Ben Loves a Challenge Ch. 18

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***Hey all. Here is the final chapter of Ben Loves a Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Thanks for your patience as well, I know it’s been a while since the last chapter dropped.

This chapter contains mild BDSM in a gay male pairing.

I hope you enjoy it. -Penny***


“Today at work Aisha was being all weird about her other job,” Ben complained as he hand-washed the dishes. His dishwasher hadn’t worked in months, but it hadn’t mattered much when he’d lived alone. He was considering buying a new one now that Dean was nearly all moved in. “She also freaked out because she thought I’d get in trouble for talking to her.”

“Why would you get in trouble?”

“Oh, with you, she thought you would be upset if I was hanging out with her.” He looked over his shoulder to check on Dean, but Dean was scanning Reddit.

“I don’t care if you hang out with her,” Dean dismissed.

“Really?” Ben asked, turning back to his dishes, a soft smile on his face. “You really don’t care?”

Dean huffed. “Nope. I’m over it.”

“What changed?” He grunted as he scrubbed some dried on crust from a pot.

“Nothing, I mean, like. We, um. I’m better. I’m working on my jealousy, yea?”

“Good,” he praised. “Anyway, she was freaking out about her new clients.”


Ben placed the pot on the drying rack and picked up a mug and washed it. “Apparently the guy bought a dungeon session for his best friend after a bad breakup, which is weird. I guess it makes sense, like, it’s a bit intense to give as a blind gift, right? Not exactly a ‘break things’ room or something. Anyway, get this. The last session she had before the friends, dude is into black and white clown party kinda shit.”

“That’s cray,” Dean said, sounding distracted.

Ben turned around but Dean was still on his phone, so he left the rest of the dishes and washed his hands. “Are you listening?”

Dean looked up, a flash of annoyance on his face, gone in the next second. “Yeah. Aisha, two boys. Are they gay?”

Ben rolled his eyes, Dean was only half listening. “No. She said they’re straight.”

“Sounds… awkward.” Dean’s eyes went back to his phone, but the screen was off now.

Ben shrugged. “Yeah, that’s why she’s worried. Anyway. How was your day of packing your stuff.”


Ben waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. He sighed, then sat down at the table with him. “Are you ready for the Uhaul?”

“I don’t need a Uhaul, apparently,” Dean admitted, turning his phone in circles on the table with his pointer fingers. “Metri’s boyfriend has a truck, he said he’d help me move it all tomorrow.”

“Oooooh, do I get to meet Metri’s mystery boy for the first time?”

“No.” Dean said it with such finality that it pissed him off.

“Why not?”

“I don’t need help, I just need transportation.”

Ben crossed his arms over his chest and sat up. “Seriously, why are you being weird about this?”

“I’m not.”

Ben sighed. “You are. Let me help you, I’m so excited you’re moving in, and you won’t let me help.”

“It’s my shit, yea?”

“You’re my boyfriend, yea?” Ben threw back.

“Can we drop this?”

Ben stood up, then pushed his chair into the table with more force than it deserved, making a loud sound as it scraped the floor. Dean flinched. “Fine. Whatever. Just, why do you get like this, shut me out? I just wanted to help.” He hesitated, waiting for Dean to answer, but he didn’t.

Ben left him in the kitchen, pissed at Dean, and pissed at himself. He knew Dean well enough by now to know when he was in a mood, he should’ve just let it go, but he wanted to help. He turned the TV on, then turned it off again immediately and threw the controller on the couch.

Why was it still so cold outside. He wanted to walk, wanted some space, but it was too cold to just head out without layering up, and he was already in pajama pants. Instead he went to his room and shut the door. But, it wasn’t just his room anymore, it was Dean’s, now, too. He saw clues of Dean’s presence all around the room, and he decided he couldn’t be here, either.

He opened the door and walked across the hall to his spare room and slammed the door. It was better in here, all of his workout stuff was in here, exactly what he needed. He hooked his phone up to the bluetooth speaker and put on his workout playlist, then turned it up much louder than necessary.

He started angry, but soon fell into the easy rhythm of his full body circuit workout, his anger pushing him to work harder, to do a few more reps with each set. Halfway through his last set something caught his eye and he turned, then nearly dropped the kettlebell, shocked to find Dean standing in the doorway looking weary.

Dean blushed when he saw Ben had caught him, then bit his lower lip and looked down. Ben put the kettlebell down, then paused his playlist. “Hey…”

Dean shifted uncomfortably, still biting his lower lip. “Hey. Um. Sorry.”

“For what?”

“For being a Çanakkale Escort dick, I guess.”

“Okay. You were a dick. I forgive you.”

Dean looked up in mild confusion. “Why?”

Ben snorted a laugh, then grabbed his towel and wiped away the sweat on his forehead. “Why do I forgive my boyfriend for being a dick?” Dean nodded, then looked down again. “Cause I love you, and because I know how you get, and I shoulda just let it go.”

“No, you shouldn’t’ve,” Dean barked. “Today was… I mean, I shouldn’t’ve taken it out on you, so I’m sorry.”

“Today was what? Hey, I need some water, can you come and talk to me?”

“Do you wanna finish first?” Dean asked, eyeing the forlorn kettlebell on the ground.

“Nah, I’m good. I’ll stretch in a bit. I wasn’t planning on working out today, so it’s an extra. Anyway, you were telling me what today was.”

Dean stepped out of the doorway and let Ben through, then padded along behind him to the kitchen. “Today was hard.”

“Hard like you wished you had help?”

Dean shook his head as Ben pulled a cup from the cupboard and filled it with water from the fridge door. “Nah, like… You know. Going through old stuff. Brings up memories and shit.”

“Oh. OH! That’s why you don’t want me to help, you’re afraid I’m gonna find some ex-boyfriend’s stuff and get all jelly?” He was only partially teasing, but Dean flinched like he’d hit a nerve.

“Something like that,” Dean agreed. “I, ah.”

Ben drank half the glass of water waiting for Dean to continue, but he didn’t. “Or, was it stuff from, like, when you were a kid? Like, reminded you of home? Of your mom?”

He nodded. “Stuff like that, too.”


Dean sat down, exhaling loudly. “I need to tell you about Parker,” he said, his fingers immediately tapping the table.

“You already told me about Parker.” Ben sat down across from him and Dean smiled weakly, then looked down at the table again.

“I mean, kinda. I wanna tell you the whole thing. I mean, I don’t wanna tell you at all, but it feels like I need to, I dunno. Wash him out of my hair or something. Like, I can’t help it, but I still constantly feel like you’re going to change your mind and pull the rug out from under me.”

“I won’t, I wish you trusted me. I love you, Dean. If I was bailing on you I would never have asked you to move in with me, right?”

Dean slumped in his chair. “I know. Like, in my head I know. And when you look at me I know it, but when I’m alone…” He sighed, pausing as if looking for the right words to say. “There were… I forgot I had them. Parker used to leave me cards, little notes on my desk. It made me feel special, made me feel like he… I’m so stupid, Ben.”

Ben shrugged. “Past Dean might have been, but you’re not him.”

“But, I am, right? Yea? And, I forgot, like, I forgot I kept them, and when I was packing I found them and I felt like shit, but I couldn’t stop myself from reading them.”

“What did they say?” Ben asked, jealousy rising in his gut. He really didn’t want to know, but he also really wanted to know.

“Nothing.” Ben shot him a look. “I mean, just random shit. Little notes full of silly nonsense. I really, he was so sweet. It’s hard to be gay, yea? Like, how do you ever know if someone else is gay, and if you take a chance and you’re wrong, and…” Dean sighed again. “He was so sweet to me. I hate him for it now. Hated him after the, ah, thing with his wife. Fuck, I hate him because he never told me he had a wife!”

“You didn’t know?”

“Not at first, and by the time he did tell me he already had me feeling like he cared about me. I was so desperate for someone to love me that I fell right into the trap. We texted a bunch, nothing super serious, just some mild flirting.”

Ben sucked in a deep breath and Dean looked up, looking worried. “Sorry. I’m trying really hard not to be super jealous right now. You don’t flirt with me in texts.”

Dean looked like he didn’t know what to say. “I know. Do you, I don’t know if I can…”

“Trying,” Ben said again, swallowing down the mild feeling of rejection that was rising like bile in his gut. “Trying really hard, but when you say shit like that it feels like you liked him different than you like me. Like you liked him more.”

Dean looked up, his eyes a little panicked. “No, that’s not it! I don’t, I fucking love you, Ben. So much. I collared you, you turned for me. I fucking love you so much, that’s why this’s bothering me so much. Please-“

“Then why can’t we text-flirt?”

“Because I want us to be different,” Dean growled. “I don’t want this to be like that was. I want us to make our own thing, yea?”

Dean’s emotional outburst calmed his jealousy. He took a few deep breaths to let it go, then nodded. “Okay. I get it. Did you keep the cards?”

Dean shook his head. “No. It’s gonna sound weird maybe, but I took them outside and burned them, one by one. He gave me a little keychain, a plastic ferret that looked kind of like what my ferret Mater Çanakkale Escort Bayan looked like. I burned that, too.”

“I forgot you had a ferret. Mater?”

“Short for tomato. He was a friend’s, but the friend had to move and couldn’t have pets in the new place so I took him in. Originally he was named George, but I hated it. I was on a health food kick when I got him and he liked to steal tomatoes off my salads, so I started calling him Tomato, then shortened it to Mater.” Dean shrugged and smiled slightly. “He was a clever little shit.”

“Did you burn that, too?”

Dean nodded. “I’m sorry. I also went through stuff from home, like you said. Letters my mom had written to me. A scripture book my dad gave me when I graduated. Pictures.”

Ben got up and moved behind Dean, then hugged him from behind. “I’m sorry you had a hard day. I love you, Dean.” He kissed Dean’s cheek, bristly with a few days worth of stubble. “Scratchy.”

“Sorry, I haven’t had time to shave” Dean whispered, his hands closing over Ben’s. “Love you, too.”

“We could get a pet, if you wanted another one.”

Dean shook his head. “Maybe let’s just get me all moved in first, yea?”

Ben chuckled. “Yeah, we can do that.” He leaned against Dean, then realized he was all sweaty and tried to pull away, but Dean held him close.

“No, not yet. I need this.” Dean leaned his head on Ben’s arm and took a few deep breaths before releasing him.

“You wanna go shave?”

Dean hesitated, then hugged him tighter. “I’m not done. I mean…” He didn’t continue.

Ben sighed, then caught Dean’s arms as he went to move away. “No escaping yet,” he demanded. “What’s still bothering you?”

Dean tried, it was a good thing he’d caught onto his arms. “No, nevermind.”

“Dean,” Ben barked, twisting over his shoulder to get a better look. “What is making you all weird?”

Dean whined a little. “Don’t be mad, please?”

Ben sucked in a breath. “What would I be mad about?”

“Just, like, say you won’t.”

Ben snorted. “That is literally not something I can decide, feelings gonna feel no matter what. I’ll try to temper it, and I’ll take, like, ten deep breaths or something if I get upset. Fair?”

Dean nodded, leaning against his back. “Parker called me today.”

Ben had to take all ten of those breaths before he answered. Dean tensed more with each one. “Did he now?”

“Ah. Yes. Yea.”

“And what did he want?”

“I didn’t answer.”

It was going to be like pulling teeth to get the info out of Dean. “Did he leave a message?”


“And texts?”

“Also yes.”

“Did you answer him?”

Dean flinched. “No.”

“For real? Cause it feels kinda sus, to be honest.”


Ben sniffed. “My nephew says it all the time. From some game they like to play. Did you answer him? I’m not gonna be upset if you did.”

Dean shook his head, then rested it on Ben’s shoulder. “No, I didn’t, I wanted to talk to you, but it’s stressing me out so much my stomach is killing me.”

“I’m assuming you checked the messages?”

Dean nodded. “I couldn’t, I had to, like I tried not to, but…”

Ben sighed. “Dean, it’s fine. What did he want?”

“He wants to meet up. I…” Dean sounded choked. “I can’t. I can’t, like, but, I feel so guilty, like, he got transferred, and sorta demoted, and, like, cause, because… Because I’m gay.”

Ben swiveled around in his chair to face Dean. “No.”

“Okay. I won’t, I mean, I wasn’t gonna meet him, so I won’t, yea?”

Ben pursed his lips. “No. NO! Not that. I don’t care if you go meet him. I-“

“You don’t?” Dean snapped, instantly offended.

“No, Dean, I don’t. What I do care about is this fucking guilt you have. He made his bed, Dean. He was married. He started this. He made you all messed up, and he continues to do it, whether he knows it or not. No, no, no. My problem? My problem is that you feel guilty. You have nothing to be guilty about. Nothing. You are an innocent bystander here, Dean-“

“I knew, I still talked to him, still did, like, even after I found out he was married.” Dean looked like he’d been kicked in the gut and Ben let him go. He sat down at the table, looking defeated. “I should’ve stopped it then, should’ve cut it off, but I was so lonely, and he was so nice to me. It sounds so stupid now, but he made me feel special. Made me feel like maybe I wasn’t a reject.”

“You’re not a reject, Dean,” Ben growled, hatred burning hard for a man he might have met a handful of times ever, and probably couldn’t pick out of a crowd if his life depended on it.

“I felt like it then. And, he was there for me, like-“

“He was never there for you, he was there for him!” This anger, this hatred for Parker was pushing him over the edge, and he had promised Dean he wouldn’t get mad. It was impossible not to be mad, but he had promised Dean. He tried taking a moment to cool off. It didn’t help. Instead, he got up and paced the kitchen. Dean seemed to sink into Escort Çanakkale his chair, curling in on himself as he pulled his knees up to his chest.

“Sorry,” Dean whispered.

“Stop it! I’m trying to calm down, you don’t need to apologize to me, don’t you dare freaking apologize. I’m so mad, I know I told you I would try not to be, but he’s, just, fuck Parker. Fuck him to hell. You’re a victim-“

“I’m not a victim, Ben. I was in the wrong!”

“You will shut the fuck up right now and let me finish, okay? I want you to listen to me, do you understand?” He’d never been so harsh to Dean, not even at their worst. He supposed that they would have fights, and maybe this was their first real one. He hoped he wasn’t doing something stupid, hoped he wasn’t pushing Dean away.

Dean wiped a tear from his eye, then looked at Ben and nodded before hiding his face in his lap again. “Okay,” he whispered.

“Good. No interruptions, okay? Just listen.” He waited and watched until Dean nodded. “Just cause you’re gay doesn’t make you an instant villain. Parker made his own decisions. He hurt you, and he hurt his wife, and he knew he was doing it. Do you think he didn’t? He did, Dean. He was sorta cheating on his wife by flirting and texting with you. He was absolutely being a dickhead by not telling you he was married until you were already invested, until he knew he had you interested.

“You know what that makes him? It makes him a dick. A massive asshole. Parker is the bad guy. You are not. You were never the bad guy. It’s not a crime to be lonely. You didn’t ruin his life, and if you say it again, I’m going to spank you. You didn’t ruin his life. You didn’t do anything to fuck up his life, because if it wasn’t you, he woulda been messing around with someone else. I know the type, if you remember.”

“Are you saying your old friends were like Parker?” Dean asked, his voice sounding weak.

“Kinda. Hugh especially, he knows how to emotionally manipulate women to get what he wants. Parker, whether he knew it or not, was emotionally manipulating you to get what he wanted, which was something to assuage his bi-curiosity. It blew up in his face, because he’s a twat.”

Dean was crying. Ben’s anger dried up and he rushed over, taking Dean in his arms, pulling him out of the chair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry. I know I said I wouldn’t be mad and then I ruined it. I’m sorry, Dean.”

Dean half-laughed, half-cried. “Don’t be sorry, dork. Literally no one’s ever made me feel like you do. Thank you for being upset on my behalf.”

“I love you, dork,” Ben countered, kissing Dean’s chin. As it was, Dean was leaning on him with a good chunk of his bodyweight, but it made him feel better, grounded. Dean cried for a moment, his head drooped on Ben’s shoulder and Ben held him, rubbing small circles into his back.

“I love you, too,” Dean whispered. “So fucking much. What I felt for Parker was a lot of like, and some attraction. He’s honestly a little too old for my tastes, anyway. You, on the other hand, are right in my strike zone, you always were.” Dean sighed, then pushed away from Ben, wiping his face. “Thank you. I’m sorry I made you upset. It was literally eating me alive, the guilt over Parker, and the guilt from not knowing how to tell you, either.”

“Do you know what one of the things right now that makes me the happiest is?” Ben asked. Dean looked over, surprised by his change of subject, then shook his head. “Waking up next to you. And now I know I’m gonna do it every day, maybe forever. It makes me so freaking happy. It makes me feel like everything’s gonna be okay, and everything is how it should be. And, that’s your fault.”

Dean snorted a watery laugh. “My fault?”

Ben loved how Dean’s eyebrows arched when he was feeling playful. “Yeah, your fault. How dare you look so good in my bed.”

Dean laughed, then sobered. “I need to get the rest of this off my chest…”

“There’s more?”

Dean flinched again, then wiped the corner of his eye. “Parker’s messages.”

“What’s the twat want?”

Dean bit his lower lip. “He said he heard we were dating. I mean, he doesn’t know who you are, just said he heard I was dating someone from work and he was worried about me. Wanted to meet up, to talk.”

“No. Sorry, I mean, you’re an adult, and you can do whatever you want, and I absolutely trust you, but I don’t want you to meet him.”

“I wasn’t gonna.” Dean dismissed so quickly that Ben knew he meant it. “I just. I feel like I need to say something to him.”

“You don’t,” Ben insisted. “Ignore him.”

“No, I do. Like, before it was because of the guilt, but now I think it’s for closure. He hurt me, you’re right. He poisoned me so badly that I almost ruined this relationship at least ten times because I was so messed up with trust issues. I want him to apologize.”

Ben shook his head. “Babe, listen, it’s not gonna happen. He’s the kind of douche who never realizes he’s the problem. There’s no way this ends well. Either he apologizes and still somehow it makes you feel like shit, or apologizes in a way that still makes it your fault somehow, or he doesn’t think he owes you an apology at all. Or, maybe he thinks I’m bad for you, or he’ll have some other completely different and terrible way he could mind-fuck you again.

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