by Jian Jie (鉴戒)
It always seemed fitting to me that the first day of December was also my first snow, during my first winter of my first year of college. It was also the day I met my first love.
I had the day off, away from a two-hour shift of folding and laughing and talking to one of the girls – the prettiest lesbian I’d ever known – over a tacky paper cup of tea. But that was okay. I had my jacket tucked over my arm, my scarf tossed jauntily around my neck, and my hood pulled up to cover my face.
Contrary to what I’d been taught, the cool wind was not a cold one; brisk, yet chilly. My fingers traced through the snow, and I prepared myself for the snow. Cold seeped through my shoes, but I ignored it the further I got away from the school building, at times adjusting my scarf to cover everything, tightening my hood around my face. I removed my glasses so the dark tint would not obliterate the pale white of the sky, where on the horizon I watched buildings disappear into the clouds.
From the lake, a gray monstrosity on the edge of Chicago, I headed away, towards home, my hands shoved into my pockets. The cold had begun to get to me, through my jeans, gnawing on my face and ears.
There is a beauty in winter that I could not get in my home town, where anything below 40F made the entire city shut down in a panic. “It’s cold,” people moaned, “I don’t know how to deal with this!” Of course, the opposite happened here. Anything over 80 has everyone stretched out, afraid to let skin brush skin. When I had announced my intention of moving from Texas to Chicago, I had received the gamut of all variations on “It’ll be cold” and I couldn’t have loved the idea more. No more oppressive weeks of 99 degree weather, and no more humid winters that were basically summer with a few less leaves.
I walked down an aisle made of trees, with branches like curled claws of a hag’s desperate grip, surrounded by snow covered benches and shades of grass too stupid, and threw a snow ball at a tree ahead of me.
“Do you always pick on things that can’t fight back?” a voice called from behind me, amused and soft.
“Not always,” I replied instinctively, a snowball still held loosely in my hands while I caught sight of an Asian man. He was around my age, though a thousand times better dressed than me in my denim, button-up, hoodie and a loaned winter jacket… Okay, being better dressed wasn’t difficult. “Just when I’m practicing.”
“And why don’t you practice on moving targets?” He tilted his head, smiling slightly. He had no accent; probably second, third, or even fourth generation. All cool. His hair was long and glinted silvery in the too-bright light that reflected from everywhere.
“Because I like my confidence.” I grinned and let loose the snowball that had been numbing my hand. It exploded in white on his black coat and he threw up his arms, almost surprised before he let out a laugh and started gathering his return.
It must have been an hour or five or many more when we finally fell against a tree, on opposite sides, laughing so hard our sides hurt. I admit, I was the first to gasp, “Truce.”
He leaned around the tree, looked at me thoughtfully, and nodded… before dropping a snowball on my head. “Now it’s a truce.”
His eyes were so dark they were almost black, I noticed as I wiped the snow from my eyes, laughing, “Good. Do you want coffee?” I gave him my best smile, crooked teeth and all.
He gave me a look that can only really be used in this kind of situation. It’s the kind of look that scans first up, then back down, assessing the financial state of a poor college kid. I might want to mention that my hoodie was stained, the borrowed jacket didn’t fit correctly and I hadn’t been able to buy clean socks, so I was without them.
“If we’re going to your place,” he finally said, grinning. His teeth were perfect and as white as the snow had been before we’d made a mess of it.
I grinned. “That we can do.” I warned him that I lived in the dorms, but that my roommate had been a no-show, which made everything perfect for me, because I had twice the space to put all of my crap.
We walked while I rambled, heads down low, as if we knew each other longer than a couple snow-filled hours.
He looked up at my college with a smile. “Is this where you live?” he asked and I nodded. The dinky elevators took forever and we got to know each other better, but it was at the security door between the common room and the dorms that I finally asked, “Hey, what’s your name?”
“Daiki,” he said as he smiled at me.
I nodded and opened the door. “Nice to meet you. I’m Robin.”
He smiled and followed after me to my room, glancing around the mess that may be a male thing, or just a youth thing. I blushed and pushed a mess of dirty underwear under my desk before pulling out my electric teapot. “I have peppermint, rose hip, jasmine…”
“You’re gay,” he stated, chin on his palm and I looked over my shoulder.
“Bi, actually, is this a bad thing?” I had thought that both of us pretty much had to be. It’s not a big hobby of straight men to frolic with strangers in the snow. At least I hadn’t tackled him and had one of those deliciously movie moments where one of you lies on the other and you stare into each other’s eyes before giving that long awaited kiss.
“Just didn’t expect it,” he admitted and sat on the empty bed. “I really didn’t expect it.”
“So, straight guys ask you out for coffee all the time?” I raised my eyebrows as I put the teapot on, waiting for the water to start bubbling. I decided we both could use a little peppermint, so that was what I handed over to him and he smiled at me.
“You’d be surprised.”
“I’m easily surprised.” I shrugged and sat down on my bed.
He stared at me as he inhaled the steam rising from his tea. “I can’t believe that you’re just a college kid…”
“I’m actually a grad student.” I grinned. “The unfortunate bastard named RA.”
He laughed softly and drew his legs up, looking almost painfully young.
“You? Let me guess… the heir to some rich guy’s fortune?” I grinned, reaching over to turn on my music.
He laughed softly and shook his head.
“Teen genius that made millions in the dot-coms?”
He continued to laugh, head falling back. “No, I’m not as rich as all that.”
I grinned. “A long lost prince, then. If I return you to your family, I’ll get a fortune made of fish.”
“You’ve caught me.” He held his hands up, laughing softly. “Return me to my family, and you will get your fortune on the ocean.”
“A good sailor, I’d make.” I rose and reached for his hands, his skin golden and soft under mine.
“You look like you’d get your sea legs rather quickly.” he smiled.
I felt dizzy, unrestrained, uncontained. “I think I’ve lost my land legs…”
He whispered, “Then lean on me.”
It felt like a spell. It tasted like magic when my lips finally brushed over his. It was like a blizzard, so hot it was cold or so cold it was hot. His arms wrapped around my neck while our lips and tongues touched one another, shy and unstable. His jacket fell off, puddling on the floor before we joined it, falling to our knees, hands stroking denim-clad hips, and then petting bare flesh. I put my hand at the small of his back and guided him to the floor, his head on his clothes. A hand stroked my cheek gently as my hand slid across his body, and then my fingers rocked inside him, making him gasp and moan under me.
He breathed gently against my lips as I moved, supported on one arm with the other continuing the exploration of him, stroking and petting and finding anything that made him shiver even as I moved into him slowly, making soft sounds. He moaned and rocked and writhed under me while I did the same to him.
Our breaths intermingled, our bodies worked to fly above the snow-heavy clouds into the dark sky, to brush against stars. We reached that peak and began the slow decent back to our earthly bodies, almost as pleasurable in the soft glow as the rising.
“I’ve never done that before,” he admitted as I helped him up, rising from the floor to keep us from the cramps and pain that would follow. My bed would hardly fit me on a good day, but he fit in all of the crooks and crannies that my body left in its uneven Z.
“I haven’t either,” I said with a smile, surrounded by our warmth. “I haven’t either…”
“It was worth it,” we both agreed, curling around each other. “Completely worth it.”
We stared at the ceiling as if we could see the snow that swirled sweetly above our heads.