grabbed his arm and pulled him violently out of the bed. Anthony cried out in pain and gasped when James hit him across his face with the back of his hand. He paused a moment, his hand to his stinging cheek. Before he turned and scratched James with his right hand. James grunted and held his hands to his face.
"I'm done being pushed around by you." Anthony said quietly. It hurt to stand but he wouldn't sit down. James pulled one hand away from his face and Anthony saw it was covered in blood. James brought his other hand down to look at it and saw it was covered in blood as well. He looked up at Anthony, mouth open in surprise and eyes still filled with anger. Anthony saw the four deep red cuts going from right above his left ear and cutting to the left corner of his mouth. Blood gushed from the wound and he put his hand on his face to cover it again.
"Bitch." He gasped and hurried out of the room. Anthony collapsed on the bed and felt his ribs scream in protest. He groaned and lay down. He saw the claws on his left hand covered in blood from James' wounds. He was exhausted after his ordeal and fell asleep quickly.
Mike hurried to their dorm and was walking down the hallway when he saw James coming room holding his face in his hands. He walked right past Mike, Mike doubted he could see through his hands. He watched him stumble down the hallway before turning and running to their room. The door was open and Anthony was lying still on his bed.
"Anthony!" Mike rushed to his side worried James had done something to him.
"What? Jesus." Anthony growled at him and tried to go back to sleep. Mike sighed with relief.
"Anthony I'm so sorry. I've been a dick. I do care about you. I love you. If you could forgive me for being such a dick..." Mike didn't know what else to say. Anthony opened his eyes and just stared at him for a moment. Mike was worried that he wouldn't forgive him. Tears started falling from Anthony's eyes and he reached out his arms as best as he could. Mike hugged him, trying hard not to hurt his ribs, and savored the smell of his hair.
"I love you, Mike." He whispered in his ear.
"I love you too, Anthony." Mike felt something wet on his face and realized he was crying. He could see his picture of him and Alex and looked at it for a long time while they held each other.
"I'll always love you, Alex. But I have to move on." He whispered. Anthony pulled away from their hug and looked at the picture.
"I know that you are always going to love him. That's something I could never take away even if I wanted to. He meant a lot to you. But you deserve to move on." Anthony stroked Mike's hair.
"I know." He smiled at his new lover.