Tom avoided John as much as possible. He only talked to him so that he could arrange having dinner with the other kids - so that he could avoid Dominic. When he went to bed that night, he lay awake, regretting what he’d said to the guy River fancied yet knowing deep down that all of it had been the truth.
He felt guilty for betraying John like that. But he couldn’t help it. There was... something about Dominic. It scared him ... but it fascinated him too.
But this couldn’t happen. He was with John. He must get a hold on himself. Get a grip.
And so he decided that the next day he would go to Dominic’s store alone and apologise. He would sort out this mess and then he could come back to John knowing he would be able to look him in the eye again.
The bell rang as Tom opened the shop door and walked inside.
Dominic's head popped out around the back door.
"Oh, one sec... I, uh, need to get a shirt on." He disappeared.
Tom bit his lip at the thought of Dominic shirtless but reminded himself of why he was here.
Dominic returned in a plain black top that showed clearly his (hot) muscular build.
"What’s the matter, Tom?" Dominic asked, leaning against the door frame.
Tom forced his eyes to the floor - away from that gorgeous torso.
"I came to apologise for the things I said yesterday. It was .... wrong of me to say those things." Tom cursed himself. He knew exactly why he had hesitated. It was wrong, he argued, even though another part of his mind protested.
Dominic looked at the floor.
"No problem..." he said, trailing off, seeming like he had wanted to say more.
Tom glanced up, catching the way his reply sounded unfinished.
"Is there something else you want to say?"
Dominic appeared to bite his lip - oh gosh, he was noticing details- and shook his head.
"Sure?" Tom pressed, unable to stop himself as he moved a step forwards.
Dominic looked up at Tom and then looked away, seeming ashamed.
"What is it?"
"Nothing, okay?" Dominic whispered. "It’s better for both of us if we just forget about what happened."
Tom nodded. "Yeah."
He turned as if to leave but found himself spinning back. ‘Forget the apology,’ the annoying part of his mind demanded.
"Dominic, you don't hate me, do you?" he asked, his tone passionate.
Dominic mumbled something to himself before talking to Tom.
"Not at all," he said, not looking him in the eye.
Tom swallowed hard. He found that he seemed to be rooted to the spot.
"That's ... good," he said awkwardly.
Dominic shifted, looking nervous.
"Man, I can't look away," Tom whispered, taken over by a mystic force.
Dominic looked up at him, embarrassed.
"Uh, do you want a drink?"
Tom nodded slowly.
"Follow me," Dominic mumbled, leading him upstairs to the living room which also led to the kitchen.
Tom walked slowly, afraid of getting too close. But once in the kitchen he felt cramped and claustrophobic because the room was smaller.
"What've you got?" he murmured to the waiting Dominic.
"Um, same as before apple juice, water, coke, milk."
"Um, I'll have the juice please."
A few seconds passed while Dominic brought the carton out of the fridge, poured the drink into a glass and put the juice away.
"Here." Their hands brushed as Dominic handed Tom the glass and he felt a jolt of electricity course through him, almost causing him to drop the juice. He quickly put it on the table, murmuring, "What was that?"
Dominic looked away, shrugging but seeming nervous.
"Did you feel it too?" Tom asked, frightened that Dominic would say no and leave him all alone in this awful situation.
Dominic looked at him and then away, blushing.
"Oh, man." Tom sat on a kitchen chair, burying his face in his hands. So Dom hadn't felt it and he was making him feel awkward. How had he gotten himself into this even deeper mess?
"I did feel it," Dominic whispered. "But nothing...nothing can come of it okay?" The incomprehensible jumble of Dominic’s words had a slightly frightened tone to it.
Tom groaned, resting his head on his arms on the table.
"Tom!" Dominic snapped suddenly. "Did you hear me?"
Tom looked up, his eyes full of sadness.
"Yeah." He blinked, finally processing what Dom's words had been. "Wait. I think I heard you." He stood up quickly and grabbed Dom's shoulders. "Did you just say you felt it too?"
Inside, Tom's heart was jumping like it had been electrocuted.
Dominic blushed brightly and nodded silently. He looked away quickly afterwards, though, continuing his display of nervousness.
Tom ignored the last gesture, feeling as if he had run a mile. He lifted one hand and gently moved Dominic's head to look at him. He gazed deep into his eyes.
"Then... aren't you curious?"
"Curious about what? I'm dating your sister, Tom" Dominic said, stepping away.
Tom was wounded.
"Curious about what we have. Don't pretend you're not curious. That's just an insult to me."
"It’s only a physical attraction," Dominic snapped, looking away.
Tom was horrified.
"Only a physical attraction? How can you say that? How can you dare ... to be so ... cold?! Attraction means connection, Dominic. Surely you knew that. I could never have loveless sex!"
"I'm not hurting your sister, Tom, not for you. I think I love her and that's not something I'm giving up!" Dominic shouted. "Hell, why do you think I chose to be chaste? It was so I didn't fling myself around. I want something that will last and I don't want to ruin my shot at it."
These words infuriated Tom.
"So I'll make your life miserable? Is that what you're saying? I don't believe you, Dominic. You're too kind and noble to ever want anything other than a meaningful relationship. And that's what we'd have." Tom took a bold step forwards. "I think you need to stop being afraid of me - just 'cause I make you feel a certain way."
And then he kissed him. Not a thought entered his head regarding anyone else: Dominic dominated - Dominic and the crazy way Tom felt and the ridiculous things Dom was saying.
Dominic, for one glorious moment, kissed back but then yanked himself away.
"No!" he snapped. "I'm staying with your sister and I will not cheat on her when we've been barely going out a day." He seemed like he was trying to fight but a look in his eyes told Tom that the fight in him was weakening. "It's not that I don't believe you're a nice guy, Tom but I'm with River and you're with John. Think for a moment."
"I can't think!" Tom yelled. "I can't even think! You're saying stuff and I'm sure it's valid reasons for why I shouldn't kiss you but it's all a blur! You're the only thing I can think of right now. Just shut up and let the fire burn! You do feel the fire, right?"
Without waiting for an answer, Tom kissed Dominic again. He pushed him up against a counter, his hands gripping Dom's waist tightly.
Dominic struggled. "Please, Tom, don't!"
Tom stopped and started to cry. He held Dominic tightly, burying his head in his chest and cried.
"What the hell are you doing to me, Dominic? I don't know who I am."
"Just go home, Tom," Dominic whispered, looking like he was in pain. "This isn't right. We cant work. We just can't, I'm sorry."
Tom continued to cry.
"I don't know who I am," he repeated. "Who's Tom? Who are you? All I see is stars colliding... What've you done to my head?"
"Just go home," Dominic snapped.
Tom stepped back, feeling disgusted.
"I can't know you!" He slapped Dom around the face, but the gesture only led to him kissing Dom again. This time the kiss was brief, however, and he stepped away.
"I'm ending it with John tonight," he whispered. "You can save me from the hanging block if you want to. Don't expect me to retain my sanity if you don't."
He turned and took a large swig of apple juice. He put the glass back down, sighed heavily and began to walk away.
"Tom, don't," he whispered. "You love John. You know you do. Go home and think this out, okay?"
"How can I not?" Tom asked tonelessly. "I kissed you. Three times. I'm a cheat. He won't want me."
"Everyone falls off the wagon, Tom.... just explain. He'll forgive you eventually. He loves you," Dominic whispered.
Tom spun on his heel.
"Explain? But don't you see? The only explanation is that I feel something strongly for you! I can't love John back knowing that I'll always be thinking of something else. This can't be a happy ending, Dom. It can't."
Dominic looked away, ashamed.
"What matters to you more? A fling or loving John?"
"If you think that you mean nothing to me, you're wrong. And besides, I feel too guilty to love John. I can't... I won't be able to look at him. I can't face the love in his eyes."
The next thing he said was in a whisper. "I'm like a fallen angel. I can't see Paradise again."
"At least give him a chance, Tom... He deserves one."
"He deserves a better guy," Tom said bluntly.
But then he realised what a hold Dom really had on him. There could be another way.
Slowly, he turned to Dom.
"But if you want," he said, very quietly, "you can order me to go back to John. You can order me to try to turn off my feelings for you - even though that would hurt tremendously. I'd do that for you, Dom. Do you want to do that?"
Dominic swallowed hard but the decision didn't seem to be that difficult for him.
"Yes, 'cause I'm sorry, Tom... River matters more for me."
Tom nodded silently and left, understanding what he had to do now.