Laughing softly, Gene replied, "I'm sure you can."
It puzzled him, as it had from the beginning, that after all he'd been through Shawn could still be so flirtatious. He remembered back when he'd finally broken away from his abusive lover. The last thing he'd wanted was to get into another relationship.
And that's been the case ever since, until now
"Let's go eat before the pot roast turns into a chunk of dried up meat and shrunken vegetables."
"Sounds good to me." Shawn walked past Gene into the hallway, turned and waited. "You coming?"
Gene nodded as he looked around the bedroom, trying to see it through Shawn's eyes. It belongs to a confirmed bachelor, books and all. He smiled ruefully as he closed the door and joined Shawn.
A few minutes later, they were sitting at the island in the kitchen, full plates of food in front of them.
Shawn had insisted they eat there, not in the dining room. "I don't understand why you even have it," he'd said, "since you never have company. You could turn it into one hell of a media room or something."
Gene winced inwardly at the 'never have company' statement, turning his reaction to it into a joke. "With my eighteen inch TV as the only media? It would be real lonely all by itself."
"So you buy a computer and stuff to keep it company."
"I have a computer, at my office. It's the only one I need."
Shawn chuckled softly. "Gene, you're a stodgy old loner."
Gene smiled. "You've just discovered the secret I've been trying to hide all these years. I am."
"But you're not," Shawn disagreed. "Not really." He rested his elbows on the island top, staring at Gene. "You have tons of friends."
"I have a lot of people I know well, mostly patients and their families. I'm not certain I'd call many of them friends the way you mean. Max and Linda, yes, and a couple of others and that's about it."
Picking up his fork again, Shawn took a bite of the roast, asking casually after swallowing, "Have any of them been here?"
Shawn arched his eyebrows. "Just once? Did you give him the grand tour?"
"Nope, coffee in the living room while we talked… business."
"Damn." Shawn took another bite, shaking his head
Yes, damn. But it's how I am. It's easier to keep control over my life that way. I fought hard to get it back. I'm not willing to give it up Gene stared down at his plate, wondering if it had been such a good idea to let Shawn in. Into the house, into my life…