Scott had dragged him from his usual haunts of gay clubs and bars to this little cafe which he said had the most divine struedel. And it was delicious, he had to admit. He watched his fellow patrons as they ate. He liked to study people, to pick out all the shallow images laid over their lives. Call it a hobby. Sometimes he'd flash flirty smiles at men who met his gaze, just to watch them squirm.
The trouble with being in an atmosphere like this was you didn't know quite where you stood. In Chris' usual territory, every man was gay and, if he wasn't, that was his problem. Ordinarily, Chris would have chatted up this young man with a finesse that simply oozed self confidence. Only one thing stopped him nowthere was a 50/50 chance that he was straight. He felt like a fish out of water. He kept his eye on the boy as he bussed the tables. He studied him until he thought he might die of overexposure.
Scott watched Chris with a bemused expression on his face. "What now, Romeo? You gonna sweep the lad off his feet?"
"I'd like to," Chris responded, "If you can tell me if he is or if he isn't."
"That's a toughy." Scott perused the boy as if he were the New York Times crossword puzzle. "He's got the looks for it."
"So does my brother, and he's not gay."
Scott caught the boy's eye and almost died before he remembered to smile. The boy smiled backa beautiful smile ... which could have meant anything.
Scott knew not to contradict him, although even he had to admit the boy was extraordinary.
Chris was at a veritable loss. Where the hell did he go from here? It had all been so easy before. One of the things he loved about young men was that they were so horny. All you had to do was rub your hands in some intimate places and he was putty in your hands. But now ... This was different. He tried to imagine if the boy was gay, he tried to imagine seducing him ... and he couldn't. He just couldn't imagine knowing this boy inside and out before he knew this boy inside and out. Chris knew for a fact that he was in love. And he decided in the next moment that it was not at all fun.
Chris couldn't sleep at all that night. He'd have stayed in that tiny cafe forever if Scott hadn't forcibly dragged him off. He'd been a virtual zombie for the rest of the day and, suddenly, it had been night. As he lay awake, Chris tried to figure out why he was having such a hard time with all this. Maybe if he thought it all through, he'd begin to understand why this time he felt so much like he'd like to drift away and never come back.
He remembered the first time. He'd been 12 years old. Even then he had known he was different. Unlike most, he'd revelled in it. Perhaps he was protected by his handsome face and athletic personality. Whatever the case, people always liked him. He was clean and fresh. And he had such a nice smile. At least that's what they'd said. That's what he had said. Mike. Sitting in the dark after the fireworks on the 4th of July, he'd let Mike kiss him. It had been the first time another boy had touched him the way Mike had, and he had loved it. Everything since then had been a continuation of that first moment he'd felt another boy's body pressed against his own. He had never had trouble finding lovers. His beauty was only partially the cause. What attracted men to him was the fact that he was secure in himself. He had no misgivings, no self-doubtshe was just a beautiful boy with a taut bod out for a bit of fun. He revelled in his homosexuality. Being gay was a substantial part of what had made him the man he was today. He had realized this early on, and he had been grateful. He must have been in love scores of times. So many beautiful men. But it had never really been love, had it. He had loved their eyes, their hair, their hard, muscled torsos, but had he ever really loved them? Each time, he'd thought he had. It was only now he knewhe hadn't loved any of them. Not one. It was a sobering thought. Now he knew why he felt so at odds with being alive. Not that it helped. So, he was finally in love. He crossed his arms under his head as he lay back into the pillow. He couldn't say he cared much for it much, this love business. He didn't care for it at all.
In the morning, he had grown more practical. All the thinking in the world wouldn't do anything about the fact that somewhere out there was a beautiful boy he was in love with who may or may not be gay and who didn't even know he was alive. His prospects were daunting, to put it mildly. He toyed with the notion of just forgetting the whole thing had ever happened, but soon enough that proved to be impossible. He had no idea how he could love someone he'd never had a conversation with, but he did. Deeply. Freely. And he knew it wasn't simply lust, although that did play a part. No, that would have been too easy. The irony didn't escape himthat would have been like the others. There's a fine line between lust and love that he had never noticed until now. Now it seemed like the Grand Canyon. He couldn't fathom how he could have missed it, and he had no idea what to do now that he was on the other side so very far from everything he had known. But there was one thing he could do, the only thing he could think ofgo back to the cafe. Because at this moment, all he could think of was seeing the boy again. Maybe luck would look kindly on him and throw the object of his affections into his waiting arms. Somehow, he doubted it.
In the end, he hadn't gone back to the cafe. Well, not exactly. What he'd done was to loiter (he could think of no other word for it) across the street until he was quite sure that the love of his life was, in fact, not at work that day. In a way, it was a relief. He had no idea, still, how to approach the boy. He probably would have just sat and stared at the lad until they asked him to leave or, possibly, arrested him. Yet he had been full of nervous energy that had built up making him feel as if his insides were covered with tiny ants that didn't cause pain so much as anxiety. Which is why the afternoon found him thrashing his limbs in the university pool.
Swimming had always been one of Chris' many passions. Something about calm, clear water and bare bodies ... He let himself daydream about his mystery lover, if only because he couldn't stop himself. His strokes became automatic. For all intensive purposes, he was dead to the world. Until, of course, he swam head on into a fellow swimmer. He stopped short, pulling off his goggles. His hands, for a sheer moment, met with a firmly muscled body.
"You mind giving a guy a little warning?!"
"I'm so sorry!"
'I'm so sorry'. It couldn't be ... But it was.
"I seem to be your own personal curse."
Chris was tongue-tied. What in god's name should he say?!
"You are the guy I dowsed the other day, aren't you?"
Chris nodded dumbly. He was going to have to do a lot of fancy footwork to make up for these first impressions. The boy smiled. Chris though he might drown. They made their way back to the shallow end and Chris pulled himself up onto the lip of the pool to steady himself.
"I'm Alec," spoke the boy. He smiled again, this time mischievously. "If I'm gonna keep on doing you grievous bodily harm, you might as well know my name."
It took a second or two for Chris to answer. He was intensely aware that Alec's hand was touching his thigh.
"Nice to meet you, Alec," he said finally. "I'm Chris."
"Chris ..." Alec rolled the name on his tongue like he'd never tasted anything so delicious.
"Good name. I had you figured for a Brian or a Chad. Chris is so much better."
"You spend a lot of time thinking about perfect strangers?" Chris couldn't believe he was now deeply immersed in conversational banter with this god of love. He was rather proud of himself for not melting into a pool of liquid flesh.
"Not usually. I just ... couldn't get you out of my mind."
Chris wondered for a moment if Alec could possibly be hitting on him, and decided a split second later that it was just his wishful thinking.
"Excuse me, but if you aren't going to swim, do you mind letting me have this lane?"
The woman's tone was much more friendly that her words had been, not that Chris would have noticed. He hoped his face didn't show how frantic he was. Leave? Now?!
"I'll go ahead and get out, too," spoke Alec.
Chris' heart returned to its proper position, freeing him from his paralysis. He stood up and offered a hand to Alec. Chris thought maybe he was dreaming. Alec took his hand, allowing Chris to pull him from the water. For an eternal moment, they stood together, less than a handspan apart. Chris tried to appear nonchalant as he devoured Alec's blue eyes. Alec pulled away first, moving towards the locker room, but not before he pulled Chris' hand so he would follow. He let it go in the next second.
"You want to go get a coffee or something?"
"Or something," Chris agreed. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Alec's smooth, young, supple body hungrily. "I am feeling a bit peckish."
"Good. I'll meet you out front."
And it was done. As simple as that. Chris had been dreading showering next to this beautiful boy. It turned out Alec's locker was at the other end of the room, nearer to the second set of showers. He was at the same time extremely relieved and profoundly disappointed. It was hard to slip out of his Speedo with his hands shaking, but it didn't take more that two or three tries. He showered under cold water. With his eyes closed under the spray, he could almost imagine the steam rising from him as the coldness of the shower met with his burning flesh.
"You gonna be in there all day?" came a voice. "It's chlorine, not radiation."
Chris shuddered. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. When he opened his eyes, it was to see Alec, fully clothed, holding out his towel to himwhich Chris hurriedly took. For perhaps the first time in his life, he felt totally and utterly naked. He began to dry off, hoping against hope that Alec would wait outside, as he'd said. Whether fate was being cruel or kind he couldn't tell, but Alec took a seat, watching him with that grin that seemed to be a permanent fixture on his perfect features. His black hair lay in unruly curls over his head, dripping water ever so often into his eyes.
"You've got a taut bod," commented Alec. "You work out?"
O god!, thought Chris. This is just too much. He slipped into his clothes before he'd completely dried off if only to get out from under Alec's unswerving gaze. "Doesn't everybody?" he responded, somewhat shakily. He pulled on his t-shirt with one swift motion.
"Well that's no good, is it," snorted Alec, motioning towards Chris' very wet hair. "Where were you raised, in a barn?" He laughed at his own corny joke and, taking Chris' towel, proceed to dry his hair.
His ministrations were so energetic that Chris had no choice but to grab onto something, anything, to steady himself against this onslaught and the first thing his hands found was Alec's slim waist. He tried not to remember that the body under his fingers was Alec's, but not too hard. He was very glad, at that moment, that he'd at least put his shorts on right.
Chris remained for a moment before he realized he should perhaps remove his hands. "Thanks, mom." It was a small attempt to be witty, but it was better that throwing the lad to the floor and ravaging him.
It was at the coffee shop that Chris discovered that his true love was 17 years old. Chris was 24. In the back of his mind, the phrases 'statutory rape' and 'cradle robber' flitted about. Being with Alec was the sweetest torture Chris had ever known. He had never come across a male who resorted to so much non-sexual touching. It was maddening. At times in the conversation, he had seriously considered telling Alec straight out that he was gay, but the thought of scaring him away was not a particularly nice one so, somehow, it never came up. When they parted, it had been with the plan of going to see the recently revamped version of 'Star Wars' together (Chris was happy to discover that they were both avid, yet not fanatical, fans). Chris had watched Alec walk away with so much joy in his heart that he thought he might burst. The next thing he knew, he was ay Scott's apartment, lounging on his uncannily comfortable futon, and trying very hard not to cry.
Scott had calmly listened to Chris' rapturous tale. At its end, he had given Chris that look halfway between fondness and condescension that drove his friend to distraction. But Chris knew he needed Scott. Scott was his tie to earth. Once upon a time, they had been lovers. Their passion had been short-lived, but their friendship had turned out to be a true one and it was always to Scott that Chris would come, in the end, to bare his soul.
"Very nice, dear one, but you do know you're on the road to ruin."
It was not what Chris wanted to hear.
"You've got to tell him."
"I will ... Eventually." He sighed. "But don't you think it's possible?"
"Anything's possible, Chris," conceded Scott, "But I don't want you to get torn up over this. The longer you let it go on, the more hurt you'll be if he doesn't ... reciprocate your affections."
"You do have a way with words, don't you." Chris smiled wryly. His present misery was equal to, if not surpassing, his previous happiness.
"But look on the bright side. Obviously he wants to be with you, too."
Scott didn't usually resort to vague optimisms, but he'd never seen Chris so dejected. He had no doubt that Chris was in love with Alec. It came close to breaking his heart to see him so sad. Now it was Scott's turn to sigh. He crossed the room, sitting next to Chris and placing an arm about his shoulders.
"What the hell. Go for it, babe. You're in too deep to pull out now. What will be, will be."
The renewed look of hope in Chris' green eyes more than repaid his kindness. He ruffled his friend's blonde hair.
"I must be getting soft," he said with a smile.
Chris left Scott feeling drained. This love business was tough. He resolved then and there that he would tell Alec what he was feeling the next time he saw him. Scott was rightif he was going to get his heart broken, he'd rather do it now before he had too many memories to look back on. Already there were too many. When he slept that night, his dreams were full of Alec, of what he'd like to do with him. When he awoke the next morning, he was smiling.
It was only the fact that he had loved 'Star Wars' so much for so long that allowed him to sit in the dark next to Alec and keep his hands to himself. Alec seemed, if it were possible, even more angelic in the light of the moon. On the walk back to his apartment, he had talked almost too much, but when he found himself really and truly alone with the boy of his dreams, he couldn't think of one thing to say.
"Nice," commented Alec, taking in the room as he sat down on the sofa. "It's gotta be cool to have your own place. I still live with my folks."
Chris laughed. Something about the tone of Alec's voice ... something ... Suddenly, he had no qualms about Alec being here. He became his old, confident self again.
"Was it something I said?" asked Alec, noticing the difference.
"Naw, kid," drawled Chris. "Wanna drink?"
"Water'll be fine," responded Alec.
He seemed to Chris a little taken aback, but maybe it was the lighting. He disappeared into the kitchen and came back carrying, in steady hands, two glasses of water. He sat down next to Alec and stretched out with a sound that was almost, but not quite, a purr. He closed his eyes a moment, opening them only when he realized Alec was watching him intensely. Even though, miraculously, he felt more at ease than he had since he'd met Alec, it was not easy to reveal himself. Best to get it over with.
"You know, Alec, I like you."
Alec cheered noticeably. "And I like you, too."
"No, kid." Chris shook his head with a small smile. "I like you."
"And I like you, too," he repeated.
Chris turned to study Alec's face, to see if he knew what he was saying. By Alec's flushed cheeks and downcast eyes, he could tell that he did. He inched closer, put his hand on Alec's knee.
"Do you really?" He pulled the boy to him, having moved his hand to his waist. "Do you have any idea?"
Alec kept his eyes down, his lower lip quivering. Chris leaned near to him, brushed the boy's mouth ever so gently with his own. He growled, conquering his passion, and released him. Leaning back, he made himself relax, mentally reined in the pounding of his heart.
"Oh, Alec ..."
"Don't you want me?"
Alec's voice was young and innocent.
"More than you know. But, baby, I don't know what you want."
"I want you," answered the boy emphatically.
This whole scene was starting to resemble one of Chris' fantasies a little too closely. A sense of unreality lent him strength.
"The first time I saw you, I wanted you. You're so beautiful. Don't you realize that?"
Chris watched Alec silently. He'd heard the words before, yes.
"I followed you to the pool that day. When I went to work, I saw you and I followed you. I ran into you one purpose. I was so nervous. Couldn't you tell? I almost left after I asked you to have coffee. I was so scared. But when I walked by and saw you in the shower I couldn't leave. You were so ... perfect. I couldn't keep my hands off you. Didn't you notice? You've been all I could think about. I had no idea if you liked ... boys. Sometimes in your eyes, I'd see something, but then it was gone and I figured you were just humoring me. And then to come back to your apartment ... I was praying you'd say something. And you did and ..." He stopped. Chris wondered how he'd fit all that into one breath. "And I'll just die if ..."
"If I don't take you?" completed Chris helpfully.
His calmness was overlaid with a feeling Chris couldn't identify. Something between relief and rapture and anticipation. He contemplated leaving it at this and sending Alec home, but he didn't see what good it would do and he certainly didn't want to do it. So with a fierce grin, he crept up to Alec, crept onto him. The boy's heart was pounding even faster than his own and his hands were shaking. He kissed Alec's nose.
"Relax. I won't eat you ... yet."
It had been a long time since Chris had been with someone so inexperienced. Contrary to what he had thought, it was a major turn on. He kissed the boy's full lips teasingly, ran his hands up under Alec's shirt. He had never wanted someone so badly in his life. Was this, he thought, what love did to you? Maybe it wasn't so bad after all, this love business. He looked down on Alec.
"... You have no idea ..."
With gentle hands, he stripped Alec and then himself. The boys eyes burned.
"Chris ... I don't know what to do."
Chris smiled reassuringly. "Just lay back and let me love you."
He woke up during the night to Alec's caresses. Somewhere along the line, the boy's embarrassment had evaporated leaving him a willing and eager pupil. His enthusiasm was incredible, even exhausting. Chris couldn't get over how beautiful Alec was. At times, he would regret his decision to bed Alec so soon. Hadn't he sworn to get to know him first? But then the pressure of Alec's lips on the small of his back would scatter such thoughts to the winds and after, when they rested, he had looked into Alec's eyes and realized he did know him. As strange as it seemed, he knew Alec inside and out, just as he had promised to himself. It was as if he had always known him. Yet it had all happened so fast. And he was Alec's first. Alec was just a boy. Chris' love was strong and true, but what of his? Would he be satisfied with Chris after having had his horizons broadened? Chris couldn't compare it with his own experience. He'd been 14 when he'd lost his virginity to his older brother's best friend. Love had had nothing to do with it. Eric had systematically seduced him and he, libidinous youth that he had been, had eagerly let it happen. But this ... Chris knew even then his heart might still be broken. And Alec, full of a sweetness and gentleness the likes of which Chris had never known, kissed away his tears.
Waking to Alec's kiss was heaven, pure and simple. Chris was very tired. And very happy. A part of him was afraid of how happy he was, but it was a small part and he didn't pay it much mind.
"So ... did I live up to your expectations?"
"Boy, did you ever!"
"Stop talking like that." Chris flashed him a brilliant smile. He had an arsenal of smiles and he knew perfectly well how they affected people. The joy in his heart must have made this one particularly intense. Alec positively basked. "You're making me feel old."
"Old?" The boy ran his hands over Chris in a very possessive manner. "I've never seen anyone so perfect. If I had my way, we'd never leave this bed. I could fuck you until eternity."
"That's a very pleasant thought," responded Chris, "but not exactly practical."
A very pleasant thought. Even though he had figured himself totally drained, he felt the first twinges of his overly healthy libido stoking hearthfires and holocausts somewhere in the region of his groin.
"However," he continued, his smile becoming a rather stirring leer. "I don't see why we couldn't live out this little fantasy for as long as humanly possible."
Alec said nothing in response, simply ran his hands lower and lower down Chris' body until he gasped.
"You're awfully good at this for one so new to it."
"I've had an excellent teacher," replied Alec with a straight face. "And he's hung, too."
Eventually, they did get out of bed. Alec had to get home. He had school tomorrow. Chris felt like a very dirty, very horny old man.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he said as he drove Alec home.
"What? It's not that far a drive."
"Not that, silly." Chris flashed him a smile that, unbeknownst to him, set Alec's heart pounding. "I mean I can't believe I've taken up with a kid in high school. High school, for chrissakes."
"Think of it this way," said Alec with a luscious grin as he placed an artful hand between Chris' legs. "High school is the only place you could possibly find someone to keep up with you in bed."
"Stop that. You'll make me have an accident."
"It'll wash out."
"Not that, you incubus. I meant the car."
"Well, I'm sure it'll come out of the car, too."
Chris stopped at a light and turned to study Alec, his expression unreadable.
"What?" said Alec. He pulled his hand away, scared that he'd gone too far over the line.
Chris couldn't say it. I love you. It seemed so simple. But he couldn't open himself up like that. Handing Alec something like that could be the death of him. The boy could kill him without even knowing it. So instead, he leaned close, pulled Alec to him and kissed him hungrily, releasing him only when the car behind them began to honk.
"You keep on like this," he laughed, "and I'll never let you go home."
Alec's blue eyes gleamed with happiness.
After he'd dropped Alec off, he drove straight to Scott's.
"You just had to come over and flaunt your conjugal bliss, didn't you?" Scott smiled indulgently. You'd never think it to look at them, but he was two years younger.
"Bliss?" snorted Chris. His hands were shaking. He knew if he tried to stand now, it would be impossible. "I'm scared to death."
"That's not the point."
Scott stood leaning against a window overlooking the sea. He was framed by the setting sun, the waning light turning his blonde hair to gold. Chris thought he looked like an angel.
"You're supposed to be scared. Haven't you ever heard love sucks? Did you think people just said that for the hell of it? Love is hell, my friend. Don't kid yourself that it's not."
Chris buried his face in his hands. He wanted to curl up in a little ball until he disappeared, but he couldn't seem to move.
"Don't look so sad," continued Scott.
Chris could hear the smile in Scott's voice and wondered why, after all this time, he hadn't fallen in love with him. That would make sense. This didn't.
"Look at me, baby."
Chris raised his head almost unwillingly. He sensed his own melodramaticism fleetingly.
"Doesn't it make you happy to think of this boy? Didn't you tell me how he feels about you?"
Chris felt his gloom lift a bit, despite himself.
"And wasn't the sex great?"
"Fantastic," corrected Chris with a small grin he tried hard to smother. The grin widened. "Incredible. Brilliant. What that kid can do with his ..."
"Enough. I don't want to know." He thought that over a bit. "Actually, I do want to know, but I'll end up kicking myself if I let you tell me."
Chris pulled the last of his soul out of the pit of despair as he remembered his friend.
"How long till Dexter gets back?"
"Three long weeks," sighed Scott. "I've had to stop myself twice now from hijacking a plane and tracking him down through the streets of London." He smiled again, this time ironically.
"Didn't I say love was hell? I miss him so much my teeth ache." He sighed. "But what else can we do but suffer?"
"We could go to bed," suggested Chris.
Scott couldn't tell if he was serious or not.
"Stop thinking with your dick. You're in love. That means no more screwing around. It's monogamy for you, pal."
"I know," replied Chris.
"When do you see him again?"
"Tomorrow. But only for a few hours. His parents keep a strict watch."
"And so they should," pointed out Scott. "17 years old. Part of me, the horny gay part, is jealous as hell."
Chris felt the blood return to his limbs as he allowed himself to believe that he had captured his own flash of starlight and, if he tried very, very hard, he might somehow keep it in his hands.
He picked Alec up at school the next day, feeling very much the criminal.
"God, is it good to see you!" cried Alec as he threw his pack into the car and himself at Chris. He embraced him awkwardly over the stick shift. "I almost thought last weekend was a dream. I couldn't believe I had you, that you were mine. I've been walking on sunshine all day. Can we go back to your place? If I don't get some good lovin' soon, I'm gonna burst."
Chris laughed at the bundle of youthful adolescence that sat beside him. "How are we supposed to build a lasting relationship if all you want to do is have sex?"
"Hey, baby..." He blushed charmingly as he said the word and Chris felt his heart skip a beat. "You've gotta remember I'm 17. A walking hormone. I give you express permission to delve into my soul right after that gorgeous tool between your legs delves into me."
"Are all teenagers so crude?"
"Why? It bother you?"
He cast a fond glance to Alec.
"And here I thought I was corrupting you."
Sex with Alec was something Chris had no experience with. Physical pleasure is one thing. This was so far beyond mere pleasure that Chris lay totally shattered afterwards.
Something in the way Alec touched him sent Chris through the roof.
"God damn!" said Alec as he collapsed, trying to catch his breath. "Is sex always like this?"
"Only with you," Chris answered truthfully.
Alec lay silent. Chris steeled himself for the question he knew was coming.
"You been with many men?"
No use denying it. "Yes."
"Sure. I ... I just can't imagine you doing this with someone else. I get this pain in my chest when I think about it."
"Then don't think about it. As long as you're around, there's not even a chance I could want another man."
"What do you mean, 'as long as I'm around'?"
Chris remained on his back staring at the ceiling as Alec crept closer, pulled up and draped himself across his chest. The fact that Chris felt he could not breathe properly had nothing to do with the additional weight on his lungs.
"What do you mean?" repeated Alec. "How long have I got till you throw me over?"
"Jesus, Alec ..."
Alec sat up, forced Chris to look at him.
"I'm just a toy to you, right?"
Chris couldn't quite believe he was remaining so calm. Must be the lack of oxygen. "Is that what you really think?"
Alec blinked away the tears in his eyes, angry with himself for crying. "What else can I think? Jesus, Chris, I'm just a kid. How can I compare with all those guys you've had? What have I got to offer you besides my body? Hell, I don't even know how to do anything other than what you've shown me."
Chris was paralyzed. So soon? Already? But he knew if he didn't do something now, Alec would slip away from him and that sheer horror of that thought made it easier to say the words.
"Alec ... I love you."
There was no turning back now. But had there ever been?
"I love you so much it hurts. The thought of not having you near me makes me want to die. Can you even understand what that means? You're the most beautiful boy I've ever laid eyes on. All I can think is that you won't be happy with me. I've been in a hell of doubt ever since I first saw you. I've had sex with more men that I can remember, but I've never made love to anyone but you."
He didn't realize he, too, was crying until he tasted the salt of his own tears.
"You love me?"
Chris couldn't bring himself to answer, closed his eyes. Hadn't he said enough?
"You love me." Alec kissed his eyelids. "You love me." And the tip of his nose. "You love me." And his lips. "Make love to me, Chris."
Chris, growling with passion, flipped Alec onto his back and pinned him down.
"Say you love me."
"Love you?" Alec was too happy to smile. "I've always loved you. I was born to love you. Life was nothing to me until I loved you."
He felt Chris hard against his stomach, and now he did smile.
"Now will you make love to me?"
Every weekend they spent together, a good half of that time in bed. It was perfect. Imagine Chris' surprise when he opened the door one fine Tuesday afternoon to find Alec on his doorstep in tears.
"Jesus!" He pulled Alec into the apartment and held him close. "What's wrong?"
When Alec didn't reply, he led him further into the room and, after seating him on the sofa, went into the kitchen to get some ice water. As he searched the cupboards for a glass, he couldn't stop his hands from shaking. Somehow, he stopped his trembling and, taking a deep breath, returned to Alec who seemed to be in shock.
Alec took the glass like a sleepwalker, raised it to his lips, and then placed it on the table in front of him.
"My parents threw me out."
"What?!" And then, a second later, "Why?"
"I told them. About you."
Chris was stunned.
"And they threw you out cuz you're dating an older guy?"
"Cuz I'm dating a guy."
"Didn't they know? What have you been telling them?"
"I lied." Alec seemed to be talking from somewhere very far away. "But all the lies added up. They caught me. And I told them."
Chris leaned back, collapsed and closed his eyes. He reached out a hand and Alec took it. He was cold. Chris brought Alec's hand to his chest and opened his eyes.
"So when do we pick up your stuff?"
Alec broke into tears, his whole body was wracked by sobs. He threw himself into Chris' arms and held on so tight Chris thought his ribs would break.
"Alec ... You didn't think I'd turn you out, did you?"
"I ... I ... I didn't want to ask you. I thought maybe you wouldn't want me around all the time."
Chris sighed. Suddenly, this didn't seem so bad at all. Selfishness is always good to brighten your day.
"Baby ..." He pulled back as far as he could and looked deep into Alec's frightened eyes. "What's the last thing I said to you on the phone last night?"
"You love me."
"Yeah. Did you think that was just my quaint was of ending a conversation?"
Alec relaxed a little, stopped crying.
"From the first moment I saw you, I've wanted to take you and never let you go. Now you're mine. And no one can take you from me."
Alec smiled faintly.
"How am I supposed to be upset if you make it all seem so perfect?"
"Well, that's the point, lover."
Scott had not thought it was such a good idea, but when he finally came over to Chris' place and met Alec, he changed his mind. He had never seen Chris so happy and Alec had a glow about him that made him look like a boy made of stained glass.
"You known Chris long?" asked Alec when Chris had gone into the bedroom to answer the phone.
"You and he were ... lovers, right?"
Scott nodded. Alec took that in, let it settle. He got up from the sofa and moved to look out the window. Scott had the feeling that whatever he was seeing was not anywhere near to the real world outside.
"Sometimes, when I'm with him, I feel like I'm going to die. I see flashes of light before my eyes, even when I close them, and my heart beats so fast it's like it'll leap out of my chest. And when he touches me it's like fire."
Scott remained silent, not daring to break the spell that allowed Alec to talk to him like this.
"I had no idea it would be like this. That first day I saw him, I knew that he was everything I was looking for. It was so weird to suddenly be confronted by the pure physical form of what lived in my dreams. I thought, if I couldn't get him, if I couldn't make him love me, I may as well have died. And now I feel I could die and still be happy, cuz he's mine."
Alec turned back to Scott. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes seemed to Scott an unbearable blue.
"I guess I'm telling you this cuz you love him, too. I had to tell someone."
A small smile grew on his lips that just about broke Scott's heart. He thought he should say something, but for the life of him he couldn't think of what exactly that might be. At that moment, Chris walked back into the room.
"Have fun while I was gone?"
"You have no idea," said Scott plainly.
During the day, when Alec was in school, Chris continued to work on his latest book. He had never worked so well in his life and he knew the cause of all his creative energy was Alec. Just the thought of him sent the blood surging through his veins. The boy was magic, pure and simple.
One day, as he came back from his morning workout, he found a young boy, 14 tops, at his door.
Chris nodded. The boy looked to him like very fine porcelain. He felt a guilt ridden twinge of desire and was just about to berate himself before he realized that this stranger was the image of Alec as he must have been at this age.
"I'm Tad. Can I come in?"
Chris unlocked his door and gestured for Tad to follow him inside.
"Shouldn't you be at school?"
"Yeah." Tad's grin was infectious and pretty soon Chris found himself grinning, too. "But I had to see you and I didn't want Alec to know."
He sat himself on the sofa and took the glass of orange juice Chris offered him.
He drained half the glass and held it in his hands like it was all that kept him from darting out the door. Chris couldn't resist reaching across and brushing the bangs out of his eyes.
"You look just like him."
Tad's blue eyes gleamed. "I can see why Alec digs you."
Chris, blushing, pulled his hand back. What am I? A pederast?
"What brings you here?"
"I wanted to know how he was doing. So did mom. He calls, but he won't talk to her. And I can never tell if he means what he says. His voice is like ice."
"I'm sorry for that."
"Don't be. I mean, it was a long time coming, but it was inevitable. If it hadn't been you, it would have been something else. He was always too much of a free spirit for them."
Tad looked around the room, his eyes lighting on a picture of Alec and Chris that sat on the window ledge. A second later, he crossed to it and held it up to study it.
"My god, what have you done to him?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I've never seen him like this." There was an un-childlike sadness that had crept into Tad's voice. "He looks so ... happy. I had no idea how miserable he was at home until just now, looking at this." He sighed. "No, that's not true. I knew. I just didn't want to know."
"Was it so bad for him at home?"
Tad put the picture down and came back to sit next to Chris.
"Yeah, but not bad. Mom and Dad love Chris, they just don't understand him. Dad's career Navy. So is mom. I guess they expected their sons to follow in their footsteps. But Alec never had any intention of entering the military." Tad reached into his back pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. "Alec's an artist. I found this in his room, after he'd gone. It ..." Tad struggled to find the words. "I thought it was ... well, something unearthly. I mean, like something that you couldn't find in real life. It made me so sad cuz I figured he could never have it. I guess that's why I was so worried. But now ... well, here."
He handed the paper to Chris who slowly unfolded it. It was a portrait of himself. Alec must have done it while he was sleeping. It was a pencilled sketch, but full of such warmth that Chris could almost feel it radiating off the page. There was a small smile on his lips in the drawing, one of utter and complete contentedness. Was this how Alec saw him? This wasn't merely him, it was a personification of love itself.
"He wasn't drawing something he dreamt of, he was drawing something he'd already found. In you. When I came here today, I don't really know what I expected to find. And then I saw you and I knew everything was OK. I didn't have to worry cuz you were just as beautiful as he drew and the light that you have around you in the drawing is the same light I see in your eyes when you think of him."
Tad shook himself as if realizing what he had said had no place in the mouth of a 14 year old boy. Chris felt an affection for him thena nice, clean and entirely platonic affection.
"Listen, Tad. You want to hang out around here today? It's a bit late for you to go to school, and I'm sure Alec would love to see you."
"Yeah," smiled Tad, once more the little boy he seemed. He had a trust in him that pierced Chris straight through. "That'd be cool."
Eventually, Alec drifted off to sleep. Chris was proud of the smile he had put on the boy's face. After all was said and done, they would always have each other and it was that fact more than anything that had placated Alec's frantic need.
Chris could only imagine what was going through Alec's mind. He himself had led an ideal lifeor, as an ex-lover had put it, a wet-dream of a life. He'd never had any problem with his sexuality. Neither had his family. His mother had taken it in stride and his father had accepted it fairly calmly, too. His brother had known all along, probably even before Chris had. They were all proud of him. Hell, he had even brought his boyfriends home to meet them. His straight friends had stuck by him, when it had finally come out at school that he was gay. Chris had always taken it all for granted, but, now that he really thought about it, he realized his life hadn't been ideal but charmed. At college, he had found himself immersed in a sub-culture of young gods, all ripe for the picking. He had edited the campus gay/lesbian newspaper while he majored in creative writing and had sold his first book in his junior year. Nothing big, but it had gotten good reviews. So had his second book. People were starting to know his name and to respect him. He didn't hide his sexuality. He couldn'tit was what he wrote about. He knew what was going on in the world discrimination, AIDS, gay-bashingbut none of it had ever really touched him. What must it be like to be afraid, to have to hide what you were for your own safety and welfare? He really didn't have a clue, but he was beginning to. Alec was so much a part of him even after the few months they had lived together that he found everything that affected the boy affected him, too. Alec ...
He knew he was all that had kept Alec from breaking down after his parents threw him out. If it hadn't been love, if he had been another type of man, Chris had no doubt that Alec most likely would be dead by now. Sometimes at night, he would wake up to find Alec at the window, staring off into the heavens as if he was searching for something. It was at those times that Alec seemed to him like another creature entirely. The pain he suffered had lent a depth to his blue eyes that made him seem older than his years, even when he acted younger. The sight of him like that, silhouetted against the stars, was almost painful to Chris. It wasn't only for Alec that he would call him back to bed and make love to him. It was also for himself, so he could hold in his arms this fragile creature and reassure himself that he wasn't just a dream that would break apart in his fingers and return to moonlight. When he could feel Alec's hands on his body and could feel him breathing, he became so happy it was frightening. He hadn't told anyone, not even Scott, how Alec made him feel. When he came, he saw fireworks in his head that had little to do with Alec's physical form. Sex had always been something special to himhe accepted how incredible it felt, even expected it. No, what made it so shattering was that Alec was his. This beautiful, beautiful body that housed such a pure and loving soul belonged to him.
So now as he held his life in his arms, he could not help but cry and, as he closed his eyes, let his tears fall quietly onto sheets as white as snow.
They had gone to the new all ages club uptown. Trying to sneak Alec into Chris' regular haunts had proved to be impossible. At his best, Alec looked his age. At all other times, he looked a year or two younger. This new place was just this side of making Chris feel old again, but he let it slide. On a good night, Chris could dance Alec into the ground, but tonight was Alec's turn to shine. The energy flew off his gyrating body in streams, like waves of heat off a desert highway. Chris watched him from the bar to which he had made an orderly retreat to rest his legs and catch his breath. Alec was dancing with a tall Asian adonis with bleached blonde hair. The pangs of jealousy which used to plague him as he had watched former lovers in this type of situation was curiously absent from his green eyes. At best, you could say that Chris gloated. He knew from experience that Alec didn't have eyes for anyone but him. Sure enough, a second later Alec caught his gaze through the crowd and it was plain that as far as he was concerned there was no one else in the room. He made his way through the throng and soon was standing at Chris' side.
It was sometime during the night that Alec told Chris that he had decided to see his folks again. Chris had known he would, but had not wanted to say anything until the boy had told him himself. Alec had rested his head on Chris' chest and breathed the words into his skin.
"You'll come with me?"
Chris traced the line of Alec's spine.
"Alec, I am with you. Wherever you go, whatever you do, I'm there."
"It won't be fun," continued Alec. "I can't promise you dad won't go mental."
"I can handle it," said Chris supportively, although he was not at all sure that he could.
Tad came back over the weekend, this time with his parents approval. He'd been lucky enough not to have been caught playing hooky. That plus the fact that Alec was coming home again, if only for the evening, made him hyper.
Alec's house was relatively unprepossessing, Chris though, considering that the love of his life had spent his first 17 years there. It could have been any house on the street except for the hold it had over Alec.
"Home again, home again," he sighed.
Chris followed Alec and Tad up to the entrance and closed the door behind them once they'd gone inside.
"Mom!" called Tad. "We're here!"
A woman came out of the kitchen. Chris stifled a nervous chuckle. She looked like a marine. A very pretty, very mothering, very ... effectual marine.
She said his name as if she had thought, perhaps, she would never use it again.
Alec smiled falteringly. Chris thought perhaps Alec might rush into his mother's arms, but something was holding him back. Realizing it was probably him, Chris gave him a push towards her.
The boy didn't cry, but he was close to tears. He hadn't wanted it to mean this much, but it was obvious in he way he crushed his mother in his arms that it did. Her eyes over Alec's shoulder settled on Chris.
"You must be Chris."
Her voice wasn't as hostile as he figured it might be. But it wasn't anywhere near friendly, either. Was he the bad man in this little reunion? The one who had snatched their angel to a life of sin and depravity? Surely things like that only happened on TV. Chris shook his head wearily. This, he thought, will be a long night. He wished he could not have come. Scott was right. Love sucks.
Tad took his arm, leaving Alec in his mother's embrace, and led him into the den.
"Dad," he said, "this is Chris."
He held Chris out like he was a Cracker Jack prize. Alec's father was a handsome man. Chris saw more of him in Alec that the woman in the hall. His eyes were the same crystal blue, his hair the same raven black. It was the hardness around the mouth that surprised Chris and made him remember where he was and who this was standing so menacingly before him.
He held out his hand, half afraid the man wouldn't take it. For a moment, it seemed he was right. He heard his heart pounding above the low music and felt he might be sick. But then there was a strong hand in his own, crushing the life back into him.
"Call me Steve."
At least it was a start.
"Tad, go help your mother."
His eyes were locked on Chris, but Tad didn't hesitate. With one final glance to Chris, he left the room. Steve eyed him as if he were another species of life.
"You don't look like a fruit," he said bluntly.
Chris smiled pleasantly. "Would you like me to swish a little for you?"
Chris couldn't be sure, but he thought perhaps Steve's colour had heightened at his remark. He tried to stop the words flowing from his mouth, but seemed possessed.
"Would it have helped if I'd worn my Vivienne Westwood? Maybe some lipstick?"
The man opposite him was taking him seriously. My god, he's actually taking me seriously. Chris wanted to laugh, but knew he would dissolve into hysterics so he steeled himself against whatever it was that was making him act like this.
"I was kidding, Steve. Good god ..." He sat down heavily on the brown leather sofa. "Do you think I could have a drink?"
Steve nodded and, without asking what it was that Chris would prefer, poured him a neat scotch which Chris downed with one gulp.
Steve stood stiffly near the fireplace.
"Tell me," began Chris after an eternal silence, "do you love Alec?"
"Do I ... Do I love ..."
Steve came to sit across from him.
"Young man, do you have any idea what it is you represent to me? You and ... you and Alec?"
Chris bit back the witticism that had popped into his mind, deciding it would perhaps be much, much better if he remained silent.
"You represent a perversion. You represent sin. What you are and what you do ... it goes against nature and it goes against God."
Chris smiled sweetly. This was more like it. In the light of this open hostility, he felt his control coming back.
"Yes," he nodded. "Of course. But do you love Alec?"
"He's my eldest son. He's my hope for the future, he's"
"I'll take that as a no," broke in Chris.
Steve was growing angry. Chris could see the fire building in his eyes, but he wasn't afraid.
"How dare you"
"No, sir. How dare you. Do you have any idea what you did to him? What you're doing to him now? The pain he's in is enough to break my heart. I do love Alec, Sir. I cannot comprehend ever causing him pain. But you ... you and your morals and your ethics have struck him to the soul. How could you do it? How could you be so cruel?"
Chris was saved Steve's reply by the entrance of Alec's mother. He seemed to recall her name was Margaret. She and Steve made a very ... formidable couple.
"Dinner's ready," she announced.
Chris wasn't aware of the tension that had built up until he attempted to stand and felt it push down on him. It was only when he had found the strength to stand that he realized Steve hadn't seen Alec yet. Nomore than that. He hadn't even wanted to see Alec. This was all so confusing. Was this what the rest of the world was going through? No wonder he had run into such incomprehensible wariness in his lovers over the years. Being gay for him had always been natural, real. And now he began to see himself through another person's eyes. It wasn't what he saw through them that made him recoil inside, but the eyes themselves. He knew then that Steve could never like or respect or even tolerate him. He knew then that Steve would hate him not because he was a bad person or had done him some insurmountable wrong, but simply because of his sexuality. And what was worse, what made Chris sit silent through the entire meal, was that Steve had undeniably consigned Alec to Chris' realmthat he now hated the son he had once loved. In an instant, 17 years of love had winked out of existence.
Chris didn't realize he had withdrawn so much, but almost too quickly it was time to leave. Chris had to stop himself from running out of this house, dragging Alec and their love away from all this horrible close-mindedness. They were both silent as they drove away, silent as they entered the apartment that was now a home, silent as Alec took Chris' hand, silent as they made love. It wasn't until many hours later that Alec spoke.
"It wasn't what I thought it would be," he said.
Chris had known that Alec had not been shattered by his father's continued rejection of him. He was glad of it, but he didn't know how or why.
"I've changed. I don't need him anymore. I don't need them anymore." Alec spoke with wonder in his voice and pressed himself closely against the length of Chris' body. "I only need you. I only need us." He wrapped his arms around Chris and held him tightly. "Tell me that you love me. Say that you love me."
Chris stared off into the semi-darkness and was struck by a sudden thought. He was in love. This was not the love of a month or a year. He suddenly realized that this love was forever. It seemed so odd that he hadn't seen it before. It had all felt so right. Alec wasn't like something that had been added to him, but something that completed him. He had said the words before and he would say them many times again, but never with the feeling of this one moment.
"I love you."
Alec burned at his side. He burned with passion and joy and hope. Chris felt tears on his cheeks before he knew he was crying.
"I love you so very much ... so very ..."