by Moriyama Shinobu (森山荵)
I felt the seal begin to give as I pulled the tab on the foil, and I could practically see the first tendrils of rich, earthy aroma hitting my nose. I couldn’t, of course, but it was as though I could, the way the scent tickled just at the edges of my perception before filling my nose. Gingerly, I reached out and found the hard edge of the coffee maker as my other hand found the scoop where I’d left it on the counter. One, two, three scoops went into the filter basket with agonizing slowness before I closed it and hit the on switch.
I stepped away as the growling sounds of the water beginning to percolate reached my ears. Victory for yet another morning, I thought as my hands ghosted over the counter and met with no stray coffee grounds on its top.
I started towards the faint sounds of a radio trickling in from behind what I knew to be a closed door. It disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared and I dragged a hand down the wall, finally reaching a door. I banged on it loudly with an open hand.
“Mikhail! Coffee’s on. Get your sorry ass out of bed and make my breakfast.”
There was a groan and the muffled thump of something soft, most likely a pillow, hitting the door.
“I mean it, Mikhail. I’m hungry.”
“Ten more minutes.”
“If you wait ten more minutes, you won’t have time to make breakfast before class and I’ll have to eat pop tarts again.”
“You can eat pop tarts.”
“I hate pop tarts, now get out of bed.”
I eased the door open and started inside, carefully pushing each foot forward across the floor so I wouldn’t step on anything. Mikhail’s room had, for lack of a better term, personality. Lots of it. Scattered all over his floor. I rarely ventured into his room for fear of tripping, but I was hungry and I hadn’t sorted out all the settings on the stove in our new apartment yet.
Halfway to his bed, something soft hit me in the face and I stumbled. Disorientation hit me in a wave. I dropped to my knees and something hard hit my kneecap.
Before I could even cry out in pain, Mikhail was by my side, helping me back to my feet.
“Shit man, I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I was half asleep and I wasn’t thinking.”
I waved him off, wishing his hands would linger just a little longer on my arms. “It’s okay. I’m fine. Just got a little fucked up when I stumbled.”
“I should know better. Are you sure you’re okay?”
I saw my chance and took it. “I’m sure I could be persuaded not to call my lawyers if bacon and eggs were on the table shortly.”
“I should have known this was all a ploy to get breakfast.”
He led me to the wall and I could hear him shuffling things out of my path so I could get back to the door. That was closely followed by the creak of a drawer as he, presumably, pulled some clothes out. I leaned against the wall, waiting.
I turned my face towards the sound of his voice.
“Dude, I know you can’t see anything, but having you stare at me while I change is still fucking weird.”
I headed towards the door.
He got me to my first class safely, made sure the batteries in my handheld recorder were good and left me. I’d been going to the same school for two years now and we’d worked out which directions I needed to go, which walls to follow and so on the week before classes started. I was pretty well set and if I needed help, all I had to do was wave my cane around and hit someone’s ankles. It was a ploy that worked fairly well in getting directions. The only issue was if I ended up in an empty hall, which was highly unlikely to happen with a school population this size. I was on my own until lunch time, when he’d meet up with me in the cafeteria so I could sort out the daily specials, then on my own again until his last class of the day at 5. Sometimes, his boyfriend, Isaiah, came back to our place for supper. From the sounds of things, when the class let out, this was going to be one of those days.
We got into Mikhail’s car and headed home, Isaiah offering to cook. Mikhail was a great friend and kept the apartment, outside of his room, immaculate for me, but a gourmet chef he was not and would never be. Isaiah’s cooking would make a nice change of pace from ramen soups and sloppy joes.
The evening flew by as we discussed school and life and Isaiah’s kitten’s hijinks. At some point it became apparent that Isaiah was staying the night. I retreated into my room, set up my laptop and put my headphones on. I let the text-to-voice program read back some of my latest work then opened a new text file.
His eyes, so blue
His skin, so pale…
I backspaced. I destroyed it. It was terrible. Visuals no longer worked in this blank world of mine. I could remember his face. I could see it in my mind. I wanted to write about it. That sight, however, had long lost its beauty. It had lost anything beautiful about it when the last thing I’d ever seen was his face contorted with terror.
I shook my head and closed the text file. I was not going to dwell on it. I tore the headphones from my ears and closed my laptop with a loud clap. The sound startled me for a moment and I took a deep breath before stripping down to my boxers, putting my clothes carefully in the hamper and lying down on my bed.
A moment later, I regretted it. As I closed my eyes and began trying to sleep, I heard a stifled moan, followed by a gasp. Mikhail and Isaiah were doing those things that boyfriends do, one room over. I turned on my radio, switching to a rock station full of heavy beats and strong guitar lines to block out Mikhail’s fun. The promise of auditory cover from my room seemed to spur them to greater lengths and their voices continued to reach my ears, like some kind of strange spy peeking out at me over the fence of the music. I pulled my pillow over my head and tried to block it out, but I was already half hard.
I was not giving in, I told myself as I traced my fingers over my cock. I was not responding to the sounds of sex, it was simply that I hadn’t got any in a long time, not since the accident, and it wasn’t likely to happen in my future. I tried to push away the last thought before it hit full on, but it was impossible. The underlying fact of my interactions with other people–who would want someone like me?
I reached into my bedside drawer and pulled out the lube. Four years ago, I would have had my lube hidden under a pile of underwear or something, but now, it stayed where it was easily accessed and who cared if someone saw it?
A few drops of the slippery fluid hit the palm of my hand and I flipped the lid shut, putting it back where it had come from. I stroked myself to full hardness, my cock pulsating in my hand as I ran my fingers over the ridge of the head. I imagined it was someone else’s hand. Anyone else’s. I imagined that my hand was on someone else’s cock, not mine. I imagined that the shape and size were a new adventure, a new sensation. Fantasies were all I had and this one was so vivid that when I came, I could have sworn I heard a voice call out my name.
I wiped myself off the best I could and rolled over to go to sleep. I could hear Isaiah talking, rather loudly, I thought, to Mikhail over my radio, but at least it wasn’t the sound of sex anymore. Talking was much easier to imagine away. Tired as I was, it didn’t take long to fall asleep.
The lights flashed by, and I enjoyed the play of the shadows on the walls of the car. I smiled to myself, watching Jon in profile as he drove. He always looked so intense. Heavy brows over pale blue eyes. His skin so white it made the pink of his lips startling. Beautiful lips, they were. I loved to watch them against my shoulders, my chest, my groin… I could fill entire books with poetry about just those lips. In fact, I had. Most of it was unpublishable and incredibly personal, but some of it had made it into the yearbook.
I stroked the inky black hair at his collar and he glanced over at me, grinning. “Can’t get enough, huh?”
I laughed. “It’s just so black. Even here, with yellow headlight beams flashing over it, it never picks up any colour. It’s like your hair is a black hole or something, pulling all the light in and trapping it.”
He cuffed me lightly on the shoulder. “Go around saying things like that and everyone’s gonna know about us.”
“I think I’m ready to start telling people anyway.”
His expression changed, features flowing like water on stone, into one of light shock. “But your parents…”
“I head to school in a couple months anyway and I’ve got a full scholarship thanks to that short story contest. What can they actually do to me?”
He shrugged. “I guess I just thought that we’d be secret forever. I kinda liked the danger.”
I quirked an eyebrow at him. “Well, if you like danger…” I reached over and cupped the front of his pants in my hand. “I’m sure we can take care of that.”
He winked, thick black lashes coming down like a blind over the pale, clear colour of his eyes, a colour evident even in the low light. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t, would I?” I unzipped the fly of his jeans and reached in. “Commando? It’s almost like you were expecting this.”
“Laundry day. Mum started making me do my own laundry to help me prepare for moving out. I kind of forgot.”
I shook my head as an eighteen-wheeler passed us by. He could create and memorize plays that won every game our football team was in, remember which chemical compounds would give what reactions and sort out advanced calculus in his head, but heaven help him if he had to remember to put on socks on his own. Absent-minded professor, that was my Jon.
I lowered my head to his lap and licked his cock just where it jutted out of his jeans. I couldn’t see it in the shadows of the dashboard, which bothered me a little, but I licked it again. I loved to look at it, so different from mine. Uncut, paler skin, longer. I loved the way it went red, like it was blushing under my gaze. I loved the vein that ran its length on the underside. I trailed my tongue up where I knew that vein to be and looked up at him.
I knew in that instant that we were going to die. His face, fully illuminated, was a mask of terror. His eyes were wide and jewel-like, with tears welling up in them. His mouth hung open, lips glistening in the bright light of the oncoming headlights. I screamed.
Arms were around me, a voice was calling my name. I woke up, sobbing, to a dark room.
“Shhhhh. It’s okay.” I heard a door close loudly over my crying. It sounded like the front door. “Tristan, what happened?”
“I killed him,” I managed to get out between sobs.
“Killed him?” Mikhail’s voice was soft, comforting. It settled over me like I was being wrapped in a velvet blanket.
“Jon. I killed him.”
“You didn’t kill Jon. The trucker was asleep at the wheel. It was all over the news. When the star quarterback dies in an accident, it’s all over the news for the whole state, Tristan. You didn’t kill him.”
“He died with his cock in my mouth.”
“I know, but that wasn’t your fault.”
“How did you know? Was that all over the news, too?” I’d been, mercifully, in a coma when Jon’s death had hit the news. My parents hadn’t come by to see me and fill me in on what was going on. In fact, the grand total of their involvement in my recovery was providing my insurance information to the hospital. They hadn’t seen me since the night before the accident.
“Actually, no. His mother told me while we were moving your things in here.”
“So that’s why she helped me after the accident. She wanted to make sure everyone I ever met would know what I did to her son.”
A hand gently rubbed my back and I leaned into it. If only that hand belonged to someone who was mine, not someone who was in love with someone else. “No. She doesn’t blame you for Jon. There was nothing you or anyone could have done. The trucker fell asleep and hit you under an overpass. Jon couldn’t have swerved or anything.”
“Jon told her about you and him. He wanted her to know how happy you made him, so she’d understand why he was choosing to go to the same school as you even though he had that sports scholarship for another school. When he died, she decided that the best thing she could do was use his college fund to get you into that school for the blind for a year so you could be independent. She did it for him. He would have wanted it to be that way.”
I clenched my hands in my blankets, soft blankets that offered no solace, no punishment for my crimes. “I killed him. He wouldn’t have wanted anything for me.”
“I knew him, Tristan.” Mikhail’s voice was soft as the hand rubbing my back. “Did you know that?”
I shook my head against his shoulder, thinking that it explained a lot about Jon’s mum introducing Mikhail and I to one another after I’d started going to a normal school again.
“His mum used to bring him into the city to a gay youth group so he wouldn’t feel so alone. I went to it, too. He was thirteen when I met him. He was so angry and depressed. He was scared.”
I didn’t remember ever seeing Jon scared, except that last moment before he’d died and I told Mikhail this.
“He was. He thought that being gay meant his life was over forever. He thought it meant no future. No happy endings. When he was fifteen, though, something changed. He became happy, content. It wasn’t long before he stopped going to the youth group, but he used to send me emails. Do you know what happened when he was fifteen?”
I couldn’t think of anything special. Was that the year he’d made the football team? I wasn’t sure, but I thought he’d played as a freshman, before I moved to that town. I remained silent.
“He met you, Tristan. His emails were full of stories of you, about how much he loved you. With you in his life, he didn’t need the youth group anymore. He had everything he needed.”
I threw my arms around Mikhail, howling into his shoulder. “But he’d hate me now. I killed him.”
Mikhail began to rock me gently, that hand never stopping on my back. He held me tightly against him. “He’d never hate you. He died where he was happiest, with you.”
“He shouldn’t have died.”
“No, he shouldn’t have. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a trucker fell asleep at the wheel.”
My sobs began to subside with time as Mikhail rocked me. He smelled so good, so comforting. His hand was rough against my back. I was half-hard again from the contact. I hadn’t had anyone touch my bare skin in months and he smelled so good, his touch was so loving. For a moment, I let myself pretend he was mine. He stroked my hair and back, just holding me until I finally fell asleep in his lap. When I woke again, he was cooking breakfast and he made no mention of the night before.
Days passed and he still didn’t mention that night. The days turned to weeks. Suddenly, I noticed that Isaiah wasn’t around anymore. I mentioned it while making dinner (I’d finally sorted out the stove) the night I noticed it.
“Oh, um… Yeah. Isaiah and I broke up. I thought I told you.”
I carefully dropped carrots, one by one, into the pot of boiling water. I didn’t want to splash myself. “Nope. What happened? You seemed so good together.”
There was silence for a minute and I flipped the sausages I was cooking.
“I had a crush on someone else and Isaiah got jealous.”
“Ouch. That sucks. Any chance of getting back together?”
Silence again, then the sound of socked feet padding across the floor towards his bedroom. “Mikhail?”
Silence. I sighed and turned off the stove. Hopefully, the carrots wouldn’t turn to mush if I left them for a few minutes and the sausages wouldn’t burn. I owed him one.
I traced the familiar path on the wall, my fingertips grazing the smooth cool paint as I made my way towards his room. I put a hand on his door, not banging like I would to get him up. I just brushed my hand back and forth over the wood grain, eliciting a soft scratching sound that tangled around my ears.
“No. Not until you tell me what’s wrong. Did he say something?”
I shook my head and pressed my forehead against the rough surface of the door. “Do I have to come in there?”
Well, if Mikhail is going to be childish, I can just leave him to it, I thought, and began to turn towards the kitchen, fingertips going back to the paint. Something stopped me, though, and I dropped my hand down to the doorknob. It was unlocked and I carefully stepped into his room.
“I said to go away!”
“I won’t. You helped me that night and I owe you one.”
Silence again. I slowly made my way to his bed and sat down on the edge. “What really happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
I patted the covers, searching for him and found what I hoped was his back. I began rubbing it. “Talking can help, Mikhail.”
“I have a crush on a guy who is in love with someone else and my boyfriend left me over it. How could talking possibly help?”
“Maybe we can think of a way to get you and Isaiah back together?”
“I said someone else’s name while we were having sex.”
“Oh.” That brought to mind the last night I remembered Isaiah coming over. The night I hadn’t masturbated to the sound of their lovemaking and I’d thought I’d heard someone call out my name. It wasn’t possible, was it? “Did you apologize?”
The bed shifted and Mikhail’s back moved out of my reach. “Did the brain damage take your IQ along with your sight? What do you think?”
I sighed and chased down Mikhail’s back. He was, as far as I could tell, lying on his front along the far edge of his bed. I began rubbing his back again and he tensed under my hand. “I’m sorry. That was a stupid question.”
“Yeah, it was.”
Silence drew out between us as I rubbed Mikhail’s back in small circles, dipping down towards his bottom to get to his lower back. I ran into something there that informed me of my mistake as he gasped. He was lying on his back. I was rubbing his front. And I had just encountered his erection.
I gulped, feeling my face turn hot, and drew my hand back. My voice came out, sounding strange. “I don’t suppose I know the guy you’ve got the crush on, do I?”
His hand grasped my wrist, tightly, not letting me retreat further. “You do.”
I took a deep breath. “Would… would that person happen to be me?”
“Only if you want it to be.”
I gulped. The moment of truth. I wrenched my wrist free of his grasp and I heard him sigh, sounding disappointed. I reached out, towards where I’d encountered his cock only moments before and slid my hand across his hips. “Will you let me help you with this? You’ve helped me with so much since we moved in here, don’t you think it’s my turn?” Words I’d meant to sound bold sounded like a scared teenager asking if he could please hold his crush’s hand.
Mikhail’s hand covered mine, that roughness to his skin that I’d enjoyed after my nightmare pressing into the back of my hand. That was all the answer I needed. I crawled up onto the bed and opened the front of his pants, freeing him from his boxers a moment later.
I nuzzled my face into his hip, smelling the musky scent of his sex. It was powerful, strong and beautiful. More enjoyable than the most expensive perfume I had ever encountered in my life. It filled my nostrils in a way wholly unlike coffee or any other fragrance. I inhaled it, savouring it, then turned my face to the side to feel the silky skin of his erection against my cheek. I used my tongue to trace the path up the side of his cock, to the tip. I lapped at the bitter-salty precum that awaited me. Another strong sensation, totally him.
I took the head into my mouth, my tongue examining every bit of that part of him. I ran my tongue around it, paying particular attention to that spot where the head met the shaft on the bottom. Slowly, I took more of him into my mouth, my tongue taking in the map of his cock. He seemed to get particular enjoyment when I rolled my tongue against the vein I could feel raised on the underside, if his hand pulling my hair was any indication. I ran my fingers over the soft skin of his balls and he gasped, thrusting his hips slightly.
I ran my mouth up and down his length, pausing at the tip each time to savour the tang of the precum leaking from the tip. I hadn’t imagined I’d ever do anything like this again, so long as I lived, and I was determined to enjoy myself.
I dug my fingertips into his hip, loving the slightly different feeling of the skin under that hand from that of his balls as my other hand stroked them.
Long moments passed, the only sounds his gasps and moans. I tried to avoid slurping. I wanted to hear him. Wanted to take in this entire experience. He was throbbing and twitching in my mouth when I heard my name and slowed down for a second.
“Tristan, god, Tristan, don’t slow down, I’m gonna, I’m, I’m…”
I didn’t need for him to say the rest as I sucked him deep into my throat before pulling back and giving a long lick to the underside of his cock. Once more, as he continued to gasp out my name and his litany of warning, I took the head into my mouth, just in time for the thick, bitter-sweet-salty flavour of his cum to invade my senses while his voice rose in a keening wail. I swallowed slowly as the liquid pulsed into my mouth, then licked the remainder of it off of the head, relishing the taste as it disappeared into my throat.
He pulled my head away from his cock once I was done and gently led me up to lie next to him as his breathing began to slow.
I kissed his face, the skin there yet again a different sensation, and ran a hand up his chest. He caught my mouth with his as I went for a second kiss and here was another flavour.
“Hey,” I said as we pulled apart. “You were snacking on the carrots while I cut them up!”
He laughed and nuzzled my neck. “I’d rather have been snacking on something else.”
He slid one of those rough hands down the front of my pants and gave me a gentle squeeze.
I kissed him again. Perhaps someone did want me, after all.