It had been a week since Spencer had visited his son’s grave and he couldn’t help the depression that settled around him. He and Maeve were tip-toeing around each other only talking when necessary and only in short sentences. It was like they were each made of glass and the smallest thing had the potential to shatter either one of them. He hadn’t tried to use the amulet again in that time and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to. It wasn’t until he sat down in his workroom with Aaron’s pictures on one of his mounted light boxes that he thought of their date. He thought about how free he had felt that night and staring at one of the photos he decided.
Grabbing some of the pictures he put them in a protective sleeve then he went to his bedroom, grabbed the amulet and put it around his neck letting it hang down. He didn’t want to go to sleep yet, so he moved into the library and took several books off the shelf to settle in to read. For some reason it amused him to start with The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Tucking his legs up under him he curled up in one of the chairs and started to relax. When he felt himself being lulled into sleep, he curled his fingers around the amulet and kept the image of his Uncle’s apartment firmly in mind. Slowly he fell asleep in the chair with the book and photos both in hand.
Spencer woke with a start. The dream had been about James. Sitting up he looked around and saw that he was indeed in his Uncle’s apartment. Luckily this time he was dressed properly, and he looked down to see that the pictures, and funny enough the book both came back with him. Standing up he looked out the small window in the room and saw that it was barely early afternoon. Pulling out his wallet he checked to see if he still had some of the money his Uncle had given him and was pleased to see it still there. Smiling he walked out of the room and called out so that Rob wouldn’t be startled. Getting no answer, he assumed that his Uncle was out. When he walked to the front of the apartment, he noticed an envelope addressed to him and upon opening it he found a note and a key.
I’m not sure if you’re foolish enough to come back in time again but if you are here is a key to my place. That way at least I know you are safe and can come and go as you please. I left you a little money, not sure if you are going to need it but I don’t want you wondering the streets without.
If you are going to go see him, please, Spencer be careful. I don’t want to see you hurt over a crush. I think older me would be pissed off if I let you get hurt in any way, don’t make me upset. I told Stella about you; she wants to meet you. If you do come back and I’m out leave me a sign that you are here. We’ll work out some kind of system if it becomes a habit. If you are as stubborn as your mother, then I think it will.
Spencer smiled at the note and his Uncle’s concern. Taking the money and pocketing it he vowed to figure out how to pay his Uncle back. He took the key and added it to his keyring, left a note for his Uncle then he was ready to go.
Locking the door behind him Spencer decided to go back to the studios and see if Aaron was working and if not, he hoped to try to get an address. It didn’t take long for him to find the studios and he went inside to find out if Aaron was working.
“I’m sorry today is his day off. But, you’re Spencer, right?”
“He left this note for you.” The attendant handed Spencer an envelope. Opening it up all that was inside was an address. He tried to pull up in his head the map he had memorized but couldn’t quite place the streets.
“Can you tell me how to get there?” The attendant quickly made a map for him and gave him directions. “Thank you.” Spencer pulled out a couple of ones and handed them over as a tip. The attendant just smiled and thanked him.
Thanks to the map and directions Spencer found the apartment easily. He was nervous as he knocked on the door and stood there waiting for a few minutes trying not to appear as nervous as he felt. When the door finally opened, he was rewarded with that smile that had so captivated him just over a week earlier.
“Well, I wondered if I was going to see you again.” Something settled in Spencer, he didn’t want to look too deep, but it was if hearing Aaron’s voice he had found home again.
“I’m sorry some things came up and I couldn’t get back down here until now.” Spencer bit his lip as he lifted a brow and watched Aaron a moment. He was startled when he was pulled into the apartment and backed up against the wall and thoroughly kissed.
“I missed you,” Spencer closed his eyes and sighed as Aaron pressed his body in close then kissed him. “I was hoping you’d call or come here. I have to say I’m glad you decided to come here first.” Aaron pulled back and gently stroked Spencer’s cheek, “Tell me what put that sad look in your eyes?”
Spencer didn’t want to talk about James with Aaron yet. He wanted to get to know the man more, to understand what was, or what could be happening between them.
“Soon I’ll tell you.” Spencer didn’t want to talk, he wanted Aaron’s lips on his again. Fisting his hands in Aaron’s shirt he pulled him closer and returned the kiss. Closing his eyes, he let himself feel the heat of the other man surround him as arms came around and pulled him close. After a few minutes Aaron finally stepped back leaving Spencer breathless.
“I think maybe we should get to know each other a little more before anything else happens, don’t you?” Aaron grabbed Spencer’s hand and pulled him towards an old battered but surprisingly comfortable couch. “Tell me more about yourself.” Aaron asked him as they settled down together.
“What do you want to know?”
“Everything,” Aaron looked at him in a way that Maeve never had. Like he wanted to devour Spencer and it sent little shivers of lust through him. He knew that Aaron was right though, they should learn more about each other before anything progressed. He wondered, though, just how much he should tell him. He didn’t want to talk about his marriage or James just yet, so he told Aaron an edited version of his life.
“Well, I grew-up in Las Vegas. My Mom was a professor of 14th century literature and my father,” Spencer looked down at his hand that was curled into Aaron’s and smiled to himself at how nice it felt. “My father was a lawyer. My Mom was sick for most of my life. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia long before I was born.”
“I’m sorry Spencer that must have been very difficult for you.” Spencer felt Aaron’s arm come around him and pull him in close.
“It was but my Mom, on her good days she was awesome. On her bad days she would lie in bed and read to me. My Dad had a harder time understanding her and he left us when I was ten.”
Spencer felt that arm hold him closer as he continued. “I was pushed through school and graduated High School at 12, then CalTech. I have three doctorates, but I wasn’t’ sure I liked where my life was heading. The FBI was heavily trying to recruit me, but I wanted time to think about it. Pasadena Art Center was having a class in Photography. I was always playing around with my Uncle’s cameras and taking pictures as a kid. In fact, he calls me Shutterbug.” He felt Aaron chuckle beside him, and it made him smile shyly. “Anyway, I forgot how much I missed it. I had it so firmly in mind that I was going to do something in Math or Science, but I don’t know, taking pictures, making people smile with my art it made me feel good about myself. I was no longer the awkward genius. I decided after that class to enroll in the Art Center as a full-time student.”
“Did you find everything you were looking for Dr. Reid?” Aaron laughed when Spencer pushed off and gaped at him. “What? You said you received doctorates from CalTech. Impressive by the way.”
“Oh, it’s just I never really use it much. My friends say I should that it would open more doors, but I just think it would make me look like some kind of arrogant smart ass.”
“Never be ashamed of what you’ve accomplished Spencer, and so young to do it too. That’s impressive and I know it couldn’t have been easy. Where’s your Mom now?”
Spencer curled up in the corner of the couch and played with a frayed piece on the back. It was several long moments before he spoke again.
“I had her committed to Bennington Sanitarium. It was the hardest thing I had to do. She hated me for weeks, wouldn’t talk to me, and one of the nurses said she tried to tear up the letters I had sent. I felt, and sometimes still do, so guilty but I just couldn’t help her anymore.”
“It sounds like you did the best you could Spencer. Sometimes that’s all we can do.” Aaron laid a gentle hand on his knee and smiled. Spencer was grateful for the unspoken support. Maeve hadn’t completely understood. She wanted to bring his Mom into their house to help take care of her, she didn’t understand that Diana needed more help than Spencer could ever give her.
“Tell me about yourself.” Spencer smiled at Aaron as he laced his fingers with the hand that was still on his knee.
“I grew-up in Virginia. My parents both came from money and my father was a lawyer also.” Spencer chuckled at how they had that in common. “They were…” Aaron looked towards the window and frowned a little. “They cared more about appearances. I wasn’t the perfect son my Dad wanted. I wasn’t into sports, I liked books and collecting coins. When my brother came along my parents were determined to mold him like they wanted.” A deep frown appeared on Aaron’s face and Spencer felt for him. He knew all too well what it was like to try to live up to someone else’s wants.
“What are you doing here? Why aren’t you in Virginia?”
“I needed to get out, get away from my family. I came into my trust fund when I emancipated myself at seventeen. I’m here to finish law school as far from them as I can get. How about you? What brought you to New York?”
“My Uncle. He’s letting me stay with him while I work on my new portfolio.” Spencer tried to keep it as close to the truth as possible. He didn’t think that Aaron would believe him, who would to be honest. Time travel is the stuff of science fiction. He’s a scientist and he still hadn’t taken the time to figure out the amulet. Of course, maybe there was nothing to figure out, maybe he just needed to let things happen and he’d take it one step at a time.
“Hey, what’s going on in that head of yours?” Aaron tugged on his hand to get his attention.
“Sorry, I sometimes get lost in my head.”
“Would you like some coffee?”
“Oh god yes.”
“I’ll go start a pot.” Aaron got up from the couch leaving Spencer to his own devices. He got up and started to peek at what little it was that Aaron had. When he got to the bookshelves, he saw that they were full of spy novels and mysteries. He didn’t even startle when arms came around him and held him close. “Find something interesting?”
“I was just looking through your books. Spy novels and mysteries?”
“I’m a sucker for spy novels,” Aaron whispered in his ear. Spencer turned in his arms and cupped the back of his neck pulling him in closer he kissed Aaron. Spencer darted his tongue out and teased open Aaron’s mouth. They stood like that holding each other trading kisses as their fingers twined in each other’s hair.
Aaron was the first to break the kiss, “I ah, should get us that coffee.”
Spencer smiled as he moved to the couch and sat back down. Aaron brought him coffee and they sat there for a while drinking coffee and talking.
“I haven’t had dinner would you like to join me?” Spencer thought about it a moment.
“Yes, I’d love to.”
“There’s a new restaurant just down the street. It’s an Indian place. I’m game if you are.” Spencer’s smiled widened. He loved Indian food, but he couldn’t quite tell that to Aaron. The popularity of the cuisine hadn’t quite hit yet. It would be at least another fifteen years before that happened.
“Sure, why not.” They walked side by side softly talking. Spencer telling Aaron about growing-up in Las Vegas and how he was banned in most, but not all casinos. He admitted that his IQ was 187 and that he read at 20,000 words a minute. Aaron talked about how he was advanced two grades in grade school and that he graduated High School just shy of seventeen, just before his emancipation. Spencer wondered what it was that made Aaron seek emancipation. There were very few scenarios that went through his head about it and the one that he suspected broke his heart a little. He wouldn’t ask Aaron; he would wait until the model was ready to tell him.
Spencer reached out his hand and curled his fingers around Aaron’s. The man stiffened beside him and gave him a little shake of his head. Spencer sighed and let go of Aaron’s hand, but it hurt. He was so used to seeing gay couples in his own time that he didn’t think anything of it.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here? A couple of faggots?” A voice growled from behind them.
Aaron’s eyes narrowed as he pulled himself up to his full height, crossing his arms across his chest he looked at the man behind him.
“You have something to say to us?” Spencer looked at his companion and he could have sworn the look on his face could intimidate the worst bullies he ever came across. The man following flinched at that look and held his hands in the air.
“Nah man, it’s cool. I’ll just walk over this way, okay?” The would-be perpetrator quickly crossed the street and started walking in the opposite direction.
“Aaron, promise me you’ll be careful”
“I am Spencer. I learned how to take care of myself a long-time ago.” There was a lot unspoken in those words, but Spencer would wait to question him about it later.
Soon they were walking-up to the restaurant and Aaron held the door open for Spencer. Shaking his head at the gesture Spencer walked inside and was immediately assaulted with the familiar smells of curry and spices. The host came up and walked them to a table near a window which they both loved. It wasn’t long before a waiter showed up at their table.
“Is this your first time at Noor?” Spencer noted the pleasant smile and relaxed demeanor of their server and smiled back at him.
“Yes, it is. We both felt like being a bit adventurous tonight,” Aaron smiled back.
“Well then if you will trust me, I will make sure you’re first time is just right.”
“Sure, why not.” Spencer was feeling just as playful as Aaron and letting their waiter choose their meal was just another adventure. Soon, Mahinder as he introduced himself brought them cool mango lassi’s. Spencer was delighted as it was one of his favorite drinks.
“Here to start you off we have a vegetable pakora. There are vegetables battered in a chick pea flour then deep fried in ghee or clarified butter. The sauce on the left is a mint and coriander sauce, the other is a spicy chutney. The second dish is grilled kefir cheese marinated in olive oil and spices. Please enjoy.” Spencer couldn’t help being lulled by the deep sing-song accent of their waiter.
“Here,” Aaron held out his fork that had a piece of cheese speared on it. Spencer just quirked up a brow until Aaron had jiggled the fork a little indicating he wanted Spencer to take a bite. Chuckling Spencer took the proffered morsel and hummed as the explosion of spices, oil and cheese assaulted his taste buds.
“Wow, that’s amazing.” Spencer said when he could finally talk. They ate and talked, Aaron every-so-often fed either a piece of cheese or one of the deep-fried vegetables to Spencer. He had no idea that having a meal could be so much fun.
When they were finished Mahinder was there cleaning up plates and serving them a strong, hot tea. He said it was to clear the palette so they could enjoy the rest of the meal. Spencer couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face as the waiter suggested for a main course a sampler of their best dishes. Lamb Vindaloo, a spicy lamb simmered in a tomato-based broth heavily spiced with chilies, Chicken Tandoori, chicken marinated in yogurt and spices overnight then cooked in a deep clay oven, a vegetable masala, another tomato based broth but with yogurt and heavy cream with milder spices. All served with biryani rice. Long grained rice with minced lamb and vegetables with coriander leaves and mint. The last part was the grilled naan, unleavened bread that was soft and flexible. The waiter showed them how to tear pieces of the bread and use them in place of their forks to pick up the different meats.
The dinner was fun and both men were more relaxed than either thought they would be.
“Aaron, why do you live where you do and with all the second-hand furniture? I mean if you have a trust fund,” Spencer bit his lip stopping himself from saying anymore.
“It’s okay. I was wondering if you were going to ask. I’m using the trust fund for school only. I’ve set aside a good chunk to help get me get started after law school. That’s why I’m doing the modeling. I’m using it for everyday expenses. I’m in my second year of law school but if I double up next year I can graduate early.”
“Did you start college late?”
“I did. At first, I just wanted to go straight through, but a friend talked me into taking a backpacking trip through Europe. We spent two years there and it was amazing. When I came back to the US, I didn’t quite want it to end so I took another year and traveled the US. I started going to a two-year and worked part-time, transferred and obtained my psychology degree then switched to law. It took me a while but I’m more focused now. I know what I want.” Spencer didn’t miss the heated look that Aaron was giving him.
“Oh, well at least you seem more focused,” Spencer swallowed hard at the look Aaron was giving him.
“Yes, I am. I figured out I want to go into family law. There are so many kids that need help, I just want to try to make a bit of difference. I’m not an idealist I know I’m only one person. I am a realist, but I believe that I can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Spencer smiled and reached across the table and grabbed Aaron’s hand. “I believe in you.”
“Why? We barely know each other.” Aaron smiled back but pulled his hand back and looked around the restaurant to see if anyone was watching.
“You’re passionate, caring and I can tell something drives you.” Spencer kept smiling but what he really wanted was to hold Aaron’s hand.
“And you Spencer? What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. I’m thinking of changing direction a little. I still want to take pictures, but I just don’t know in what way anymore. I’m not into fashion. I thought about trying freelance journalism for a while, see where it takes me.”
“I think you could do it,” Aaron said as Spencer felt him reach under the table for his hand. The two men broke apart when their waiter came back and delivered a plate of what looked like fried dough.
“This is called Gulab Jamun. It is a dough made with flour and a hardened milk called khoya. We then roll them into balls deep fry then soak in a saffron infused sugar syrup. Please, I hope you enjoy.” Mahinder left another pot of tea, this one was kind of sweet and had a hint of rose flavor to it. When they were done Aaron insisted on paying as he was the one that asked Spencer out. Once they were back outside Aaron turned to him to ask his opinion on dinner.
“Oh, I thought it was fantastic. And Mahinder was great. We should keep that in mind… “ Spencer stopped himself. He wasn’t sure where this was going at all or if he should be making long term plans.
“Come back with me.” Spencer watched Aaron’s face and saw such longing in his eyes that Spencer just couldn’t resist.
“Okay.” He wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into and he wasn’t sure how far he wanted to take this, but he knew he didn’t want the evening to end. They got to Aaron’s apartment quickly and Spencer found himself once again pressed up against the wall and lips locked with his. Fisting his hand in Aaron’s hair he moaned in the back of his throat as the kisses heated up. Aaron pulled back and Spencer almost whined in protest.
“I meant what I said earlier. I think we should wait for sex but,” Spencer was charmed by the sudden shyness of the man in his arms. “Will you stay the night? I find I don’t want to let you go yet. We can have breakfast, then I have classes until 5. After that I’m at the studio until ten.”
Spencer furrowed his brow as he contemplated Aaron’s request. He didn’t really want to leave either. He knew he was taking a long time to answer but there was a lot to consider and this was not something to be taken lightly.
“I’m sorry, I guess that was too forward…“ Spencer answered him with a kiss. He curled his fingers around Aaron’s hips and pulled him in close.
“Yes, I’ll stay.”
Soon the men were shedding clothes down to their boxers and crawling in bed. Spencer was careful to take off the amulet. He didn’t want to leave suddenly, and Aaron become upset over it if he couldn’t come back right away. Aaron spooned in behind Spencer and wrapped his arm around Spencer’s waist.
Spencer relished in the touch. His breath hitched and he tried to hold in his emotions, but it was almost too much. Leaning into Aaron’s arms he wept. When he felt Aaron caressing his side he hadn’t realized just how much he missed someone touching him.
“Hey, what’s wrong Spencer?” Aaron moved his hand up to Spencer’s chest and pulled him in even tighter against him.
“It’s just,” He took a deep breath to help him calm down. “No one has touched me like this or held me in a long time.”
“Then I’ll just hold you close, and you can fall asleep in my arms.” Spencer snuggled back into Aaron and slowly fell asleep to the soft caresses and murmured words in his ear.