- - - - -
I believe in whatever gets you through the night. In the dead space between night and morning, when you’re lying flat on your back in bed and everything feels like it’s bullshit, you need a fix. A drug of choice, a good idea for a story, or a person to hold you when your dreams are on the verge of death. This story is about the latter.
The first time I saw him, he was sitting in the courtyard of a café in Boston, the sort of place that was populated mostly by the Gothic crowd. I didn’t know what to make of him; he wore a soft dove-gray shirt (later I found out it was the exact color of his eyes) buttoned to the throat despite the balmy late-spring weather, and jeans that were perfectly fitted to his slender lower half. He was smoking a cigarette with sugared black paper, and it smelled like India from where I was standing nursing a cup of cappuchino, and the way he exhaled the plumes of blue-gray smoke was like poetry.
I edged a bit closer, nonchalant. He didn’t even look at me, as he tapped the ashes from his cancer stick into the saucer next to his untouched cup of coffee, a mandatory purchase if you wanted to hog a table for more than a few seconds before being chased off by a waiter. There was a leather bag beside him, looked like a school-issue bookbag, even though classes had been dismissed for most of the public schools by that time. I couldn’t place his age; surely he was a college student by the self-assured way he sat, not looking at anyone, but his face was very young, the cheeks full and the lips pursed, the lashes long. He was beautiful, a study of gender as I gazed at his fine features, the slightly crooked teeth behind the lush lips, the flicker of pink-lemonade tongue when he felt me looking. But he had to play it cool; there were rules for this dangerous dance.
A few black clad teenagers, a year younger or so than myself, were crowded at a small aluminum glass-topped table, laughing about something, a small radio playing David Bowie on a classic rock station. While the famous idiom raved about his little china girl, I was trying to find a way to segue into conversation. The decision was ripped from my clumsy hands when the boy looked at me with steady eyes the color of gun barrels and exhaled at the same time, obscuring his face in fragrant smoke. “You want to sit down?”
Oh God, his voice was honey and had a hint of eastern accent, perhaps a trace of European, Irish maybe, which would explain the dark auburn hair hanging down in his eyes, tousled and giving anyone interested the acute desire to reach forward and brush the strands away from that glorious gaze. I nodded, wondering at what point I’d become so inept at social interaction, and he gestured languidly with a pale hand at the seat across from him. I took it, sitting turned half to the side, my legs uncrossed, taking up as much space as possible, customary for men to do. He sat just the opposite, compacted and neat, the arm that wasn’t maneuvering the dying cigarette crossed over his chest. His eyes slipped over me, scrutinizing, guarded, and then he lifted a slender brow. We had said nothing yet except that initial invitation, and the Bowie song was wrapping to a close, leaving us nothing to hold onto but silence and each other’s eyes.
“I’ve never seen you here before,” he ventured, taking the first few steps into a conversation. I could have listened to him talk all night, with a voice like that, each syllable enunciated, delicious to my ears after the harsh clicks and pauses of New York accents for an entire college semester. I hailed from the deep South, Texas to be precise, where it wasn’t uncommon for conversations to last thirty minutes because it took everyone so damned long to say what they intended to. Up here, everything was brisk, to the point, including the way this boy was popping the cherry on his cigarette, crushing it into the saucer, watching it die with a faint shimmer of red sparks.
“I don’t get up to Boston much,” I admitted, playing with the china cup of my cappuchino, lifting it to my lips for a small sip. It was cooling, lukewarm already, not as sweet on my tongue. “I’m just visiting... I go to college in New York.”
He lifted a brow, then nodded slowly, leaned forward a bit. “I’m not in school... I work at a bookstore here in town.” Eyes dropped for a moment to examine his own coffee, deem it unworthy to drink, and promptly tear open a small plastic tub of creamer, dump it into the inky fluid. “What’s your major? Or are you undecided? I hear it’s all the rage these days to be aimless in college.”
I dodged the barb smoothly, noting to myself that while he was interested in me, he seemed aloof, almost stand-offish. But perhaps he didn’t know; it was possible he thought he was just being coy.
“I’m majoring in English. Emphasis on creative writing, actually,” I said, watching carefully for his reaction. Most people flinched when I said it, or made a sympathetic comment about how in five years I’d be working in the food industry. I knew there was a risk involved in striving to become an author, but I’d been writing since childhood, and upon perusing the list of available majors, it had seemed at the time to be a fail-proof choice.
He didn’t flinch or pat me on the back or shake his head in mock sympathy. Instead he smiled, with his lips closed, self conscious about his teeth probably, and said, “I do some writing myself.”
“Oh?” I was interested. Would’ve placed him as a literature major, or maybe something presumptuous but altogether useless, like a thesis paper the progressive German government’s influence on modern pop culture. But to think of this boy sitting tousle-headed in boxers at a desk struggling to find the right words to personify his emotions... trying to bring characters to life so that an audience would empathize... it was more than I could bear. It meant he was on a level I could touch, he wasn’t out of my reach. And I’d hooked him, too; there was a flirtatious way he was chewing on the tip of his short, stubby fingernail, his hands small and delicate and more suited to a fairytale creature, and his eyes weren’t leaving my face.
“Yes.” He wasn’t going to make it easy for me, wasn’t going to spell it out. I liked that.
“What’s your name?” It was risky. He still hadn’t decided if I was worth his time or not. His eyes darted to the group past me, the ones with the radio. They had switched the station, and it was a commercial for a local nightclub, nothing musical about the harsh techno beat in the background as the announcer raved about the wonderful drink specials offered nightly. He wanted a cigarette, he wanted fresh coffee. He was restless, and my question had unsettled him. I lifted a brow, said nothing. The silence dragged on, uncomfortable.
“Brian,” he replied after a moment, softly, almost a mutter.
I told him my name, though he didn’t ask for it, and we didn’t offer to shake hands. He kept his, in fact, rather prudishly to himself. Maybe he wasn’t gay after all. Maybe I’d disconcerted him. Or maybe, he, like me, didn’t know what to think.
A girl walked over to us, a pretty young thing in leather jeans and a t-shirt that showed her ample curves. She had hair the color of a sunset and eyes like New Orleans at night. She wanted to bum a cigarette, and Brian looked at me, obviously waited to see if I’d produce one. I’d kicked the nicotine habit in high school, and I lifted my narrow shoulders apologetically. “Sorry... I don’t smoke.”
Brian didn’t make a face, didn’t reply. He reached into his jeans, produced the crumpled cellophane pack of Indian cigarettes, and handed her one. She giggled a thank you, batted synthetic lashes, stuck around for a minute. She seemed to be checking him out, waiting for him to say something else maybe. I don’t think he noticed. She sashayed off in search of a matchbook, and Brian stood when she was gone, stuffed the pack of smokes back into his hip pocket.
“I should get going,” he mumbled, the leather bag hefted onto one shoulder. I didn’t try to stop him. He was shorter than me standing, much shorter. A little over five foot, maybe five even. I was never a good guess at heights, but he barely came to my shoulder, and he was built small, delicate, breakable. I wondered if he was as fragile as he looked. I wondered if I would get a chance to find out.
“Thou art to me a delicious torment,” I teased in a low voice, and he froze, his back to me, head lifting a little. I could imagine the faint, reluctant smile playing with his pretty lips, never a glimpse of crooked teeth.
“Emerson.” He was so matter-of-fact. I was impressed; it was a well-known quote, but not everyone could tell you in less than five seconds who said it.
“Do you actually read Emerson, or did you just pull that from a Hallmark card to try and get me to stay?”
He was joking. At least, I thought he was.
“I love Emerson. Read transcendentalist philosophy all through high school. It was the meat and potatoes of English class.” I flashed what I hoped was a sexy smile when he turned to face me. His expression was bemused, smirking, just as I’d imagined.
A pen came out of that backpack, and a scrap of paper. College-ruled.
“You’re going to give me your number?” I asked, pleased, trying to act casual.
“No. You’re going to give me yours,” he countered, pushing the pen toward me. I plucked it out of his fingers, resisted the urge to kiss his smug mouth, and wrote down seven digits automatically. He pushed it into his pocket, took his pen back. Walked off.
I couldn’t help but watch him go.
- - - -
The lights on my bedside clock were glowing a bright luminescent green, a sickly green like toxic radiation, making my eyes ache in the darkness of my room. A little after three in the morning, and it was warm and balmy, the cotton sheets clinging to my slender pale legs, the sharp curves of my hipbones. Mid-July in the northeast was muggy, humid, and I could feel the sweat dampening my soft black hair. I hadn’t cut it since my last year of high school, and it tickled my ears, the nape of my neck where it grew in like crushed velvet.
The path to the bathroom was one I’d walked a thousand times in my apartment since moving in two years ago, and my feet carried me over threadbare carpet and well-worn linoleum, automatically skirted the jutting edge of my coffee table, until I stood on blissfully cold tile. I wrapped my fingers around the edge of the sink, gazed at my reflection without turning on the light. I was a silvery shadow across the sleek surface, a photo negative of a boy, black hair and white skin and dark shadows beneath my eyes from the hours I kept.
When I’d finished pissing, I left the seat up and walked into the kitchen, a sad state of affairs and little more than a counter with an old gas range and a microwave, a fridge stocked with soda and little else. I didn’t eat much, and saved money on groceries that way. All of the money saved was poured back into rent so that I wouldn’t be sleeping on a park bench in New York. Rent-controlled’s an urban myth.
The glass of water was cold and felt good going down my throat, but it almost slipped from my hand when a shrill buzz sounded in the hall. The phone. I set the water down on the counter, hurried in the dark to grab for the receiver. The coffee table leapt out of the shadows, made me stub my toe as I rushed past it. Fingers grasped cool plastic, jerked the cordless from its base, and pressed it to my ear.
“You’re awake,” vaguely impressed, approving.
It didn’t even take me a second, even in my half-asleep haze, to place it.
“Why are you calling at three in the morning?”
“It’s as good a time as any. What’re you up to?”
“Nothing.” I ran a hand through my unkempt hair, leaned against the sink. It was cold against my bare lower back, made me shudder, draw away, before resettling my weight against it.
“You sound tired... did I wake you?” The voice wasn’t apologetic in the slightest; I imagined him sitting there, in some sort of delicious attire (or perhaps, my mind dared venture, nothing at all, that fragile feline body poised on a luxurious bed with sumptuous sheets), speaking to me in his low voice, smirking.
“No... I’ve been up for awhile.” A whole five minutes. The lie was natural, minor; it fell through the cracks before I could have bothered wondering why I hadn’t confessed that I’d been in bed before his call. It didn’t matter. Trivial. I left the kitchen, my water forgotten, feet leading me back to my bedroom, lying in the warm tangle of bedclothes that smelled of incense and laundry detergent and the faint, not unpleasant musk of my clean summer sweat.
“Do you want to come over?” I didn’t know I was going to ask; ivories closed on the tip of my tongue as soon as the words were uttered, half-cursing my own nerve, half daring to hope.
A pause, and he laughed softly, a rich intoxicating sound. “Are you naked?”
“I might be,” I responded, fingertips creeping over the ridges of my ribcage, the soft flesh in the hollow of my flat stomach. No hair there; body hair had always bothered me on my own person. It seemed so alien, coarse and dark and unwanted. I shaved religiously.
“That’s probably for the best,” he conceded, and then there was another brief lull in speech, as though he didn’t know if I was serious or not. When I didn’t change the topic, I heard a soft rustle, someone ripping a piece of paper off a notepad. The click of a pen.
“Where do you live?”
He showed up dressed in straight-legged black jeans and a t-shirt with a band logo on it, black Doc Martens. Glossy lipstick outlined his delicious mouth, the one that I imagined tasted like maple syrup, but not so sticky-sweet... more like a dessert liqueur, perhaps. Kohl made his dark gray eyes slutty, and his reddish hair was a mess around his pretty face. I had pulled jeans on, plain blue ones with the hems frayed to ribbons, a plain black t-shirt. My hair was tied back with a rubber band, my teeth freshly brushed. I didn’t mind that it was four a.m., that he was late, that he had demanded that I wake up for him, surrender my precious nighttime hours of sleep. I was a habitual insomniac, and any sleep I could catch was welcomed with wide arms, but apparently Brian had no regard for such things.
“I thought you were naked,” he purred, and then he was upon me.
We didn’t waste time with talking. His mouth melted with mine the moment the door closed, and I didn’t have to wonder anymore. The kiss was like fireworks, smoky and illicit, raw, urgent; his tongue in my mouth, his lips staining mine with their wanton black paint, his fingers pulling the band from my hair, working the snarls out with clever little gestures. He was hungry, a starved boy, and we barely made it out of the living room. When the kiss broke, however, our lips parting with an audible breaking of flesh, like withdrawing after sex, his eyes opened, the messy eyeliner making them half-crazed, and he looked around my apartment, really looked. He examined everything, taking my privacy for granted the way he’d taken my sleeping hours. Fingers opened things and closed them, prodded, flipped through my CD collection, eyes studied my posters and the magazines on the coffee table and the clothes on the floor. He said nothing, only looked. Somehow I didn’t mind the intrusion, found myself absurdly seeking his approval in everything.
When he’d finished his inspection, we were in my bedroom, the lights off. I picked up my lighter, a deep purple plastic thing I’d picked up for fifty cents at the gas station, and went to light a few candles. His hand stopped me, gentle but firm, the nails painted immaculate black, still neurotically short and gnawed.
“Don’t. Lights off.”
I let the lighter fall to the carpet, felt those clever hands pushing up my t-shirt, removing it. He found my nipple rings with a pink velour tongue, flicked at them leisurely, tracing patterns and intricate designs on the sensitive flesh of my chest. The warm air, the tickle of his messy auburn strands on my belly, was impossible to bear. I closed my fingers on bedsheets when he unzipped my jeans, when his hands caressed me like a cool breeze, small and deft and expertly manipulating me. My breath came quicker, excited. He stopped as suddenly as he’d begun, sliding up my body, a serpent in bed with me, lying alongside me stretched on the big mattress, in the unwashed but clean sheets.
“What do you want?” he whispered, throaty, playful now. He was as turned on as I was; the muscles in his shoulders were like fine wires strung too tight, ready to snap, and he was breathing jaggedly, his lips parted as they traced a map over the side of my throat, my collarbone.
“You, all of you,” I breathed in response, back arching, fingers finding his hair, stroking.
“You can’t have that,” he replied tenderly, kissing my closed eyelids, the tip of his tongue tracing my lips before kissing me thoroughly, the way every kiss in the world should be. He was exuding something, some sort of pheromone I suppose, something that was making my room warmer, making me feel more like having sex than I ever had in my life.
“I’ll give you something else,” Brian offered, and then his lips replaced his hands, swallowing me quickly, whole. His mouth was small, unbearably hot, and I almost lost control just then, at the initial slide. My spine shuddered, gooseflesh rising on my skin when he pulled back and blew slowly through pursed lips on the stiffened flesh. I lost all capacity for thought, and then it was dark, my eyes squeezed shut like a dying man, whispering curses and encouragement and blasphemous epiphanies under my breath, volume increasing as his tongue did tricks I couldn’t fathom, his throat bottomless, engulfing me, swallowing. When I came there was a meteor shower in my head, blue and red and purple and green and the silver of his eyes, and then I was kissing a mouth slicked with come, a beautiful mouth outlined in black and tasting of salt instead of syrup.
He was gone with the moonlight, and I woke up alone in my bed, my mind slow and sluggish in the post-sex glow. There had been just the blowjob, and he’d thwarted my attempts at reciprocating, leaving no room for argument; we’d stayed up talking for an hour after my orgasm, and then I’d drifted to sleep. Rolling over in the sheets, I realized that there was his essence, smoky with the Indian cigarettes and rich, exotic. I inhaled a few times, savoring the peppery scent, and then slid out of bed, naked, to shower.
- - - - -
It was September by then, and I had decided to put my education on hold for him. He’d already put a toothbrush in my Boston apartment, was spending the nights more often than not. Sometimes in black leather pants, sometimes in tailored jeans, but never in shorts, and never nude, he would occupy my bed, an endless stream of t-shirts, sometimes with the glamorous makeup, sometimes without, looking young and sheltered or trashy and tart. We had talked about every topic that flitted over our intellect’s minds; I’d read some of his stories, and he had indulged me by reading mine, sprawled on my mattress on his belly reading a notebook for hours without cease until, looking up at me as I typed on my computer, he’d point out a continuity error or question a character’s motives. I didn’t mind the criticism, though from anyone else I would have snapped a sharp retort, never offered my vulnerable purple prose up for dissection again. His own were strange and twisted, and I always felt that maybe they’d be more beautiful if I put a tab of acid on my tongue first. He was eloquent, played with words in a way that would make your head hurt, but by the end you were holding your breath, loving characters because he’d breathed life into them in a few short pages, and you were sometimes trying to hold back tears, but I would always hand it back with just a few words of vague praise. He knew how good he was, didn’t need me to tell him. Compliments only seemed to make him uncomfortable, and I was sparing with them because I knew he preferred it that way.
We’d gone to movies almost every night that first delirious week, seeing everything from the blockbusters to the independent art films, to the downright awful. We’d raided Blockbuster, him brandishing a credit card like a medieval sword, and several video cassettes later I remarked that while his tastes ran to subtitles and motifs, mine were more grounded in low-budget schlock horror films, Fulci and Romero gods of this realm. We had sipped coffee in almost every horrid little hole-in-the-wall café in the state.
We had never had sex, and he had never spoken to me about his past.
He knew that I had two sisters, one named Lindsey who went to college down south and one named Megan who was married and living in Chicago. He knew that I’d been born in Knoxville, had hated it down there, had transferred north to escape the heat and white trash and country music. He knew that my middle name was Colin and that when I was eight I’d broken my arm jumping out of a tree to prove my bravery to my siblings. But I knew nothing of him except tiny slips of his tongue in conversations. Mentions of a brother, problems with his father as a child, a cat he used to have. Until then the nonchalance with which he regarded his past had not bothered me, but the more I was around him, the more curious I became. Who was this beautiful boy, and who had he been before me?
“Hey Brian,” I ventured one night, while we were lying in bed side by side, fully dressed, a late-night movie on with the sound turned down low. He glanced at me sidelong, without turning his head; he’d made a comfortable niche in the pillow, didn’t want to leave it.
“Where did you live before Boston?”
It was like someone had flicked a switch. He sat up a little, pulled the sheets tighter around himself. Since he’d more or less moved in, we had purchased dark burgundy sheets because they flattered our pale skin, a moment of senseless vanity for the sake of fun.
“All over... Europe...,” he said finally, not meeting my eyes. His arms were folded defensively over his chest.
“Where in Europe?” I pressed, curiosity driving me to question.
“England. Luxembourg,” he replied after a moment, his voice curt, annoyed. “I went to school there.”
I didn’t say anything for a moment, and then reached for the glass of water on the night-stand.
”There’s this fairy tale where a beautiful woman comes to a man and tells him that she will make beautiful cloth for him to sell, if he will let her spend her nights in a room working, and promises that he’ll never peek at her once she goes into that room. He agrees and they’re living happily ever after for a long time, until his curiosity gets the best of him one night and he gazes through the keyhole and sees...” He stopped, ran a hand over his face, sighed. His fingers were like spider-legs, and there was a silver ring on his middle finger. I’d given it to him a month earlier.
“What?” I murmured, setting the glass back down after swallowing, gazing at him steadily with eyes the color of unearthed gemstones.
“Nothing,” he said, shaking his head and turning away. “Forget it.”
“Brian,” I said softly, admonishing him. He’d done things like this before when he thought I was being stubborn; he would get sullen, pouty, retreat into himself. Once he’d gotten up, pulled on his shoes, left the apartment. “I love you. I want to know about you. You don’t tell me anything; I feel like I don’t even know you sometimes.”
“Can’t you just love me for who I am?” he asked, his voice sounding strained and tense. I realized that he was on the verge of tears, and he was facing away from me, the muscles of his back taut as a cat’s. “Just love me for what you know... don’t dig things up, please?”
I touched his shoulder, and he turned his head to face me. His eyes, bright silver-green in the dark, were filled with tears and his bottom lip was trembling slightly, the fingers in the sheets curled into half-fists. His nails were chipped.
I ran my hand down his arm, trying to be comforting. The sleeve of his t-shirt shifted, and I felt something there, raised from the satin of his pale skin. He jerked his arm away, off the bed like a man on hot coals. He folded his arms tightly across his chest, glared at me from beside the dresser. I was a statue, staring at him, speechless. When I caught my breath, I murmured, “What was that?”
“You know what the fuck it was,” he hissed, tears running down his cheeks like drops of mercury. I wanted nothing more than to catch them on my tongue, kiss away whatever in his past had made him draw a blade so deeply against that beautiful skin. “I was a stupid fucking kid, okay? It was a long time ago.” He was lying. Those scars had been relatively fresh, no more than a year old.
“Brian, calm down, please,” I said softly, rising from the mattress, walking toward him. He let me get close, and then stared at me with those overflowing eyes, his lashes trapping teardrops like dew on Spanish moss.
“I loved him, and he didn’t love me back Is that what you wanted to hear? I loved him, and he was in love with someone else, and I wanted to fucking die for it. Because that’s what you do with love, you die for it, you die without it and you die for it ” He was shrieking now, his voice shrill and hysterical, cracking, his face flushed and blotchy from the tears.
“Who?” I whispered, my breath dying in my throat.
I watched him for a moment, and my incomprehension must have showed, because he went back to the bed, sat down slowly on the edge of the mattress. With shaking hands he reached down and pulled up the hem of his t-shirt, pulled it off. I realized why he had never let me see him naked before; his torso was a roadmap of sorrow, scars and symbols and hearts and letters etched into the skin with raised pink lines. With shaking fingers I traced them like Braille, and he caught his breath, whimpered softly. “I’m sorry,” he murmured against my hair, covering the top of my head with kisses. “I wanted to tell you, but I... people don’t love me when they find out who I am...”
“Who are you?” I responded gently, my arms going around that tiny body so naturally. He fit so well against me, puzzle pieces of bone and muscle and skin. His damp face pressed against my shoulder, and his voice was muffled, barely audible.
“I used to be in a band... when I was in Europe...” I stared at the ceiling while he spoke, ran my fingers slowly through dark hair. “We were actually pretty big, played a lot of gigs and all. We got invited to play at David Bowie’s birthday, you know that?” He laughed bitterly, fell silent.
“Bowie was playing when I met you,” I reminded him softly.
“Yeah. Ironic,” he said, and took another deep breath. “Anyway... the band was just something me and Stefan were so into, you know? Our drummer, Robert, he wasn’t into it as much. I think he thought the gigs would dry up and we’d all be collecting checks from the government or something. And then he found out I was... well... the way I am. You know. I used to wear girl’s clothing a lot. And makeup.”
“I could see that,” I nodded, gazing at the way the shadows played tricks on his face. I was holding a beautiful girl in my arms, then a boy again with merely a shift of light. His lashes were incredibly long and sparkled with tears when he turned his eyes up toward me.
“And Robert, he wasn’t so much into that... so he quit. We got a new drummer, named Steve, who was much nicer... and more talented anyway. But things were going so well... we got signed to a label, we were supposed to play this huge festival. And then Stefan said he was gay. And I’d been crazy about him the whole time, you know... he’s very tall and thin, giraffe-ish, and he’s just... I don’t know. I can’t describe it to you. There was something about us. We had such chemistry onstage... I thought...
“I went into the dressing room one night before a show. I was really tense and I thought maybe I’d fuck up, maybe we’d make total fools of ourselves because I’d fuck up. And I just needed some encouragement from someone, I was hoping someone was in the room to talk me down. And Stef was there, just sitting there in his jeans, reading over the setlist. He just looked so amazing, and so happy to see me.. I went over to him and he was smiling at me and being friendly, and I just knew it would work out, so I kissed him.”
He paused, drew his hand over his face again. I could see weariness there, hesitation. He didn’t want to go on. I didn’t want to be hearing this, but I knew he had to talk. If he walked out of this apartment tonight, he would never come back. I knew it with a certainty I couldn’t explain to another living soul if asked; it was something in the air, in his tone that spoke of finality.
“Obviously he wasn’t for it. He was so sweet about it, told me he was seeing someone. A Latin guy. Stef doesn’t go for girly boys.” He laughed, another humorless sound, grating almost. His teeth flashed white in the dark, almost a grimace. “Anyway. I was devastated. I was completely in love with him, and he wasn’t into me a bit. Just bandmates. The show went badly, because I was so upset, and Stef knew what it was for. Steve had no idea what we were on about, but he noticed we weren’t talking, and I locked myself in my room and did all of this.” A vague gesture to his upper body, and he let his limp wrist flop back onto the pillow beside his head, the curl of that delicate joint a religion to me. I could memorize his body in this pose, paint him in chiaroscuro passion.
“We went on, and Stefan and I never talked about it again. We played gigs, did a few records. Then I quit. I couldn’t do it. I woke up and saw Stef in his bed all tangled up with some gorgeous Spanish boy he’d picked up, and I just walked out. I didn’t return any of their calls, and my manager has no idea I’m even in the States.” He sighed, closed his eyes. “I came here looking to get away from it all... this place isn’t like Europe. In Europe everyone recognizes us, we’ve played so much there... I used to have black hair, and I couldn’t go anywhere without people yelling my name... so I came to Boston, and it’s not happened once. I think the hair helps a bit, no one would expect Brian Molko to have red hair anyway.”
“That girl at the coffee shop that first day... she knew who you were,” I guessed, my fingers still twined in his hair, stroking.
“She suspected, I think. I was surprised. Not many people here know of the band in the first place. But she told herself it couldn’t be, or if she did know, she didn’t ask for an autograph or anything. Which was good. If she had, I would have never talked to you. I’d have gotten up and left.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have walked out,” I said seriously, gazing at him in the dark. He turned his head to stare at me full-on, and then ran his fingertips under his eyes to wipe away the evidence of his crying fit.
“People love me for the wrong reasons,” he said simply.
“There are no wrong reasons in love,” I responded, and leaned over to catch his protests with my mouth. The kiss was shy, demure, our lips closed and my eyes open to gauge his reaction. When I drew back, he snared a fistful of my dark hair, pulled me back to him. We lay there like that for a few moments, and when he drew back, it was to unzip my jeans. I reached down, pushed his hand away. The look he gave me was puzzled and hurt. Stung, he started to turn his head. I caught him with both of my arms, pushed him back on the mattress. Shirtless and lying supine that way, he looked so vulnerable, young. I slid down his body, unfastened his own jeans. Narrow, girlish hips and milk-pale belly greeted me when I tugged them down, stripped him naked beneath me. With my tongue and lips I worshiped his scars, took inventory of his beautiful imperfections. He writhed beneath my ministrations, gasped, chewed his bottom lip when I slid my tongue across his skin. In the top drawer of the night-stand I found a jar of solidified olive oil, smeared it on both of us. My hand wrapped around him, and he shuddered, delicious against me. I pulled his legs up, my hands manipulating slender limbs and our eyes locked together. He inhaled deeply, made a sound like cats in heat when I pressed against him.
“I want you inside me,” he whispered breathlessly, and I was all too happy to accommodate. He threw his head back into the pillows, his teeth showing behind parted lips, and arched his back when I slid inside. The sensations were incredible, and I was gentle, unsure of where he stood with this particular act. Brian bucked against me, his hands braced on the mattress and my own on his hips. Our thrusting had rhythmic, hypnotic quality, and he began to tremble, his hands clawing at the sheets, making moaning noises that intensified as my thrusts became faster, harder, deeper. After a moment or two of this Brian hoarsely shouted my name, and the headboard slammed against the wall when he came, and me, a few seconds later.
Slowly, I withdrew, and he curled up in my arms, his head on my shoulder, hair trickling like rainwater across my eyes. Sweaty and spent, we lay on the tangled sheets that smelled of incense and sex and soap and our skin, and he smiled wanly up at me. “I love you,” Brian breathed, and I murmured it back drowsily.
“Don’t leave me,” he whispered, his arms tightening around me.
“I won’t leave until you want me to,” I promised, holding him close, and after a few moments I heard his breathing become more regular, his body relaxed, sweat cooling on his flushed skin as we lie still.
Love’s a funny thing. Sometimes you go looking for it, overturning rocks and checking every dark corner, hoping that something good will appear for all of your searching. Sometimes you find something you never expected, and it was right there in front of you. And sometimes you end up alone, pressing a blade into your skin because bleeding is the only way you can reassure yourself that you’re still alive. But you can’t live without it. Without some form of love, we become the walking wounded, living in a trance-like state where you hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing. You lie in bed thinking about these things, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you have the person you know you’re always going to be in love with right there in your arms when you’re thinking about them.
I believe in whatever gets you through the night.
© Amanda Rebholz, 2004