Time-out!

by Mamih Lapinatapai

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/5647.html)

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away called Connecticut, there lived a little boy who attended a boarding school. He was a very nice boy, with very nice curly hair and pretty eyes and he was very good at soccer which always surprised people although he was never really sure why because he was very good at it and just because he had a middle name like a girl–

“What is your middle name anyway, West?”

“That is completely beside the point.”

“No, really, what is it? I’ve known you for two months at least, and I still don’t know your full name.” Matthew looks up at Colin with a mischievous smile. ” It’d only be fair if you told me. You know my full name.”

“Because you signed it everywhere when I was arranging your divorce,” Colin says exasperatedly. He gives Matthew a good kick under the covers, steeling his eyes at him, and clears his throat (loudly). “And I’m not going to tell you this story if you keep interrupting me.”

“But–,” Matthew starts, a little hurt, and Colin levels his eyes again. He had learned to perfect the skill after his first year or so in the courtroom. Intimidation worked beautifully on lesser enemies (though Matthew wasn’t really an enemy, was he? But if he was one, he was certainly lesser), and Colin had become quite good at it.

–a girl didn’t mean he played like one.

Anyway this little boy with the curly hair and pretty eyes had wanted to play for the soccer team of his boarding school, but on the day of tryouts, a tragedy befell him.

This tragedy had the most gorgeous profile. He was prancing around the soccer fields with a white scarf around his neck — not that it was cold enough to warrant a scarf, but anyway — and passing out slips of paper like it was definitely below him to do so. The little boy, who was named Colin, was immediately smitten by the poise of the older classmate. He felt as if there were this aura of light that surrounded his very being, as if flowers bloomed whenever the older boy smiled. Of course, he was too shy to go up and ask the mysterious upperclassman what his name was. That would be highly improper and Colin had been sent to the boarding school to get a classic respectable schooling complete with impeccable societal graces, and so instead of asking, he casually picked up a flyer from the ground and spent a week stalking the upperclassman before finding out that his name was Ray and that he was a rising star in the school’s drama department, which is what the flyer was for.

“You stalked him? That’s considered manners? What kind of school was this anyway, St. Bernard’s School for Burgeoning Gay Stalkers?”

“It was in fact St. Paul’s, and it was a co-ed school, thank you very much.”

“…Excuse me if I don’t believe you.”

Colin looks at him to let him know that, no, he is not excused but continues anyway, “Well, actually, it had only just recently become a co-ed school. About a few years before I entered, and so the school was still 70-80% male. And if you keep smiling like that I’ll kick you out of my bed and you can sleep on the floor.”

Matthew mimes a zipping motion across his lips and smiles innocently.

The drama department was quite renowned in the New England circles; it was much better than anything Phillips Andover or Executer could put together, at the very least. Through some very casual conversations to some very casual classmates, Colin discovered the fall production was in desperate need of people. Which was considered odd, because the drama directors usually had to cut auditions in half to accommodate all the people who try out. He thought it was odd, at least, until he saw the play they planned to do.

This might be a good time to note that drama in St. Paul’s was a big thing, and thus the St. Paul’s drama department was much like an extended mafia family, i.e. made of different “clans” or “groups”, each with a certain characteristic, and that every year they drew for which production they would do: fall, spring, dramatic shorts, or musical (the last one was usually always rigged so that The Troubadours or the Pinnacles, the two groups that allied themselves with the orchestra and the choir, were drawn). Ray belonged to one of the elite groups, made of upperclassmen only. Male upperclassmen only, as it happened to be, considering they were ‘The Shakesperians’, and had always prided themselves on keeping the tradition rich and alive by, indeed, using males to play even the female roles.

This year the fall production, which was The Shakesperians’ luck of the draw, was Sleeping Beauty.

“Why,” Colin bemoaned to Nathan, his roommate, “would an all-boys drama group in a mostly all boys school choose a production that involved girls and fairies?”

Nathan shrugged. “Irony, maybe?” Colin pummeled him with a pillow. “You’re not going to try out, are you?” he asked.

“I’m not even in drama,” Colin told him miserably.

“…So, you’re not going to try out, are you?” Nathan asked again.

Colin gave him a helpless look.

“You’re beyond salvation. I can’t do anything for you,” Nathan apologized sympathetically. “Though,” he continued brightly, “think of it this way: Ryan — Raymond — anyway, he’ll get to see you in a dress!”

Colin didn’t even bother with the pillow this time around.

*

To continue on with the story, the boys in The Shakesperians had, indeed, a great deal of pride and a great deal of talent, but it seemed the lot of them drew the line at fairies, because they’d never had to hand out flyers before (people jumped even at the opportunity to serve them coffee during rehearsal break), but half of them refused outright to perform Sleeping Beauty as their final prep school play. Ray had threatened that if they didn’t perform, they’d have to turn in their membership, and, true as fairies wear wings, he received nine resignation forms the next day, a crushing blow to the crew list.

Auditions were scheduled for the first of October, a nice crisp fall day. It was also the start of soccer orientation. Colin didn’t even have to think about it; fairies could never compare to the rich smell of a sport in autumn, but he decided it was certainly excusable to feel a little bad for The Shakesperians, and took the long way around to the soccer fields, past the drama hall. That was his first mistake. His second was stopping in front of the steps. Because, at the top, clipboard in hand and scarf firmly tossed around his neck, there stood Ray. And Colin never made it to the soccer field that day.

Let it never be said that they don’t make boys like they used to anymore. Colin had never seen a person more regal, kingly, noble than Ray looked at that moment. The old slightly worn marble steps cast Ray’s dark school blazer in sharp contrast with his pale, pinched-pink complexion, and though Colin knew he was good looking, he knew he didn’t look good like Ray looked good. There was a small group of bold girls clustered around Ray, but he seemed–oh happy day! thought Colin– uninterested in their jabbering and instead kept idly doodling spirals on his clipboard.

Colin had never tried acting before. He had a good speaking voice– he had been in student congress in junior high and was already accepted as a prime debater in St. Paul’s–but acting was another thing entirely. His fate, however, was sealed when Ray, in a sudden turn of his head, spotted Colin milling around on the edge. “Hey!” Ray called out, waving his free hand wildly in the air, and Colin’s heart jumped. Ray surely didn’t know him, did he?

“Hey! You there! In the athletic shorts! I know you’re trying out for soccer but we still need a Sleeping Beauty and I think you’d be perfect! What do you think?”

Colin turned bright red. The girls around Ray looked miffed and tugged at their hair nervously. “What about me?” one of them asked in a sing-songy voice, hooking her arm around Ray’s elbow, but Ray carefully disentangled himself and glided his way towards Colin.

Colin had a feverish moment where he hoped that Ray was playing the prince and not, say, the second fairy. Because while he wouldn’t mind being given the gift of wit or, even better, beauty by Ray, he’d much rather he was given something else, something that Ray wouldn’t then have to give to any of the girls.

“I’m not here to–,” Colin began, blushing, but Ray made a dismissive motion with his hand, as if commanding the blush away.

“No, you’d be perfect. All we have left are hulky figures built more for football than for a play, and you have the perfect frame for the princess.” Ray gave him a complimentary up-down, and Colin felt his cheeks redden even more.

“Wait, wait, he checked you out? In front of the girls? What was he, flaming?” Matthew interrupts, annoyed.

“He was a master in drama,” Colin informs him stiffly. “And he was brilliant. Better than you could ever be.” Ignoring the bundle of grumbles occupying his right, Colin taps his chin lightly. “Where was I? Oh, yes–”

“Erm,” said young Colin, fiddling. He was acutely aware of the way Ray was staring at him in front of what felt like the entire school, and he was wondering how much it would be worth to actually be in a dress on stage when Ray tucked his clipboard under his arm and took both Colin’s hands earnestly in his.

“Consider it a favor for an upperclassman,” said Ray seriously.

“And I bet you swooned like the little girl you are because freak out! You were holding hands!”

Colin gives Matthew a chilling glare and says witheringly, “If you would rather me not continue this story–”

“Sorry, sorry,” Matthew says with haste, fluffing his pillow to avoid looking at Colin.

So this was how Colin West was reeled hook, line, and sinker into spending the next few months of his life dedicated to looking beatific when lying motionless on a truly obscenely vast frilly bed drenched with pink lace and making sure his wig didn’t fall off when he woke up. Ray was absolutely right. Colin was the only one around who could play the part. Granted, there was the sixth fairy, a tiny thing with dark brown hair, but he was just too short. And there was the other senior who played the queen, but the one time they tried the dress on him he looked like he had boulders for shoulders. There was a football-built-boy who was playing the second fairy and there was no way a periwinkle tutu with frail wings was going to make him look anything but ridiculous. The thirteenth witch was being played by a maypole of a boy whose acne showed through the green paint they smothered his face with to make him look evil, but unlike any of the others, he could summon up a falsetto that sounded positively malicious and thrilling, and so everyone forgave the fact that he would come out of practices looking like a beanstalk (which was, unfortunately, his nickname for the rest of the year.)

On the other hand, Ray was, as Colin hoped, the prince. And if Colin thought he looked regal and kingly on top of the steps, nothing prepared him to see Ray jump onto the stage with the spotlight fixed in a halo on his golden hair, his eyes hardened with the knowledge that he had a kingdom (or at least a drag princess) to save. Colin always wanted to sneak an eye open so he could see Ray’s entrance onto the stage, which was dashing and heroic and involved a lot of wide arching with a sword and quick footwork. Ray slashed away at the thorns surrounding the castle walls and leapt over the break in the bridge (which was shortened, incidentally — the first time Ray had leapt onto the broken step, he’d looked down, jumped down again and told the crew it wasn’t happening) and breathlessly searched every room until he hit upon the top tower, where he then paused solemnly, and the spotlight panned gently from his face to the bed where Colin slept, hands folded demurely over his chest. And Colin could then hear the quiet footsteps of Ray’s approach and a warm weight on his shoulder as Ray angled himself above him. And then, a soft sigh in the air and Colin could almost, almost feel–

“–and cut! Beautiful scene, perfect, just lovely,” the director, a male professor who’d been with The Shakesperians since its conception thirteen years ago and was not bothered at all at the sight of boys kissing boys and who as not (shockingly) gay or metrosexual but just a firm believer in the classics, clapped his hands loudly and mopped his forehead with a damp towel. “Ray, when you first reach the bed, pause for just another moment before putting your hand on the princess’–“

“–Colin,” Colin offered awkwardly. Since day one, the director had absentmindedly referred to him as ‘the princess,’ and the other boys had picked up on the habit, too.

“–right, the princess’ shoulder. Draw out the moment a little longer. You’re falling in love; you’re not about to have sex.”

“But that depends on what version of the story you’re referring to, doesn’t it?” Ray was really into this classics sort of stuff. Colin had seen his room once before, after rehearsal and Ray had promised Colin his old notes from freshman year. Ray had waded through pamphlets and library books full of watercolor paintings and fairytales, kicking them away without embarrassment. Colin knew he had at least three translations and four versions of the Grimms tale. “If you’re reading the Perrault version, then yeah, but in that version they also spend four hours talking to each other, which we’re obviously omitting. And then the prince turns out to be half-ogre. And I thought we had all agreed we were going to use the Grimms version with a twist of the Giambattista Basile?”

Colin, who was trying to arrange his wig, only gaped at Ray and nodded absently. He had only read the script as Ray had handed it to him, with cute stars highlighting the parts Colin was in or was supposed to reading (“Good day, old mother” to “ouch!” and then sleeping on the bed until “My prince! (rapturously) You finally came!”)

The director frowned. “Yes but in Giambattista Basile’s version, the prince has sex with the princess while she’s still unconscious.”

“Let me get this straight,” Matthew says, uncomfortably shifting the blankets around his hips. “You were doing a high school play about Sleeping Beauty that had sex in it?”

“Not explicit sex,” Colin answers scandalously. “You know, just stage stuff. They’d dim the lights and you’d see silhouettes and afterwards, Sleeping Beauty would enter the spotlight again wearing the prince’s shirt. Or something like that.”

“But that still doesn’t, I mean — how did you ever get permission from the school?” Matthew asks curiously.

“St. Paul’s used to be an all-boy’s school,” Colin reminds him loftily. “Sex,” he adds,” was not a foreign concept for us.”

“The prince didn’t know a kiss was all it took to wake her up,” Ray argued. “For all he knew, he had to have sex with her while she was unconscious.”

“He wouldn’t jump into sex without at least kissing her. Is he a prince or a wanker?” Witch-Beanstalk asked distastefully.

“Do you mean, is he a prince or is he a male?” Ray retorted.

“No, I mean does he actually think, or does his dick do his thinking for him?”

“It doesn’t matter, because we’re not doing the Giambattista Basile version,” the director cut in from his office. “I just called the Dean. We’re either doing the Grimms version or else you’re all dressing as fairies for entertainment.”

“Ah-ha! I knew it!” Matthew proclaims victoriously.

Colin beats him over the head with a pillow. “I’m not finished yet!”

“Ow! Did that school not teach you any manners?”

“You’re the uncouth, coarse, and lesser mortal who wanted to hear about my first time!”

“That’s unjust censorship! Prevention of artistic license!” Ray exploded. “The board agreed we could do any story we wanted, provided it held literary merit.”

“And sex holds so much of it,” Witch-Beanstalk sneered.

“Spoken like someone who’s never experienced it,” Ray told him smugly.

Colin felt wildly out of place.

The director sighed and, having once been a Shakespearian himself and understanding that the principle of the matter was far more important than the literary merit or even the play itself, and that if they did dress up like fairies it was so that the principle of the story remained, sex and all, decided on a compromise. “How about this. The princess–“

“Colin,” said Colin weakly.

“Right, the princess will be woken up by your– Ray, stop fuming, I’m sorting it all out– first kiss. And then we’ll have this long moment where there will be a faint bell in the background– the orchestra can add a violin if it offends their sensibilities– and you will gaze into each other’s eyes. Sensually. Like, you know, the way you did last year as Romeo with Mercutio.”

“Yes, but that was Shakespeare’s manly love. Colin,” Ray gestured, lightly touching Colin on the shoulder, and giving him the adoring look of one admiring his beautiful younger sister, or something, “is a girl.”

Colin wanted to point out that the correct phrase was “Colin is acting as a girl” but Ray tightened his grip on Colin’s shoulder and smiled. He thought they were doing a pretty banged up job of looking sensuously at each other right now, and all the director really needed to do was film the damn thing and show it to the entire school and it would be obvious just how much he had a stupid 12-year-old crush on Ray. Colin was really very embarrassedly crushing on Ray and last night Nathan had told Colin strictly that if he kept blushing every time Ray said hi to him in the hallways everyone would know what was up. And Ray had these most amazing blue-gray eyes up close, which explained why he wore a white scarf with dark clothes– “It brings out the color,” he had told Colin, and put the scarf around Colin’s neck so he could smell Ray’s cologne.

“Just do to Colin whatever you did to Mercutio last year,” said the director tiredly. “Besides, it’ll be too much hassle to do the sex scenes anyway, and if the princess changed, the lack of cleavage would become distressingly obvious.”

“Okay. Look at me, Colin,” Ray said. Colin turned his head. “Now. Pretend that we are alone. Just the two of us. In a room. The curtains are drawn. No one is there but the two of us.”

“Did he put you in a trance?” Matthew ventures, slightly skeptical.

“Shhh,” says Colin. He has a particularly sparkling expression on, burying his face into the pillow to hide his grin. “You’re spoiling the mood.”

“He did,” Matthew accuses.

Colin obediently looked up at Ray, and he had to bite his lip to keep from losing his legs and collapsing on the floor, all the while professing the deep and undying love–with caveats, mind you–he’d been nursing for over a month now.

Ray furrowed his brow. “No–,” he started, and brushed his thumb over Colin’s bottom lip to smooth it out, and Colin sucked in a breath so quick that it caught on Ray’s thumbnail, and Colin froze in shock, as if he couldn’t believe he just accidentally licked Ray’s thumb. Ray looked at him in surprise, and before he could bolt, Ray smiled large, clamped his hand decisively on Colin’s arm, and straightened. “I think we can modify the play accordingly,” he nodded approvingly. He winked sideways at Colin. “That was a very good moment. If you want, we can practice it some more — in a actual private room next time.”

*

Colin flew into his dorm room, slammed the door with a whip of his wrist, and flopped atop his bed, jamming his head below two pillows. “I licked his thumb! He knows!” he wailed.

“What?” Nathan asked, taking out his left earphone.

“I licked his thumb! He knows! He wants to look at me in a private room!” Colin wailed again.

“Wow,” Nathan said, taking out the right earphone. “You licked his thumb? How did that happen?”

“Does it matter how it happened? I licked his thumb! Is what’s next inevitable?” Colin asked, lowering one pillow so he could look at Nathan.

Nathan looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. “Yes,” he answered, sympathetic.

An uncomfortable silence ensued.

“By the way,” Nathan continued in a conspiratorial whisper, “Is it true that you guys are having a sex scene?” And put his arms up, so that Colin’s pillow only slammed uselessly against his forearms.

*

The next day Ray sat down with Colin during lunch and exposed his views on how “Sleeping Beauty” was going. Colin was too shocked to say much of everything, what with Ray sitting right next to him and their knees were almost touching and if Colin just accidentally– “Oh, sorry,” Ray said after their elbows bumped, and gave Colin more room, which was frustrating and nice of him all at the same time, and Nathan was giving them weird looks from across the table and clearing his throat very significantly.

“Do you have a cold?” Ray said, giving Nathan a pointed look, and Nathan said quickly that no, he felt quite all right.

“West looks a little red, though,” Nathan said, and Colin kicked Nathan under the table, hissing, “You’re evil,” but Nathan winced in triumph, rubbing his shin.

Before Colin knew what was happening Ray had laid his cool hand on Colin’s forehead and was humming as he frowned. “You do feel a little warm,” he said. Appraisingly he moved his hand to Colin’s neck, which caused Colin to almost jump out of the seat and run all the way to his dorm’s bathroom, and Colin felt like he could die, like he was totally going to die. Ray moved his face a little closer. Colin could hear Nathan, that evil bastard, trying to stop laughing in the background. “I think we should take you to the sick bay.”

“No, really, I’m fine–” Colin said, but as soon as he tried to stand up he toppled over his chair, and Ray’s arm, held out to catch Colin across the chest, was the only thing that kept Colin from walking around with the imprint of the table edge on his face for the rest of the day.

“Not to worry!” Ray had his stage voice on, so everyone in the cafeteria turned to look at them, and Colin wanted to turn into the tiniest thing in the world so they couldn’t see how pleased he was that Ray was holding onto him, “I’ll just swing you around like so and carry you there.” Ray winked. “My princess,” he amended.

Colin decided afterwards that being carried bridal style all the way to the sick bay was almost, almost worth the embarrassment.

The nurses–female, like any proper ex-boys’-school nurses should be– liked Ray and let him stay with Colin while Colin had aspirin shoved down his throat along with at least a gallon of water. “I feel bloated,” he said accusingly, gingerly patting the bulge in his stomach, and the nurses tittered, saying, “Spoken like a true woman,” and Colin registered the fact that Ray had a nice laugh even though he was trying as hard as he could to suffocate himself in the sheets of the bed.

When the nurses left, Ray put on his serious, this-is-real-show-business-business face, and said, “Look, Colin, I think we need to go over that script. With just the two of us. So you feel comfortable with what you’re doing.”

Colin gulped down another mouthful of water. “Um, okay,” he said dizzily. He couldn’t concentrate very well with Ray so close to him, and so serious, just like when he first entered on stage. “I thought we,” he coughed, “I thought we took out the sex scene.”

“Yes, the sex scene is out, but when we gaze into each other’s eyes, it needs to be just as important,” Ray nodded. “It has to convey in moments what an entire scene is set aside to do. And it can’t simply be eye-contact.”

“It can’t?” Colin asked weakly.

“No! It needs passion. Desire. Sex without words!” Ray’s voice rose strong, and Colin could hear a cluttered thump from the nurses outside. He cringed and knocked over the bottle of aspirin by his bed.

“Right, I–,” Colin stammered before Ray shook his head and positioned his hands on either side of Colin’s head.

“Look at me.”

So Colin looked. And that’s how he received his first kiss, with a handful of forgotten aspirin stuck between his fingers. Ray leaned forward so naturally that Colin didn’t even register the pressure on his lips until Ray shook his hands free, letting the pills scatter all over the tile floor. Colin could hear a buzzing sounds in his ears, and he wanted to ask Ray if he heard it too, but he no sooner opened his mouth than when Ray’s tongue slipped deftly in, and Colin decided the sound must not be that serious after all. Ray’s mouth was desperately talented, already finished with Colin’s mouth and moving downward, and Colin pushed himself as far back on the bed as he could go because he could feel his toes curl into the sheets. Every part Ray’s mouth blazed through felt like a spotlight burning its way down Colin’s skin.

“‘A spotlight burning its way down your skin’? West, do you read romance novels in your free time?”

A long silence and then Colin, in a rather incredulous voice, asks, “Oh my god, Matthew, are you jealous?”

No, I am not jealous. I just realize how late I am for work.” Matthew throws off the covers and ventures one leg out. “I can’t sit around and listen to bad romance novels all day.”

Colin takes a deep breath and says, “Fine,” and then adds, “because I was under the impression that this was all in good fun and that you were the one who wanted to know, but who am I to force you to stay here if you feel uncomfortable?” He thinks it’s really unfair that just now when the story was getting interesting, Matthew gets all jumpy and odd and jealous, and he should have known that all those comments, they were just Matthew James Brose seething. About something that had happened to Colin ages ago, in school. Which makes Colin feel special, because Matthew J. Brose was jealous because some adolescent teenage male hit on Colin in high school, but at the same time Colin thinks Matthew has no right to be; it’s not like they don’t know which of them is the sexually promiscuous playboy. Maybe next time Colin should get upset about Matthew telling him about the waitresses in bars, see how Matthew likes that.

“I–” Matthew is halfway in a pair of ridiculously expensive pants, and then stops, fiddling with the waistband. Colin thinks the look on his face is “guilty”, but then again, it could just be “constipated” with a hint of “groggy and lacking caffeine”.

Colin grabs all the blankets, leaving Matthew out in the cold air, and buries under them, waving a hand while saying, “Go on then. I know you play Pinball on your computer all day anyway, but you might have, you know–“slight inhalation of breath, crushing blow, “people to do, interns to see, and all that.”

“Now, come on, Colin,” Matthew protests. “You’re being entirely unfair.”

Colin makes an indiscernible sound from under the covers. Matthew rolls his eyes (“I saw that!” Colin accuses) and sits back down on the bed, one leg still midway in his pants. “Finish your story. I want to hear the end.” Colin makes another indiscernible sound. “Please?”

An eye opens from a hole. “Do you promise not to make any — zero — comments until I finish?”

Matthew nods solemnly and raises two fingers. “Scout’s honor.”

“You were never a Boy Scout,” Colin points out doubtfully.

“It sounds nice, though, doesn’t it?” Matthew grins.

A soft grumble and then, “Where was I?” Colin emerges from the blankets perfectly calm, as if he had a suit and tie on and was about to start a dissertation.

“Your prince was going to deflower you. Give me some of those, you blanket hog.”

“Now which one of us reads the romance novels?” Colin returns triumphantly.

“You know–” Ray began when he finally came up for air, and Colin had this horrifying image of Ray actually stopping, and it would be quite awful because this, this was sex, and Witch-Beanstalk boy evidently had no clue what he was talking about because this was greater than all the books in the whole entire world. He grabbed onto Ray’s hair and leaned up for another kiss, which Ray eagerly obliged to. After a while, though, he pulled back and said, “You do realize –“

“Yes, look, I know we’re both guys and I know that I’m underage and that you’re probably not completely legal either, and that you probably have a girlfriend at Marie St. Claire or whatever that girl’s school is and you’re probably completely straight and think this is disgusting, but I really really really like you, I’ve liked you ever since you came onto the soccer field looking like a pompous ass, but a really hot pompous ass with a white scarf, and if it bothers you that this means we’re gay or something I promise I won’t ask to hold hands with you or anything or call you honey-buns or embarrass us both, just don’t–“

“Actually, Colin,” Ray said, his index finger firmly on Colin’s mouth, causing him to slump right back into the bed, “I was going to ask if you quite realize we’re in the sick bay, and there are probably other people around, so if we are going to do anything besides kissing”–Ray wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, and Colin decided that if he didn’t already like Ray to truly criminal depths, he would have then–“we’re going to have to be silent.”

Colin took a deep breath and nodded. Then Ray’s fingers started sliding under his shirt, dancing on the firm expanse of his stomach, closer and closer to his navel, and he said, “Oh, uh,” swallowing. “What–what were you planning on, uh…”

“Shh. Just let me.” And that, Colin realized, would be the button to his pants, and then the zipper, and he was unfortunately still clinging onto Ray’s hair while Ray carefully reached for the waist of Colin’s underwear. Ray’s other hand came up warm and firm, sealing right over Colin’s mouth. This is crazy, he thought, but then Ray’s mouth touched the corner of Colin’s hips just lightly–

Matthew makes a little incredulous noise in the back of his throat. “He didn’t.”

“Keep listening.”

“He gave you a blowjob in the sick bay. I can’t listen to that without protesting.”

“Quiet! I’m not done with the story yet.”

“What else is there to say? He gave you a blowjob in the sick bay!”

“Matthew!”

“Zero comments. Right.”

–causing Colin to arch up just so, and those were definitely butterflies and knots together rolling around merrily in Colin’s stomach. If Ray was really going to do what this looked like a setup for, Colin thought that he could just die happy of a heart attack, but he didn’t have much time to think about it at all, because Ray’s mouth still strung little kisses like pearls across Colin’s skin,

At some point Colin registered that his boxers had been wrenched away. “Um,” he said, not quite coherently, lips moving against Ray’s warm palm, muffled. “I don’t think this is, um. I’ve never done this before. Ray? Ray, are you listening?”

Ray laughed a little breathily, leaning up so he could “Relax” right into Colin’s neck (and Ray’s stomach brushed against Colin’s cock and that was sort of painfully good, and he was this close to coming right there but he bit his lip and didn’t because for god’s sake like Ray would ever respect him if he did that). A pause while Colin braced himself, and then there was only years worth of self-control and the possibility of being overheard by some kid with a scrape from gym next door that kept him from screaming as Ray wrapped his mouth around Colin’s cock.

“How old were you?”

“How old were you when you first had sex?”

“I asked first!”

“But it’s only fair because you’re making me tell this story.”

Matthew grunts indignantly. “Making you? You’re having fun with this! You’re enjoying this. This is voluntary sexual confession.”

“Irrelevant,” Colin says, swatting at Matthew as if he were an obstinate fly. “Let me guess–you were thirteen and it was your sister’s older best friend.”

“I don’t have a sister.” Matthew wraps the blankets around his waist a little tighter and frowns. “But, yes, I was thirteen.”

“You! You juvenile delinquent! You immoral child! You whore! …Thirteen?”

“She had gorgeous breasts, West. Round, and perfectly shaped like this–” Matthew makes little curved motions in the air with the sides of his hands, smiling fondly. “And those hips, man. She let me drive her car too, this neat little red number. Plus, she thought I was just the coolest guy ever, despite being four years younger.”

“She was seventeen?”

“Hey, I fall for older sexy women with curves, you fall for older gay men who want you to dress in drag.”

“Ray was–”

Matthew nudges Colin with his bare shoulder, trying to jostle him out of his insulted sulk. “Finish the story. You were getting a blowjob in the hospital bay.”

–so Ray wrapped his mouth around Colin’s cock and Colin lost all semblance of prior intelligence and thought, except that this was better than running down the soccer field full-blown, heart pounding in his ears, with the crowd and the opposing team and even his own teammates beyond his peripheral vision and just seeing the goal loom on the horizon and drawing a leg back almost in slow motion and whipping it forward twice as fast and feeling the impact of the spike on the ball and knowing, without having to look or hear, that it’s going in, that no goalie anywhere in the world could stop a kick like that, and the inevitable scream of victory that would erupt when he slowed down.

And then Ray did something with his tongue, and Colin decided, no, getting a blowjob in the hospital bay by someone with an extremely, extremely talented mouth did not even compare to winning a championship soccer game with a last-minute goal; this was so much better. Colin’s hands fisted into Ray’s hair, and he could feel the bruise forming where Ray gripped his hips and he didn’t care because now Ray was sucking down the length and, because he didn’t want to be heard but also because Colin seriously considered that he had lost the ability to coherently string words together, he didn’t tell Ray that not only was this so much better than winning a soccer game, not going to soccer try-outs might have been the best decision of Colin’s life, or at least at this moment, because Colin played soccer last year and the season certainly didn’t end like this.

Colin came with a muffled cry into his pillow (which smelled horribly of a mixture of anesthetic and starch) and the sensation was beautiful and rolling and he vaguely registered the sound of loud snap and he looked hazily over to see if he accidentally knocked the bedside tray over, and then he heard a scream and that was even more puzzling because Colin was quite sure it wasn’t him and he looked down to ask Ray why he screamed because if anyone should have screamed, it most certainly should’ve been Colin, but that’s when Ray made a surprisingly un-Ray-like yelp and toppled them both off the bed with a flurry of tangled limbs and bedsheets and knocked the bedside tray –the same one Colin actually managed to not knock over– to the floor, which was a mistake they soon learned because Colin’s unfinished class of water spilled an uncomfortable wet pool under them.

They might have been more concerned about the water, maybe, if Colin didn’t look up and realize with sudden horror that the infirmary door was open and a boy who looked suspiciously like the person who sat behind him in math class stared at them with his mouth agape, a sheaf of papers in one hand and the other hand trembling where it was pressed against the open door. Behind him, a line of –what Colin guessed must be prospective students– young boys and girls–

“Oh my god, you two got caught?” Matthew curls onto his side in uncontrollable laughter and manages to wheeze out a, “What happened?” before Colin smites him in a particularly hard blow with his pillow.

“If you’d just–,” Colin forcibly tugs the blanket from under him, “–let me finish, I might actually tell you.”

–young boys and girls, all in clean pressed polo shirts and some with St. Paul sweaters and zip-ups worn crisply over their shoulders, crowded around the doorway and blinking at them in fascinated disbelief. This, Colin decided silently, was so not good. The boy, obviously the tour guide of the group, cleared his throat loudly and started feebly, “This is our — this is our infirmary wing where — where –,” and had to stop as if he couldn’t bear continuing on with his sentence because he didn’t trust what would come out of the end of it. And then the nurse came up behind him, gave a long, high-pitched scream, and ushered the group of young, ingenuous eyes away.

They had the decency to close the door and let Colin and Ray dress in privacy (or whatever they had left) while the President and Dean of the school were both called by the nurse, who swore up and down that she was appalled and didn’t suspect in the least what was occurring behind closed doors (Ray rolled his eyes; Colin was still too horrified –and red, and sort of orgasmed-out–to move), and the two of them were shuffled from the hospital bay to the administration building by a group of ominous-looking men in dark suits and glasses who were apparently reserved for emergency situations like this.

“It was,” Colin tells Matthew dramatically, “the most embarrassing moment of my life. I was absolutely traumatized.”

“What happened next?” Matthew asks, eyes wide, his pants falling abandoned to the floor.

Colin waves a hand dismissively. “Oh. Well. I convinced the President that Ray took advantage of me while I was sick and not of my usual sound mind in the hospital bay, that Ray had in fact been manipulating and seducing me the entire time, first by conning me into auditioning for the play when I so obviously planned to try out for the soccer team and then guilting me into the princess role by the excuse of ‘helping an upperclassmen.’ I didn’t recognize Ray’s lustful advances on me, being an innocent and pristine St. Paul’s student, and then it was too late. I could only thank that boy-who-sat-behind-me-in-math for coming in during the most opportune time to save me from Ray’s evil fantasies.”

Colin beams.

Matthew gapes at him.

“Ray was expelled, and I was welcomed into the soccer team, where the captain, who always had a crush on me, I know it, he would ogle me in the showers, issued the explicit rule that if anyone tried to belittle or make light of my traumatizing experience, I was to report the name to the coach, and the person would be kicked off the team on intolerance charges. I graduated St. Paul’s with a Varsity Soccer jacket letter, Honors, and a group of supporting friends who swore to protect me from any bad apples like Ray,” Colin finishes satisfactorily. “Oh,” he adds with a little furrow of his brow. “And Nathan finished college, grew a few inches, begged forgiveness, and works with me now at the firm.”

“I think I love you,” Matthew tells him honestly.

Colin makes a noise like “pfft” at him, rolling his eyes, but Matthew hurries on to say, “No, really, I think I do. No one else I know has ever thrown the first person to give them a blow job out of school because they got caught in the sick bay by other students.”

“If you’re trying to make me say I’m proud of it– well, I’ll admit, I am a little,” Colin says, slightly sheepishly, but still very regally, all the while inching a little closer to Matthew. Before he knows it, Matthew has thrown himself bodily on Colin, crushing the blanket between them. He kisses Colin thoroughly, invading warmth and sweet, sweet aggression, and Colin is too shocked to respond much except let himself be kissed, feeling Matthew’s lips, and then his tongue probing around gently, finally settling on gently licking an outline of Colin’s lips. One of Matthew’s hands covers Colin’s eyes, brushing the eyelids down to keep him in the dark. Colin tries to protest, but as his breath was getting sucked away greedily, it was sort of difficult.

When Matthew stops, resting his head on the pillow next to Colin’s ear, Colin asks, “And pray tell, Mr. Brose, what was that supposed to be?”

“What time is it?”

“I think I’m the one who asked first now.”

“If you tell me the time, West, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

With some difficulty, Colin turns his head and peers at the alarm clock on his bed stand. “Around 9:45.”

“Okay,” Matthew says, chuckling. Colin can hear the breath bat against his ear and involuntarily shivers. Matthew’s hands are drifting down to his hips. Colin gets the premonition that whatever offer coming up is not going to be one that gets them to work any sooner. “Seeing as you and I are both horribly late already, why don’t we both just call in sick, share the blankets nicely, and do some ‘lustful advancing’ ourselves?”

Colin spends a minute frantically trying to convince himself that calling in sick would be a totally bad idea: Evan couldn’t possibly handle a day by himself, nothing would get done, and he’d probably file everything in the wrong place despite currently attending a (rather prestigious) law school and, yes, staying at home means that he probably won’t get dressed until four in the afternoon and Matthew will con them both into eating at a really expensive restaurant and make Colin feel miserable by paying for him (Colin gets masculine about the stupidest things), but just because that sounds like a completely fuck-all wonderful day, Colin is a working member of society and can’t afford to sink into unproductive habits like M. J. Brose.

He reaches for the phone.

Just as he dials the number for his office, he stares Matthew down sharply to make sure he’s understood when he says, “And don’t you dare try anything funny when I’m on the phone this time.”

Matthew smiles, a perfect picture of angelic purity.

And takes his hand away from where it’s hovering over Colin’s cock.

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