The Game
Photo Copyright Showtime 2002
Episode 2-08

"You kissed him." 

That was not a shot in the dark; I knew the moment my lips touched Justin's mouth that he'd broken the rules.  His rules.  I kept smiling, as if it was okay.

He didn't lie, I'll give him that.  He just stared at me, feeling caught, guilty; yeah, Justin's transparent to me.  He rolled off the bed and hurried into the bathroom as I felt the smile slipping from my face.  I stared after him, feeling suddenly as if I was standing on an empty stretch of windswept beach and the outgoing tide was pulling the sand from beneath my feet.  Then I shook my head, hard, to get rid of that romantic-fantasy image; I despise that kind of bullshit.

Not-kissing was Justin's rule.  Kissing's always been a part of sex for me, and I've missed it in the fucks I've had since we somehow made these crazy rules that night in Babylon.  I'm still not entirely sure how that happened - Brian Kinney has never done rules.  Brian Kinney has also never talked about himself in the third person.  Another sign?

Sign of what?


I pull myself up and stride over to the computer, click it on, and pull up the new Bannerman presentation, which sucks donkey dick and needs a lot of work.  I can't concentrate though; I keep imagining Justin with his virgin trick, fucking him, kissing him.  He's probably young, well of course he's young if he was at Daphne's party.  And hot.  Justin only goes for lookers.

If he'd laughed it off, I might have been okay.  But Justin takes our agreement very seriously.  And though he's trying hard to play The Game, I know it's not what he wants.  I'm neither blind nor stupid.  But I'll never be monogamous, which I know is what he wants.  I can't give him that, so he's struggling to keep up with me. 

If I was the one to break the kissing rule, it wouldn't mean anything.  I haven't though, which kind of amazes me.  But what does it mean, that Justin broke his own rule?  Did he really like the guy?  Does he want to see him again?  Is he going to have a relationship with somebody else?  And why should I care?  Why should I fucking care, if we kick open this relationship a little further?

Relationship.  The word makes me laugh, I've resisted it for so long.  Boyfriend.  Lover.  Partner.  Christ, I hate those words.  Yet when a trick recently called Justin my boyfriend, I didn't correct him.  The trick also reminded me that open relationships have doors that swing both ways.  Letting people in.  Letting people out.

Justin comes out of the shower and immediately starts getting dressed.  Normally he'd be all over me with his wet naked body, luring me into bed with him.  I feel a surge of disappointment, and something resembling fear.  Ha!  Not fear, never fear.  Trepidation.  Yeah, that's a good word.  And I realize that it's not because he doesn't want to fuck; it's because he becomes so open to me when we're having sex, he holds nothing back.  He must be afraid he'll reveal something about last night.

I keep working on the computer, giving him his space.  When he's dressed he goes to the kitchen to scavenge some breakfast, or lunch - it's nearly two o'clock.  That boy really eats, we're constantly at the supermarket.  I don't remember eating that much at his age, well except when I was over at Debbie's. 

Focusing on the Bannerman presentation in earnest, I don’t hear Justin come up behind me, and when he puts a hand on my shoulder, I jump slightly, twist around to look up at him.   “I’m off to the diner,” he says, shrugging on his jacket.  His Saturday shift is two till eight. 

Sometimes I drop in at quitting time.  “Coming by for dinner?” he asks now.

“I’m not sure.”  I don’t feel like committing myself.  I keep my face blank, and I feel him surreptitiously trying to read me as he casually zips his jacket. 

“Okay,” he echoes my nonchalance, shrugging his shoulders slightly.  “Later.”

As he turns to go I grab his wrist, pull him back around.  “Kiss me,” I demand, and he half-laughs, and slides his arms around my shoulders.  I turn sideways and pull him down onto my lap, and we kiss.  I’ve always loved kissing, but somehow it’s different with Justin.  Maybe because I’ve never kissed the same person so much.  My tongue feels at home in his mouth, it knows his teeth better than his own dentist does, it knows the smooth arch of the roof of his mouth.  I could identify the taste of Justin’s mouth in a blindfold test with a thousand volunteers. 

I decide to tell him that, and he laughs; I can tell I’ve made him happy.  It doesn’t take much to make Justin happy.  Two fucks a day and monogamy, that’s all he wants.  Will he ever ask me?  I hope not.  Jesus, I hope not.  Because I feel sure he’d walk away.  He did it once before.  Before I submitted myself to his rules.

And how the fuck did that happen?  I don’t know.   

Justin hurries out the door, Deb gives him hell when he’s late; I wave him away with a smile.  Maybe I’ll drop by the diner later.  Meanwhile there’s the Bannerman account.  With a sigh, I turn back to the screen.  Within moments I’ve blotted out all extraneous thought and focus my attention on creating an irresistible allure for nickel-plated plumbing fixtures.

Three hours later, I’m heading for the diner.  I stop into the bookstore and on impulse pick out a large-format book about de Koenig.  Leafing through it, I wonder why Justin likes this artist’s work so much; it does nothing for me.  Maybe Justin can make me see it differently.  Funny how much I’ve learned from him.

Outside the bookstore, I pause to light a cigarette.  When I glance up, I see Justin standing outside the diner.  His back is to me, he’s talking to someone.  A kid.  A really young-looking and very slim boy in a jeans jacket, with close-cropped dark hair.  They seem to be arguing.  Christ.  Is this the guy Justin kissed last night?  I realize I’ve taken a step backward, ducking behind a store display sign.  Christ, I’m spying on Justin.

Turn around and walk away, I order myself, but I pay no attention.  I watch them, helpless to look away.  The kid’s upset, both boys are gesturing.  I know that stiff back, the toss of the head; Justin’s angry.  I see the kid appear to flinch, then he backs away a few steps, turns and hurries off.  Justin  watches him for a moment, then I see him fumbling in his pocket for a cigarette, and he hurries off in the other direction.  I think he’s going to see me standing there, catch me spying on him, but he sees nothing, his face is flushed, he passes within three feet of me, oblivious.

I hesitate, then suddenly I’m walking quickly too – away, in the direction the other boy took.  I don’t know why but I have to get close to him.  I see him a few yards away in the crowd, his head is down, his hands balled into fists as he slows down.  I go past him, turning to stare at his face.  He’s crying.  Making no attempt to stop himself.  Abruptly he turns and hurries down an alley, and I stand stock still, staring after him.

What should I be feeling now?  Sadness for the boy that Justin has sent away?  Or relief that apparently Justin won’t be seeing him again?  There’s no contest:  it’s relief, all the way.

Several heads turn when I enter the diner; well, I should be used to that by now.  But the atmosphere feels different, feels charged with tension.  Of course that is totally my imagination.  It’s my own heightened sense of drama, after witnessing the scene of Justin and the other boy.  There’s a booth empty in the back and I seat myself, putting the book beside me on the vinyl cushion. 

Deb comes from the kitchen and waves, comes over to chat.  As she leans an ample hip against the table edge and light glints off the dozens of buttons fastened to her vest, Deb’s behavior is so ordinary, her manner so normal, that immediately I sense something’s wrong.  The bell above the diner door tinkles, and we both jump ever so slightly as we glance toward the door and see Justin enter.  Immediately he sees me and waves, but stops off at the counter to grab an apron and wrap it around himself before coming over.  “Hey,” he says casually, throwing some kind of threatening look at Deb.

Aha, my detective mind cries, the boy came in the diner and Debbie saw him.  She nods at Justin, oh so imperceptibly, and pushes off, returns to the kitchen.  Justin takes over her position, leaning his hip on the table and smiling at me.  “Hey,” he says again.


“Kind of early for dinner.   You hungry?”

“No, I just dropped by to see you – can you sit down a minute?”

He looks a bit anxious, glances around the diner, then nods and slides into the booth across from me.  “Something wrong?” he asks.

“No, nothing’s wrong.  I just brought you a present.”  I put the plastic bag on the table and Justin eagerly opens it and pulls out the book.  He loves presents. 

“Oh my God, Brian, this is fantastic!” he cries, his hands caressing the smooth cover of the book, which he opens carefully to the exact middle, then he bends forward and sniffs the pages.  I’ve never seen anyone do that before, but Justin always smells new books before he reads them.  “It’s beautiful – thank you!” he slides a hand across the table to grab mine and squeezes.

“You can thank me better than that,” I tease.  I feel my face reflecting his smile.

Justin laughs.  “I will,” he promises, “later!”

“Hey,” Deb shouts from the counter, “Get your bubble butt in gear, Sunshine, you got tables to bus!”

“Okay!”  Justin slides out of the booth and bends down to give me a brief kiss.  “Coming back for dinner?”  When I nod, he smiles again and shoves the book into its plastic bag and hurries to the storeroom, where I know he has a locker.  I leave before he returns, giving a brief wave to Debbie, who’s wearing a worried look.  Debbie thinks she has to mastermind every relationship.  It’s bad enough she can’t leave Mikey alone, now she feels responsible for me and Justin.

What shall I do with myself for a couple hours?  Unconsciously I rub a hand over my stomach.  It feels slightly loose.  Slack.  I still weigh almost the same as I did in college, but maybe I need to start working out more.  Lately my morning run on the treadmill gives way to an early morning fuck with Justin.  I decide to head for the gym, a couple hours’ workout would feel good.  Maybe some of the guys will be there to entertain me. 


Jesus, Brian almost caught me talking to Eric.  If he’d gotten there a few minutes earlier, he’d have been in the diner when Eric came in.  I give him a quick kiss and hurry to the backroom with my new book.  A fantastic book on de Koenig - he bought me a beautiful present after I broke our rules.  I feel almost like crying but of course I don’t.  I know it’s okay for men to cry, but not at work.

I almost cried after sending Eric off.  No, not really, what I really felt like doing was throwing up.  Because I know exactly how Eric feels.  Who would know that better than me? 

Yet I didn’t mean to lead him on.  It really WAS only a fuck.  Or it should have been, it would have been okay if I hadn’t kissed him.  But Eric needed that kiss, those kisses.  He gave up his virginity to me and I was treating him like a piece of meat.  So I had to kiss him.  I had to. 

Next time I’ll know better.

I don’t want a next time.  Well, I do and I don’t.  I like being with other guys, but I really only want to be with Brian right now.  Maybe someday I’ll feel differently, but I can’t believe it, it does not seem possible.   He is everything to me – lover, mentor, teacher, friend.

Two hours speed by and Brian shows up at the diner.  My shift is over, so I join him in a booth at the front and we have dinner – he only has soup and a salad, says he’s not very hungry tonight.  I catch him smirking at me as I devour a big slab of meatloaf and a mountain of mashed potatoes.  Well, I’ve been working for six hours, he’s probably just been on the computer.

It turns out he went to the gym and had a shower there, so when we go home from the diner he doesn’t  join me for my own shower.  When I’m dressed again we drive to Woody’s and leave the jeep in the back, stop in for a drink before heading off to Babylon.  As usual, we part at the door and go our separate ways.  This is not my idea of course.  It’s part of The Game.

Brian formalized The Game because he said I was too nosy about his tricks.  Somehow we came up with some loose rules – following the strict rules I established a couple weeks ago, but making it “fun.”  Brian’s word.  We’re supposed to guess stuff about each other’s tricks – age, looks, things we do with them in bed or in the backroom.  Mostly it’s joking, though Brian’s very good at this guessing game.  Too God-damn fucking good, as a matter of fact.  I don’t know how he guessed I’d been with a virgin, and that I’d kissed him.  I wish we didn’t have to play The Game any more.

It’s not so hard to guess Brian’s tricks – he often goes for the same physical type – tall, dark, well-muscled.  I’m not at all his type.  And I’m glad of that.  Maybe that’s why it was harder for him to keep pushing me away when I pursued him last year.  Looking back, I’m amazed I had the courage to go after him.  Or maybe it wasn’t courage.  I just really didn’t have a choice, that’s all; because I don’t care what anybody says, it was love at first sight for me with Brian.  And I’ve never stopped loving him, even when I hated things he did to push me away.  And even now when I hate playing The Game.

I sip a beer while I wander around the main floor at Babylon, sometimes dancing a little, sometimes watching the go-go boys, sometimes checking out other guys.  Then I make my way up to one of the catwalks, wondering if I will see Brian from up there.  In a way I hope not, because I hate to watch him dancing with other guys, leading them toward the backroom.  Sometimes I torture myself, but sometimes I turn away. 

Now I’m scanning the crowd below but I don’t see him.  I can guess where he’s at.  Except I’m wrong, because suddenly I feel his arm go around my shoulders, and he whispers against my ear, “So many men, so little body hair.”

I smile, then force myself to ask him, “See anybody you like?”  When he points at a guy – tall and dark, naturally, I nod.  “I guess.”  He asks me, and I point to some guy almost at random.

“Kinda  young.”  Then he takes my hand and says, “Let’s go for it.”

I stand still, hanging onto his hand.  He stops and looks back at me inquiringly.  “Or. . .”  I hesitate, then blurt out,  without thinking, “We could go home.  Just the two of us.”  He doesn’t answer, so I lean up and kiss his lips.

“What about The Game?” he asks.

Staring hard at him, I say, “Fuck The Game.”

Amazingly, he kisses me again.  Wraps his arms around me and we kiss, I feel myself melting against him.  Suddenly he pushes me away – gently, and just a few inches.  Then he looks in my eyes, tightens his hold on my wrist, and pulls me along, following after him.  I can’t believe it.  We’re going home alone tonight.

We pick up our jackets and move out the back door of Babylon, down the street toward Woody’s where we left the jeep.  Our breath mists the evening air, it’s fall now and winter is not far away.  Brian slides his arm around me, and I slide mine around him.  We walk in companionable silence toward the parking lot, stop at the jeep, and then, before Brian puts the key in the lock, he pushes me against the door and leans hard against me.  We’re nearly eyeball to eyeball, and I feel his cock pressing against mine.  “I don’t want to share you tonight,” Brian whispers.

“I don’t want to share you, either,” I agree, before his mouth crushes onto mine. 

Silently I repeat inside my head, ‘I don’t want to share you ever again.’