|Really Very Amazing Pain|
|Gap-Filler for Episode 2-19|
Fuck Michael. Fuck him for bringing it out in the open. Does he think Iím stupid? Not Michael. Justin. Michael knows Iím not stupid. But fuck him anyway.
Of course I knew. Iíve known for a while now. Oh, not details, but I knew. Knew he was fucking around, and not just random tricks. He wouldnít try to cover it up, if it was just random tricks. I didnít care. I really believed I didnít care. Probably I could have gone on believing that for a while longer, if Mikey had just kept his mouth shut.
Michael. Christ, everything is so black and white to him, good versus evil, just like his damned comic books. Heís thirty-one and he still thinks the world is full of heroes and villains, good guys and bad. After all these years, Mikey still doesnít know that everybody is bad, some people are just better at hiding it than others. Except Michael. No, Michael is bad too. Otherwise he would have left me alone so I could go on ignoring the truth.
The truth. Itís all over the loft, now that I canít keep from looking for it. It was invisible but now I can see it, like bloody fingerprints covering every inch of my loft, left by that fucking murderer Justin Taylor.
Iíve never gone through his papers, his computer, the things on his desk. It wasnít merely some bullshit moral code that stopped me, it was, somehow. . .oh fuck. It was because I trusted him. I canít believe Iím even admitting that to myself. I know better than to trust anybody, I fucking know better. I made that the first rule to live by, many years ago. So in a way I deserve this, I deserve this sick twisted feeling in my gut. Itís my own fault, for letting myself trust somebody.
When I was sure Michael was out of sight at Babylon, I got my jacket and came home. Justinís not here of course. He stayed home to work on a project, he said. Heís working on a project, all right, heís sucking it or fucking it, right this minute. In some strangerís house or apartment or the backseat of a car. I donít care about sucking, I donít care about fucking. But heís kissing it. Kissing some faceless, nameless man that he wants to be with instead of me.
Itís a joke really, an incredibly amazing and hilarious joke. Brian Kinney, reduced to this, a man so consumed by jealousy, heís snooping through papers, even flipping through several of Justinís sketchpads, stacked up on his desk. Itís not really his desk, of course. It used to be my table, my dining room table. The computer I flip on has the top-of-the-line graphics program that cost me a fucking mint. I want to feel angry about that but I canít. I cannot. Because it did help Justin when it seemed heíd never find his way back to art again. It sustained him. No matter what, I canít regret that.
Under a stack of CDs I find Justinís journal. At first I canít open it, itís almost like the pages are glued shut, my hands are shaking so hard. That makes me laugh out loud. Finally I pry the cover open, and start reading a page at random. Itís about me. Heís describing the time we fucked on the sofa a few weeks ago, with the windows open and the curtains blowing wildly in the breeze; heís describing the taste of my skin, the way he touched his tongue to the scar on the inside of my right knee; heís describing the feel of my fingers in his hair, the way our bodies fit together and move together like choreography without music. How much he loves me. Christ. Christ. I canít read this. I close the book, stack the CDs on top of it again, turn off the computer, and with my eyes tightly shut, I stumble up the steps to the bathroom.
Turning on the shower, I wait till steam clouds the mirror before I open my eyes, then quickly I pull off my clothes, step inside the enclosure and let the water cascade over my head and shoulders with a burning heat that makes my eyes water. My eyes keep watering and watering and I feel myself fall against the wall, I canít breathe, I canít catch my breath, it must be too hot in here. I slide down the wall and sit on the floor, my legs drawn up to my chest, my head on my knees, waiting for the water to cool off, waiting for my eyes to stop watering and my shoulders to stop shaking.
Lying in bed with Ethan is so different than being with Brian. No matter how relaxed I am, I always feel this tension, this Ė something-going-on Ė with Brian. Even when weíre lying like spoons, his arms draped around me, his head on the pillow next to mine, his breath tickling my ear, Iím always so aware of him, of his body, every inch of his skin where it touches mine.
Ethan is Ė comfortable. Not in a boring way, never boring Ė sex with Ethan is wonderful, itís beautiful. Like poetry. But sex with Brian is. . .urgent. Always urgent.
I glance at Ethanís clock, itís almost one-thirty. Brianís still at Babylon, he never leaves before two, but I want to get to the loft, have a shower, before he comes home. Ethan hangs on to me, wanting me to stay, wanting me to spend the night. He knows I canít, I wish heíd stop asking. He pulls me back into his arms and we kiss for a minute, but gradually I inch away, slip out of the bed and pull on my clothes.
Itís a cold walk home, and Iím shivering inside my jacket. I breathe in gulps of damp night air, trying to keep my mind blank. Trying not to feel the regret and the unhappiness raging in my stomach. I get halfway home before I double over, which is a record, usually it only takes three blocks for the guilt to grind inside my stomach like broken shards of glass, forcing me to stop and bend over the curb, to vomit my guilt into the street. The waistband of my jeans is getting loose, Iím vomiting nearly every day now. Like some supermodel with bulimia.
I need to tell him. I tried to tell him, just the other night. He joined me in the shower, put those fantastic gently-rough hands on me and started kissing. I pulled away and looked into his eyes. Almost I told him. Almost. Then I lost my nerve. He didnít notice of course. Didnít notice my hesitation, didnít notice that my ass was already sore. Ethanís not as skilled at Brian, well how could he be? Ethan hasnít fucked ten thousand men. I used to be happy knowing I was the only one out of thousands of fucks that Brian ever cared about. It doesnít make me happy any more. Itís not enough.
When did it become not enough? I think it really started with Rage. When Brian got jealous of me and Michael and pissed all over my art. Until that exact moment, I thought I knew Brian. Or as much as anybody can know Brian, since he keeps himself locked up tight. I thought I had a key. Michael has a key to a piece of Brian, Lindsay and Debbie have keys to pieces of Brian, and I thought I did, too. But the Brian I knew, or thought I knew, could never have done that to me. Could never have sent me that message, by pissing on my art.
He apologized. Michael accepted immediately, but I couldnít. I pretended to, but in my heart I couldnít forgive him. I believe Brian was sorry, it wasnít that. But an apology couldnít erase the way I felt when I saw how heíd trashed my artwork. Nobody knows better than Brian how hard itís been for me to get back into drawing. I almost gave it up, I would have given it up probably, without Brianís support, without his encouragement. Not just because he bought me an expensive computer. But he believed in me. Or I thought he did, anyway. I never would have guessed in a million years, that Brian could use my art against me, could use it to hurt me.
Is that why youíre hurting him? The question snaked into my brain, and I stopped wham! on the sidewalk, as if Iíd walked into a brick wall. The question took my breath away. But immediately I knew that the answer was Ďno.í With a deep sigh of relief, I knew without a doubt that me fucking Ethan had nothing to do with hurting Brian, with getting even. It had everything to do with me needing something, needing something Brian would never give me. The words. I need the words.
It was on my birthday that I finally realized, finally accepted, that Brian would never give me the words. What I told Ethan was the truth, I didnít really care about not celebrating my birthday. I stood next to Brian in Babylon when he explained to the guys that birthdays were nothing to celebrate, and I nodded my head. I know how Brian feels about getting older, I figured maybe he didnít want to acknowledge my birthday because his was not far behind, and Iím sure turning thirty-one was going to upset him. So I was okay, I truly thought I understood, and it didnít matter. If only heíd left it alone.
But he didnít leave it alone, he decided to surprise me with a present. A hustler. Worse than giving me a hustler, a naked guy with a red bow on his cock, was Brianís absolute assurance that he was giving me what I wanted. Or what I needed. Brianís always bragged that heís teaching me to be the best homosexual ever. Mostly thatís a joke, but partly itís the truth. He believes, Brian truly believes, that the life he lives is the best possible life for a gay man, for himself, and now for me. Career success and a lifetime of fucking as many men as possible, who could ask for anything more?
Itís not enough for me. Iíve tried to make it be enough, and I thought maybe it was. Till I met Ethan.
I hear the elevator ascending and I hurry to slip into bed, to pretend to be asleep. I can fake it, lying motionless, breathing deeply and evenly, a skill I learned as a kid. If Pop came stumbling home angry-drunk, sometimes being asleep saved me from a beating. Not always, but it was a skill I mastered early on, to save myself. Just as tonight I need to save myself. If I look at Justin now, if I talk to Justin now, I donít know what will happen. Better to fake sleep.
He only takes the elevator when heís tired, heís probably spent the whole evening fucking his brains out. No wonder he hasnít wanted to share tricks with me lately, to play the game we invented. I thought he was too tired from all his school projects. Itís amazing how a single piece of knowledge can crystallize the truth. He doesnít want to trick with me, because heís tricking with his lover on the side.
The door slides open, heís not being quiet. I commence my fake sleep-breathing, and I hear him at the foot of the bedroom steps, his sneakers squeaking to an abrupt halt. He didnít expect me to be home. Then he tiptoes, undressing almost silently. He takes a piss and I wait, holding my breath. Sure enough he turns on the shower. Heís going to wash the come-stink off his dick, out of his mouth, out of his ass, before he crawls into bed beside me. By the time the shower is turned off, Iím slipping into real sleep, a sleep of exhaustion and anger and really very amazing pain. Who knew I could ever feel this way?
By morning I wake up before the alarm goes off, fresh as a daisy. Iím fine, everything is fine, itís hard to believe I was so upset last night, over something as unimportant as Justin fucking around. I slip out of bed without waking him, and when I glance over, heís slightly mouth-breathing, one hand is tucked under his chin, his blond hair rumpled on the pillow, his face as innocent as a sleeping cherub. Heís still asleep when I come out of the shower and start getting dressed. His secret fuck really wore him out. Normally I reset the alarm for him. Today he can wake up on his own, Iím out the door before seven oíclock.
For the first time in two weeks Iím glad that work sucks, it sucks every ounce of energy from my body and fills my brain completely, leaving no room for other thoughts. Justin calls twice, and both times I tell Cynthia to take a message, and I ignore the looks she gives me both times. Sheís too fucking sharp sometimes. I get home late, surprised to find Justin waiting for me. Iíd forgotten that I insisted he go with us to the bowling alley for our big Cops & Queers contest tonight, and the sulky look on his face almost sets me off.
ďYou donít have to go after all,Ē I tell him, with a calmness I donít feel. ďIf you need to work on your project.Ē
Justinís face immediately lights up and he gives me a huge grin. ďItís not that I donít want to!Ē he assures me eagerly, reaching for his jacket flung over a chair and shrugging it on. ďItís just that I need to research some Renaissance artist at the library, for my art history assignment.Ē
Donít lie, Justin, I want to tell him. Do whatever you want, just donít fucking lie. ďItís okay,Ē I assure him, turning my back in case my face gives me away. ďSee you later.Ē I feel him hesitating as I climb the steps to the bedroom, then I can almost feel him shrug his shoulders before he pulls open the door and hurries down the stairs. I realize that he didnít even take a notebook with him, to cover his library-research story. Justinís not very good at cheating.
I clear my mind of everything but the bowling match. Surrounded by so many people who think they know me, Iím on guard against anyone trying to read my mind. I throw myself into bowling, and surprisingly we do very well, getting within one point of tying the game with the cops. We all adjourn to Woodyís, and Debís cop boyfriend shows up. When Deb plants a sloppy kiss on him, Michael comes crying to me. ĎGrow the fuck up,í I want to tell him; instead I make a silly remark about Deb giving the cop a blowjob later. So naturally Michael has to get even with me.
ďToo bad Justin couldnít be here.Ē
I have to look away. ďIím out of here,Ē I say and leave without any goodbyes. I stop at the liquor store on the corner by my loft and pick up a couple bottles of Jim Beam. I have a feeling Iím going to need them before the weekendís over. In fact, sitting on the bed in the dark, I finish off a good half of the first bottle by the time Justin gets home. He comes through the door, he almost dances through the door, and heís humming to himself. I go out to meet him, and when he turns to see me, he jumps.
ďBri-an,Ē he says, his surprise drawing out the two syllables of my name. ďI thought you were bowling.Ē
ĒGameís over,Ē I tell him. It is, too. Itís over.
ďHowíd we do?Ē he asks, as if he were one of the team.
ďThree cheers to the winners,Ē I raise my glass in a toast and toss back the liquor. When he smiles congratulations, I add, ďIt wasnít us.Ē
ďOh.Ē Heís heading toward the bedroom, but at an angle so he wonít have to pass close to me.
ďCome here,Ē I say, grabbing on to him. He resists, he wants to take a shower. Iíll bet he does. ďI want to smell you, not soap,Ē I murmur, pulling him close. I lean down and smell the dick on his breath, and he tries to pull away. I see fear in his eyes, and it touches something inside of me, it wakes up some hugely hungry animal deep inside of me, I feel angry and strong and dangerous, dangerous. In his eyes I see him acknowledge that danger, and I grab hold of him even tighter, he cannot get away now.
With my mouth I devour Justinís face, I suck his tongue into my mouth so roughly I hear his almost-inaudible cry, but he canít escape, Iím holding him too tight. And Iím kissing him and Iím eating his face and Iím grabbing his body with a death grip. And suddenly Justin is grabbing me back, grabbing on to me, Iíve waked up the lust beneath the surface of his skin, weíre alike under the skin, Justin and I, under the skin we are both hungry animals with a lust greater than any normal human can imagine. He matches my lust, he has always matched my lust, the frightened seventeen year old kid matched my lust from the very beginning. Maybe I saw that in him, sensed that in him, when I caught sight of this incredibly beautiful boy waiting for me beneath that street lamp so long ago.
Together weíre ripping his clothes off, tugging and grabbing and pulling, all the while my mouth is possessing him, possessing him like no one else ever can, heís mine, he belongs to me, he will always belong to me. We throw ourselves on the floor and Iím pushing him down, my mouth hot on his neck, on his chin, on his face, on his mouth, he is gasping for breath, weíre both gasping for breath, and he reaches his hands toward his cock but I slap them away. Then he knows, he knows itís going to be rough, and I feel a shiver make his body tremble, but not with fear any more. He wants it, he wants me, and I ask him, ďDo you like that?Ē and he shudders as he whispers ď. . .yes. . .Ē and I kiss him some more, and rip open his pants and pull out his dick, swollen and dripping and hot and throbbing and. . . and then. . . and then, I stop. I stop and stare at him, both of us gasping for breath.
ďWhyíd you stop?Ē he whispers. I stare at him, I lower my head and I look deep into his eyes. ďBrian - ?Ē
Neither of us moves, weíre frozen to the floor. ďGo take a shower,Ē I smack him sharply with my voice, ďYou stink.Ē
I get up off him and move away quickly, into the bedroom. I feel him lying there behind me, stunned, silent, then I hear him get up, pull himself to his feet and stumble into the bathroom. He closes the door. We never close the door, heís shutting me out. For a moment Iím tempted to follow him, to knock down the door, to push him to the floor of the bathroom and fuck him right there. Fuck him till he screams. Screams for more.
Instead I pick up the bottle of Jim Beam and walk out into the darkened living room. I stop to pick up my glass, then realize I donít need it. It will only slow me down. I let my body collapse onto the sofa, and I stare out the window. The drapes are closed, but I can see light and shadow, light and shadow, light and shadow, as I raise the bottle and start drinking seriously. With any luck I will pass out soon.
He knows. Brian knows.