He finishes up and climbs into bed next to me. I reach over and turn off my lamp and I'm getting settled when Gene grabs me round the waist and crushes my back against his chest. I have time to register the cold touch of his nipple piercings before he starts blowing raspberries against the back of my neck. I reach around, laughing and grabbing at his hair trying to pull him off me. After five or six minutes of this, he stops making the farting noises, but he's holding me just as tight and his lips are still pressed against my neck. I'm beginning to fall asleep against him when he turns me toward him and kisses me again, and this time is different, somehow; it's less rough, but more urgent.
"Babe, not again," I say into his lips. I don't really mean it, but I feel obligated to say it, just the same. "I'm too ti-"
"I love you," he says quickly, as though he'll forget if he doesn't get it out all at once.
"What?" I say. I heard him, but after a few hits of Dark Thunder, that doesn't mean he said anything.
"I love you," he says, and this time I'm sure it's real. "You're so beautiful...I mean, your hair, it's blonde, and I've never liked blonde that much before but on you it's the most beautiful thing ever. And you hands, they're so...I..."
"My hands?" I say. I wonder again whether he's really talking. To me.
"Yeah, well...all of you, you just...you fill me up so much I just don't know what to do. I can't explain so well with words...you're just so perfect..."
"I'm not perfect." It's true. I'm short and not buff and my eyes are mud brown. My hair is nothing special either.
"You are!" he says, and suddenly he sounds serious. "You are and I love you so fucking much I can't stand it. You don't have to say it back yet," he adds quickly, before I can say anything. "I mean, I really hope you do. Like, you can if you want but I know you have reservations about us and who you are and everything but I just wanted you to know...I..."
It's a side of Gene I've never seen before. He's usually so self assured and cool; I'm the neurotic one. But he's falling all over his words and suttering and he actually seems nervous that I, I, won't love him back. As though I were somehow in a position to reject him; like I was holding the cards. If he knew how I felt about him, how I agonized over every word that came out of his mouth, every move his body made, every touch he bestowed upon me, he'd laugh at himself and his anxiety. I can't remember a time when I didn't love Gene.
"I do," I say. I reach for his face in the darkness, and touch his lips with my thumb. "I love you. More...more than I can say."
He's silent for a moment, and I'm terrified that he's fallen asleep. "Oh," he finally says. "Oh."
He kisses me again, and his hands slide down to my ass and start kneading. It turns out that I'm not too tired after all.
We end up parking on Laurel Street and walking to the airport. We almost miss our flight, but we don't, and we're seated and waiting in line to take off. Gene looks a little green.
"Are you okay?" I say. He's holding one of my hands and it's starting to tingle.
"Yeah," he squeaks. I want to laugh, but I don't think he'd notice; his gaze is firmly fixed on the screen in front of him. It's showing a map of the United States; our flight plan is marked with a purple line.
"Does flying make you nervous?" I say. "I didn't know, Gene. We could have driven-"
"No," he says. He continues shaking his head long after the words have left his lips. "No, I'll be fine. Don't worry." I hear a gurgle. I squeeze his hand.
"It's going to be okay," I say. It feels strange to be the one doing the consoling, but I kind of like it. "Nothing bad will happen, I promise. I'll be right here the whole time." I wrench my hand from his and put my arm around his shoulder. He cuddles up to me; he's shaking a little. I'm not nervous about being noticed today; I added a little herbal essence to my omelet this morning.
Perhaps I should have offered Gene some.
It's finally our turn to take off, and the plane starts to speed down the runway. Gene gets a little greener, and I wish I had asked a flight attendant for an airsick bag.
We take off at an extreme angle, and Gene's back is rod straight against the seat. I can hear him grinding his teeth and I can't help being a little amused in spite of the high probability that I will be puked on during this flight. After fifteen very tense minutes, we level off, and the pilot tells us that we'll reach cruising altitude shortly. The fasten seat belt sign goes off, and I unclasp mine. Gene is still sitting shock still, eyes wide. I reach up and touch his face. He jerks, startled, then leans into my hand.
"We have another hour and a half of this," I say. "You might want to at least try and relax."
"Fuck you," he snaps, but there's no bite; he looks too terrified for me to be offended.
I sigh, smiling a little, and try not to gloat too much at having the upper hand in our relationship for once. I reach into my pocket and pull out two little pink pills and hand them to him.
"What the hell are these?" he says, snatching them.
"Benadryl," I say.
"These are for allergies," he says. He downs them anyway. "I don't have any goddamned allergies."
"They'll make you sleep."
"They won't," he says, glaring at me. "They give these to fucking kids. How strong can they be?"
"They'll knock you on your ass."
He snorts, and rolls his eyes toward the window. He leans his head back against the seat and crosses his arms. "I hate planes," he says. Then he falls asleep.
I spend the rest of the flight watching reruns of Big Cat Diary on the little screen.
Gene wakes up suddenly when the wheels touch the ground and those little flaps on the wings go up, blinking and looking confused.
"What the hell?" he says. "Why are we landing early?"
I start to speak, but the pilot announces that we've landed in Denver. Gene still looks confused.
I laugh. I can't help it. "Benadryl is nothing to fuck around with," I say. I laugh again.
"Shut up," he says, but now that we're on the ground, he's grinning.
We taxi at the gate, and I start collecting my headphones and all of the other junk that's on my lap. Gene stands up even though we're in row 27 and we won't deplane for at least ten minutes.
"Ready to go, are you?" I say, and he kicks my shin. I kick him back. He pokes me. We roughhouse until it's our turn to leave.
He reserved the rental car yesterday, so all he has to do is sign a paper and we're on the road. Our suitcases are stuffed into the back of the little crossover, and now we're creeping along some lonely state highway at thrity-five miles per hour. After about half an hour, Gene turns onto a mountain road, and we drive for ten more minutes until we reach a little cabin. He parks in front and unlocks the doors.
I look at it, trying not to appear worried. "It has...like, a heater, right?"
It's his turn to laugh, and he does so at length. "Central air and heating, plus three fireplaces and plenty of wood. I know it looks rough on the outside, but it really is amazing. C'mon."
I tighten my scarf before I get out, and the wind forces my eyes into a squint when I do. I'm reminded of Connecticut, and I feel a little pang of sorrow.
He slams his door and walks around to my side, sliding his bare hand into my gloved one. He squeezes, and I turn and smile at him. He starts walking toward the little house, tugging me along behind him.
I'm still sitting on the sofa in awe when Gene finishes bringing the bags in from the car. He closes the door, dusting some loose snow off his jacket and lugs them to the bedroom. He's in there for a minute before he comes back into the sitting room.
"I told you," he says.
The whole place is about two thousand square feet, but since there's only one bedroom, it looks huge. The walls are made of logs, but even though they aren't dry walled, no cold gets in. There's a giant rug in the middle of the floor made of some kind of animal fur, and the furniture is all wooden and looks handmade. Whatever the couch is upholstered in feels like velvet to my hands, and the cushions are so soft I feel like I could disappear into them. The fireplaces are all almost tall enough for me to walk into, and they're piled high with logs. Gene's already lit the one in the bedroom, and he goes over to the wall to turn the heater off.
"Well, if you're done gawking," he says, taking my hands and pulling me to my feet, "I think we should head to the bedroom. The heat is off in here, and I wouldn't want you to get too cold."
His gloves and jacket are gone, and he's wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and a pair of matching pants. I can tell he isn't wearing anything underneath. He sees me checking him out and pulls me against him, untangling our hands and squeezing my ass the way I like so much. I can't help but grind my crotch against his thigh, and I bury my face in his neck, groaning. I'm already hard, and he chuckles, squeezing harder.
"We're going to have fun this month," he says, and his tongue plays around in the depression behind my earlobe. My hips jerk against him and I finally have to kiss him. My hands cup the sides of his head as I crush our lips together, and one of his hands leaves my ass to travel up my back. I moan again, and I'm embarrassed to be so out of control so soon.
He breaks the kiss, and he's panting like me.
"Bedroom," he says.
He turns and jogs up the small staircase to the bedroom. I run after him, strangely afraid that he might lock me out if he gets into the bedroom first.
He doesn't lock me out, but he locks the door behind us. And then we're all over each other, unbuttoning and unzipping and untangling each other's clothes until they're in an unrecognizable heap on the floor and we're on the bed, bare as the day we were born. The bed is covered with the same soft material as the couch, and even in my delerium I take notice of its softness against my naked ass. Gene pulls off me again, and I'm a little miffed that he keeps interrupting the flow.
"Wait," he says. He rolls onto his back and pulls me on top of him so that I'm resting between his legs. "You know what I want to do."
I'm still firmly in the zone, so it takes me a moment to realize what he's saying. When I do, I grin and climb off him and onto the floor, digging through our heap of clothes.
He wore a black one today, and when I find it, I toss it to him. He catches it and slips it on, adjusting himself so that it fits nice and snug. I climb back onto the bed, staring at him greedily. He grins, laying back against the fifty thousand or so pillows behind him, and spreads his legs wide for me.
I groan, settling down onto my knees and fighting the urge to touch myself. It's torture to play this game with Gene; by the end, I'm ready to fuck him into oblivion. I remember again about the pot I had this morning, and I thank heaven and Earth that I'm still buzzed enough not to back out. And not to feel guilty.
The material is thin enough for me to see the outline of him straining against it, and I feel another surge in my groin. I'm not going to be able to hold out for long this time, but I'm not too worried; I don't think he will, either.
He closes his eyes and rests his head back against the pillows, and his hands start around his navel, tracing little circles on his skin. They tease their way into the waistband, and he plays there for a while, sliding them back and forth arcoss the top until sweat begins to bead on his chest.
He doesn't take them off.
He cups his cock through the material, and when he starts to stroke he bares his teeth. I moan again, grabbing fistfuls of the comforter. If I touch now, I'll explode.
He lets out a strangled cry and then takes a deep breath. His face is taut and red with the effort of holding on and he's barely breathing, but he keeps stroking, his hips starting to thrust in rhythm.
"Gene," I whimper. I grip the bedclothes tighter. "Please..."
"Wait..." he grunts, and I can see how close he is. His abs are twitching with the effort, now, but Gene so loves to put on a show that he keeps up the teasing until I can't take any more.
I scamper forward and tear his hands away from his crotch. He cries out, but I don't care, and I grab his arm and flip him onto his stomach. He tries to hump the blanket but I take hold of his hips and lift them, so all he gets is air. He growls into the blanket that's bunched near his face, and now it's him that's gripping them with need.
"You always have to fucking do this," I say, reaching blindly on the nightstand for the lube. I don't want to take my eyes off him for a second. "Fucking show off..."
My fingers finally close around the little tube and I snatch it, squirting some onto my hand and slathering it on my cock. I almost come at the sensation, and I have to close my eyes and take a few breaths through clenched teeth before I can look at Gene again. He's not moving at all anymore; his face is buried in the comforter and his ass is spread in my face, a black strip of lycra holding his cheeks apart. I pull it to the side and dive in.
I know he's close and can't take much tongue, but it's one of my favorite things to do. I can hear his muffled screams and curses and he's twisting and bucking his hips, trying to get closer to and further away from me at the same time. I don't relent until I know he's on the very edge. I stop abruptly, and he gives another savage scream into the bedding.
I can feel the telltale throbbing in my own cock, and I know that it's now or never. I pull the black strip of material to the side and push into him. I keep my hands on his hips so that I can control the speed of things.
I go in slow.
I stare as his hole stretches to swallow me, and I give a short, barking scream as the head pops in. A low, guttral moan escapes Gene, and I keep pushing until I'm all the way in. My fingers will leave bruises on his hips, I think.
Gene is more tense than I've ever seen him, and as I go to pull back a little, he explodes.
He screams again, but this time he keeps going, and I can feel him pulsing and contracting inside. His hips are doing a kind of odd twist jerk, and after five pulses of this, I lose it too.
I always come the hardest when we're playing some kind of game, and this time is no exception. It feels as though my cock has actually blasted off, and I can't even make noise as bombs explode behind my eyes and my abdomen is torn out of me through my groin. I can feel my own come pooling around the head of my cock, and this sends me spiraling again, until at last I float downward into a warm and blessed darkness.
When I open my eyes again, I'm on my back, and Gene is asleep on my chest. His red hair is sticking up in every imaginable direction, and I run my hands through it. His mouth is open; soft snores and a little drool escape it. The fire burns low in the corner.
I look up at the ceiling, noticing for the first time that it's textured. My eyes follow the loops and whorls as my mind wanders around in the fuzzy white world of the afterglow.
I'm coming down, now, and not just from the sex; I'm beginning to imagine what my family would say if they could see me. As Gene's chest rises and falls with mine, I realize that we're cuddled up together, naked, and I start to feel the dread pool in my midsection. I have to resist the urge to shove him off me and take a shower.
I don't understand what's wrong with me.
I love Gene. This I am sure about. When he's away from me, I mourn him; it's as though a penpal has suddenly stopped writing to me or an imaginary friend has died. I look up at the door every five minutes and all I want is him, back in my sights, reading in his beanbag chair or laying beside me.
But when he arrives my anxieties gang up on me until I'm drowning in them, and him. He's suddenly too much for me, and I'm afraid I'll disappear into him and never be able to find myself again. Sex is the only respite I get in his presence; it keeps me too busy to be ashamed or afraid.
Sex, and Dark Thunder.
I look down at Gene, still sleeping on me, and I take a deep breath to stave off the panic I feel starting to rise. I slide out from under him as gently as I can. He snuggles into the spot where my body was, and goes on sleeping. I creep over to the closet and pull out my duffel bag.
In a zippered pocket I have some blunts rolled, and I take one out, along with a Bic lighter. I start to return to bed, but I don't think Gene would like it if he knew. I stay in the closet and light up, taking a big hit and holding it a while.
When I leave the closet he's already in the shower.
The bed's been fixed and the fire is roaring again, and I wonder how long I've been gone and if Gene knows what I've been doing. The bathroom door is closed and there are no other sounds apart from the water hitting the walls of the shower. I turn back toward the fireplace and stare at the dancing flames. I see fleeting images of animals; I giggle as a horse jumps over a pig and turns into a kangaroo. I'm still laughing when Gene comes out of the bathroom with a fluffy white towel around his waist.
"Look," I say. I point at the fire. "Do you see the horse? It's there if you look for it. See? It just jumped!" I laugh some more.
I don't think he sees the horse, and he doesn't look happy. He's glaring daggers at me, hands on hips. He looks like an angry mom. I tell him so.
"You stink," he says. He grabs a white towel from the stack on the dresser and throws it at me. I try to catch it, but I miss, and I have to pick it up off the floor. "I hate that smell."
"You liked it fine in Ocean Beach," I say. I'm still amused by his reaction, given our history. "We had some good times with it, huh?"
"Yeah," he says. His towel is gone and he's wearing the plaid pants again, and I wonder how I missed him changing. "We had some real good times with it." He puts on the shirt. "The real question is whether we can have any good times without it."
He leaves, heading out the bedroom door. I follow him.
I find him in the kitchen in front of the refrigerator, pulling out cold cuts. I sit on one of the stools at the bar and pick up one of the salt shakers. I twirl it around, watching the grains shift.
"What's wrong?" I say.
"Nothing." He slams the door to the fridge and opens a drawer.
"You're mad." I drag the words, and they come out like a notes in a song.
He slams the drawer and brings the knife back to the counter. He looks down at his hands as he cuts the ham into slices. "Why would I be mad, Richie? Huh? Everything's great, right?"
My abdomen is starting to feel heavy again, so I change the subject. "What do you want to do tonight?"
He shrugs. He's dismissive, and I don't like it.
"We could watch a movie."
"We could," he says.
"Look," he says. He tosses the knife into the sink. "Just forget it, okay? It's not a biggie and I'm sorry I got mad."
We decide to watch the Transformers sequel. He makes us sandwiches; I eat five, telling him how amazing they are after every bite. He smiles at me, but it's strained and it feels patronizing. When he's not looking at me, he's scowling at the screen, and he doesn't even laugh when the little robot humps Megan Fox's leg.
When it's over, he gets up and takes the plates to the kitchen and tosses them into the sink. I run along behind him with the glasses, and I can't shake the feeling that we're moving toward something more than the kitchen. He runs some water over the dishes and starts loading the dishwasher while I stand around behind him trying to think of something to say. It's hard enough for me to make small talk when I'm sober, and it's impossible for me to think of anything clever to say now.