Long Way Around

by Parudesi (パルデシ)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/184188.html)

The most important kiss of my life happened on a hot June night in Bangkok. In fact, it happened after my best friend got kicked out of our prom. And after he stopped speaking to me. And after I fucked the substitute English teacher. But maybe I should begin at the beginning.

Erik Larsen – Mr. Larsen – wasn’t what anyone in my IB English class expected. Way back in January, we weren’t expecting him at all. Back from a two week winter break, we were swapping holiday gossip at our desks and waiting for Mr. Allen to arrive in class.

What we got instead was six-foot-three of Scandinavian stranger walking through the door.

Turns out Mr. Allen had gotten typhoid while hiking in Nepal over the break. Then he’d gotten malaria along with it and been hospitalised. And now he was back home in London recuperating on what was expected to be a long sabbatical.

I’ll admit my first reaction was panic and suspicion, right alongside the lust. I had been relying on Mr. Allen to get me though my IB exam. Who was this Larsen? Where had they dug him up?

I eyed him sidelong as he started going over the lesson plan for the semester. I wasn’t paying much attention to what he said at first. I didn’t need to: IB English was my best subject – I knew the lesson plan by heart and I had read every single one of the recommended books already. I watched him, taking in the way he leaned against the whiteboard, the smooth timbre of his voice, the faint white creases at the edges of his eyes against the tan of his face. If nothing else, the man was easy on the eyes.

Then he took us through the first chapter of Kiss of the Spider Woman and I realised he was actually good. He was all over the material, he clearly loved the book, and he was making it come alive for us. Even the kids at the back of the room who normally spent the class texting under their desks were paying attention.

By the end of the class, I was in love.

“Is he not absolutely the hottest thing you have ever seen?” I said to Lee after school, perched on my bed. “I mean, I know he’s not your type, but you have to admit that he is the best-looking man ever to walk on school grounds.”

Lee’s mouth slid off my dick with an audible pop. He frowned up at me from where he was kneeling between my legs. “Dude, isn’t there some sort of rule that you don’t talk about another guy while getting a blowjob?” His lips were red and swollen. It was a good look for him.

“Did I say you could stop?” I brushed my thumb across his mouth. “Get back to it, bitch.”

Before you decide this is a horrible, abusive relationship I’m having with a freshman, I should probably mention that Lee is my best friend.

Lee sighed and licked a long stripe up my cock. Then he sucked at the head, tonguing the slit in the way he knew made me crazy. I wriggled with pleasure, clutching his head in both hands, my mouth falling open. Lee sucked harder and his left hand slid up and down my shaft in a few hard strokes. I came in a blinding rush. I think I may have passed out for a bit.

I came to with Lee nudging me. “Tai. Hey, man, a little reciprocation would be nice here.” He was lying on the bed with his head propped on one hand, smiling a little.

I could feel a smirk of utter satiation spreading across my face. “Whine, whine, whine. When have I ever let you down?” I said, rolling closer to him and reaching down.

Lee and I had figured out we were gay back in freshman year. I could trace it back to an exact point: watching Velvet Goldmine and glancing over halfway through to realise Lee was trying to hide a hard-on, then realising he was making the same discovery looking at me.

We’d been good friends before that, but our mutual secret sealed our friendship in stone. We became inseparable, trading glam-rock mixtapes and debating the merits of one David Bowie incarnation against another during sleepovers. The fooling around came later.

School had taken on a new glow for me with Mr. Larsen’s arrival. It was almost divided into two eras: Before Larsen, I stayed up till three in the morning procrastinating on the net, then doing my homework in a panicked rush. Then I woke up at six in the morning to get ready and catch the bus in time for school. Caffeine wasn’t allowed on school grounds, so I used to go read in the library before class to wake myself up. Cheesy romance novels generally worked well: they were so stupid my brain woke up and started questioning what was happening about ten minutes into a chapter. Before-Larsen-Tai was a cranky fashion victim obsessed with school work and generally sporting dark rings around his eyes.

After-Larsen-Tai finished his homework on time, woke up perky and refreshed, and spent half an hour picking out what he was going to wear that day. My heart hammered each time Mr. Larsen walked in the door of our class. To some extent, I’d always been in my own cocoon at school: I cared about my few friends and I cared about getting into a good college. Beyond that, I didn’t have much of an attachment to anything on campus. Now, that feeling was accentuated. I felt a bit like I was drifting through the days in a sort of golden haze.

At first, it was enough that he was just there for me to doki-doki at, tall and loose-limbed and erudite. Then I realised that I was going to graduate in a few months and never see him, ever again, and he would never know how I felt about him. It was torture. Adviser meetings on my extended essay especially were torture. There he sat, making helpful and acute suggestions about my essay and I could do nothing but nod and try to reply intelligently, all the while palpitating in a haze of lust and misery.

Okay, okay, a bit melodramatic, but bear with me. I’m trying to convey the extreme over-the-topness of my emotional state at that time. Imagine me with the back of my hand against my brow to get the full effect.

The funny thing was, it would probably never have gone beyond that except for Lee.

I’d gotten into the habit of moaning about my unrequited feelings to him (generally not during sex) and he’d gotten progressively less tolerant.

“He’ll never know how I feel! I’m so much older mentally than I look! We would be perfect together!”

Lee was channel surfing. He wasn’t even bothering to roll his eyes anymore. I didn’t mind that much. At this point, I hardly even needed an audience for my whining. Then he said:

“This is just getting boring now. You know nothing’s going to happen, so can you stop acting like a twelve-year-old?”

That was a bit harsh.

“It could happen! You never know, maybe he’s got a thing for Thai guys.”

“What, Thai guys half his age?” Incredulity dripped off every syllable.

“I’m old for my age”, I said, stung.

“Oh, right. Sorry, my mistake. He’ll fall for you like a ton of bricks because you’re so experienced and cosmopolitan.”

Okay, that hurt.

The next adviser meeting, I went for broke. I was wearing my best jeans and had spent an hour on my hair that morning. I sat closer to Mr. Larsen than I usually did. The classroom was quiet, the silence only broken by the hum of the air-conditioning and the muffled yells of students outside in the halls.

“So, this first section is still a bit rough, but that’s to be expected at this stage,” Mr. Larsen said. “The rest of it is coming along nicely. I think what you’ll find is that the introduction will be easy to write once the rest is done.”

“Thank you,” I said. He was sorting through the papers on his desk, getting ready to wind up.

“Um – Mr. Larsen, are you going to be teaching here next year?”

“I don’t know yet, Tai. You know, I always expected this to be a short-term stint, but I’m enjoying it so much, I think I might try and stick around longer. I haven’t decided yet, though.”

“Have you had a chance to do any sight-seeing yet?”

“Just the usual…the Emerald Buddha, the Royal Palace and so on.”

“Oh, right, so you haven’t done the nightlife thing in Bangkok yet?”

He smiled at me. “No, not yet. It’s pretty…unique, is what I’ve heard.”

“I feel like you should always try and take advantage of what’s available when you’re in a new country.” Holding my breath, I slipped one foot out of my sandal and touched it lightly to his leg.

There was a pause while my mind raced with panicked thoughts. What was I doing? No teacher would ever respond to this! I was going to get suspended! No, I was going to get expelled and I would never go to college and my whole life was going to be ruined.

Then: “That’s true”, Mr. Larsen said. “I would hate to miss doing something I might never have a chance to experience again.” I could feel his shin pushing back against my foot and my heart almost stopped.

Oh. My. God.

All of a sudden, I was uncertain. Then I remembered Lee sneering and my resolve hardened. “Yeah, you should definitely check it out before you go.”

“So, if I wanted to…hang out, where would I do it?”

My heart was hammering. I pretended thoughtfulness. “Well, if I were new to the city, I’d probably want to go somewhere new, that no one here knew about. You know?”

His green eyes were sharp on my face. “Oh?”

“Yeah. I could…I could show you this Friday if you’re free?”

I hadn’t noticed earlier, but when Mr. Larsen smiled, he looked almost vulpine.

We met at a bar on a soi off Sukhumvit. It was a seedy little place I had seen once when out clubbing. I thought (hoped) no one from school – student or teacher – would be seen dead in there. I arrived half an hour early, wiping my sweaty palms on my pants and hoping my fake ID would work. I needn’t have bothered. The bartender gave me a bored once-over and slid my beer across the counter without even asking.

I was sitting at a table in the corner, fiddling nervously with the label on my beer when Mr. Larsen showed up. Actually, I was trying really hard not to look around me. I hadn’t realised when I chose it, but it was obviously a pick-up joint, overweight tourists with their arms around much younger men everywhere I looked. No wonder the bartender hadn’t cared about my ID.

“Hey, Tai.”

My head jerked up. “Oh, hey. Um…should we get a drink?” Mr. Larsen was dressed more casually than I’d ever seen him, a blue shirt open halfway down his chest.

His eyes were weirdly intense on my face. “I think we can skip the drink.”

I drank the rest of my beer and paid the tab. It wasn’t hard to find a hotel a short way down the soi. Mr. Larsen paid for a room and I tried not to make eye-contact with the desk clerk.

The room itself was tiny, mostly occupied by a large bed. I couldn’t make myself stop looking at the tie-dyed design on the bedspread. My hands were shaking. Mr. Larsen tipped my chin up and kissed me gently. It was nice, soft lips against mine, a tongue gently pressing inside my mouth.

It felt weird to be fooling around with him and still calling him “Mr. Larsen”.

So, tentatively, I tried: “Erik–”

“No, call me Mr. Larsen, it’s hotter that way.”

“Um. Right.”

We kept making out for a while, our hands roving over each other’s bodies. He slid my t-shirt over my head and ran his hands down my sides.

“You’re so sexy, Tai. I wanted you the first day I saw you in class. Such a sexy little boy.”

Um, what? He kissed me again and I stopped thinking.

Soon we were on the bed, mostly naked and he was stroking my dick. His other hand moved lower and I felt a lubed finger pressing at my opening. I closed my eyes and forced my body to relax. One finger became two, pushing in and out harder. I could hear his breathing getting rougher. His fingers vanished and then he was urging me onto my hands and knees. I heard the rip of the condom packet, felt him pushing in.

“Such a sexy little slut,” he whispered. His dick felt like iron in my ass, throbbing against my prostate. He moved in and out, slowly at first, then faster, till my whole body was shaking with the thrusts. I was dripping onto the sheets. It only took a few strokes with my hand before I was coming. I heard Mr. Larsen grunt and felt him stiffen as he came.

He pulled out and we fell back on the bed together, facing each other. My breathing became more regular and I opened my eyes.

I felt weird. I didn’t feel sexy, like a cosmopolitan seducer of men, like I’d expected to feel. I felt…actually, I felt kind of gross.

I don’t know what my face looked like, but Mr. Larsen didn’t seem to notice I was kind of weirded out. He was stroking my face with a fingertip, his pale hair haloed in the light from the lamp behind him.

“Are you thinking about it now?” he said, looking smug. I smiled and nodded.

But I wasn’t. For whatever reason, I was thinking of the first time I’d had sex with Lee. We’d flipped a coin to see who’d bottom. Lee had been so nervous about it, so keen to make sure that it wasn’t painful, that there’d been lube all over my ass and thighs before he’d gotten anywhere near me with his dick. I remembered him pressing in, his upper lip glazed with sweat, his eyes anxious. Are you okay? he kept asking, till I kissed him to shut him up. It hadn’t been very good with him, the first couple of times, but it had never felt anything but completely natural.

Later that night, I was walking home alone. The moment I got to my room, I called Lee.

“So. we did it.”

“Oh.”

“It was…hot.”

A grunt. “Good for you. I’ve got to go.”

Then the click of the phone. I don’t know why I called him in the first place. I guess the obvious reason was that I wanted to gloat (see, you were wrong!), but I think it was also that I had gotten used to telling him every single thing I did. And also, I really needed some help making sense of it. So much for that. I’d never ended a phone call with Lee feeling worse instead of better.

I was half expecting a lightening bolt from the heavens to strike me down the next day at school. I mean, I’m not religious. At all. It’s just that having sex with a teacher felt like it was so against the natural order of things that I expected something to go wrong as a form of karmic equivalence.

Nothing did. Everyone was in exam prep mode, so I doubt they’d have noticed if I’d shown up in hot pants with hickeys all the way down my chest.

I felt like I was floating. I couldn’t focus on anything for more than five minutes, but random sensory details kept snapping into focus. The tamarind tree outside the window during first period. The smell of the godwaful pizza in the cafeteria at lunch. That stupid Rihanna song on someone’s iPod again.

I didn’t speak to Lee at all that day. We only had one class together and he left right after.

I was over at his the next night, though. He didn’t look thrilled when I showed up at his door, but he let me in. The TV was on, halfway through a re-run of Titanic. The mocking of this movie has always been a tried and tested cornerstone of the Lee-Tai friendship, so we relaxed a bit as we watched Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet have really earnest sex.

Truthfully, though? That scene always gets me kind of hot. I looked at Lee out of the corner of my eye and reached my hand out to his thigh.

“Let’s not.”

“What? Why?”

“I just don’t feel like it?”

I blurted, “Are you jealous?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m so jealous“, Lee said, rolling his eyes. “Maybe, I just don’t want to be part of the long queue.”

Such a sexy little slut.

My eyes stung. I had to get out of there. “Fine. Whatever. Fuck you.”

I slammed the door on my way out.

I got through the next two months in a blaze of righteous indignation. It helped that I got into the college I wanted. Who cared what my stupid high school friend thought? I was on my way to a far more amazing place.

I met Mr. Larsen outside school a few more times as well. The sex was always good, but I always felt disconnected from what we were doing. It didn’t help that he was obviously getting off on the age difference.

Whatever, he was hot. And he thought I was hot. That was all that mattered. I kept telling myself that.

Flash forward to prom night. I showed up at prom in a big group, stag. I was already completely wasted, but not showing it. Lee was part of the group, but we were tacitly ignoring each other. Our other friends had noticed the weirdness between us long back, but stopped asking after getting their heads bitten off.

That year, the school was on an austerity drive. Financial crisis, don’t you know? So, instead of being held in a hotel ballroom, the prom was in the gym. Lame. But I had to hand it to the decorating committee: they’d clearly put their hearts and souls into it. There wasn’t a single inch of the gym that wasn’t covered in dark blue cloth or paper and my eyes hurt with all the spangled cutouts of stars and moons everywhere.

I stood at the edge of the dance floor, watching my class go nuts. So, this was it. Goodbye, high school, hello, world. There should be some kind of sign, something to make this special. Across the floor, I could see Mr. Larsen at the drinks table, talking to another teacher.

Next thing I knew, I was standing in front of him, smiling nervously. He was looking slightly twitchy. “Hello, Tai.”

“Hey, Mr. Larsen. Well, this is it, huh? I was wondering if you wanted to dance?”

I could feel him struggling not to look at the teacher next to him. I don’t even know who it was. As I said, I wasn’t very sober at that point.

“Oh. That’s…very sweet, Tai. But I don’t think it would be appropriate.”

“Yeah. Oh, yeah, sure. Well. Have fun, I guess.”

I had turned away, my ears burning. I could hear him talking to the other teacher. “Teenage crushes, what can you do?” If I looked back, I’m sure I would have seen him shaking his head. How humiliating.

Suddenly, I heard a crash behind me. I looked around and there was Lee, breathing hard, his fist extended. Mr. Larsen was sprawled on the floor, his face red.

I stood there, frozen, as a horde of angry teachers descended on Lee. He shook his head, refusing to apologise, refusing to explain. Then he was gone, out of the gym before I could do anything.

I found him on the library roof. It had taken me ages – our school isn’t small and I’d looked pretty much everywhere before thinking of the roof. He was sitting in a corner, hunched over, with an empty bottle next to him. He looked up when he heard the door open, saw me and scowled.

“Fuck off.”

I knelt next to him. “I have disinfectant and band-aids. Stop being a hero.”

“I don’t want to be around you. Is that so hard to understand?”

“Just shut up and show me your hand.” He extended his fist, not looking at me. Two of the knuckles were split, the skin red and angry. I dabbed at it with Dettol, then taped a couple of band-aids on top.

I sat down next to him, not too close, and we just sat for a while. The weather was humid, but there was a nice breeze up here.

After a while: “I don’t know what I was thinking. I was really stupid, asking a teacher for a dance. Geez.”

“You’re always stupid.”

“You should talk, Mr. I-got-kicked-out-of-my-own-prom.”

There was a sulky silence.

“Why did you punch him, Lee?”

“Felt like it.” He still wasn’t looking at me.

I pulled his chin towards me, so he was forced to meet my eyes. “Why?”

“Do you really need to hear me say it? You’re such a fucking attention whore–” I stopped him by kissing him.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Lee. Don’t hate me.”

“Stupid.” Then he buried his hands in my hair and kissed back. Kissed me like he meant it, like he wanted to keep doing it forever. “I love you, you fucking idiot.”

I buried my head in the curve between his neck and his shoulder. “Me, too,” I said muffled.

“Fuck, seriously, how long does it take you to get a clue?”

“Shut up! And kiss me again.”

Lee always has taken direction well.

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