|Gap-Filler for Episode 2-16|
|Photos copyright Showtime 2002|
Brian hates the new sport jacket Mom bought me, I could tell immediately when I modeled it for him. He thinks heís this great stone-face but heís not. He wonít say anything bad, he knows I get defensive about my mother, but he wonít lie and pretend he likes it. He doesn't like my new shirt either, but I really do, I picked it out myself. He can't stand that I don't button my sleeves, but buttons are so uncool. Since he thinks he is the epitome of Cool, I don't tell him that, instead I let him pick out a tie for me to wear to the recital.
I wasn't quite ready when Lindsay and Mel arrived, I was still brushing my hair. I could hear them shouting at Brian over the loud music. He turned up the volume the second he heard the elevator coming; for some reason he didn't want to talk to them. They were berating him for not doing anything for my birthday. I don't care about that, I wish they'd leave him alone. Brian doesn't do birthdays, he explained it. I see what he means about it being silly to celebrate just being born. I sort of still would like to but itís not really important. Well, itís important for kids, but once youíre grown up itís not necessary any more.
Brian comes over to tie my tie. I can do it myself of course but I enjoy him doing it. He jokes that my dad should have taught me, and since he hates my dad I donít correct him. Dad did teach me, many years ago. But any activity that gets Brian touching me is fine and when he finishes he even gives me a forehead kiss, like Iím a good little boy. We share a look and I know heís reminding me of the trick we brought home last week who wanted to pretend to be my daddy. Brian held the guy down on the bed and told me to spank him. I ruined everything by laughing, the guy got mad and pulled away from Brian, grabbed his clothes and left. Then we had fantastic just-us sex, which is way better to me than sharing anyway.
Lindsay hangs back while Mel and I go out the door, and Iím sure sheís harassing him some more. Itís kind of embarrassing, I donít need anybody speaking up for me, but I donít say anything when we get in the car, in fact Iím kind of excited, Iíve never been to a recital before. Brian said Iíd probably be bored to death but I wasnít. Not at all. The guy Ė his nameís Ethan Gold Ė is an incredibly talented violinist. The program said heíd been playing since the age of four. There was something about him Ė the passionate way he played, the tilt of his head, the dramatic movement of his arm on the bow Ė that grabbed my attention and made me fumble in my pocket for a pencil.
I drew several sketches of him on my program during the recital, and when I went up afterward to introduce myself, he grabbed the program and said he really liked my sketches. He said he wanted to use them for his next CD cover. When he found out it was my birthday, he gave me one of his CDs that heíd made himself. I wanted to talk to him some more, but a guy came over to interrupt so I went to look for Linds and Mel. They took me to Vanelliís for an ice cream sundae. I got hot fudge, my favorite, and I laughed when Lindsay pulled a candle out of her purse, stuck it in the ice cream and lit it. They made me blow it out and said to make a wish. Iíve had the same wish for almost two years so I didnít need a lot of time to think. Suddenly I felt sad, making the same wish I had made last year. Maybe it was an omen. Maybe it meant my wish would never come true.
Lindsay ripped into me for not celebrating Justinís birthday. I loathe birthdays, I always have. Not that we celebrated them in my family of course, but other people get really carried away, all because you were born on the same day as a million others. Iíd already given Justin my blistering anti-birthday speech a few days ago, and he totally agreed with me. Well, he said he did, and if he didnít, he should have told me so.
Would he tell me? Well, thatís his responsibility. Iíve pushed him often enough to be assertive about what he wants. If he wanted a big party or something, he should have said so.
Justin used to argue with me all the time, but weíve reached a point where we agree about most everything. Heís always ready to go along with me, whether itís out to dinner or a night at the baths. The kidís a natural sex phenom, just like me. Heís always up for a trick and he picks half the guys we bring home. Thereís been a few times that Iíve caught a strange look on his face when weíre fucking some guy Ė like maybe heís bored or at least, not really into it. It made me wonder if maybe he wasnít so hot for it as I thought. I could ask him, but really, itís his own responsibility to speak up.
And if he wasnít up for it Ė then what? Would I stop bringing tricks back to the loft? Fuck no.
I tried to settle back into my research Ė I was checking out art in a design reference book, but Linds had planted one of her fucking seeds in my brain, the kind of seed that starts sprouting and sending out branches till youíve got fucking leaves growing out your ears. Sheíd said something about celebrating the fact that Justin was alive and well, after the events of the past year.
Damn Lindsay Goody-two-shoes Peterson.
Okay, I grumbled to myself, maybe she was right. Who cares about turning nineteen, itís just a number, itís not even a significant birthday like eighteen or twenty-one or fucking thirty. But maybe Linds had a point about celebrating Justin surviving the past year, surviving the bashing and all the shit with his dad and his school. The struggle heís had with his weak hand and the pressure he felt about earning his own way with that fucking go-go boy fiasco. Maybe that deserves some recognition after all.
Too late for a party or taking him out to dinner, thatís so mundane and boring anyway. What kind of last-minute present could I give him, something to really knock his socks off?
I start wandering around, picking things up and putting them down again. I pause at Justinís table Ė marveling that itís become ĎJustinís tableí instead of my dinner table Ė where his computer sits, where his piles of books and drawings are spread out in a mess that Iím always forcing myself to ignore. He needs this space. I asked him to live with me and he needs his own space, so I have to put up with it. I glance at the table top, I donít want to start riffling through his things or flipping through his books. I know he keeps a journal, but Iíd never read it, itís private. Iím just trying to get an idea for a last-minute present.
On top of one pile of papers is a photograph of a Calvin Klein underwear model. Justinís always ripping pictures of this guy out of my magazines, itís really annoying to be reading a story in the john and suddenly find a page missing. But Justinís definitely got the hots for this guy. Iíve no idea why, heís kind of thin with long hair and a wide mouth. Hmm.
I log on to my computer and sit down at the desk, bringing up a few websites with rentboy ads. After only ten or fifteen minutes browsing, I find a photo of a guy who looks like Justinís underwear model. Or close enough. Heís got a local phone number, and when I call, amazingly heís available for a house call this afternoon. We haggle a little over the price; I donít care what he charges but I donít need to get ripped off either. I give him the address and tell him to be here about an hour before I expect Justin to get home. I want to inspect the goods first. Not Ďsample,í just inspect, be sure heís clean enough, hot enough for Justin.
Turns out the guy is not that good-looking but he has a hot body. Iím starting to feel a little excitement, thinking about Justinís reaction to finding this guy in my bed. Our bed. Our bed. I have to try and fucking remember to stop saying My Bed, My Loft, My Kitchen, Justin told me it makes him feel like this is not his home too.
Suddenly I remember the box Justinís new sport jacket was in, there was a big red bow. . . Luckily the ribbon and bow are tucked inside the empty box that Justin has put in the garbage. I arrange the guy on my bed Ė on our bed Ė naked and looking passably hot, and arrange the red bow over his cock and balls. We smile at each other, he winks at me; and Iím anticipating Justinís reaction to his birthday gift. Heís going to be so surprised.
Now I need to find something to do to look busy when Justin gets home Ė he should be here soon. I remember noticing that the backs on two of the new barstools are loose. Grabbing a screwdriver and ratchet from the junk drawer, I get busy working on the chairs, and Iím just finishing one of them when I hear the elevator ascending. I race over to the bedroom steps to make sure Justinís present is awake Ė he is, and he winks at me again. Christ I hate people who wink. Then Iím back at the counter, working on the chair, acting casual and bored when Justin slides back the door and enters the loft. He looks about twelve years old in that hideous jacket his mom picked out.
I was excited to tell Brian about the recital but he wasnít really interested. I put Ethanís CD on right away, I was sure if Brian heard it heíd be impressed. He was fixing the backs of two of the barstools, they were loose. I probably should tell him that Daph and I had a barstool race the last time she was over. I need to call her soon, weíre kind of drifting apart. Brian says thatís normal when you grow up and go to different schools, but I really miss her sometimes.
Brianís not showing the least bit of interest in Ethanís incredible music and I feel very disappointed. Heís busy with the chairs and I wander back to the CD player, close my eyes and imagine Iím once again in the audience watching Ethan passionately playing the violin, when suddenly Brian grabs me from behind, heís covering my eyes with one hand and his warm breath tickles my ear as he murmurs, ďAre you ready for another birthday treat?Ē
I canít fucking believe it! Oh my God, I KNEW Brian was just bullshitting about birthdays! I can hardly catch my breath, I throw myself into his arms and give him a loud smacking kiss. ďWhere is it?Ē I demand, pulling away to glance around the loft, my heart pounding with excitement. But heís on me again from behind, covering my eyes and holding me tight. Heís walking me across the floor Ė then up the bedroom steps. There must be a surprise package waiting for me on the bed!
Brian raises his hand off my eyes and I feel the happy smile freeze on my face. Thereís a guy, a naked guy, in the middle of our bed, grinning up at me. He has a big red bow on his cock.
For a moment I canít move. I canít fucking move. Itís like one of the nightmares I used to have, when Iíd be paralyzed, helpless to move away, to get away from something I couldnít bear to face. And at first I canít bear to face the reality of Brianís surprise. A hustler, Brian got me a hustler for my birthday. Iím trying to keep smiling, and Iím trying to breathe, and Iím trying to think of what to say to Brian, when all I want to do is rip myself out of his arms and go running out of the loft.
Grow the fuck up! I scream silently at myself. Brianís explaining that this guy looks like my underwear model. In a way he does. He has the long hair, the wide smile. Brianís telling me to unwrap my present, so I reach down and take hold of the end of the red ribbon. Iíve seen this ribbon before. Yeah, it was on the present from my mom, on the box with my new jacket. Somehow that bothers me and Iím fixated for a moment, staring at the red ribbon in my hand. Model-hustler gestures to me, so I kneel down on the bed, and make myself turn around and give Brian a big smile. He did it for me, I remind myself; he did it for me and I want to look happy.
Brian likes to watch, which is fine, I like Brian to watch me fuck other guys. Iím not shy about it, and once I get into it with model-guy, Iím enjoying myself. Well who wouldnít enjoy himself, fucking a good-looking guy while your boyfriend watches. Soon I realize that Brian is waiting for me to ask him to join us Ė he never barges in or takes over, he always waits to be asked. And I want him to join us, so I gesture to him, and he smiles and pulls off his clothes and slides onto the bed beside me. We kiss, and Brian whisper-asks me what I want him to do.
Of course I want him to fuck me, and soon model-guy is at the head of the bed, leaning back on the wall. Iím lying on top of him, my back against his chest, and he plays with my nipples while Brian goes down on me. I reach toward the condom bowl, and model-guy picks one up, opens it and hands it to me, and as soon as Brian raises his head, I hold out the condom and breathe, ďFuck me, Brian.Ē With a quick laugh Brian sits up, kneels in front of me so I can slip the condom on his dick. He pulls my legs out straight and raises them to his shoulders, and then I lose myself inside the incredible, almost unbearable pleasure of a long and slow and intense Brian-fuck.
The hustler was a mistake. I sensed it immediately when I took my hand off Justinís eyes and told him to look at his present.
Actually, I knew it was a mistake as soon as I grabbed Justin and whispered that I had a birthday treat for him. He whipped around and threw himself into my arms. ďI knew you were just bullshitting about no presents!Ē he exulted and gave me a big kiss. Thatís when I knew Iíd miscalculated.
Damn Justin. Itís all his fault. He should have told me he wanted to celebrate his birthday. Iím always telling him to speak up, to ask for what he wants. And he always does. I think he always does. He was honest about wanting to stay for the wedding, why couldnít he be honest about wanting to celebrate his birthday? Shit. Itís all his fault.
I bluffed it out. I dragged him over to the bedroom, and showed off his hustler-present like it was a new jeep fully loaded on the showroom floor. I saw his shoulders slump, his whole body sort of cave in for a moment. Only for a moment, then he caught himself mid-slump, and I nodded to myself when I saw him straightening his shoulders. He was okay, it was going to be okay.
Justin pulled the ribbon off the guyís cock and joined him on the bed. He turned around and gave me a beaming smile. It was a fake smile, but I pretended not to notice. When the guy pulled Justin forward and started to undress him, I felt the vaguest twinge of something. Some sort of feeling that might have been jealousy in a normal guy. But I donít do jealousy, well not about sex. I like sharing Justin, and he likes sharing me. We do it all the time.
Still, I waited till he asked me to join them. Once I joined him, we really got into it, the other guy was merely a prop. That happens a lot actually, we bring guys home but many times theyíre almost superfluous. Itís fun and exciting to have extra bodies in my bed Ė in our bed Ė but the best part is usually when itís me and Justin fucking and sucking each other into oblivion.
We lost track of time, and when I looked at the clock, it was almost seven Ė when we were supposed to be at the party for Ben. I quickly got rid of the hustler Ė gave him an extra hundred, though Iím not sure why. Justin and I grabbed a quick shower and threw on our clothes, rushing down the stairs and into the jeep. The streets were slick so I couldnít speed as fast as I needed to, and we were late arriving for the party. Luckily so was Ben. As it turned out, once Ben got home the party fell apart anyway. Ben flew into a rage, yelling at Michael and throwing everybody out of his place. Now thereís a man who says what he wants.
It was really embarrassing at Ben's place, it turned out he didn't want a birthday party and kicked everybody out. Michael was devastated, and when Brian pulled me aside and said he was going to leave with Michael, I understood perfectly. Brian is always there for Michael, and I didn't mind them leaving together. Linds offered me a ride home but I wanted to walk, I needed time alone.
It was not raining but the streets were wet and halos sparkled around the street lights. Clouds hid the stars and made the night feel gloomy. Or maybe the gloom was inside me. At first I thought it was because of Ben's anger at the party - my reaction to seeing the happy excitement die out of Michael's eyes, replaced with pain and anguish. He's a sensitive guy and he's always getting hurt.
Sometimes I think that's my problem also. I'm too sensitive, I let little things bother me way too much. Brian's always telling me to be more selfish, to put myself first, to do whatever I want to do, what's right for me. I just don't always know any more what's right for me. Once I knew. I remember how I felt last year, when I was pursuing Brian. I was so confident, which is almost funny now, remembering. I pushed and pushed and pushed at him, till he finally gave up and let me into his life. Now I'm there, I'm in the middle of his life, and it's not what I expected. Somehow it's not enough.
Christ! Of course it's enough, it's more than enough, it's fantastic! Being lovers with Brian, living with him, being close to him every single day, sleeping in his bed (our bed), sharing meals and conversations - it's all I ever dreamed of. All I ever wanted. So it has to be enough.
I knew from the very beginning that Brian wouldn't say he loved me. I kept waiting and waiting but finally I realized he is not going to say it. I just have to believe he does. I never used to doubt that, not for a moment. I'm not sure why I doubt it now. The pissing incident was part of it, but only a small part.
Brian's always after me to live in the real world, accept reality even when it's bitter or leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I try to take his advice. Like going with him to the baths. Like the constant tricking. It's not as if I don't enjoy myself, usually I do. It's just that I would like something else for a change. Time alone with Brian when he's not eyeballing every other guy in the vicinity. Time spent alone, like Michael and Ben did the other night, just staying home to cook dinner and watch a movie together.
Oh, we've done that, sometimes we do that. But more often Brian's dragging me off to Babylon or Woody's. Not dragging me, it's always my decision; but if I want to be with Brian, I have to go along with it. Go along with all the tricking too. I used to think Brian was joking when he'd say, 'It's all about sex.' Now I believe him. I'm starting to believe him. If it's really 'all about sex' for Brian, then maybe I've been imagining that he loves me. Imagining that I mean more to him than just a live-in fuck.
Maybe I've been blinded to reality because of the ways that Brian has been there for me. He keeps insisting that his financial support means nothing to him, since he has plenty of money. Brian always tells the truth, so maybe it does mean nothing to him. I asked Melanie to make up some loan papers, I wanted it to be legal that I was going to pay Brian back when I finish school. He was pissed, he was majorly pissed at me for involving Melanie, but I insisted he sign the papers anyway. Now he keeps saying I'm an investment that will pay off dividends. I know he's joking, or anyway, I think I know he's joking. Maybe he's not.
I can't even be sure that Brian took me in to live with him after the bashing because he loves me. I remember thinking for a while that he only did it out of guilt. Everybody thought he did it out of guilt about the bashing, even Michael and Lindsay. Or maybe he did it out of pity. Pity! That's such a terrible thought, I can hardly bear it. If only he would talk to me about it, talk about the bashing and talk about why I'm living with him now. The only time we talked about it, he said that he wanted to come home to me every night. At the time I thought that meant he loves me. But maybe it's just because he likes me there to fuck.
He won't talk about anything to do with the bashing, he's always telling me to forget about it. I guess he's forgotten. Brian's not the only one who won't talk about it - everybody wants to act like it never happened. Whenever I try to bring it up, I get shushed. It makes me feel like it wasn't important, that I shouldn't still be having these feelings of - oh, of fear and anxiety; that I shouldn't still be looking over my shoulder when I'm in a dark place, I shouldn't still be having dreams where I'm wandering around alone in the dark, bleeding and crying. At least I don't wake up screaming any more. Usually I just jerk awake and lie in the dark staring at the ceiling till my breathing gets back to normal. Brian used to wake up when I had bad dreams, but he doesn't any more. I'm glad, of course I'm glad; I don't need him to wake up and hang onto me any more, I'm way past that. And I haven't told him that I'm still having the dreams. Now that I'm back to normal, he might think it's silly. Brian has no patience for weakness.
Finally I reach the loft and I'm sorry I walked home, I'm exhausted. I used to have so much energy but sometimes I get really tired, maybe because I'm older now. School isn't hard, but there's a billion hours of homework every week, and my shifts at the diner aren't hard, I mostly enjoy being there with Deb and talking to the regular customers. The go-go dancing was hard, I only did that a few nights but usually I ended up almost falling down with exhaustion. Thank God I don't have to do that anymore. Thank Brian, not God. Brian's been there for me more than God ever was.
It's late when I get home, just ahead of the three o'clock curfew. It always makes me smile when I catch myself glancing around for a clock, to be sure I'm going to make the deadline. Imagine me having a deadline! Imagine me agreeing to have a deadline.
Justin's asleep, and I try to be quiet so I don't wake him up. He's frowning and his head is moving on the pillow, as if he's shaking his head, no-no-no. I stop undressing and watch him, watch his face. He's dreaming, that's obvious, and it's not a good dream. I hesitate, wondering whether to wake him up or not. He seems pretty calm - it's not like those horrible dreams he used to have when he first came to live with me. He'd wake up screaming and flailing his arms, Christ, it was almost unbearable to see him so upset, so afraid. Thank God he doesn't have nightmares anymore, he's put all that shit behind him. I don't know what this dream's about, but it can't be too bad if it doesn't wake him up.
Suddenly Justin's eyes pop open and he sees me bending over him. Immediately he jerks, his whole body jerks upright in the bed, and for a moment I think he's going to scream. I just startled him, that's all. I sit on the edge of the bed and lean over to kiss him. He grabs on to me and I can feel him shaking slightly, so I kiss him again, and slip my arms around his shoulders, pull him against me, and he sighs. He's okay.
I break the kiss and pull away slightly. "You okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, you just surprised me is all. What time is it?" I pick up the clock and show him: two forty-seven. "That's cutting it close."
"I was with Mikey," I feel compelled to tell him. Which is stupid, I don't need to explain my whereabouts, that's not part of the agreement. Somehow I want to tell him anyway.
"Is he okay? Does he know why Ben got so freaky at the party?" Justin sits up in the bed, hooks his arms around his knees as I stand and finish getting undressed.
ďHeís okay.Ē Full stop. I donít discuss Michael with Justin. Or Justin with Michael.
Justin nods; he knows my rule. He watches me get undressed and holds up the duvet so I can slip underneath and slide right into his open arms. Heís so warm, it feels so good lying with my body pressed tight against his. Iím ready to kiss him, but I hesitate for a moment, wondering if I should ask about the hustler, ask if he maybe didnít like his present. But I donít ask, because. . .because. . .I donít need to. Justin knows he can always be honest with me.
Iíve got a two hour break between classes on Monday afternoons, time for lunch in the cafeteria, time for a walk to stretch my legs. Usually I wander around the perimeter of the art studios of the advanced students, or stop by the library to peruse the large-format volumes of art books. This Monday I take a different route, not really paying attention to where Iím going.
I end up in the music building, wandering in the back hall by the practice rooms. Iíve never been here before and I donít know how I got here. In the distance at the end of the hall I can hear violin music streaming through an open door. Iím going that direction anyway so I wander over and peer inside. Itís him. His backís to the door and I hesitate a moment, start to turn and walk away, but something holds me to the spot. Then he turns and looks at me.
Iím feeling uncomfortable now, but I take a few steps inside the room anyway. He offers me tea and Iím tempted because my mouth is dry, but I shake my head no. He asks about my birthday, if I had a big party. I tell him my boyfriend doesnít believe in celebrating birthdays. He says, ďThat sucks,Ē so I assure him it doesnít matter, I didnít really want a party anyway. Then he goes, ďNo, it sucks that you have a boyfriend.Ē
My God, heís flirting with me.
Ethan says what heíd do if I was his boyfriend. Heíd bring me breakfast in bed, and play his violin, and make love to me a hundred times. I turn it into a joke, ask, ďAll that before lunch?Ē but he doesnít laugh. Just looks me in the eye and says, ďYes.Ē
I turn away, I need to go. I donít have class for another hour, but I really, really need to go. As I hurry down the hallway, I can hear Ethan begin playing his violin again, and the lilting song of the violin strings fills my ears with a haunting romantic melody. Two hours later, in life class, the song is still repeating over and over inside my head, I canít stop hearing that melody. And I canít stop thinking about Ethan Gold and his dark passionate eyes.
Brian said heíd be home late Monday, he promised to help Mel and Lindsay pick up supplies at Home Depot, their friend Leda is remodeling the attic so Linds can have a studio. Lindsay says when itís done, I can come and work there with her sometimes, which will be wonderful. I wish she taught at PIFA, Iíd love to take a class with her.
I canít seem to settle down to my homework assignments. I pick up a book and read a few pages, put it down again. I flip on the tv for about ten seconds, and flip it off. Then I glance through some of my Rage sketches, and underneath them I find Ethanís CD. I pop it in and turn the volume up loud. The new barstools are easy to push around the polished wooden floor. Itís almost like dancing. The music is so moody, so hauntingly romantic, I hug the chair to my body and slide around the floor, twirl around and around while I hug the warm leather cushion of the chair. Iím not thinking of anything. Iím not thinking of anybody. Iím especially not thinking about Ethan Gold or his dark, dark eyes and the curly hair hugging his cheeks and his neck. Iím just lost inside the music swirling round and round inside my head. Not thinking about anything, just dancing to the music. Not thinking about anything at all.
Fuck Melanie and the horse she rode in on. Big mouth know-it-all, preaching to me about what Justin wants, what Justin needs. Lesbians and their romantic hetero crap. She says I should send Justin roses. Not fucking likely.
So itís strange when I find myself stopped at the flower kiosk on Liberty Avenue, staring at the bouquets of flowers.
Iíd left my car at the loft and Lindsay picked me up so I could help the munchers get construction supplies at Home Depot, and Iím enjoying my solitary walk home through the dark early evening streets, the cool night air burning inside my nose, the tips of my ears growing cold. I cross the street and stop dead center in front of the flower stand. Something makes me reach out and pick up a bunch of deep red roses, hold them to my nose to inhale their sweet fragrance.
The flower seller interrupts my reverie, offers to wrap up the roses. No doubt he is picturing me taking flowers home to the little woman. There is no fucking little woman, thereís only a fucking little man, and heís a gay man. Weíre both gay men, and Justin knows better than to expect any romantic bullshit from me. Quickly I replace the bouquet and turn away, turn my back on the flowers and romance and gestures of love and all that ridiculous God-damned shit.
Itís cold and I shove my empty hands into my pockets as I walk off down the street toward home. Justinís waiting for me. Maybe heís fixed dinner, or maybe he wants to order in a pizza or some sushi. I pick up my pace and cross the street, in a few minutes Iíll be home.
When I enter the foyer, I can hear violin music drifting down the elevator shaft. It's progressively louder as I climb the stairs and get closer to my door. I'm already sick of listening to that CD, the classical melody sickly sweet and sentimental. I'm tempted to pull it from the machine and send it flying, like a frisbee, out the window.
I pause with my keys in hand; pause for just a moment, wondering what Justin would do if I came through the door carrying a bouquet of roses. Would he throw himself into my arms, like he did before I showed him his birthday present? Would his eyes light up with surprise and happiness? Would he laugh out loud and hug me tight, smother my face with his kisses?
Yeah. Yeah. I'll bet he would. Maybe sometime Iíll do that. Not tonight, but sometime. After all, thereís no rush.