Friends With Benefits by Sue Brown

January 29, 2015

Title: Friends With Benefits

Author: Sue Brown

Pairing: Liam and Sam from The Isle of…Where?

Prompt: benefits

Liam was missing—again. Sam swallowed down the anxiety roiling in his stomach as he received phone call after phone call from Wig because he’d missed a shift, Paul because he was fed up with Wig calling him, and the old lady two doors down from Rose’s cottage who’d been expecting Liam to drop in for a cuppa. Liam had promised never to leave him again after going missing in America, but he’d been gone for hours and Sam didn’t know where the hell he was.

No one had seen Liam since Sam had left him tucked up warm and snug in their bed that morning. He wasn’t there; Sam had checked. Even though he knew it was ridiculous, he checked the drawer where they kept their passports, breathing out a sigh of relief when he saw Liam’s blue American passport nestled next to his maroon one.

Hoping that his last guess was right, Sam drove down the wooden boards of Ryde Pier and parked the car in a car park at the very end. He walked through the coffee shop and out the doors to the tables around the edge. “Liam?” He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat, his relief bubbling over as he spotted the coat-wrapped figure of his lover staring out over steel-grey waves. “We were worried. I was worried about you. No one’s heard from you since this morning.” He tried to keep the chiding tone in his voice to a minimum.

Liam didn’t speak for a moment. “I needed to think.”

“About what, babe?” Sam leaned against the rail next to Liam and placed his hand over Liam’s. He felt so cold and his dark hair lay damp against his cheeks in the perpetual drizzle.

“I came here to hear him,” Liam said quietly.

After four years together, Sam didn’t need a translation. “Alex?”

Liam nodded, his jaw locked and Sam knew he was close to tears. Sam sought for something to say that would comfort Liam. How could he say ‘I’m sorry your dead best friend doesn’t speak to you anymore?’

“I thought if I came here, where… where….”

“Where we sprinkled his ashes,” Sam said.

“Yeah. I thought he’d be here.” Liam sighed again and rested his head on Sam’s shoulder.

“Has it helped?”

“No. I’ve been standing here for hours, and I’ve heard nothing. He used to talk to me all the time, and the last few months, nothing at all. It feels so empty.”

Sam hugged Liam closer to him. “When did he stop talking to you?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t even notice. I just realised today I haven’t heard from him in such a long time.” Liam wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “You must think I’m insane.”

“Don’t worry,” Sam soothed. “I’ve always known there’s been three of us in this relationship. Hell, there’s only one of Alex. You’ve had to cope with my entire family interfering all the time.”

“They’re alive,” Liam pointed out. “You’re not listening to a dead man. I’m surprised you don’t want to commit me. Except I’m not even listening to him now.”

Liam sounded so despairing. Sam turned Liam to look at him, holding him by his shoulders. “I know you were friends, but you loved Alex and he loved you. Maybe the reason you don’t hear him is that you’re busy thinking about something else.”

“Or someone. You fill my mind and my body. You’re my life.”

Not giving a toss who was watching, Sam kissed Liam on the cheek. “You’re my life, my love, and my friend.” He paused. “With benefits.”

Liam furrowed his brow. “Benefits?”

“Oh yes, there are many benefits to being friends with me.” Sam smirked at him, and Liam’s eyes widened.

“Take me home, Sam. Show me the benefits.”

Sam held Liam closer. “Can you let Alex go now, babe?”

Liam looked over the grey waves. “I have no choice, do I?”

“He’ll always be here, Liam. He’ll never leave you completely. Alex loved you too much for that.” Sam gathered Liam in his arms again and kissed him gently, then he led him into the coffee shop. “I need a coffee and you need to get out of the rain.”

They sipped lattes as they headed towards their car. Liam held out his hand as Sam took out the keys.

“There’s no way you’re driving us home,” Liam said. “I want to get home in one piece to enjoy the benefits.”

“I’m not that bad,” Sam protested but he handed over the keys and walked around to the passenger seat.

Before he got in the car he looked out to the gloomy horizon. “Thank you for giving him to me, Alex.”

Maybe, just maybe, he heard a “You’re welcome.”

Did you enjoy Sue Brown’s story? If so, check out the rest of her books and take 25% off at checkout with the code SueBrownFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 28, 2015.

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