Neutral Territory Ch. 11byPS_Lopez©
I kind of sang his name, speaking softly. I didn't think he was asleep; his hand moved in my hair, but he hadn't responded to any of my requests for his attention. He'd shifted a while ago, which was what had awoken me, and I could hear his music though I couldn't determine what song it was so I knew he had to have it on pretty loud.
I inhaled a deep breath and curled up as coughs jerked through me. When I got sick, I didn't do it in half-measures, no siree. I had pretty much every symptom of influenza now and had stopped almost all food consumption. It had been so long since I'd last been sick that I'd forgotten just how sick I could get, and Geoffrey's grandmother had had to make a second pot of chicken soup. It was about the only thing I could eat. That and bread. I couldn't even keep down medicines any more.
After the coughing fit ended, I shifted to my back. Geoffrey's hand slid over my forehead and found my scalp again. That hand had proven to be pretty tireless over the past few days. It had constantly rubbed my head whenever my head had been on his thigh. Covering my face for a sneeze with my left arm, I reached up with my right and tugged the nearest ear bud free. His hand stopped moving and pressed to my forehead.
"Your fever's risen," he said.
I wiped at my nose with the cuff of my shirt. I'd resorted to sweats after I threw up my morning doses of medicine on day three. "My own fault."
"Are you saying I shouldn't pity you any more?" He'd slouched with his head resting on the top edge of the sofa's back cushion.
"Oh, I'll take all the pity I can get."
He chuckled. I smiled and coughed, curling up, and hugged my legs until the fit ended.
"I had a question," I gasped, stretching out as much as possible. Since this necessitated having my knees bent so I could press my feet up against the armrest at the other end of the sofa, this meant I couldn't stretch out very much. Still, I never suggested going to bed. I liked laying out here with my head on Geoffrey's thigh.
"What?" He took the ear bud cord from my hand. He wound it around his fingers.
"How do you really feel?"
I coughed again, but this time didn't have to curl up. "Well, how are you on accepting yourself and this situation?"
I'd been doing some thinking the past couple days. It hadn't been fun thinking, and had involved a lot of self-examination and doing my best to remember the past few months. I'd come to the conclusion that maybe I should have been asking Geoffrey stuff like this from the start.
We seemed to make the best progress when I had some idea of where he stood on an emotional and self-acceptance level. When I knew what was going on with him, I didn't get as uptight and anxious. I didn't make big stupid mistakes; I thought through things instead, considered how and when to push him with a clearer mind, and I didn't ask too much of him at once.
"Why do you care?" he asked.
I sighed, had another curl-up coughing fit, and attempted a deep breath that succeeded. "Well, we're in this together, and I think I'm more patient when I have some idea of where you're at."
"Well, um, I'm not sure how to explain it." His hand returned to my hair and I closed my eyes as his rubbing eased the pain. "I'm not used to trying to talk things about it out."
"Yeah. Very mixed. Kind of like Grandma's soup."
I chuckled. Geoffrey laughed a little.
He sighed. "Okay. Um. Give me a minute to figure out how to explain myself. I've never had to figure out how to tell someone what's going on before."
While I waited, I occupied myself with a couple more coughing fits, some sneezes, and shifting back onto my side. Once I settled, Geoffrey's fingers traced the outer edge of my ear. I said nothing about it. If he'd been paying attention to what he was doing, he wouldn't have caressed me. It just made me wish I could shut his mind off like this more often.
Then again, his reactions to progress might have been more dramatic and more difficult for him to get over.
"Well, um, I figured out a while ago what it is blocking me up," he said.
"What's that?" I yawned and coughed, curling up.
Geoffrey waited until I relaxed again. "Pretty much everything Dad ever said to me. I wasn't a very confident or comfortable person even before I realized I'm gay, and that realization just exacerbated things because of Dad's opinions of homosexuality. It was kind of like going from a baseline self-confidence level of one down to negative one hundred."
I winced. "Yikes."
"Yeah. Not fun at all. And then I dated girls, and that just made things worse because I was doing what I thought I had to do to get by and not be discovered. So, no self-confidence to begin with, plus feeling like being gay is wrong, plus lying about being into girls just kind of killed whatever happy thoughts I could have come up with, then Dad threw me out, and that just--ugh.
"Actually, when you and I met, I was a little improved from what I'd arrived at Grandma's like. I wasn't able to pull myself out of bed for much of the first week after I got here."
He shifted a little and I adjusted the position of my head. Another coughing fit attacked and Geoffrey rubbed the crown of my head throughout it.
"The second week was a bit better. I met Tina and Nevin and some of Grandma's other friends. I got out of bed, baked a lot. Lived on my baked goods, too." He chuckled. "Then Tina sent me down to your place the third week."
"I didn't realize it was so soon after everything."
"No reason why you should have. What did Tina tell you that day in the lobby?"
I chuckled, coughed, and sighed a little. "Only that you are gay and that I should hook up with you. Not in those precise words, but that was the general gist of what she said."
"Did you know what she was doing when she sent me to you with the cobbler?"
I nodded. "I suspected."
"Is that why you invited me in?"
"I invited you in because I thought--I think--you're adorable and because I was interested in you when I saw you in the lobby and didn't want to pass up an opportunity to get to know you. I'm still trying to figure out what I did to frighten you."
He waited until this coughing fit ended. "Well. Pretty much everything, including the fact that I was interested in you and didn't want to admit it to myself."
"Oh!" I said, enlightened.
Geoffrey chuckled. "Yeah."
I yawned and had another coughing fit. "Shit, this is hell," I muttered, then sneezed a couple times.
"Maybe I should take you in to see a doctor."
"And the doctor will give me medicines to take, and I won't be able to keep them down." I sat up, drank some water, and laid back down. "No, thanks." I made myself as comfortable as possible, considering my condition. "So where are you now?"
"Still a bit freaked by the boyfriend thing but kind of liking it at the same time. I mean, it being official now. It pushes me. Like sleeping with you does."
I considered offering to back off of one or both of those things for a moment, then decided to see if he'd clarify things a bit first. "How uncomfortable with those things are you?"
"Just, um, things Dad always said getting in the way and me just mentally arguing with myself about how they aren't true. Grandma's started teasing me about moving in with you." He said the last sentence softly.
"How's that make you feel?"
"Mostly afraid. I know it couldn't happen right away, but there's a part of me that's not sure I want it to happen at all."
I stared at my glass of water, a little surprised by what he'd said. I couldn't be certain he'd really been paying attention to it, either. He'd just implied that he'd been thinking about us moving in together. I squeezed my eyes shut, pushing aside the hope that implication summoned. No. I could not allow myself to hope for that yet.
"I kind of feel like this is too much," he said.
"This, being with you now. Spending all my free time here."
I frowned. "I know I put on the pity-me act, but that doesn't mean you're not allowed to do other things. Have you even called any friends since coming to stay with me?"
"Yeah, during breaks at work and when I'm fetching things from home."
"You're allowed to talk to your friends when you're here." I had a coughing fit and a sneeze, and continued. "I won't get upset. You don't have to keep me entertained. I'm asleep most of the time."
"One of them is Annalisa."
I tried not to care about that and shrugged. "So? You're allowed to talk to her, too."
"No, tell me."
"Geoff. Come on. I won't get upset."
He heaved a sigh and shifted, sitting up. "Okay! I think you're jealous of her."
"I'm jealous of Annalisa," I said.
I sighed, coughed, and resisted the urge to cover my head with my comforter. "Because she's your ex girlfriend and everything you've ever said about her makes me think you were happy with her."
His fingers dragged through my hair. "I suppose I was. I think she was the best of my girlfriends."
I squeezed my eyes shut. Oh, that made me feel just so much better.
"What?" I somehow succeeded in not sounding impatient.
"Well, I was desperate when she came over, so like the second thing out of my mouth after she hugged me was that I have a boyfriend. You know, back at the theater."
I think my eyes about popped out of my head. "You said that?"
"Yeah, I didn't want her to think that we could get hooked up again. Then she told me about hearing about me from my sister Elaine, and she was perfectly fine with it and, well . . ."
I think I would have hit the floor if I'd been standing, I felt so relieved. It didn't preclude him from deciding to try and revert back to how he'd been before, but it did comfort me to know that he wouldn't be turning to Annalisa if he did that.
I had another coughing fit and sat up after it. "I'm going to the bathroom then going to bed. If you don't want, you don't have to stay the night."
He caught my arm. When I looked at him, he smiled, expression lit by the menu screen to the movie on the TV.
I patted his hand. "Thanks."
I arrived home a little later than usual for a closing shift. We'd had a hell of a time clearing out the shop though we'd closed at the usual time. The owners of Common Grounds had been adamant we have the time to partake of the New Year's party on Main Street, not that I'd particularly wanted to. I was just glad we'd closed at the usual time.
Since I'd walked to work, I'd just kind of had to plod home. Most of the way had been completely devoid of other pedestrians. I'd gone around main street to avoid the crowds, but even then I'd encountered a fair number of people camped out on the sidewalks waiting for the city-center fireworks show set to go at midnight.
I entered the front door. The six block walk had taken me more than my usual half hour, but that was because I was just so weary. I felt barely able to pick up my feet. When I got into an elevator, I didn't really pay attention to what button I pushed, and just got off when the doors opened, then walked down the hall. I must have been subconsciously aware, though, because I stopped at sixteen and stared at the number on the door.
I knew this was Silas's place because it had the "Friends Welcome Anytime, Family By Appointment Only" sign hanging on it. It made me smile; Silas had put it up just before he got sick. He'd found it in a novelty shop up at the mall.
He was better now, had been getting to work the past few days since Christmas. He'd had tonight off, though, and tomorrow, but would be going back in on the second.
I placed my hand on the door. I'd kind of missed sleeping with him the past few nights. I'd liked him cuddling up to my back, his arm around me. It had been nice waking up next to him. I'd always awoken pretty early and just crawled back into bed with him after a bathroom run, so I could wait for him to wake up. He'd always pulled me against him. I missed that, too. My bed was lonelier than it had ever been, even when I'd had a girlfriend.
I shifted a little, letting my hand fall to my side, and the floor creaked a little. It took me a moment to convince myself that I should just leave, but even then I couldn't get myself to move. The door opened.
Silas smiled at me. "Why didn't you knock?"
I looked down. He reached out and grabbed my left hand to pull me into his place.
"Grandma doesn't know I'm here."
"She'll probably guess. Is she staying up for New Year's?"
I shook my head. "She says it isn't as fun for her as it used to be. She's probably in bed by now."
"Then stay a while. At least until after midnight. It's only about half an hour 'til."
I nodded, mostly because I did want to stay. I actually wanted to spend the night again. Thinking it was probably unwise to examine this desire too closely, I simply entered Silas's place. I didn't want to wake up the doubts and fears. I just wanted to be, to hang out with Silas, and I felt mentally weary enough that thinking was too much effort. My mind had shut down a little, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Maybe he sensed that about me, because he came to me after locking the door and embraced me. I wrapped my arms around his torso and sighed, resting my head on his chest. He hadn't put on any cologne today, so I could smell his scent by itself.
"What are you thinking?" he asked.
This question no longer startled me. He'd asked it at least once a day for the past week, since we'd had that talk that day.
"Nothing really. Work was exhausting."
His embrace tightened, and I closed my eyes, welcoming it as I had when he'd held me in bed. I'd progressed that much during his illness. Not even the memories of what Dad had said had been able to stop me enjoying being held. It fulfilled something within me, and I'd realized I wanted to be held for years. I'd certainly never gotten the pleasure and peace I felt while being held when I'd held any of my girlfriends. I still hadn't figured out if that was because I'd been faking it then or if it was because I just liked being held.
After a couple minutes, I raised my head to look up at Silas. He'd rested his cheek against my head and now opened his eyes, keeping his head bowed. I didn't think about anything. I clung to that haze of thoughtlessness in my mind as I stood on my toes to kiss him. I'd been wanting to do this for days, since he'd gotten ill.
One of Silas's hands came up to cup my head. I closed my eyes and sighed into the kiss, clutching his shirt in my fists. My mind woke up a little, the things Dad had said trying to tell me what I was doing was wrong, but they were easy to ignore. It felt too good, kissing Silas. I felt relieved, as though I'd been tense until this moment.
He ended it after a minute and pushed his hand into my hair, pulling my head back gently. "Are you pushing yourself?"
I shook my head a little. "I don't feel like it. Not really, anyway. I would have been yesterday, or tomorrow. It's easier to ignore the thoughts right now."
Silas sighed a little. "Okay, then, we'll take this at your pace, but not too far."
He slid his hand around to press his thumb to my lips and I stopped speaking. He smiled a little.
"I don't want you to do something you may regret in the morning. You're not in your right mind right now."
I sighed, a little frustrated, but nodded. I could see his point. If I pushed too far tonight, I might hate the world in the morning. Much as I thought I wanted more tonight, I knew Silas was right to put limits on things. He was thinking of me, didn't want me to have any more stress than I was already under. He smiled when I nodded and removed his thumb, but kept his hand against my jaw.
I let go of his shirt and slid my hand up, wrapping it around the back of his neck, and kissed him again. This had been too much a desire of mine for me to fear regretting it in the morning, kissing him. He responded to this one, too, and it went on longer. He eventually broke it, but kept his lips against mine as if unable to pull away.
I blinked a few times. "Hm?" I tried to kiss him again. His hand stilled my movement and I opened my eyes to find him looking at me. He looked serious. "Yeah?"
Instead of speaking, Silas just gazed at me, into my eyes. I lowered my gaze. This time when I moved, his hand didn't hold me back, and I kissed him again.
We stood for the next while, just kissing. I leaned against Silas, just reveling in the kisses, able to enjoy them for the first time. It didn't matter that I might regret this in the morning. It was something so small to regret, something I wanted have now. And maybe I wouldn't regret it in the morning. Maybe.
Silas's hand slid down my back to my rump. I couldn't make myself do the same, but I didn't object to what he'd done. My mind tried to tell me it was wrong, but that inner voice was weak, as exhausted as the rest of my thoughts, so it was easy to ignore. His other hand slid down to my neck to wrap around and he pressed closer to me, pulling me closer. I wrapped my arm around his neck and tightened the embrace of my other arm around his torso, unfisting his shirt to press my hand against his back.
It turned me on, kissing Silas. With my girlfriends, I'd always had to really work at getting horny. I'd always had to twist my mind into a convoluted knot of thinking about sex with guys while pretending to myself I wasn't really. Much of the time, the inner fight had killed all sexual desire, so sex had been a moot point. More than one girlfriend had thought I was impotent, and I suppose I had been, but I hadn't felt comfortable enough explaining the reasons why to myself, never mind them.
But it was so different now, even with the thoughts about it being wrong trying to interfere. Silas pulled me closer and I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, involuntarily rubbing against him. I couldn't resist the action. I could feel the heat of his body against my erection, and I wanted to get closer to it.
He broke the kiss and bowed his head next to mine, panting for breath. "Far enough."
I swallowed, looking at his shoulder. Neither of us pulled away, though. We pulled each other closer instead. For my part, I felt as if I couldn't let go of him now, never mind the weary thoughts that tried to convince me to push him away. For the first time, I didn't feel disgust at myself for entertaining thoughts of Silas, for kissing him, for being close to him.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
I closed my eyes and sighed, having caught my breath. "Horny."
He chuckled a little. "Me, too."
An idea occurred to me, and I shoved aside the thought that it was wrong and lowered my hand from around his neck. Silas went very still, breath catching, as my hand slid down his torso.
"Geoff." I think he wanted to quell my action, but he didn't sound upset. He sounded horny.
I hesitated at the waistband of his shorts, then slid my hand over them to his crotch. It took me only a moment to find his erection, and I covered it with my hand. We leaned away from each other now, and I looked down. He felt big, but then I did, too, and I wasn't really much bigger than average. He certainly didn't feel bigger than I did. I caressed his erection, sliding my fingertips up and down its length. Silas whimpered. When I looked up, I found his head tipped forward, his upper teeth digging into the skin below his lower lip.
But he didn't say anything. He didn't protest or pull away. Oh, I knew what I was doing, but his pose fascinated me, and so I rubbed him in earnest now, no longer trying to gauge his size but because I wanted to see what he'd do.