Ash and Ember

Ash and Ember - Chapter 19: A Welcome Debt

Chapter 19: A Welcome Debt

19 January 2019, Saturday 4:57 AM

A startling soreness and pain woke Grant as he turned in his sleep. His legs hurt so much that he thought he had a cramp, but it was only muscle aches from all of the skiing he had done the day prior.

He couldn't help but hiss as he shifted. He needed to use the bathroom, and he swung his legs over the side of the bed. As he did, his eyes widened. His middle, back, ass, and shoulders were sore too. He hadn't felt this level of pain from a physical effort in years - perhaps ever. He sat on the bedside, and he had to convince himself to stand.

Grant got to his feet, and he grimaced. 'Good god. I feel like an old man!' He chuckled to himself at the thought. He took little, mincing steps to the bathroom.

He positioned himself in front of the toilet, and he began to urinate into the pot. He shifted a little from foot to foot, as he tried to find a comfortable position. There wasn't one. He shook his head as he finished up. Then he turned and washed his hands. Every motion was deliberate, and he strove to not waste any movement. When every move hurt, it was motivation to be as efficient as possible.

He slowly made his way back into the bedroom. And he made little desperate, pained grunts as he lowered himself back to the bed.

Troy moved, and Grant felt Troy's warm hand on his back. "Hey. You all right? You're making some weird noises."

Grant gave him a chagrined smile. "Yeah. I'm just sore. REALLY sore. I need some ibuprofen, water, and rest."

Troy sat up on his elbow. "You need a good massage."

The thought of someone rubbing his extremely tender body made Grant a little sick to his stomach. "Ah, I don't know if I can handle that."

Troy smiled, and he lay back down. "It'll hurt some, but you know you'll feel better after." Troy watched Grant as he debated, then Troy sat up again. "Here. Let me run some really hot water in the tub and fire it up. We'll get you in the water, then I'll give you a really gentle rub. How about that?"

Grant exhaled. "Yeah. That sounds good." Grant shook his head and laughed at his own self-inflicted state.

Troy got up and used the bathroom while Grant followed behind him, very slowly, with his tiny little steps.

Troy then bent to run water into the jacuzzi. Soon there was hot, swirling water, and Grant looked down at it. It certainly was inviting.

Troy helped him step into the water. "Okay. Get settled, and I'll get you a glass of water to drink, and some ibuprofen."

Very slowly, Grant lowered himself. His eyes fluttered as the hot water immediately began to work at loosening his stiff and tight body. "Ahhhh. Ah, god." He lay back, and the steam rose up around him.

The tub circulated the water, and it kept it at a toasty 102F. It felt indescribably good. Grant almost didn't notice as Troy appeared beside the tub. "Here. Take your water, and the meds." The lanky man squatted and handed the medication and glass to Grant.

Grant sat up, took the items, and he popped the tablets. He washed them down, then continued to drink the water. He had to hydrate, and give his body the resources it needed to flush his muscles of lactic acid. He handed the empty glass back to Troy. "Thanks."

Troy stepped over to the sink, ran more water, and put the glass down beside the tub. "You're welcome." He smiled down at Grant, tall and naked. "I'm gonna go back to bed, and leave you alone to stew in the tub. Stay in there as long as you can stand. When you're done, wake me up, and I'll see about working out some of your soreness."

Grant grinned up at him. "I will." His brown eyes roamed over Troy's body. Grant noticed that Troy was at a fantastic weight for his frame. He had recovered completely from his time spent underfed and underslept. "Thanks, for taking care of me."

"I'm happy to do it, Grant." Troy bent to put a hand on the back of Grant's head, and the men kissed.

Troy began to respond to the kiss, and he pulled back. He chuckled as he stood up, and his slowly inflating cock was impossible for Grant to miss. "I'd better leave you be. At least, for now." His eyes sparkled, and he left the bathroom.

Grant lay and let the tub work on his body. His muscles slowly relaxed, at least a bit. And he sipped the water Troy left for him.

Finally, he was ready to get out. Grant grunted with effort, and he hauled himself up to his feet. He turned off and drained the jacuzzi.  Grant downed what remained of his glass of water, then he tottered back to the bedside.

Troy was asleep, curled up into a ball around his pillow. It was still very early, and Grant smiled at him. On the bedside table, Grant noticed the journal. The leather bookmark attached to the book lay somewhere in the middle of the pages. Grant knew Troy had been reading it.

'I'm so glad I gave it back to you,' Grant thought, and he settled gently on the side of the bed. Troy seemed very deep in sleep, and he slept through the movement as Grant got back into bed. Grant knew Troy expected to be awakened for Grant's massage, but Grant wasn't about to wake him up if he was sleeping so well.

Instead, Grant pressed his very warm body against Troy's naked back. The tall man made a little noise of sleepy contentment.

"I love you," Grant whispered. He kissed the nape of Troy's neck and he settled in. Soon, both men were asleep, Troy locked in Grant's embrace.

19 January 2019, Saturday 6:19 AM

'You shit.' Troy rolled over. Grant shifted as he did, and he turned over away from Troy in his sleep. 'You were supposed to wake me.' Troy smirked as he thought. He reached and his hands began to slide up and down Grant's back.

Slowly, Troy allowed his fingers to apply more pressure with each pass. And soon his hands massaged the muscles in Grant's back.

Grant's breathing changed as he awoke to the pleasure and pain of the backrub. He grunted as Troy found a particularly sore spot near his shoulder blade.

"You didn't wake me." Troy smiled, and he kissed the back of Grant's neck. "You're bad at following directions."

Grant chuckled. "You needed the sleep." He took in a sharp breath as Troy slid his hands down and they started to massage Grant's very sore rump. Troy let up the pressure, only a little, and took his cues from Grant's body, and his groans.

The closeness, warmth, and contact between them meant Troy had an erection. His body expected sex from the situation. Periodically, Troy's cock would contact Grant's rear, and the dark-haired man pressed himself backward into Troy.

"Mmmm. You are trying to distract me." Troy gently, but firmly, pushed Grant away and he continued Grant's massage. "You need this. Let me rub you."

Grant gritted his teeth as Troy's hand slipped around his front, and Troy began to massage Grant's quadricep. "Ah, fuck." Grant very rarely cursed, so Troy knew he was really in pain and he backed off a bit.

"Okay, roll on your back. We're gonna do this right."

Grant groaned, but he did as instructed. Troy grinned. "Okay, stay there. I'm gonna get my oil." Troy got up and went to the bathroom. He rummaged through his overnight kit, and he found a bottle of baby oil he had brought along. He came back to the bedside, and he pulled the covers off of Grant's body.

For a moment he admired Grant's incredible conditioning. Grant eyed him. "You'd better not even think it. There's no way I can take any weight on me right now."

Troy grinned. "You don't know what I'm thinking."

Grant looked pointedly at Troy's erection, and Troy laughed. "Okay, fine." Troy sat on the edge of the bed, and he rubbed some oil between his palms. "I'm gonna get started with the easy stuff first."

Troy began with Grant's hand. He rubbed it, and Grant's eyes seemed to get heavy. "Mmm. That feels nice." Troy took both of his thumbs, and he pressed, nice and firm into Grant's palm with them. Then he kneaded Grant's entire hand. Next, Troy crept up Grant's arm. He squeezed, rubbed, and massaged the muscles of Grant's forearm, and then those in his upper arm too.

Grant lay with his mouth slightly open. Now and again he'd flinch when Troy hit a sore spot. But for the most part, he seemed very relaxed.

Troy finished with that arm, and he got up. He poured more oil into his palm, and he walked around the bed to the other side. Troy repeated the treatment on Grant's other hand and then his entire limb.

By now, Grant lay in a near-stupor as his body released endorphins from Troy's touch. Troy straddled Grant's leg, but he was careful not to put his full weight on Grant. "Doing all right?" Troy asked as he rubbed his oiled hands down Grant's pecs.

"Hmm." Grant blinked. He almost looked drugged as his eyelids were slow to respond. Troy smiled. It was apparent Grant enjoyed the rub, even though there was a bit of pain involved in the process.

Troy took his time as his hands lightly traveled down Grant's developed abdominals. Yoga did terrific things to Grant's body, and Troy was more than happy to gently brush his fingertips over the skin there.

Troy let a hand brush Grant's cock, and the dark-haired man inhaled at the contact. Troy grinned, a little evilly. Grant's eyes were closed, and he wet his lips.

Troy got more oil in his hands. "Doing good?" Troy put his thumbs at the top of the crease where Grant's legs joined his body. He let one hand slide down, and his fingers brushed Grant's testicles, while his other slowly ran over his lover's now erect penis.

Grant licked his lips, and he nodded. A drop of pre-come oozed out of him, and he squirmed a little. Troy let his hands slide around to the outside of Grant's upper legs. He gripped just under Grant's pelvis, and Grant made a breathy sound. Troy could tell those muscles were sore. He began a gentle but thorough massage of Grant's quadriceps.

Grant arched his neck. "Ahh." Grant breathed through his mouth and endured. Troy continued. Until finally he had rubbed from Grant's pelvis all the way down to Grant's kneecaps.

Troy finished with Grant's front.  Well, nearly.  He let his eyes roam up and down Grant's body.  During the massage, Troy felt his desire for Grant build, until it rose like a tidal wave.  It was something he couldn't fight, even if he had wanted to.  His cock was still hard. Theirs both were.  And it was time to take care of them.

Troy got a liberal amount of oil, and he let his warm, slick hand close on Grant's member. Grant reacted with a surprised grunt. Troy sat back on his haunches, and he gripped himself with his other hand.

Slowly, Troy began a firm, slippery handjob for Grant. He stroked them both, and Grant's jaw worked as he moaned and moved under Troy's rear - which sat atop Grant's leg.

"Ah. Troy." Grant's eyes rolled back, and Troy watched as Grant's oiled body contracted. Grant was a study in erotic emotion, and he took in his breath.

Merely knowing Grant was about to get off helped Troy get there. Troy rose up on his knees, gritted his teeth, and he grunted. Troy shot, and it ended up in a long streak from Grant's groin up his trunk, to the side of his neck. Troy continued to get off, and then Grant followed seconds later.

Both men moaned. Troy unloaded his regular, significant amount of come on his lover's prone body. He finished with a satisfied sigh, and Troy gently sat back down on Grant's leg. And he grinned at the now-messy man under him.

Grant panted, and he looked up at Troy. "Good massage." He laughed, and Troy joined him.

Troy got up, and he found a washcloth. He returned, and he gently cleaned Grant's body of the copious load of semen on his front.

Grant sighed. "Well, I guess it's time to get up." He started to roll up to his feet, but Troy put a hand on his chest and held him down.

"Oh, no. We're not done." Troy's expression was pure evil as he smirked. "Roll over. I have to get your backside now. I'll start with those calves. They look like they're about to split open, they're so swollen.

Grant made a whining sound. But he rolled over on his front.

Troy got a fresh palm-full of oil, and with a grin, he started on his lover's sore, tight, and angry calves.


19 January 2019, Saturday 7:15 AM

Grant felt a little better. The soak, massage, and the medication he took all served to loosen his limbs. He and Troy were both cleaned up and dressed, and they walked down the stairs to a common area for all of the guests. The room had a fireplace that held a cheery blaze within the hearth. A tray of sliced fruit, mini-quiches, muffins, pitchers of juice to drink, coffee, ice water, and hot water for tea sat nearby.

There were a few other guests that milled about, ate and chatted. Among them were all of their friends. Apparently Troy and Grant were the laggards among them.

Brian finished chewing his quiche, and he got up out of the comfortable chair he had parked himself in. He smiled and looked back and forth between Grant and Troy. "Good morning, guys. How'd you fellas sleep?"

"Good." Troy smiled and jerked a thumb at Grant. "I had to work on this one a bit before he could get moving."

Grant rolled his eyes, but he nodded. "Yeah, it's true." He stretched and grimaced. "I don't think I can remember a time I've ever been so sore."

Brian smiled knowingly. "Yep. Your legs have it bad I bet." Grant nodded, and Brian continued. "Well, why don't you guys get some breakfast, and we'll plan our day. If you aren't up for another day on the slopes, there's a great spot to hang out in front of the fireplace at the lodge."

Grant blew out a breath. "Yeah, I think I'm gonna have to sit out skiing today. Maybe I'll be able to make it tomorrow, but probably not today."

Brian followed the guys over as they started assembling little plates of food. Aaron joined them, while Natalie and Georgette sat in a couple of chairs against the wall. The ladies waved, but Georgette looked a little pale. Grant waved back, then he glanced at Aaron. "Hey, Aaron. Is Georgette okay?"

"Good morning, Grant." Aaron sighed. "She's not feeling great. Morning sickness. I tried to get her to eat a little, but she can't." Aaron made a face. "It bothers me to see her miserable."

"It'll pass." Grant patted his shoulder. "I know that doesn't really help right now, but it'll pass." Grant and Troy loaded up on food, coffee, and a glass of juice. Then they found seats close to Natalie and Georgette. The rest of the group sat with them.

They chatted while they ate. And by the end of their breakfast, Georgette had more of her color back. She even ate half of a muffin and kept it down.

They finished breakfast, then they went back to their rooms. Those interested in skiing dressed for it. They met again in the lobby, then they all traipsed out to the van.

Troy drove the group out to the lodge, then they all got out. Grant smiled and kissed Troy out in front of the building. They attracted a few looks, but nothing threatening, and they even garnered some smiles from other patrons. Georgette decided she would keep Grant company by the fire in the lodge, and they bid goodbye to the bundled up skiers.

After their friends left for the slopes, they entered the big, rustic building. Georgette got herself some warm apple cider, while Grant was happily surprised to find the lodge served Irish coffee. He took a mug full of the stuff, and he joined Georgette near the fire.

The woman lay back in her chair, and she sighed. Grant smiled at her, and he sipped his spiked coffee. 'Drinking whiskey before nine AM.' Grant chuckled to himself, then he shrugged. 'I'm on vacation.'

It was a rare occasion when Georgette was content to quietly sit and enjoy the silence. This was such an occasion. Grant too didn't have the need to fill the air with words. So they sat, relaxed, and enjoyed the heat from the crackling fire. Each drank their chosen beverages and whiled away the first hour in a sleepy, relaxed state.

"Well, you guys look comfy." Grant was almost asleep, and he looked up at Troy. The lanky man grinned down at him. There were shiny spots on his puffy coat and his ski pants where the snow melted to water when he entered the warm building. He was in his socks. He must have taken off his ski boots out at the entrance to the place.

"We are." Georgette stretched like a cat, and she yawned, showing all of her teeth. She scratched her neck and looked at Troy. "How's the skiing?"

Troy nodded. "It's good. We're taking a little break. All of us are a bit sore from yesterday. So I'm not sure how long we'll be out here today."

"Ah, okay. I'm glad I'm not the only one." Grant chuckled. "Maybe Georgette and I can figure out a spot to go for lunch. That'd be a good stopping point, for a break at least."

Troy and Georgette both looked agreeable. "Yeah." Troy rubbed his newly sprouting beard. He had trimmed it up this morning, and now it had a crisp line that followed his jaw. It suited his face, and Grant found it very sexy. "If you two wanted to figure that out for us, that'd be great. I'll let the others know we're gonna do lunch today."

"Yes. Please." Georgette laughed. "I want food. Real food this time instead of snacking through the day."

They talked a bit more, then the rest of the gang entered. Soon they were all on board with the plan. Grant noticed that nobody was eager to have another long ski day. Troy joined him for an Irish coffee, while Brian and Natalie each got a mimosa. Aaron decided he was driving, so he copied his wife with a hot apple cider.

By now it was after ten AM. It was still too early for lunch, so Aaron pulled out some games that lay on a shelf against the wall. The friends sat on the floor, and chairs around the low table in front of the fireplace. Soon a rousing game of Pandemic was in session, and after two losses the team finally got a win.

A couple of hours had passed rapidly in Grant's mind. He and Troy both worked on their third Irish coffees, and Grant had a pleasant buzz from both alcohol and caffeine. Most of his aches and pains faded into the background, and as his inhibitions fell, he let himself touch and contact Troy more and more. Soon, he leaned into his tall lover as they sat on the floor beside one another.

Grant almost didn't notice the attention, but Brian and Natalie sat across from them, and each smiled at them. In Brian's face, Grant saw something. It was almost what he'd expect to see from an older brother. A quiet, strong, and assured love for Troy. And trust, that Grant would do right by him.

Now that the journal was off of Grant's mind, he no longer felt anything holding him back. And Grant realized that his shift in perspective was probably apparent to those who knew Troy well. They were all protective of Troy - Brian in particular. And the approval of the big man was something Grant valued immensely. He'd be one of the first to notice Grant's change in demeanor toward Troy.

They weren't alone in the lodge. But, with their friends supporting them Grant felt no fear. 'He's mine. I love him. And I don't care who knows it.' Sure, they got some attention. But no one accosted them. And the guys only sat close, with Troy's arm draped over Grant's shoulders. It wasn't like they were making out, and rolling around in front of the roaring fire.

Brian took a satisfied breath, and he stood up. "You guys all ready to go? Wanna find some food?"

Georgette was the first to her feet after him. "Yes." She needlessly helped Aaron up, and he laughed at her eagerness.

Soon they had piled into the van, Aaron driving, and Georgette riding beside him. This time Grant and Troy took the back bench seat. And the pair were cuddly and affectionate - Troy kept laying gentle little kisses on Grant's neck which elicited smiles and giggles from the ticklish man.

"Oh my god." Natalie turned after the third time Grant laughed. "You two need a room!" She grinned at them both.

Grant used to be embarrassed at attention when he showed affection to Troy. But, no more. Instead, he smiled. "We have one. We'll use it later too."

Brian turned and arched an eyebrow at Grant, a look of amusement and approval on his face. Natalie laughed. "Good for you!"

Troy shook his head. "You're terrible." He patted Grant's leg. Their friends turned back around, and Troy leaned over. "I wouldn't have it any other way," Troy whispered, and he ran his hand up until his fingers cupped Grant's balls. It only lasted a second, but Grant flushed red, and he felt himself respond to the contact.

"Damn it." Grant shifted his hips as his cock hardened. "YOU are the bad one!" He said under his breath, back at Troy, and the tall man chuckled.

Georgette decided she wanted Mexican food, and everyone was agreeable. Aaron drove while Georgette gave directions from her phone to a place called "The Mad Taco."

They soon parked, and they crunched through the compacted snow and ice up to the door. As soon as he entered the place, Grant's nose was hit with the savory smell of meat, beans, cheese, and corn. His mouth began to water immediately.

They were seated, and baskets of tortilla chips, borne by an attentive dark-haired woman, appeared on the table.  Hot and mild salsa followed, which made the group very happy.

Grant eyed the menu as the server poured glasses of water. Georgette crunched on a tortilla chip, and she made a sound of rapture. "Pork belly tacos!?!!" She swallowed the chip and threw the menu down on the table. "I want four of them."

The server laughed. "Is everyone ready?" She finished pouring water and pulled out a pencil and a little pad of paper.

Aaron shook his head at his wife, but he smiled. "I guess we can be." He quickly made a choice, and he handed his menu over to the woman, who had announced herself as Anna.

The friends all put in their food and drink orders. Anna disappeared into the kitchen, and then the group chatted easily with one another.

The place was a local favorite, but not quite at capacity. Happy sounds of conversation, eating, and laughter permeated the space. Grant found it to his liking, and he relaxed. Periodically, he would look at Troy who sat beside him. And each time, the lanky man smiled at him - obvious affection and joy on his face.

Grant also saw that the little moments between he and Troy were, again, noticed by Brian. And, always, the man's gray eyes sparkled with approval and happiness.

It wasn't long before their food arrived. All of them fell upon their meals. Grant was happy with his choices. He got a grilled chicken taco, and one made of pork belly. He had to admit, while the chicken was excellent, the pork belly taco was delectable. Georgette seemed to agree.

"Oh man." The woman had her eyes closed as she chewed. She swallowed her bite and shook her head. "I'd offer you a bite, Aaron, but I don't think the baby wants that." She dove back in for another nibble.

The redhead looked at her, and he made a face that was both resigned and amused. "Wow. Blaming the baby." He shook his head. "It has already begun." He smiled, and then took a big bite of his carne asada taco.

Grant loved these moments - the natural, familiar, comfortable way that they all interacted. He watched, enjoyed, and felt his place within the group solidify. They were no longer "Troy's Friends" to him.

'They're my friends too. They're ours.' Grant smiled to himself. He let the thought roll through his mind, and then Grant focused on his food.

They finished up. After they paid, it was back out to the van. It was still early in the afternoon. Georgette felt that she could handle some skiing, but Grant couldn't quite imagine that he'd be comfortable on a set of skis. He was still too stiff.

They returned to the lodge. Grant said goodbye to the van of friends and gave Troy a kiss. "See you in a while." He smiled at Troy. "Have fun."

"I will. You too. Enjoy the fire." Troy grinned.

Brian also got out with Grant. "I'll meet you guys on the slopes. Gonna get a little time at the fire, and then I'll head out."

Grant and Brian walked into the lodge. There were a couple of overstuffed chairs near the fire, and after they each purchased a drink, the men parked themselves beside the welcome heat of the hearth.

There wasn't much traffic in the place. Most people were out skiing, in what amounted to perfect conditions.

Grant was learning Brian's methods and his personality. He knew the man wanted to talk. So he sat, and he waited.

It wasn't long before Brian obliged. "Things seem to be going well between you and Troy." Brian looked at Grant. His expression was different. Grant couldn't quite place why, but something was different in Brian when he asked.

"Yeah. Things are," Grant laughed a little. "Things are good, Brian."

Brian smiled. "I'm really happy to hear it." He reached, and he put a big hand on Grant's shoulder. "I mean it. It thrills me that you guys are happy."

As Grant was about to respond, he realized what had changed. Brian seemed just as interested in Grant's wellbeing as he was in Troy's. That knowledge hit Grant, and he let the realization sink in.

'Our friends.' He grinned. "Thanks, Brian." Grant bit his lip, and he nodded. "Thanks, for everything."

Brian's expression was quizzical. "I didn't do anything. Not really." He squeezed Grant's shoulder, and he blew out a breath. "Look, Grant, without you, I don't think Troy would have lasted much longer out there." Brian's face twitched, and the big man set his jaw. "He, ah," Brian swallowed and his eyes filled. "He's my best friend. And I love him." He blinked, and a pair of tears rolled down his cheeks. Brian stared into Grant's eyes. "You saved him. I know it." Brian nodded, almost to himself. "And for that, I'll do anything for you."

Seeing Brian emotional, and knowing it was because of his love for Troy made it hard for Grant to hold it together. "Thanks, Brian. But, just being with Troy is enough. Really." Grant frowned when he felt himself start to cry. "Ah, damn it." He rubbed his face with his sleeve. "This is your fault."

Brian laughed, and he stood up. "I'm gonna head out." He wiped his own face with his hand, and Brian smiled down at Grant. "I'm glad to know you, Grant." He turned, and he left the lodge, headed to the ski slopes.

Grant sat at the fire, and he let his body slump back in his chair. "Wow," he whispered to himself. After a time, Grant smiled. And he sipped his warm, and creamy coffee as he stared into the flames.

Author's Note: Pandemic is a cooperative game.  It's super fun, and super frustrating when your team BARELY loses.  Buy it, then you can torture your friends the same way that I torture mine!  :-)

Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

And thank you for reading! 

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