[From the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: "Funeral Games. Public
games were held both in Greece and Rome in honor of the honored dead." An
example would be the games held by Achilles during the Trojan War in honor
of his beloved friend, Patrocles.]
He had known the instant Brian had avowed, "I said I'm fine," that he hadn't been, but to push him in any way would have been a mistake and Brian would have lashed out at him and said something that he might not have been able to take back, not with the guys sitting at the next table. Over the months that they had been seeing one another, Justin had learned how far he could take things with Brian. He knew that sometimes Brian attacked over-aggressively because that was the way he had learned to survive. So Justin had walked away, waited on other customers, and left Brian to sulk in his booth. Even Michael and the guys had let him be after their initial questions. They too had fallen afoul of Brian's ire before and had no desire to provoke him.
Only now, a day later, sitting next to Brian at Woody's, Justin felt an overwhelming desire to be alone with him, to ask him how he really felt about his dad dying, to find out if he needed comforting. As soon as Ted diverted active attention away from him and his Daphne dilemma, Justin turned to Brian and whispered, "I think I need a refresher course in being a top." He held his breath not sure how Brian would respond.
He laughed. "Tonight."
Laughing more in relief than anything, Justin suggested, "Maybe I can write crib notes on my cock. That way I won't forget when I'm with Daph."
"Give me two hours," chuckled Brian. "I gotta do something at my mom's
house." At that Brian's face darkened for a moment and Justin had to force
himself not to touch him. There'd be time enough for that later.
As much as he tried not to, he counted the hours, the minutes until he was due at Brian's. Changed clothes three times as if Brian would a) notice and b) let him keep them on for long. A half hour before time he called Deb at the diner to see if she was coming home soon to take him over to Brian's; and fifteen minutes before she was due to show up he went outside and waited for her to arrive. As soon as she pulled up, he hopped in the car and urged her to hurry.
"Keep your pants on. At least until you get to Brian's," she added, chortling.
Then her demeanor changed. "This thing with his dad has really gotten to him. He's like a wounded tiger. I've seen it before and he can be dangerous when he's like that."
"Brian wouldn't hurt me."
"I don't mean physically."
He looked at her. "Neither do I."
"I know you think he's just using me---"
She interrupted. "No, I don't. I think he really cares for you."
"And that's worse. Because you both may end up getting hurt."
Justin stared straight ahead, not wanting to say it but not being able to keep it in. "I'm not Michael."
"No, you're not. You went after Brian because you didn't know any better. Michael knows him. Inside and out."
"And he still wants him," he said hotly. "But he'll never have him."
Deb said nothing in return.
Having reached an uneasy impasse they fell quiet and rode in silence the rest of the way to Brian's apartment. As Justin started to get out he said, "I didn't mean it."
"Yeah, you did," she said softly. "It's his best quality."
Slinging his bookbag over his shoulder, he closed the door and looked for Brian's jeep. There it was, parked on the opposite side of the street under a lamppost. Glancing up he could see the blue glow from the neon light over Brian's bed through a window in the living room. As he entered in the security code for the building he reflected on Deb's words and the implications. He didn't know why he had gotten so pissed off except that he was tired of people telling him how to deal with Brian as if he hadn't been sleeping with the man for months now. Did they think that all they did was fuck? That Brian never talked to him, never confided in him? He knew what they had, had few illusions about their relationship, accepted it for what it was, and if occasionally he grew impatient with Brian and demanded more or let his heart get carried away, then he took his lumps like a man. He didn't need anybody to tell him how Brian was when he was hurt or angry. He'd been there. He knew.
Brian opened and closed the door behind him. Removed his backpack from his shoulder and dropped it by the sofa. Took the teen in his arms and kissed him long and hard. They parted but before Justin could say anything, Brian cautioned, "No talking." Justin's pulse began to hammer at his temples as Brian resumed kissing him. No one kissed like Brian. Of course, lips like Brian's were made for kissing. The perfect shade of cinnamon red, sweetly curved… and after a few minutes of kissing they would swell and Justin would catch the bottom one between his lips and suck on it until he felt dizzy.
In bed now, Brian on his back, savoring the feel of Justin's mouth on his body, lips brushing over sensitive skin, tongue flickering in and out of crevices. Justin knew how bored Brian got with people telling him he was beautiful or that he had a beautiful body, but sometimes he longed to tell him how much he loved to touch him---to kiss his nipples, his ribs, his neck---because he found Brian to be pleasing. He supposed, in a way, the sketches he had done of Brian did just that. Still, to run his fingers up Brian's thighs, lean yet with just enough flesh, enough muscle to mound just so beneath his palm…The same with his calves. As Justin kissed the inside of his thighs, he cupped his calves, squeezing the supple flesh. He heard Brian sigh as his tongue trailed over the smooth skin between his knees and groin.
Brian opened his thighs and Justin lay between them, kissing his chest and throat, making his way back up to those beautiful lips. As they kissed he felt Brian's cock stir, felt his own throb in response. Without any further encouragement reached down and began stroking Brian's dick. When Brian began to harden, Justin slid back down his body and lowered his face between his thighs. Brian sighed and let his head rest against his pillow as Justin went down on him. Justin's head bobbed over his groin, his mouth devoured him. When they first got together he had tolerated the teen's less than expert attempts to give him head, hoping the boy would learn by example. Then he came to his senses and just told him what felt good and what didn't. Since then Justin's skill had improved tremendously and more than ever Brian enjoyed being on the receiving end of his blowjobs. He especially loved to watch Justin's ample lips sliding up and down his shaft. Full. Luscious. Ripe. A few more minutes of intense attention and he drew Justin up on top of him. "Let me see your technique," ordered Brian, raising his hips and placing a pillow beneath his behind. He spread open his legs and drew up his knees.
Justin unrolled a condom over his hard-on and lubed Brian's hole.
"Remember," he said as Justin withdrew his finger, "I'm a seventeen year old girl." He grinned. "Be gentle." And then Justin pressed the head of cock against his anus and pushed. Brian's mouth fell open and he took a long breath as Justin entered him only releasing it as Justin paused about halfway in.
"Okay?" Justin asked and Brian nodded. Justin shifted position, supporting himself on both hands, and proceeded inch by inch until he was all the way in. Brian drew his head down and they kissed while his body adjusted to Justin's cock. Raising up, Justin looked at Brian and waited for a signal. Brian laid a hand upon Justin's flank and smiled. Taking that as a go-ahead, Justin began a slow withdrawal.
Brian struggled to remember that he was supposed to be acting the part of an inexperienced, straight girl and that he was supposed to be giving Justin tips on how to be considerate and generous. Instead he wanted to grab hold of Justin and growl, "Fuck me," in his ear. Feel the bed shift as Justin rammed his ass. He groaned and Justin was instantly alert.
Eyelids fluttering, Brian cupped the back of Justin's neck and rose up. They kissed hard and deep. "Practice is over." Falling back on the bed, Brian wrapped his legs around Justin's waist and held on as Justin began to thrust harder, faster. "Yeah…" Brian breathed. Justin arched his back and pushed the last inch of his dick inside Brian's ass causing Brian's hole to stretch open even wider. Brian unwrapped his legs from around Justin's waist and turned onto his side, throbbing cock still buried in his ass. Placing a hand on Brian's hip, Justin got up on his knees and withdrew almost to the tip and then plunged back inside. Brian grabbed a fistful of sheet and moaned as Justin fucked him, the teen's cock sliding in and out of the slippery tunnel of his ass. He tried to squeeze his muscles as Justin withdrew but couldn't, caught up in the sensation of being fucked, of being jolted about on the bed as Justin hammered him. Finally Justin threw back his head and shouted. Brian tightened his hole around Justin, increasing the intensity of his climax.
Justin lowered his head and waited until his heart began to beat at a
less frantic pace. He withdrew and rolled Brian over onto his back. Spread
his thighs. Just as Brian reached for his cock, Justin thrust his fingers
inside his ass and began to finger fuck him. Brian groaned and pulled on
his dick, stomach muscles rippling as Justin added a third finger and then
a fourth. Justin lowered his face and began to lick and suck Brian's balls
as he continued to work his fingers. Brian lifted his feet from the bed,
pressing the tips of his toes into the mattress as he got closer and
closer to the point of no return. Hands falling away, he let Justin take
over, the teen squatting between his open thighs, fingers out of his ass
and wrapped around his dick, both hands stroking, pulling, tugging on his
cock and balls until finally Brian gave a strangled cry and came.
"So where's your dad's funeral gonna be?" They lay in bed eating Cheerios, the pasta with pink sauce postponed until after the funeral, until Brian had more time.
"You can't come," replied Brian, answering Justin's real question.
"You got a hard-on for funerals?"
"Is Michael gonna to be there?"
"Michael knew my dad. You didn't."
"Funerals are for the living. I wanna be there for you."
Brian's face closed down. "No."
"How the fuck would I explain you to my mom?"
"Tell her the truth." Brian glared at him. "Tell her you've been fucking an eighteen year old high school student."
Brian rolled over. "Let it go."
"You're a fucking hypocrite," Justin said to his back. "Always preaching to me about living your own life and you won't even tell your mom you're gay."
"I promised the old man," he said, facing Justin once more.
"Bullshit. As if you care."
"Make me." Brian lunged towards him and Justin tensed and then relaxed as Brian began kissing him. That was definitely one way to get him off the subject. They continued to kiss until it became obvious that neither one of them would be satisfied by a round of heavy petting. Just as Brian pulled away to fumble for a condom, Justin caught hold of his shoulders and got his attention. "Please."
No need to provide a context, they both knew what he was referring to. "I said drop it." Angry, Brian sat up in bed and looked down at Justin. "If you wanna talk, I'm going to sleep. We can either fuck, or we can sleep, but I won't talk about my dad with---" He stopped abruptly, aware too late of what he was about to say.
"With me," finished Justin. "Because I'm nobody." He threw back the covers and moved to the edge of the bed. "But I bet you'd talk about him with Michael."
"Would you lay off about Michael?"
Justin gripped the edge of the mattress. "I would except--- he's there, in the middle of your every thought." He stood. "I should go hang up my uniform."
As soon as he had exited the bedroom, Brian closed his eyes and cursed under his breath. He knew it had been a mistake to let Justin come over, and still he had done it, needing to relax, to forget about the funeral and his fucking family, and Justin couldn't do that, couldn't be just a body needing a body, he wanted it all: the fucking, the friendship, and everything that went with being a lover and not just another trick. He turned over onto his side preparing to sleep as Justin returned with his uniform and hung it in the closet among Brian's suits. Their eyes didn't meet as the teen passed by him making his way to the other side of the bed. Only, instead of getting in, Justin took a pillow from the head of the bed and a throw from the foot and returned to the living room, to the sofa. Softly, Brian swore, "Fuck." Counting to ten, he waited for the tension to leave his shoulders and neck and then got out of bed and followed.
He found Justin sitting on the sofa, naked, with the throw and pillow next to him. Could tell that he was probably crying. He stood behind him for a while, then reached out and touched him, fingers combing through the hair at the nape of his neck. He let his hand slide down over his shoulder, then pulled away. Returned to bed. It was all he could do, all he would allow himself to do. Still, he waited. Remaining alert for ten minutes to see if Justin would return. At the moment he was about to give up and go to sleep, the teen appeared on the steps in the doorway. Saying nothing, Justin climbed into bed and turned over onto his side, facing away from Brian. Eyes fixed on his back, Brian studied the set of his shoulders, reading anger and pain in the tense muscles. Sliding closer, he eased his arm around Justin's waist and drew him to his chest.
At first Justin resisted and then he allowed his body to relax, his
head to rest against Brian's breastbone. He could feel Brian's chest rise
and fall beneath his back, and the contact gave him comfort. This was
where he belonged.
Michael left, leaving a bottle of water next to him, warning him not to become dehydrated. As the door to the loft slid shut, Brian wanted to scream, except if he did his head would most likely explode. The drugs and the booze would probably catch up with him one day and all the water in the world wouldn't keep him from self-destructing. His hands shook as he sat up and finished undressing. Christ, what had he been thinking? He hadn't. That was always the problem. He didn't think, just did, just reacted. How could he have said those things to Mikey? Even now he could feel Michael's cock in his hand. Shit. And Michael had sounded so hurt when he said, "What? A drunken fuck so you don't have to think about your dad? I don't want that."
And what did he want? He wanted to call Justin but he couldn't.
Wouldn't use him to forget, wouldn't let him see how far he had fallen.
Sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands, Brian trembled,
a tear sliding down along side his nose. By accident he glimpsed the
bowling bag in the corner and he jerked off the bed and grabbed the
handles. He'd toss it, take it downstairs and throw it in the dumpster and
that'd be the end of that. Only he couldn't lift it. The bag suddenly
seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. Letting go, he stumbled back to bed and
laid down, his head still spinning.
It had felt good to watch the ball roll away into the night, its path illuminated by the smoky light from an alley. As it vanished, he'd felt some of the anger and hurt unravel, trailing the path of the ball. He had lived with that weight inside him for so long that he felt about twenty pounds lighter. Not that he had completely forgiven Jack for all the shitty things he had done but he could breathe now without the acrid taste of regret and hate flavoring every mouthful of air when he thought about him.
The first thing he had done upon coming home was to call Justin. "I'm still waiting for my pasta with pink sauce. What the fuck is pink sauce anyway?"
Justin had laughed. "Tomatoes and heavy cream. Philistine."
Opening the door to his loft, he let Justin in and closed it again. Before Justin had a chance to start in about the funeral, Brian asked, "So, did you do it?"
Justin put the grocery bag on the counter. "Do what?"
He grabbed two beers from the fridge and opened them. "Make a woman out of your little friend."
"Yeah," he replied taking the proffered beer.
Irritation he had expected and maybe belligerence but Justin seemed almost sad. "Everything go all right?"
Justin began unpacking the groceries. "During, yeah. Except…"
Brian perched on one of the bar stools. "Except what?"
"I don't want to talk about it." He took out the chopping board and started with the garlic and onions.
Shaking his head, Brian said, "That's a first."
"Why don't we talk about you instead?"
"Because we aren't finished with you. So what happened?"
Justin paused in his chopping. "She got all weird on me."
"She started acting like we were a couple, like just because we had sex we were in love or something."
Bemused, Brian hid a smile behind his beer. "You don't say?"
"I mean, she knows I'm gay. I don't understand what she thought would happen."
Brian set his beer down and said without looking at Justin, "Maybe she knows what she wants and what she wants is you."
"But she can't have me."
At that Brian laughed out loud.
"It's not funny, Brian. She called me eleven times today."
"Wow," Brian marveled, "that definitely beats your all-time record of seven calls in one day, unless you count the four email messages, and then you'd be dead even." He finished his beer and stood.
Justin resumed chopping and then stopped. "You're saying I'm just like Daphne."
"I'm sorry," began Brian, "you were. What was it you said to me? 'I want you.'" He rounded the counter and moved in close to the sexy, young chef.
"And you said, 'You can't have me,'" Justin challenged, and then he realized the trap he had walked into, because he did have him, even if it was under Brian's conditions. "That's different."
"For one thing, I'm gay. I know what I like, and I like dick." He unbuttoned and unzipped Brian's jeans. Slipped his hand inside and stroked his lover's cock. "Specifically, I like your dick."
"Does your mother know you talk like that?"
Justin smiled. "I told her."
Brian snickered. "If I were to tell my---" He stopped. Took hold of Justin's hands and led him to the sink. "Wash your hands and get back to the sauce."
After dinner, which Brian pronounced to be, 'Pretty good,' they fooled around on the couch, Justin straddling Brian's lap, his pants around his hips, and Brian's hand around his dick as they kissed. Then, in the midst of the heavy breathing and sighing, Brian released him and eased him off his lap. Stood, but didn't go anywhere, just remained where he was.
He shook his head. "Nothing."
"Don't shut me out."
Brian glanced over at him, then looked away. Started to say something, then stalked away. Justin pulled up his pants and followed, almost stepping on Brian's heels when he stopped abruptly. Turned. "You think you want to know, but you don't."
"I do." He braved a touch, fingers alighting on Brian's arm like a gentle breeze. "No matter what."
Returning to the couch, they sat on opposite ends. Brian stared down at his hands. Then said, "The Kinney clan must be the worst fucking family in the world. It was like being raised by wolves. Never sure when you were going to get your throat ripped out. You never knew where you stood. Sometimes Jack would come home drunk as shit and he'd actually be pleasant. And then there'd be nights when he was as sober as a nun and out of nowhere he'd just tear into you for no reason except that you were there. I used to think it was something I had done. Because sometimes it was like he fucking hated me. And then I realized that he did. And there was nothing I could have done, because… Because…" He swallowed.
"Why did he hate you?"
Brian faced Justin, his eyes shiny. "Because I had been born," he said giving a little breath of a laugh. "I remember…" he paused, let the pain subside. "I remember the first time I got drunk. It was with Mikey. We skipped school and went to his house. I had a bottle in my backpack. Stole it from the liquor cabinet at home. There was so much booze in my house my parents would have never missed it. The night before, Jack had gone out drinking and whoring around and come home and I remember sitting at the kitchen table, doing my homework, and he came in and he started yelling at my mom cause she asked him where he had been. Like she didn't know. Like she couldn't tell. I wasn't even in the same room as them and I could smell the alcohol. I sat there listening to them and then it sounded like something bumped against the wall and I knew he had hit her and I tried to ignore it, to just sit there and pretend like it wasn't happening… but I couldn't. So I went out into the living room and she was leaning against the wall with her hand to her face. I just froze. I wanted to go back into the kitchen but I couldn't move. And then he saw me. And he knew. He knew I had come out to protect her. And… I didn't think he could move that fast. The next thing I knew he was standing in front of me, towering over me like this fucking giant. And he hit me. He hit me so fucking hard I slammed into the doorframe and fell to the floor. Blacked out. When I woke up, my head was pounding. Felt like I had gotten run over by a train. And my mom," he chuckled a little, "my mom was sitting in an armchair sipping a martini and pretending nothing had happened. Only, her hands were shaking so bad, she had spilled half of it down the front of her shirt. Jack was gone. So I got up, and went into the kitchen and got my stuff, and went upstairs. The next morning I stole a bottle of scotch, and met Mikey at his house, and we walked to school and hid out, waited until Deb had gone to work, and went back to his place and got totally shit-faced drunk." He pressed his lips close until they formed a thin, hard line. "And that, as they say, was the beginning of my glorious career."
Justin wiped his eyes. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah, well… Even that touching story is just one dysfunctional moment out of an entire fucking lifetime of dysfunctional moments." He smiled sadly. "Still think I'm worth having?"
"I've seen you at your worst, Brian, and I always come back," Justin said, moving closer to him.
"You think you've seen me at my worst. Believe me, you haven't."
"You can't scare me."
"Maybe you should wise up."
"Maybe you should stop pretending you're the Big Bad Wolf."
"Weren't you even listening to me?"
"That was something your dad did to you. That's different." He stroked Brian's thigh. "You want to scare me, tell me something you've done."
Brian stared at him, then looked away, shaking his head. "There should be at least one person who can look at me and not see all the shit."
"You mean someone you can hide from. Cause you can't hide from Michael, can you? He knows you too well."
"You talk too much."
Justin leaned over and kissed him. "So you've said."
He laid awake staring into the darkness as Justin slept next to him. His mind turned feverishly over the events of the last few days. He almost laughed at how easy he had thought it would be, throwing one ball away, getting rid of the anger and the hurt, and there they were again, not as strong to be sure, but there nonetheless. So it hadn't been enough. Making peace with that memory hadn't been enough. Being with Mikey hadn't been enough. He still wasn't done. It was like being a kid, playing "Mother, May I". "Mother says take three baby steps forward." "Mother, may I?" "Yes, you may." Three baby steps. "Mother says take two giant steps and let go of the anger." Two giant steps. "Stop. You didn't say 'Mother, may I?'"
"I want…" He stopped, horrified that he had spoken. Turned to see if
Justin had heard, but the teen was fast asleep, snoring lightly. I
just want some rest. But he couldn't have any because he hadn't done
everything right, had forgotten to do something, say something, and so he
was still stuck here, standing in the middle of his life, wondering how he
would ever get to the end, to the finish line before it was too late, and
the sun had gone down, and it was time to go in.