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Brown Is Never The New Black ( Book Two)



Aled stood in front of the wardrobe and huffed. He had bet himself that this would happen; or not, and lo and behold he had been proven right; or wrong. There was only one thing to do about it and that was to get rid of all of it.

Brown was not a colour. Well it was, but it was the colour of things better left in the toilet and flushed. Charlie seemed to have an over abundance of the brown in his life and that was all going to change today.

It was his three days off and he had been plotting, err, planning this for the last month. With his partner safely tucked away in the surgery he had the flat to himself and he was not wasting any time.

The delivery should be there before his partner got home and that was all that mattered. Once Charlie was introduced to other colours, blue and pink, green and purple, turquoise and yellow he would fall in love anyway.

So out with the brown pooey colour and in with the whole new Charlie. But first he needed sustenance. He needed one of those bacon butties of Adam’s and he went out the door and down to the café for just that purpose.

Chloe smiled at him and handed him his coffee and went to tell Adam that Aled was there and ready for his buttie.

Adam assembled the sandwich and carried it out to Aled. ‘Here you go. What are you plotting, err, planning for your days off?’

‘Thanks. I am about to change Charlie’s whole brown outlook on life. He is going to be a vision in colour. Beautiful vibrant colours. I am dragging him out of the toilet and showing him that there is sunshine and goodness in the world. Why do you ask?’ Aled took a bite and moaned as his eyes rolled up in the back of his head. ‘This is so damn good.’

‘You had the look. I’m sure Charlie will look a vision in purple.’ Adam grinned and returned to his kitchen. ‘Or maybe yellow,’ was his parting shot.

‘Both.’ Aled said and looked at his buttie. ‘You are a vision and I am going to make you all gone.’ He finished his buttie and after wadding his napkin up got up to leave.

Aled whistled as he went back home and soon towers of boxes surrounded him. Boxes that contained all the brown clothes one man, or maybe several could hope to own. He felt like he should put a note on them apologizing for all the brown but charity could not always be picky. Today was one of those days.

He got out polish and cleaned the drawers, the wardrobe bottom and even the hangers that the clothes had hung on. It looked forlorn and Aled stuck out his bottom lip in sympathy and then he snorted. ‘Good riddance.’

He loaded the boxes into the van he had borrowed from Joe and drove to Bristol where he managed to luck out and get a parking spot in front of Oxfam.

Soon, he and one of the helpers were unloading the boxes, Aled humming the whole time.

He went and had lunch and was on his way home by mid afternoon. The delivery truck should be there soon.
                                                         
Inside he picked the mail up from the floor and shuffled through it, stopping to look at one from the men’s catalogue he had ordered from. He ripped the envelope open and as he read was more and more upset.

‘Bugger.’ He tossed the mail down and trotted over to his brother’s. Aled didn’t bother to knock he just walked in and went searching for Jack. ‘Boo.’

‘Boo who?’ Jack said, his tone a little ironic. He took off his headset and turned to look at his brother. ‘Problem, little brother?’

‘Yep. I gave all of Charlie’s clothes to charity. Every last brown thing in our flat. All of it. Nothing left. Zip, zilch. There was this delivery for today. They are not coming for another week. The guys, there are two of them, who come this way are both out. The next delivery is in two weeks.’

‘Oh.’ Jack’s eyebrow was very expressive, but the rest of his face looked calm. ‘So ... I guess you’re in trouble. Did you come to me for support, or clothes?’ Jack led them into the kitchen and turned on the coffee pot. ‘Have you got time to go shopping? I assume Charlie has nothing but the clothes he is currently stood up or sat down in?’

Aled was distracted watching Jack’s eyebrow and wondered just how old he was when that whole thing started. Aled himself couldn’t remember a time when Jack couldn’t do it so maybe in the womb was the answer. Which conjured up a picture of a newborn baby with one eyebrow raised. He snorted. 

Why would I be in trouble? Would I be in trouble? Dammit. Anyway no time to shop, so support would be my second option.’

‘Why would you need support if you’re not in trouble?’ Jack asked as he handed Aled a coffee.

‘Well.’ Aled thought a minute. ‘Because. Why does everything always come down to being in trouble with you? It must really suck living with you, Jack.’

Aled sighed.  ‘Okay, so I’m going to be in trouble because he doesn’t have anything to wear. Not a stitch. So support would be nice. Or at the least a pep talk.’

‘Told you. You’re in trouble,’ Jack said smugly. ‘I can do supportive; but that isn’t going to save your rear end when Charlie finds out you recycled his entire wardrobe. I suggest coming clean, preferably before he opens his wardrobe.’

‘You would.’ Aled said. ‘Sometimes it really is a drag having a Top for a brother.’ Aled went to the fridge and pulled out a ginger ale. ‘Tell Chris thanks and if I were you I’d think about cleaning house.’

Aled saluted and snickered. ‘Gotta run.’

Jack sighed and poured himself another coffee. ‘Brat,’ he muttered under his breath.

             
 Charlie wrote his final prescription of the day, turned off his computer and locked up after his last patient. He bounded up the stairs two at a time, unfastening his tie as he went. Inside the flat he dropped his jacket on the back of the chair, followed by his tie. ‘Aled?’ he called.

Aled meant to go straight back to the flat. He meant to but he got sidetracked by Beatrice and her pussy. She knew he was a fire fighter now and he knew better than to tell her no. By the time he got the cat down he knew he was not going to beat Charlie home.

‘Bugger.’ He handed the cat over and ran the rest of the way home. ‘Charlie?’

Charlie was heading for the bedroom when he heard Aled’s voice. He turned on his heel with a grin. ‘Hi honey.’

‘Hey, oh, hi.’ Aled stuttered. ‘Where ya goin’?’

Charlie’s eyebrow lifted slightly. ‘I was just going to change. Is that a problem?’

‘No, no, of course not. Not at all.’ Aled said. ‘Come clean, my arse.’ He muttered under his breath. ‘I’ll just run out for cake. Cake is good right? Don’t you want cake? I want cake.’ He pointed over his shoulder. ‘I’ll just go get one.’

Charlie looked at Aled in confusion. ‘You have a sudden and desperate need for cake? Okay, you go get it, I’ll get changed. No, I have a better idea. You wait while I get changed, and we’ll walk down to the café together.’

‘Oh. Well, sure, why not.’ Aled knew it was just a matter of time anyway and he didn’t really want cake anyway. ‘Promise we’ll go for cake after?’ He lied, he really did want cake.

‘After?’ Charlie looked suspiciously at Aled. ‘What did you do?’

‘When?’ Aled asked automatically. ‘I mean nothing. No, I mean why?’

‘Never mind. Come into the bedroom while I get changed, sugar plum.’

‘I have to empty the bin first. I meant to do that earlier. Just give me two ticks and I will be there.’ Boy, will I be there, he thought.

Charlie looked at Aled. ‘No, now please.’

Aled sighed and raised his eyes upward. ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He went into the bedroom and sat on the bed.

Charlie followed his brat into the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. He glared at Aled then walked over to the wardrobe. He grabbed a handle in each hand and threw the doors open.

He looked.

He blinked.

He looked again.

‘Aled, can you explain this? Please?’ Charlie said, looking at the empty wardrobe.

‘Well, that is a wardrobe. Usually people put clothing items in them, sometime shoes and possibly jewellery. Oh, and I knew one lady who had a TV in hers.’ Aled said as he scooted back a little ways.

‘Usually people do. In fact, I do. In fact, I did. There were clothing items in here this morning. And now there are not. So where are my clothes, Aled?’

‘Oxfam? Maybe?’

‘Maybe? Whatdyamean, maybe?’

‘Well, I don’t know what they do with stuff. They could take the more brown, um grubby things somewhere else or throw em out.’

‘So, you got rid of everything? Absolutely everything? What am I supposed to wear? And what do you mean more brown? I like brown.’ Charlie scowled.

‘No, you don’t. No one really likes brown. It’s just so…heterosexual. Drab, gloomy, boring. You, you’re gay and vibrant and energetic and spontaneous. You need great colours. Blue, green, yellow, red, purple, pink … happy bright colours.’ Aled stood on the bed. ‘And, Charlie, you will have them. I ordered you a whole new wardrobe. Lots of things, everything! Right down to ties and cuff links. Oh and a watch. A really great watch. You won’t be naked.’

Charlie folded his arms. ‘And these would be invisible multi coloured clothes?’

‘No…Charlie, no. It’s just they didn’t come today. I did the cleanout this morning. The post came and they won’t be here for a few days. We can get something here I’m sure.’ Aled jumped off the bed. ‘Maybe brown even.’

‘Aled, if you were so averse to brown, you could have said something. Or bought me a couple of shirts, maybe a tie. Not throw out all my clothes.’ Charlie strode across the room to the dresser. He pulled open the top drawer and looked at the contents. ‘Where’s the paddle? And you threw out my underwear too?’

‘Charlie you need to calm down for a second okay. I didn’t do this to piss you off. I wanted it to be a surprise for you. I don’t really hate brown, well I do really hate brown but it was your brown and I love you. I wanted to give it a chance but it just didn’t take. It was either the clothes or I’d get naggie and pissie and cranky. So to avoid that I thought I would do something nice and well,’ he sat down and put his head in his hands, ‘it didn’t work, did it? I’m so sorry.’

‘I’m calm. Where’s the paddle?’ Charlie was surprisingly single minded.

‘Oxfam? Maybe?’

Charlie glared. ‘You didn’t.’

‘It was brown.’ Aled’s eyes twinkled.

‘Your backside isn’t going to be.’ Charlie grinned.

‘Red’s a good colour. Very hot and fiery.’ Aled grinned back.

‘I like red. See?’ Charlie waved his converse clad feet. ‘In small doses.’

‘You do.’ Aled agreed. ‘Maybe we should go to Bristol and buy some of that godawful brown you seem so partial to, a bit of blue maybe. Some green and a new paddle? Or maybe something else.’

‘All right.’ Charlie pointed to the door. ‘But I really liked that paddle.’

                
 Shappa was wiping his hands on a bar towel and thinking. He had been mulling things over for a while now and was no closer to an answer than before. Sighing he set the towel down and called to Jesse that he would be out for a bit and went across the road to the café. He walked into the kitchen and sat down on one of the stools and looked at Adam. ‘I have a question for you if you’re not too busy.’

Adam put a tray of muffins into the oven. ‘I am all yours.’ He set the timer. ‘For twenty minutes. Want a coffee?’

‘Sure. A few days ago Tom got a few boxes of things from when he was little. Apparently someone was cleaning out their garage. Toys, puzzles, things like that. There were a couple of air guns in there too. Chris stopped by and the boys were out back with the chows and Cody must have wanted to join in. He was shot a few times, purely an accident on their parts, mind you.
Now I’ve punished Tom for not paying better attention and putting the dogs inside. I don’t have a problem with the guns, by the way. But I’ve held off saying anything to Jack. I was just wondering if you think that’s the, I hate to say right thing, but I can’t really put it another way.’

Adam signalled to Chloe for coffees then pulled up the other stool. ‘Can I ask why you’ve held off? There must have been a reason why you didn’t ring Jack straight off.’

‘There was. Remember back when he was running around like an idiot because of the drug thing? Sure you do. Well it left a lasting impression on me. That, and then the whole offering to spank Chris for the information when the brats were hiding that baby and mother from us and even though I thought he deserved it more than anyone ever did, the whole spanking Aled in front of everyone. Jack’s rather …daunting to me.’

‘Ah. Well, that makes sense. So what do you want to do about it? You clearly don’t want to just leave it, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.’ Adam sipped his coffee.

‘I don’t think it’s fair to Tom if I just let it ride. He felt so badly about Cody that he slept with the damn dog in our bed for five nights. Then he took him back to Andy who told him what I had but obviously carried more weight, him being a vet and all and Cody was banished.

I don’t really know what to do about it. I can’t punish Chris: that would just piss Jack off more when he found out. I was hoping you might have some idea of what you would do or want depending on which end you were on.’

‘Knowing Jack, I would think he would want to know. I could talk to him, but it might be better coming from someone who knows him better.’ Adam thought for a moment. ‘Maybe Ethan?’

‘Do you think Ethan would do it?’

‘If he ever wants to eat in this town again,’ Adam said with a grin and a very bad American accent.

Shappa snickered. ‘Well I’ll give him a try then.’ He swigged down the remainder of his coffee and burped. ‘Must be really good coffee.’

                 

Well, this was a fine kettle of something and Ethan trudged down the road to Jack’s as he thought about it all. Why did he have to do this? Oh, chocolate cake. Not just any chocolate cake, Jack forbidden, Isaac forbidden, Chloe sneaking chocolate cake.

It was worth it.

He didn’t bother knocking. With all that had gone on he figured he was family now and walked into the house. ‘Hi honey buns, I’m home.’ He called and waited.

Jack poked his head round the living room door. ‘Did Andy throw you out?’

‘You wish. Or not.’ Ethan said. He went into the living room and putting one arm around Jack’s waist drew him in close and danced him around the room for a few minutes. ‘I have news. It’s not good.’ He said and kissed Jack’s nose.

Jack allowed himself to be waltzed around the carpet then wrinkled his nose when Ethan kissed it. ‘You lost all your money in a casino, and now you, Andy and the cat are going to move into the spare room?’

Ethan snorted. ‘No, but it’s an idea. Sit.’ He pushed Jack down on the sofa and straddled his lap. ‘Chris shot a dog by accident. One of Shappa’s pups. Him and Tom were messin’ around with air guns and the dog went after the soda can they were aiming at. I am not supposed to let you go off though so do not attempt to move from this sofa.’

‘I’ll kill him,’ Jack said, looking at Ethan. ‘Whaddaya mean, go off? Do I look like a bottle of lemonade?’

‘No you won’t kill him.’ Ethan rolled his eyes. He looked at Jack and snorted again. ‘Sorry, I’ve been volunteering at the centre and those kids have a way with words. Talk to him at least.’

‘All right, all right, I won’t kill him until after I’ve talked to him. Is that okay with you? Do not roll your eyes at me, either. When did this momentous event occur?’

‘No, Sir,’ Ethan rolled his eyes again just for fun and hopped up. ‘You can’t be trusted though. Yes, that might be okay with me. Maybe. No killing. It’s bad for their little psyches. Well Shappa said about a week or so. Few days give or take anyway.’

Jack raised his eyebrow. ‘A week or so? Come to think of it, why exactly are you telling me this? How are you involved?’

Ethan looked at Jack and sighed. ‘Well,’ he began and sat down, ‘I am telling you this because Shappa asked me to.’ He was not about to add Adam’s threat in there, ‘But I’m not involved. I was probably doing something designee at the time. Wanna coffee? I wanna coffee.’

‘I would love a coffee.’ Jack led the way to the kitchen. ‘But don’t think you can distract me with caffeine. Why would Shappa ask you to? And, just because I’m nosy, why didn’t you tell him to tell me himself?’

Ethan followed and resisted the urge to sigh again. Some people just brought that sort of thing out in a person. ‘I could distract you with sex, that always seemed to work but Andy and Chris might get upset. Best not.’

He got the coffee down and put the bags in the mugs Jack had gotten out, ‘You intimidate him, I think. You do that a lot. I didn’t tell him to because I am a good friend.’ He bobbed the coffee bags up and down and then scooped them out. ‘You’re on your own with what you want in that, I’m on a black coffee kick.’

‘No sex.’ Jack got the milk out of the fridge. ‘Do you want a biscuit with that? There are some cookies in that bag. Okay, well, that’s fair enough, I suppose. I’ll talk to Chris.’

‘No no biccies for me. Isaac would not approve and I do my best. He bought this really cool whip and hung it up in the gym. Scared the crap outta Declan the other day when he whined. Isaac takes cracking it to a whole new level.’ Ethan went and sat down.

Jack snorted. ‘Maybe I should tell Isaac about your chocolate cake fetish. He’ll do more than crack that whip.’ He followed Ethan. ‘You’re taking this fitness kick very seriously.’

‘He knows sadly. I had a piece before a work out and drove him bonkers. He took me over to the café for a smoothie. Did you know Chloe does those now too? Anyway she had cake ready and he was not a happy trainer. Apparently it is food of the devil and does all sorts of things to my body never mind my activity level. Now you’d think he would be happy when I was busy being busy but nooooo, hyperactivity is not good for the heart, something about adrenaline. I wasn’t really listening.

I do like the whole working out thing though. Especially the weights and the rowing machine. I don’t like the running. I never did though. It’s just too much like work. If it wasn’t for the fact that Adam threatened me through Shappa with the whole no eating thing, I wouldn’t …well …dammit. Gimme a biscuit then.’ Ethan grinned.

Jack gave Ethan a knowing glance. ‘It all becomes clear.’ He sat back and they chatted about the usual inconsequential stuff until they ran out of coffee. Jack looked at his watch. ‘Well, Chris is due home soon, are you going to stick around for the show?’

‘Nah, been there got the tee shirt for it. Later lover,’ Ethan rinsed his mug and set it on the drainer.
 Jack watched him go and then made himself another coffee while he waited for Chris to come home.

                
 ‘Andy? Got a minute?’ Chris asked after he had counted and put away various medicines and instruments. Now he was sitting on the exam table watching Andy finish up with wiping down the other one across the hall. 

Andy dropped the wipe in the bin and snapped off his gloves. ‘Yep. What’s up, mate?’

‘I didn’t tell Jack. I know I should of that day but things kept coming up and I’d forget and it’s been a while and now I don’t know what to do about it.’

‘Ooh. That’s … not good. Shappa didn’t tell him? Stupid question, you’d have heard about it if he had. Maybe you should take the bull by the horns? So to speak.’

‘Bull being the operative word. First he’ll want to know why I didn’t say anything and he’s going to think I was avoiding it. Which I suppose I was, but hey, busy you know.  Now I wonder if it’s too late to say anything or if it would be wrong to just let it slide on by.’ Chris shrugged in a gesture of defeat or confusion. ‘What would you do this late in the day?’

Andy chewed his lip. ‘Honestly, if I thought it was going to stay, er, slid, I’d probably just leave it. But we both know these things have a nasty way of … coming back to bite a person in the backside.’

‘Damn, I was hopeful there for a minute.’ Chris said. ‘Well, bring me in a comfy cushion tomorrow then.’

‘I’ll find you lots of standing up jobs,’ Andy said with a grin. ‘Good luck, Chris.’

‘Thanks.’ Chris went on home and stood outside the door for a few minutes and collected his thoughts. Then walked in. ‘Jack? We need to talk.’ He headed to the living room.

‘Yes, we do.’ Jack said. He was standing by the fireplace, arms folded.

‘You look serious.’ Chris said and sat down, ‘so go ahead and be first. Did something happen with work?’

‘No. Someone came to see me about one of your … misadventures. Like to hazard a guess?’ Jack did not look like he was in a forgiving mood.

‘My…? Jack I swear I haven’t done anything in a while now that could begin to be classified as a misadventure.’ Chris thought about that and no, there wasn’t anything. ‘But I do want to tell you something that happened, okay?’

Jack raised his eyebrow. ‘Okay. Tell me all about it.’

‘When Tom and me were little, my dad bought us air guns. He used to take us out to shoot tin cans and stuff.
Well when Jim was having a clean out he found these boxes of things and in one of them was the guns and the bb’s.

 We got cans and set them up at one end of the garden and were shooting at them. The dogs were out. The chows? You’ve seen them right? Well anyway, the black one, Cody, must have been watching us and he went for the can just as we pulled the triggers and we hit him.’

Chris cleared his throat, ‘Tom and me got him to the surgery and Andy said he was okay, no holes anyway, shook up, bruised but okay. I meant to say something the next day to you about it but then I got so busy with everything that it kept slipping my mind. I remembered today because Cody was in for a check up and we weren’t so busy.

I’m pretty sure that Shappa punished Tom and I don’t think it’s really right for me to not say anything even if it is really late in the day. I’m sorry and if, when, I do something stupid again I’ll tell you right away.’

Jack gave Chris a wry grin. ‘You must have a guardian angel, sugar plum.’

‘Why?’ Now Chris was really confused.

‘Because that was …what someone came to see me about.’ Jack said.

‘Ah.’ Chris said. ‘So how does that work with the guardian angel thing?’

‘Telling me about it yourself may have saved your behind … a little.’

‘Oh, well that’s a good thing then.’ Chris grinned.

‘I did say a little,’ Jack said. He didn’t grin back.

‘Oh, come on Jack. It’s okay for you to smile a little bit. I won’t hold it against you and I will still respect you in the morning.’

‘Upstairs, brat,’ Jack said. He smiled a little. It was scary.

‘Yes Sir.’ Chris shuddered for effect. He wasn’t scared; this was Jack, the love of his life.

‘Less acting, more moving. Go, go, go.’

Chris snorted and ran up the stairs. ‘Fast enough?’

Jack grinned. ‘It’ll do.’

                 
Aled ran all the way to the café hoping to catch them before they left for the evening and as soon as he pushed the door open Chloe threw a doughnut at him and went to the kitchen. ‘Aled’s here, Adam.’

Adam walked out and looked at Aled, who was biting into a doughnut. ‘Did Chloe throw that at you?’

‘Uh huh.’ Aled said. ‘I’m here for a cake. There was mention of cake and so I thought I’d nip out while I had all my clothes on.’

‘Way too much information,’ Adam said looking at the display. ‘What kind of cake? We have passion cake, double chocolate, lemon drizzle and there’s a coffee and walnut just being walnuted.’ He pointed in the direction of the kitchen. ‘That’s what I was doing.’

‘I’ll take that.’ Aled said.

‘I’ll go finish off the cake then. Do you want the whole thing?’ Adam asked, heading back to his lair, err, kitchen.

‘Yep, you never know where cake might end up.’ Aled grinned.

                

‘Charlie! Come get it!’ He called.

Charlie walked out and looked at his partner. ‘What kind of cake?’ He asked.

‘Walnut. Cut me a big piece, I’ll be needing it.’ He waggled his eyebrows at Charlie and grinned.

Charlie’s face lit up and he nearly forgot that he was grumpy over the loss of his clothes.  They ate their cake and talked about their day. Charlie had Aled in stitches over a few of the things the older people said and did during an examination.
When they finished Charlie offered to clean up and Aled wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Upstairs he went back into the spare room and came out. ‘Charlie? Just a little token of my love and need.’ He said and handed his partner his paddle.

Charlie took the paddle and nodded. ‘Cake first or after?’


                                       Nether Kipping Books©
                                                 The End


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