Englewood

by Nara Kagerou (奈良蜻蛉)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/13708.html)

He rides the lightrail with me every evening, on the 6:36 train South. He curls into the gray and red striped seat, facing backwards so that he can watch the world fleeing away behind us.

He doesn’t notice me. There’s no reason why he should. I blend into the crowd, gray suit, gray tie, corporate haircut. Even if he sees me every day, he only sees me as one in a group of corporate drones riding the D train from downtown Denver.

There’s an .mp3 player in his pocket, and I always wonder what his life’s soundtrack sounds like. He only ever wears one of the two earphones, in the ear closest to the window, so that he can listen to the conversations of people around him. He watches people, notices things, and I watch him, the way his messy red hair falls into his pretty green eyes, the way his freckles ripple on his cheek when he smiles. I’ve seen him on this train for weeks and I’ve never once heard his voice. He’s friendly and gentle with children, teaching them the kind of hand-slapping games I played as a kid, and they giggle and laugh until their mothers smile indulgently and lead them off the train, and he curls into himself again, quiet.

I feel like a stalker, the way I watch him, but I know nothing more about him than this–he boards the train at the Community College station, and gets off it at Englewood, same as me. And I keep dreaming about him.

I wish I could have more creative dreams, but all my brain is willing to give me is dreams of him, over and over, riding the D train from downtown, and sometimes he turns and smiles at me. And I wonder how much of a loser this makes me, crushing like a teenager over this kid on the lightrail, too shy to actually introduce myself, even though I see him every single day.

But today–today he slips, on a patch of snow turned to ice by too many feet trampling it smooth, and falls backwards, back towards the train tracks he’d just stepped across. I step forward, moving without thinking, and he falls right into my arms.
It can’t be more than a second, but my brain stops, and all I know is the sweet warm weight of his body against mine, the vanilla smell of shampoo in the thin strands of hair tickling my nose. He pulls away from me, and stares, a blush blotching across his freckled cheeks.

“Are you all right?” I ask.

He doesn’t say anything, just drops this quick, almost Japanese-style bow, and then flees, down the steps and away. I stand there, dazed with the smell of vanilla, until someone on the platform snaps at me and asks if I want to get run over, standing on the tracks like this.

I didn’t know one could dream in smells, but that night I dream of vanilla.

The next day I ride the train as usual, and when he gets on, I’m watching him, same as I always do, accustomed to the way he glances around with his eyes down so that he doesn’t meet anyone’s gaze, curls into a chair and then watches people shyly from beneath the veil of his hair. So I’m stunned speechless when he glances up, right into my eyes, and then curls into the empty seat next to me.

By the time I recover, he still hasn’t said a word, just staring thoughtfully out the window like he always does, so I guess he’s not interested in conversation. The seats aren’t exactly spacious, and I can feel his thigh pressed up against mine, the warmth of his body through his jeans. I watch him, unused to this proximity, and he must feel my breath stir some of his flyaway strands of hair, because he turns and looks up, right into my face.

I try to remind myself that I was the captain of my debate team, that I react well under pressure and that I almost enjoy public speaking. My brain has melted. “Uh,” I say, lost in his huge green eyes.

I see a smile grow on his lips–which, my puddle of a brain is sure to note, are scant inches from my own. He cocks his head to the side, smiling at me curiously, green eyes darting over my face, patient and inquisitive.

“Eli,” I manage at last, sticking out my hand. “My name’s Eli.”

His hand slips into mine–smaller than mine, with long, slender fingers that graze my wrist before closing around my palm. He doesn’t say a word, doesn’t give me his name in return, just keeps staring at me with that curious smile, and I stare back, completely lost in his emerald eyes. Some part of my brain is poking me that I should let go of his hand, but all I can manage is to stare at him. After a moment he giggles, taking his hand back, and leans back into the seat.

With his gaze off of me, I think I might be able to actually manage coherent speech. “You don’t talk?” I ask him, then mentally kick myself for not managing more polite coherent speech, but he only gives me a sad smile and shakes his head. “Oh,” I say. “But you can hear just fine.” He nods, laughing a little.

“How old are you?” I ask. I’ve been wondering. He’s in college, but he looks sixteen.

He holds up both hands and spreads his fingers wide, then curls his fingers back into his fist, and extends them again without thumbs. After a moment I get it. “Eighteen.”

He nods with a smile, but the only thing going through my head is sheer gratitude that I’m not a pedophile. We ride the rest of the way in silence, his body pressed against mine at the thigh and shoulders as he gazes out the window at the dark city passing us by. When we get off the train at Englewood, I wonder if this Twilight Zone version of reality is going to end here, but it doesn’t. He stops once we’re across the tracks, and looks up at me, waiting.

“Do you want a ride somewhere?” I ask, and he smiles big and nods hopefully. “Okay,” I say. “Come on.” He follows along close to me as I lead him to my car. “You aren’t afraid I’m going to kidnap and rape you or something?”

He giggles more as he gets in, then turns to me and opens his mouth as if to say something, but nothing comes out. He frowns, closes his eyes, and tries again, then shakes his head, disappointed, and looks away.

“Where to?” I ask. He points. “That way. Great. Okay.”

I start the car, following his gestures about which way to go, and pull up in front of a dumpy-looking brick house. He leans over, and I feel his breath graze over my ear before he plants a kiss on my cheek and gets out. I stare after him until he goes inside the house and closes the door. Then I drive away. I can still feel the pressure of his lips on my cheek when I get home.

When he gets on the train the next day, he doesn’t glance around surreptitiously the way he usually does, but just looks around quickly, and grins big when he sees me. I can’t help but grin back, fully aware that I am falling head over heels for this kid, and he plops down next to me. He immediately digs in his bag, pulls out a pen, and sticks it between his teeth as he digs for a notebook. I watch as he cracks the notebook open, writes something on the page, then shows it to me. “My name’s Sean.”

I grin. “Sean. Nice to meet you.”

He hesitates a moment, then writes again. “Tell me about you? Please?”

I shake my head reluctantly. “There’s not much to tell. I work in business. I’m really pretty boring.”

“Wife?” He writes. “Girlfriend?”

I shake my head, and he watches me, chewing nervously on his lip, then writes down something else, hesitating over it before showing me.

“Will you go out with me?”

My eyes widen, staring at the words. “You mean… like…”

He nods, getting that blotchy blush on his cheeks that makes him look even scruffier than he normally does, watching me with wide hopeful eyes.

“Sure,” I say. “Um. Where do you want to go?”

He giggles and shrugs, still watching me with that amazing smile of his.

“Er,” I say. I wasn’t aware that I was gay, until now, but somehow I have no problem agreeing to go out on a date with this kid. I can still remember the pressure of his lips on my cheek. “Are you busy tonight? We could grab dinner and go to a movie or something.”
He smiles big and hugs my arm, resting his head on my shoulder. I blush at the display of affection, but I can’t help grinning like an idiot in return. I take him to dinner at a sushi place nearby and drive to the Bowles cinema, which is closest. He chooses a scary movie, cuddling up against my shoulder. The movie’s pretty bad, so I pay attention to him instead, wrapping my arm around his waist. He turns his head up to face me, smiling, and gives me a kiss. His lips are slightly chapped, and the way the rough skin grates over my lip sends shivers all the way down to my toes.

I gasp when his tongue quests shyly over my lip, and one of the guys in the row behind us notices and gives my seat a harsh kick. Sean giggles as he pulls away, settling in to watch the movie again. It’s only a few minutes later that he leans over again, lips closing around my earlobe and tugging. I smile, kissing him again, too enamored to care about the jerks in the row behind us. He takes my hand and pulls, getting up, so I follow him out of the theater, ready to follow him anywhere.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

He shoots me a smile before glancing around the empty hallway, and pulling me into the men’s bathroom, choosing the stall on the far end and squeezing us inside. We fall on each other’s lips this time, bodies pressed close, and the way he uses his tongue sucks all hope of coherent thought from my mind. He takes quick little pants of breath between kisses, cool air against my lips, then replaces it with his tongue, burning wet trails of saliva over my lips and into my mouth, lingering on my tongue. When he pulls away at last, it’s to give me a questioning look as he drops to his knees. My eyes widen further. “Sean?”

He cocks his head at me and gives me a smile that turns my heart to putty. Nimble fingers unzip my fly and reach into my trousers, freeing my growing erection. I shrink slightly from the exposure to the cold air in the bathroom, but when he takes me into his mouth without any hesitation, I know I’ve never felt so hot. I stare at him, his pretty face and pink lips wrapped around my dick like it’s a strawberry sucker, and if he’s clumsy, he makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm, stubbornly determined to take as much of it into his mouth as possible, and when he succeeds, I have to shove my palm into my mouth and bite down to keep from moaning. Of the scattering of girlfriends I had who were actually willing to suck me off, none of them ever deepthroated me, and I had no idea it felt this good. He pulls back enough to breathe, dragging his tongue along the underside as he backs off, then does it again, taking me so deep I can feel the short curls around the base of my cock brushing his nose, and I know I’m going to be dreaming about those freckles, mottled around a blotchy blush.

“Fuck, Sean,” I moan, fighting every reflex in my body to keep from plunging into that sweet wet warmth, senses so overrun with pleasure, I don’t know how I’m still standing, but somehow I manage to gasp out a warning before I come. He doesn’t stop, just swirls his tongue around to catch the stray droplets, and after a moment’s hesitation, swallows.

I can’t manage to do anything but stare at him as he wipes his mouth, standing up and watching me through his pale red lashes. He holds up his wrist and taps his watch impatiently. “Oh,” I say. “Right. You wanna go?”

He nods, that blush of his flickering across his cheeks, and I reach out to kiss him, our noses bumping as we pull away. His eyes dart from my eyes to my lips, so I kiss him again before speaking. “Okay. Let’s go.”

On the ride home, he digs a candy out of his pocket and sucks on it, so that when he leans over the seat to kiss me, he tastes of sweet butter caramel, and I’m never going to be able to eat caramel again without imagining the way his tongue dipped invitingly into my mouth, coating my lips with the taste of caramel. It’s light years too soon when he pulls away, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and opening the car door. “Wait,” I say, catching his arm and pulling him back before I even realize what I’m doing. “Can I see you tomorrow?”

The grin that lights across his face is going to have my heart spinning for weeks. It’s Saturday tomorrow, so I won’t see him on the train. Maybe I sound desperate, maybe I should just wait and see him on Monday to find out where we stand, but I’m absolutely crazy about this boy, and I am desperate to see him.

He nods at me, waiting, and I remember after a moment that he can’t speak. “Oh. Right. Should I pick you up here tomorrow?”

He nods again, and like an idea lights up in his brain, he suddenly starts grinning even brighter.

“What time? Lunch?”

Once more he nods, leaning over to kiss me. He waggles his fingers at me in farewell as he gets out of the car. I drive home in a daze, climbing up the steps to my apartment and falling into bed fully clothed, completely, dazzlingly in love. My dreams are full-color medleys of vanilla and caramel.

I put on Frank Sinatra the next morning when I wake up, dancing around as I make breakfast—and I look like a total idiot because I can’t dance—singing along to those good old sappy love songs and telling myself that I’m not watching the clock like a lovesick puppy for when I can see him again. I convince myself I’m going to leave fifteen minutes late, so that I don’t look as desperate as I really am.

I get there five minutes early.

The door is answered by a tall young man who blinks at me. “Hello?”

Sean shoves him out of the way and pounces, throwing his arms around my neck.

“Ohhh,” his brother grins. “So you’re the guy Sean won’t stop talking about. He made you lunch.”

Glaring, Sean shoots his brother a glare and sticks out his tongue, pushing his sibling out of the way as he drags me inside.

“I’ll be in my room,” his brother comments as he disappears through a doorway. “No sex on the couch.”

Rolling his eyes, Sean leans up to kiss me, green eyes bright with happiness, and pushes me down on the couch, leaning over practically in my lap as he opens his mouth to say something. The hope drains from his face when no sound comes out, both of his hands reaching up to touch his throat, giving me this stricken look.

“Sean?” I’m baffled by his failed attempt at speech, worried about the broken look on his face. “What’s wrong?”

“He didn’t tell you?”

We both look up to where his brother is leaning in the doorway, holding a beer and frowning at us. I look from Sean to his brother in confusion. “Tell me what?”

“Sean. He’s got—”

He doesn’t get a chance to finish as Sean launches himself off the couch, clamping his hand over his brother’s mouth and shaking his head, tears in his eyes. After a moment, he lets go, starting to gesture at him in sign language. The brother shrugs. “Okay. I won’t. Sorry. You kids have fun.”

The door closes behind him with a soft click, and Sean turns to look at me, tears on his cheeks. “Sorry,” he mouths silently. He pats his throat and shrugs, then points to the kitchen, making gestures to indicate eating. I’m uncomfortable and confused, but I smile and nod, relaxing over lunch. I ask him to teach me sign language, and I’m rewarded by that big grin of his. It seems a little strange, I’ve only really known him two days but I’m already completely at home around him. He takes me up to his room after lunch, more like a glorified closet than a room, and we sit on his bed and play board games. He wins every time. It’s a little like being back in high school and hanging out with my friends at their place, which is both pleasant and unsettling at the same time. He’s six years younger than me, and I feel like such a creep, but I still can’t resist that smile of his.

“It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow,” I tell him.

He looks up at me over his hand of cards with that hopeful smile and his mottled blush.

“Want to come over to my place? I’ll cook you dinner.”

He giggles and nods happily, dropping his cards in favor of throwing his arms around my neck and kissing me. I kiss him back, relishing every moment of those sweet lips, and it’s way too soon before I have to go, because I have a business meeting with my boss’ clients.

I sit up that night with a mug of tea, thinking. I dream of him.

The next day I pick him up, holding out a little bouquet of flowers to him. The dozen roses seemed pushy when I still barely knew him, but I couldn’t show up empty-handed to a Valentine’s Day date. He stares at the flowers, then at me, a smile creeping over his lips. Pushing them carefully out of the way, he pounces, kissing me, and signs his thanks quickly, burying his nose in the blooms with a happy giggle.

His jaw drops as he enters my apartment, looking around in obvious awe. He gestures something with his hands, and after a pause my brain manages to interpret. “Oh. Yeah. It’s big.”

He giggles and rolls his eyes at me, heading for the stereo. He can’t figure it out, so I help, offering him his choice of my CDs and wondering what he’ll choose. He pulls out my Coldplay CD and holds it out to me expectantly, waiting only for me to start it up before he pounces again, kissing.

It’s the longest kiss we’ve had yet, because he just presses in and gives a little whine every time I start to pull away, so at last I just lead him over to the couch, letting him straddle my lap as we kiss, languidly stroking my tongue against his. When at last he releases me from the kiss, he puts his head down on my shoulder, resting contentedly. He’s quiet for so long I wonder if he’s fallen asleep, and then his lips part, brushing my throat.

“Eli.”

I turn and stare at him. He raises his head after a few seconds, smiling shyly at me, cheeks spotted with his blush. “Hi.”

I try to kick my brain back into functioning. “You talk.”

He nods. “I talk.” He takes a deep breath, kisses me again, and continues. “I have selective mutism. It’s hard to explain, but it’s kind of like being cripplingly shy. I can’t talk sometimes, even when I want to, no matter how hard I try.”

Now it’s starting to make sense why he kept trying to talk. “It comes and goes?”

“Not quite. It’s usually just that I can talk at home, with my family, but not anywhere else. If I try I just choke up. It’s supposed to be treated during childhood, but … stuff happened. And we couldn’t. So I’ll probably always have this problem.”

“But now you can talk. With me.”

He smiles, leaning in for another kiss. “With you. I feel like I belong, with you.”

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