The Wall and Goat Ch. 09bysexuscumlupus©
Chapter 09: Maxie
After Jesse left I wanted nothing more than to lie in bed and wait to hear him through the wall, but Babaanne roped me in to help with the rest of clearing away. Dinner had gone really well, I'd avoided making doe eyes at Jesse the entire time, and managed to make some sort of sensible conversation with his mum. But now that I stood at the sink washing out the tagine I burned to be upstairs alone, or rather, not really alone.
"You're quiet tonight," Mum rubbed my shoulder as she filched a tea towel to start drying up, "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah mum," I smiled, just to let her know I was happy, "I'm fine. Thanks for dinner, it was excellent."
"Glad you thought so. So what did you and Jesse talk about upstairs."
"Not a lot, music and stuff," It was not entirely a lie. I started to say something else but mum spoke first.
"I want you to be careful Maxie," I stared at her, "I know he's new and Lord the boy will need friends but I don't want you two hanging out too much."
"No you listen to me Maxie Tau," Mum put her hand on her hips, a sure sign she was mad, "He hit you, he broke that other boy's nose. He seems nice but looks can be deceptive and he is obviously violent. I don't want you spending time with him."
"That's enough Kizi-annesi," Babaanne stood in the doorway, "You leave the boy to make his own decisions." She looked at me and gestures to the stairs with her head, "On you go Küçük."
I fled the kitchen and left mum and grandmother to fight it out.
Music was playing softly through the wall when I reached my room and I settled softly on my bed to listen. Jesse was singing along to the song I knew too well, his voice low and soft, oh so sweet as he sang words that reminded me is close misty nights and snow storms.
"Can anyone fly into these grey skies?/Is there somewhere I'm meant to be?/Sea fog comes like a river/Rolls a stone it's rolling me..."
I tapped on the wall.
There was the squeak of bed as Jesse adjusted his position.
"Hey..." his voice was soft still with hints of music, "Where were you?"
"Clearing up," I decided not to include my mother's outburst of opinion in my answer, "We need to talk about how this is going to work."
Jesse tapped twice on the wall.
"I'm serious. It's not like I go around kissing every unbelievably hot guy who moves in next door you know."
Jesse sniggered, and then his voice was close to me, speaking through the wall.
"Alright, sorry. So what do you want?"
"You mean besides you back on this side of the wall?" I chuckled and splayed my hand out on the wall, smooth plasterboard and paint under my fingers. "I want to be able to tell people Jes. I want you to be my boyfriend."
"I-I can't," Jesse's voice was thick to the point of breaking, "I mean I don't, I...all I've done all day is think of you." I scratched at the wall, heard Jesse's hand moving six inches from my own, and then his voice came back, deeper, quoting from memory, "Of all the public places, dear/to make a scene, I've chosen here." Another pause, "OK Maxie. Maxie. This is my boyfriend Maxie."
I liked the sound of that.
I woke to the sound of my name in Jesse's voice, but not the way I'd learnt to like it.
"No! Maxie don't!"
There were the sounds of struggling thumps through the wall, Jesse thrashing in the sheets, and a half shout, unintelligible but pained.
"Jes?" I glanced at the clock, it was four in the morning, "Jesse?" There was no answer.i thumped on the wall hard enough to set the bone sin my fist shaking, "Jesse!"
"Maxie?" Jesse's voice was a groan, awake, dazed, and a long way off, I had a feeling he'd fallen out of bed.
"Jes are you OK?"
"Meet me out front?"
"Yes. Coming." I pulled on black sweats and a grey hoodie adorned with a yellow stag head and pattered down the stairs trainers in hand. I slipped out into the dark and Jesse arrived at the gate about the same second I did. As my eyes got used to the dark I could see the dark rings under his eyes, the haggard look of the recently haunted.
"Run with me?"
It was four in the morning, I was cold, tried and worried, so of course I agreed. I jogged side by side with my boyfriend and we puffed and panted clouds of dragon's breath along the lanes to the Paddocks. As we reached the grass Jesse began to walk shaking out his limbs like I'd come to see as his post run habit, forcing blood and oxygen back to the muscles that needed them.
"I fucking hate my subconscious."
I followed him, close to, tiredness being staved off by cold and worry.
"Are you going to elaborate on that or do I have to guess?" We reached the little copse of trees that sat in the centre hollow of the park, overlooked but shielded by steep green slopes and Jesse dropped down at the foot of the largest tree, apparently exhausted. I sat next to him and made very sure not to touch him. "What is it you dream about that hurts you so Jes? Why am I there?"
"It's not you." Jesse hung his head between his knees, "You remember I told you about the man who...attacked me?"
The memory of the conversation flashed like a knife in my inner vision.
"Well, you look a bit like him. I mean you don't, he was older, and...but he had the same colour skin, the dark hair. And I my dreams, he has your face." Jesse sniffed, I knew he was crying, "I want you so much it hurts and at the same time I'm terrified of you. And your, y'know wonderful and everything, and I'm just completely broken. I don't know why you've put up with me."
Carefully, and slowly, I reached out to touch Jesse's shoulder through the fabric of his sweatshirt. He didn't pull away. My hand when to the back of his neck, the warmth I had found there earlier, the fine downy hairs under my fingers. Jesse leant in towards me until he was curled against my side.
"You've never told anyone what happened have you?"
"No," Jesse's voice was small and petulant, suddenly a child.
"No!" Jesse raised his head and stared at me in horror, but didn't break our contact, "I can't tell you. You'll be so disgusted you'll never touch me again."
"Jes..." I found my other hand in the dew wet grass and stroked his face, encouraging him to rest back on my shoulder, "Pretend that we're alone now, pretend the wall is here and just tell me."
Jesse shifted his weight, half turned and the warmth of his pressed along me, head in the crook of shoulder and neck; point of contact, arms, hips, ribs, knees. I wanted us to be stuck together. Then Jesse started speaking, slow, soft, his voice barely more than a whisper in the pre-dawn gloom. His stopped and started, paused for such lengths of time that I was sure he had fallen asleep, but he told me everything, and I managed not to interrupt.
A man, a complete and total stranger had attacked him in the Hyde Park public toilets. The man had smiled at him, Jesse had smiled back and as he had zipped up and turned to go he had felt a hand on his shoulder. He had turned, expecting to see that he's forgotten his bag or wallet or something, preparing to thank a kind and generous citizen; and was pushed into one of the stalls. He fell against the toilet and cistern, turning to face his attacker. He had caught him in the jaw, the same place he had hit me when he fell, but the older man had been stronger, obviously had a plan. Jesse had his head knocked against the wall, the cracked tile setting his skull ringing as the man pulled his jeans down, used Jesse's scarf to gag him and tie his hands. He had screamed to feel the fingers on him, pulling at his crotch, groping the flesh of his behind, man-handing his cock and balls as his underwear was torn away. He tried to fight, had his legs kicked out from under him, his head falling against the cistern every time. He bit his tongue when he screamed, the taste of blood, the cool tile on the open gash in his head. The man had pushed himself in and Jesse had cried with pain all through the rape, his agony turned to moans by the gag, his hips black and blue from the thrusts and grip of the man. He had cried all the harder when it was over, knowing this foul stranger had come inside him, had flooded him with evil. A cleaner had found him, broken on the floor of the stall, driven him to hospital. He'd given them a false name, told his parents he'd been in a fight.
"They gave me a full screening, and another after three months, "Jesse sighed as he finished telling me, "I'm lucky. I got away without permanent damage."
I bit back the comment that permanent damage had been done regardless of the health benefits of not also catching something, and wrapped my arm about his shoulders, bending my arm to hold the softness at the back of his neck. He leant further into me.
"You can't possibly want to be my boyfriend," he spoke like it was a fact, already decided and agreed upon, "I'm all broken and used. You deserve better."
I dug my fingers into the back of his neck and kept my voice level when I answered.
"I don't care. I hate that all that happened to you. I'd kill him if I ever got the chance. But I want you, I think I may even love you, and you saying otherwise isn't going to change that at all." I turned to look at him, to find cheeks wet with tears. I caught his jaw with one hand and turned his face to kiss him.
Jesse's lips were sweet and salt, tears blending with our kiss as I explored his mouth. Jesse's hands caught in the fabric of my hoodie, pulling me closer and as I wrapped my arm around his waist there was nothing to hold us up. I came down on top of him in the grass, kiss unbroken, the tangle of lips and limbs making my blood boil. I worked a hand to the front of Jesse's sweats and pressed against the hard heat I found there. Jesse gasped, his lips pulling from my own to drink the air as my hand closed around him. The muscles of his stomach jumped and danced under the ridden-up jumper and the sight made my heart do weird little flips. I pulled at the elastic waistband of his sweats, delighted to find that he'd gone commando like me.
Jesse's cock was like him, neat and pink, straight up and beautiful. He hissed when I touched it, the silken smoothness of the shaft somehow both soft and hard under my hand. I stroked him slowly, thinking of what I liked best, running my fingers up the six inches of rigid muscle to rub my thumb over the slit at the top. Jesse gasped, his fingers dug into my hip and I bent to kiss him again. His mouth was warm and wet against my own, but I slowed both hand and tongue as I realised he wasn't kissing me back. I hovered over him, wide eyed.
"I can't," and I let out an involuntary sigh, hearing those words again, "Not yet, not right now. I just, it's all getting mixed up in my head Maxie."
I looked at him, at the boy who I would call my boyfriend and forced myself to breathe. Of course he would want to, not after reliving the pain and stress and emotional horror of what he'd told me. I'd been stupid and horny. What the fuck was I thinking? Trying to nail him in the park in the middle of the night. Jesse looked scared.
I smiled, my hands going soft as I let go of him and straightened his clothes. I half turned and pillowed myself on his shoulder, an arm over his abdomen. Jesse's hands joined around me and we lay in the cold and dark, pressed together for warmth and comfort
I woke to the sound of birds.
I was damp and cold and my hoodie was soaked through and stuck to my skin. My shoulder was dead where Jesse was lying on it. We were in the Paddock, under trees that dripped dew from their bare branches, jagged black outlines against a cloud-white sky. I groaned, tried to sit up and in doing so woke Jesse who murmured something about 'not yet, five minutes' and tried to re-pillow himself on my arm. He sat up as the realisation that all of my hoodies that wasn't exactly where his head had been was damp and cold.
There was a bark, the thudding of feet, and then I was knocked forwards in the grass by the flashing black and white form of Nuka. I rolled and the big husky stood over me, pink tongue lolling, panting happily. Jesse was rubbing his head as he sat up. A sharp whistle pirced the air and Nuka gave answering bark. There was a familiar voice.
"Nuka! What have you found this time you stupid creatu- oh...well," Pete voice swelled with smug pride, "Two boys sleeping under the stars. Dear oh dear."
I groaned, pushing the husky off me and back to his dad. Pete wore his usual work clothes and an expression so self-satisfied it was as though he had guessed the winning lottery numbers.
"Morning," my voice was thick with sleep and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth in a deeply unpleasant way, "Pete is it humanly possible that you not take the piss right this second?"
"I will reserve the right to rip the shit out of you when it suits me most." He countered.
"Deal." I reached out and touched Jesse's shoulder and felt him move into my grip, "Take us home, get us clean and lie for us so that we both get to live long enough to see another birthday."
"Is that wise Maxie?" Jesse's brows were furrowed, "shouldn't we get home as quick as possible?"
"I hate to break it to you kiddo," Pete reached out a hand to help up first Jesse, then me, "But it's nearly nine o'clock in the morning, "They know you're gone. And while I'd love to see you explain your current...appearance, to your mother I'm not sure it's going to go well. Come on, let's get you both warm and dry."
I let Jesse have the shower first and sat shivering in one of Pete's big fluffy dressing gowns while our hastily chosen clothes rumbled around in the tumble dryer. I listened with half an ear to Pete's conversation on the phone. He'd obviously gotten my worried-mother on the other end and it sounded like he was trying to talk her down from a cliff.
"Anita calm down, he's fine. Told you, he and Jesse went for a walk and it was late so they came here. No, no, stop panicking. Separate rooms, and yes I got up to check. Maxie slept on the sofa, Jesse had the spare room and Nuka for a blanket." There was a long pause and Pete held the phone a little way from his ear, I just could just here the tinny shriek of my mother from the other end, "Anita you really can't tell him who he can be friends with. So they got off to a rocky start, big deal." Pete sighed, pacing along the length of the hallway, vanishing in and out of sight, "Anita listen to me please. If you'd stopped to see it you would realise that your son is growing up into a healthy well-adjusted young man. You can trust him to know what's best for him."
I tuned out of Pete's phone call with my mother as Guy appeared carrying a pile of towels. He gave me a wan smile.
"Jesse's getting dressed, go have a shower," he handed me a new toothbrush, "Be careful with him Maxie, I don't think he's very strong."
The hot water of the shower cut through my exhaustion, the chill of sleeping outside and the stress of worrying about the reaction I would get on returning home, and I let myself relax into the warm wet embrace. As I scrubbed the night from my skin I remembered what Jesse had told me and shook again as I remembered what I had tried to do to him. I had been such an insensitive bastard. The boy I thought I might love tells me he was attacked and raped by a stranger and I went and felt him up in the public fucking park. It was any wonder he hadn't freaked out and ran, or socked me in the jaw again.
And he dreamed about me. He dreamt that his attacker looked like me, and that couldn't be healthy. As I thought back to Guy's parting shot that Jesse wasn't very strong I sank down onto the floor of the shower cubicle under the constant stream of water. I had no idea what I was doing. Jesse, beautiful, clever, wonderful, my Jesse, had issues that I was not equipped to deal with, and good intentions would count for nothing if I couldn't be strong enough to deal with his nightmares and stay strong anyway. And how exactly was I going to manage all this with probably both our parents freaking out, and school to deal with. I doubted that trading poetry through the wall was going to solve all of his problems.
I finished my shower to find my sweats and hoodie, clean and dry, along with a pair of soft green cotton boxers, thick socks and one of Pete's old snowboarding t-shirts. I dressed, loving the feel of warm dry fabric against my skin.
'The act of keeping warm by burning clothes' The line came to me unbidden and I thought through the words as I settled my hood about my neck and began to brush my teeth, looking at my reflection in the mirror. I had to find a way to be strong enough for Jesse as well as myself. If I was going to swallow his horrors and keep walking I had to make sure I could do it without falling apart myself. What would be the point of saving Jesse if all I did was destroy myself? I was a selfish bastard, that was for sure. I stared into the mirror, picturing Jesse's eyes, ice-blue not toffee-brown, and I saw the panic in my head. I would never let him feel that way for me, never cause him to look at me the way he looked at his attacker. I would find a way to help him. I took a deep breath, I would find a way to help him even if it killed me.
Downstairs Jesse was dressed and clean, his wavy golden hair dried and mussed by his lack of proximity to a comb. I smiled, liking the rough and ready sort of look in place of his usual polish. Guy was serving breakfast; bacon, eggs, beans, toast, thick slices of fat black pudding. I went to the fridge and got milk, juice, going to cupboards and drawers to get plates and cutlery. I knew my way around Pete and Guy's kitchen. I poured Jesse a glass of juice and met his eyes as I handed it to him. He looked confuse, but the mask of his old confidence had clicked back in place. I smiled softly, leant across the breakfast bar and kissed his temple. When I drew back, the mask had gone, and though he looked a little less confident, he looked more like himself.
"Hey," Jesse smiled at me and I felt my heart start banging away in my chest like a big bit of rusty machinery, "You OK?"
"Never better," I handed plates to guy who began serving up breakfast, "You have a nice shower?"
He nodded, a fist in the front of my hoodie that brought my ear to his lips. Warm and wet his voice sent shivers up my spine as he quoted lines that didn't match, trying to explain himself.
"It's not as if I'm holding out/a dog might wander the width of the map/to bury its head in its owner's lap/and pledged into the tide/I am found out/I'm on my knees. I beg of you."
I kissed him, I couldn't help it. And delight and desire mixed up in my head, heart and crotch as he kissed me back. Guy interrupted us with a cough.
"Eat something. Pete'll take you back. You boys have got some grovelling to do."