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[personal profile] kachelofen



I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW


PART FIVE

I sit in front of my painting, but I haven’t even started mixing any paints. I didn’t come here for that. I came to be alone, but that idea is shot to pieces by Jon being here. Just my rotten luck that he chooses tonight of all nights to work late. Since we met, I got to know him a little and I really like him. He's taciturn most of the time, but his silence speaks of self-sufficiency rather than moodiness or insecurity. When he has something to say, he does and it’s usually very funny.

At the moment I don’t want him to talk. I’m angry. With Brian, with Lindsay, with myself and the world in general. Sometimes I can’t believe the things that come out of Brian’s mouth. Melanie tells him that Lindsay is pregnant and he demands payment? I know he was just being flippant, covering his surprise and not wanting to lose face. But really, he couldn’t have tried just this once to react like a normal person? Or at least just shut the fuck up? No, he just had to taunt Melanie.

Even Brian can’t be so dense that he doesn’t realize that this changes everything, his whole life and it isn’t just about him anymore. The question is whether Brian can even comprehend something not being about him. I know how his mind works. He thinks he’ll be able to persuade Lindsay to have an abortion and then he’ll never think about it again.

It makes me angry sometimes that life seems to always give him an out. No matter what he does, he always comes out on top. All his friends fall over themselves to accommodate him all the time and to forgive him when he fucks up. No one ever makes any demands on him, so he has no reason to change, to grow. Although I’m not so very different in that.

But I think he may be mistaken this time. Because Lindsay will take this opportunity to bind their lives together permanently. There’s no way that she'll let him off the hook. And that just makes me angry. No one’s thinking of the child here. For Brian it’s an inconvenience he'd like to get rid of and for Lindsay it’s a means to an end. This has disaster written all over it. I’m torn between wishing that Lindsay will stick to her guns, so that Brian will have to face the music for once and hoping that she'll opt for an abortion because no child should have to start life with those odds.

And I’m angry with myself. I've been with Brian for over four years and in all that time I've made very little headway. He still drinks and takes drugs like being drunk and high is the ultimate goal in life, he still tricks like we’re not even in a relationship because he won’t acknowledge that we are. I've been trying to steer him towards a more moderate behavior, but whenever anything or anyone touches on his insecurities, he goes off the rails.

I’m tired. I’m tired of being all-understanding and all-forgiving. After all this time, I’m starting to ask myself when my needs will be taken into consideration. Just because I understand Brian doesn’t mean that his behavior doesn’t hurt. And the only person I can ever talk to is Daphne, because everyone else always just tells me to let go, to leave him, to think of myself for a change. But how can I? I knew very early on in the relationship that it was going to be tough. It was tough from the beginning, but I took it on and I promised myself that I would see it through. Only, I'd like to see some results, just some little ones. Is that too much to ask?

Brian craves attention, but he craves love even more. If he would only let himself be loved without being scared of it, his life would be so much easier – and mine, too. I could never let him go because that would just tell him that he was right all along. It would crush him and I couldn’t do that to him. But on days like these I'm just hanging on by the skin of my teeth, telling myself over and over again how young he is and that there’s still time. And I try to silence the voice at the back of my mind which tells me that maybe his need is greater than my love. Maybe there isn’t enough love in the world to fill the void inside of him.

Jon comes ambling over and stands next to me, looking at my painting.

“Boyfriend trouble?”

I nod. “You have no idea.”

He just stands there as if my painting, which has only a few lines on it so far, is the most fascinating thing he’s ever seen. Over the last three weeks I've decided that he’s one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He has effortlessly managed to convey the fact that he likes me without ever saying a word. I haven’t worked out yet whether his liking me means that he wants to fuck, have a relationship or just be friends. Since all I’m offering is the latter, not knowing is good enough for now.

“It’s Brian,” I say finally. Jon has met Brian a few times and he seems merely entertained by his cruising, which I’m sure vexes Brian no end, while it amuses me in equal measures.

“Well, duh, since he’s the boyfriend.”

That’s all he has to say and the words just pour out of me. It’s really liberating to speak to someone who doesn’t know me or Brian and has no preconceived ideas about us. Of course, it takes longer that way. Our relationship is so complex and I don’t want him to get the wrong idea, so I’m trying to paint an objective picture of what’s going on that doesn’t cast Brian as the villain or me as an angel. I always hate it when people ask me why I’m even with Brian as if I’m just a feeble idiot.

After nearly twenty minutes, I get to the point I’m at now, still reeling from Melanie’s revelation earlier on and Brian’s reaction. Jon has pulled up a stool next to mine and hasn’t said much throughout. I don’t know what I’m expecting from him, certainly no great insights or solutions. It was nice enough just to be allowed to talk.

“So, you’re not exclusive?”

Or maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He either wasn’t paying attention or he’s gearing up to make a pass at me. Only, there’s no flirtation, he just seems to be pondering something.

“Of course not. Weren’t you listening?”

“But you play safe?”

“Always. Why?”

“No condom, dude.”

“Huh?”

“You may be gay but surely even you must know how it works, Justin. Pregnant means no condom.”

And that just proves that no matter how shitty things are, they can always get worse.

Why didn’t I think of that? Up until today it wasn’t really an issue. Brian and I have always used condoms. We never even discussed not using them, not once. With all the other sexual partners in our relationship, it would have been complete madness. I always trusted him in this. And I assumed that he'd used one with Lindsay, too.

So what happened? He thought because Lindsay is a lesbian, he didn’t need protection? Because Lindsay is such a goody-two-shoes that she couldn’t possibly have anything nasty? That's some judgment call. Or was he too drunk and drugged out to bother? He says he can’t remember anything. And if that’s the case, how many other times has he been in that state and played Russian Roulette with his dick? He’s not exactly known for his moderation at the best of times.

I don’t feel particularly at risk from Lindsay. But wasn’t he worried about her? With his lifestyle, it’s careless in the extreme to have sex with her without a condom. I didn’t think he would endanger her like that. And why didn’t she make sure they were safe? Presumably she was more in control. Was she so keen to have him as a father for her child that she risked everything for that chance?

Either way, I don’t like the alternatives. Whether he did it without a condom because he was too far gone to bother or because he didn’t care that he was putting Lindsay at risk, I’m beginning to wonder if I even know him. This is one scenario I would have considered improbable, if not impossible, not so long ago.

Jon pats my shoulder in a friendly manner and when I look at him, he seems genuinely sympathetic.

“Didn’t mean to make it worse, dude.”

“S’alright. Not your fault.”

That’s the second time I’m telling someone that today. People seem to feel sorry for me and the only person who should apologize would never do it. Because he doesn’t owe me anything, not even consideration. At least not according to his philosophy.

Jon gets up and strolls back over to his half-finished sculpture, but he must be finished for the night because he's starting to clean his tools. I should go home, too. Or go somewhere at least, maybe Babylon. Some vigorous dancing or a trip to the backroom would be very welcome right now. I don’t feel like going home because I can’t face Brian just yet. I would probably scream at him. If he’s even there still. Avoidance is one of his favorite tactics. It’s quite possible that I won’t see him for quite a while.

As I haven’t started painting yet, I don’t have anything to clean up, so I just put my jacket on and make my way to the door. I should say something to Jon, maybe thank him, but I can’t think of anything. I linger in the doorway, and watch him rub down a saw as if that’s his only concern in life. I like that about him, that he can get so lost in his work.

It only takes me four strides from the door over to him. I pull on his arm to turn him towards me and, ignoring his surprised expression, I wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him. He can’t really do anything about it because he has his hands full, but I can feel him fumbling about for the table to put the saw and the cloth down and then he grabs me and pulls me close. He smells faintly of oil and metallic smoke.

When I break the kiss and start undoing his pants, he puts his hands on mine to stop me. I look up into his eyes.

“You’re just venting, right?” he says.

“Yeah.”

He nods a few times. “Okay.” Then he pulls me into another kiss and I can feel his hands down my pants and my brain switches off just after the thought that I’m going to be naked on his work bench after all.

When I get home, I’m surprised to find Brian still there. I have a shower and then I crawl into bed next to him. For the first time since I met him, I wish I was alone. I need to get my thoughts and my feelings straight. Fucking Jon was a stupid thing to do because I like the guy and that probably ruined any chance of us becoming real friends. That's my only regret. I don’t have any friends outside the family, apart from Daphne, and Jon would have been perfect.

And then there’s Brian. I’m no longer angry with him, it’s more like disappointment. And at the same time I have that low-grade feeling of guilt that I always have when I’ve been tricking. I know he doesn’t care and he would laugh at my guilty conscience, but it’s there nonetheless. He doesn’t get to dictate my morals and I'll never accept that tricking should be quite that casual.

And I have an indistinct feeling of sadness and despair when I think of how little he cares about what I’ve been doing, our relationship, my life in general. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Sometimes I get so lonely it hurts and strangely enough I feel like that even when he’s right there – especially when he’s right there.

I’m lying next to him and try to sleep. I know he’s still awake, but he wouldn’t want to talk anyway. Not his style. And I don’t want to have sex. I wish he was better at reading my moods, but even if he was, he wouldn’t give me what I need. After a while, I turn onto my side and I move a little closer toward him, not quite touching, just close enough to feel a little of his heat on my back, so that I won’t feel so damned alone.

I can hear the bedcovers rustle and feel the mattress dip a little more and then he’s there, molded against my back with his arm thrown over my body, pulling me even closer. I rest my hand on his forearm encircling my chest and close my eyes. Occasionally he can read me just fine and in those moments I don’t have any doubts at all.





Brian is still asleep by the time I leave for work the next day. I don’t know what he’ll make of the fact that I don’t wake him for sex like I usually do, but I can’t worry about that right now. I have to think before I can deal with him.

Work is busy as usual. We’re preparing a new exhibition for unknown artists. Sidney wanted to call it ‘Warhol’s Heirs’ but I thought it would give the wrong impression and not every piece of art coming out of Pittsburgh needs to be connected with Warhol. So we're calling it simply 'Emerging Artists'. I will have two pieces in the show, which I'm quietly pleased about.

So far I’ve sold three paintings through the gallery – in two years. It’s a start, I suppose. Two of them got mentioned in the papers, but Pittsburgh is just too provincial to make an impact anywhere else. So when Sidney tells me he's secured the attendance of Simon Caswell, the New York critic who writes for Art Forum, I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity for me and the other artists in the show.

I take advantage of the early closing today to pay a visit to Daphne. She looks slightly flushed when she opens the door to me and after four years with Brian, it sets off an immediate warning in my brain.

“Bad time?”

She pulls a face. “Kinda.”

I nod. “I’ll come back another time.”

She grins in agreement, then changes her mind, turning serious. “No. You look like you had a reason to come here. Come in.”

I’m a bit reluctant, but she just grabs my arm and pulls me inside all the way to the living room. Steve, who’s recumbent on the couch, startles and then stands up in a hurry, buttoning up his shirt. “Hey, Justin.” He looks about and finds his spectacles, which he cleans on his shirt tail a little before putting them on.

“Hey.” I look at Daphne, a little uncomfortable for the first time since I’ve known her. I’ve never before been unsure whether I’m entirely welcome.

I met Steve a couple of weeks ago when Daphne brought him to Woody’s. I think it was her litmus test and he passed with flying colors. Brian was there as well and spent twenty minutes making increasingly explicit passes at Steve, who laughed all of them off. Then Brian congratulated Daphne on the fact that her boyfriend is definitely straight and went to play pool. He came back after two games and started molesting me at the table. He kissed me and whispered dirty suggestions in my ear just loud enough for the other two to hear, while they watched with obvious amusement. Finally Brian gave up and went back to the pool table. I was convinced that he'd be ticked off enough to find a trick, but he didn’t and I had a long discussion with Daph and Steve about the psychological meaning of Modern Art. It was a pleasant evening.

“No Brian today?” Steve says with a smile.

“No, you’re safe today.”

“Shame. I like being chased.” He grins at Daphne, who grins back and raises her eyebrows. I’ve never seen her like this before. She’s been seeing Steve for a few weeks now, since she met him at that symposium she went to. I like him, but he has that boy-next-door look that I didn’t think would ever attract Daphne, never mind keeping her interested for this long. Although his spectacles make him look somewhat hot, in a studious kind of way.

“I’ll be upstairs,” he says and ambles out of the room, picking up a book from the table as he goes.

“I’m sorry, Daph, I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”

“It’s almost impossible not to interrupt anything at the moment.”

“Really?” I look at the open door Steve disappeared through. “He doesn’t look it.” He looks like his idea of entertainment is what he’s doing now, reading a book – a textbook.

“Yeah. Isn’t it great?” She leaves the room for a moment and I sit down on the couch, after scrutinizing it for suspicious stains. Then I take one of the beers she brings back with her.

“So what’s he done this time?” she asks, settling next to me.

I already told her about Lindsay when I found out, so I tell her about the pregnancy and about Brian’s reaction and I don’t even leave out what happened with Jon.

“Lindsay won’t give up the baby,” she says with certainty. “She’s in love with him. She won’t give up that connection.”

I’m inclined to agree with her on that score. My problem is more with Brian. His reaction, first to sleeping with Lindsay and then to her being pregnant, has shattered my belief in him a little. He can be very callous and I always assumed it was just bravado. When he treats me that way, he usually comes round after a while and makes up for it somehow. But maybe that’s only because he wants something from me. Maybe he really is that cold when he doesn’t have anything to gain.

“He seems to want your help,” she says.

“How did you work that one out?”

“He’s been staying with you since it happened, hasn’t he?”

“He was hiding from Lindsay. And maybe softening me up for the big blow up when everybody finds out. So that I defend him like the loyal little boyfriend that I am.”

“Yeah, because that is so you. No will of your own. Have you considered that his reason for staying with you all this time may be something completely different?”

“Like what?”

“Maybe he’s just scared what you’ll do. He knows he’s fucked up, so maybe he’s just there all the time because he hopes he can stop you from breaking up with him. Or he’s just trying to enjoy what time he has left with you before it happens.”

I stare at my bottle. I wish I could be sure that what she says is true, because right now I need something to believe in. “He had sex without a condom, Daph.”

There’s a pause while she waits, but when I don’t say anything else, she says quietly, “But you’re not worried about the risks, are you?”

I glare at her. “Of course I am. And so should he be. If he was so convinced that she’s clean, then he should at least have had enough consideration for her safety. They’re friends. And if he was too stoned for that, then I have to ask myself, how often he does it without a condom with other guys.”

“All good points, but that’s not really what’s bothering you, is it?”

“Well, enlighten me, by all means, what is bothering me then?”

She just looks at me. Sometimes it’s really hard to be friends with her, or rather sometimes it’s really hard to hear what she has to say, or in this case, what she makes me say. I look away and start picking at the label on my bottle. Daphne has nearly unending patience. It must be a professional trait.

The silence stretches between us. She’s watching me, but I can’t look at her, not even when I finally speak. I hate how small my voice sounds. “I thought that was the one thing he would only do with me.”



*******



Running always clears my head. At the end of the course, some things have crystallized into clarity. For starters, I’m going to be a father and that freaks me out. I don’t want this. The thought of having a child never entered my head before. What the fuck do I have to offer? The only thing I know for certain is that I'll never lay hand on a kid. That’s a no-brainer and should be for everyone. But you can’t define your role in someone’s life by what you’re not doing. It needs to be about what you’re willing to do.

I know that being the father gives me certain responsibilities. By law, I'll be expected to pay for the kid, even I know that. So when I start work next year, part of my paycheck will go to Lindsay. That’s not too bad, better than having to drop out of college. The baby isn’t due until after graduation and me actually graduating would benefit everyone. And I’m kind of glad that Lindsay will be graduating, too.

But apart from that, what else am I supposed to do? I won’t play happy families with Lindsay, that’s for sure. I just can’t. It would be a recipe for disaster. The most I can offer is the occasional uncredited guest appearance. But maybe that would do more harm than good. If the kid gets used to me, he or she might need more and I can’t give more. I can’t have anyone relying on me because I'd fuck it up. I always do. And is it really so desirable to have someone like me around anyway? Someone who drinks and takes drugs and has more or less redefined promiscuity? Some role model I would be. I’ll be doing the poor thing a favor if I stay away.

I wonder if Lindsay’s parents will be willing to help out. She needs a place to stay and various other things, but if I take too much of an interest, she’ll get her hopes up again. And if I don’t take enough of an interest, my kid will grow up in a shithole. It might take years until I can offer any decent financial support. Will Lindsay even be able to cope living on her own? She’s not the most resourceful person. But maybe she doesn’t have to be.




Melanie stares at me in disbelief, when she comes in after her lunch break. I have my feet up on her desk, idly watching the smoke rings I’m blowing and grin at her.

“What the fuck are you doing in my office? How did you get in here?” She walks past me to sit behind her desk, giving my feet a good shove to dislodge them from the table.

“I told your secretary I’m an old friend.”

“And he believed you?”

I shrug. “He’s gay. How could he resist me?”

“God, please tell me you didn’t fuck him.”

I could tell her that and it would be the truth – there was really no time for that – but where would be the fun in that? So I just grin.

She sighs. “What do you want, Kinney?”

“I have a proposition for you.”

Her eyebrows come up, making me slightly queasy even thinking about what she’s thinking. Judging by her face, she’s feeling the same way. “Not that kind of a proposition. A deal. Between you and me.”

“You have nothing I could possibly want.”

“Well, there’s Lindsay. And the little matter of a baby.”

She starts looking through one of her files. “Lindsay’s no longer my concern.”

I lean forwards and dump my cigarette end in the coffee cup she left on her desk. “Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Here’s the deal. You get back with Lindsay, as you want to anyway – don’t lie – and to make things sweeter for you, I promise to stay away from the kid.”

“Promise?” She snorts. “Like I’d fall for that.” She pauses, while looking at me speculatively and scratching one of her wrists. “Here’s my deal. You sign your parental rights over to me and stay away from the baby, and that will release you from all financial obligations.”

“Sweet. Set it up and I’ll sign.”

She looks disgusted. What is it with women that when you make it easy for them, they don’t like it? She’s reacting exactly the same way Lindsay did this morning. “Legally, you can’t sign anything until the baby’s born. But Brian… this is permanent. You signing your rights over, means exactly that: you’ll have no rights to the child whatsoever.”

“Why do you sound like you’re trying to talk me out of this? This is what you want, isn’t it?”

“I wanted a child with Lindsay. Not with you and Lindsay.”

“Well, it’s not my fault that she loves me more than you.”

“That’s all it is for you, isn’t it? A competition. As long as everybody loves you best, all’s well in your world. Never mind what a mess it creates in other people’s lives. That’s why you can’t stand me, isn’t it? Because I can see right through you and you’ll never win me over.”

“The reason I can’t stand you is because you’re a bitch.”

“Well, at least I’m not an asshole.”

“Yeah, that would be kind of redundant with you being a muff-diver and all.”

She bristles. “This isn’t going to work.”

“Wait.” I tap my thumbnail against my front teeth for a moment to gather my resolve. Making concessions to Melanie is really not my idea of fun. “My kid has the right to grow up in a house with two loving parents. I can’t provide that. So I’m here to make sure that someone else does.”

There’s a long pause. She’s looking at me and I take out another cigarette, waiting for her reply, just looking back at her. “Maybe you are trying to do the right thing for once. First time for everything. Okay, I won’t stop you from seeing the baby if we meet somewhere, let’s say at Debbie’s or the diner. But I don’t want you round my house to play daddy either. And no visitation rights.”

She’s only doing what’s sensible anyway. She can’t stop Lindsay from giving me access and she probably knows that. Unless she wants to apply the strong arm of the law, of course, and get out a restraining order or something. But I’m not worried about that. “I don’t want visitation rights. Or spend time in your house. The kid’s all yours.”

“Good. Then we’re clear. I’ll set up a letter of intent for you to sign for now. And when the baby’s born, you’ll sign over your parental rights to me.”

“Fine.” I get up and walk towards the door. This really went a lot easier than I anticipated.

“And Brian?”

I turn to her and raise my eyebrow.

“You fuck me over on this one and you’ll live to regret it. There’s a child to consider.”

“Don’t worry, Mel. I wouldn’t fuck you if you were the last person on Earth.”

She huffs a laugh, shakes her head and turns to her computer. On the way out, I stop by her secretary’s desk long enough to persuade him to follow me into the men’s room.




Justin isn’t home when I get to the loft, although it’s early closing at the gallery. It works in my favor because it gives me time to have a shower. Recently he’s been so grouchy about absolutely everything that it’s probably a good idea not to throw my tricking in his face, especially since he hasn’t said anything about the baby yet.

All in all it hasn’t been a bad day. Okay, so I didn’t expect Lindsay wanting to keep the kid and I still think I could have persuaded her to get rid of it, but the idea’s starting to appeal to me. Not that I want to get involved but just in theory it’s cool. And with Melanie picking up the slack, I really have nothing to worry about. She even gave me an out where money is concerned so that when I choose a job, Lindsay and the baby won’t have to be considered.

I wonder whom they would have chosen as a father if it hadn’t happened like this. It sure as hell wouldn’t have been me. No way would Melanie have allowed that, nor would I ever have agreed. Maybe Justin. He'd make a great father.

When I come out of the shower, he’s there, emptying the dishwasher in the kitchen.

“Hey.”

He turns around and gives me a half-smile. “Hey.”

I walk over to the kitchen island, still in my towel, and watch him. He’s not very talkative tonight. Okay, so he hasn’t been very talkative for a while, but at the moment he practically ignores me, which he doesn’t often manage to do, especially when I’m only barely decent.

“Busy day at work, honey?” I ask in a facetious voice.

He straightens up from the dishwasher with some plates in his hands, but he’s not looking at me. “Can we not do this? I’m not in the mood.”

“You weren’t in the mood this morning either.”

“I’m sure you made up for it during the day. That’s why you had a shower, isn’t it? And I didn’t mean it like that.”

I walk around to his side of the island and lean against it. “So you are in the mood for a fuck?”

He sighs and gets some more plates. “Sure, if you want.”

Wow, I do like a challenge, but this isn’t even that. This is half-hearted compliance for reasons unknown. It’s not as if he has to say yes whenever I ask. He just always has so far. But I’m not fucking him when I can’t be sure that he actually wants it.

He’s finished with his task and turns around to look at me, maybe wondering why I haven’t pounced on him yet. I’m torn between going off to sulk or even go out and wanting to fuck him until all he can think of is my dick. He seems remote again and he looks incredibly tired.

He’s at one end of the kitchen and I’m at the other, but neither one of us is making a move. He looks into my eyes, then slowly down my body and back up again to my eyes. I give him my most seductive look, undressing him in my mind, but I keep coming back to his eyes. He’s not tired – or not just tired – he’s upset. I knew this whole situation would freak him out. Why does he always worry about things that only concern me, especially when I don’t even worry about them?

“Come here,” I say finally.

Justin moves closer in slow, measured steps and comes to a halt in front of me, his eyes raking over my naked chest. I know that any moment now his mind will switch off and his desire will take over. We’ve been through this before, numerous times. Whenever he has a problem with me, a fuck always seems to distract him well enough. Sometimes it even gets him talking.

I widen my stance a little and pull him closer by his shirt until he’s standing between my legs, our cocks already reacting to each other from being pressed together through the towel and his pants. I bend down a little and wait for him to meet me halfway for a kiss, which he returns with closed eyes. His arms come up around my torso and I can feel him getting harder.

After pulling his shirt off, I push his pants and underwear down far enough for him to wriggle out of them, but he remains passive. I can work with that. I slither down his body into a squatting position, leaving wet trails here and there with my tongue. It makes him shiver and twist to try and bring his cock to my mouth. Ignoring it only makes him try harder. I help him out of the rest of his clothes and my towel comes off as I straighten up.

For a while, we just kiss with our naked bodies rubbing against each other, but eventually I twist us around so that he’s between me and the worktop and I turn his back to me, running my tongue down his spine to his ass and back up finishing with a bite on his shoulder, just where it joins his neck. My cock is bumping against his ass urgently now and I spread him a bit to run it teasingly up and down his crack.

He stills. “Condom,” he says then and something in his voice makes me stop. It’s surprising that his tone even penetrates into my thoughts, which are full of fuck him now, right now.

“What?”

“Put on a condom. They’re in the drawer.”

Now that’s plain insulting. “I know where the fucking condoms are. Did you think I wasn’t gonna use one?”

I can see his whole body sag as if he’s deflating. I bet something else is deflating, too, because mine is – rapidly.

“You didn’t with Lindsay.”

“What? Of course, I did. I always use condoms. With everyone. I’m not an idiot.”

He turns around to look at me. “You said you can’t remember anything. And she’s pregnant. Do the math, Brian.”

“I don’t remember much, but I do remember a condom. Fuck, Justin, do you really think I’d do that?”

“How would you even know, when you’re that drunk and drugged out?”

“Because it’s important. I’ve never fucked anyone without a condom. That includes Lindsay.” Okay, so maybe I remember more of that night than I’m letting on. That’s because I don’t want to remember it, I don’t want to think about it or talk about it. I just want to forget it ever happened. And most of all, I want Justin to forget it ever happened.

“Are you sure?”

“You know what, Justin? Fuck you!”

I move away from him and stalk over to the bedroom. I can’t believe he’s accusing me of being that stupid or careless. Why would he think that? There are many fucks that I can’t remember, but I know – know – that I’ve used a condom for every single one of them. Because that part of the proceedings is important and the actual fuck is only important while it happens.

It takes a while for him to follow me, carrying his clothes and my towel. I’m sitting on the bed, stubbing out the cigarette I’ve just finished. Without looking at me, he drops the stuff in his arms into the hamper and then comes to sit next to me on the bed.

“So how did it happen?” he asks.

I shrug. “They’re not one hundred percent effective, are they?”

He’s quiet for a while and I know there’s something still bothering him. If he doesn’t come out with it soon, I’m going out because this silent treatment is getting boring.

“I thought you did it without a condom,” he says then, still looking at the floor by his feet.

“I’m not that stupid.”

“But you’re not always in control, are you?”

“I’m always that much in control.”

He nods, but I know he’s unconvinced. I hate it when he’s like this, so quiet and withdrawn. So I lie back on the bed and I pull him with me, kissing and touching him in all the right places. He’s beautifully responsive. It’s even more of a turn-on when he’s semi-reluctant like he is today. It doesn’t take long for him to start writhing under my hands.

“Do you dream of me fucking you raw?”

His eyes snap open and he looks at me as if I just caught him out. Bingo.

“You want me to come in your tight little ass?”

He smiles a little half-smile. “Eventually, I wanna be the one, yes. If I ever get to do that, I want it to be you and me.”

Jeez, he’s such a lesbian sometimes. I hand him a condom and tell him to put it on me. Then I turn him over and push into him. Finally. It’s been too long since the last time and there's been entirely too much talk beforehand. But I know that he’s still stuck in his own little world.

I thrust once or twice and then I pause because I want him to really hear me when I say this. “I would never fuck anybody without a condom. I’d never do that to you. I want you safe. And I want you around for a long time.”

I shiver a little when Justin sighs out my name.




Part Six here:  http://kachelofen.livejournal.com/23178.html



Date: 2012-12-05 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] love4movies.livejournal.com
Love, love, love it. My favorite chapter so far. :)

Date: 2012-12-06 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Thank you. I thought you might like this one. :-)

Date: 2012-12-05 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duffy-60.livejournal.com
Even though I love Justin with Brian so much, I am really liking Jon, too! :-)
I feel the angst level climbing. I wonder how Lindsay is going to spin Brian wanting to sign away all of his rights to Mel, and guilt him all the while.

See ya Friday, sweetie!

Date: 2012-12-06 10:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Jon is like a breath of cool air, isn't he? No drama involved at all. :-)

Thanks, Daphne

Date: 2012-12-05 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] koalared.livejournal.com
So the turkey baster makes an appearance after all? hehe
There is so much more to say. Great chapter. I was giddy
when Justin and Jon fucked. But I hope it doesn't ruin
their friendship. Justin does need more friends.
Brian really is a piece of work. Ultimately I always
want Justin and Brian together but you've written Justin
tiring of the situation so well. In real life would someone
actually but up with that? Looking forward to Friday!

Date: 2012-12-06 11:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I doubt that anybody would put up with Brian in real life. I certainly wouldn't. But I love him anyway. Not much different from Justin then. Lol.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-05 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pet0511.livejournal.com
Fuck.
It works me up, this story. You know, you're waiting for a new part and then you read it and it leaves you in a bad mood. You could strangle all characters involved, and you ...oh, I have no idea what I could do with Brian and Justin right now. Good thing I have two days now to calm down.
Jeez, your writing makes me feel in all directions. And now I'm really curious about the next happenings. I still don't trust Lindsay. I know condoms aren't completely safe but still... And I can understand Justin's "jealousy" but jeezfuckinghell, what about a good nice hard queenout for once? A real one!?
Thanks for sharing!!!
Pet

Date: 2012-12-06 11:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Lol. Strangle away. I really love how worked up you get. Hopefully by tomorrow, you'll have calmed down enough so that you can take the next chapter. *g*

I agree, that Justin would probably benefit from ranting and raving, rather than trying to work it out quietly. And maybe Brian would get a clue then, too.

Thank you.
(deleted comment)

Date: 2012-12-06 11:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Justin certainly could do with getting away from all the pressure of the family every once in a while. Although in this one, they are not all Brian's friends first and foremost.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-05 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] armandyouidiot.livejournal.com
Ah, I'm glad Brian made that clear!

Date: 2012-12-06 11:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yep, Justin needed that.
Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-05 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petulant2u.livejournal.com
Well...so much going on in this chapter, emotionally. Justin's thoughts are so heart wrenching ,and so necessary. I'm glad he's starting to think about 'his' needs and whether or not Brian will ever be able to meet them, though it stills saddens me that he has resigned himself to never leaving Brian for then it would just prove to Brian that he was right all along. That's a tad disturbing.

I still see this relationship as abusive. Again Justin states that when Brian treats him bad, he usually makes up for it. Like the man telling his woman after he's abused her, I'm sorry babe, I won't ever do it again. Brian would never say that, but he'd be 'nice' to Justin for awhile after he's treated him shitty. Not exactly a healthy relationship.

As for Brian, he's so immature, but Daphne (Love her in this!) is right on the money. And Mel too. Brian craves love. In his defense, what would he know about love? How to show it? How to accept it? However, he DOES know how to show it with Michael, but the only love he can accept is adoration.

I have no doubt he'll be a great father. He knows how to love, and shows it with people who don't threaten him. Like Michael and like his baby. In his eyes, they can't 'hurt' him, and they need him. Justin threatens (challenges?) him. It's obvious he is afraid to lose him, and that makes him feel vulnerable - probably why he lashes out at Justin so much. Justin threatens everything he believes about love, about himself. And that's good, but makes for bad behavior.

Very glad the condom topic came up. (like the ending of this chapter, first time Brian actually declared raw, honest affection to Justin.- want you around for a long time)
I think maybe Lindsey put a hole in the condom! She, has MANY issues!

Great, great update!

Gina

Date: 2012-12-06 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
While I agree that the relationship is not exactly healthy, I wouldn't call it abusive. Brian has no hold over Justin other than the fact that Justin loves him and won't give up. If he decides to do that, Brian would probably just walk away. It's natural to be nice to someone after you've hurt them, if you want to keep the relationship going. I feel sorry for Justin but I don't see him as a victim. He's making a choice to stay and hope for better.

I do agree that it's easier for Brian to show his love for Michael and Lindsay because he doesn't have to fear rejection from them. It's probably one of the reasons they are so close in the first place. With Justin he's not so sure, because Justin does tell him when he disagrees with things. From his parents, Brian only knows that disapproval means trouble, so it makes him nervous. He has to learn, that you can disapprove of someone's actions and still love them.

Thank you, Gina.

Date: 2012-12-06 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petulant2u.livejournal.com
I don't see Justin as a 'victim' either. Though I see the relationship as abusive, Justin enables it. I guess if Justin doesn't feel he's in an abusive relationship, it really doesn't matter what others see or think. But I agree with you, Justin is definately NOT a victim - Enabler, yes.

That's going to be a hard lesson for Brian to learn. Like you said, if Justin gave up, Brian would just walk away. Not sure how Justin will be able to teach Brian that you can still love someone, without approving of their actions, without creating more bad behavior. But I know'll find a way!

Did I mention how much I LOVE this story?

Gina

Date: 2012-12-06 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
You may have mentioned it. :-)

Date: 2012-12-06 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lrknow.livejournal.com
Great update..I swear this fic is like crack :)
Practically every passage packs a punch..you did a great job in describing Justin's insight into Brian and his behaviour, it let me understand why he's still holding on to him despite everything.And Brian, he's more infuriating than ever but then when wasn't he and when did that ever stop Justin or us from loving him anyway??
On a lighter note, I like Jon, he can definitely stay :) and Daphne is always welcome to pop up anytime she wants ...
Also the last line gave me hope despite the overall angst- fest,\
Can't wait for the next update...
Hugs, Kimi

Date: 2012-12-06 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Hopefully the last scene gave Justin some hope as well. He could really do with it.

Thank you for your lovely comment, Kimi. Hugs.

Date: 2012-12-06 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snapegirlusa.livejournal.com
I definitely felt sorry for Justin here, more than ever before, but I don't agree that it's an abusive relationship. Although Justin is finding himself between a rock and a hard, hard place because of Brian's actions and it just means more pain for him until they get through it. But what can you do? This is college aged Brian and you have to at least deal with canon where that is concerned. We can't have an emotionally stable Brian here yet.

The difference here is, Justin can 'read' Brian in many situations and knows why he says and acts a certain way. It's not like an abusive person who just says the words "I love you sweetie. I didn't mean to hurt you." blah blah blah. Justin knows 'Brian is hiding out. Brian is angry about his Father. etc. So he knows how he'll react to Justin's comments and behavior. I think the best thing Justin does is when he's honest about it. He doesn't want to chase Brian away, not because he'll miss the sex (which of course he will) but because he LOVES him, and wants to make sure Brian has a 'safe place' to come to during this time in his life. He's more of a protector than an enabler. Brian is smart enough to come to the right conclusions or to suffer his own consequences. He didn't want to ruin things with Justin by sleeping with Michael, and he doesn't want to lose Justin because of this thing with Lindsay.

I love Jon. I loved the fact that Brian kept trying to cruise him and he doesn't fall for it. That shows a lot of character. And I'm actually glad that Justin decided to go for it with him. Jon obviously has good taste, but he's not pining away. This was great:
“You’re just venting, right?” he says.

“Yeah.”

He nods a few times. “Okay.” Then he pulls me into another kiss and I can feel his hands down my pants and my brain switches off just after the thought that I’m going to be naked on his work bench after all.
WOW! So completely hot! I love it!! ;)

And I love that Justin had to admit what was at the center of his disappointment: not being the first one to have sex without a condom with Brian. It's actually sweet and shows that he does have expectations for Brian to want more of a commitment. And I think Brian shows hints of that when he says this:

"I want you safe. And I want you around for a long time.”

Well, you picked another beautiful moment that truly showed how much Brian cared for Justin early on. And you even made it better with the declaration: “I would never fuck anybody without a condom. I’d never do that to you."

Plus, the last line really makes you see how Justin's love for him, affects Brian to his core.

I shiver a little when Justin sighs out my name. *sigh*

He may trick around because he's a hedonist, but with Justin he's feeling what's it like to genuinely 'make love' to someone and have them be moved by you, emotionally as well as physically.

Although, I don't know what to think about the condom thing. Are we to believe that Lindsay sabotaged that somehow? Will you bring it up again in the future?

Date: 2012-12-06 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I'm not sure if Brian will ever be emotionally stable, but there's certainly a lot of room for improvement. Justin thinks that improvement will come eventually. That's why he's not giving up on the relationship just yet.

I like your idea that Justin is a protector here. I see it the same way. He loves this guy, who is totally messed up and he understands him, so that gives him the tools to see it through. But he's hoping for a reward eventually, so bare-backing would be high on his list for that. Unless you're a complete idiot, you need commitment for that. And he probably noticed that Brian did scream Never! in answer to that either.

I'm not sure if it really matters to Justin what happened with the condom because Brian made that mistake the once. Lindsay getting pregnant is just a consequence, not something else Brian has done wrong and, as you pointed out, Justin's real struggle was with the no condom thing. He would now be more concerned with how Brian reacts to the child because that points to his moral character.

Thank you so much for this, JoAnne

Date: 2012-12-07 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 95baker.livejournal.com
My heart is so torn right now. I feel bad or maybe just sad for Justin. I feel that he is caught in a no win situation. I know that he loves Brian. Therefore I think he is going to have to get to the place where he tells Brian what he is feeling. Maybe he can make Brian understand that people do not always walk out the door but there comes a time when enough is enough. I am doing a terrible job expressing my feelings.

I think that Justin really understands Brian and think too that Brian understands Justin. Just cannot figure out why both of them are so afraid. Afraid of losing each other? I am afraid they are going to do just this if they do not find a way to be honest with each other and maybe to with themselves.

I figured Justin tricked. Did not really think about Jon but he is uncomplicated. Funny how we act out and then feel no better about ourself or the situation.

I think that Brian does try to show Justin that he loves him. Unfortunately he cannot say it (probably never will). I loved the scene at the end. Taken perfectly from the show. One of those moments where Brian shows instead of tells or tells you but you have to read between the lines.

The condom thing...I am glad that Brian remembered that he used one. I am glad too that Justin knows. Am I foolish to wish that Lindsay was with someone else besides Brian? Guess I just do not like her to much.

Your writing just draws you in and makes you feel so many emotions from hope, joy, sadness to anger. I am hoping that these boys can figure this out.

Great chapter.
Hugs,
Kate

Date: 2012-12-07 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Justin does love Brian but it's not easy telling someone when you don't get a response or the response is scorn. And because he can't tell him, it must be difficult to give Brian the reassurance that he needs. Brian on the other hand, is just too set in his mindset that love doesn't really exist or doesn't last. He just doesn't want to get hurt. Or maybe he just really thinks that they way he behaves is the only way to be. He's young and wants to have fun. That's understandable, too.

Isn't it funny how Justin did effectively do the same as Brian, sleep with one of his friends, and yet everybody is full of understanding? Must be because Brian did it with Lindsay of all people. She is really not very likable.

Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Kate.

Hugs,
Betty

Date: 2012-12-07 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pam81.livejournal.com
I don't like that I actually like Jon!
Why, oh why do I feel he means 'troubles' for our boys?

I so loved this chapter, Betty!

Sometimes I think Justin should give up, take a break, but then it takes just one thing, like the last scene and what Brian said, and I forgot all the pain and I just see the love.

Wonderful update, thanks ♥

Date: 2012-12-07 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Brian is always full of surprises, so I think Justin feels the same way. Lucky for Brian.

I'm glad you like Jon. I kind of like him, too.

Thank you, Pam. ♥

Date: 2012-12-07 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itzy68.livejournal.com
OMG Brian is so sweet sometimes. Justin is a hero for being man enough to pause before doing/saying something stupid. He is the only one for Brian :) Love the chapter :)

Date: 2012-12-07 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Oh yes, he can be sweet when he wants to. That's why we - and Justin - love him so much.

Thank you. :-)

Date: 2012-12-08 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zazuburgh.livejournal.com
Maybe I’ve let my joy with just reading a story of yours unhinge me, but I’m not really worried about Brian. He has been busy growing an adult within the brittle shell of his adolescence; he just hasn't had the guts, or the need, to crack that carapace and take his adult self for a maiden flight. All that acting out, all that college/club boy stuff, seems thinner and further away. He cannot, for one, believe he ever thought it would be clever to keep Michael from Ben. He ia glad to be the old Brian after his father's illness and death, a crisis for anyone, but he seems to experience simultaneously both that response and his adult, unacknowledged one at the same time. His projection onto Justin of all the adult responses to all the trouble he causes, as classic as that Vette, seems a little overheated, fake. He seems suspicious of it himself.

While to the world (and often to Justin) living hard and large, your Brian is quietly internalizing adult lessons and making some good choices; he is at the top of his class, refuses even useful lies, takes Justin's advice about his father, etc. All this still avoiding outside detection as he holds tight to his relationship to Justin. (Lindsay has no clue, for one, not even a glimmer). No one around him, save Justin, Daphne, Vic and maybe Debbie, has a clue that he is so much more, and only Daphne, Debbie and Vic recognize how important Justin is to him.

Justin seems to be in a deep fog regarding Brian. He knows the old Brian so well and has waited for years for him to grow up, offering comfort and care but little challenge. He doesn't see the odd, very Brian way that Brian has gone about maturing, not that there are many clues or any chats out there to help him. He knows the possibilities, but his lack of confidence in his importance to Brian blinds him from how close Brian is. Justin has less and less belief in their future and seems clinically depressed about the whole thing.

Brian needs only a crisis, some confidence and a kick. And so does Justin.



Date: 2012-12-08 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I’ve been sitting here for a while now, pondering what to say. I’m still no further, but I’ll try anyway. This is an awesome comment! It’s not just that you took the time to write it, it is most of all that you took the time to think about my story so deeply. A lot of the things going on in the story are under the surface. As a writer I always run the risk that the reader just sees the action and not the subtle changes it causes in people. And that means that I failed in what I was trying to say. And then I get this comment and I realise that you got it completely. Brian is the ultimate unreliable narrator because in a lot of ways he hides from himself. The changing values that he is learning from Justin by osmosis are irritating him more than anything at the moment. He’s projecting them back onto Justin, being annoyed that Justin was criticising him when Justin did no such thing. That’s really hard for Justin because, naturally, he can’t work out what Brian’s problem with him is when he hasn’t done anything. He tells Brian what he thinks but he’s not pushing him to change. Brian does that all by himself – and resisting. Justin does see some of the changes, but he doesn’t have the confidence to rely on what he sees or to act on it.

This is one of the loveliest and most insightful comments I have ever had. It made me bounce around the room with excitement and cry happy tears. You eloquently expressed what I’m trying to say. I feel humbled by how much thought and effort you have put into reading and then expressing your thoughts. Words are not enough to thank you. This has given me a boost of confidence as a writer in general and for this story in particular. Thank you so much. It really is awesome. ♥
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