This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.

Two Spirits in One World

© 2011 Owen Hudson

Chapter Nine

It was Sunday morning and neither Todd nor Nick had to work. That would indicate morning intimacy, followed by a hearty breakfast, then more time for cuddling. Nick woke before Todd. Seeing Todd's black eye reminded him of the altercation between Todd and his father. Nick decided he would cook breakfast and let Todd sleep. He gently kissed Todd on the forehead, becoming angry again at what Steve had done to Todd.

"Do I look that bad," Todd questioned, as he opened his one good eye and partially opened his swollen eye?

Nick quickly replied, "Honey, you would never look bad to me. But seeing you like that makes me want to go kill that son of a bitch."

"Thanks for the offer," Todd replied. "But he isn't worth it. Besides, I doubt that the prison would allow conjugal visits between gay couples."

"Then I suppose we'll just have to let him face the wrath of your grandma," Nick joked, as he carefully kissed Todd to avoid hurting his bruised face.

Todd kissed Nick with passion, demonstrating that his bruises were not serious enough to keep him from showing his love. "Nick, I love you so much. I'd never want to live without you."

Nick turned to face Todd and passionately kissed him, then said, "Never say that my love. I wouldn't want you to ever stop living if anything ever happened to me. Now let's think about some breakfast."

"I'd rather cuddle with you than eat," Todd said, as he pulled Nick closer.

Nick was contemplating the offer to cuddle when there was a knock on the door. "Who in the hell could that be," Nick questioned?

"Well, you could get your ass out of bed and go see," Todd teased. He then added, as Todd grabbed his robe, "It's such a cute ass."

"It's your mom," Nick returned to say. "I'll put some coffee on while you get dressed."

"Oh my, look at your face," Karen gasped, when she saw Todd's bruised face. "But you don't look as bad as your dad."

"What are you doing here this early on a Sunday," Todd questioned?

"I want to talk to you in private," Karen said, as she looked at Nick.

"What you have to say to me you can say in front of Nick," Todd replied. "Nick's my partner."

"Yes, I know," Karen smiled. "Your grandma and I had a long talk yesterday. Maybe I should say that your grandma talked and I listened."

Todd smiled at that remark, as he handed his mother a cup of coffee. "What did grandma have to say?"

"That I haven't been a very good mother to you, for one thing," Karen said, with a pained look on her face. "Todd, I was more concerned with trying to please Steve than I was in your welfare. It was just easier to let Mom raise you than for me do what was right. I'm so sorry for not doing right by you."

"Mom, I love you, but you're right, you haven't been much of a mom to me," Todd acknowledged. "And your home is no longer my home. As far as I'm concerned, your husband was just a sperm donor, he's certainly not a father to me."

"And he'll soon no longer be my husband," Karen said. "I'm filing for a divorce. I realize that he has a drinking problem and isn't going to change. I'm taking a job in Tulsa and moving there. The house will be yours; yours and Nick's. When Mom and Dad gave us the land to build the house, they stipulated that in case of a divorce Steve would have no claim on the property."

"Mom, this is our home for now," Todd said. "I have no plans to ever go back to Colcord to live."

"I can understand that," Karen replied. "But you can sell it to help pay for your optometry education." She then smiled at Nick and added, "I want to help you and my son-in-law with your educational expenses. I'll continue paying your rent. Also, I had dinner last evening with Marsha and Carla, and Marsha and I agree that we'll see that you both get your educations."

"Carla?" Todd and Nick both questioned.

"Carla is her partner," Karen explained. "You'll both like her. Now, why don't you two get dressed and I'll buy your breakfast."

"Thanks, Mom," Todd said.

"Yeah, thanks, Mom," Nick said with a smile.

"Get yourselves in there and get ready, and no hanky-panky," Karen teased.

Karen made good on her word and continued helping Todd and Nick with their educational expenses. "She's finally become the mother to you that she should have been," Alice told Todd.

Nick and Todd earned their bachelor's degrees and were accepted into the College of Optometry. Their graduation was a big event for the families. Jim and Alice Bushyhead arrived at Todd and Nick's apartment before they were awake. Todd would have been angry had it not been his grandparents. Nick's parents arrived at the restaurant to join them for lunch. Marsha, Carla, and Karen would also be joining them at the restaurant. Todd knew his father wouldn't be joining them for lunch, and it was doubted that he would even attend the graduation ceremony.

Marsha and Karen arrived at the restaurant along with a nice looking woman that Nick didn't recognize. "This is my partner Carla," Marsha said, as she introduced Carla to everyone.

"It's good to finally get to meet you," Nick said.

"It's good to meet you and Todd too," Carla said. "Marsha tells me that you two have been accepted into the College of Optometry. She's very proud of you."

"How long have you been with Marsha's law firm?" Nick's father asked of Carla.

"She's a pediatrician," Marsha explained with a laugh. "Yeah, big brother, she's my domestic partner not my business partner."

There was an awkward silence before Nick's dad said, "I hope God can forgive you and you don't burn in hell."

"Dad, who are you to judge her?" Nick asked. "You may as well know that Todd and I are partners. And Aunt Marsha is one of the kindest and most generous persons that I know."

"I'm proud of my son," Karen added. "I don't care who he loves. I do know that he and Nick are both wonderful young men. I hope you can love your son as much as I love them. Now, let's go watch our sons graduate."

The relationship between Nick and his dad was strained following the graduation, but they remained civil toward each other. On the other hand, Todd and his mother became very close and she visited him and Nick often.

Todd and Nick were entering their fourth year of optometry and looking forward to graduating. "We've lived in the same apartment since we were freshmen, we'll have to find a place in Tulsa when we open our practice there," Todd said.

"You two are roommates?" Mitch Wilson, a fellow classmate, asked Todd and Nick.

"We're more than roommates, we're lovers," Nick replied.

Mitch laughed and then suddenly realized that Nick was serious. "No shit?"

"No shit," Todd said, as he kissed Nick on the cheek.

"Wow, a gay couple in our class, how cool!" Mitch exclaimed.

Todd and Nick laughed and decided that they liked Mitch.

Optometry had been much more challenging than Todd and Nick expected. However, with the financial help from Karen and Marsha they were able to work fewer hours at the casino, thus allowing more time to study.

Nick and Todd both had the weekend off and were looking forward to a quiet weekend. "We'll catch up on our studies and cuddling," Nick joked. "There's nothing better than a rainy weekend for cuddling." They had just gotten to bed and Nick wrapped his arms around Todd when the phone rang. "Okay, I'll be right there," Nick said, after he'd answered the phone. "No, I don't mind, and don't apologize."

"Are they wanting one of us to work tonight," Todd questioned?

"No, Mitch's car won't start and he needs a ride to work," Nick explained.

"I'll get dressed and go with you," Todd offered.

"No need in both of us getting soaked in this rain," Nick said.

"Just be careful and hurry back," Todd said. "This bed is too big for just one."

Todd closed his eyes thinking of how much he loved Nick as he drifted off to sleep. The phone woke him; it was then that he realized that Nick had been gone for more than an hour.

"Todd, I thought one of you would be here by now to take me to work," Mitch said.

"Mitch, Nick left over an hour ago," Todd said in panic. "He should have been there and back home by now. Shit, his cell phone is here on the night stand. I'm getting dressed and going to look for him."

"Come by here," Mitch ordered. "I'm going with you."

Todd was thankful that Marsha had given Nick a car; otherwise he would have had to find someone to drive him. When he arrived at Mitch's apartment he was relieved to see Nick's car.

"No, he never arrived," Mitch said, when Todd explained that Nick's car was parked outside. "He has to be somewhere nearby."

"Maybe he just fell asleep," Mitch suggested, as he went with Todd to search for Nick. "Shit, look at this," he said, as he pointed out the words 'fag' spray painted on the side of Nick's car.

"Call the police," Todd shrieked. The police arrived in less than 3 minutes, but to Todd it seemed like hours.

"What relationship is he to you?" The elder of the two police officers smirked.

"He's my boyfriend," Todd said with authority. "Now, why in the hell don't you get busy and find him, Officer Kelly," Todd said, as he read the officer's name tag.

"We'll find him," the younger officer stated. "Could you tell me what he was wearing?"

"Thank you, Officer Wagner," Todd said. "He was wearing Levis and a black pullover shirt."

"Jake, come over here," Officer Kelly called to Officer Wagner.

Todd ran toward the dumpster when he saw Officer Kelly and Officer Wagner looking into the dumpster.

"Don't look," Jake Wagner said, as he put his arms around Todd.

"He's in there, isn't he?" Todd cried.

"Yes, and he's in bad shape, but he's still breathing," Jake said with kindness. "Officer Kelly is calling for an ambulance."

"Give me your keys, you're in no condition to drive," Mitch said, as the ambulance drove away.

"You can't go back there yet," an ER nurse said to Todd, as they rushed into the ER at Hastings Indian Hospital. "Are you family?"

"He's my boyfriend," Todd sobbed.

"In that case, you can't go back at all since you're not family," the nurse snapped.

"Just try to fucking stop me," Todd replied angrily.

Another nurse trying to defuse the situation, softly said, "The doctor's with him now. Maybe you give us some information?"

Todd gave the clerk Nick's parent's phone number and other information. Mitch handed Todd a cup of coffee and guided him to the waiting room. Shortly the clerk came and asked if there was another phone number they could call since there was no answer at the number that Todd gave them.

Todd wrote down Marsha's phone number and said, "This is his aunt's number, she may have their cell phone number."

"Hi, I'm Doctor Chavez," the doctor said, as he extended his hand. "Your boyfriend is in very critical condition right now. He has some facial bone fractures and some bleeding in the abdominal cavity. They're taking him to surgery soon. Look, I know he's your boyfriend; but I'm really not supposed to be telling you any of this."

"Thank you, Doctor Chavez," Todd said. "I appreciate your kindness."

"He's in surgery," Todd said, as Marsha, Carla and Karen entered the ER waiting room. "It doesn't look good. Did you locate his mom and dad?"

"They're on their way," Marsha explained, as she took Todd into her arms. "They'd gone to a movie and had their phone turned off." Marsha took Todd into her arms and tears flowed down both their cheeks.

Nick's parents arrived just as the surgeon came to give them the news. "I'm so sorry, but he didn't make it," he said. "The injuries were just too severe."

Todd didn't recall much of what occurred the next few days. He vaguely remembered his mother and Marsha taking him home and getting him into bed. He was surprised when Nick's parents asked him if he had any preference for the funeral arrangements. The professors and most of the students from the optometry college attended the funeral.

"I can't go back to school," Todd told his grandparents, Karen, and Marsha after the funeral. "He won't be there and it will be too painful."

Marsha put her arm around Todd and asked, "If the situation were reversed, would you want him to continue?"

"Of course I would," Todd said. "But now that it's happened, it's different."

"You've come this far and he would be so proud of you," Alice said.

"I just don't know how I can continue alone," Todd said. "We've always been together."

"One day you'll meet someone else," Alice said. "But Nick will always be in your heart."

"Nick will always be in my heart, Grandma," Todd said, as tears flowed freely. "There will never be room for another."

"Todd, there's always room for love in your heart," Alice said.

Todd did receive his doctorate in optometry, and was now Todd Hawkins, O.D. As he packed in preparation for his move to Tulsa to start his practice in optometry, he shed a few tears thinking of his happiness with Nick there. He missed Nick dearly, but knew his family was correct; Nick would want him to get on with his life. 'Easy for them to say,' he thought.

Todd was thankful that he had his practice to fill his days. However, the nights and weekends were very lonely for him. He thought of Nick often. Yes, the pain was still there, it just wasn't as sharp as it had been. Karen, Marsha, and Carla were encouraging him to start dating.

"I'm not ready to date," he argued. "I don't think I'll ever be ready."

"Todd, remember when I asked you what you would want Nick to do if the situation were reversed?" Marsha questioned.

"I remember, but this is different," Todd countered.

"You wouldn't want him to love again?" Marsha inquired.

"I don't want to talk about it," Todd said.

Todd began to have strange dreams. These dreams disturbed him immensely. Each night it was the same; there was a war. He saw a gentle handsome young man who witnessed the cruelty of the war. Each night he saw the same handsome face with a smile that faded into anguish.

"The spirits are telling you something," Alice explained when Todd questioned his grandmother about his dreams.

"But what are they telling me?" Todd wanted to know.

"When the time comes, you'll know," Alice said.

Each night the same dream came. Todd was beginning to think he was losing his mind. He planned to ask Carla if she could recommend a psychiatrist. Then suddenly the dreams disappeared. Todd woke and realized that he hadn't had that dream during the night.

It was a busy day in the office and Todd was looking forward to having the weekend off. This was the first time in weeks that he looked forward to the weekend. He decided to go out to a movie and dinner after work.

'Finally, the last patient,' Todd thought as he entered the exam room. "Hello, I'm Dr. Hawkins," Todd introduced himself to his patient.

"I guess from my chart you already know that I'm Wade Wilson," Wade said.

Todd nearly lost his composure when he saw Wade's face. It was the face in his dreams.

"I'm sorry to stare, but I thought you looked like someone I know," Todd apologized.

"You look familiar to me too," Wade replied.

"You have just a little astigmatism," Todd explained to Wade. "I'll write you a prescription for some glasses; you may want them for reading. Maybe we should check your eyes again in six months." Todd didn't know why he suggested six months when normally he would have suggested one year.

"Thank you, Doctor Hawkins, I read a lot and I'll do that," Wade replied.

"Forget the doctor part, just call me Todd," Todd said. He then wondered why he said that. Although he wasn't hung up on being called doctor, he'd never given a patient permission to address him by his first name before.

"Have a good weekend, Beth," Todd said to his receptionist, as he left his office.

Before Todd could start his truck, he noticed a car with the hood up.

"Having car trouble?" Todd asked. He then saw that the man under the hood was Wade. "Do you need any help?"

"Thanks, Todd, I think it's a dead battery," Wade said. "Maybe, if you don't mind, you could drive me to buy another one. I already have this one removed. Just my day too, even my cell phone battery is dead."

"Do you need to use my cell phone to call your wife and let her know you'll be late? Todd asked.

"No, I'm single," Wade said. "I hope I'm not making you late to get home to your wife."

"No, I'm also single," Todd said with a bit of sadness, as he thought of Nick. "I was just going to dinner and then maybe a movie. Hey you're welcome to join me." Todd was surprised at himself for offering the invitation.

"Thanks for the invitation, Todd," Wade said. "But I'm dirty from changing this battery."

"We would have time for you to go home to change," Todd suggested.

"You know what? I'll take you up on that offer," Wade said. "It's been a long time since I've been out."

"Why don't I follow you home and we can make sure your car is running okay," Todd recommended.

"That sounds good. I live in the Brookside area, so it isn't far," Wade said.

"Would you like something to drink," Wade asked, as they entered his apartment?

"Water is fine," Todd stated.

"Make yourself comfortable while I shower," Wade said, as he handed Todd a bottle of water.

Todd found a Sports Illustrated and was thumbing through it when Wade came out of the bathroom wearing only his boxers. As Todd glanced up, he was amazed at how handsome Wade was. He had a well defined body with perfect proportions. He did have a large scar on his left thigh.

"Maybe we should go to dinner before the movie since we've missed the early movie," Todd said. "Why don't we go to one of the restaurants down on Brookside?"

"Sounds great to me," Wade smiled. "It's a gorgeous evening, why don't we just walk. It's just a short distance."

"That sounds like a great idea to me," Todd agreed. "Why don't we go to one with outdoor seating? I just need to stop by my truck and put on my walking shoes. I always keep a pair handy and usually walk after work."

"Great idea," Wade said, "But I'm buying. I owe you for rescuing me and my car."

"You haven't seen my bill for your eye examination, have you?" Todd joked.

"Oh, your receptionist wasn't about to let me out of there without paying first," Wade laughed.

"Good, then I can afford to buy," Todd smiled.

Todd was enjoying himself for the first time since Nick's death. 'I wish he was gay,' he thought, 'at least he's great company.' He was beginning to wish they hadn't planned on a movie. Just having male companionship was enough.

The dinner was delicious and the company was even better. Todd learned that Wade had only recently moved to Tulsa after being discharged from the army following a tour of duty in Iraq. The scar was from an injury in Iraq. He was a high school science teacher and was planning on buying a house. He just wanted to take his time to find the right place.

"Hey, why don't we skip the movie?" Wade asked. "It's too nice of an evening to be inside.

"I was just thinking the same thing," Todd smiled.

"So, how long have you been single," Wade inquired, as they were walking?

"Just over six months," Todd replied with sadness.

"Oh, I'm sorry to get that personal," Wade said. "I hope it wasn't a bitter separation."

"He was murdered," Todd explained.

Wade suddenly had a surprised look on his face and asked, "He?"

"Yes, he was killed in a gay bashing." Todd said. "If you're uncomfortable hanging out with a gay man, I'll just say goodbye."

"Hell no, I've enjoyed your company," Wade replied. "I, too, am gay. My partner was in the army and killed in Iraq. He was scheduled to return in just five days when he was killed. I was injured in the same ambush."

"I'm so sorry for your loss. But I had no idea you were gay too," Todd said.

"Hey, do you want to go to one of the bars for a drink?" Wade asked, changing the subject that was still painful for both of them.

"Those bars are so loud it's impossible to carry on a conversation, and this is nice, just chatting," Todd said.

"Then how about we go to my place for a drink out on my patio," Wade suggested.

They chatted for hours. Todd told about Nick and how he had been his first and only lover. He told about his parents and how they were divorced. They both laughed when Todd told about his grandmother.

Wade told about his partner, and that he was also his first and only lover. His parents were still together and lived in Tahlequah where he grew up; his father a pharmacist and his mother an elementary school teacher. Like Todd, he too wasn't close with his father, who wasn't accepting of his homosexuality.

"Wow, look at the time," Todd said. "It's after one and I should be getting home."

"Maybe you should just stay here tonight," Wade said. "I wouldn't want you to get a ticket for drunk driving."

Todd wasn't sure if Wade was hitting on him or not. His only experience had been with Nick and this was all new to him. He was very attracted to Wade and had even wondered what it would be like to sleep with him. 'If I accept his invitation will he think I'm a slut?' Todd thought. He then blushed when thinking about being with Wade.

Wade saw that Todd was embarrassed at his suggestion and said, "Look, Todd, I'm not hitting on you. You can have my bed and I'll sleep on the couch."

"I wouldn't think of taking your bed," Todd said. "The couch would be just fine."

Wade retrieved a pillow and some blankets for the couch and asked, "Why don't you reconsider and take the bed? Actually, my bed's a big bed and we could share it. I promise to stay on my side of the bed, unless you invited me to your side."

Todd laughed nervously and then kissed Wade gently on the lips. Wade responded to the kiss and pulled Todd into his arms. He then kissed Todd with passion. "You're absolutely gorgeous."

"You're also very handsome," Todd whispered in Wade's ear.

"Now, I guess you think I'm a slut," Wade said to Todd, as he took him into his arms.

"I think you're a handsome and wonderful man," Todd answered. "Alice Bushyhead was right again."

"Huh?" Wade questioned.

"Something my grandma said," Todd explained. He then explained to Wade that after Nick's death his grandma had said he would meet someone. "When I walked in the exam room and saw you, it wasn't the first time that I'd seen you."

"No, I don't think we've ever met before," Wade said. "I would remember a handsome man like you."

Todd then told Wade about his dreams and that it was his face he saw. A handsome face from an earlier time, and that he saw a violent death.

"Oh, my God," Wade exclaimed. "For some time now I've been having flashbacks about a violent death during the Civil War."

"That's it," Todd said. "The face I saw was during the Civil War. I'm not sure what this means, but this part feels good to me."

"To me also," Wade added. "Apparently, there is something here that I'll never understand. But it feels good to me."

"I'm really attracted to you, but it's probably too early to say the 'L' word," Wade whispered in Todd's ear.

"It probably is, but I think that love may be in our future," Todd said.

"Maybe it is, and I think you're right that love could be in our future," Wade concurred.

"When the time comes, you'll know," Todd repeated what his grandmother had said.

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