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Lost in a world of our own creation

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I kick the stones watching them skip and jump onto the sleepers of the line. The clanging sound as they hit metal is a strangely grating noise that I love to create. It's the soundtrack to my life, maddening, constant and inaudible to the assholes of this town. It's my favourite place, the tracks run South of Annesburg. Sometimes I consider running, to just keep going and see where I end up, even hell would be an improvement. I always stop because I am a coward, better the devil, you know.

I, of course, live on the wrong side of the tracks in a home that is more akin to a shack, with its flecks of ageing paint and cobwebs collecting in the corners. The grass in the yard died long ago, and the fence blew over in the last storm has yet to be re-erected. It isn't going to win awards in best housekeeping. It used to be beautiful when Mum was alive, everything was better when Mum was alive. The school therapist tried to explain that the pain of losing her meant I looked back with rose-tinted glasses. Remembering the good and forgetting the not-so-good, she meant to say bad, but that word was no longer de-rigueur. I stopped seeing her after that, Dad didn't hit me in a drunken rage when Mum was alive, and now, he does. I didn't need a failed therapist who could only get a job in a shithole school trying to rationalise my new existence. A tick-box exercise to impress her educated friends with. Here are the cases I solved, lives I improved with my do-gooding can't get a proper job attitude. I wasn't compliant, I wouldn't be a dinner party tale of salvation. I hate adults, they act like they want to help but really, they want you to be quiet and conform.

That's why I like the tracks, it was safer than home and definitely preferable to school. Remote and secluded, other than the odd dog-walker or drug addict, it shields me from the shit I don't want to deal with. My preferred place was under the freeway bridge, to lie on the concrete, listening to rumbling of traffic above, the weightiness of lorries or the whizz of cars going too fast. It was a cacophony of escapism, people free to leave, no awareness of the soul trapped beneath them. When a train rolled through, usually carrying coal from the mine, I scream, scream so loud certain no one could hear. I savoured it, losing control without anyone observing, it was mine. My right to fall apart until my lungs hurt, and my eyes watered. The voices in my head would quieten for a bit, not those kinds of voices, I am not schizo, more the inner monologue those self-absorbed artsy types talk about. Perhaps I will have a one-man show, John Marston. 17.5. Desperately seeking anything. I am kettle at boiling point, and screaming is the steam releasing. If I just did that for the next six months, then I should be fine, right.

I sit until sunset, listening to the rumbling beat of car after car overhead. Unlike most weeknights, I have somewhere to be. I promised and as much as I think I am rebellious to the demands of others I don't want to let this person down. They kind of believe in me, I think, at least sometimes they give me the impression that they see me, that I exist. To lose that when I am pretty sure I already have nothing would be a level of self-harm, I am not ready to explore, yet.

School at night isn't inviting, it's unnatural and makes me shake slightly. The only typical reasons for being here outside of school hours is for a shitty game when the whole town turns out or for a dance. I am not sporty, and I positively don't engage in the social torture of standing on the side-lines alone. Any social hierarchy that requires me to make the popular kids feel better about themselves appears pretty dysfunctional. What about the rest of us? Why do we fan the flames of our own ineptitude by giving power to those bastards that make our lives unbearable? I know the answer, deep down, they are attractive, and we all secretly want to be them or fuck them or both. Does that count as wanting to have sex with yourself, although, most of the meathead jocks probably would fuck themselves. Why am I the outcast for not being a narcissist, I don't see that on college applications, needs to be a narcissist. Yet they will get scholarships, and I will be left here, not good enough for Ivy League, not good enough for community college. I will get a job and spend my life stuck in this purgatory.

The hall is lit like it was hosting a gym class, not an exhibition of the finest art 17-year olds can muster. No soft and harsh lighting that accentuates the pieces; that would require an appreciation for art these amateurs could only dream of. The artworks are ordered by, dare I say it, popularity. Not of the artist, we are a bunch of misfits in art class. The popularity of the inspiration, the recreated works, not art, not real, take centre stage. How many times do I need to witness the boring sunflowers of Van Gogh? Don't get me wrong, I will observe the original if it was in front of me, but the copies are unimaginative and dull. You are not an artist if "sunflowers" is your only inspiration.

Next is the line of triers, different from those who have the technique but no personality. These are the group that art is therapy. They will never sell their work, but they don't do it for that, they use creativity to pacify themselves, similar to my screaming, I suppose. Perhaps why I don't mind encouraging them, I get them, and I assume they try to understand me, but I do make it difficult. I am naturally remote from other people, not enigmatic, I don't draw people in with some tortured soul complex. I don't know what it is, I just sometimes miss those cues, where someone wants to continue a conversation, and I walk off having answered the question asked.

Mine is at the back, for a good reason. In the hope that most of the disinterested alumni leave before they see it. My musing was based on experience and observation, proper technique mixed with satire, that was my art. It's a jock and cheerleader, stood back to back in one of those smug poses they do for the school paper. Pom-pom in the air and on the hip, full of school colours of blue, white and gold, lettered jacket's and "go team" bravado. I was trying to capture that delusional team spirit pose, the one given without question. Only the cheerleader is nine months pregnant, her top rolled up over her extended belly. The womb is anatomical with a baby waving a flag saying "foetal alcohol syndrome". The Jock is losing his hair, a similar size extended belly with a bottle in one hand and a spliff between his lips. His flag says "Go alcoholism."

Everyone in the art class laughed when they saw it, which wasn't my intention. I wanted to provoke a genuine discussion. I hate Jocks and Cheerleaders because they make my life a misery, but I know they won't define it. Much against my own judgement I pity them, this is the best time of their lives, everything after this will be shit. I can't imagine what that must feel like, to know you are living your best years before life has really begun. That is the beauty of the hierarchy, they don't know, their ignorance protects them from the joke. Is that why we are encouraged to fall at their feet like they are demi-gods, so they have at least one memory of being valued. I also enjoy pointing out the hypocrisy that these giants who are lorded as something social and physical specimens to be admired. Regularly drink too much, smoke too much, break the law and can often be found committing unprotected fornication. Perhaps I should have painted the sexual health clinic in the background for additional perspective.

"John, you came." The creaky voice of my mentor rings across the hall. He had a habit of doing that, he was a quiet man in one to one discussion, but anytime he was surprised the whole world had to be alerted. I cringed and hid a little until he got closer.

"Hi, Mr Matthews" I awkwardly responded.

"I am sorry your piece is back here," He said, slapping my shoulder. "If it were up to me, it would be front and centre, but I like employment." He laughed at his own joke. I should encourage him more but he always gives me the impression that he conforms to others because it’s easier. Yet aren't we forever taught that the right thing isn't always the easiest. How am I meant to push myself to greatness when I am surrounded by people that present themselves as the complete opposite. I don't mean to be hard on him, as I said, he is the only person that appears to see me, and to a certain extent, I see him which is probably why I am driven to shake him back to life.

"I want you to stay here and explain your piece to the alumni." He said proudly. I didn't think it needed much explaining. Isn't art meant to be subjective, good art doesn't require a blub of what the artist was thinking.

"You're setting me up for a beating if you want me to stand here and explain this." I point dementedly at my work, I now feel overwhelmed, like someone is about to read my diary and I can't stop them. Why did I have to be provocative, I could have done Sunflowers, I would have done them the best.

I hover for an hour, as suspected, not many breach the last line of respectable and come to view the actual art. I stand next to Bridget, named after Bardot. She tells multiple people daily as though by sharing a name with an actress instils her with an artistic flair. I don't have the heart to tell her it's spelt Bridgette and not Bridget. That doesn't seem to matter anymore, the spelling of names being accurate to the person or object they are named after. Dylan Thomas is an admirable poet, Rage, Rage against the dying of the light. Yet this school can lay claim to three Dylan's, none of which are spelt, Dylan. In our pursuit to be individuals we forget the importance of history and time. Though who am I to talk, my name is John, I come from a long line of John's, we are neither outstanding or original.

I digress, Bridget is a goth, which irks me slightly. Not that I take issue with our dark overlords, more I sense we should be friends. She dyes her hair black, whitens her face, applies thick eyeliner and black lipstick. The cutest studs in her ears, nose and lip. I feel we match somehow, like a pair out of happy families, the goth family but we don't. It is different, aesthetically changing yourself to appear a certain way, takes more time and has more meaning to the person. I am not a goth; I am just pale with black hair, and while I have experimented with black eyeliner, it doesn't define me. I often wonder if her disdain is that I don't have to try and she has to put so much effort into it, I think she might be blonde under the blackness. I am genetically predisposed to the existence she wishes to live. It is strange to presume that someone envy's my existence, but I am ninety percent sure she does.

"I can guess who the inspiration for this was." His voice was drawl, with Southern twang annoyingly seductive without even trying. It sends a tingling sensation up the back of my neck. I always find that feeling weird, it's not sexual, believe me. My sixty-year-old, bald English teacher has the same effect when reading poetry. It almost like an unknown sense, your body expressing contentment or security. I freeze, my unintended muse was viewing the outcome.

"No..." I stagger my response. "It's generic, a social take on the undercurrent realities of student life." I sound like a C, I don't like the word as it is derogatory and empowers the patriarchy to treat women as less, but I do defiantly sound like one.

"Is that so, if I can offer an opinion." I have the courage to face him now. Arthur Morgan, the Quarterback, the annoyingly attractive, annoyingly competent individual that transferred two years ago from the South and the whole school instantly fell in love. I didn't fall like everyone else, I am not gay, or at least I don't think I am, I am not really sure how you're supposed to tell. I don't get turned on by ordinary things, like porn or celebrities. It's not visual, it's the feeling. I masturbate more to words out of books than I do to anything graphic. It's like words can be taken and filtered through my own imagination, create my own image. As soon as it is someone else's visual interpretation, then it loses potency. Like when you have read a character in a book, in your mind they are blond-haired and blue-eyed, and later the film is released, and the actor has brown hair and brown eyes. It’s stupid really how can the director take the constructed human in my head and make him just for me out of pre-existing humans that can act and were born the right time twenty years ago. That's why I don't watch films anymore, not the ones from books, they leave me unfulfilled.

I nod to his request in the hope that it is delivered with the thought and care his natural tones lend it to. I have heard him on occasion joking with his teammates, he is sarcastic, sometimes how he says things sounds like he is taking the piss out of them, they are just too stupid to realise. I kind of respect him a little for that, the way he can hide behind it all but freely speak his mind. Confident no one will realise what he actually means. He doesn't sound sarcastic tonight, not hurtful or cruel, he looks as if he genuinely wants to present his feelings on the matter, which is great because I want my art to invoke emotion.

"I think the smiles on their faces mean they are ignorant of their existence." He sucks his teeth as though pondering, its forced, he is already sure of what he wants to say. "I can assure you, every day I think about how I might fail, not get to college or have a short career and find that football was all I am good for."

"It's not you," I say in feigned protest. "Visually, it might be modelled on you, but we all draw from those around us, it is hard to construct something from obscurity." I run my hands through my hair, a tell I am thinking hard. "Mr Matthew's says draw what you know." I bite my lip, hoping that was enough to appease him.

"I don't mind being the vessel for your creativity." He says in humbly, nor arrogant, not any publicity is good publicity. More curious, that I have potentially captured his own fears, that I have seen him. "It's just a bit postmodern." I can feel my eyebrows rise up my forehead, unable to hide my surprise that he can offer up a comment. I smile, can he defend it, he can tell from my expression I want him to continue.

"Well, we just run them to the abortion clinic before they get in that state." He says dryly. An audible gasp alerts us to our conversation not as private as we thought, Bridget, has the fiercest killer eyes aimed straight at him. A streak of red crosses his cheeks, then he leans in. "Of course, that was a joke."

I laugh a ridiculous girlish whine that makes my own cheeks turn red from embarrassment. I never wanted to be cool or popular. Yet, under Arthur's gaze, I also didn't want to appear unhinged or desperate.

"Post-truth, speak a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth." He said without hesitation. "You should explore that in your art" I smiled moronically. How I dreamed of having such a conversation, intellectual and more profound than the visual and into context. Faced with such a conversation and I just grin, what an idiot, missed the cue, again.

"Next time I am your muse, make my nose a bit smaller" He tipped a nod in my direction, skirted around Bridget and carried on down the hall. I don't take the comment as vanity, more self-deprecation. Arthur Morgan appeared to possess an awareness of himself, not how others saw him, not the star Quarterback that all the girls fell over to be with. He saw himself as a potential failure, a washout, living a life he didn't want to live with an oddly shaped nose. The night was that moment alone, a few more drifted by, made some strange faces as though they were appreciative of my efforts and then it ended. All I could think about was Arthur Morgan agreeing to be my muse.

Chapter Text

My alarm goes off at 6 am every morning. I wake up have the same breakfast, go for the same 5k run, say morning to the same like-minded weirdos that follow their own routes that intersect with mine. I sometimes wonder what I would do if one of them went missing, would I worry, try and find them? What if they had an accident and I was the only one that could save them? I don't know if it is reasonable to contemplate such ideas if everyone thinks that way or is just me? Are these feelings rational, am I arrogant, have I got a saviour complex?

After my run, I shower and get ready for school. I don't speak to anyone for the first three hours of the day. My parents are dead, they died tragically two years ago, a car accident. Although, I am sure anyone who dies before sixty-five is technically a tragedy, gone before their time. I got shipped out to live with some obscure uncle I never met or heard of. He is rich, which should help, but it doesn't. Dutch, stupid name, is some sort of oil tycoon big wig, it means I live alone most of the time. Not that I mind, Dutch is rather bombastic and preachy. I pretend to listen when he tells me the worth of a man is through his actions, the killer instinct that got him to the top. I suspect he is a psychopath; I tell the school therapist about him, but she always shuts the conversation down. I am here for you, not him, I sure that sentiment works for others. If she is really interested in safeguarding my mental health, I am sure checking I don't live with a psychopath should probably be at the top of the list.

The first lesson is maths, which I detest, too logical for my disposition. See, I understand the practical application of maths. I know angles for pool and equations for calculating, angle, speed velocity against the prevailing wind if I need to kick a goal. However, ask me what 25x37 is or Pi or Algebra then I am just not interested, it makes me feel stupid. The whole of human existence has managed to understand maths to a high school level, then there is me, the dunce who is failing. They did suggest I get a tutor or ask one of the smarter kids to help me. I considered it and then thought against, I would rather fail quietly than expose myself to the ridicule of the smart kids.

I see that kid John in the hall on the way to the next lesson. Bill, the all muscle no brain blocker pushes him against the locker. The smashing sound of human on tin rings out around the corridor and roll of laughter permeates down the hallway. I consider going to him, to check he is alright, the closer I get the heat of social suicide rides up my neck, and I just nod ambivalent towards him. I wish I could surpass the nonsense and just do what I want to do. John seemed alright, his art was interesting, it was an attempt to provoke, to the morons it was aimed at he was entirely right. I got the sense he was worried that I would be insulted; if you got half the sense to realise how contemptible life is, then you have to be smart. Although, slightly stupid to aggravate boys twice the size that already hated him. I felt drawn to John, someone who didn't understand self-preservation or didn't care, reckless, creative, funny. I want to say enigmatic, I suspect that is my own construct, if I got to know him, he would probably reveal ninety percent of who he was. I generally read people well, understand their motivations, and why they behave the way they do, read between the lines and see the person.

Again maths, not my subject but I get stats. Ten percent of the population is homosexual, I am, not that anyone is aware. Homo Quarterback is a dichotomy regardless of the promotional literature encouraging being out and proud in the nurse's office. My game, the one I play alone, is trying to guess who is LGBTQ+. There are the obvious, the ones who came out of their own volition or those who were outed unceremoniously by a treacherous lover. That still leaves around eight percent that are hiding. I don't do it in some twisted way to out others or searching for some ass to play with. I just feel lonely and want someone to talk to on a genuine level. Talk to someone as I am and not who I pretend to be. I am dreaming, high-school is not the place to go on a journey of self-discovery.

It was more comfortable in Texas, we lived in the city so I could hide out of sight of my peers. Here everyone knows everyone, they all see me play in the home games. The quarterback caught in a gay club would be the headline in the local paper if I ever dared myself to go. The only action I get is either with my own hand or searching stuff on the internet. Usually paid for on Dutch's credit card, he never mentions it.

The rest of the day passes without incident, and I join the guys after practice. They usually go out to the burger joint or try and get into a bar. I always point out how hopeless that is when we are dressed in our uniforms. If they had any sense, they wouldn't be footballers. I don't often hang-out, preferring my own company over theirs. Still, I have a strange feeling at the moment, it comes and goes, a wave of crippling solitude. That is why I went to the art show last night, not to view art, I just wanted to talk to someone.

Instead, they decide to go for a walk, which is highly unusual but quite a welcome change. We walk miles, along the tracks. I was hoping the conversation would be more stimulating, we discuss the upcoming game, an exam and girls. Luckily for me, one of the cheerleaders, Abigail, was a dyke, as she calls herself. We identified our predictions early on and agreed to have a pretend casual relationship. At parties, we have a flirt and disappear, mainly just for a chat, but everyone else thinks it's the other, which is the intention. She is a good friend, she got a girlfriend recently, which is why I am probably feeling lonely. The guys aren't fulfilling my needs much. I almost think of quitting when Micah, the most sadistic of all of us shouts:

"Is that John Marston?" I see a whip of black mass. I hadn't noticed him, but he heard Micah and was probably assessing how in the shit am I. That was what I was doing on his behalf.

"Did you hear about his little picture? Piss-taking little runt." There was a hive mentally to the boys, especially when they were baying for blood. They moved as one unit towards John, who edged further up the embankment, he was almost vertical.

"Johnny boy, come down here," Micah said, putting on his butter wouldn't melt voice on. It was apparent to everyone; it was a ruse. I could see John wasn't falling for it. I shot him a quick glance and the slightest shake of my head, to confirm not to play and I suppose to acknowledge I would manage this. 

"Come on, Johnny, I want to discuss your art." John shifted across I was unsure what he was planning. He wasn't going anywhere; he was trapped under the bridge, and there was no way he was going to outrun the football team.

"Come on Micah, he's not worth it." I offer in a way that will break the stand-off, it isn't acknowledged, and I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. I didn't mean John was worthless, I am just trying to protect him. I don't particularly want to see him bleed. Although dying for one's art is probably a sentiment he could relate to, it wasn't happening on my watch.

"Johnny, you can't stay up there all night," Micah called once again. John until this point had remained silent, not willing to incite any further.

"Fuck off Micah, I can and I will." His voice was scratchy, relenting to the inevitable. Two of the guys Bill and Javier tore up the embankment, grabbed his feet and used their weight to pull him back down. To be fair one of them could have done it, there wasn't much to John, his clothes kind of hung off his bones. He appeared to be all jaunty angles and sharp edges, not an inch of fat on him. I suppose that was the first moment that made me think that maybe there was something. I suppressed it immediately, if, in a million years, I lived in a world that would accept me as gay at high-school. It would still not allow a relationship between John and me, there was the whole social hierarchy thing. I was on or near the top and John was pretty much the bottom, not rock bottom. Still, he was weird enough to be considered ambiguous, socially ambiguous, the thought made me smile, which was completely inappropriate. Micah landed the third blow, this time to his ribs, the wind escaped from him, similar to a balloon being released without the knot. It was enough, I allowed enough, and now it would be deemed reasonable for me to step in.

"Stop now." I catch Micah's wrist before it landed. Bill and Javier had John pinned, managing to add a few blows before I growl. We have a strange dynamic, I don't believe any of them willingly do as I command, they usually shoot insults at me. For some unknown reason, they are intimidated by me. I have the power, yet why they have this impression is entirely unfathomable. I don't fight, barely shout or raise my voice. It's almost that they see something in me that I don't see myself, an inner psychopath, if they push hard enough, I will release him. I don't know if this would be that occasion, if they kept hitting John would I snap, probably not. As much as it irks me to say, John must have known there would be consequences to his artistic endeavours.

They release him, he bends over double. Naturally, I want to kneel and check he is alright, that would just usher in torment and abuse neither of us would wish to receive. They spit on him, which really riles me, my eyes narrow in disgust and I push them away from him. I can abide fights; we are testosterone-filled Neanderthals after all. Spitting is degrading for both parties, disgraces the victim and pretty much confirms my teammates belong in a barn. I lead them away, hearing the soft whimpers of John crying, I hope he isn't hurt too badly, hope he can get home. 

When we get back to town, I say my goodbyes, remembering why I choose not to hang out with these guys. Micah snarls, his top lip curls malevolently, the pathetic moustache he has been trying to grow all year shines in the street light. "That's what I don't get about you Morgan, you cast a long shadow for such a tiny tree."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" It was rhetorical, I didn't care what it meant, it came from Micah, so it was either vindictive or malicious. I grip my fist; how easy it would be to wipe that smirk from his face. Instead, I throw two fingers in the air and walk away, listening to the howls and hoots as they mock me.

It only takes twenty minutes to run back to John. I am torn, part of me wants him not to be there. I had no desire to apologise for the idiots or make excuses for them. I am also a little scared to open the door to a friendship, I suspect I am craving. The other part of me just needs to know he is ok, that they didn't hurt him too much. It’s dark by the time I near the bridge, my throat retches with bile as I see the black mass of John still in the same place, he hadn't moved, which was worse than I could have imaged.

Chapter Text

I am dying, ok that might be slightly melodramatic, it still hurts, badly. It's strange when you have been punched in multiple locations, it stings all over, but at the same time, it is almost so much that the pain becomes tolerable. I think my pride hurts more. The thought of my battered face being bragged about by those bastards at school. Their cruel laughter already ringing in my ears, mockingly retelling my punishment for being a smart-ass.

I still refuse to move, where would I go, I am not likely to receive sympathy at home, hell he might add more bruises for being a wimp. Could go back to school, hope Mr Matthew's is still there, he knows about Dad and did say if I needed him, I just had to ask. It’s dark, the chances he would be there are highly unlikely. For once I wish a stranger would walk by, that is the problem with my remote lifestyle no one knows I am in trouble.

Arthur was there, I tried to steal the odd glance, not making it apparent to the others. He is a cool character, played it like an expert. I worried that he was going to be gallant and save me like a damsel in distress. That would have been moronic, I can take a kicking, what I can't do is be saved. What he did was sensible and pragmatic, he let them have their fun and intervened before it got too messy. Well messy for them anyway, school is a strange place, if I was an adult this would be assault, they would be arrested. In school, the odd punch and kick are expected, character building. Anything beyond that becomes problematic.

"Oh my God, John, are you ok?" That Southern drawl is like music to my ears, he came back, it was a thought I hadn't even considered.

"Mmmm" I groan, I want to reassure him that I am alright, I took my beating like a pro, who am I kidding, every muscle aches and I think my ribs are broken.

"Can you get up?" he hovers over me, I sense the heat from him, his body radiating, he not only came back, but he also ran back. I offer him a hand, whining, he wraps his arms around me, lifting me from the ground as if I was air, manoeuvring me over to the embankment. I am sitting now, it doesn't appear as bad as I thought; it was pain, but in all honesty, dad does worse. I thought maybe the attention Arthur was now giving me was acting as a painkiller.

He cups his hands around my face and lifts it slightly to the light. "I think your nose is broken, but you will live." I really do not care about my nose, noses mend. His hands, large and rough touching my face as though it was china, was all I could focus on, it created that sensation again, the tingling down my neck.

He pulls up my shirt, which makes me flinch, unexpected as it was. Is he this thorough with all his patients? He touches around the bruised bits. I jump slightly, his hands on my body, tender.

"Sorry, are my hands cold?" He thinks I am flinching because of the temperature. My eyes blow, I am being touched, a part of my body that no one except my mother and maybe some doctors have placed their hands. That was before I became sexualised, this is my first experience of human touch that makes me feel... and then I realise my cock has just joined the party. I pull my shirt down over my knees, which makes him pull away confused.

"We should get you to the hospital." He said, his tone was less inflected, he appeared wounded by my sudden shyness. He thought I was pushing him away, which I was, just not for the reasons he believed.

"No, it's fine, I will be fine," I say, hospital and I usually don't mix, too many questions. It's not that I wouldn't love to get away from my dad, I would, however, care homes full of abandoned kids was not what I would call a suitable alternative.

"You are pretty messed up; I think it might be internal bleeding." I think for a moment when someone says internal bleeding, your mind automatically goes into the panic mode. The monkey is out of the cage, screaming we are going to die, then the human side of me comes along and puts my monkey back in his cage. He doesn't see blood under the skin, he is seeing older bruises, purple and blue, similar but not the same.

"No, that's just old bruises," I confirm trying to alleviate some of the concern from his face. Even frowning, he is attractive.

"They attacked you before?" It's an obvious question, I suppose. How easy it would be to lie and say yes, more comfortable than admitting the truth. I look up, catch his gaze, I offer up my soul, wishing him to understand without having to speak the words. He nods lightly, he gets it. He offers a hand which I accept, and we gingerly make our way back to town.

"It would be quicker if I carried you." He offers after about twenty minutes of an excruciatingly slow pace.

"Please leave me with some dignity." I plead. I couldn't risk a particular part of my anatomy being anywhere near his body or in his line of sight.

We manage to get back to school and his car, it's a 66 Ford Shelby, completely updated with all mod-cons, the shell is original and mint, it is a gorgeous car. Not that I am into that type of thing, cars I mean. I can appreciate craftsmanship, the love and attention that has gone into the restoration. I can also tell that he loves it, that he cares for it, cleans it rigorously, it is spotless inside and out.

He drives me home, and we sit outside. Truth is I meant to get out of the car as soon as he pulled over. Then I realise the lights are on, which means Dad is home and probably drinking. I usually try and get home by ten at the latest, that is when his shift finishes, how he keeps his job I do not know. If I am in my bedroom, I can lock the door, so he can't disturb me. If I am out by seven, then I don't seem him at all. One month is the longest I went without seeing him. Can you believe it, I ended that record because I actually missed him, how stupid of me, the following night he hospitalised me. I don't know if it is my hesitation or reticence that allows the next thing to happen. It is the first time in my life that I am glad I miss social cues, if I identified how awkward it was that I hadn't jumped out of the car then I may have jumped out of the car.

Arthur drives off without saying a word, I think to ask where we are going, but a part of me doesn't care, anywhere is preferable to home. It's exciting or exhilarating, plays into my fantasy of escape, can he sense my need to run, does he have the same need. Is that something we share.

We drive back over the tracks and up to the wealthy houses on the hill, the gated community. They are fucking amazing, big and white, with huge glass panels and electronic rolling wooden gates, security cameras everywhere. I can't believe people live in such luxury; they actually have this. Arthur clicks a button on his dash and the gate rolls back, and Oh my god, he lives in a palace. Warm lights bathe the drive and the house, I always assumed celebrities lived here, not ordinary people and not Arthur.

"Your parents won't mind me staying over?" I thought it was a considerate question to ask. I didn't want to walk into to heaven and find myself unceremoniously booted out again, sent back to my hell.

"No, they won't mind, they are dead." I understand immediately what reaction he is expecting, an apology, pity and platitudes. People think it's a blunt way to say it, somehow it is meant to be released gently with flowery language and soft landings. I get it, rip the plaster off, get it out the way. It isn't delivered for an emotional response just presented as a fact.

"My mum is dead, cancer, and I wish my dad was dead." I regret it as soon as I say it, it appears ungrateful, I suppose I at least I have a parent, as fucking useless as he is. I hope Arthur doesn't think I am playing a game of tragic comparisons; whose life is worse.

He smiles, its weak, sad. God, I find myself wishing I could make the pain go away. I mean I have a fair amount of mental anguish; I suppose, I think I deserve it, not deserve but I am sure I am who I was always meant to be. I was born to be a tragic, tortured soul, it's my stick. Whereas Arthur, he was meant to be happy, everything about him speaks of kindness and softness, those types of people shouldn't feel pain, they are not built to handle it. They wear it too profoundly, carry it around. I concede that as shit as things are now, I still have hope, one day all this will be a distant memory.

He gets out of the car, slides over the bonnet like a dork. Then laughs at himself for doing it, he knows I am studying him, I want to call him a moron, I don't, he has been too perfect for me to berate him. Then he opens the door and helps me out. I am blown away with my own compliance to it all. How his friends are responsible, how I let him touch me repeatedly. I have effectively been kidnapped, my permission wasn't sought before he brought me here and once again, he is holding me, helping me to walk to the door. I should tell him I could walk on my own, that his support isn't required, but I kind of want to be in his arms.

His house is impressive, chromatic, whitewashed, a show home. Almost uninhabited in its immaculately presented. It is open plan, a large island separating the kitchen and living space. There is some slightly questionable art on the walls, I can't wait to discuss what was going through his mind when he picked them.

"They weren't my choices." He grumbled. Fuck, he can read my mind, that might be really hot. I smile and think of the dirtiest thought available.

"What are you smiling at?" His eyes rake over me. Sending a jolt of electricity down my spine. God, he could control everything, mind, body and soul.

"Just checking you can't read minds," I say playfully, almost flirting as I return my observation to the terrible art.

"I am just good at reading people," He offers in the way of an explanation. "You like art; therefore, you will hate that monstrosity." He places an arm around my back, I melt into his touch, I might have purred, I just hope it was in my head. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up."

I want to protest, ask him to point me to the bathroom so I can sort myself out. I seem to have lost my reason, my fight. I am putty in his hands, all bashful, supple and goddamn purring. He is using witchcraft or voodoo or something, he has put a spell on me to make me acquiesce to his every command.

Upstairs was a long hall with doorways, he guided me into the main bathroom which contained a walk-in shower that could fit five and a roll-top bathtub, with his and her sinks. Its was all marble and copper, the type of bathroom you see in magazines. It was almost the size of my whole house.

He perched me on the end of the bath and ran the hot water tap over a washcloth. Returning, he kneeled, which was pretty much the end of my ability to process a coherent thought. My cock twitched again in my jeans. Call it confidence or stupidity, I just could not care anymore if he noticed. There was nothing in the way he acted that suggested he would mock me for it. Everything he was doing, saying, was burning my blood, making me feel alive. It was the equivalent of being slightly drunk, not out of control, off your face, just buzzed.

Then he washed my face with all the care and grace of a wild cat mauling an antelope. "Sorry" he apologised as I recoiled. "I am not gifted with delicate hands."

"I can do it myself." I tried to take control.

"I want to do it." He commanded. It made my skin tingle. He was smooth and slightly dominant in the same breath. I could only dream.

Then he managed to be softer, delivering gentle stokes removing the congealed blood under my nose, around my lips and chin. It allowed me to observe him, closer and in the light. He was chiselled, his cheekbones high; almost appeared too high. Unnaturally stretching his skin, colouring the flesh pinker than the rest of his tanned complexion. My observations were disrupted by his gaze, his eyes were cornflower blue, intense, with a pronounced ring of almost black around the outer Iris. They are more captivating than my muddy brown pools, what I could show those eyes.

I feel myself leaning in, his lips like magnets to my own. They are so full and moist. I can't believe how out of control I am. I was doubting if I was even gay the day before and now here I am leaning in to kiss a man, not even the significance of a man, I was aiming for my first kiss. Then whoosh, he was up without pause.

"I will get you something to wear to bed." He mumbled, leaving me teetering on the side of the bath wondering where the support of his muscles had gone.

"I have a pyjama set, but I think the trousers are too big for you or I have an old t-shirt." I stretch out my legs, trying to stop the shaking. I think I have been rejected, but now I am meant to decide which of his clothes I am supposed to wear to bed, whose bed has yet to be mentioned. It's not a hard decision, really, still, I take my time, studying his awkwardness towards me. The pyjamas are out, I don't dig tartan or buttoned shirts. I actually sleep naked, that is probably not appropriate in someone else's house, between someone else's sheets.

"T-shirt" I hold my hand out, he throws it at me and leaves me to change. It's long, it rests below my hips. It is a band shirt, black but faded. The thought that this has been against his skin makes my heat rise. I leave my boxers on for a bit of extra coverage. I emerge from the bathroom self-conscious, trying to pull the material of the shirt down further without stretching the material.

"You ready for bed" he calls from what I think is his bedroom, it's dark, just the light of a computer screen flickering in the background. Unlike the rest of the house, there is clutter, unidentifiable in the gloom to what it is. He emerges from darkness and motions me back down the corridor.

"This is the guest room" he opens the door and lets me enter. Flicks the light switch behind me. "See you in the morning." Closing the door, I huff in frustration, not the night I was expecting.

Chapter Text

What the fuck am I doing? I press my body against my bedroom door, trying to stop him from entering, not that he is trying, I just can't risk seeing him at the moment. Especially in that T-shirt, I suppose I wasn't expecting so much skin, milk-white and lean, thank God he left his boxers on.

I am rock hard, he didn't notice. I put his own down to adrenaline, it happens all the time in sport, not on the field but back in the showers it not unusual to need to knock one out.

I peel myself from the door when I hear the click of his light switch. I jump on my bed, instantly regretting it when my wood gets crushed against the mattress. I muffle the yelp of pain in my pillow and hope he didn't hear it. When the shock subsides, I lie there trying to force sleep, it doesn't work. I just end up restlessly revolving from position to position, like a rotating chicken, as one irrational thought after another invades my mind. 

Shit, I brought him home, I let him in my house and washed his face. I think he wanted to kiss me; he was hovering with expectation. It must be shock, mixed with gratitude. I suppose if you don't get much tenderness in your life, it can be confusing when you do receive some, he would have regretted it. It would be so inappropriate, he's vulnerable, he might not see it in himself, but he is, I can’t take advantage of him. We didn't discuss it, but there is obviously something going on at home. Most kids in anger wish their parents were dead, those kids are idiots. They have no idea what it actually feels like to have dead parents, how disorienting it is. When John said it, I believed him, there was a coldness in his voice. Perhaps that is why he has no sense of self-preservation. How can the world hurt him any more than the pain delivered by an abusive parent, it’s the ultimate betrayal, poor kid. At least I have good memories of my parents, they weren't perfect by any one's standards, I would still give everything to have them back.

Having a solid erection and getting emotional about your dead parents is not something I would recommend. Seriously, it is a cross over that should never happen. I huff, there is nothing I can do about my dead parents, so jerking off it is. Don't judge me, I have got to be up in six hours and this bad boy ain't going down. I roll over and slide onto my computer chair. I have to make a deal with myself, porn can sometimes be like Netflix, you want to watch something but then spend an hour scrolling through everything and end up putting the first thing you saw. I haven't got time to be a connoisseur tonight, just click on the first thing and go for it. 

Typical, Emo Twinks, could easily be John, I ponder finding something else for a Nano-second, this needs sorting, immediately. I pull open the drawer, rummage around, flip the cap and get on with it. I start the mantra, don't think about John, don't think about John, don't think about John. Yet every time I look at the screen, the cute Emo kid is on his knees, eyes looking up, cock in mouth and I think about John. What he would look like with my cock in his mouth, I would be so sweet to him, brush his hair out from his face so I could see all the angles in his sharp features, give him words of encouragement, tell him how good he was making me feel. All while consuming those big black eyes, full of doubt, fear and suspicion. I wouldn't expect him to feel those things, I hope he wouldn't ever feel those things towards me, I just love that expression, his angry gaze it so hot it's going to make me...

"Arthur, I need.... shit." I jump about a mile, the clatter of my keyboard and mouse hitting the floor cant deafen the pounding of my heart in my ears or the sound of the Twink boy crying in orgasm as he is fucked in the ass. I reach for a pillow from the bed to try and cover the mess I just made. By the time I get my bearings, he has gone. I sit there shaking, the sticky lube and warm cum resting in my lap. This is turning into one of those nights that could be in a what not to do manual. Do not kidnap a strange boy from your school, do not get a hard-on when you see him wearing your t-shirt and do not under any circumstances jerk off to porn when the same said boy has free rein to walk around your house. Should have tied him up, not appropriate.

What am I supposed to do now, do I leave him, clearly mortified, thinking I am a pervert? I don't know why he would think that? I am a pervert, but it was some harmless porn, not the hard-core stuff I have watched from time to time. My ass is stuck to the chair, he clearly wanted something, what if he wanted to talk or tell me something personal, what am I supposed to say to him, what do you want? Then he will freeze up because whatever it was, a request to confide or an invitation to confess. I can't see him overcoming the image of me in such a compromising position long enough to speak.

I grumble I feel shame, I get embarrassed, I burn with self-consciousness, I am like everyone else in this world. Where I do differ is, I suppress those feelings. I will be ashamed and embarrassed, but if someone needs something, no matter how awkward that makes me feel, I cannot deny them the opportunity to ask for it. I have yet to find a scenario where I have rejected such a request.

I knock on his bedroom door, leaning against the frame, waiting for an answer. It doesn't come and doubt creeps in, whether I am doing the right thing, his silence is a sign he doesn't want to see me. Then I pivot again, so what if he doesn't want to see me, I need to see him. Even if he reacts badly to the intrusion, I need to know where I stand.

"John, I..." Shit, he is doubled over, crying, it wasn't that horrific, was it? Does he think I am going to murder him because he caught me jerking off? Then it hits me like a thunderbolt. He didn't catch me jerking off. He found the all-star Quarterback, the most popular kid in school, jerking off to gay porn.

"Arthur..." he sobs. "It fucking hurts." A wave of relief quickly followed crippling fear washes over me. I can be completely self-absorbed, much to my own disdain, I have to remind myself the world doesn't revolve solely around me. John didn't need me for some soul searching or confessions, he didn't intentionally interrupt my alone time. If anything, he actually hurried back to bed in pain because he invaded my privacy, much to his own detriment. If I convinced myself that he didn't want to see me, he could have been here all night in agony or worse. How the hell would I explain that kid beaten to death found in footballers house, it sends a shiver down my spine

"John, we need to go to the hospital," I say assertively determined he would not brush me off this time.

"No, I just need some pain killers" A sharp gasp leaves his lips. "It's just the adrenaline has worn off, and I am stiff."

Much against my better judgement, I believe him. I have had enough injuries to understand the initial pain subsides as the adrenaline kicks in, you can feel alright for hours. Then your body relaxes, and the discomfort comes back, different from the initial shock, still pain.

"Ok," I relent. "I will get painkillers, but I am staying here with you."

"What why?" he hesitates. I get it, he caught me jerking off so the last thing he probably wants it to share a bed.

"I am fucking terrified you are going to die in your sleep." My voice is hoarse, tinged with I suppose a bit much emotion. It's a bit too raw for me, revealing my irrational thoughts, my vulnerabilities. So, when he creases with laughter and then yelps with pain, I feel reassured I am in idiot.

"I am not going to die in my sleep, I promise." He says it softly like he understands my concerns. "You can sleep in here, as long as I get my painkillers." What a con-artist.

Downstairs I am rummaging through the draw of unused medicine. There is loads of it, I pull out a pack of ibuprofen and paracetamol, I find a box of Oxycontin I was given for an injury last year. I only took a few deciding the pain was worth abiding over a lifetime of drug addiction. That wasn't irrational in my mind, America consumes 90% of the world's opioids, we are 4.4% of the global population, addicts. I roll on my heels pondering what to do, I can't stand seeing him in agony, yet I don't want to set him up for a life of smack use. I grab all three packs and a roll of bandages, I can give him a choice, I suppose.

"Look, I got some Oxycontin, it worked for me, but I swear to god John, if in six months I find you trying to score this shit I will kill you myself." I am stern which makes him mouth I promise, I didn't mean to be that intimidating that he couldn't use speech.

"I got these bandages to wrap around your ribs." I dial my tone down a little, try to improve my bedside manner.

"What medical books you been reading, they don't bandage ribs anymore, idiot. For someone scared of my demise, you seem hell-bent on killing me." I raise an eyebrow. "I won't be able to breathe with bandages on." He takes the pill, and I throw the bandages to the side, a little hard, which makes me look slightly petulant, not my intention. I just hate him seeing me for what I am, a stupid idiot.

"How do you want to do this? Top and tail." He shifts, which suggests he thinks I need more space than I actually do.

"We ain't kids John, I am quite capable of lying next to you." I jump over him and take my place on the other side of the bed.

"Well, technically you would be lying next to me either way." He says sarcastically.

A moment's silence falls between us, and I am once again in the purgatory of my own mind. Unsure if this is what I want to do or if I am doing it out of an ill-conceived notion that it is the right thing to do.

He breaks the silence with a question that should be the easiest to answer, hell he knows the answer, I suspect he wants to hear it said to be sure. I admire his confidence and bravery for asking, it's blunt and to the point. It suggests that he gives absolutely no thought to the social conventions of high-school, which makes him even braver in my eyes.

"Are you gay?"

For the first time the whole night, I am reminded that we are not Arthur and John, two individuals, both with loss and pain in their lives. I am reminded of the social hierarchy that exists and where the power lies. It currently lies with me, I have the power, if I answer that question, it is then transferred to him. I think of those poor souls in school, the ones that thought they were safe to mess around with their best friends only to turn up to school on Monday and find it was the worst mistake of their lives. Don't get me wrong, I want to live in a world that everyone is free to be who they want to be, as long as it doesn't cause harm to others. But we don't live in that world, and there are too many malicious bastards that are only happy if someone is more miserable than they are. I would be the biggest scalp, no one would ever have fallen as far as me, I would probably have to transfer schools; if I managed to get out with my life. I can't imagine the team letting me walk away without a beating. All that testosterone focussed on me when they realise, they have been showing with a queer.

"Sorry you don't have to answer. I shouldn't have asked." He says, obviously the long silence needed filling. I do something to him that he did to me, I look at him, fix our eyes, with sorrow and pleading and begging. I want him to see me, the real me and I want him to know how terrifying that is for me. In turn, I want him to acknowledge how important it is that I am giving him something of me, something I have not given lightly. I want him to be gentle and understand my world and the implications for me if anyone, other than him, ever found out.

"I am a virgin." He offers, which I didn't expect and wasn't sure why that mattered. Well, it matters, it would be something I would have to be considerate over. The way he says it, it's like he thinks it's a failure on his part. I could never think of him as used and dirtied by another, I want his purity and his integrity.

"I know it's not the same, you go into school on Monday and tell everyone I am a virgin and they will be like duh, of course; he is who would touch that with a 10ft bargepole." I flinch he isn't beautiful, not classical in the looks department. The thought that no one would want to touch him or that he saw himself as grotesque is grossly unfair. I want to experience him; I find his jagged edges and his natural brood intense. He continues while I muse on those edges.

"It’s all I can offer in the way of solidarity. You might not know me that well, I just hope you have seen enough to guess that I don't betray confidences and I don't hurt friends. Not that I have any, if I did loyalty would be the most important quality I would offer."

My stomach turns with the sincerity, all my fears melt away because I had seen that in him, I could see he was kind and genuine and a little lost like me. All of this, helping him and bringing home, was me, the subconscious me, the real me who can read people and trust their intentions are good. I think I blush; I can feel that red heat tingling on my cheeks and neck, at least it is dark he can't possibly notice. What a boy, broken and abused, without a friend in the world and yet to me, he appears perfect, everything, confident, rebellious, supportive and without judgement, who wouldn't want to be his friend.

Now, what do we do?

Chapter Text

My eyes flicker as the rays of sunlight provide an unwelcome burn. My heart leaps in panic as I realise, I am not in my room. It takes a few moments for my brain to catch up with my body and remember where I am and why. Then I smile, god I smile the most presumptuous yearning smile, I almost laugh. It's like all my best days, the ones I remember with fondness and warmth were merely aperitifs', to the delicious courses that lay before me. Last night was the appetiser, we shared a bed, I could only dream of the entree. I didn't tell him I think I might be gay; it felt disingenuous when he was struggling to verbalise his truth. I am still not sure I am gay, for a while I suspected I was A-sexual, that the binary choice between man or woman was precisely that, binary. When faced with the decision, either, or, I would rather have neither. I know what you're thinking, that it's not A-sexual, it's bi-sexual. Even if you choose both, you would still have either one or the other another at any one time. Or carve out a very complicated and probably unworkable polyamorous existence. Honestly, A-sexual suited because deep down I just wasn't sure I could be bothered with any of it.

Lying in this bed, in this house the only label I would consider accurate is Arthur. I am not sexually attracted to women or men or anything in the spectrum of those two pillars. I am only sexually attracted to Arthur; I'm an Arthurian if you will. So, imagine my disappointment that the man I have created a whole new sub-genre of sexuality for is not lying next to me. His vigil of keeping me alive in the night obviously ended with sunrise.

I audibly groan trying to shuffle out of bed. My face feels sore, hamster cheeks and swollen eyes. I might need to play down my worship of Arthur; I can't really seduce him if my face is smashed-in. Who am I kidding, seduce, I am more likely to stare at my shoes and tell him I really fancy him like the socially awkward teenager I am. Then it hits me, he is gay, and he didn't say he was a virgin when I confessed. How can I seduce a man who has experience, has some concept of how he wants to be touched and how he chooses to touch? Is he really going to let an inexperienced runt anywhere near his erogenous zones?

I timidly descend the stairs expecting to find him, nothing. He might be in the shower; I couldn't recall the sound of water running. Perhaps he went to sleep in his bed. I hang onto the rail and consider ascending the stairs, my body tells me in spasms that we are not in the position to repeat the process, not yet anyhow.

Instead, I gingerly climb on one of the breakfast stools on the Island and rotate several times, expecting the childish play would usher his arrival. When I begin to feel sick, I stop. The first clue sits in front of me, a container of oatmeal oats, a jar of honey and a dirty bowl. Fuck, I am reverse Goldilocks, I have been sleeping in his bed, now I can eat his porridge. Except I hate oatmeal, I much prefer Captain Crunch, I know, I have the undeveloped pallet of a five-year-old. I suspect that my favourite brand of cereal doesn't exist in this house.

I do that thing that I always do when I am in someone else's house, and I can't fathom where things live, I snoop around. You always assume everyone is the same, coffee in the canister, bread in the bread bin, toaster next to the kettle. There is nothing on the work surfaces, which means I have to intrude and open cupboards. They are as minimalist as the rest of the house. If there is one ounce of credit, I can give to my dad he does feed me, it might be a diet of potato chips and TV dinners, but there is always something to eat.

I can't find coffee which sends a tremor through my blood. Addiction 101, if your body trembles at seeming denial, you know you're hooked. I pick up a pack of green tea infused with cranberry; I am not on my period so chuck it back in the cupboard. To distract myself from my caffeine addiction, I find bread, which means I am halfway to toast. Behind the bread is jam, weird, makes sense, I actually admire the system. Group food items that complement each other. I feel like a sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, even. Will the coffee be next to the milk in the fridge? Who puts coffee in the refrigerator? I am a young Sherlock Holmes, the theory was admiral; however, the milk lives alone, really alone, it's the only thing in there. Fancy owning a fridge that can fit two John Marston's and only having milk.

I finally find the toaster and a coffee machine with pod dispenser, how posh. I am about to sit and eat my hard-earned breakfast when the front door slams and I assume Arthur has returned.

"Oh, hello" A man similar height to Arthur but older and darker slides a duffle bag across the floor and enters the kitchen.

I can only assume the man lives here, but Arthur hadn't mentioned anyone else. I nod because words escape me. I mean whoever he is he has a key. Although I am shit at social cues, I am painfully aware I am a stranger sat in this man’s house in a t-shirt, legs on show, like I am some one-night stand that hasn't had the sense to leave.

"I'm Dutch." He holds out a hand. My hands are sticky with jam, I rub them into the t-shirt and offer my hand. It's a ridiculously firm handshake for breakfast, any handshake at breakfast is ridiculous.

"I'm John" I finally think to say. His moustache twitches and I feel like I have to justify my presence, but where do I begin.

"He didn't" Dutch makes a circling motion around his face. Which I think is a reference to my own, then I realise he checking, checking I am not a victim of Arthur's sadistic abuse. How many victims make themselves coffee and toast, and how can he believe that of Arthur! I frown and shake my head, hurt on Arthur's behalf.

He puts a pod in the coffee machine and turns, spreading his arms across the span of the kitchen top. He is a strange-looking man, a blue pinstriped shirt with a red paisley silk waistcoat. He has gold sovereign rings on three of his fingers, he appears to fashion himself on a mobster from the '60s, a thick cigar between his lips and he would be the image of a boss. The machine steams filling the air with a whining noise that puts me on edge.

"Arthur is a weird fish" the words hang in the air, a rhetorical statement I want to rile against. Despite the initial wrench of anger, I ponder the words and fall in love with them. A weird fish, I am a weird fish. All these politically correct words that never spoke to my predilection and here is a man, a man I can sense I wouldn't trust or spend too much time in his company. And yet, in very few words, he has gifted me a description of me that I couldn't give to myself, weird fish.

"I don't mean to be cruel, I get it, can’t experience as much as he has and be normal." Dutch takes a sip of his coffee, a residue of foam sticks to his moustache.

"Just be careful, I don't mind what you do, I don't want trouble at my door." It appears a reasonable request, yet the hairs on my arms are vertical, it's subtle, but it is a warning or a veiled threat.

"It's not like that, sir, I mean we aren’t..." I should push harder, explain nothing happened, but that doesn't mean I didn't want it too or hope that something will happen. I would appear a liar if I protested innocence now and later was found compromised.

With that, the door slams again. This time it has to be Arthur, I bend unnaturally over the chair to catch sight, to be sure. He is an image of glistening sweat and tight throbbing muscle. He is wearing a grey tank top with a white long sleeve t-shirt. A massive sweat patch fans out from his neck and down his chest and two patches under his arms. His hair, set in a quiff of glistening wetness, his forehead gleams, and there is a starkness in his features. He appears to have left every ounce of humanity on his run, and all that is left is the taut muscle and primitive anger. There was too much sensation, spasms ran through my back from the stretch, my ribs cried, my cock hardened and my mind, my mind imagined licking every last drop of sweat from his body. I was actually grossed out at the possibility, or that it turned me on so much. What was that, the want and desire to do something that seemed beyond perverse. It's like I have these thoughts and they make my body pop with ecstasy and then the dirty guilt washes over me. Quickly followed by fear, fear of asking, fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, only to find I don't like it, a contrary tease. I read up on it, on the internet, it appears an open mind, trust, boundaries and a loving partner is all that is required to explore one's deviancy. It feels like an impossible checklist, one that if achieved the last thing you would want to do is introduce deviancy. You might lose the person you cherished because they can't accept you, cruel world, isn't it.

I watch as he enters the kitchen, expecting him to stiffen to the presence of Dutch, a wave of shame or embarrassment that I have been discovered. He doesn't pause for one moment, pops out his earphones, tinny thrashing metal tinkles out of the buds, and he walks to the fridge takes out the milk and guzzles from the bottle.

"Right, I got the red-eye so need so sleep." Dutch's cup chinks on the granite surface, he picks up his bag and starts his ascent up the stairs, I fell a moment of solidarity, stairs hurt when you’re tired or in pain.

"You around this weekend?" Arthur asks. It's strange, not that I can claim to know Arthur, I want to and feel we are compatible in our spirit. That is probably why I see the question differently from the respondent. I can see a glint of hope in his eyes, hoping the answer would be yes.

"No, back out this evening" Dutch proclaims. "You will have the place to yourself." There is nothing more I would want, a whole weekend to explore each other. Yet, that wasn't what Arthur was asking for, he didn't want to spend his weekend exploring me, he wanted to spend the weekend with this man, Dutch. God, does he love him? Am I the third wheel in some sort of Daddy-Stepson live-in porno? Is that why he warned me, jealousy, he wanted Arthur to himself. It didn't sound that way, Dutch appeared more than accepting to give Arthur space. Perhaps it was Arthur's fantasy, he wanted Dutch, unrequited, strange fish. I admit that one night staying with Arthur because he was scared I was going to die does not give me the right to pry into his living arrangements.

His eyes meet mine; they are glassy with concern. "That is who is responsible for the awful artwork." I gulp and nod, he is clearly having a moment, so why mention the art. He offers no explanation for the man Dutch or why he is having such a profound reaction to his presence. I roll over in my mind questions that may help me alleviate some of the strain, nothing comes out. He reads my expression, he is so good at that, not up-to-date, maybe a few thoughts ago but he knows where I am.

"What you thought I lived alone? In this house?" He is deflated when he says it, not funny or pointing out my naivety, just flat. I nod, conceding it was a bit stupid of me to think that a 17-year-old lived on their own, there are laws and that.


Instead, I gently push my plate of half-eaten jam on toast in his direction. He takes a slice, folds it and puts the whole thing in his mouth. I am mesmerised, this vision of perfection, a demi-God worshipped by all, eats toast in the most uncouth, piggish way. If it didn't sound like scorn from a parent, I wanted to say Were you raised in a barn? At his appalling manners as he tries to chew the whole piece. Then I realise that this part of him and I want to accept him the way he is.

"I am going to get a shower." He mumbles through his toast filled mouth. He is so far removed from the desperate pleading eyes that wanted me to see him last night.

"Can I join you?" My mouth drops a little with the awareness of what I said, a heat rises over me.

"Main bathroom, fresh towels under the sink." A light breath escapes my lips, released because he knew what I meant.

I get up and wobble slightly from the shaking in my body. Arthur's large hand clasps my elbow to support me, and for a second, I wish my whole body just gave way so he would scoop me up in his arms and carry me to the shower.

"Do you need more painkillers?" he asks coldly, not the impassioned plea of last night. The withdrawal of his care is palpable, he has woken this morning with regret and angst toward me. He obviously reasoned that the previous night was a mistake. He gave me too much, too much care and vulnerability. I want to be angry; I want to shout at him, tell him he was not wrong to give me what he did and I want to take everything from him, not in a cruel way, not to be horrible. Just to carry the weight for a little while so he can be himself. I shake my head in response to the pain killers, the physical aches cannot compete with the emotional spinning in my mind.

I follow him up the stairs, I the crippled pensioner, he the young buck. I can't compete with the two-step stride that has him upstairs in no time. I expect him to disappear for his shower, after all, he has given me all the essential information, location of shower and towels. I hope the operation of said shower and requirements for ablutions are self-explanatory. Fuck, I don't even have a toothbrush, I can't go to school with honking teenage breath. I might be at the bottom of the pecking order but not observing the most basic of hygiene standards is social suicide. With that, the remote man I can't even begin to claim to know does the thing I least expect, or I do, yet can't believe. I can’t accept he is so kind and thoughtful, it makes me feel vulnerable, it scares me and excites me in equal measure.

"Fuck, John, sorry." He bounds back down the stairs with all the grace of Beethoven. Not the composer, the dog, I am unsure of the breed but it slightly graceless due to its size, totally sloppy and oh so lovable.

"It's ok, I'll get there eventually." Now I sound like a pensioner. He wraps one of his muscular ape arms around my frame; I inhale his scent; his musk makes me hard again. Thankfully, his t-shirt is so large on me; my crime is hidden.

We walk into the bathroom; he turns the tap of the shower for me. "I like it hot" It is so provocative, my boxers moisten. To distract myself I swipe a hand under the water, temperature check, it is slightly too hot, he reads it, leans over and turns it down a notch.

"Do you want me to stay?" He is genuinely concerned.

"God, No." I say a little too hastily, which cause a streak of red to appear on his cheekbones.

"I would like to clean my teeth." I say giving his need to nurture a focus.

"Yes, I can do that." He disappears and returns with a fresh unopened one. "Shit, I should have washed your clothes." He says studying the pile that was still left on the bathroom floor.

"Um," It is again slightly out of my comfort zone, unlike most teenagers I have been washing my own clothes since twelve. Before twelve, I sometimes forget how ill mum was before she died, how I wanted to do everything for them. I realise now their praise for being such a helpful boy was encouragement because I was at the start of adulthood, no matter how unfair that was. My childhood died in our rickety old washing machine, the moment I chose to load it.

"It's probably not wise to turn up in the clothes I wore yesterday, someone will comment." It seemed plausible, not that anyone in school studies me for fashion tips, or anyone actually sees me. It was too risky to chance to go unnoticed. He nodded acceptance of my rationale and left the bathroom again. I wasn't sure what to do, was he coming back. My eco-warrior head was a bit raging that the shower was running and I wasn't in it.

I take the decision that he has gone for his own shower and walk into the oversized cubicle. It's incredible, not just one head, jets and mists are shooting from every direction. It is almost too weird; if you were really anxious, you might think it possible to drown. Is this what a car feels like in a car wash, deluged.

I decided that this might be the most luxurious experience of my life and that it is my lack of practice in the art of luxury that is making me apprehensive. I lean back against the wall and let jets of warm water consume my body. It starts to feel a little erotic. Each spray appears to be positioned at rather stimulating points. Then I remind myself that the men of this house are built differently. It is pure coincidence that every sensual part of my skin seems to be getting a suggestive massage.

I might be socially inept; I do understand how wrong it is to knock one out in someone's shower. Especially when that someone is technically a stranger, a good Samaritan that took pity. Sod social conventions I am a 17-year-old who has repetitive hard-on disorder. While someone else's shower might be unseemly getting unplanned wood in school is ruinous.


Chapter Text

John requested some clothes, so I am diligently trying to locate something that will fit, and that could pass as his while trying to decide what is acceptable. Do I offer him a clean pair of boxers, I am sure he will appreciate it, but that is a weird line, wearing another man's boxers? The image of him walking around school in my underwear, only the two of us knowing is a bit wicked. The thought is too salacious, almost kinky, it makes me hard again. This kid is driving me wild; he is opening up avenues of depravity I wasn't even aware of.

Logically, I should go to my en-suite, take care of my rock-hard boner and then return to John. It is only the thought that he might be waiting for me to return with clothes before he showers that make me go back. I hate when I do that, bound off so eager to get things done I forget to check protocol. I assume John is the type of guy that would loiter, wait for my return. So, I just awkwardly tuck my erection between my thighs which is one of the most unpleasant sensations of my life.

I return to find he is in the shower, which surprises me a little. Then I remember we aren't a team, playing a sport. John wouldn't be a leader on the field, definitely a follower. Still, to deny him any independent thought was a bit baseless. I can't see him; it is a walk-in shower built into the wall alongside the door. I can drop the clothes off at the side and get out without it feeling like an intrusion. Then he can make the decision on the boxers and either way I won't have to know until tonight, no judgement, no filthy thoughts. I make a deal with myself as I walk a few tentative steps to the cabinet. He will see them from there, and he can decide what he needs.

A whimper leaves his lips, I am worried again that he is in pain. I tried to tone down the offer of painkillers, hoping not to sound as irrational as I did last night. I hope he didn't refuse them because of me and he actually needs them. I contemplate for a moment and then run downstairs and retrieve another Oxycontin from the draw. If I place it next to his clothes, he can make the decision whether to take it. That is the right thing to do, give John choices.

When I return, he isn't whimpering any more, he is cursing angrily under his breath. Its sounds like he has hurt himself. I hover, unsure if I should call to him, what if he panics, I am in the bathroom a massive invasion of his privacy? I can't give him anymore shocks his heart might give in. With that, he calls my name.

"Arthur." I leap forward sure he needs me; he is hurt or in pain. I shouldn't have left him on his own.

"John, I am here just......" His eyes flash for a moment through the steam, and then he pushes his head into his resting forearm, hiding from shame. My eyes descend and realise he isn't in pain, well he probably is now, emotional embarrassment, it is an agony and torment all on its own. I leave the bathroom, pulling the door behind me.

I am mortified, mostly at myself for being so stupid. Of course, John was, and those noises were, you know. I suppose we are even now. I can't remember calling his name when I came. For a moment I contemplate how if I were brimming with confidence and joie de vivre, I could go back in there, get in the shower with him touch every inch of flesh. While I stroke myself. Would he like that, like me to deposit my hot cum over his milk-white skin? I want it, my dick definitely wants it, but I am not that man, in my head, I want to be, and maybe one day I will be, but right now he is vulnerable, and I can't take advantage.

At least I think I now know where we stand a little better than I did last night. Although faint to begin with, there was an attraction there. Being a closeted homo, there are often attractions that have to live in your own head. You fantasise and dream aware the intended object of your desires hasn't provided any notion that they are interested in the same way. Any suggestion could be pure fabrication, one of a touch starved mind, it was too high a risk to explore. I keep them all with me, my lovers that never were, somehow when I am older and if still in contact, I would enjoy checking whether I was right or wrong. Everything appears to be more relaxed when you're older. It's as if there is a sweeping epiphany at thirty, a secret that no one has bothered to tell the youngsters. You appear more comfortable in your own skin, more open to expressing who you are. It's the ultimate irony, by the time you can emote who you are, you've passed it. The vim and vigour vanish, all you are doing is explaining who you were or aiming to be and benchmarking whether you achieved it or not.

Is that why I brought him here, I could sense he would reveal himself to me. I wanted him to be enigmatic, a challenge to unravel, as I quietly suspected, he is an open book. Perhaps that is what I need, away with the stealth and subtleties of innuendo and chance glimpses of limitless possibilities. John is a book I can read, and I want to turn every page.

I shower and dress and find him waiting for me downstairs. The t-shirt I gave him is way too big, but it suits his style, no one will question. He is wearing his own pants which makes sense, no way of knowing about the underwear that is a secret I can torment myself with until tonight.

We don't communicate, I put that down to the beetroot red complexion of shame written over his face. My natural response would be to reassure him, tell him it is alright, and there is nothing to worry about. I enjoy watching him squirm in the confident knowledge that I know something he doesn't know. Behind his back, I smirk, I have the power. See, everything I have done up until this point has been consumed by my own fears, rejection, repulsion. I detested taking advantage of the sight of his chicken legs, his slender frame wrapped around my clothes, lying next to him watching him sleep, the gentle inhales and exhales. It felt akin to robbery, I was stealing moments from him that he hadn't consented to. Now, I still can't be sure he was aware of what he was doing to me, whether there was an intention on his part to turn me on. What I have that he doesn't is he doesn't actually know I am attracted to him. Yet, I am pretty sure he jerked off and called my name, in my house, in my shower. I can only interpret that one way, a certainty that cannot be doubted. Most of my life is filled with doubt, fear and self-loathing. It is only when I have the confidence of a dead-cert that I allow my dominant, sadistic side out. It is cruel. I convinced myself that John was vulnerable, had enough problems in his life. He didn't need to think the man that inspired such a forceful and guttural ejaculation hated him. It wouldn't be for long, I promise. I just need to plant the seed.

I drive like a maniac, high revs that make the engine growl with ferocity. Every stick change is forceful and pronounced, sometimes I hit John's knee as I am doing it. He flinches, moving away only to relax and spread again. My engine filter is clogged, and my beautiful baby has backfired a few times, she is booked in on the weekend, I am aware of this, but again he is in the dark. When she bangs, he jumps out of his seat. My blood is pumping, muscles twitch, cock throbbing. If this was another era, world, universe, I would pull over and pounce, take him, strip him, use him and use him again. I don't care if anyone sees, cares, others judgement is inconsequential when I am in these moods. I am thriving off base emotions in the most debased way. Sex, the fulfilment of it, the sensation of it, is all I can think about.

Then for all my intensity, we are nearing school and the delusional state I placed myself in, is fading. We both know I ain't going to drive us into school and let everyone see him get out of my car. It's working out where is the least close place to drop him so no one will see while getting him close enough to school so he can actually make it. I can't believe I am so selfish, I took him home, cleaned him up and now I am going to make him walk a mile to work with bruised ribs, stiffness. It feels sadistic, what will he think of me, I am behaving like a raging bull, vicious and brutal and then I am going to kick him out of my car, and he will never speak to me again.

But I am compelled, I have to do this, he has seen the lie I am in school, he has seen the vulnerability, there is one side left, and it is the most crucial side. Nothing can happen between us if he can't accept this side of me, it might be viewed as reckless, dangerous by him and to him, a risk not worth taking. I just need to push, controlled and see his reaction.

I pull over into a layby. We are about a mile away maybe a bit less but there ain't any school kids passing through so I feel safe. I don't say anything, just wait for him to get out. He doesn't, this kid does not like exiting vehicles

"Are car doors your kryptonite because you appear to struggle with opening them?" I say sarcastically, I expect him to frown or be hurt, but he suppresses a smile.

"No, I can open the door." He turns to me, not away to open the door. I raise an eyebrow as a challenge to do it.

"I wanted to say thank you, I appreciate the help." He runs a hand through his hair, tangled and knotty, should have given him a comb. "You didn't have to, which means more."

It is so hard not to melt into a puddle, I can feel the curl of my lips, I look away so he can't read it, must appear more a sneer or grimace. Don't worry about it, any time, standard ways to respond, I am determined not to do it. I want him to squirm like a worm on a hook, just for a little bit. He does finally get out of the car, unaided, I put the car in gear and accelerate off, watching his reaction in the rear-view mirror. He doesn't deflate or even appear perplexed. He is such a weird kid, then he isn't when you think about it. His tolerance for pain, physical and mental, must be so high that my gentle incitements don't even register.

Chapter Text

He caught me, shamefaced and hiding, oh the moment was pure intoxicating bliss as I spurted my love juice all over his exotic tiles. I busted a nut over Arthur Morgan, cried out his name as I imagined it was his hand touching me. When I came to, he was there staring at me, I could see his cogs whirling expecting one thing and finding something completely different. When he left, I wasn't ashamed, I was trying to be bashful, alluring, wishing he would take the cue and join me.

It was silly, really, my body betrayed me when I saw him again. Blushing so intense and hot, it wasn't the act that I committed or the fact I got caught. It was every filthy thought that came after it, the deviant, perverse thoughts that made licking his sweat appear child's play.

He drove us to school, well half a mile away from school. Every change of gear was delivered with intensity, I am sure he was riled by the same thoughts that had my blood burning. Each thrust forward, hitting my knee. I imagined it was my prostate, oh how I wanted him to drill me, deep, so deep. Make my body sing with divinity, a chorus of Angel's heralding the arrival of my first anal orgasm. He could give that to me; if only I could ask.

I sat in the car working up the courage and then he makes a sarcastic comment of how I struggle to open car doors, it is funny, well observed. Then I realise that I should be thanking him, my carnal wants could wait. He first needed to understand how much I appreciated his intervention. How I could show my gratitude with my body if he wanted me to, I don't say it, I will, I will, eventually when the time is right. Under the darkness, the angst, there is always hope. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the end of a magical night, it is the beginning of an exploration of need, want and satisfaction.

I am in a daze when I walk into school, five minutes after the bell. His car is parked out the front, still warm, he got to park with the teachers because he is special. The halls are empty, I skirt quickly to my first lesson hoping the monitors don't catch me. I do not want detention, I want to be there at last bell, so he has the option of taking me home again.

"Little Johnny Marston" I tremble as I acknowledge Micah's shit licking voice as he sauntered down the corridor. I considered running but he was faster than me. Micah's ugly grin grew with malicious intent as he realised, I wasn't moving.

"Feeling brave, are we?" he pushes me, the rattle of tin echoes through the hallway as my body collides with the wall of lockers.

"Fuck off, Micah!" I snarl, I am braver, Arthur has given me that, I can't defend myself, but Arthur will have revenge if he discovers new bruising.

"Confident" he swings, and I cough, a fine spray of blood mists from my breath. "You won't be so confident when I am finished with you." I take the second punch to the sternum and crumple to the floor. "This is every day for you now, Johnny Marston." He kicks me, I pass out.

I wasn't unconscious for long, a few seconds probably by the time I come around. Mr Matthew's is stood above me calling my name, it's muffled and strained, I am still distant, drifting.

He helps me up, and with difficulty, I am taller and gangly, compared to his short, wiry frame, we navigate the hall and end up in his art class. Full of freshman, wide-eyed and slightly terrified that this was the fate that awaited them if they didn't gain social standing. If I had compassion and wasn't so dazed, I could inform them that this was something to aspire too. There is power in knowing that the very act of breathing can inspire violence in someone. They lack control, they will struggle, the world outside of high school desires control over everything. There might be corporate bullies who shout at their staff and they might remind you of the bully in school, the same techniques applied, they are not the same people. The corporate bully is not the all-star meathead, more likely they learnt their trade from the high school bully because they were bullied. Funny old world, I will never be corporate, I will never be a bully, I get the power of observation, to study the rise and fall of empires. Micah's empire is crumbling, with only six months of school left, I suspect the escalation of violence towards me means he is aware as well. My art, astute and revealing, let him in on the joke, and he can't cope.

"Timothy, can you run to the nurse and bring her here." Mr Matthew's summons one of the kid's who is gawping at me, or the state of me.

"No," I say "I'll be fine."

"You look like you have gone a-round with Mike Tyson?" he says exasperated.

"The actor?" I try and recall his name. "I think I can take a beating from a thespian." I am witty, sarcastic and ultimately a bit ignorant. I get a laugh from my peers, with me, not at.

"You kid's today, a world of information at your fingertips and you have no general knowledge, Mike Tyson was the heavyweight champion of the world."

"Was he? I doubt that?" Even though he would have no reason to lie.

"Famously" Mr Matthew's identifies my sardonic smile and knows I have sacrificed my actual knowledge to get a laugh. It is a kindness, to hide my pain and bring levity to the cautious freshman. It is also a desire that he understands I am ok, I don't require medical intervention, I don't need the awkward questions.

"What class are you meant to be in?" He relents.

"Biology, Mr Lewis." He nods then disappears into his side office. It is meant to be an office, more a studio, no desk or papers, just another area for creativity and storage of art supplies.

"Right class, your assignment, half-length portraits, it can be someone you admire, family member or friend. Consider lighting, shadow and please while I encourage expression do not do what Mr Marston here did, clothes are required."

I laugh remembering, it was art, it got me detention and a trip to the school therapist. Ever wonder what the highly modified individuals with their augmented cleavage, adjusted faces and fake-tanned skin will look like when their eighty. No, apparently the school didn't either. My inspiration, an eighty-year-old topless model. How they got me, was not the nudity, it was the real reason, but they didn't want to stifle my creativity. They got me by pointing out the assignment was aimed at a person who existed, not someone who will exist.

I pull up a chair next to a fresher who is diligently sketching, it's alright, they have a vision and sharp lines, but their wrist is too stiff. It's hard to teach that, how to loosely build layers, I get my own sketch pad out and hope that the kid will observe my technique. Mr Matthew's has always been a hands-on teacher, he wouldn't think twice about grabbing your hand and guiding it. Usually got called paedo for his efforts. Although I feel brave, I am not robust enough to take the insults on top of my beating from Micah.

The first class ends and Mr Matthew's asks to see my schedule for the day. He calls my teachers for the classes up until lunchtime and gets me out of them, which is incredible. He then gives me the option; I can help him teach or hide out in the office and work on my art. As much as I like to inspire others to enjoy painting; the thought of the blissful isolation to focus on the one thing I love to do is too good an opportunity to miss.

I set up an easel and get a fresh canvas. I already know what I want to paint. This is one of the issues I have, it means my career options are limited. It's like a compulsion, you can ask me to be inspired by A or B, create C or D; if Z is in my head, all I can do is Z. Once complete I might go back, relieved of my urges, I can be somewhat compliant, or I might be inspired to do something else. It is unquantifiable, immeasurable and completely unreliable.

I lose time when I paint; if I was sat in math class that I feel every excruciating minute until the hour is up. When I paint, hours go by as though they are minutes.

"John, are you getting lunch?" Mr Matthew's pops his head around. I am not hungry; well, I hadn't considered whether I am or not. Even if I was, I didn't have the money to buy lunch. I usually scrape the money together from the change dad leaves littered around the house or make my own if that isn't available. That wasn't an option, so whether I am or not is inconsequential, I can't, is the answer.

"I am ok," I say unconvincingly.

"What are you working on?" He asks. Another thing I have is no shame, well I do, but not when it comes to my art.

"It's another one of my detention specials" I joke, this is for me, so I don't expect it to be presented at the next school art show.

"Can I see?" he always asks, which I find so generous and respectful. He will critique so I suppose it is a question of are you ready to be critiqued which I always am because I respect his opinion. I lower the brush, waiting for his observations.

"Oh, John, my that is striking, one of your best." I shrink a little at the praise. It warms me a little as the barriers have finally dropped, he is no longer the teacher who has to balance school propriety with my creativity.

"Your understanding of form is progressing, topic understandable for your age, just be careful." I am waiting for him to say shadows, lighting, tone any of the areas he usually critiques.

"Your muse might not appreciate such a sensual interpretation of himself being on school property." I cringe, I thought I was discreet, the only person that would know it was Arthur was me. He didn't warn me to be careful of Arthur, that he might not appreciate it, just the location and the risks inherent with being on school premises. It sounds like he as a notion of Arthur, his temperament, that he wouldn't reject me for creating such a visual intimacy.

"How do you know?" finally leaves my lips.

"That he is your muse?" Mr Matthew's clarifies and I nod.

"He's been in your work for a while, keeps popping up, even if it is just in the background. You capture him beautifully, authentically, the sadness in his eyes, his solemn expression." His words make my heart skip, that is the problems with muses, they are a feeling more than an in-depth, insightful study or maybe the problem is with the artist. I couldn't tell you that I liked to paint Arthur because I saw his sorrow. It was obviously what I felt, or it wouldn't be visible in my work. It took eyes that understood the subject and the artist to make that observation.

"You don't think others have noticed?" I quiver with trepidation, what if I have been entirely transparent and everyone is aware that I paint Arthur. A lovesick obsession that I didn't recognise in myself.

"No, this is high school John, kids don't look up at their phones long enough to see each other let alone the art on the walls to make the connection. You are giving your peers too much credit." He places his hand on my shoulder. I am so glad he is tactile, that the ridiculous jibes of my peers don't stop him from expressing reassurance through touch. It's hard to explain; if most of your physical interactions are violence, a hand on the shoulder for reassurance is welcome.

"Does he know he is your inspiration?" He smiles, I suspect he is already sure of the answer

"He said next time he is I have to make his nose smaller." I laugh, the angle of this piece has his head tilted back, the viewer can see the tip and the shading of a nostril, any smaller, and it wouldn't be there.

"That is good, John, I am happy for you." Mr Matthew's goes to lunch, I immerse myself once again in my subject. I am not rushing it, takes as long as it takes. I will be expected to be back in class tomorrow; if I do take it home, there is the difficulty of transporting it. Public transport is not ready for this.

Mr Matthew's returns with a sub for me, he so generous and caring I don't know how to express my appreciation. How he is in a group of one that actually nurtures all of me, mind, body and stomach. Every time I think about how grateful I am to have his influence in my life, it makes me sad, it's a reminder that I have nothing, less than nothing. I don't even have the baseline expected, a mum and a functioning dad. Next time I am alone with Arthur, I will ask him if he feels the same? Who is his Mr Matthew's now the position of parents is vacant? I would like to know that, meet the person who Arthur leans on. I suspect or hope it's not Dutch, not out of jealousy, I want him to have someone who offers more than the emotional scraps Dutch appeared to provide.

Mr Matthew's realises he hasn't informed my afternoon classes of my reason for non-attendance. We missed science but promises to smooth it over. My last class is English with Miss Smith, he physically goes to tell her. I suspect he is sweet on her, Bessy, he uses her first name when he speaks of her. Everyone else got a phone call, Bessy receives a visit. I bank it for a later date, the merciless mocking of his muse, kids, can be so cruel.

Chapter Text

I am sat in Miss Smith's English freaking out that John isn't here, it is one of the few classes we share. I haven't seen him since I dropped him off this morning. I spent my lunch break searching everywhere for him, I even took the car and drove around hoping he was skipping class or something. Got a telling off for being late back for class, almost a detention but then I would have to miss practice, nobody wants that.

I am sweating, what if he collapsed and is in the hospital or the gutter. What if it was internal bleeding or if he took the Oxycontin I left him and he had a reaction, an overdose. I failed in my duty of care to him, I should have made sure he was ok, I should have pushed aside my perverse games and thought of his needs first, I am so selfish, and now he could be dead, it's my fault.

Mr Matthew's knocks on the door, requesting a word with Miss Smith outside, it's about John, I can tell, he is the only one not here. I shift in my seat uncomfortably, will she announce it, say to the class he is dead. How will I react, if I cry, everyone will know he meant something to me. Goddammit, I want them to see he meant something, that he invoked a feeling in me, so what I am not ashamed. Now I am angry, it's hard enough having internal complexities without having to place them in the context of this viper's nest of judgement and scorn.

She returns, doesn't say a word, I relax a little, he isn't dead, that leaves everything but death, he could be dying in hospital. They have to tell you don't they, if a peer is gravely ill, especially if he has been found near school. There will be questions to be answered, bruises to explain, the supply of controlled drugs, police. Where is he, why isn't he where he is supposed to be, here with me, by my side?

Every second of English is like a dagger stabbing into my already wounded heart. I can't hear a word Miss Smith is saying just the thunderous tick of the clock. Convincing myself the hand is not moving, it's broken, the lesson should have ended hours ago. Why isn't anyone else aware of time being broken? I try to reassure myself there is a rational explanation, that he is fine and I am being my usual irrational self. I did that the night my parents died, told myself they hadn't come home because they decided to stay out, provided a rational reason for their absence. I didn't call anyone or raise the alarm, just assumed that on the balance of probability they were ok. I was wrong, they were dying, trapped in their car, dying, their last thoughts would have been; help is on the way, Arthur will call the emergency services and tell them we are missing. I didn't, I was in bed, didn't even think about them, worst mistake of my life.

I can't take it any longer, ten minutes from the end of class I approach Miss Smith and ask to be excused. Her expression is about to burst into a no and sit back down, then she looks up, scans me, can see the anguish written across my face.

"Are you ok, Arthur?" she whispers. I get that a lot, the teachers know about my situation, I sometimes get the standard response, most of the time it's a gentle whisper. I shake my head to acknowledge that I am not ok that I can't breathe and need to get out of this class. They accept that, accept that unlike most of my peers, I need space and time. They give me that, which I am grateful for, I am sure the school therapist has something to do with it, that she advises them how to handle me. I don't care if they talk about me as long as I get the outcome that I need. Their discretion is what amazes me most, that we do this dance in full view of my peer group, communicate with glances and whispers so they can't connect the dots. The more observant might guess something is wrong but they are more likely to think I get special treatment because I am a jock. I never take advantage, haven't done this in a while, which is probably why she almost gave the standard response, but I need to find John before I lose my mind.

I jog down the hall to Mr Matthew's room; he hasn't got a class. Thankfully, he is sat at his desk, I bound in with all the grace of Rottweiler, snarling spit and spasming muscles. He doesn't mention or question how out of control I am, I am sure he can see I am unravelling.

"He is in the backroom, Mr Morgan." He smiles at me, its calming, I am calm, he is alive, he is in school, I was irrational, everything is ok.

I stand in the doorway, he is half-hidden behind an easel, focussing, lost in his art. He frowns when he is concentrating, he will have lines when he is older, on his forehead and around his eyes. Now, he looks intense, that face; his natural angst is beautiful. I stand and watch him for a while, let my heart return to an average pace, resting heartbeat of 50, athlete heartbeat. The coach would kill me if he discovered my anxiety, I keep it in check most of the time. Anxiety, stress, delivers cortisol to the bloodstream, it is the fight of flight serum, if it is triggered and goes unused, it causes weight gain. I have been gaining weight, not noticeable because I am a sizeable unit. Still, it's not muscle, not football-playing material. I am not lean, but I also can't risk more fat, it will slow me down. The last couple of hours of torment means I will be eating salad for dinner rather than the burger I really want.

"I didn't know where you were?" I finally say. I manage to say it without sounding desperate, report it as a fact, relaxed and calm. He jumps a little when I speak and then smiles at me, I want him to always smile at me.

"I got to swerve class and paint all day." He brags, I thought he was dying and he brags about diving out of lessons.

"Yeah, what you painting," I ask, if we stay on the level, converse like ordinary people do. Don't go too deep, I think I could convince him I am sane, that I am someone he could consider spending time with.

"My favourite subject, apparently." He says half mockingly. I want to confidently guess, I haven't got a clue, although it doesn't sound as though he is confident that it is his favourite subject

"Ah, your favourite topic, another in-depth analysis highlighting the hypocrisy of social constructs of high-school." I deliver with a dry caustic wit. This sometimes happens, anxiety builds, the pressure becomes unbearable and then the valve releases. There is a period where I get to be myself, and I actually enjoy being myself, positively excel at it. The anxiety starts building not soon after, but this is perfect. I am spending this moment of release with him.

"Am I that predictable?" He laughs. "Why don't you come and have a look." I accept the offer and saunter over expecting anything other than what I see.

"Jesus, John." I forget to breathe, I am gobsmacked, its, it's me, definitely me. I am, well, I am arching my back, my hands are above my head, tied with some sort of black rope. The perspective means my eyes are not visible, my nose is barely noticeable, he obviously took the hint that I don't like my nose. My lips are parted, my expression is mixed, pain, vulnerability and enjoyment. I am naked, my torso is cut, each muscle defined, it leads to my thighs, thick, meaty and ripped. Thankfully, my legs overlap, which means the viewer can't see my manhood. However, there is a delicate shading of my pubic hair. It is gorgeous, provocative, hot with intensity, edged with wanting and a little fear. Considering John is an open book, I suspect this is how he thinks I look naked. I don't have the heart to tell him that I would have to be in the gym for about twelve hours a day to be that ripped.

"What do you think?" he asks as though it is a simplistic answer to give.

"No one has seen this?" Anxiety is returning.

"Mr Matthew's, he didn't see it this developed, you were still a little ill-defined." That explains Mr Matthews smile and how he knew I was looking for him. Not even twenty-four hours in and we are already reckless.

"You're not mad, are you?" He inquires.

"No, we have to get it out of school, unseen," I say, concerned that someone will catch a glimpse. Art is a bit dangerous; it is a fantasy or an expression of vulnerability but most would think this is what we do, that John ties me up. "I am going to practice, you stay here, keep working and I will come back." I am about to leave when I sense he is disappointed.

"Are you ok?" I should have asked him how he was feeling, if he was better, healing.

"You don't like it, do you, it's too much." I want to say yes, it's too much, as art, I can appreciate it, as a depiction of me, its idealised and I can't live up to that. I can't be that to him all taut and alluring in the right places. My skin tone is the wrong colour, he has only seen my arms and face and thinks I am that colour all over. I am actually pale, not as pale as him, two-toned. I have fat resting around my stomach, mild cellulite on my thighs, a scar where I had my appendix removed. I am not this perfect vision that he has painted.

I can't reassure him, not when I am feeling so insecure. I can't believe he has done this to me, can't accept he has the power to do this to me. I am actually scared, worrying he will reject me, that I won't be good enough for him. Then I reflect, every second has been an emotional rollercoaster, he aggravates me. When I am not near him, I am concerned for his safety, when I am close to him, I worried about my own sanity. This isn't going to work, I would leave now and not come back, but I have to get his art out of school back to his house.

"I will see you later." Football practice is a nightmare, I think I might have lost my shit a few times. Tackling hard which gets me an early shower. I am grateful for that; I am showered and out before the rest of them are of the field. I will pay for it later but right now getting John home without anyone seeing is my main priority.

Chapter Text

He is mad, I can tell, he returned after practice pumped and mute. Even in anger, he is alluring, his hair is still wet and swept back, a cluster of strands falling slightly out of place, I want to tuck them back into place. He takes one of the sheets and throws it over the canvas, picks it up and leaves. I am actually a bit angry at him, not because he is mad, he has every right to be. It's more his expectation that I will follow him like I am a subservient slave that doesn't require communication or some acknowledgement. I consider staying, seeing if he comes back, then I think against it, there is no point in riling him further. Not if I want him to speak to me again.

It was probably a stupid move on my part, painting him in that way. Like I said when I am compelled to create something, there is no chance I can stop myself. It doesn't mean I want him to do that, there is nothing in his demeanour that suggests he would be into that. Its art, bondage in art isn't related to BDSM, it isn't kinky. It's reflecting his enslavement to society that won't accept him as he is, his lips are screaming from the feeling of being trapped. His naked body is the vessel to show how beautiful he is on the inside, a classic body to reflect a perfect soul. It was all to confirm that I accept him, I see him, I can't believe anyone would reject him, and he is running away from that. I probably should have attempted an explanation, but good art doesn't require a description of what the artist was thinking.

In his car, he drives like an aggressive moron, again. Perhaps that is the way he always operates, yet, when he took me back to his place, it was softer. Maybe it is me, I bring out the worst in him, or I bring out something that he feels compelled to fight. Either way, I am starting to think that our many hurdles might be insurmountable. To overcome the social torments of high-school, the class divide that has him at the top and me at the bottom. Add in a closeted gay, two closeted gay's, both with trauma and demons. Quite frankly, there is enough drama in both our lives that we don't need the added distress of trying to accommodate each other's shit. I start to see the bigger picture, to see that whatever I wanted, a dream of Pygmalion perhaps, call me Eliza, its utterly and positively hopeless.

For once, I jump out of the car as soon as he pulls over. Run to my door, I want to be away from him. I want to avoid the excruciating conversation where he tries to rationalise why he doesn't want to see me again. I am already there, I don't need to communicate it. Stupidly in my angst, I forgot the damn painting, he gets out of the car and knocks the door.

I open it grab the painting he says "John I.. ." He isn't given a chance to finish as I slam the door in his face and run upstairs to the sanctuary of my bedroom.

I turn on my music, I am into some eclectic stuff my mum used to listen to. It's a mixture of old and well old, anything from Nirvana to Velvet Underground and everything in between. "Pale blue eyes" is on, and I start to cry.

"Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad, sometimes I feel so happy, but mostly you just make me mad, baby you just make me mad."

Shit, I wish I was older, adults are rational and patient. How can this hurt when it only just started, only it hasn't just started, has it. I obviously have been obsessing about him for a while, subconsciously, pretending he is a muse, abstract. Now, he is physical, real with his own problems and peculiarities. I don't have the maturity to deal with it, I am less; therefore, I am not enough, never enough.

I calm, eventually, and decide the only medicine worth taking is to finish the piece. I want to finish it with the sorrow I now feel because emotion always makes my art better. I become overwhelmed, I am in the picture, it breathes and lives. I see the edges, shadow and light, similar to a third eye, something happens, and I see everything as it should be.

Its 7 pm, dark outside, I have been lost in the picture for another two hours. I have never invested so much time in one day in a piece, I am possessed. I don't even notice as my window opens itself, that doesn't usually happen. Then I see him, his ash hair sweeping back so I can see his cheekbones protruding, edgy and defined. I should have put his face in the picture, it would have added a level of eroticism. He could dislike it even more. I can't hear him over the music, so I lean over and turn it down.

"What?" I shout, slightly deafened, ringing in my ears from playing my music too loud.

"I said, I tried to knock, but you couldn't hear me." He waited for me to respond.

"So you thought you would scale my house and try and break in through the window." I am sarcastic, I mean isn't this everyone's wildest dreams, the bloke you want to do intimate, deviant things with, appears at your window. Almost vampiric, if I invite him in, he will drink my blood, and we will be bonded forever. Except this isn't the movies or a book, I am still monumentally pissed off with him.

"But soft, what light from yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise the sun and kill the envious moon. Who is already pale and sick with grief." He just quoted Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, now I am wavering. Cliched I know, yet I am impressed, a footballer who can quote Shakespeare. Not that I am going to give him credit, the most over-used, over-rehearsed line.

"Get in here, you idiot! Before the neighbour's call the police." I relent, huffing with frustration so he knows the invitation cannot be taken as forgiveness.

"It ain't the type of neighbourhood that would have community watch." He mocks back as he threads his body through, he is once again a little graceless, too thick to fully enter without tangling his legs. He falls onto the floor to hasten his arrival. I am not helping him up.

"No, just the kind of neighbourhood that would shoot first and ask questions later." I go to the window and close it, have a quick check of the street to make sure no one has witnessed my night-time intruder.

"What do you want, Arthur?" I say exacerbated, so he is clear I am not happy with his presence.

"I want to know why you are mad at me?" He says it with almost childlike innocence, like two friends in kindergarten who fell out over a toy. It makes my blood boil because it is manipulative.

"Because you are mad at me." I shoot back, too hastily, as a rationale for being mad at someone it is tremendously weak, makes me sound like the manipulative one.

"I quoted the wrong Shakespeare, Much a Do About Nothing would have been more fitting." He jests, angering me more. I do hate that play, it is literally about nothing. So astute in its observations of humans are naturally inclined to fabricate, over-embellish, ruthlessly gossip and cause damage over nothing. It just leaves you unfulfilled because the great revelation is it's about nothing. Either way, jokes and a working knowledge of the bard isn't going to stop me from speaking my mind.

"Very droll, only it's not is it, you were pissed at me, pissed for creating my best work." There it is a more formed argument, you hate something that I am proud of, provide a title for that.

"I wasn't pissed, John." He says straining his voice, disagreeing with my words.

"Well, what was it then?" I call him out, I know what I saw, his behaviour towards me and the work.

"I was...I was embarrassed." He says honestly, I am still mad at him. "I don't look like that John, I cant live up to that." He vigorously points his finger at the art, refusing to look at it.

"Oh my god, you're insecure, you, Arthur Morgan, are self-conscious," I say it with faux-concern, then I laugh a little to cruelly. "Do you think you are that different from every other human being on the planet?"

"No" He is indignant, I challenge his arrogance. "I am not an egomaniac, but most people don't find they have been painted in such a compromising position, how do you want me to react?"

"I told you before, it's not you," I am determined for him to understand. Even if we never speak again, Arthur isn't censoring my use of him as inspiration. "I don't think you look like that, it's important, pulling from the past, perfection in art is a representation of the soul, purity. I want others to see you as I do." I instantly regret saying the last part of that sentence, not because it isn't genuine or how I feel, but it is a bit intense. I sense I am about to lose the argument, or him so I decide to bet everything, at least it will draw a conclusion.

"If you want a literal version then you would have to sit for me, I would have to see you as you are." Way outside of my comfort zone as an artist, I don't do commissions. Judging by the colour of his cheeks, it is not what he was expecting either. I kind of like that about him, or about me with him, I can make him react to me, in ways I can tell he doesn't want. I am with a man who has perfectly curated such a stoic bravado and me little weedy John from the wrong side of the tracks breaks it.

"Don't worry, I am not asking I don't want to be around you right now, let alone have you sit for me." It is rough, I have never been one to hide how I feel, my face won't allow it.

"Has anyone sat for you before?" He asks, his voice quaking slightly, prying into my life and what I do.

"You want to add jealously to list of endearing personality traits you are displaying," I shout, I am riled, this is ridiculous. We are having our first argument; we haven't even touched each other yet. Then I realise, we are not arguing out of passion or emotion, those feelings are tinged in every word spoken. This is an argument that is caused when two completely incompatible people find themselves foolishly trying to make themselves fit. We are arguing because we don't know each other and the answer is we shouldn't bother trying.

Chapter Text

John can push every button in me, I am trying to be honest, it comes with raw vulnerability, it scares me. I am afraid if he keeps pushing, I will lose it with him, he can't deal with that, can't have someone else let him down. So, I take off my shirt.

"What are you doing?" It isn't delivered with shock or awe; just with a suave undertone that presumes I have lost my mind, perhaps I have. I just have to go with it, whatever it is I am trying to do and hope to god it works because after tonight I don't want to lose him.

"These are, for want of a better word, my love handles." I grab the fat that sits around my kidneys, I think it's sizeable, I can pinch it between my finger and thumb. "As you can see, I don't have a six-pack, more a baby beer keg." I rub my hand over my belly, it doesn't wobble, but it isn't ripped. "Appendix scar, exploded when I was a kid, so they weren't delicate when they cut into me." He is just watching me like I am a complete lunatic. His eyes are following my hand as I curate for him an understanding of my own body. As he hasn't protested and told me to stop, I decide to reveal the bit I hate the most. I unbuckle my belt and drop my trousers, he manages to say "dude" in protest, but we are here now, there is no point in stopping. I present my thighs;

"Cellulite." He starts to laugh, not brutally, not like he is going to agree with my assessment and tell me I am the most hideous creature to ever walk the earth. It is warm, he is empathetic.

"Dude, that isn't cellulite, they are stretch marks." He comes a little closer to study the silver specks that adorn my thighs. "It just means you beefed-up your muscle a bit to quickly and the skin hasn't caught up." Once again, I feel stupid, I convinced myself that it was cellulite. That is the problem with the internet, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. I didn't enter silver marks on legs or some other description. I put in cellulite, it told me about cellulite, fat deposits in my skin, confirmation that I am overweight and hideous.

"Thank you," he says graciously, which isn't the response I was expecting.

"For what?" I have to ask.

"For being you." I can feel the scorching heat of embarrassment explode across my body. I pull my trousers up and go to grab my shirt to try and conceal myself.

"If you want to stay, that stays off, punishment for making me angry." He said it so confidently, it wasn't a command or control, it wasn't don't put it back on or I will punish you. I could put it on and leave, I just didn't want to leave. I didn't want to be shirtless either. I am terrified, yet I was the one that took it off. I wanted him to see me, now he does, he wants to keep on seeing me.

"Do you want to watch a movie? If you are staying." He clarifies the point because my shirt is in my hand like I haven't decided. I have, the shirt is a security blanket one I am frightened to let go of, but I am staying.

"Ok" He directs me to the bed, it's a single so not much space. I shuffle up against the wall, and he joins me. It's awkward sat shoulder to shoulder. I think about putting my arm around him so we can be comfortable. It's a bit too soon for such a couple's act. He grabs his laptop and logs on, and I see something that I have no intention in ignoring. I grab the machine from him and drive forward on the bed so he can't reach.

"Arthur, no!" He says in protest.

"Come on, this is your punishment for making me angry." I smile, getting him back.

"You said you weren't angry with me?" He says whining and broken and possibly mimicking him wasn't the best approach.

"Besides, you have seen what I watch, it's only fair." I try and retrieve the situation and secure what I want, which is to watch his latest porno, still on display.

"Ok, it's just not as pedestrian as what you watch." That was a burn, my porn choices are not pedestrian. With his permission, I sit back up. I want us both to participate in this, watch together. I slap the space next to me, and he begrudgingly moves forward, as I click play.

He is quiet, leaning forward so I can't see his expression. I know he is dying of humiliation, he is shaking, a little worried about my judgement of his choices. I would never judge him; I want to understand why; what makes him chose and confirm his likes and dislikes. I shuffle slightly behind him, wrap my non-cellulite thighs around his frame, not touching him, just providing security, so he knows I am not going to bolt. I lean forward and place my chin on his shoulder.

"You like Bears who tie up Twinks." It's the obvious starting point, say what you see.

"No, not Bears, it's just most of this stuff is predisposed to that body type." I nod he is probably right; porn has a social hierarchy too. More to do with the physical appearance of the individual, so nothing like high-school.

"So, you like the Twink being tied up, is that what does it for you?" He shakes his head, suggesting no, I can see he is struggling, there is something in this that gets him off, but it isn't the people. Is it the act, the concept, the trust of submission?

"Do you want someone to tie you up?" He shakes his head again, this time more violently, as though it is the worst suggestion ever. I am now a little perplexed, does he watch it for the scenery to inspire his art, the colours of the dungeon, the texture of leather. I finally catch-up, slow and stupid as ever. I am bound in his art, as much as he says it isn't me. If I asked him why it was there, he would give me some convoluted reason about the use of bondage as an expression of someone being trapped. It still reveals something of him, the artist, of his wants and needs.

"John, point to the screen who you want to be?" He is shaking, and hesitant, but eventually without looking, he points to the Bear, bingo!

"I don't want to look like him, I want to be me. There isn't any porn with a Twink tying up a larger man." I nod in agreement; it is a very niche market. Dominance is always seen as masculine, which means bulk and power, not many see that in a skinny pale boy who appears under-fed. There isn't really a market for it.

"But...." he hesitates. I am patient, it is always hard to list your needs and boundaries. Especially, with someone you might see again, you worry that they are not compatible, that you will have to compromise or worse give up. It's happened a few times, nothing serious, just lines I wasn't willing to cross, so I have walked away. Safety is always crucial, certainly with strangers, that is most of my experience, one-off hook-ups.

"I don't want to do what he is doing," John confesses painfully. I scan the screen; the Bear is balls deep in the Twink. I smile, he is my special boy, his naivety is endearing.

"John, you are a virgin." I try and be gentle. Try to make him understand.

"What has that got to do with?" Its tinged with anger, this isn't going to another argument.

"You have to learn your trade; everyone starts as a bottom." I think that is what he is saying he is a dominant bottom. I hate the terminology, it's like the menu at a restaurant. I will have a Dominant Bottom with a side of sadism, please.

"Not everyone." He says deflated.

"Well, if a man ever approaches you and says he has only ever topped, leave." I try and keep calm; I don't want the misogynistic nature of the culture colouring his experience. "It's not the same as a man and a woman, you can hurt someone if it is not done right and how do you know what feels good if you haven't experienced it yourself." He nods accepting my advice, I brush his hair out of his face so I can see his eyes, they are so large and scared. He is still processing, so I take the cue and wait for him to speak.

"Weird fish." He says. I laugh, I have only heard those words pass one person's lips.

"Dutch thinks anyone who isn't a testosterone-filled hetero is a weird fish." I smile at him to show him it is ok. "Weird fish or Dominant bottom, with less emphasis on the Dominant as you are new to this." I think we are making progress and then he puts his fists into balls and pulls at his hair.

"Hey, hey," I grab his wrists to stop him doing that, it's bad enough I have to know other people hurt him, I don't want him to see him hurting himself. I pull him close, sit him in my lap, position his legs around my waist. "Tell me what the problem is?"

"It doesn't work does it, tying someone up, breaking them and then when they are bound and subservient, I ask them to fuck me." He is almost crying. I nuzzle my nose, tenderly against his cheek, breathing softly so he could feel it. He shudders from the sensation.

"Tying a man up, torturing him, edging him to complete loss of control, so every nerve is electrified." I swap sides and repeat the nuzzle on his other cheek. "He is full of rippling aggression, unsated need and hunger for you." I rub my nose against his capturing his gaze in mine. "Then you release him, and demand that he fucks you." I look down at our throbbing erections to confirm the point. "Sounds like the hottest thing I have ever heard." I am trying to be controlled for him, so he can explore at his own pace, define his lines and find what he likes. It is really hard, I want to lose myself in him, take what I need.

"Can I take your trousers off?" I intentionally ask that way, so he has to give me the power. It is a common misconception that the Dominant makes the command and Sub just follows orders. I am sure there are loads of people who do it that way, that is dull, it is turning it into something you do, rather than something you are. I am not sure if John understands that yet if he is a Dom or is just experimenting. It's a conversation that will be had way down the line. There is so much to do to get him ready for that. I am glad we are transparent at the start, but the idea that John is going to have me tied and begging anytime soon is the ultimate naivety.

He stands up and waits. It is a sign, if he got up and started taking them off himself, it would suggest he was experimenting, doing rather than feeling. The fact that he waits means he gets the importance that I take them off. I position myself around him, his crotch in my eye-line. I pull the zip, slowly, shoot a glance up and his eyes are blown, sultry, his hair falling forward, it's so debauched. I unbuckle his belt, unlooping it and letting it fall to the floor. Then with a single motion, I unhook his button. I completely forgot, the v shape of his loose pants revealing my boxers, and like a red rag to a raging bull, I cannot stop myself. I pick him up and throw him back on the bed. He bounces from the force, his gaze still sultry, he wants this. I pull his trousers off, yanking them hard as they get stuck around his ankles. I take my own off, what I am about to do is always better with minimal clothing, not naked. I don't care we have both seen each other in the moment of climax, that was just awkward. We are not ready to interact with nudity.

Chapter Text

He threw me on the bed, which is so hot and at the same time slightly terrifying. Something snapped in him when he started to take my trousers off. He was so sensual, so understanding and patient. Now, he appears possessed, his eyes don't leave me, full of intensity and hunger. He is devouring the sight of me; his cornflower irises turn black with desire, all for me or because of me. I dare not move in case this is a dream, he is a mirage, and the slightest spasm will turn him into dust. So, I just watch as he lowers his own trousers. Captivated by the sight of those thighs, so powerful, rippling and I imagine the sound they make when they are thrusting uncontrolled against skin, my skin. I almost wish I wasn't so lean, that there were parts of me that had fat, like my ass and thighs. So, we could create music together, muscle slapping against fat in a gratifying percussion of raging lust.

I can feel moist against the tip of my head, pooling on the fabric of my boxers and I realise I am so close to blowing, just thinking of what he can do to me, what we can do together. Oh God, that's it, his boxers, he is losing his shit because my dick is where his dick usually lives. He didn't see the doubt I went through this morning when I found them, it was a bit weird, kind but weird, I wore them anyway, I think I wanted to, I just couldn't cope with the thought of him knowing that I had. Now I am glad I did, seeing the reaction in him. I think on what he said, how my dominance isn't about making the other submit, how it's helping them to lose all control until they are debased. Unrestrained, I can unleash all that sexual fury on me. His eyes haven't left me, I want to beg him not to touch me, scared the lightest of caresses will have me somersaulting into orgasm before it has even begun. I cannot speak words, my throat is tight with expectations, if I said stop, he would worry or be concerned or actually stop, and I don't want that. I want him

I expect him to jump on top of me, to crush me with his weight and muscles. Instead, he glides up the bed, he actually moves gracefully for once. He places his arms to either side of my head, hovering plank above me. Then he nuzzles me again, his nose and breath gently caressing my face, it is so sensual, it makes me tingle all over. It's something I definitely want to keep. I watch him, he appears different close-up, I can see blemishes, pours, light hairs around his face, so handsome, all mine. I probably appear terrified, a rabbit caught in the headlights, unable to move, not even my hands. He is inches from me, my Adonis, my demi-God and I can't find the strength to touch him. He doesn't seem to mind how one-sided this is; instead, he continues his caresses, soft, tantalising, his warm focussed breaths, and how can he hate his nose? I love his nose, I love the mastery he has of his nose, the way it brushes, so delicately, barely touching but it lights up every nerve. I am having a nerve orgasm.

When I am absolutely lost in the light sensations of his skin and breath touching, my eye's close as I commit the feeling to memory. He softly glides his erection over mine, barely grazing. I make a strained noise, I have never heard such a sound come from me, it isn't sexy or erotic, more a kitten crying. If I had any control, I would probably die from embarrassment, but at this moment, my only thought is; do not cum, do not cum. Whatever I am doing, the weird stifled noises, the uncontrolled spasms or the mental mantra I may or may not be whispering. He stops, it is the worse feeling ever, I can't believe people do this, edging, getting to peak hype and then freeze. I would have to kill someone if that happened more than once. I peep, and he is staring at me, his eyes laced with concern. I can imagine his question; too much? While I am grateful, he is attentive; this is not the moment to verbalise it. I need his focus and hunger back on me, back on my body, and I need to not cum long enough that when I do, it will be the most exceptional moment of my sad, pathetic life.

"Don't stop" I whisper. Arthur's lips, so full and luscious lick upwards. Like I have said the magic words; open sesame. I have to get used to asking or commanding, speak my wants. Understand that it is for me to instruct him on what I want and let him squirm and fidget until he gives it to me. I am so fucking greedy for him right now, I want everything. He grinds down again, this time harder and a shot of electricity shoots through me. It is almost akin to anxiety, that nervous feeling when you are about to present your art or do an exam. I don't want that feeling, I want this more than anything. I realise it is in anticipation, my body knows it is going to get something new, something it craves. More the feeling you get as a kid on Christmas Eve, complete unruly joy.

As he gyrates, his cock rubbing against mine, my moans become so lewd, almost demanding, yes, yes, oh Arthur. I am conscious that it's too much that I am too wild and sound like some porno whore who pretends to orgasm. Because seriously who can actually orgasm with someone they don't know, and a camera guy and lighting guy stood over them. Apart from my discovered fetish, I only ever get off on natural stuff, not homemade but the films where either the guys are fucking each other in real life or they just bond. It is hard to explain and quite rare, but when you do find it, you just watch over and over again. Like you are intruding on a private moment between two lovers who don't know you are there and have only eyes for each other. God, I want that, I want the kink and the filth and discovering boundaries. I also crave the love, I want to be made love to, made to feel I am the only person on the planet, and there is nothing between us.

I realise I am totally lost, and if I don't get a fucking grip, I am going to say something monumentally stupid.

"Talk dirty to me," I say trying to deflect the attention away. It literally just popped out. I didn't even know I was thinking about it. I have always imagined, always wanted it to be part of sex, blame books. Arthur keeps rocking, setting a rhythm and pressure that has me moaning like a whore once again. My hands finally wake up and grab his ass, not because that is something I should do, but his force is so great I need something to hold on to. His ass is so tight and firm, every thrust shifts his gluteus, and I can feel the dimples that are created. He is fucking perfect, a masterpiece. I love his nose but his ass, it might have graduated to my new favourite part, sorry nose. I am an ass man; who knew. I giggle for a moment as I realise how fickle I am being and how brave he was when he revealed himself to me, his imperfections as he sees them. I would never tell him he is perfect. I sense he would hate that, it would diminish his vision of himself, as fucked up as that is. He almost gives me the impression that he doesn't know how not to be self-deprecating. As much as I want him to believe in himself, his humility and humbleness are why he is here thrusting into me. God this is so fucked up, I have pulled myself a broken Jock, devalued and lacking in self-worth and if I fix him, he will leave. I want to fix him; I just don't want him to go.

"I want my cock inside you." He whispers, and I bolt up, instantly clattering into his thick body which forces me back on the bed. Effectively, I just tackled a quarterback from a standing start and got absolutely nowhere, he didn't even flinch or exert any sort of pressure or force. He was just there, which meant I couldn't go through him and now have to communicate my feelings.

"No," I say a little too forcefully. Which launches an expression of fear from Arthur, that I regret. I didn't mean to sound so desperate with terror. I am so not ready for that.

"You said, talk dirty." He says exasperated. Oh yeah, I did, I forgot, I got so lost in my thoughts I forgot my own command. Having realised I had theoretically asked for his words; I now need to save some face and not look like a total idiot.

"No, not porno shit." I know, a bit rich considering I was doing the whole yes, yes, Arthur, yes but I am the Dom and what I say goes. I don't think I will ever say that out loud or that he will ever buy it for a second, but in my head, it saves me from blushing.

"We need to work on your understanding of dirty, do you want more Shakespeare?" He mocks his sultry gaze directing me to speak my mind. I can tell he is serious; if I said yes, he would do it, and that floors me, that if it isn't over one of his boundaries, which I currently have no clue what they are, he will give it to me. Do I ask, service my needs?

"God, yes, every day, I want a different verse. But not for this." I can feel my throat tighten, I am actually scared that he might not be able to do this, that it isn't in his repertoire of things he is good at.

"Ok, so you can tell me what you want, or I can say things, and then you can let me know if you like it." He says it so warmly, planting kisses on my chin. He is making it seem like the most reasonable request in the world which relaxes me and makes me comfortable, and I completely cherish him for that. He starts to rock again; the pressure is so good. He kisses down my jawline, which is so amazing. Between kisses, he continues to nuzzle and breathe, and it is all so much. Different parts of my body are reacting to different things all at the same time. My hairs are standing up, skin sensitive to his touch, my stomach is rolling from anticipation, my voice is wrecked, and my brain is complete and utter mush.

"You are such a good boy." I groan; that is what I want, that is what I need. I lose rhythm slightly, start bucking a little too fast and wildly against him. He reads it, he is good at that and then gives me the words I need to understand myself, which is so generous.

"Praise kink, baby, that is what you like." I am a weird fish, visually I have the appearance of a Twink, and Emo Twink but actually I am dominant bottom that has a praise kink.

"You are making me feel so good" He purrs in my ear and I squeeze his ass to tell him I like it.

"Do you like being my special boy?" He whispers and nibbles at my ear lobe.

"Arthur!" I explode with cum because being called baby and special boy by Arthur is so intense my cock can't handle it. I cum from his words, which is really important to me. He holds me as I drift into a wave of calm; my body relaxes, I am in heaven.

He continues to run his nose across my cheeks, my nose, my skin is so sensitive it is becoming unbearable.

"Can I kiss you?" he asks. I shudder, why now when the want is ebbing. When the post-glow sinks me back to reality, and I remember who I am, not sexy, not desirable, just sad, pathetic me, and now he wants to kiss me.

"I have never kissed someone before" I know, I just came from his cock rubbing against mine so what is a kiss. As smooth and sensual he is being, I want our first kiss to be passion and lust, and I haven't got that in me right now. A flash of disappointment crosses his face, he doesn't push me, he collapses to my side, and I shuffle over to give him more space.

It is so awkward, the afterwards, the comedown. The realisation I have exposed parts of myself to Arthur, that rationally, I shouldn't have. In the moment it made sense, I wanted it. Now my head is full of tomorrow, what will tomorrow be like, will he withdraw and leave me contemplating whether it happened at all.

Chapter Text

I should have left, not straight away that would have been harsh. The problem is that most people deciding that they may be interested in one another don't spend two nights on the bounce in bed together. Well not until they are older, we are teenagers, where is the first date, the holding hands, love texts and dick pics. If the world wasn't so shitty to us, we could have that; instead, I am lying in his bed watching him sleep again.

We are confined to secret places, his bedroom or mine, bedrooms they provide a level of intimacy and security, which is comforting. They are also notoriously full of porn, and beds which lead to activities we shouldn't be indulging yet. I have gone from thinking he wants me, the real me, to supposing he is just using my body as a vessel to explore. I don't mind if that is the case, I can be his fuck buddy, I just don't react well to uncertainty. I need clarity on where I stand, boundaries. I need to know how much of myself I can give to him, I thought it was all of it. His kindness towards my insecurities, making me realise I might not be as fat as I believed; made me feel invincible. Then he refused to kiss me, well not refused but he made me feel like that was too intimate, it was ok to get him off, but kissing was a step too far.

I shuffle uncomfortably and try not to wake him. I need my own bed and my own space, need time to work out my place in this. Yet, I can't leave him, if I go, he will think he has done something wrong, will worry I am one of those bastards that will tell everyone in school he is a pervert. There will be no repercussions for me because I am one of the untouchables. For him, he might as well leave school than face the abuse, he is already facing so much. I decide to embark on another restless night. Coach is going to kill me; it's a big game on Friday, and I am not exactly taking care of myself.

I am awoken in the morning by an excitable John, he leaps, straddling me with his white chicken legs, bouncing slightly on my cock, which much to my own frustration starts to harden. I grab his waist, forcing him to stop.

"You owe me a verse?" My eyes are blurry, the sunlight from the window isn't helping. I do not have the full cognisance of someone awake enough to fathom what he is talking about.

"You owe me a verse of Shakespeare, we agreed last night, one every day." I fix my eyes in such a way that question his sanity, my "are you kidding me?" gaze. Emphasising the point that I am pissed that I am awake and doubly pissed that he isn't playing fair.

"I didn't agree to that." I croak.

"You didn't say no." I groan he is going to be so much hard work. A Dom that doesn't clarify or confirm is a considerable risk. The fact that I am thinking about him still being a Dom to me probably means I haven't given up on us just yet. A verse of Shakespeare is hardly crossing a line, it's not like he asked if he can piss on me. That is a line, a definite line that I will not cross.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date."

He squeals with joy which is a bit over the top, but it makes me smirk slightly. That is all he is getting, mainly because I haven't got a clue what comes after. I am seriously worried about this game, I only quoted Shakespeare at him because I thought he would appreciate it and stop being angry at me. I know, manipulative, isn't all wooing manipulative? Bestowing your best attributes to stun the other person long enough in the hope they get used to you being around. He clearly is into the poetry thing, I got that side of him right, but the breadth of my knowledge has just run out. I haven't got time to become some sort of expert in Shakespearean love sonnets to satisfy his daily requirements.

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

"It's Yeats, The Cloths of Heaven, my favourite." I am a bit stunned; I don't know what to say. Is he reciting his favourite poem, so I appreciate it as his favourite poem or is he saying it because the words mean something to him? If it is the former, I could really do without the education in poetry before breakfast, the latter and I think I might have fallen in love with him, a little.

"It means…." he goes to educate me; which I understand I am relatively stupid in comparison on most things. Still, I do actually listen in English class, I am quite good at grasping poetry.

"I know what it means John, I just don't understand why you are saying it?" He frowns at me like I have offended him and I really didn't mean to. I don't want to fall into our second argument, especially over poetry, something we have in common.

"I have nothing to give you other than my dreams." He says sweeping the hair back from his face, revealing his sharp and alluring features. "It's not accurate really, you are my dreams, so if you don't tread softly you will be treading on yourself, I suppose." Ever the artist, always critiquing, even if it is himself and the application of his favourite poem to our current situation, or more accurately on me, my role in this situation. I can't lose the sensation of complete worship, or that now I am kind of clear what he is getting at that I think it might be the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. In the back of my mind, I am still doubting, he can give me his body, he can give me his words and kindness, the essence of him, his soul. All I wanted was a kiss, a kiss of reassurance, he couldn't give me that.

"Can you speak now, please because you are making me feel a bit awkward." He is frank and honest, which I appreciate. So, I need to do the same for him, tell him what was on my mind.

"I...Why....I.... need to get home, unless you have some clothes that fit me, in my style." I push him off me, not forcefully, I just need him away from me. I get up, stretching the stiffness out of my legs. He doesn't move, just hovers behind me, wounded. We both know he hasn't got anything I can wear, that's why I said it, an escape plan that cannot be scrutinised or judged.

"Do you want me to make breakfast?" He offers but I can't stay. My run is calling to me, I am shaking, a whole host of unwanted energy coursing through my veins. I fall hard and fast, it always ends up a disaster, I am determined not to do that with him.

"Can I go through the door?" It sounds more sarcastic than I mean it to. I can feel myself pulling away, I really don't want to do it, I can't stop myself. Self-preservation is kicking in. If he can't kiss me, give me the affection I desire, and if I can't communicate my needs, then we are not ready for poetry and declarations. We are certainly not fit to escalate the physical. I can't believe how stupid I have been. I should have dropped John at his house last night, gone home and left it. I did, I went home, the silence was too much. I couldn't stop the incessant voices in my head going around and around. There wasn't anything irrational, I can manage that. What I can't cope with is facts, he was mad at me, I wasn't sure why; he slammed the door in my face. All responses I needed clarification on. I tried to call Abi, but as usual, she was out with her girlfriend. Well, in with her girlfriend, like us, they have the added pressure of not being able to go out like an average couple in case they are seen. I even think about finding Micah and the rest of the team, then remember practice and decide against it. That's how I got to scaling his house and letting myself in through his window, quoting Shakespeare. I should have put a rose between my teeth to make it more cliched. Shit, am I engaging in this because I feel lonely or because I am alone, I realise I need this? It's not fair on John that I don't know the answer.

I pull on my clothes, and he guides me downstairs. His father is spark-out in front of a blaring television, snoring. A half-empty bottle of whiskey by his side. I can only see his limp arms hanging over the chair, which is probably for the best. If I saw his face, I would commit it to memory and then hunt him down and possibly kill him for what he does to my precious boy. John turns, places his finger on his lips, fear in his eyes. I am scared on his behalf, this man that brutalises him, probably an alcoholic. I should have gone through the window; how can he explain this. If we were both fully dressed, might be more straightforward, John is walking around his t-shirt and boxers. The guilt is crippling, selfish, only thinking of myself. I gave John part of me, expecting something in return. He can't give me what I want because he doesn't know how to. I am aware of this, aware it will take time and yet every time I am confronted with the reality, I only think of myself. How can he show affection when he has never been taught how to? That was my job, one I was sure I wanted, I just need to overcome my own insecurities which feel so impossible.

He opens the door, and I sweep through. He lingers, I knew he was a loiter, apparently just needed something worth waiting for. I take it as an opportunity not to destroy everything. Not ready for kissing is ok, it's not ok, it is breaking me slightly, I can handle that for him. My shoulders are broader, I have the experience. At the same time, I am aware of the pain of losing my parents colours my present, it can't compare to what John is subjected to.

I brush my index finger over his cheek. It is soft, and I don't mean to appear so distraught like I am saying goodbye for good. His pupils dilate, revealing a light shade of hazel in his iris. They change colour, dependant on his mood, what was this; heartbroken. I do something that surprises us both, I run my thumb across his lips, he lets me, positively encourages it, by not recoiling. I manipulate them, brushing along the shape of the top and then the bottom. Then he takes my thumb in his mouth, seductive wraps his tongue around it and quite frankly sucks my thumb off. It is so debauched, lewd and I want to take him back upstairs for another session. I am meant to be good at this, reading people, understanding their motivations. John is an open book, if he doesn't tell me, I am can pretty much read his expression. But every now and again he surprises me, does something I am not expecting, then I find myself re-evaluating. He releases my thumb with a popping sound that is so suggestive I am almost releasing in my pants. I am leaving him, I have to; however, the morning run has definitely been traded for some alone time in the shower.

Chapter Text

Can I get used to this? He is suffocating me with attention one moment, not a complaint, that side can stay and grow. Then he withdraws the next, I miss the heat of his body next to mine, his breath on my skin. I suspect it is my lack of exposure to all thing's relationships. I am overly sensitive, I mean I woke up this morning like it was Christmas day, excited jumping on the bed. I expected him to mirror my excitement, our bodies entwined, stimulating each other. I wanted him to take me in his mouth and milk me with his tongue. I tried to woo him as he did with me, reciting poetry, he appeared mortified by it all. Perhaps I should lay off the verses, he did it once to win entry to my room, maybe he just did it for me, I have to do something different.

I can put context into this, I am not a morning person, the alarm has to go off four times before I even consider opening my eyes. Arthur, already experienced, probably wanted to wake up, have coffee and adjust. I the excited child disrupted his routine; if I was a bit more sophisticated, aloof, natural, he wouldn't have run. I saved it in the end, I can't be polished or suave and certainly not ordinary. I can keep him interested with my filth, deviancy and perversion. That is what he wants from me, that is what he sees in me, so he can have that. If he can't do romance, then I will give him everything but.

I run to school, ok not run, I walk at a pace that is slightly quicker than my; I don't want to go to school shuffle. It's funny, I have spent the last three years hating the sight of that building, that hate has seeped out. I hate walking past the coffee shop of the main street, watching the office workers chatting as they drink their morning cup of whatever concoction they order. I hate turning the corner, walking down the faux tree-lined Avenues with their brown tenement homes that are now converted into overpriced modern apartments. I hate always being reminded of everything I don't have, everything I will never have. Only to arrive at the building that reminds me more than anything else how lonely I am and pointless faith is, school the place where hope comes to die. Not today, today I can proudly claim I have something that all those I have been jealous of for so many years have never had. Keep your apartment, your IKEA furniture, your half breed pampered dogs and your pretentious coffee. I have Arthur Morgan, the most handsome, filthy, gay, Quarterback. For once I think there is a God, for once I feel he noticed me.

I walk through the double doors, and it is a cacophony of noise. The younger kids are boisterous, an explosion of paper spreads in every direction, the constant sound of lockers grinding open or slamming shut. Conversations, so asinine about what Sandra did with Brad or who left the gas taps on in Science. How can a scene I once derived as such a hateful experience appear so vibrant? I am observing it for the first time, not present, I am floating above it, witnessing the colour and beauty. It is akin to walking through a meadow of flowers, reds and purples, yellows and oranges, scents of spring and dew and pollen.

 I see him before he sees me. He is propped against his locker, Letterman jacket on speaking to the cheerleader Abi. He is a good few inches taller, so he has his knee bent slightly to be closer. If I didn't know better, I would say they were a couple. Their eyes alive with passion, flirtatious hand gestures, she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear seductively. Poor Abi, she will get a shock when she realises, she isn't his type. I am. Then I smile, a completely unabashed goofy smile. Which instantly draws looks of utter disgust from most of my peers who walk past, I am John Marston, I do not smile.  It amazes me that they notice, that for some peculiar reason today is the day they bother to look up and see me.  Beyond my smile, there is an aura, one I didn't have before, Arthur's scent has rubbed off on me, I am two foot taller, and they have to respect me. Still, they don't understand why hence the grimaces of confusion.

"What are you looking at freak?" Abi rakes her disgusted eyes up and down me like I am a giant dog turd. Then I realise I am stood in the middle of the hallway gawping at him like he is made of gold.

"Yeah freak, fuck off." I know he is keeping up appearances, that this is how we should behave towards each other but fuck that hurt.  I want to be confident, say something that will hurt back but my mind is too full of devastation.  I simply stop smiling and walk off. I think I will punish him later for that, make him regret his cruelty, but I don't possess the confidence to do that yet.

I thought I would be more casual, that I can compartmentalise him, there is the stranger in school and the real him outside, two different people that I would treat as such. I suppose I never realised how much he was in my space or me in his.  He is two down the lunch queue from me, I can hear his southern drawl laughing, and it makes my skin tingle.  We pass seven times in the hall, which makes me panic that I might be stalking him.  I find myself in the bathroom with him, our eyes lock in the mirror for what feels like an eternity.  Then I blush something ridiculous because this not the place to be making googly eyes and I run off, like an idiot.  I spend the last break with the smokers, none of whom I know very well but I am pretty sure it is the one place I can guarantee I won't see him.

"Come on Kids, you know you shouldn't be smoking on school property." It is quite amusing, any other teacher would have them scarpering in all directions, fear of detention.  Mr Matthews is cool like that, he understands that control isn't going to change a habit.  They take a few more drags and disperse. 

"John, don't take up smoking its a filthy habit." I smile at him, I can't afford to even if I wanted to.

"I am not smoking, I promise." He gives me this queer side-eye glance, he suspects something, that I might be lying maybe.

"Why are you hiding John?" Busted, why am I so predictable, I want to be allusive and enigmatic but five seconds with me and it appears my thoughts are written over my face.  "You are not being bullied are you, John."

"Yes, of course, I am." I squawk with faux-indignation. "I am a teenager in high-school it would be weird if I wasn't being bullied." He laughs at me, I like making him smile like that it is something I can give him in the way of payment for his support.

"I am hiding from Arthur," I confess, I don't feel guilty about it. Mr Matthews has seen him naked, or my interpretation of him naked, so Arthur can't be angry at me for talking to him about us. Us, two simple letters combined speak of hope, expectation, union, oh, I am melting completely.

"It's overwhelming, isn't it?" he says, still smiling.

"Every time I see him, I think my heart will explode, I forget to breathe, it's like dying,"  I choke out the words exacerbated by my own feelings.

"Oh, John, if there was ever a boy that needed a bit of love in his life." He pats me on the shoulder. "All the great poets marry death with love, the passion, the intensity, the loss. Just remember, that which burns brightly can often burn quickly." I know he is trying to deliver cautious advice; as if I haven't noticed that mine and Arthur's romance hasn't got car crash written all over it. Like the smokers, I am hooked, death is all that can stop me from getting my fix.  

We amble back to the school building in time for the bell.  Then I realise my avoidance tactics were foolish as I have no idea if we are meeting after school; if he will climb through my bedroom window. I can't return the favour, his window is too high, I couldn't even get passed the gate.  Why the fuck didn't we swap phone numbers, why don't I have a way to contact him.  The love of my life is going to leave me because we can't communicate using telepathy. I am being slightly irrational, although I blame him, he got himself well and truly under my skin and I do not feel ashamed one bit.  So, I do something completely reckless and senseless, I write him a note to tell him where I will be.  No sooner I have posted it in his locker, I want to get it back out again because it screams of desperation.  We didn't say we would see each other tonight, if he wished to contact me, he would have given me his number.  I remember how excruciating his expression was when I recited poetry at him. Telling him, he was my dream has got to be the biggest turn-off ever.

I accept that whatever it is or was it is probably all over.  I break my own heart then and there to save Arthur the bother.  I am actually a little bit angry at him, what was he thinking, could he not tell that I was too immature to handle a grown-up relationship. I mean whatever we did last night, dry humping, that was awesome but the emotional stuff I don't know what I am supposed to do with it.

I really don't want to meet him; I don't want to give him the chance to stand me up. I also don't want to look like a complete freak that agrees on a place to meet and then not be there. What a flake. So, I go and I wait for a while, the layby where he dropped me off the day before. I make an agreement that I will wait for him for 20 minutes no more, no less. 20 minutes seems reasonable. So, 40 minutes later, he still hasn't arrived, and I start having an argument in my head with him. I imagine seeing him in the hall tomorrow, going up to him, shouting at him for taking advantage. I instantly regret having that thought, I shouldn't ever think about shaming him in school. Whatever it is that we have or had it will always have to be a secret, for our own protection.

An hour later I start walking, it is over he doesn't want me. I made such a fool of myself, revealed too much too soon. No one will ever love me, not as I am, I have to learn from this and pretend to be someone else. I had the most exceptional prize, I will never want someone like I want him, now I have lost him. I am almost back to school when he pulls up next to me. He winds down the window.

"Sorry I am late, get in." He says nonchalantly like I haven't been going through hell. I want to jump in the car and kiss him, I can't, too near School, I will as soon as it is safe, I am going to jump on him

Chapter Text

"Hello, Mr Morgan." Miss Grimshaw says, the school therapist. We meet once a week, it is part of the deal. She probably knows me better than anyone, not my thoughts or how I feel. She knows I compartmentalise that I don't live my whole life in sequence, I switch on and off certain parts depending on the circumstances. Her office is staged, dull, with fake plants, cheap wooden chairs and dated cushions. An amass of thick textbooks align the walls, the dust suggests they are not used often. It feels like the seventies never left, she was probably born then, a bit earlier, it's hard to tell. We always sit opposite each other, her long flowing skirts hide any suggestion of youth, she crosses her legs at the ankles, which makes me do the same. Only she leans back in comfort, and I am sat forward, pensive, grasping my hands and shaking my knees, nerves.  

"Which version of you have I got the pleasure of this afternoon?" She mocks, sometimes I am completely open with her. Other's I shut down, best she can hope for is a grunt or two of acknowledgement. Sometimes, I take the piss, making things up to get her concerned about me, then I laugh. The most amusing was my love affair with a horse named Gerald, she couldn't stop writing, I told her we were going to elope to Alaska, live together as man and horse. I often think of Gerald, he broke my heart, ran away with a donkey called Jemima, joking obviously. I lost a bit of respect for her on that one, she is so proper that she thinks deviancy is inclusive of everything. Just because I sometimes like to be tied up and whipped until I am raw, does not mean I am open to liaisons with the animal kingdom. No, Grimshaw is so strait-laced that she thinks smoking pot is instant heroin addiction. She is as tedious and predictable as the room, I can't be blamed for taking advantage.   

"I have met someone" apparently honest Arthur is who she is getting.

"Ok, so not a fake relationship with a certain cheerleader, this is a genuine someone?" She means a man, she knows I am gay, she knew before I even started school. My notes were forwarded to her from my previous school therapist.

"Yeah, John Marston." She cocks an eyebrow, then her lips curl.

"Interesting choice." Isn't it just?

"How long has this been going on?" She asks, noting down what I am saying. I am not sure I am ready for there to be documented evidence of John and me, it feels like a risk.

"Two days." She laughs, I am sure she is not supposed to laugh, but she does it anyway.

"So, I don't need to remind you of the importance of practising safe sex and being emotionally available to your new partner." I can't fathom if that is a statement or a question. I know she is hinting that a two-day-old relationship should be nowhere near the stage of sex or real intimacy. Yet we are two horny teenage boys, what does she expect?

"No, that can be next weeks talk," I say flippantly.

"So why are you telling me, you usually keep intimacy close to your chest, why are you so open now?" She is harsh, brutal. I mean fair enough we all could do with a mirror to see our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses and understand them better. Still, I don't need to be bludgeoned to death while I look upon myself.

"I am scared." There we go, I have said it out loud, "He's vulnerable, I am scared I am taking advantage."

She laughs again. "It is not appropriate for me to speak of other pupils, but John Marston and vulnerable are two words that do not come to my mind." My body flinches slightly, I obviously know more than she does about the real John and his actual situation.

"His father is abusive." I regret revealing it, I hope she doesn't try and safeguard him. He will know I have betrayed him.

"The school is aware; we do monitor the situation. Have you considered discussing your concerns with John?" She says it so casually, which makes me angry, how can they be aware but not act. Shouldn't social services be involved or something, how can they let him go home to abuse night after night. I shake my head to her question, it feels like an intrusion, to ask, I want him to tell me when he is ready.

"Arthur, people find themselves in situations that aren't very agreeable." The understatement of the century "Sometimes those situations don't necessarily lead to a broken individual, people can thrive in adversity." How can she say that he is thriving in his abuse?

"You have someone relatable." She puts her pen down and stares at me with her fierce unforgiving eyes. "I would go so far as to say a good match." Oh, she is wicked when she wants to be, we are the odd couple at best. "The fact you are worried means I am not worried." She smiles. "We both know you could do a lot worse." That is a dig at my past, she knows the story, has read the file. After my parent's death, I was reckless.

I leave the session and retrieve my books from my locker. A note falls out, reads: layby J. Shit, he doesn't know my schedule, will he still be there? If he is not, then I am going to have to beg him to forgive me. Not that I have done anything wrong, I get the impression he is nervous, unsure of his position, so he will see my absence as a slight.

Fortunately, I drive out of school, and he is there. He jumps in the car, and he absolutely stinks.

"I didn't know you smoked," I say harshly. A line, I detest smoking, the smell, the weakness of addiction.

"I don't, sorry, just hung out with the smoker's last break." He assures me.

"They friends?" I ask; I don't particularly want to hang out with the smoking crowd.

"No, it was the one place I knew you wouldn't be." Painfully honest. After Grimshaw, I am not sure I have the stamina for such candour.

"Why were you avoiding me?" I respond coolly, protecting my big stupid heart.

"I.....its have been hard, seeing you" He pauses and I think this might be it, he is going to end it. "Not being able to touch you." God, I swerve slightly in the road because the pain has migrated from my heart to my cock. My brain failed to notify my hands in time for such a violent transition.

I drive us to a secluded spot by the shoreline, it's popular in the summer, but now autumn is in full swing, it's deserted. It's grey and cold, the waves crashing against the headlands, I enjoy the remoteness, the squally rain as it thrashes against my car. No sooner I turn the ignition off, John is in my lap. It's tight, there isn't enough space, the horn blares from the pressure of his ass.

I pull the handle and the chair slides back jolting John forward; his lips collide with mine. It's so tender, just two sets of lips stuck together. Then I feel his tongue against my bottom lip, probing. I push him back, away.

"You don't have to," I say a little flustered. "Not if you don't want to." I feel like I have to clarify that he isn't doing this out of some sense of social requirement. That he thinks we have to be like that because we don't. I don't want him to start blurring his lines to please me, blurred lines always become messy.

"Why wouldn't I want to kiss you?" He smiles, his eyes dart across my lips and then back to mine. Then he sees my expression of confusion and frowns. 

"Last night," I say in the hope he understands. He thinks on it for a moment, shuffles in my lap unintentionally making me groan.

"I wanted our first kiss to be special. Not an afterthought." I am once again blown away and breathless, his openness and thoughtfulness. I keep adding barriers that I think he won't cross, but there are no boundaries for him, just considerations.

"It felt special to me." I can hear myself saying it aloud full of desperate pleading, it makes me blush that my vulnerabilities are exposed.

"Is that why you have distant because I didn't kiss you?" he says it in a way that once again has me feeling stupid.

"No" I protest a little to shakily. John tilts his head, aware I am lying. "I didn't think you wanted that level of intimacy," I confess.

"We need to work on your understanding of intimacy." We both laugh, maybe I do, I have managed to compartmentalise sex and intimacy. John hasn't done that, they live in his crazy no boundaries world, the same side of the same coin.

"Is this special enough?" I am slightly amazed, last night I stimulated him into orgasm, that was special, it felt like a kiss would naturally secure our relationship. Apparently not, now, sat cramped in my car is meant to be the perfect moment.

"I am not spaced out like I was last night." He runs his hands down my chest, making me shudder. "I can participate." He leans forward again, brushing our lips together. I decide to let him lead, to explore my mouth with his tongue. I close my eyes weakly, desiring my other senses to interpret this moment for me. The squeak of leather seats, the smell of tobacco, the taste of mint, the warmth of his saliva. As separate elements they vary from minor irritations to absolutely detestable, I really do hate the smell of tobacco. As they are combined by him and the attention, he is giving to me, they become intoxicating. Considering he has never kissed someone before he is actually quite competent. A bit intense, fast and enthusiastic, I am enjoying the force of him. Feeling the pressure of his weight against me, his dominance over me.

I am getting hard, my hands find his ass, grinding him down. He moans into my mouth from the arousal. We pick up the pace, moving fluidly, hands, lips, tongues, cocks. It is becoming a bit too heated, leading to wild thoughts that we are not ready for.

"Take me on the back seat." He says it seductively, I suppress the temptation.

"You know we can't, John." I release a shaky breath, the bittersweet act of denial.

"I know, but I really want to." He collapses against my chest in a whining fit of despair. I decide we need to move on this sooner rather than later, or we will end up doing something stupid we both regret. I lift him off me and to a cry of displeasure I place him on the passenger seat.

Traffic is a nightmare; it takes an hour to get back to mine. I try to initiate a conversation that could be deemed healthy. How was your day? How are your ribs? I get monosyllabic grunts back, I don't think he is angry with me, this is something else: nerves maybe.

The gate opens, I roll the car in. He gets out on his own, I take his hand and lead him upstairs to my bedroom. I can tell by the sweat of his palms, the slight deer in headlights look of his big brown eyes that he thinks I am going to service his request, take him in my bedroom. He is wrong, he is not ready for that.

From under my bed, I pull out an old leather box and place it on the bed. I struggle to get John's attention for a moment as his eyes study my bedroom. Quickly logging each object, then ruthlessly moving to the next. Trying to find context and colour the importance of it in my life. I didn't do that in his bedroom, my eyes never left him. His things were just insignificant items, not as valuable or important to me as him.

I decide I want to be on the floor for this. It is going to be an education, potentially embarrassing, when we are young, all our learning happens on the floor. We fail to realise the security of that, the importance of getting down and playing. Rather than being stuck rigid, sitting in a chair at a desk. The carpet will provide John space to recoil, protect, lean in and explore.

"What's in the box?" He finally says.

"It's not Gwyneth Paltrow's head," I say jokingly expecting him not to get the reference, it is quite old.

"Awesome movie." He says as he sits opposite me. It reassures me, Grimshaw might be right, relatable, a good match. I am just glad it isn't just lousy stuff like dead parents or deviant sex. It might be more than that.

I pull off the lid and chuck it on the bed. I am not the neatest packer, so everything is kind of entangled or lying carelessly on top of other things. John seems ok, intrigued.

"Dude, what is this?" He picks up the bulb and gives it a squeeze. It wasn't what I wanted to start with, I take his lead, it's his playtime after all.

"That is an anal douche," I say calmly, my accent is always thicker when I am attentive, a little slacker and my words kind of roll. John chucks it back in the box in slight disgust.

"Don't worry, it's all clean." I try to reassure him. "Have you ever?" I ask, he ties his fingers up nervously, this is not what he was expecting.

"Can we just make-out again?" I tilt my head at him, my little coward.

"No, we have to do this." I lean forward and tuck his hair behind his ear, leaving my palm against his cheek. "I might be able to control myself now, but there is going to a time when I can't. I need to know you are ready for me." His eyes pool, the brown all but disappears into blackness, and I can tell those were the words he needed to hear. That I, Arthur Morgan, am struggling just as much as he not to give in. That I don't know how many times I can listen to his whine of how much he wants me to take him until I snap and give in.

"This is fibre powder, how's your diet?" I pull a tub out and check the date.

"I get all the main food groups" I raise an eyebrow "If they were sugar and carbohydrates."

"Try to eat more fibre but supplement with this, it will help make you regular and less messy." I learnt long ago, being embarrassed about such conversations is pointless. It is better to have the talk and get things right than have an accident. I wouldn't mind if we did, it's going to happen, with all the planning the human body sometimes has a way of defeating that preparation. He might be confident that he wants it, wants me inside, but I definitely know he will die if our first time became a hazmat clean-up operation.

"Fibre helps, then douching cleans up the rest. You fill the bulb, insert, hold for about 30 minutes" He is focussing on my words, listening, which is a good sign. "Don't worry if you cant the first few times it takes a while to get used to and then release." I need him to take this seriously, it is as much about his health than our wants. "Don't overdo it, it's bad for the body, it shouldn't be part of your daily routine."

"What about if I haven't done it, does that mean we won't have sex." He quakes, unsure.

"You will get used to feeling your body, you will know if you have the green light." I try to reassure, I am not like that, I am way too self-conscious to risk it. I have met guys that are entirely in tune, have a sixth sense. I wish that for John, I don't want the hygiene thing to become an obsession. However, to enjoy its secondary function, one must accept its primary purpose might interfere.

"It’s a bit contrived, like we will always have to plan our sex life, we are never going to be taken by the moment and..." I love how his brain works, driven by passion, lust, the moment.

"John, of course, we will eventually, it's not called get down and dirty for no reason." He grins the cheekiest grin. That is a line, accidents I can handle, purposeful, absolutely not. John carries on playing, pulls out a few more toys. Butt-plugs, beads, vibrating probes.

"You start small, get used to the stretch." He cocks an eyebrow. "Do you expect me to insert these?"

"Yes, my darling, I expect you to train yourself." He shuffles away from the box, I am unsure why this part is a concern, this is the pleasurable bit. "John, without training your ass is going to hate my cock. It will remember and make it harder next time I try and gain access." He frowns, pondering my words.

"My ass will love your cock" He grins deliberately, provoking me. I chuck a vibrator at him, hitting his arm. "Violence already?"

"Shut up" I laugh at him, how he can joke at such things.

"If I am accepting this box of goodies, I want something in return." He is such a blackmailing Dom, he doesn't command, he barters, finds out what I need and then uses it as leverage. I nod, submissively.

"Can I have your phone number?" I concede that might be a reasonable and entirely rational request. Not everything has to be about sex, I might need to remind myself of that from time to time.

Chapter Text

I begged him to drive me home, there was a flicker of disappointment in his eyes, a shallow breath controlled his internal unhappiness towards the request. If I was less selfish more considerate to his needs, I might have changed my mind, but at this very moment, I craved time alone. It is hard, I thought when you went on a voyage of discovery, it was a slower process, manageable. This is more like a party popper, it exploded, and the air is full of colourful ribbons, all with different words and terminologies to try and fathom and decode. All of which require action on my part changes to my schedule of living, thought and practice.

The box of toys rattled on my knee every time we hit a bump, a crescendo of silicon reminding me how unprepared I am for all of this. I don't blame Arthur, he is acutely honest, perfect, it's just a lot to take in. My body aches for him; wants him so much I am questioning my own sanity. Yet to have him, requires training, as he put it, practice, on my own. He said I have to become intimately acquainted with my own asshole before I can expect him to. I suppose that makes sense, if I had known that was the case, I might have started that relationship a long time ago. Once again, it feels insurmountable, to form a new relationship with myself before I can start one with him.

He offered to be there when I first douche, an offer delivered with such kindness felt utterly invasive. Therein lies the problem, to be intimate, I need a working knowledge of myself, if I had that, him being present wouldn't be a problem or required. Arthur being present means, I don't have that knowledge, I am vulnerable, I can't allow him to witness that. The thought alone is making my stomach turn, I am Yossarian, trapped in my own version of catch 22.

"Feels like homework," I say as he pulls up to my house. I try and be casual about it, I am far from it, my voice breaks and quakes and I can feel the palms of my hands dripping with sweat.

"We can study together when you are ready." He says warmly. This is ridiculous, I am gravely aware of it, how can I expect him to put a piece of him in me but can't bear the thought of him preparing me for that act. I am completely turned on by the idea of him, can see our marriage of skin and sweat, sinew and muscle-flexing in perfect harmony. I just can't imagine taking that imagery and making it a reality, such an artist, I can visualise I just can't do.

I get out of the car a little dazed, he walks me to my door. I consider that maybe in my own home this will be a little bit easier to figure out. My personal space, where I am comfortable. At the door, we shuffle nervously around each other, he scuffs his shoe, his words of encouragement have migrated to his feet, and he needs to kick them out. I struggle with the box, I shouldn't it's a box, but the mortifying thought of dropping it and its content lying strewn across my porch means its glued to me. Every limb, finger, thought, has a role to play in keeping its contents concealed. It makes it awkward; I want nothing more to run inside, yet he is lingering, mute.

I try not to sound so devastated as I say goodbye, it is a cold, heartless, bye, rough around the edges, abrupt in its delivery. I am painfully aware my face is the biggest betrayer of my emotions, however harsh I might sound, I express sheer panic. He does his weak smile, acknowledging my struggles, and that breaks me, knowing his concern is as large as my own.

In my room, I pace, the box is taunting me, fear number one; what if I don't like it. What if I confirm I am not gay, how would I tell Arthur? Oops, sorry, by the way, I realised it's not you, after all, let's be friends. So contrite and absolutely cowardly, it sounds like something I would do, which annoys me more.

I get myself so worked up over it all that I end up passed out on my bed from exhaustion. I wake at 2 am, dad is home, I can hear him snoring in time with the metronomic tones of late-night television. I ponder for a moment that the day was a dream, made from the fabric of my fears. I see the box on my chair and have to relive with my new reality in vivid technicolour, or more aptly neon pinks and purples. Who decides on the colour of these things? Honestly, if they had lights on them, they could double-up as glow sticks at a rave, I giggle at the thought. I feel inspiration coursing through my veins, imagine, a party where everyone has a different size vibrator glowing as the move to the beats and rhythms of music. You know how dogs look like their owners; the vibrators would have to represent the individual. The meathead 'roid addict would have a tiny little one, I know cliched, I shouldn't let my anger at the world fall into corny observations. The cheerleader would have three, no, slut-shaming is not appropriate, so what if you had three dicks before the age of sixteen, who am I to judge. 

I would have a flesh coloured one, moulded, a perfect representation of his and he can have mine, and no one would know but us. I am sure he would hate it, another part of his anatomy in my art.

My phone buzzes. I have twenty text messages; I grin like a Cheshire cat. He is a bit insecure and slightly irrational. I could call the police and have him arrested for harassment. When we exchanged numbers, I thought that was for me, that it was my insecurities that required managing. I think I love him a bit for not having a filter, no control when it comes to me, being away from me. If he gaslighted me, I would die from the uncertainty, that clearly isn't going to happen. He is giving me all of him, while the sensible, caring, knowledgeable, side makes me nervous and childlike. His inability to filter his own thoughts rebalance the scales slightly. I don't read all of them, just scan, it is what I presume is usual, having never experienced this before.


You alright?

Call me if you need me

I am getting worried.

Don't shut me out

We can talk tomorrow

Technically, it is tomorrow, and as he has just sent the last one, I suspect he isn't going to sleep until he knows I am ok. Feeling slightly empowered by his irrational need to nurture, I decide I am going to give him a little gift. Call it the bewitching haze of night, the fact it is 2 am, and I want him to be that to me, my 2 am friend, the person I can contact at any time and know they will be there. My insecurities are numbed, they are not going to control my desires.

I open the box. Find a reasonably sized vibrator, it's not the biggest or the smallest. I understand Arthur's instructions around training, but we don't have the time for me to be slow, this will have to be a whirlwind romance of discovery.

I drop my trousers and put lube on everything, everywhere and a bit extra just in case. I position myself comfortably on my bed, exposing myself to the cold night air, this definitely feels a bit weird. I am painfully aware of myself, of my surroundings, this is my childhood room, my childhood bed. 

I painted it black when mum died, an act of rebellion or expression, does it matter. However, I can still see the space ships dangling above my desk and my bookcase full of my favourite bedtime stories. 

She always read me one before I went to sleep, I missed that most when she got ill, I started reading to her in her bed. I sometimes think that is why my sleep is so erratic now, loss of routine, unable to settle, I fell asleep in class once because I was up all night pacing about something.

I shake the thoughts from my head, this is not the time for introverted self-reflection. I require focus, determination, I will make the picture of us in my head a reality. It slides in with relative ease, for a few seconds I wonder what the fuss was about. Then it shoots out across the bed. Naturally, my butt wants to expel it, a muscle that's function is to push isn't going to suddenly change its modus operandi. I get it now, training, hurt, pain, comes from doing something it doesn't want to do, forcing it. Train it to accept. I am actually a little impressed with him for knowing this and helping me to understand.

I put it back in, take a few deep breaths. Fight the temptation to push, relax a little. Once the pride of my achievement dissipates, I realise I am not actually aroused, it isn't really stirring anything in me. I don't have an erection and other than it being there it doesn't feel any different. Could I be indifferent to the sensation, my body doesn't react to the stimulation. Does that mean I am not gay? I am sure I want him, Arthur, or do I just want a vague notion of him constructed in my head. Can I pretend I like it when it does absolutely nothing for me? Is this a case of faking it until you make it or am I completely unworkable down there? Would he notice? Of course, he would, he reads my thoughts intuitively, he would recognise it straight away. 

Could he accept it, accept that my passion for him is mental and not physical, I would live my life by his side, out of the closet. Is that cultural appropriation, can I live as an out and proud gay man and not be gay. 

I am reverse closeted heterosexual, that is entirely disrespectful. Although most gay men had wives back in the day, trapped in the closet, I am trapped outside the closet.  

When I am anxious, I fidget, my body spasms, my hands need distractions, that's why I am good at art. My mother used to call me an untamed colt because I couldn't sit still. My body will do things wholly independent of my mind because my mind is busy unravelling with questions; it has no sense or intelligence to answer. On this occasion, my body is grown up, my mind, the child. While I concern myself with the nonsensical interpretation of the term inverted uncloseted heterosexual, my hands have independently taken the decision to turn the vibrator on. The tingling sensation is quite fuzzy, definitely requires exploration, certainly moving in the right direction. My mind plugs into this joining the party, and suddenly we are back on an even keel, floating on soft warming waves, on H.M.S. Homo, where I belong. Now all I need is my Captain by my side.  

I call him, he doesn't answer the first time, I assume he has finally gone to sleep. Then I review the evidence and think he is probably scared to answer, that I am going to tell him to leave me alone or dump him.

I am ok, fell asleep, call me if you're awake. I text. With that my phone starts buzzing.

"Hi", his voice is hoarse, I can't believe I have such an impact on him.

"Hi", I respond sultry. The vibrator is starting to build with intensity, my cock is undoubtedly stirring. It's still languid, yet with the addition of Arthur on the phone, I can see this turning into an exciting experience.

"You should be asleep?" Daring, telling him off for being a naughty boy. Oh god, Dominant Bottom with a praise kink is back. How could I have considered not being gay, I am greedier than a glutton at an all you can eat.

"Was worried." He is breathing heavily down the phone, which makes me realise he probably got himself all worked up, the uncertainty, it's my job to reassure him.

"Don't be, I am stronger than you think." That is so true, I am stronger, I don't get irrational over nothing. Ok, I do, we are very similar in that respect. However, I imagine every teenager on the planet is the same, hormones.

"I know, I am probably weaker than you think." I love it when his self-deprecating, my mountain of muscle is all soft and fluffy on the inside. Walking down the street, I want him to be that way, in school, I definitely want him to be that way. When I have got a vibrating cock tickling my prostate, not so much.

"I want you to be weak for me," I respond in my most commanding voice, it still sounds a bit whiney, can't wait for my voice to settle, I still have those stupid inflects every now and again.  

"Guess what I am doing?" I say provocatively.

"I would hope you were sleeping; it's what normal people do." I roll my eyes a little, I might have found his weakness, the one thing he is not good at, phone sex.

"Lucky we ain't normal" This time I try to sound really slutty, like porn superstar finger in the mouth, come here big boy slutty. "Guess again?"

"I can't" He is so bashful, almost breaking, he knows. My filthy boy, who can say the most beautiful sensual things to me, who can educate me, cannot provide those same words down the phone to me. This is defiantly going to be a thing. My mind is blown with the thoughts, calling him as his Dom, when he is out with the football team, demanding him to imagine what I am doing to myself in his absence. Whispers down the phone of sweet eroticism, the risk of being overhead, the streak of shame on his face as he tries to come up with an excuse. I make a noise like a strangled cat again.

"John, are you ok?" His voice is more bemused than concerned.

"Joohhhnn" He is getting impatient, but my mind is mush,

"Abbbaabbaaa" I droll down the phone.

"Ok" He laughs. I am so warm and fuzzy, and I feel like a princess being pampered by a host of seraphim with golden hair and soft skin. Seconds of bliss pass by without notice or consequence, I have just achieved my first anal orgasm, and it was sublime.

"Do I need to call an ambulance?" He says mockingly.

"I just did something amazing to myself." I gulp, I am dry and hoarse and very serious.

"I gathered." I can tell he is smiling, even if he sounds a little disappointed. "Wish I could have been there,"

"There is plenty of time for that." I still crack deeply in my voice, like an instructional video on road safety. "You said it yourself I have to learn to appreciate my own body before I can expect you to."

"Touché, just don't want to be the first man in history dumped for his lover's own asshole." It is the most ridiculous statement, like that could actually happen, yet I can tell he is concerned. Now I have my box of toys to play with, his box of toys, I won't want him anymore.

"You are painfully insecure when it comes to me and my butt," I respond, half-joking, half-serious.

"I know." He chuckles in response. "It's a butt worth being insecure over."

"John…." He is once again confused. "John"

"It happened again," I whine, it was a bit too sensitive.

"Well take it out, you idiot." This time he is pissed which just makes me smile, actually double orgasm is probably making me goofy.

"Sorry, I didn't…. and then….and it's your fault." I gulp sweet air into my lungs as I try to recover and maintain a conversation.

"How is my fault!" He protests.

"You gave me the toys in the first place, told me to play, then admitted my ass is worth being insecure over," I say confidently. Definitely Arthur's fault, I cannot be held responsible for my responses to such acts of devotion.

"Might as well told me you love me; it was that hot." There is a painfully cold silence, I said the L.O.V.E. word, I didn't mean it like that, I certainly don't expect him to say it. I have wanted to say it pretty much since he started school since I knew there was a boy called Arthur Morgan in the world. I loved him, but I could dismiss it so quickly back then because everyone loved him. I don't expect him to feel the same way not yet.

"Night, John." The line goes dead, what an absolute unforgiving bastard. I mean, twenty texts, I orgasmed twice for him, ok entirely for me, but I included him. Yet, I make a simple connection between his insecurities and the L.O.V.E. word, and he hangs up.

Not fair ☹ I text him; I don't care if he responds, I don't want to know, so I turn away from my phone and try and get some sleep.  

Chapter Text

I could have told him I loved him then and there; he wouldn't have appreciated it, not really. This is John who delayed our first kiss because he wanted to be present and participating. It would have been cruel to just blurt it out like that, over the phone. He might be grumpy with me, but I can take the hit, broad shoulders. I want that moment to be different, to actually mean something more than the throwaway comment that is overused. I want him to understand that all the signs are pointing that way, his brash, unconfused, no lines personality is a contrast to my rules and regulations. We can learn so much from each other, support each other, and I am pretty sure that is what love is. Not a sickly-sweet expression delivered with bows and flowers, or heated passion that burns brightly and dies just as quick. No, I want long-term, I want everything, and that means not taking my shot so early on.

I close my locker, and see him walking down the hall, he hasn't got his goofy smile on this morning, the one he has literally just developed all because of me. I told him to fuck off yesterday, can't believe he let me get away with that. Didn't punish me for it, I really wanted him to, wanted him to make me kneel and beg his forgiveness. Anyway, I put his pathetic expression and uncoordinated shuffle down to someone not getting enough sleep. He is a little grumpy after playing with himself all night, teenagers don't possess self-control, John clearly doesn't. I decide today I am cruel, not rude or offensive, today is my day to torture him. I let him pass, his eyes on the floor where they usually are, music blaring out of his headphones.

"Watch where you're going, Marston," I shout at the top of my voice, which sends him tripping in shock, his books spilling on the floor. There is a Mexican wave of shudders down the hall as about twenty other kids react in instinctive fear. I laugh confidently, something is intoxicating about power, not that I abuse it often, but when I do, it does make me smile. He drops to his knees, I leave him to retrieve his books, this is going to be a fun day. I get a few grins from my teammates and nods of approval as I walk by. We hadn't talked since last practice when I was in the mood to send some of them to the hospital, water off a duck back, apparently. We have English together first lesson. When Miss Smith isn't looking, I throw balls of paper at him, he bats them away but doesn't engage, just keeps his eyes firmly on the board. He is getting better, compartmentalising, not gawping at me with his gooey puddles of mud he calls eyes and that toothy grin. I am determined not to let my self-doubt creep in, let me consider John might actually be mad at me for hanging up. Too many times he has surprised me with his tolerance to pain, he can tolerate this.

At lunchtime, John is further along the queue that I am, chatting shit with some Emo girl, he claimed not to have friends, he seems to get by. As he walks past, I stick my foot out, I only meant to trip him a little, just enough to acknowledge that I am there. To see the heat-burn across his cheeks, to remind him of the secret we share. In slow motion, he goes stumbling forward, his tray leaves his hands and flies across the cafeteria. A sea of gravy and mash splatters all up some girl's top, she screams like she is being murdered, he is horrified. I anticipate he will run off, to cry, maybe, I don't know what I imagine. I certainly don't expect a punch to the face, which is what I get. It kind of came out of nowhere, I was too busy watching the amateur dramatics of the girl to see him start to swing. It didn't hurt, this is John, but the shock in both of our faces as we realise, we might have inadvertently crossed a line. The deafening deflation of our peer group as they gasp in the air ready to shout, fight. It is what is expected, anything other than a full-scale fight on the floor would give the game away. Shit, we can't fight each other, I can't hurt him. Perhaps I could let him win, that's stupid no one would believe it. Seconds tick by like hours and I am beginning to sweat with fear. This is all my fault.

"Come here, you little punk." I bellow and swipe to grab him. He doges and runs, thank god he runs, I chase after him down the hall, intentionally hitting into passers-by to give him a chance. He scurries into the male toilets, genius, an environment I can control.  

"Get out!" I growl entering, a kid is latterly mid-flow, grimaces as he stops himself, barely has his flies up as I hold the door for him to escape. A throng of teenagers gathers outside, following us, waiting to hear the screams of torture as I beat the life out of John. I slam the door to their gawping eyes, puffed up and angry I bear down on his tiny frame, he flinches, prepared to take a beating. I don't miss a beat, I want him raging at me, fighting me, I want him to make me submit. We collide, lips and teeth and snarling aggression. I lift him off his feet, intuitively he wraps his leg around my waist, lips locked and battling. I walk him back towards the entrance, protecting us from any cocky intruders who want to see the fight. The thud of our weight clattering against the door gets the first, oh, from the audience, their imaginations conjuring untold violence, John yelps instinctively against the force.

We are locked in a clash of tongues, so wholly entwined. The smell of piss and bleach isn't enough to stop me being utterly lost in this moment of submission. We are devouring each other, angst, rage and lust it's rather a heady combination, I don't want it to end.

"Arthur" he mumbles, "Arthur" he breaks away, leaving me devastated. "You are supposed to be beating me." I slam our weight against the door. "Think you can slap me, bitch." I roar, he flinches again, saliva landing on his cheek. Then I push us back together, this time slower, deeper, I groan with satisfaction a little too loudly.

"Ok, that's enough." He says, trying to pull away, my lips needy, find his neck. "They are going to think you are raping me." I can feel my eyebrows rise, that might not be a line, if done carefully and respectfully with safe words agreed well in advance. He slaps my chest with his fist, can tell what I am thinking.

"Rape is a serious crime Arthur, not something for your twisted fantasies." Ow, that hurt, I wasn't suggesting it wasn't a serious crime, I just like the idea of surprising him without permission. Shit, I think I found his first line, his first actual thing he would not be comfortable with. I let him down as I come to terms with my new discovery, a little forlorn that surprise sex might be off the table. He begins ripping his t-shirt.

"What are you doing?" I ask bemused.

"Making it look like you mauled me in the high school sense of the word, not the deviant sexual sense of the word." With that, he hits his head on the wall, which is by far the most disturbing act I have ever witnessed someone perform on themselves.

"The things we do for…." He trails off, getting close to saying that word again. I want to run away again; however, my audience is expecting me to appear triumphant in my defeat of the little runt. My little runt who I care for so dearly I cannot bear to watch him lower himself on the piss-stained floor. Flashes of all the kids I have done this too for real pop into my mind, reminding me I am a bad man. I open the bathroom door; the expected audible gaps and a few laughs ring out from the baying crowd. 

John is quite good at acting; suppose he has all the experience in the world to call upon. I thread myself out through the crowd and head for the football pitch. The big game is tomorrow, so I am out of lessons for the rest of the afternoon and in practice. In the locker room, I am greeted with a cheer from my so-called teammates.

"Heard you battered that Marston kid good." Bill coos, "Didn't know you had it in you, Morgan." I get a few slaps on the shoulder, nod and grin like I supposed to. Inside I feel like crap, I can't stand the way they are talking about him, the way they think he deserves to be beaten.  

"Yeah Morgan, take your aggression out on faggots like Marston." Micah shouts. I hate that word; actually, I love that word, I like it when I say it. When I get to tell some snot-nosed little scumbag, I am a faggot and watch as their expression sinks because I am bigger and stronger and can wipe the floor with them. "Not on us." There it is, he wouldn't let me be a hero for long.

"Yeah man," Javier agrees. "What was wrong with you?"

"Abi's on her period." It is my get out of jail free card, I have permission to use it but hate when I have to because urgh its quite frankly gross to think about. I get another rumble of applause, Micah is sneering, he hates me being king.

Practice is gruelling I take a few hits as punishment for my behaviour, then it calms, and we focus. The game is crucial, we need the win if we want to get into the playoffs. Coach is pushing us really hard; he wants it more than we do. Some of the other guys are hoping for scholarships, I haven't decided what I am doing yet, I am thinking about everything other than applying to college.

We shower and sit in the steam, relaxing, joking around. I am not some pervert; they are my teammates and a bit too beefy in build for me to find attractive. I like the camaraderie when I can be just a guy, not a gay guy.

"Oh, Morgan, it's your turn." Javier hands me a roll of notes. Its tradition after the match one of us hosts a house party, girls, cool kids, only. The money is for beer and weed, we take it in turns, so no one catches on it's the same customer, the football team. I am ok with it, I never get challenged, people just assume I am older.

John is waiting by the layby for me, this time we agreed in advance, so there wasn't any confusion, progress. He witters on about his day, which makes me laugh because most of my day was torturing him, he appears to have let that go. I really want to be punished for something, but I have ended up bagging either the most forgiving or the most forgetful Dom ever.

I pull into a deserted car park, there is an ice cream truck on the other side, so I get out and buy us an ice cream each. I return to the car; he is all brown-eyed and adorable. I rub the ice cream on the tip of his nose, and before he has a chance to whine, I lick it off again and smile at him. Handing him his cone.

"Who sells Ice cream in winter?" My special boy, so naïve

"Drug dealers." I say, pulling the ounce of weed I just brought and putting them in the glove box.

"That's not fair." He squeals. "You had a massive go at me about smoking, and you smoke weed." I don't recall having a massive go at him, I just asked if he smoked, in a really condescending and disapproving way.

"I vape weed; I don't smoke it." He rolls his eyes indignant to my rational.

"Dude, I don't think how it gets into your body is the issue." He frowns, how can he be upset by this, doesn't everyone do it.

"A bit of weed never hurt no one." I defend my position.

"I don't believe that is accurate, it wouldn't be illegal if it was harmless." He is stern, I have to re-evaluate, John, the artist, who lives life in one big blurry wave, is a law enforcement officer when it comes to drugs, or at least the school therapist. I am being Grimshaw'ed by my own boyfriend, a little part of me cries inside.

"It's legal in California" I argue

"Ah yes, California the shining beacon of all that is holy and sacrosanct about this great nation." He can be so fucking sarcastic at times. 

"Well I am not asking you to smoke it, it's not for you." I finishing eating my ice cream, annoyed that I am being judged

"Then who is it for?" He grumbles

"The team, we have a game tomorrow, and we like to celebrate afterwards." I hope he knows I have a game tomorrow, that I don't just dress like a dork and hang out with assholes to hide my gayness. I do actually like playing football, and I am quite good at it.

"So, my picture, that Micah beat me for was pretty accurate." He can be obstinate, it's not my fault he accurately portrayed Micah's life in art.

"You already know that to be the case." I lean over and kiss his grumpy face "Don't be smug it doesn't suit you."

"So where is this celebration?" He asks as I start up the engine, I still got to get beers, I might drop him off first. I will definitely be asked for ID with John there.

"My place" Obvious answer "Not many teenagers who live alone in a big house," He scowls at me and then folds his arms, I am driving now so I can't fully appreciate his tantrum because that is what it is, he is having a proper sulk like a toddler.

"You know you can't come, so don't give me that look." I say cockily, wanting him to lose his shit, perhaps he will punish me if I make him really angry.

"I don't want to come to your stupid meathead party." He so petulant. He obviously wants an invite; I can't stop grinning.

"Tell your face then," Turning the screw almost there.

"I was hoping tomorrow we could play." And I have lost, again. He is such a con-artist, I think I am getting there what I want then he just flaws me, makes me hard for him.

"Shit John, you know that is what I would rather be doing, I just can't get out of it." I pull up to his place. "I promise, Saturday we will spend all day together, locked in my room."

"No thanks, I don't want your hangover breath anywhere near me." He slams the door; I wish I could have my boy back that couldn't get out of car doors on his own. I miss that boy.


Chapter Text

I foolishly thought he would be mine all weekend, we would meet after the last bell on Friday and re-emerge Monday with at least half my list of sexual experiments ticked off. I am so fucking desperate, this is the shit they warn about on the internet, don't dive headfirst into a relationship forget the individual you were before getting together. I was lonely before I met him; when I am with him, I feel like me, like who I'm supposed to be. I have got this growing list of punishments I need to dish out, like swearing at me, bullying me, getting us into a fight. I punched him in the face today, he deserved it but then a quick I don't know what you call it, submission to our passion and it all melts away. It was so reckless, doing that in school, with half our peers behind the door. Oh, I should have enjoyed the significance, I somehow sense he was, not just aroused by me but stimulated by the situation, behind the door was judgement and scorn. I couldn't ignore the risks, but he appreciated it for how hot it was, the danger of getting caught.

I run upstairs, craving time with my toys. My door is ajar, it's never open, I usually lock it. Why didn't I close it, shit, because I was up all night playing, I woke up late and forgot to secure it. I enter, nothing has been moved, the box is hidden under my bed next to my laptop. Everything is how I left it; I think. Why would he come in here, what did he want? Has he been checking every day; he must try the door to see if it is open every day? That is intrusive, psychotic, a massive invasion of my privacy. Today was the day, typical, for four years he could have walked in and found nothing. The fucking week I have a box of sex toys, and a naked picture of a bound man and that is when I leave the door unlocked. Thoughtless and so very stupid. 

I am reeling, Dad is going to kill me, he has found out his son is fucking queer and he is going to kill me. I am shivering, my stomach is in knots. I sit, trembling, my minds all over the place, I can't fight the feeling I am in danger. I will die at the hand of my father, and although I should run away and never come back, I can't move, I can't move, I am trapped by my own terror. I throw up in my wastebasket. I need to text Arthur, but my eyes are stinging with tears, I can't do this, I can't let him see me this way.

"You definitely have a problem with doors." He announces as he pushes my window open and climbs through. The universe has connected us in ways that blow my frazzled mind entirely. "You left your bag in the car." He chucks it down on the floor and gracelessly wiggles through the gap. I am so broken at this point I cannot compose myself; I just lie there waiting for his concern and his comfort.

"John what's wrong." He kneels to my shaking frame, I am slightly spaced, deluged in my own snot and tears. He moves the wastebasket with my vomit in it to the side so he can gain access to me.

"John, baby." He coos as his fingers swipe across my face, gathering up my hair and placing it behind my ear. Through all the torment, the utter feeling of imploding self-destruction, being called baby is absolutely sweet as fuck.

"I....left my...door...unlocked." I falter hopelessly through my sobs. Arthur scans the room, unclear of the significance of what that means.

"He will have seen stuff; he will know Arthur." I point to the picture, the one he can't bear to look at. He rubs the back of his neck, now he gets it.

"Ok," He collapses on the bed next to me "It's ok." He wraps me in his arms and delivers soft kisses along my brow and cheek. Once I am a bit calmer, he pulls out his phone.

"We will pretend that it is a commission." He says confidently. "One of the girls in school asked you to paint it for her boyfriend's birthday, a surprise."

My breaths are stuttered from the crying, as lies go that isn't actually a bad one. But then my brain plunges back into crisis mode, Dad will ask for evidence, where is the money? Who is the girl? How do I know her boyfriend so intimately to paint him? I can't lie on command. My phone buzzes, a shot of fear splays my nerves. I am sure it's him, Dad, demanding I be home so we can talk. Instead, it is an unknown number, the message reads: thanks for the painting will be around later to pick it up. My brain is a bit slow, like the lie is real, and somehow, I have convinced myself so much that it's now happening. Then he slides his phone back into his pocket.

"How did you...?" I mumble confused.

"Most popular kid in school," he says smugly. I am blown away by that statement, the idea, the power, you can command someone to do something without question or reason, and they just do it. 

Part of me is grateful to benefit from unquestioning loyalty, the other part of me finds it disturbing, now it's on my phone, a reminder that Arthur can pretty much get what he wants when he wants it.

"Who is it?" I ask, intrigued who this gullible soul who now lives as a sequence of digits on my phone.

"Abi" just type her name in and then we can get this art to the car. He says it sarcastically, I hope he doesn't destroy it, I love it so much.

"If she starts texting to find out who you are, ignore it, she can be a nosy cow when she wants to be." I really want to smile and be grateful, it feels like the world is closing in, our honeymoon is over, and we now have to start protecting each other from our real lives. I have foolishly allowed my father access and to counteract, Abi is now in the mix, might text, will possibly start digging. The only way to keep a secret is not to have one in the first place. Not that I mean we should be out and proud on the next Gay Pride march, I mean this is too dangerous.

"How much do you want for it?" He asks, eyeing it up sideways, he still isn't comfortable with it.

"I don't know," I say dazed, it's not at the forefront of my mind, pricing my own works.

"We will say $100, you keep $50 and give $50 to your dad." He responds.

"It's too much!" I protest squawking with indignity. He is frowning now, not mad, just a bit hesitant like he walking on eggshells with me. I hate that, I am sure he thinks I am this delicate piece of glass that can only be handled with gloves. I am not, glass would break with the number of punches I have taken. I am a realist; I know my Dad, and this has a hospital visit written all over it.

"Yeah, but is it enough to convince him?" Arthur responds naturally.

"Possibly not but it's enough to stop his questions." Arthur raises his eyebrows to that response. My Dad is a pretty simple guy, he doesn't enjoy discussion or in-depth conversation, he just gets thoughts in his head, they stay there until he is drunk and angry. Arthur drops the notes on the side and picks the picture up.

"Please...." I want to beg him to take care of it, not to destroy it, keep it for safekeeping until I can repurchase it from him. I have visions that when my portfolio is extensive enough it will be the centrepiece, Trapped by my first love, it's a working title, mainly because I am not sure who is trapped, the subject or the artist but that is what I like about it. People will see what I was able to achieve, poor abused John from the wrong side of the tracks, snared himself the most attractive man in the state.

He nods at me, reads me once again. He is downstairs and out to the car in a flash. I don't follow, my legs, shaking and weak. The shock was still pulsing, it'd been a while since I was overcome by this fragility, thought I'd overcome it, consigned it to my past. My father always had that power over me, I fear it will be that way for the rest of my life. I can be confident, strong, empowered around most in the world, but my Dad can scare me without even being anywhere near me.

I expect Arthur to leave, he said he had things to do, but in no time, he is back in my room, diving on my bed next to me. His long arms scoop around me, gripping me tight against his chest. It makes me breathless; I can't relax, it's too intimate chancing adding fuel to the already raging fire, I start to panic. My chest is rising and falling, the air isn't getting in, isn't doing the job is supposed to do. I am thrashing slightly with unease, Arthur releases me, his drawl tones trying to reassure me. He wraps his thighs around me, begins rubbing my back, caressing my arms.

"Breathe with me, John." His metronomic tone is calming "Feel my chest, in and out, in and out." He so affectionate and relaxed, his body against mine making me feel safe. I slowly come back, the darkness subsides from the corners of my eyes, and I am back in the room with him. With my breathing settled his thumbs rub up and down my wrists, the motion is tender, I melt back into his chest where I belong, where I want to feel safest.

"Has that happened before?" He finally asks. I groan not wanting my insecurities to break the moment, I am peaceful, I don't need reminding of it. His cornflower eyes pool inquisitively, sending tremors down my spine. I gather my muteness towards the topic will not stop him from seeking the answer.

"Does anyone know this happens?" He is so soothing, reassuring that I consider telling him the truth of it all. I stop myself, it's my problem, not his, I can manage it on my own.

"It’s nothing," I say unconvincingly.

"It's a panic attack, John." He swipes my hair behind my ear. "That's not nothing." I adore that about him, his use of double negatives to make a positive, add that with his southern drawl and I am enamoured by his simplicity, he would say stupid, but underneath there is heart and soul, and that makes him perfect. 

"I am managing it, ok" I speak sterner, hoping he will get the message.

"Ok, ok" he finally relents. "Do you need me to stay?"

"No, I'm fine." I really want him to stay, wrap me in his arms and tell me it's alright. If he stays, I will probably get more questions, have to give more of myself, the personal stuff to him, and I am not ready for that.

Dad arrives home at 10:15, I decide to face him casually, which is really hard. I have practised my speech over and over, as soon as I hear the key turn in the door my adrenaline spikes and the words just leave me. I stick my head in the fridge, pretending I am looking for something to eat.

"Alright." He says, throwing his work hat on the table.

"Yeah." I close the fridge door. "I sold some art" I put the money on the table next to his hat. It's up to him if he takes it or not.

"That picture in your room." He says bluntly.

"Yeah." I try to escape before the conversation escalates at least I am clear he has been in my room.

"John" he calls to me. "It was..." he stops, so do I, everything tells me to run to the security of my room, away from him but I am intrigued. "Your mother was better at these things, it was good." My jaw probably hit the ground at that point, his eyes dart round in discomfort, so he sticks his head in the fridge.

"Thanks" Is all I can think to say to him. The single kindest thing he has said to me since mum died.

Chapter Text

I am not the type of player that gets hyped before a game. If anything, my anxiety is palpable. As soon as I wake up, I can feel those butterflies darting in the pit of my stomach. It doesn't help that I am tired, a restless night tossing and turning worrying about John. I am annoyed at myself, ignoring my intuition, I was sure he was vulnerable not just physically but mentally. The panic attack confirmed it, he has been hiding in plain sight from all those who can help him. Joking and laughing reassuring them he is alright and concealing his reality. He can't disguise the truth from me, I won't let him.

I don't see him all day, which I am grateful for. I could do without the distraction. He drops me the odd text, thanking me for sorting it out and everything was ok at home. He is blown away that his Dad liked the art. I assume that it's a dig at me; if his abusive, homophobic Dad can like it why can't I. No mention of the panic attack being over nothing. John is so pleased; I can't take that from him, reminding myself that he lives in the moment. I just imagine meeting his Dad for the first time, introduced as his boyfriend and him realising that I am the naked man in the picture, that can't be erased. Perhaps I am worrying about nothing, assuming John has any intention of introducing us. Who am I kidding, I am not the type of guy that gets introduces to parents. Hi, mom here is the guy I paddled until he bled in the sex club last weekend, I am so glad he is handsome when I took off his gimp mask. I recognise I am worried about him, us, when I should be concentrating on the game. I quickly text him a simple response, that's good. That's all I need to start the process of pushing him out, all my focus has to be on the game, there is no room for him. It sounds selfish, but that is how I operate; he can come back when the game is over. 

As a team, we have some strange rituals. We are open about them, there isn't any point in hiding them. Javier eats, he eats a whole pack of cookies before the start of the game. You would expect him to be fatter, yet he is lean and skinny. It's hard to have a coherent discussion before the match, crumbs usually distort his voice. Bill likes to be alone in the shower. I find this weird, my aggression, my energy is sourced directly from that, if I lost it beforehand, I would be gooey and useless. Bill says he can't concentrate with a load in him, who am I to judge. Micah walks the pitch, again, it's the same pitch it doesn't change. Before everyone arrives, he is out there mapping the outline. He is such a sneering ass; I wonder what he thinks about as he is walking. It is rather introspective, thoughtful, entirely not Micah. I need him to service my ritual, he is the only one that will do it, positively relishes it. Once his walk is complete, he will slap me several times. I know, it's a bit obvious, it's weird, a few slaps get me riled, keep me pumped. Micah would be mortified if he discovered that I practice the same ritual in the bedroom. Not that I would ever get any gratification from Micah, that would be gross, he is an ugly rat. I have yet to identify one element that I could like about him. Coach is respectful of our rituals, the first few times he arrived mid-way through. The confused look on his face as Bill screamed to orgasm, Micah slapping me and Javier offering him a cookie means he knocks before entering.

"Right boys gather around, someone once said football is a game of life and death, I am sure you will agree it is more important than that." He smirked, he always opened with that, some British soccer coach said it or something like it, and he uses it for every game. I want to shout, get some new material, but as a saying, it is pretty awesome.

"We win this, and we are into the playoffs, the quality colleges start turning up. This is a game for to secure your futures." He was possibly right, I didn't need to hear it, I want to focus on the moment not start panicking about college applications.

At half time we are losing. Coach is not so motivational he is spitting venom. In fairness, most of us have left part of ourselves on the pitch. The other team are just a bit bigger, a bit faster, a bit better.

"Listen, you are making mistakes, making it easy for them." When he is shouting, it is best to keep silent, any objection to his assessment is treated as dissent.

Once he is done shouting, he leaves us to the deathly silence, deflated and demotivated. I get the guys to believe this is their future, the fear of losing isn't just losing a game, its losing everything. How is a teenager meant to process that and deliver? As the quarterback, it's my job to turn this around.

"Look, fellas, this isn't life and death, it's not everything." I stand, scratching my head, trying to find inspiration. "It is a game of football, no different from any other game of football we have ever played." They are not even looking at me, not inspired. "Whether we win or lose, there isn't another bunch a guy's I would want to by my side. I know you will leave everything on that field, blood, guts and in Bill's case probably some cum." That gets a laugh and a hey from Bill.

"We can do this boy's, not because this is our moment, because of history or a sense of occasion. We can do this because we are a team that can."

"Win on three," I say, placing my hand in the centre, the others join me.

"No" Micah steps forward if anyone had a problem it would be him. "Blood, guts and cum." We smile, start chanting it loudly as we go back into battle.

The second half is as gruelling as the first, every inch gained is a battle of sweat and exertion, my body is screaming for it to stop. Grunting fiercely to the bitter end. With one play left, I can see the team is about done. I decide to run the ball, emptying my tank of every last drop of juice. I get tackled short, my legs swept from under me. Its quiet for a moment, the world has stopped or my heart, then an eruption of noise, applause and screams waves over me. Touch down, we won. I am dead, I can't get up, the boys take advantage, piling on, bashing our helmets together in a glorious ceremony of victory.

"Playoffs, baby." Is all I can hear. They pull me up, carry me on their shoulders back to the coach and the screaming fans. My legs are jelly, I manage to pull off my helmet and hold it aloft in victory. It's stupid really, risky play almost didn't come off. I would have been pilloried as a loser if I hadn't made it, yet here I am the hero of the town again.

They drop me down, pour a bucket of ice of me. Then hellcat Abi run towards me in total excitement. She is on me wrapping her legs around my waist, kissing me, I respond because I have to, this is the game, head cheerleader and quarterback, in love. It's not that it is unpleasant, it's just a kiss, it's more the indifference of it, I don't feel anything when she kisses me. I react appropriately, or inappropriately, in this case, there is a whole group of people watching us. Someone shouts get a room from the crowd then the laughter starts again.

We are partying back at mine, I stayed extra long in the shower, trying to work out the knocks and aches. I am battered and worn, craving the medicinal effects of drink and drugs. The house is alive with thumping dance music, dancing adolescents, either high or drunk. It's the only time this place has a heartbeat when I am hosting a party. Not sure when Dutch is back, he can be pretty vague about his whereabouts. He has never admonished me for my parties, on the rare occasions he is back in time to see the fallout. He knows I will get it cleaned up, it is more my living space than his and I hate mess.

"Arthur, that was amazing." Some kid approaches me, I have no idea his name, I recognise him from a class, unsure which one.

"Yeah, the whole town was there." His mate chimes in, "Even Marston turned up, and he hates those things."

"What?" My mind races a little, I am too inebriated to play it cool.

"Marston, he was front and centre, cheering on." The one kid quips. "you must have knocked some school spirit into him or something."

I didn't see him, was all I can think, blocked him out, pretended like he didn't exist to focus on the game. I thought he would be at home, distracting himself in my absence, he was there, cheering me on. I feel cherished that he would do something he hates, surrounded by people who despise him just to support me. I want it to matter, want to be the reason we won but I had no idea he was there. Yet, now the last place I want to be is at this party. I need to be with him, placing loving kisses all over his body, rewarding him for loyalty.

It's a crushing blow that has me hurtling into trauma. If John was there, then he saw me and Abi kiss. I haven't explained that to him yet, the deal we have. He might think it was genuine, entirely over the top, why were we so full-on, tongues and everything. God, John, I am trembling envisioning what he must be going through. How angry he is going to be with me. He sacrificed a piece of who he is for me, and I rewarded him by kissing a girl in front of everyone.

 I rattle through my options, I check my phone, nothing since this morning. I can't drive and neither can any of these idiots. Although, what would I say, do you mind giving me a lift to John Marston's house, I need to beg his forgiveness? I decide, Uber, slip out onto the street and get across town to John. Dutch will kill me if the house is trashed, then I remember he is rich, just buy a new home. That's the alcohol talking. I pop back inside, one eye monitoring the progress of my Uber driver, Charles, while I try to find Abi. She is curled up on the sofa, texting her girlfriend probably.

"I need to speak to you." I try and shout over the music. She rolls her hazel eyes, probably thinking this is the time of night we sneak off to perform our charade. No one ever challenges us, asks us why we are not all over each other regularly like the other kids in relationships. Ours is a softened expression of love, so muted it doesn't exist. I lead her to the front door closing it behind us.

"I have to go," I say sheepishly. "If it gets out of hand, call the police, I want a house to come back to."

"Where are you going?" She asks slyly. "Secret rendezvous with your lover." She is adorably cute wrinkling her nose expecting me to confess all.

"None of your business." I kiss her on the forehead, she slaps me playfully, annoyed that she always gets the same response when I am hiding information.

"Maybe I'll text him, see if he responds." She pulls her phone out.

"Don't" I try to grab it but she dodges. "Please Abi, he is mad at me, don't make it worse."

"Lover's tiff, already, this must be serious." She smiles, all cheeks and beaming beauty.

"Tell me who he is, and I promise I won't text him." Another con-artist, it's funny how specific characteristics are prevalent in all the people I would call real friends. It's almost as though my secretive personality attracts detective personalities like I am a riddle to be solved. That's what scares me the most, makes me more closed, if they solved the puzzle, they wouldn't want to be my friends anymore.

"It's no one you know, honestly." She squints, reading my tells, confirming I am lying.

"I will find out eventually." She reasons.

"Eventually, not tonight." I kiss her on her forehead again, and she places her phone back in her pocket. My Uber has arrived, waiting at the bottom of the drive.

"I shall protect your castle, my king." She bows, always playing the fool.

I give the Uber driver John's address, and we begin our pursuit of my hurt boy. I play with my phone, composing a text to say I am sorry. It is presumptuous to assume I can rationalise all his pain and explain it away. I delete the essay I have written, then consider saying "hi" like what ordinary people do. I kill that too, it can so easily be ignored and then where will I be, sending stringed sentences begging him to respond. Done that once before, moron that I am, he was asleep at the time, wasn't intentionally ignoring me, still appeared desperate.

We arrive as John's house; I can see the forlorn sadness in my eyes reflecting back through the glass of the passenger's window. The house is dark, either he is asleep or not in. I thank Charles for the ride and tip him a couple of dollars on the app. I consider knocking the door, but he is notoriously bad at answering. I might buy him a doorbell, I can't keep scaling the porch, someone will get suspicious.

I agree that this is the last time I hang from the porch. I am aching and not as nimble or as quick as the other times. The groans of the timbre as my weight ascends upwards almost matches the creak of my bones. My muscles spasm with growing cramp, need water.

I peer in through the window, it won't open, locked. John isn't here, if not, where can he be. I start to get anxious, this isn't about petty squabbles, lover's arguments, I need to know he is ok, be reassured that he isn't struggling.

Chapter Text

Rage sweeps me along in a flowing blackened heap. I wasn't expecting Arthur to acknowledge me, was hopeful he might notice I was there. Look up during the game and see me, front row, cheering. I should have told him I was going; I wasn't even sure I was until I found myself loitering outside the school gates. It was such a stupid thing to do, to give him part of me, the part I value the most, my cynical, angst. Instead, idiot, that I am, I suppressed it for him. I shut a crucial part of myself off so I could try and enjoy something significant to him. That's what couples do; they encourage each other in their passions. He observed my art, spoke elegantly and effortlessly on its perspectives. So cheering like a moron with all the other morons appeared to be a rational trade-off, right up until he started playing tonsil hockey with queen bitch face herself, Abi.

I twitch with the oppression of my unsated anger, adrenaline coursing through my veins. I try to maintain the tempo, its loss will beckon an emulsion of torment that climaxes with me crying, and Arthur doesn't deserve any of my tears, not one. I can't even fathom what it means, the whole town appeared to recognise them as an item. It wasn't a kiss of celebration, a sailor grabbing a girl in the street after the war. They are an established couple; how could I not have seen it? What does that make me? I am rent boy, a booty call, his plaything, when he fancies living on the wild side I am there, hidden away, the secret.  

I feel so utterly ashamed, foolish for believing we were the couple. Arthur could disown the pressures of society and choose me. I am confident he is gay, not out, that is big, bigger than I realised. Closeted men have wives and children, dogs, a car a charming white picket fence around their perfectly proportioned detached home with freshly mown grass. I can actually see him in that scenario, he fits so perfectly, my all-American boy, all beige and boring and predictable. I am the anathema, the one that doesn't fit. The guy who drives by late at night hoping to catch a glimpse of him, hoping he will see me, leave his wife and kids, jump in my car and we will run away together. How long can I reasonably wait for him to live that life, wait for him to be ready? 20, 30 years, we could be pensioners by the time he decides. What will my life have been, the guy that just waited, patiently?

I am sure I have already answered my own questions. I have walked to my underpass, the rumble of traffic, of people escaping. That is the dream I have for myself, the one I have harboured since mom died, that is the dream I must keep, not him. I cannot tie myself to a man who has all the power and uses it so expertly to protect himself. Is Abi aware of his secret? Probably not. She will walk blindly into the lie, will bear his children for him, unaware or uncaring to his predilection. I should feel sorry for her, I don't, I suspect girls like Abi are only ever motivated by money and security. If he gives her a lovely house and an expensive car she will be satisfied with her achievements. Oh, you have got yourself a good one Abi, he is so attentive. How the socialites will witter on about his perfections, not realising that every time he fucks her, he will be thinking about men, or me.

I am almost crying, my bile towards his future existence isn't stopping the intolerable crippling agony that is tightening around my chest. My heart is dying over a man I can barely claim to know, and with each revelation, he takes another piece of me. Ruinous and contemptable as the thought is, I can't help but feel that I love this man, shall love him tomorrow and the next day and every day after. We are not some star-crossed lovers, burn brightly only to die in each other arms. He will be a muted part of my existence; when future lovers ask of the man who first made me love, Arthur will always be the name I have to give. There is only one thing to do, scream, scream so loud until every ounce of oxygen is removed from my lungs, and I am left gasping and sated. Once I start it's tough to stop, my roaring screams echo under the bridge, this night I couldn't give a fuck if anyone hears me, I am aching, in real agony. 

I calm, unfulfilled and exhausted, check my phone, its 11 pm. I should be going home, but tiredness is catching up with me quick. I lie back on the concrete, the monotonous rumble of intermittent traffic is a lullaby, I fall asleep.

"John, baby, wake up," I grumble and then frown because sleeping on concrete is actually uncomfortable. I open my eyes and see him stood above me.

"What do you want?" I ask in a go away and die tone, I don't really care about his answer, I can't look at him. I sit, embracing my knees for protection, in case he has the impression he can touch me. He takes it as an invitation to sit down, it wasn't. He is more open, his legs manspreading, his arms resting on his knees, such a confident display from the man who wronged me. He has a bottle of water in his hands and offers it to me. I could really do with a drink, but I am not accepting anything from that charlatan.

He nudges me playfully with his shoulder. I wish I was more prominent, able to absorb his gesture and stay firm but that simple nudge almost has me sliding down the concrete. He drops his bottle and grabs my shirt to halt my descent. I didn't ask him to, he returns me to a stable position and then goofily runs down to retrieve his bottle. You wouldn't think he was good at sport, on the pitch every move was considered, calculated, exact, he had all the poise and strength of a ballet dancer. Yet when he is with me, he is awkward, uncoordinated, graceless, I want to know what that is. I get an individual can project different personalities in different situations, positively have to if they're going to survive. Yet to change your movements, to be poised one moment and graceless the next is rather strange. An answer I will never know because I am dumping him.

"Can we go home?" he asks, returning to his spot.

"You can, this is my party, and you weren't invited." I wish I didn't sound like a five-year-old, that I could eloquently disseminate my disdain for him with ruthless caustic wit. Still, they were gifts I did not receive, through birth or education. Petulance is all I have to work with; therefore, that is what he will endure, leaving him in no doubt that I am monumentally pissed off with him.

"John." He tries to lean in for a kiss, and it is too intimate and too jumping straight to forgiveness without even acknowledging the crime or the fact that the crime hurt me, not him. He hasn't even been punished for it yet. I start to lose my shit, I want to be really commanding, cause him distress. Still, it's intolerable, I can hear the whiney scratches of my voice trying to form a sentence, holding it not wishing to embarrass myself. The words stuck, form a lump in my throat, unaskable, almost crying, I will not appear weak.

"Don't" Is all I can croak out. I up and unwisely think I can outpace Arthur. I am not going to run, I am stomping, and he is infuriatingly gliding alongside me like its zero effort for him to keep up. He doesn't say anything which increases my irritation, he is one of the those, waiting patiently for me to explode, so he can clean up the aftermath. I really do hate those people, probe, make an effort, try, don't expect me to tell you everything. It is controlled, tactical allowing them time to think on your response, manipulative bastards. The only way I have learnt to deal with those people is to leave, they have no power if you walk away, only this ass is following me, invading my space. 

So, I stomp, and he glides, back down the tracks in a tension-filled silence. The one thing I have is stubbornness and apparently so does he, or a very high pain threshold. Toleration for uncomfortable situations above what would be sane for most ordinary people above what I would be willing to endure.

I don't know how to get away from him, we left the tracks, cutting through the playing fields at the back of our school. He is still by my side in silence, only it's a slower pace, I have exhausted myself physically. I sense tears forming, I am emotionally wrecked, his quiet antagonization of me is cruel and makes my muscles stiffen with fury. He could say the most innocuous thing to me, and I would crack into a ball of snot and tears, why can't he give me some dignity, he always wants to take it from me. 

I know rationally we should talk like adults, communicate, but that gives him the chance to vindicate his actions. To articulate all the lies, I want to hear. Then he will be free to do it again and again until I am a compliant little door mouse. Granting him his transgressions because I am beholden to him, so desperate to please him. 

I consider screaming at him, shout until my lungs burst. Dump him and tell him I never want to see him again. Then he would have that sad look in his eyes, the one he has when I recognise I have hurt him. Those puppy-dog eyes could melt me out of existence. So, I do the only thing a hormonally imbalanced rage-filled teenager can do when faced with such a dilemma. I attack him. Don't laugh, I know I am a few inches shorter than him, only a few, I just appear smaller because he is a mountain and I am a weed. But I have inner crazy that I can call on in times of need and the element of surprise because who honestly thinks I am going to start a fight in the middle of the night, on a football pitch with the Quarterback.

In an absolute ball of snarling spit filled intensity, I swing my fists, it's chaotic and uncoordinated, and he doesn't do anything to protect himself. He just lets me land punch after punch, his chest takes most of it, but I do get a sneaky left hook in which actually catches his lip, making it bleed. We somehow make it to the floor, not like we are tussling for dominance, he guides me there, encouraging my legs around him so I can continue my onslaught. I am the kid who has been in lots of fights, never the aggressor, I know how to defend myself, the poses to protect the most sensitive areas but I don't think I have ever tried to intentionally throw a punch, that would be suicide. So, in this moment of complete and utter madness, I have newly found appreciation for how hard the aggressor has to work, it's exhausting, my fists are throbbing, my wrists feel like fine china about to shatter, and I am quickly running out of steam. I collapse next to him in a sweaty hot mess, choking in air, he doesn't move, just lies there, I haven't knocked him out or anything, he is calm serene, staring up at the stars.

"Better." He finally says, grabbing my hand and kissing my raw knuckles. I am too fatigued to fight his touch, I roll over on my side, positioning myself so we can be face to face, one of the benefits, I am too tired to cry. Wouldn't it be funny if that was the answer, why all these knobheads in my life that use me as a punch bag only do it because I make them want to cry, and they cannot show that I have the power to make them cry so they use their fists? That is a way to earth-shattering revelation to explore at this time, too much re-evaluation of everything would be required. Is that why he let me hit him, Arthur knew I didn't want to cry, so he allowed me not to because he is kind and generous and thoughtful and he reads me like an open booking. It still doesn't change anything; the heat might be out of my system, but he still kissed Abi.

 "It's not what it looked like." I scowl at him for a bit, then I look away, hesitant to say anything, to let him back in.

"She is my friend, only a friend, only will ever be a friend." He rolls onto his side and grabs my chin so he can mesmerise me with those gorgeous cornflower eyes. "I am gay John, not occasional, not experimental, not only on a Wednesday after training, I am 24/7 365 days a year gay."

"Still doesn't mean I want to see you sticking your tongue down someone else's throat, woman or man." I am pretty impressed with myself, twenty minutes ago, that would have been a snot-filled blub of nothing, five minutes ago it would have been a fist, now it is a rational argument, one that makes sense.

"I wouldn't have done it if I knew you were there." It's heartfelt, he swipes my hair behind my ear, which always makes me shiver with tingling prickles of sensation, but I am not letting him off that easily.

"So, if I wasn't there it would have been ok?" I frown and then hold my breath, the answer to this question will reveal something about him, his thoughts, desires, mentality. I have always loved the dichotomy of traditional sayings; they speak to personality and in their contradictions reveal something about the sometimes bi-polar apes we really are. Like, out of sight out of mind, against absence makes the heart grow fonder, how can they both be right, but they are. I am pretty sure I am absence makes the heart go fonder kind of guy; when he isn't there, I keep thinking about him, obsessing to the point I am projecting all the things that can go wrong because he isn't there to reassure me of all the good stuff. Then with all the warmth of a summer breeze, he is there again, and I can breathe, and my heart can beat.  

How he answers this will determine who he is and how he thinks, and that will let me know the dynamic of this relationship. People have affairs, minor indiscretions, drunken fumbles, I appreciate that the idea someone can be faithful all the time is unrealistic, its too much pressure. I am not sure I would want to be told if they had, behind the guise of honesty, the burden is placed on the injured party to decide. Make the decision on behalf of the guilty party and can how can they, they weren't the one who cheated, surely it is the person who strayed to decide whether they want in or out. I am with Goldie Hawn, I will never ask, I don't want to be told, and they have to be discreet, so I don't find out by any other means, that seems sensible, probably impossible but reasonable. I know, Ostrich, I am not saying I would accept a man having a secret family or a long-term lover, I am not French. I am just open to not throwing everything away or being hurt because he got a bit drunk and that cute guy who keeps flirting with him was available. I am not going to tell Arthur any of that, these are purely my lines, and they happen to be a bit flexible; this is where I am in my head. If I told him I would be giving him the green light, I am not, I don't want him to cheat on me, I just think it wouldn't be the end of the world if he did. How tonight differs is he was indiscreet, I saw it, let alone heard about it, the fact that it hurt to the point I had to hit him proves my point, he crossed a line.

"That isn't what I meant." Defensive, boring, I am unimpressed with deflection, tell me honestly, and I can deal with it, hide from me and I am not bothered. I get up, rub the grass from my clothes and start to walk.

"John." He calls after me, he can keep up if he wants to, I am not asking for much, him to try, this has all been very one-sided, these aren't my issues, they are his, I am just reacting to them, don't respond, just leave.

Chapter Text

I should have woken him up under the underpass and told him instantly about Abi and me and our little deal. I was hysterical, so scared he had done something stupid. That I had hurt him, my fragile boy. There he was sleeping, restful and calm and relaxed. I didn't wake him up straight away, I got so frantic when I couldn't find him. I started to cry, I didn't want him to see me like that, realise how unhinged I am. I took a few breaths, composed myself, let my eyes settle back down and then I woke him. He wasn't fragile at all; he was wild and full of rage, and it was all for me. He started to punch me; it didn't hurt, this is John, but watching him unleash his fury just made me so god damn horny. I get that is slightly perverse, he is hurting, and all I can think about is my dick. I don't usually go in for the uncontrolled assault method, he is new to this, needs time to discover how to control it, to aim it at me in cold and calculated aggression that has me begging for more.

I suppose I am a bit stuck at this point. The obvious thing to do is to inform John, Abi is a lesbian. We don't have any sexual desire towards each other, but that is not my secret to tell. I trust him entirely; if Abi ever found out that I mentioned to John Marston that she was batting for the other team, she would decapitate me. He obviously sees it as a massive betrayal, that I am a big slut that will stick my dick in anything. I'm not, I truly believe deep down I am a monogamous guy. I have never put the theory into practice, never had a boyfriend or a long-term relationship, the scene isn't really like that. I just know, the right guy, someone I genuinely love; if I am with them, I will be with them, and I wouldn't want anyone else. I am pretty sure John is that guy, I didn't expect to meet him at 17, always considered I would be 34. A used and abused piece of old rope that would settle for anyone that would have me. I am aware everyone will think we are too young; we should go live our lives first, wait for 34-guy. I have already lost so much, been denied the basic essentials, if the universe is telling me, I don't have to wait for 34-guy, that I can have and experience love now, why wouldn't I take it?   

The final bit is uncomplicated, horny, so I hadn't masturbated since Monday when a special Mr Marston disturbed my climax. I got him off on his bed, being inexperienced he didn't return the favour. I have just played the best game of my life, where the adrenaline is still coursing through my veins. I am buzzing from alcohol and weed, and he keeps walking off, all pouty and riled. All I can think about is how fun a game of surprise sex in the woods outside of school would be. His milk-white body splayed against a tree, screaming in ecstasy as I take him, roughly. That is a fantasy, not suggesting I would ever consider doing it without his explicit permission. We haven't had the discussion yet, and I suspect it isn't his bag. I follow him all the same, this time of night, there might be weirdoes in the woods thinking they can have surprise sex with my boy, they can't, he's mine.

"You can't come home with me Arthur, my Dad, will be there." He says coldly.

"Well come back to mine then." I try to give us options, mainly options that have a bed and some privacy.

"What about your party?" Smartass. I quickly check my phone, a text from Abi, cleaned out and going home.

"John, its 3 am, the party ended hours ago." He scowls at me and then checks his phone, he does an adorable retake, like he can't believe he slept out on a slab of concrete all night.

"You can't keep doing this to me." He finally says, which ultimately feels like we are getting to the crux of the matter. Not perceived infidelity or frustration at some external force, I am obviously pushing the wrong button in him, or the right button but I am a bit careless when I do it. I am ok with that, give me instructions and I will follow them. He just doesn't, he gives me scowls and anger and beatings, which definitely have to stop. High-School is such a weird environment, its ok to be physically violent towards each other. If we were friends, tonight would be a bust-up, and no one would bat an eyelid. If we are going to be lovers, I don't think we can keep dipping into that psychology, when does it go from high-school fallout to domestic abuse. Not that I think John would do that, it's just; if you don't draw the lines of acceptableness early on, they become blurred. Every human being can do bad things, not because they are bad, but no one tells them it is wrong.

"Doing what John?" I challenge a bit; fearful he might lose his confidence and close himself back up.

"Being a dick one minute and then begging me to go home with you the next." He huffs, hoping I understand. "I can't change gears that quickly."

"Ok." He has no lines, can't compartmentalise, just feels everything in one long wave of emotion. A crazy way to live, I just couldn't be like that, couldn't take an argument from one part of my life and let it affect what I am doing elsewhere, how would you ever get anything done?

"How about, you come home with me because I need you locked in my bedroom for the whole weekend." I put my arm around him, kissing along his neck, it’s all ready and bumpy, stress rash. "When you are not screaming through all the amazing orgasms, I am going to give you; we can devise a way of communicating so that you don't have to change gears so violently."

"Arthur, are you drunk!" Ah, my special boy finally gets it.

"I may have quaffed a little, now I am just hungry," I confess as my stomach rumbles, I am a unit, I need food a lot. I get an Uber to pick us up, they stop off at the 24-hour chicken shop, I run in order two large buckets of assorted goodness. John said he didn't want anything, but I can't stand people trying to eat my food when they smell it and realise, they're actually hungry, no self-awareness. Not a food sharer, if John really doesn't want any, I am sure I can eat it all.  I have a five-minute battle with the Uber driver, he is happy for my greasy buckets to sit on his passenger seat but doesn't want me eating in his car. I try to explain to him that I have to eat, its life or death. I am not like ordinary people; I burn calories like a beast. If I don't replenish them quickly, I am in deficit, and I get really hangry, no one likes me when I am hangry. He finally gives in when I agree to have the bucket on my lap and a serviette capturing the crumbs. I demolish half the first bucket in five minutes and become painfully aware I am being studied.

"What," I say to John with a mouthful of chicken.

"I have never seen anyone eat the way you do." I guess that isn't a compliment, some dinner party suave acknowledgement of my eating habits, Arthur has impeccable table manners don't you know.

"Food is fuel," I mumble, trying not to spit chicken at him, I catch the driver giving me daggers through the rear-view mirror.

"It's mesmerising," John responds, unable to look away. Consider that I have managed to get to the age of 17 and not have any hang-ups about food, weight yes, weight is crucial for me to continue playing sports, but food, well that is just fuel, to be consumed and turned into energy. Sometimes enjoyed, mainly fills a hole, if it is there, I will eat it, don't care what it is, don't get people who don't like things or steer away from certain food groups, just eat it. Now the darling little angel next to me is making me feel a bit self-conscious, so I drop the bone into the bucket and close the lid.  

"Please don't stop on my account." He says slyly, "I have only seen wild animals eat on the telly, it's good to see it up close like I am on safari." The driver laughs, which makes him smirk. He isn't getting any of my chicken, I pull both buckets on to my lap and hold them protectively like they are my children, they need protecting from these nasty men.

The driver pulls up to the gate, and I can't get the key because my chicken children are secure in my arms. I shuffle my ass cheek to the side, presenting it to him. He shakes his head in disbelief and then dives his hands into my back pocket. My head so wants him to give me a cheeky squeeze as he retrieves them, but he doesn't, just uses his slender long index finger to locate the keyring and pulls them out. He is so no fun to play with sometimes; his wicked smile means he knew what I wanted and enjoyed denying it to me. He keeps the key, understanding I am not going to let go of my chicken. I manage to get the door open on my own, but he stands by it in case I am incapable of getting out on my own, that is his trick, not mine. I do definitely think I might be a little drunker than I thought I was, delayed effects, running around like an idiot looking for him.

We walk to the door and spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the right key. I attempt to point using my head, but my head is large, and the keys are tiny and bunched together; if only I had a smaller part of my body that was pointy and could be more accurate, like a finger. No, that is madness, I cannot let go of my chicken children to help him, he might kidnap them.

"You could try and be a bit more helpful." He says dumbfounded by my current uselessness.

"No, must protect my children." I am deadly serious at this point, drugs or alcohol or both have made these beautiful buckets of chicken my babies.

"What are you on about?" He frowns bemused.

"The chicken children, John," I whisper in his ear as though it is a secret we can only share. Perfect boy gets that I am so in the silly zone right now and rather than admonishing me, he pacifies me with stupid questions.

"Ok, do these children have a name?" His eyes are big and brown, as they adoringly acknowledge my babies, like meeting for the first time out of the hospital.

"Yes, Sanders and Wendy" It all I can think of and now my funny five minutes is over, and I can accept the buckets of chicken are just my dinner.

"Famously a burger joint." So sarcastic.

"Just open the door, please John." Doors again, I wonder if there is a class, he can take to help him. How to open a door promptly, he will probably need a few lessons, how to answer a door, how to open a door, the wonders of car doors.

"I am not getting those amazing orgasm you promised me am I." He isn't deflated just accepting that I might not be in the best condition to competently get him off. I have experienced that once before, been stone-cold sober with a drunk guy, it isn't enjoyable.

"How dare you, I shall service your every need!" I say arrogantly like he is challenging my virility. The door swings open, my children fall from my hands, landing headfirst on the floor.

Chapter Text

Power, never had it, didn't want it, disgusted by those who craved it. At this moment I suddenly realise how intoxicating it is. Power protects, it exerts control, it provides security and confidence. The house is trashed, awash with discarded bottles, Cheetos trodden into the floor, unknown substances smeared up the wall. If my house was in this state, I would have dropped the chicken, but that isn't why Arthur did it, oh no, in the chaos of mess two sets of terrified brown eyes are staring at us. Staring at his dumbfounded, gobsmacked expression and then at me, who is absolutely enthralled and grinning with power.   I can't rely on Arthur, he is processing more profound thoughts, he has closer connections, is searching for meaning, trying hard to rationalise. I, however, understanding this significance of what is taking place need to protect him and us and our secret, I take out my phone, gliding it into focus and snap a picture.

It prompts a reaction of sorts, the older man, who I have no idea who he is, gets up and starts to scurry, flashes of rubbery ageing skin exposed as he tries to find his clothes. Bill, blushed hot red and sweating, remains steadfastly stuck to the sofa, arms firmly on the armrest as his naked body presenting to the man who is no longer there. His squirrel eyes are fixed on Arthur who in return is playing a game of statues in the doorway. I find this highly amusing, really, I do not care, these people mean nothing to me, so discovering them in an awfully compromising position on Arthur's sofa is just hilarious. To them, it is obviously bigger, signifies something, involves secrets and trust, and I suppose they are summing up whether they can have faith in each other not to divulge what is so evidently clear. The treacherous, scandalous lives of teenagers, precisely why I don't play the game, it's so much better to watch.

I practically skip into the house, full of energy, adrenaline, placing myself on the breakfast stool, securing my front row seat and wait for this glorious moment of Shakespearean theatre to play out. What characters will they play, who will be the aggressor, the protagonist and who is that guy, he is a bit of a silver fox, not that I would ever go that old, the thought wrinkled old man balls slapping against my thighs, no thank you. I really want someone to tell Bill to put some clothes on because he is quite hairy in all the wrong places.

I realise I might have a part to play in this, the director, as I am the only one whose mouth isn't set to flycatcher. I start with my man, coaxing him with gentle coos of encouragement, he is a kitten stuck in a storm drain, my soft, reassuring voice is the only way to get him out. I love his vulnerability, the way his eyes sink slightly, his lashes flicker, he sparkles in his despair. I sit him down on the swivel chair that is opposite the sofa. I am rejoicing in the design of this house it is so evil villain out of James Bond. As I settle Arthur, Bill finally takes the long-awaited cue of pulling his pants, currently situated around his knees, back up. I try not to look; I really do not want to see his cock. There is considerably too much skin on show, not the skin I was hoping to see. I place a hand on my man's shoulder, he trembles a little, then the warm caress of his fingers acknowledges the reassurance I am trying to give. Bill falls back on the sofa and rubs his face succumbing to the shock of what is happening. Silver fox is all but dressed, trying to squeeze his feet into his loafer's, he doesn't quite manage it, but the crippling agony of all three of us watching him ushers his awkward exit. When the door slams, I relax, at least for me some of the tension has lifted, we can start on the good stuff.

"Who was that?" I ask, with all the alluring innocence I can muster.

"My neighbour," Arthur says abruptly. Oh, could this get any better, my mind is full of so many questions; does he live alone? Is he out? He is now, does he have a wife and kids? A husband and kids? How did he manage to end balls deep in Bill? My brain is going to explode with the intrigue of it all, the suburbs home to salacious characters and secrets. Not like where I live, we grunt to get by, hardship means you don't generally have time to risk losing everything.

"What's he doing here?" Bill asks, nodding at me a little too confidently for someone who has just been caught in the act. Arthur doesn't respond straight away, which has me a little on edge, is he embarrassed to admit it or afraid? I am confident Bill needs to be more scared of us than us of him, I have photographic evidence.

"None of your Goddamn business, this is my house!" Arthur lurches forward, rippling defensively, ready to fight. He is so forceful and authoritative; I almost cum in my pants. "What the hell were you thinking, Bill!"

"I'm not gay." I even groan when he says it, not that he might not be gay, he might be Bi or experimenting, it's just so cliched that the title is the problem, not the act. The act isn't a problem either, getting your prostate tickled every now and again has real health benefits, our puritanical society is the issue.

"I am." Wow, I was not expecting that. "And so is he." He slaps his big calloused hand on my thigh. This isn't probably the best time to point out I am still undecided, not on him, I am totally gay for him, just I don't know, can't imagine that there is anyone else I would want to be gay with. I am a weird fish, after all. I bite my lip a little, and blush, Bill sees this and scoffs in disgust. It doesn't stop me because in my head I think I know that Arthur is the only man for me, that is huge.

"Wait until everyone hears about this, your finished Morgan," Bill growls, recovering his t-shirt.

"Not unless you care to join me." Arthur clicks his fingers at me, which isn't ok, but I will let it slide. I hand him my phone. "This goes viral if you breathe one word about us, is that clear." I am absolute jelly at this point, how am I meant to Dom that, he is all force and restraint and Bill looks like he is going to cry.

"This never happened." Bill relents, puts his t-shirt on and runs for the door.

"That was amazing." I shake with absolute glee; I almost fall off the perch of my chair.

"Don't gloat John." He is admonishing me, which is annoying because I want us to gloat together. Apart from the obvious of catching Bill with his pants down and an older man's cock up his ass. We just did our first public appearance as a couple, a power couple, and we bossed it. Arthur, with his stoic commands and me with my sharp mind, we make the perfect duo.

"Come on, Arthur, you have to admit that was highly amusing." I try and persuade a laugh out of him.

"You don't understand John, how lonely it is hiding, not being who you really want to be." He growls, sweeping his hair back in frustration. "So, touch starved that you drop your trousers for a complete stranger on someone else's couch." I laugh, I am not supposed to because he is heartfelt, but he is right, I don't get it, I really cannot fathom what is in people's heads when they thinking not being themselves is the best way to go. Weirdly there is more of them than there are of me, I am treated as the freak because I don't give in to the pressure.

"You are wrong, Arthur, I am just as lonely, if not more, I don't get to pretend like everyone else." I try not to say it too harshly, but I really cannot feel sorry for someone who makes my life hell.

"Everyone's just jealous of you." I don't laugh at that, it such a strange statement, no one is jealous of me, only Bridget, she just wants my look, nothing of who I am inside.

"Thought everyone wanted to be you." I bat back half-heartedly, that's the truth of it, everyone just wants parts of someone else, can't face being themselves.

"I have the external power, and you have internal power; opposing symmetry." He is all sultry, remembering why we were here in the first place. He leans over, runs his hands up my thigh, making me shudder, his touch melts me every time.

"Ying and yang." I am captivated in his cornflower eyes as they devour me whole. He leans in closer, placing his arms either side of me, capturing me. Even his putrid alcohol breath isn't enough to turn me off.

"How about I take your Ying upstairs and introduce it to my Yang." He is so goofy sometimes, especially when he is trying to be sexy and I blush and laugh, imagining what his Yang feels like. I am unclear how we get into the position, but he throws me over his shoulder like a caveman and is slapping my ass as he takes me upstairs to bed. It is so depraved and kinky, and I somehow feel the wrong way around. Not that I could ever consider carrying him upstairs, but I want the power over his body, to control him, to make him bark like he did tonight at Bill on my command.

He throws me on his bed, I bounce a few times from the force, and he is about to jump on top of me when I, out of nowhere shout no, really no, and that stops him dead in his tracks. As usual, his expression is sinking and morose, thinking he has done something wrong, upset me when it is entirely the opposite.

"Kneel," I command, watching his face light up when he realises what I am trying to do. With slow, poised, elegant movements, he bends his knee and kneels for me. It takes my breath away slightly; we are consumed for a moment by the weighty expectations. His eyes eventually fall to the floor, in the traditional pose of subservient. I don't want that, I want him always on me, consuming me as my commands roll off my tongue. With the crook of my finger, I pull his chin back up, and he lights up again, this is what he wants, I am what he wants, and this is me.

"I want to bind your wrists," I tell him, not a command, more a request, an expression of my wants and realisation that I don't possess the kit.

"There are some things in the top draw." He nods behind me, and I bound over backwards on the bed to get to the draw. Some things are an understatement, there is a whole sex shop in here. I rummage past of the cliched nonsense, furry pink cuffs are not my thing. Then I find too sturdy sets of handcuffs connected by a chain, next to it is a dog collar with a leash which fills my head with an entirely new scenario which I might have to save for another day. I pull them out, and they are connected to a blindfold that has me zinging with confidence.

I realise I have this backwards, generally kneel should come after getting naked. Arthur once again reads it and reassures me that this is playtime, my playtime, and he will do anything that I command. There are no mistakes, and we can do everything in the order that I think to do it. He is so generous with me; I almost forget that I am mad at him. Then the memory of tonight flows back in, his lips on Abi's and it piques enough anger in me to continue with my domination of him without feeling insecure. In a woosh of poise, he rises removes his t-shirt and his jean's, he is about to pull down his boxers when I command stop. He gazes at me, a ripple of disappointment twitches along his lips.

"This is my playtime." I confidently proclaim, using his own words against him. I shuffle back over to him, my hard-on making it impossible to be graceful at this point. He sways expectantly, almost giggling as I fall down behind him and eagerly place the cuffs on. The snap of the clips has us both shuddering. I exhale such a longing breath that I realise how much I have wanted this, how long I have waited and dreamed and now it is happening. I sit by his side for a moment, staring adoringly into those pooling blue eyes, they are so beautiful and sincere, part of me wants them to stay. I can't, not yet, I know what I want him to do to me, what he can give me but the thought of him seeing me is too much, I am not ready. I take the blindfold and place it over his head, resting on his forehead.

"Are you ok with this?" I think to ask, I don't know how appropriate it is, he has consumed alcohol, weed and I am sober, I don't want to be accused of taking advantage.

"More than ok." I smile wickedly at his reassurance and pull the blindfold down. I am quiet for a moment, artist kicking in, studying every flex of taut muscle as it tightens and relaxes in expectation. I am not sure if this is allowed, to blindfold and bind someone and then sit and observe them. His lips protrude outwards, words stuck on them, rolling in his mind, but I am enjoying my observations of him. The way his thighs, bent, bulge wide, making his knees appear knobbly. His cock is tight against the constraints of his boxers, bobbing up and down rushing with blood and expectation. His torso is granite, hard and unyielding, slick with sweat, tense with the anticipation. My mind fills with possibilities, suddenly deluged, I want to do everything all at once, I don't know how to start.

"Are you still there?" He tilts his head slightly, his hair tumbles forwards, positively debauched.

"Yes," I crumble breathlessly. Arthur remains on his knees, wobbling towards me, placing his cheek on my thigh and begins to stroke upwards, nearing my cock, almost breaking me.

"Can you help me?" His tone so innocent, respectful of the power that I am supposed to have. I am unable to control this, I can see in my head what I want, I just don't have the confidence to make it happen.

"What do you need?" I ask like I am expecting a request for a drink of water.

"Can you take your jean's off?" It shouldn't be challenging, unreasonable, it's not like we haven't been this far before. My fingers tremble as I try to unbutton my jeans, it takes an intolerably long time. The clunk of my belt buckle makes him shudder. I whip my boxers off, shame rides all over me, I tremble exposed to him, even though he cannot see. His large warm hands caress my thighs, I tingle so much I have to sit down. That was a mistake, he can access more of me, with more of him. His lips, soft and supple, kiss along my inner thigh, close to my cock. A lick, his warming saliva against my hot skin.

I groan, its deep, erotic, a full grief-ridden chime of intensity. I should have guessed it wouldn't last. One simple caress of Arthur's talented hands across my shaft, I explosively, and unintentionally blow my load in his face. My bones melt, leaving me just skin and mush. I want to float away in the ecstasy of the moment. My eyes are wild, stuck on him, his slightly gawping expression as my spunk hangs from his left cheek, nose and chin. I tremble, my body fighting, my mind wants to relax, but I am devastated, presuming what I have done is a faux par, we haven't discussed lines yet, this might be one for him. After what feels like forever, he runs rolls his tongue out, licking my spend into his mouth, groaning provocatively. I burn like a furnace from embarrassment.

"Please don't." I quiver, grabbing his discarded t-shirt trying to clean him up so he can't do it again.

"I want to taste you." His thick accent is so sultry, it makes it sound reasonable.

"Arthur." I cry out in disgrace.

"John, it's important to me, I want to do these things, to you, with you and for my own enjoyment. If your shaft was in my mouth, it would have been ok to blow a load down my throat. What is the difference if it is on my face?" I know that is reasonable and rational, but it doesn't remove my insecurities, I just prematurely ejaculated over his face, no argument could make me feel ok about that. Let alone the taste, I don't have the best diet, what if it’s disgusting? I can't have another intimate conversation so soon, not after douche gate, it would end me.

"Because I didn't want it on your face," I finally say. "I wanted to last longer."

"My sweet boy" he stumbles a bit to find me, placing his chin on my shoulder because his bound hands prevent from hugging me when I really need a hug. "It’s a compliment, one-touch and you're undone."

We kiss, soft and languid. I want it to be over, it is 5 in the morning, the sun is almost up, and my concrete nap wasn't the sleep I required. I crave his secure touch and his warmth against me, he can't deliver that with cuffs on. I pull off the mask to a groan of disappointment and undo his cuffs.

"Bedtime," I say authoritatively, and he obliges me. I keep my t-shirt on, which thankfully is hiding my exposed junk. We snuggle up together in his oversized bed and fall asleep.

Chapter Text

John's coal eyes darkened seductively across my body, the brooding flames of desire and temptation. His heat enticing me closer, foolishly burning my skin with intensity. I am a caveman, quick to fear and swift with intrigue as this new creation sent from the Gods, dances and plays and taunts me until I am bedazzled and beholden. Cruel temptress, could I harness him, control him, make him my own, or was I doomed to gaze upon him with awe until he consumes me with his deadly wicked licks, migrating across every inch of skin. His touch, forceful was soothing in its strain, releasing the full glorious rhythms of his strokes, I succumb to the hostility and the hotness of his caress. I can feel the tremble of anticipation, the elixir of nerves, blood metallic as it leaked from my lip, biting to hold in moans of pure untamed pleasure, the pressure.

"Arthur," his voice corrupted me further, his weight pressing hard against my chest until I couldn't breathe,

"Arthur," he shouted a little louder. I wake, confused and disorientated his chicken legs splayed across my stomach his hands pressing on my chest.

"What, John," I grumble groggy and confused, disappointed that my dream was interrupted so carelessly and casually.

"Sorry, I thought you were having a nightmare," He smiles innocently but his brown eyes are full of intent.

"It wasn't a nightmare," I confirm, disheartened and a little bit detached that I didn't get to live it to the end.

"I can see that now," He nods his head backwards towards my throbbing hard member, a few more moments and that would have blown.  

"You need to work on your dream noises," his giggle childish, "Sounded like you were being hunted,"

I was being hunted, hunted by him, willingly caught and subjected to all he had to offer. I want him to pursue, to capture me and do everything he can imagine to me. He has the imagination for such wickedness, lurking under his milk-white skin. I received the slightest taste last night, the possibilities. I reassure him because it's the right thing to do, his honesty towards his struggles, not able to change gears so quickly, I can understand and rationalise that. I can't expect him to go 0 to 60, but I am already at 60, and I am speeding away from him. For him, he doesn't notice, which is right, he is self-absorbed which he should be when learning something new, especially a trade that will be his for the rest of his life. What is dangerous, is without release, without some sort of anchor that provides me with a level of pleasure, I will start to seek it elsewhere. I am notoriously bad at making the right decisions when my dick is in charge, every day, it seems to gain a bit more power.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he frowns a little bit seriously, and I have no concept of what he is talking about, I have only just woken up, hungover, dehydrated and he is given me riddles to decipher. He should join the secret service, specialism torture, not the enjoyable type, the actual I would rather die than be subjected to this type.

"Tell you what?" Painful, slow and a little annoyed, my hand is resting on his calf, ready to squeeze my frustrations into him and then take him because if I don't, I will break us both.

"That you needed a hand," my voice breaks in a gargled harassed groan as each one of his long slender fingers wrap slowly around my shaft. "Don't get to the point of dreaming about sex if you are fulfilled when you're awake."

I inhale deeply for a few seconds, trying to counteract the temptation to blow, I want the release, but I also want him, more than just a gliding touch, I want him to work hard for me, to show me what he has got and can give me.

"I wanted you…" I gulp hard at the irrational sentiment I have created and what it will mean when he hears it. "I stopped myself because I wanted you to do it,"

"I am not a mind reader Arthur," he shifts his position, sliding from my stomach and down to my hips, the first touch of flesh his shirt riding up slightly at the back, my cockhead tantalisingly close to the crease of his cheeks, the promise land, so close still felt so far away. I tremble, my body overriding my mind, it is chasing pleasure in so many different directions that I cannot focus on one thought alone.

"I can't ask" My defences are falling so quickly that I am taken aback my own honesty,

"No!" His gorgeous smile returns and he leans forward, and his chapped lip brush lightly across my forehead. "But you can beg" His pupils explode concealing the hazel flecks leaving just his muddy brown pools of lust. My body contorts, shifts uncontrollably and in a rage of spasms. It is everything wrapped up perfectly, what I need, he can read me. Yet, what I need isn't always something I willingly succumb to, I like the fight, the belief I can overcome, that I don't have to submit, that I have choices when really, he has taken them all from me.

"Please…." I plea so aching in its delivery that I defy anyone not to take pity and help me.

"Please what?" He tone is causal, but the malevolence is there hiding in the back of his throat waiting.

"Please touch me," My fingers dig into his thighs, clawing and pleading for release,

"Where?" He is so cruel and evil, my throat is closing under strain, the words require mining from my brain,

"Touch. My. Dick. John. Please," I am a rippling tirade of angst and aggression against his serenity, his mastery of his art and me. I chastise myself for being so naïve, for treating him as a child with unlimited time and endless play, undefined boundaries to grow and explore unchallenged. He is a cuckoo that I have warmed and nurtured until ready to hatch, only to find him grown larger and more powerful than any expectation.

"I will do it, Arthur, on one condition." I slam my head against my pillow, feeling the limits of my civility crumbling.

"Anything," I gasp out breathlessly, succumbing to my inevitable submission.

"What were you dreaming about?" He licks an alluring smile, returns his warm hand to my building shaft.

"You!" I spit out aggressively, my voice yet to experience the relief that my cock was on its way to getting,

"What about me?" He spits on his hand for moisture and begins to work me so languidly and slowly, I am scared he will stop,

"You were fire," I try and think of a way to explain it that doesn't make me sound wholly deranged but it was a dream, it was what it was, "Burning my skin, was so hot, couldn't stop." The pressure of his hand against me is exquisite, divine, I feel the first tingles of release in my feet, my legs. "You were licking me with your fire, everywhere," In my drifted state of relaxation I release his thighs, they must be bruised, yet he doesn't complain. At least these are bruises he can be proud of, given to him by me, a reward for his skill. He can look upon them and think of me, debauched, tied up tightly as a knot, begging for his touch. He is quiet, doesn't say a word, just soothingly strokes me in a considered and tactful motion. I thought he might squirm or hesitate, having never done this before but he has got the hang of it straight away. I suppose when you practice on your own so much, someone else's isn't that hard to navigate. Same flesh, angles and rhythms, nerves and blood all pump in the same direction.

"Then what?" he asks, the question makes me focus, my vision was blurring, relaxing into a dreamlike state of satisfaction, he brings me back, to him and us.

"Then you woke me up!" I playfully shout, lurching forward and grabbing him, his torso fitting so neatly against mine, he releases me for a second to try and maintain his balance, the loss of him ushers a shaky breath, but I have more of him now against me, where I want him to be. I kiss him deep and rolling with satisfaction, his hand returned to its task and mine joins him. I am almost there, and I want our fingers entwined and working together as I release. He shuffles up closer, and I can feel him, his cock slapping wildly against my stomach, I try to reach for it, to give him the same pleasure he is giving me,

"No" he whispers in my ear, I offer a puzzled look, "We both know I am useless when I come, this is for you."  

My knotted stomach is so tight; the sentiment of his words, his giving nature after such cruelty my reward. I climax in the softest and gooey way imaginable, a sob, followed by the desire to hold him, every inch of him against me as I fall into a state of complete hedonism. My load, substantial, coats him, his most treasured parts, his cheeks and crack and rests there sticky and hot, the sight of me on him makes me instantly want to do it all over again. My mind fills with the usual obscure nonsense, every load deposited on him, covering every inch of skin, the tips of his toes to his scowling brow. Could I make him wear me, the scent of me, my essence so everyone would know I was claimed and owned, and he was my owner.  

"I enjoyed that," He coos warmly into my ear as I gently flow back to him from my away place where only I go. I can't imagine he could feel nearly the same amount of pleasure from it as I did, but they are words I needed to hear. All the play, dominance and training need to have a sound bedrock of understanding that the overall goal is to get each other off, imaginative, yes, torturous, most defiantly, non-existent, never, I couldn't tolerate it for too long. Having recovered some of the stiffness from my jellied legs, I unceremoniously flip him over, holding both wrists firmly behind his back. He yelps and squeals and tries to fight me but I am too heavy, too enamoured by his uncoordinated wriggling and the heat of attack rising in his face. I am not going to hurt him or force him; I just want to admire my work. Look upon him with the same considered focussed eyes that I catch from him sometimes when he thinks I don't notice. I discover the reason for his embattled pleas, embarrassment maybe, a secret glinting between his cheeks, one I hadn't yet considered.

"John, are you wearing a plug," He squirms a little and buries his head into the pillow, a little scream of anguish leaves his lips. I release his wrists, giving him the space to choose because that's what I give him, choices.

"I didn't want you to know" He eventually says muffled by a mouthful of feather and fabric from the pillow. The discovery was electric and exciting, it sparked my cock back into life, yet he was ashamed which made me roll with a slight sickness if we can't share these things how will we ever achieve unity.

"Why? I want to know." I shuffled up the bed towards him, "Look what knowing does to me." I take his hand and place it along my solid shaft.

"I think my breathing could do that to you," My eyebrow flare and my mouth fall's open, is he suggesting I am easy. "I wanted it to be a surprise," he interjects my faux indignation, wrapping his chicken legs around me, so we are once again entwined, and close, little rapturous breaths of expectation leave our chests in synchronisation.

"It was defiantly a surprise," I try to reassure him,

"Not the butt-plug you idiot," he scolds me, always idiot, "The stretch, I wanted you to be surprised when I presented my hole already and willing to accommodate your massive cock."

"My cock isn't that big!" I say exasperated, worried that he is concerned about my size,

"Arthur that thing would make a porn star blush," I stare at my cock because I thought it was pretty average, I mean during sex some people would comment but doesn't everyone, isn't that the vernacular used, the guy you are having sex with always has a massive cock. My breathing becomes a bit laboured as my mind tries and fails to find the right words, I can't have him hurting himself to try and please me, that isn't the way that this is supposed to work. He is pushing himself too hard and too fast and its all my fault because I haven't trained him properly

"You could really hurt yourself; you shouldn't wear them all the time" I tremble, whining with fear that he is going to end up in the hospital because of me.

"I have done my research," He swipes a few strands of hair from my face, "I haven't been wearing it all night or anything stupid, just slipped it in when I realised you weren't having a nightmare."

I exhale a long-overdue breath and pull him tight against me, my precious boy, he makes me so irrational when I really have no need to be. Comforted by his reassurance, my mind can now refocus on its real intent, playing with the plug and getting him off. My hand snakes down his t-shirt, giving his cheek a little slap, the stickiness of my spend coating my fingers. I part his cheeks, and I weave the bejewelled stopper between my digits, tugging at it slightly. He flinches in my arms and then stiffens, he might feel discomfort now, but in a few moments, he will be begging for more. I pull the plug out slowly, rolling its silicon head all over his skin, picking up the deposited mess I have made on him. I am an excellent Sub who always cleans up for his master, then when I am sure all the gooey loveliness is secured, I prepare him once again for its entry. His back arches, pushing him closer to me as his ass presents. I am gentle, slow and considered, but he opens with ease, broken breaths and pleas for me, faster, harder. I can feel my own enjoyment building, pushing the lubricated plug, in and out, trying to locate his pressure point where his ecstasy lives. We writhe, my strength and his suppleness mixing fluidly as he commands me to move harder and faster.

"Arthur!" Dutch bounds into my bedroom, I manage to catch a glimpse of his face, rolled up anger written across the furrows of his brow, quickly defeated by shame and embarrassment as his eyes burn at the scene. He slams the door behind him, I am frozen, tightly holding onto my boy who is trembling.

"Did Dutch just see my ass?" he whispers, it is somewhat a rhetorical question, but I answer all the same.

"More than your ass," I pull the plug out and wave it at him. He collapses against my shoulder, sobbing from humiliation. 

"It's ok, I will sort it," I roll him on to my bed, allowing his despair to take him as he wraps into a foetal position. I am not worried, Dutch should have knocked, there are rules that we give each other. I also smile a little, his father has seen me on display intimately, in art, so this is just apt, payback, John Marston my living artwork.

Chapter Text

Arthur chucks on a pair of grey jogging bottoms and leaves the room, his body is firm, confident, like what just happened wasn't the most embarrassing thing in the world. I don't know how he can achieve such calmness, how he can be so controlled when facing down such mortifying and uncomfortable situation. I almost feel sorry for Dutch, its bad enough coming home to be faced with such a scene but to have Arthur bounding in with such Je de vie as though it is reasonable must be excruciating. My dad would have killed us both, that is a real fear. I can't decide if Arthur lacks the composite skills or experience to be anxious and full of dread or if Dutch provides him with safety and security. Neither seems to fit right from what little I have seen, I am too intrigued to not witness this moment, to gain more insight into this peculiar relationship. I creep towards the door; it is slightly open, and I can hear Arthurs sweet drawl asking permission to enter Dutch's room.

"Arthur," Dutch says exacerbated, "I know you have no shame with these things, but you can at least give me a moment." The intensity is making me shake, but I smile at Dutch's response, we might be similar in our outlook, especially in this situation, let the poor man die of shame for a little bit Arthur, not everything has to move so damn quickly all the time.

"You said you weren't home this weekend," Arthur reminds him, that was also true, he wasn't going to be home this weekend. I recall the disappointment in Arthur's eyes when he said it.

"Yes, well plans change" He growls at Arthur, that would have been the end of the conversation with me, I would be skulking back to the security of my room and be thankful I got away unscathed. Arthur perseveres, remains stoic, stands his ground. "I don't expect to come home, find downstairs trashed, you fucking a vulnerable kid and porn of you in my bedroom."

There is too much information delivered in one sentence to unpack, what Porn? I am not Goddamn vulnerable, why does everyone have that impression of me. I wholeheartedly agree downstairs is a disgusting mess. I wish I made him clean up last night, I felt compelled to do it, but then he went all caveman and I got distracted by other pursuits.

"That's art" I beam, my beautiful blessed picture is safe, albeit in Dutch's room. Arthur is such a buffoon for someone who doesn't want other people to see it, leaving it on display in Dutch's bedroom isn't really the level of concealment I would have tried to obtain. Especially when half the school were roaming around unescorted last night, anyone could have found it. "Downstairs will be sorted because it always is." There is a gap, a pregnant pause that makes me start to edge away from the door, he could be back with me at any moment, but then he speaks.

"He is vulnerable, but I love him, and I want him to be my boyfriend." I start to hyperventilate, as declarations go, I think that might be the best. My heart is pounding with excitement, I can't hear anymore, I think I am going to faint like one of those maidens from days of yore, I collapse on the bed, our bed, our nest of lovemaking and slumber. He said he loves me, wants me to be his boyfriend. If I wasn't entirely boneless, I would be jumping on the bed.

"Arthur" Their voices grow nearer not in the bedroom, now in the hallway. "I am glad you have found someone, but does it have to be so extreme, can't you just be normal."

"Yes," Arthur's tone is sarcastic "Bring my parents back to life, find a cure for gay, and I will be the normal boy you so desire." My poor boy, my heart aches for him so, I don't want him to be normal whatever that means, he is perfection to me.

"That isn't what I meant" Dutch huffs, it is what he meant, I am sure he isn't homophobic, not like what my dad would be. "With your history, you have to be careful," My eyes bulge with the statement, what history? I can now understand his caution, not towards me, I am safe, I would never hurt Arthur. I suppose there is something there I have yet to discover truly about Arthur, something Dutch gives me the impression he knows all too well. The warning on our first meeting, the fear that Arthur was responsible for the bruises. I get the feeling that once unleashed it is tough to put Arthur back in his cage, goose bumps cover my skin at the thought, both salacious and scary at the same time.

"Normal starts at home," I gulp, waiting for more secrets to be divulged, their secret love affair maybe, how could they have forgotten I am right here in the next room able to hear everything. "So, I want you downstairs in ten minutes to meet my boyfriend."

"I have already met him Arthur," Dutch crows "Half-dressed at my breakfast table," I ripple with embarrassment, I knew it was too weird should have run upstairs to get dressed, no matter how incapacitated I was at the time.

"Well, you can meet him fully dressed," Arthur says belligerently.

"It is preferable," He chimes back, "Any more naked and I might as well be fucking him myself."

That's it, I need to leave quietly when no one is looking, that statement is not ok, I am not to be shared around like some houseboy. I can hear Arthur coming, and I dive under the sanctuary of the covers absolutely mortified at the thought of Dutch, his body anywhere near mine. It takes Arthur a good twenty minutes to coax me out from the sheets. Dutch isn't really someone I want to see right now, crass and arrogant.

"Why would you want me to that?" I croak from under the bed covers, I am buried deep so he can't see any part of me. I have every limb poised and positioned so when the expectant tug of the duvet comes, I can at least fight for my tomb, twisting and turning until he gives up. Then he is on top of me, suffocating me with his weight.

"Arthur," I gasp, "I can't breathe," He pulls the cover off enough to reveal my sweaty, hot head. The cooling air is sweet release against my heated skin.

"Because he is my Uncle and you are my…" He pauses for a moment, will say it to Dutch but not to me. Yet, I can't be a spy my facial expressions always give me away. Was it my big brown eyes sparkling with electricity, my little wry smile, curving, the gasp of excited air?

"You were listening, weren't you?" He says frowning with disappointment, a tingle of red against his cheeks as he realises what he said.

"You weren't exactly quiet about it, Romeo," I try to ignite humour as my defence, protection in case he decides to take it back. The words were for another purpose and not for my ears.

"Well, just because I said it to Dutch doesn't mean I am ready to say it to you," He is so arrogant, a little bit dominant, which makes me assume my role.

"You don't have to say anything to me, as long I know you are feeling it," I kiss his nose playfully, he swats me away. I take this as my cue to get dressed, to furnish his request to meet his goddamn Uncle for the third time, this time, I will be wearing pants.   Stupid Arthur, can he not just allow us to die of shame privately. I follow his lead downstairs, hiding behind his bulky frame until the last minute, this is going to be painful.

"Dutch this is John, my boyfriend." Arthur steps out the way, and mine and Dutch's eyes meet, horrified. I have never seen my own ass on display so I can only imagine what he is thinking at this moment, that image alone is enough to have me wrap my arms around myself and stare at the floor.

"Hi, again," I wave weakly at the man, Arthur is shaking his head through the corner of my eye, and I know his expectation was I would front this out, face Dutch down like a man. I am not an idiot, respect one's elders and all that, I practically defiled myself in the poor man's house and made him watch. Contrite is all I can do in this situation; I think it is appropriate and the correct response.

"Hello, son," Dutch croaks and puts his hand forward to shake, again. He wouldn't be so eager if he was aware of where my hands have been. Why didn't I wash my hands before coming to meet him, I frown, a wordless plea of propriety, he gets the message and withdraws the offer. Dutch sways uncomfortably, which actually makes me relax little, kindred spirits, us and 99% of the population Arthur is a bit weird for making us do this. Then I think he might actually be enjoying it, watching us squirm, there is definitely sadism in his bones. Dutch breathes out a long breath, as the silence between us rolls on, and then he goes to sit.

"Not there," I say automatically and then realise I am telling him where to sit in his own house, but that was the scene of the crime from last night. "Not us" I try and offer in defence.

"Arthur!" Dutch shouts as he rigidly stands back up from his hoovering pose.

"Not my fault," Arthur says casually, "Next door neighbour invited himself around for a bit of boy fun,"

"Is everyone at it?" Dutch says rhetorically, "You should have been here to stop it," He points a finger in Arthur's face and retreats to the kitchen, I agree the safest place, sanitised surfaces. I flip the cover of the sofa over so any offending stains are concealed until we can get it cleaned.

"What are you doing?" Arthur hovers next to me, watching.

"Tidying Up," I tell him with no hint of irony because that is what you do when your house is a mess, you clean it up.

"The cleaner will do it," Arthur says it so casually that offends me.

"Arthur!" I chastise him "You are not letting some poor woman clean up this mess for minimum wage."

"I'll pay here bit extra" He tries to justify that as an acceptable response.

"Excuse me, who puts money in that account." Dutch enters the fray, on my side, how to win friends and influence people.

"Yeah, Arthur," I feel like I have all the power at this moment, "I might have bared my ass, but your privilege is showing." His eyes dart towards me with writhing aggression for calling him out, I just smile, retrieve a roll of bin bags placed on the counter and slap them into his iron-strong chest. "Clean, now" I command

"I like you, John," Dutch chuckles in the background, "you can stay."

"Thank you, Dutch," I smirk with all the smugness I can muster, "I'll get him whipped into shape in no time." With those words, Arthur bends over slightly and wiggles his erotic firm ass at me, which has me rolling desire.

"Stop!" Dutch intervenes, "Too far, too soon." We snap back out of our moment of lustful enjoyment of one another, It is probably fair, bedroom should be for bedroom, and no one should have to witness what we want to do to each other.

"I haven't got time to clean," Arthur throws the bin bags on the countertop, "I need to get Bodie to the shop."

"Whose Bodie?" I innocently ask,

"The car," he says as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Your car!" I gasp, it is a little too tragic to know his car has a name. "Jesus Arthur, you are such a cliché."

"Better be quick they will be here in two hours?" Dutch prompts, which make my ears prick up, visitors to the house in two hours, I would need a whole team to get this place looking right.

"Who?" Arthur inquires as in the dark as I am to who is coming to visit.

"The reason I am home," Dutch opens his arms wide and dons the smile of a maniac, "Aunty Annabelle, and Cousin Mary-Beth are making an unprompted and ill-advised visit. "Arthur face sinks, he inhales a fractured breath. I haven't really asked him about relatives, once aware his parents were dead, it seemed rude to pry without prior authorisation. He doesn't appear to be pleased about their arrival. "They will love little Johnny here."

"Won't they just," Arthur breaths out, swaying on his hips unsure what to do. "I should probably just drop you off home."

"No chance buddy, if you're mature enough to have house parties and boyfriends." Dutch cackles, enjoying the moment a little too much "Then he can stay and meet the family, like a grown-up."

"I wasn't invited to the party," I pop that in there in case he thinks I contributed to this mess.

"Arthur" Dutch looks at him quizzically.

"It's ok, I don't mind cleaning up after his meathead friends." I try and backpedal a little, I am going to tidy up because that is the right thing to do. I hope he doesn't think I am trying to get out of it.

"You shouldn't pander to his needs John," Dutch advises "It makes him weak and irresponsible."

"Don't worry, he will be punished for it later," I say confidently

"John!" Arthur reprimands, a streak of blush covers his face, so he does get embarrassed about certain things, I bank that in my memory for next time he is inappropriate.

"I do like you, John," Dutch slaps me on the shoulder, laughing, "Someone who can make Arthur squirm is a winner in my books."

Chapter Text

I have an hour to get my shit together before they arrive. It is not that I don't love them, I do, hell when mum and dad died, I was team Annabelle, I wanted her to adopt me over Dutch. She lives in a wicked apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, I could see myself fitting in quite nicely there.

Then I fucked up, got out of control and decisions got made for me. There is no scene in Annesberg, one gay club which is usually full of Heteros having a laugh, pretending to be into the scene just to rag on all the Homos. New York promised so much, a whole new world to explore, they could see it in me, the lust sitting beneath my skin. New York was my apple from the forbidden tree, and once I bit, Eden for me would be gone forever. I should be grateful that they care so much, want to protect me but I was hell-bent on self-destruction and having that option denied to me was too intolerable.

Aunt Annabelle and I haven't been on the best of terms since then, she tries to mother me when she gets five minutes free from her busy job. Annabelle is a complete bohemian in style, hemp and lace; always has some ornament dangling from her hair or around her neck. Mary-Beth is the complete opposite, she lives for the Gap, her beige pants match her beige personality. That is a bit harsh, it frustrates me when I only see pity in her eyes. Mary-Beth makes me feel like a victim of circumstance to be forgiven and supported when I am quite clear what I want, why I want it. If my parents were still alive, I would still want to be tied up and beaten, it's just my thing.

I lend John another t-shirt which makes me think we should give each other a draw. I shudder at the prospect, we are not lesbians, it's only been a week. Like all the others it's way too big which makes him appear intolerably younger than he is, barely legal, that will be another mark against my name.

Their Uber arrives, we line up for inspection, even John falls in without being prompted. Annabelle breezes out with all coos and "my haven't you grown", she still pinches my cheeks like I am a child, which is infuriating. Dutch always kisses both her cheeks like some suave European; he tries to appear casual, but the stiffness in his back means he is set to eggshell mode. My poor cousin is left to recover their bags, they would appear to be staying for a month the size of their cases. My Aunt has never travelled light. I do the right thing; break ranks and go over to help her.

"And who is this?" I hear Annabelle hum inquisitively towards John.

"This is Arthur's boyfriend, John" Dutch says politely with all the propriety expected by my Aunt. Strangers are to be introduced and not to introduce themselves. There is an uncomfortable silence, one I cannot break as I am struggling to lift the bags from the car and get them into the house.

"Damn Mary-Beth, how did you carry these the other side?" I try and sound unimpressed, but my 5 ft nothing, thinner than paper cousin must be stronger than I am.

"Don't ask" she huffs; obviously a trauma she doesn't want to elaborate on.

"Just set them down Arthur we need to talk," That tell-tale tone of trouble has me dropping the cases immediately with no care. Annabelle has been here for exactly two minutes and I am already lined up for my first lecture. I glance at Dutch in disbelief, he shrugs, none the wiser to what I have done.

"Mary-Beth will you and John go outside I need to speak with Arthur," Mary-Beth nods accepting the command without question, poor girl she has to live with the Kraken, she is used to the routine and pulls the bi-fold doors open.

"Come on John" she summons him, his gaze shoots over with reluctance, he wants to protect me which is adorable, but I am a big boy, and my Aunt is notoriously indiscreet, so I nod my approval at his leaving. I adopted the pose, legs crossed, leaning against the counter, arms folded and eyes down. It's not my listening pose it is my protection pose, I never enjoy what Annabelle has to say on the topic of me, everything else she is bearable, sometimes amusing. When she has input into my life, it makes me react, and if my body is open, I gesticulate, intimidate, and I lose. Dutch is good at stepping in if it gets too heated, but I hate the feeling of defeat, it's not my fault I respond to the cruel things she says to me. Dutch stands to the side, I wish he would stand by my side, as support. Instead, he adopts the position of referee, we can go ten rounds as long as its civil he will only get involved if it starts to turn ugly.

"Arthur, we discussed boyfriends and decided it wasn't appropriate while you are in school," the glint of her hazel eyes confirms her disappointment, I return my eyes to the floor.

"You told me it was inappropriate, I don't remember a discussion or me ever agreeing to it," I take a few breaths, this is going to turn heated. It's not Annabelle's point of view that has always been odd, but she will start challenging his right to be with me, she has no comprehension of his importance.

"You are not well enough to conduct yourself in a healthy relationship, it's not fair on James," Her mouth twitches to the side when she is angry. Her standard feature is incessant smiling, trying to frown is so unnatural it makes her face contort.

"John" I correct her, intentionally groaning his name to convey my disinterest in this conversation and the fact she can't be bothered to get his name right. The worst side, she is all hypothesis and theory, if she bothered to spend five minutes with him or us, she might actually form a reasonable opinion that doesn't involve us splitting up.

"In fairness, Annabelle, from what I have seen, they appear to be a good fit." I smile, Dutch intervening on my side, about us, actually fills me with warmth and longing.

"From what you have seen, it is what you haven't seen that concerns me!" I start to cry with laughter which sets Dutch off a little, not that either of us is going to enlighten Aunt Annabelle, who is staring like we are deranged. She would blow her top if she found out we had already departed on our voyage of sexual discovery and poor Dutch witnessed our latest stormy session.

"Arthur!" She shouts which riles me, my knuckles are gripping the granite counter so hard I can believe it will crumble under my force. "This isn't a game; does he even know your history?"

"No!" I shout back, killing any talk about that or any suggestion that I am going to tell John, it's private, it's personal, it's mine. Only I know what really happened, what I permitted, and when I was not in control.

"I think he has a right to know, Arthur, at least let him understand what he is getting himself involved in," Her tone switches to reasonable, she gets me heightened and then does the switch on me. John thinks I change gears too quickly, he should try and battle with Annabelle. She is a master of that dark art, and I am definitely her nephew.

"I am not like that anymore" I plead, I can't have her wrecking the one good thing I have allowed myself, the one thing that has given me hope in all the despair, all the darkness. "Dutch tell her?"

"I don't know Arthur, perhaps you need to talk to him about it" Dutch moves towards me, containment phase, "If things are progressing the way they are, it would reassure us that you are staying safe with each other."

"I am safe, I promise, I wouldn't hurt him" I can hear the whine in my voice, I am 5 again begging for an ice cream, only these are not my parents, and they aren't so easily manipulated because they don't love me like parents, they are incapable, I am not theirs. The two people who are supposed to love me unconditionally, for who I am, they are dead, all I have is him, and they want him to go away.

"It's not him that I am worried about," Annabelle sparks, and it just reminds me how unimportant John is to her, how insignificant, when he is everything, my world at this moment, forever, hopefully.

"Well I care about both of you," Dutch intervenes again, placing a hand on my shoulder, I would usually react badly to such contact, for now, it is welcome, for the first time I feel he is on my side. I am so angry at her, for a change, I am grateful to him, that he sees us as equals and in love, that John matters just as much as I do.

"I called the school" My gratitude instantly sinks away leaving this void in the pit of my stomach. Reminding me that as much as I pretend I am free, there are people always watching my every move waiting for me to fuck up again.

"So, you're not completely detached with his upbringing." Annabelle digs into Dutch, which gets a scowl, she is doing well tonight, Dutch and I are rarely unified, we are almost a tag team against her, she is still beating us though, although I am pissed at him as well, he didn't need to mention School.

"I can't believe you're checking up on me" I am monotone, defeated a little. All I can think about is John, how I want him to hold me and tell me everything will be ok. If we are some doomed Romeo and Juliet star crossed lover shit, at least, we are that together. They can try and separate us, but only death will keep us apart.

"Don't be dumb Arthur, I might allow you space, but we know where complete freedom takes you," It stops my little melodramatic meltdown, I am not dumb, I know School reports back to him, they have to, I suppose.

"They told me about John's home set up" That was not what I was expecting, that they would divulge information on him as well as me, I am sure there are data protection laws they are breaching. Should I tell John, confess that he is now caught up in my crazy world where nothing goes unnoticed, nothing is allowed to slide, everything is recorded and marked down and reported. I knew I shouldn't have opened my big mouth to Grimshaw.

"What's that got to do with anything?" I know, don't play dumb, but it's all I have got left in my arsenal. I am an antelope in the Serengeti, and I am being circled by the lions who I thought were my family, apparently not, we are a different species.

"He is a vulnerable young man and so are you," For fuck sake, fucking vulnerable, I am a quarterback, we are going for the state championship, you can't achieve that by being weak. Only they don't see that side of me because they never engage with the positive things in my life, they are just negative about it all. "I know you think you have it all figured out, but sometimes us boring adults might have a bit more wisdom."

"I told the therapist about us," I try to offer up as a defence to my perceived defensiveness, time was no one could get anything from me, my trust in everything so broken. I am working on it, trying, just not hard enough apparently. "I was open; she was ok with it."

"Well, I will be speaking to this therapist, I don't know what she is thinking of encouraging you," Annabelle never moves an inch from her ill-informed decisions. She is brutal and will defy even the soundest logic if it is at odds with her assessment. That's why we don't like them visiting that often, all I have to do is remind myself that Dutch won't turn John away, actually seems to like him when he manages to have clothes on.

"Where are you going?" Dutch asks as I brush past him, as far as I am concerned any further discussion will torment me more, Annabelle won't be moved.

"For a run" I clamber upstairs, stripping as I go, there is too much energy, too much adrenaline if I don't run, I am going to do something stupid and that will prove them right. I catch a glimpse of my torso in the mirror, my appendix scar, long and violent, only its not, my appendix is still in there. It's just what I told John because I lie, I lie a lot to hide from the world who I truly am.

Chapter Text

"What was that all about?" I say to this random person I have never met before. She is handsome, like Arthur, all sad eyes and considered movements. Nerves make my body shake, my bones rattling against my skin, only the comfort of his oversized t-shirt to reassure me. I must have the appearance of a timid vole forced out into the sunlight against my wishes. I try to dispel my discomfort for her sake at least, she has been forced out because we combined are not adult enough to listen to such a conversation. I worry for him, my indignant glare scans the glass, the afternoon suns beams make it impossible to penetrate the gloom. All I see is her, delicately slipping a shoe from her foot and dipping it cautiously into the pool. Of course, they have a pool, I never thought to look outside, but I assumed anyway, can't have a fabulous house without an equally ostentatious swimming pool. I long to be by his side, taking whatever tongue lashing is given; if it is about us, our behaviour, we should be punished together, as partners.

"It's always the same, my mother tries to tell Arthur how to live his life, and he does the opposite." Mary-Beth lowers herself to the side of the pool, rolling up her chinos to her knee and then allows both feet to sink into the temperate water, a picture of calm lapping serenity. "My mother believes in her own hype a little too much, Arthur challenges her, and she doesn't like it."

"Two peas," I try and offer, they sound alike. I don't particularly have much family to compare myself to, my father was an only child, he doesn't speak of his parents at all, I assume they are dead or dead to him at least. My mother, she had a sister, died of a heroin overdose when she was sixteen, a brother locked up in prison. Her dad was dead before I was born, killed himself, I think, and her mom died of cancer, the same that took mom from me. Tragedy begets tragedy, I don't think about it too much, to ponder would consume me, I am sure the lost soul in me only exists due to my parent's losses so early in their young lives, I must overcome, not be brought down by it, be different  

"Something like that," She smiles weakly, similar to his smile. Oh, this family are definitely related. A gorgeous blonde curl falls from her pristine bun, she sweeps it back effortlessly.

"Does she have a problem with him being gay?" I ask, splashing my feet in the pool, it's always something I am conscious of, in public people say the politically correct thing, behind closed doors they can be quite different.

"God no, she almost threw him a party when he came out," Mary-Beth has a soft voice, especially for a New Yorker, there is no harshness. "It's the other thing; I never seen them so scared when they got to the hospital."

"Oh, right yeah I imagine it was a shock," I have no idea what she is on about, I harness my non-existent wiles in an attempt to garner more information. Is this what Dutch was alluding to his history, I gulp and stare off over the valley, trying to conceal my facial expressions which always betray my inability to lie.

"So, you're are into that as well?" Mary-Beth asks as though she doesn't want to know the answer. I assume she is talking about the added bonus of our relationship, not only gay but Dominant and Subservient, well we will be, I think we are clowning about with it at the moment, playing. I want to feel it intensely, be dictated to by passion and heat, yet experience is required and possibly confidence on my part. Arthur must see the potential, enough for us to be boyfriends.

"I am a complete novice, but yes I am," I tell her the truth, in the hope she opens up more. Mary-Beth paddles her feet next to mine, I am comfortable in her presence. It's unusual for me to click so quickly with someone, there is no suggestion of duplicity or motive in her, just that sadness pooling in her green eyes.

"I don't understand it myself," she sucks a breath through her teeth, a light grimace crossed her warm features. "It feels grubby allowing men to use you like that."

"Oh," I cry out at the suggestion "Not men, not multiples, just Arthur, well on Arthur, I suppose"

"Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed." She averts her gaze, her freckled cheeks blaze with pinkness, "That's just Arthur's thing then,"

A tightness grips my chest, the image of Arthur being used by other men shoots around my mind like a pinball machine. He never denied or suggested he wasn't experienced, I just assumed he wasn't far past his first boyfriend, maybe a few casual hook-ups, I bite my lip, I need to play this cool get more information.

"He hasn't said much about it, I can tell it hurts him to remember" The sadness in his eyes; is it there because he regrets it or that he doesn't have access to it anymore? How can I compete with multiples? Our tepid conversation is broken by his southern drawl shouting "No!" I pull my feet up to go to him, her long slender fingers wrap around my wrist and pull me back.

"I wouldn't disturb them, for his sake" She splashes a bit more and then releases a long saddening breath, is she aware how harrowing her presence can be? Akin to be stuck on the moors dying as I cry out for Heathcliff. I make myself chuckle, all my references are tragic affairs, what is worse I am always the scorned women, the broken flake left mournful to melt in the despair of those who have wronged me.

"What did he do to upset them so much?" I find the confidence to ask, the likeliness of me getting any of this out of Arthur is slim to none. I don't even know why he kissed Abi last night, what that was actually about, he deflects and internalises and then pretends it hasn't happened.

"I don't know if I should say much on it, don't want the wrath of Arthur" She shudders a little, which unnerves me, he hasn't given me an impression of anger or rage past that of a typical teenager. He is actually quite cold and calculating when he is intimidating, wrath doesn't come into it.

"He is a teddy bear really," I try to reassure her, even though she has known him a lot longer than I have, "I promise I won't tell him you said anything, but I can't support him if I don't have the full picture."

"I don't know the full story myself, just bits and pieces," She turns to me, her green eyes blaze with fear, "He fell in with the wrong crowd, was smoking a lot and got himself into a lot of debt with a gang,"

"That doesn't sound like Arthur," I am not playing this as coolly as I should, but I just can't see him as that reckless. Mary-Beth ignores my assessment with a shrug, suggesting what we already knew, that I don't know him that well, does anyone is this whole town.

"The gang leader wanted his money, so he gave Arthur a choice, that wasn't really a choice at all." Her pale legs sweep languidly across the edge of the water as she starts to tell the whole sorry tale as she can recall.

Arthur, my Arthur, started working for a gang of Italians after school to pay back his drug debt, this should be the most scandalous part about it, the most devastating but it continues. One of the gang members Matteo takes a shine to Arthur, not in a take you under my wing and show you the ropes sort of way, more an I want to have sex with this underage kid sort of way.

"Did he force him?" I need to clarify,

"No, I think Arthur enjoyed the attention, I suspect he loved him," Those words crank the vice gripped around my heart, I don't wish to no more on Arthur's first love, jealousy coursing through me like a winter storm, all because it wasn't me.

 "How did he end up in the hospital?" It is the only matter I wish to have reconciled, no more talk of Matteo, what had actually been the catalyst to find out about Arthur’s secret life?

"Another local gang found him selling on their turf, stabbed him," She says it so matter of fact, forensic almost as though she has removed any emotion from the events too painful to relive.

"He doesn't have any scars?" Soon as I say it, I think of his gorgeous body, pristine and perfect except for the ragged scar, his appendix scar, he lied to me.

"I am sorry, I shouldn't be telling you any of this," The noises from inside have stopped, all I can hear is the beating of my own heart as it cracks like glass. "It's a bit of a family secret, a black mark on our good name,"

"I don't understand," Overwhelmed with information that I can't piece together, Arthur in a gang, and stabbed by another gang, I could kind of get to grips with. Arthur in love, why did she need to tell me that part, why did I have to know about Matteo's existence?

"What did Matteo do, did he avenge Arthur's attackers?" How gallant, even my competition gets turned into a knight in shining armour, to protect my fair maidens' hand and redeems his virtue,

"God, no!" She almost chuckles at the thought, "When he got to triage, they noticed that it wasn't just a stab wound, he had signs of interference as they call it," She bit her lip in discomfort, "He was only fifteen at the time so they couldn't ignore it, swabbed him for evidence."

"Poor Arthur," I frown, completely confused by it all, to be violated and incapacitated, did Matteo get in trouble for touching him. Is his real love in prison somewhere and I am just filling the gap until his release. I imagine he is more handsome than I am, not hard, all olive skin and tailored suits, a body that can handle Arthur's with authority, taut muscles and blushes of curated hair.

"Did Matteo get in trouble?" Its excruciating, painful, for both of us, we are trembling from the revelation of such secrets, ones that are technically not ours to divulge or understand.

"He did," She stares at me, pain leeching from her emerald eyes "and three others,"

I stopped breathing, a sea of torment washes over me, taking the air from my lungs, my legs flail uncoordinated as I try to usher my escape. I stub my toe against a piece of misplaced garden furniture, an instant cry of excruciating pain rolls from my lips, it was throbbing so much that my chest became more restricted, denied the air it needs. The hotness rushes up my head, and I feel intolerable lightness, dizzy and disorientated. In my determined and clumsy attempt to disappear, I walk into the glass of the bi-fold doors, forgetting they were closed. When I overcome the confusing feeling of almost knocking myself out, I manage to open them, although that takes more energy than I expected, all my strength is in my mind, thinking or fearing for what he'd done and how I innocently walked into this,

"Where's Arthur," I breath out in an exacerbated gasp to Dutch and Annabelle who are beyond perplexed by my discombobulated movements, then darkness.

 "What were you thinking, telling him" The distant grumble of Dutch, "This is why you two are not invited, he was doing fine" A cold, sloppy sensation slavers over my face and I feel terribly sick,

"It's ok, John, just rest," His voice is surprisingly warm and reassuring, the heavy metal of his sovereign rings glide across my skin as he mops my brow,

"Where is Arthur," I mumble, unsure how much of that was in my head or actually words I have spoken,

"He has gone for a run, clear his head." Dutch responds, "He will be back soon,"

"I need to go home," I try and get up, pushing Dutch away from me, I am still dizzy and unsteady. Dutch grabs my arm and helps me up to my feet,

"Don't leave son, just wait until he comes back," I manage to catch a glimpse of his face, it is torn with concern, fear almost. I can't look at the other two, smiling assassins, effervescently glide in dump their unsavoury tales of my boyfriend on me and then expect me not to be traumatised.

"Please just take me home," This isn't my party, not my scene. I may have made a fool of myself by fainting, but their shit is darker, scary and almost unreal. They might blame Arthur for the mess he got himself into, but it was surely their failing as his guardians for allowing him to go to such a dark place. Were they not monitoring, caring for him, they just left him alone after his parents died and expected him to figure it out on his own?

Chapter Text

I run until my calves burn, I am soaking in sweat, there isn't an ounce of energy in me, devalued and devoid of feeling makes me less dangerous. I realise that I have abandoned John to my crazy family and unless Dutch has developed the talents to shut my Aunt up, he probably now knows. I am full of tamping fury that my nails have gouged my palms. I would have told him; eventually, it's not something to discuss on a first date, not that we have had the opportunity to even do that yet. Only now he will have been indoctrinated by their version of events, the tale told by doctors, police and lawyers. The truth is so far from that reality, it twists my stomach every time I think of what happened, how it happened, and how ultimately unfair all of it was. I don't believe Matteo will ever forgive me, ever understand that I defended him, I never expressed anything disparaging about him, he was my first. They just dismissed it as an abused kid who was manipulated, groomed, they wouldn't even let me testify at the trial.

Since then, everyone is convinced they have a better grasp of my own mind than I do. I have tried to reason with family, doctors the whole lot, explain how I feel, but they are deaf to my reasoning. All that is left to do is provoke them, I do that well, using Dutch's credit card to purchase the filthiest porn, telling Grimshaw I am in a relationship with a horse, sending Aunt Annabelle pictures of my latest bondage gear. I can't fathom which hurt more, the glare of revulsion or the eventual begrudging acceptance. I have done such an excellent job of convincing them that I am a pervert that now I am doing something healthy for my age, like falling in love and that is the anathema, strange and ultimately dangerous. They want to deny it to me, not to protect me, to shield him, or more importantly to stop me fucking him up so much that I am the one in the docks this time. Perhaps they are right, it's a cycle, I was corrupted by a boy, now I am well on my way to damaging John. I should end it, deny him what he thinks he wants because how can he really know his own mind, John is a stupid kid that hasn't got the slightest clue about the risks. He only lives it every day, in his skin, his mind and his actions, all that must be wrong.

I find myself wandering, lost to my thoughts. I am aware that in my thoughtless meandering, I am going to end up where I always do when I am consumed by my rage. The gay club, the Bent Cock-tail, it's a stupid name, I like it, it's a game I used to play with Abi, making up the name of our gay club. Abi's was the Dyke's Offer, mine was the Faggot's Maggot, like me it's crude and completely unsubtle. 

I usually hover outside, never go in, too scared someone will recognise me and then my secret will be out. Today is different, today I am so passed protecting myself, where has it got me, exactly back where I started. I shuffle for a bit staring at the door, no one has been in or out since I got here. I can hear the faint thud of music but no raucous laughter or jovial banter, the car park is pretty empty just a brown rusting pick-up truck at the side, who knows perhaps the place is deserted.

I find the courage to push the door, the sickly-sweet smell of ammonia and bleach assaults my nostrils, I realise that this is the cloakroom where the toilets are situated. There is no one sat in the cloakroom must be reserved for nights only. I check my watch, its only 4 pm, I wonder what is more desperate, the fact that I have never been here before or that my first time is unfashionably early, dressed in my running gear and sweating like a rapist on day release. I push the second door, country and western hits me; it's sad lamenting drawls reminds me of home. Not that I have an ear for that type of music, it's the soundtrack that is unavoidable in Texas, follows you down the street, get you walking like you're in a John Wayne movie if you don't keep it in check.

"Y'alright, fella," The man says, he hasn't even looked up from cleaning the bar. I am mesmerised by his thin hairy arm, it's sinew flexing as he reaches behind the pumps trying to clean his way down the bar.

I cough the lump out of my throat, "Yeah," I sway a little on my hips, John Wayne seems to be taking over, damn music. Wish I had my boots and hat on, in my jogging gear and trainers my slack walk with stiff chest appears forced like I have shit myself.

"What can I get for ya," His relaxed rolling drawl sparks my interest, not Texas maybe Louisiana, defiantly not as far as Alabama but southern none the less.

 "Beer, if you don't mind," He starts to pour without hesitation. Another thing I cannot explain to people, I have always appeared older, so young defenceless fifteen-year-old might have easily fooled the older man in his life to thinking he was nearer his age, wasn't hard. While it still benefits me now, seventeen-year-old never gets asked for ID, it was his one mistake, not checking. Barman places the tankard glass next to me, I reach the handle, but he puts his palm over it, stopping its progression to my lips.

"I just need to check something first fella," My eyes dart towards his, I don't flinch or react just suppress until the question is asked, the secret of my age potentially about to be revealed.

"You do know this is a gay bar, right," he smiles as he says is, his sturdy jaw and thin lips reveal his laughter lines either side of his rugged mouth, maybe mid-thirties a bit older. His eyebrows are thick but well-groomed, and his hair is immaculately scruffy, black, must spend hours on it. I sense instantly there is chemistry, he is my type, a connection, physical only but he seems open to exploring.

"M'know," I respond casually, taking a sip of my beer while keeping my eyes firmly set on his, he nods and returns to his cleaning.  

Several hours and far too many beers later, the place is a buzzing hive of homoerotic tension, with all manner of different stereotypes sticking closely to their pre-ordained groups. Butch lesbians sit along the side, while the lipsticks dance, thankfully the C&W has been traded in for so actual dance music. Twink's are dancing with the lipsticks, partly to be near their lady friends, partially for protection from the Dom's. They don't have anything to worry about, I am here, so their eyes are firmly fixed on me, the antelope, only I have traded the lions of my family for hyenas. The leather-bound Dom's are flashing telling glances, I want to believe that it is my appalling attire and the whiff of my sweat-filled pants that is repelling them, but I know they are arguing over who gets the first crack of the whip over my sorry ass. Barman in between serving is maintaining watchful glimpses, a tiger stalking waiting to strike if any come near, claiming me as his own. I can tell because while he has eyes on everyone around me, barman ain't been able to set them on me for the last hour. Yet he dutifully fills my glass every time it nears the dregs, watching and not watching, getting me lubricated enough to avoid any unseemly arguments about going home with him.

I wait for what feels like hours for him, the club is rammed now and any thought of being noticed slips away as I realise this is a room full of Invisibles, they could be anyone, from any walk of life, it has a don't ask, don't tell vibe to it. Everyone is just here to have a good time, get off possibly and never see each other again, until next week. An invisible community of homosexuals, no straight person would dare come here tonight, should have guessed really. I only thought they did because the guys on the football team were always joking about coming in here for laughs, to stalk the closeted Homos from school and out them.

"I thought it was you," I hear a screech from behind me, "I can't believe you are here!"

"Abi!" I am so drunk at this point that I wrap my ape arms around her tiny frame and lift her in the air, an audible groan of disappointment rumbles across the room as the Dom's think I have pulled.

"Arthur!" She tries to fight me off, "What are you wearing and didn't you think to have a shower," she holds her nose to my fermenting musk, I suppose lesbians have a built-in aversion to testosterone pheromones.

"They like it," I nod to my hyena's, "They are dying to lick it off me," I smile knowingly at my own assessment and give them all a wink of encouragement, I might regret that later.

"Oh dude, men are gross," A squat girl, with a phased haircut leans over Abi's shoulder, must be the girlfriend, not what I was expecting, she has the air a Pitbull chewing a wasp.

"Arthur, this is Jo my boo" She giggles her infectious little laugh,

"Think of that all on your own," I groan, reaching over to fist bump Jo, she seems receptive to the contact, so possibly not a full-on Pitbull,

"Oh my God, are you here with him?" Abi darts around trying to identify potential suitors for my mystery man, her inscrutable gaze falls on barman's indiscreet monitoring of me, putting two and two together she arrives at five and squeals,

"No, he is not here?" I temper her enjoyment, gaining a scowl.

"Outside now," she tries to push me with force, I sustain my petulant child stance as I am not so forcibly removed from the club. Outside Jo, who is growing to be my favourite person, offers me a cigarette which I gratefully receive and accept a light, ignoring Abi with her arms crossed and foot tapping waiting for an explanation.

"What?" I reluctantly say, expecting another telling off for something I may or may not have done.

"You have a boyfriend!" She offers in the way of an argument.

"So?" I try to pretend that it is insignificant, that John isn't relevant to who I am at this moment, I haven't even thought about him all night. Just the arms of the barman, as they wrap around me undressing me like an early Christmas present.

"Yeah, Abi!" Jo, my savour intervenes, "He is gay, they are not known for monogamy."

"Yeah Abi, pollyy…am…iory all the way," I try and defend the argument produced by my best friend Jo, but at this point, big words and slurred speech make it ineffective.

"Yes, well, if you can't say it you shouldn't be practising it," I laugh a little too much if that rule was applied to everything how different the worlds would be. "Does your man consent to this polyamorous relationship?"

That's why I like Abi, there is a no-nonsense straight to the point way with her, she can tell by my shifty eyes and muted voice that the answer is no, well not no, haven't checked, probably a no.

"Thought so, why do you always do this?" She drops to the curb because my actions have actually upset her, I haven't done anything yet. Jo, the best girl in the world, falls next to her and puts an arm around in comfort. I watch them for a moment, it is always sweet to watch love unfold into caresses and warmth. I decide to join them and accept my talking to like a man, in truth it is probably something I need to hear, "Every time something good happens you always got it to push it away like you are scared of it,"

"No" I protest and then think about it, "I don't know, maybe a little" I look at her big brown eyes, all caring and loving towards me, a real friend. "Ok, yes,"

"She is such an armchair psychologist," Jo adds, which I am not sure if it is just an observation or it is a problem. It can be irritating, letting someone in who can then hold a mirror to all your faults.

"Why are you trying to wreck it, Arthur," Abi turns to me trying to conceal the scorn at Jo's unhelpful but rather apt comments,

"I let people down" I cuddle myself, not used to being so exposed, "Might as well get it over with,"

"You have never let me down, all the time I have known you, I have always relied on you," She places a hand on my shoulder, in fairness to Abi, I don't think she has ever given me the chance to really fail her, to hurt her in the most disturbing and excruciating ways.

"He is so sweet," Jo caws like I am a new-born baby, they are both on me hugging me through my despair, it's helpful if not a little invasive, I do stink something awful, but they don't seem to mind.

"There you are you goddamn idiot," Dutch calls from his Rolls Phantom, "I got John freaking out, your Cousin and Aunt arguing and you're out drinking with your friends,"

I want to point out to Abi and Jo that Dutch is a perfect example of people I let down, he didn't have to be on my side tonight, didn't have to defend John and me, but he did. I show my gratitude by bailing and getting drunk, not to mention almost cheating on John.

"M' sorry," is all I can think to say,

"Get in and save your own damn relationship," I can feel his menacing indignation burning a hole into me, but I am too drunk to worry about it, I squeeze Abi and Jo one last time and remember my tab hasn't been paid,

"Dutch," I am well aware that this is the privileged brat that gets Dutch riled, he doesn't actually care about the sex stuff, when it's not rubbed in his face, it's my irresponsible behaviour that really winds him up, "I haven't got any money to pay my tab,"

"Seriously Arthur, you want me to go and settle your bill, in a bar that allowed my underage Nephew to get drunk," I just nod, it's not their fault, I don't look or behave like I am underage, only when I am with Dutch. He gets out the car, slamming the door, do wish he wouldn't do that, cars are beautiful things that need to be cared for.

"John!" Abi grabs my attention, I realise for the first time Dutch has inadvertently given her a piece of the puzzle that I would never have divulged, "Your boyfriend's name is John."

My head is Rolodex-ing trying to think how many John's we know, how many of them I can feasibly pass off as gay, and I would convincingly have a vague interest in, that is a minuscule list of men. I am trapped; if I lie and make up a John, she will go snooping, if I pretend it is another John they are going to be confused as hell when Abi descends on them in her completely unsubtle nod and wink way, potentially outing me to a stranger. For once in my life I can be honest, thank God I am drunk.

"It's Marston, ok" My arms swing and flail as I know she has got me and she ain't going to let it go.

"Oh Arthur," Abi chuckles in her judgement of me, "I will let you sober up, and we will discuss this properly in the morning,"

With that Dutch slams his way out of the bar, raging, "Why are men asking if I want to share you?"

"They think you're his daddy, Dutch," Abi unhelpfully adds and I can feel the weight of everything crushing against me. I have to go home and confess my past to John; if he isn't utterly disgusted with me, I will have to tell him about tonight and if that doesn't see him off admitting our secret is out will defiantly be the last nail. Even I don't think he should forgive me at this point, I would question his sanity at least. Before that I have an uncomfortable ride with Dutch, hoping I don't have to explain what Daddy actually means, how sometimes our relationship is closer to that than anything, without the sex obviously. How the rules on sharing work, just in case he wanted to know.

"Here" he hands me a beer mat, "The barman wants you to have his number," I frown perplexed, I thought Dutch liked John,

"If you have fucked it up with John, I am not having you moping around and getting into trouble, you need a man in your life, Arthur, and I need to stop filling in the gaps, it's disgusting." I look back at Abi who appears mortified, which makes me smile, unpack that statement with your armature psychology.

Chapter Text

"I can't talk about it all in one night," He sways, trying to justify his unwillingness to tell me. Arthur is wrecked, drunk again, his pungent aroma stinks, I am sure I can smell the nicotine on his breath. Dutch succeeded in finding him, agreed to search for him when it got late. I wanted to help, that idea was shot down, I suspect Dutch grasped what state Arthur would be in and where he would find him, and I wouldn't have reacted favourably. I can't fathom if Dutch is attempting to protect me or Arthur or us, couple us. I managed, with difficulty, to coax Arthur to his bedroom, he tried to go for a swim which was an accident waiting to happen. Really, he was avoiding this conversation, one he unquestionably wasn't comfortable with. I sensed his pain; I would have sooner he told me on his own terms when he felt secure to do so. Yet the cat is out of the bag, my imagination is a powerfully dark place that needs reassuring

"Have you been smoking?" I quizzically ask, confused that smoking was his line, a big thick red one and yet I can smell it on his breath. He doesn't answer, just stares at me with his stormy ocean blue eyes. It's not fair that he can be so goddamn attractive when he is meant to be in trouble, his sex appeal exudes out of him, a carefully curated ploy to shield himself. Arthur is so hot in his grey tank hoodie; I am overcome with the desire to remove it and lick his body clean. I surreptitiously shake my leg, trying to displace the tingling in my dick. I hate being a teenager always set on permanent horny, it interferes with everything. How can we have a real conversation about this shit when half my mind is mentally undressing him.

I am over my little meltdown, Mary-Beth tried to be supportive when I regained consciousness, explained what she told me wasn't how Arthur saw any of it. I trust him, even though he lies, I get that he is protecting himself. We are all liars really, I was lying to myself about being gay, Arthur came along and made it alright, so I can't abandon him. My jealousy requires the truth, do I have to mark my territory in case Matteo returns to claim what he assumes is rightfully his? If Arthur was taken advantage of, it's my job to protect him, to support him and help him recuperate. That thought scares me the most, my broken Jock, the underlying reason why someone as beautiful Arthur would ever consider indulging someone as rudimentary as me.

Mary-Beth and her mother, sour woman behind the deceptive smile, spent the rest of the night arguing. Dutch and I retreated to the garage, which is more a den; full of records, a pool table and cigars. He didn't let me smoke one which I thought was rather a poor show, I was in shock after all. He did give me a dram of whiskey, which was cool of him. I wanted to ask him about Arthur, what happened to him, I could sense it was a topic he wasn't willing to discuss. He just reassured me that Arthur was a good boy, worked hard to change, and I was good for him. I warmed to the sentiment, praise kink, I am such a slut for compliments, it gets me committing to staying when all I want to do is run. Arthur ran, it doesn't irritate me, it is clearly a thing we share. When life becomes intolerable, we just take ourselves away, I wonder if he is screaming under my bridge. I hope we will get to the point where we run together, remember to bring each other along for the ride.

"Ok," I say cautiously, "Just tell me what happened when you're ready," That's the right thing to say, I believe it is, let him divulge his secrets in his own time. I don't mean a word of it; I really need to have all the facts now! I don't push him because he is fragile and is likely to react.

"I wasn't abused, John" He shakes his head, reading me instantly, it's hard enough accepting I am that obvious to most people. Arthur's freakish superpower of reading minds means he sometimes has a clearer understanding of my thoughts than I do.

"I didn't say you were," I try to object, pointless on reflection. I just need an open mind, forget what I have seen, my interpretations of Arthur's actions and let him tell me. So what if he is displaying all the tell-tale signs of abuse, not like I am world authority on it.

"Well, stop using the terminology," He growls "I have had a lifetime of it."

I just shrug, how am I supposed to navigate this, we are locked in his bedroom, the others have finally gone to bed, it's just us. I have never really had much family interaction, it used to be just Mom, Dad and Me, and then when Mom died, I don't think what Dad and I do could be called quality time. Sat around the dining room table with Arthur's family, minus Arthur, trying to eat Chinese and drink red wine was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. No one had a word to say to each other, just daggered stares ready to flail each other. I am grateful for the experience, proof the grass is not always greener.

"Matteo wasn't no paedo or nothing," This isn't the appropriate time to point out to him that his use of double negatives can be really confusing. "He was only eighteen, I ruined his life" Arthur collapses on his bed, it creaks from the crushing weight of his muscled body slamming into it without grace. He grabs one of his pillows and hugs it tightly, not a sign of protection or defensiveness at all. I perch next to him, aspiring to be sympathetic but my overriding need to denounce Matteo is mixed up with a whole plethora of emotions, mostly possessiveness.

"I think he might have had something to do with it" I quip, ultimately whatever their relationship, I can't stand Arthur defending him, the man touched an underage boy, my boy.

"Now you sound like her," He grumbles into the pillow, enforcing his protective barrier between us.

"Sorry," I say, pulling my legs up and wrapping my arms around my knees, I suppose I need protection too, but I also owe him the curtsey of facing him, displaying some openness to what he has to say.

"I told him I was seventeen," Arthur confesses, placing his hand across his brow, partially concealing the pained look written across his face. The memories etched across his expression, "I did all the chasing, I got him in trouble."

"He should have checked" Again, not being supportive, I can't stand the pain in him, the sadness in his eyes. Fair enough he lied about his age, we all do it, but that doesn't make whatever happened his fault.

"Oh, did you check?" He drawls angrily at me, throwing the pillow across the room. My heart begins to race a little faster, I am in no state to have an argument. I am still frail from my little episode earlier, not that he would know that, wasn't here to witness it.

"You're in my year, I know your age," I say gently, trying to navigate this tight rope he has me walking on. If I wasn't so desperate to find out what actually happened, I would be so pissed with him. How can he be angry at me after his behaviour? Running out a leaving me with the fucking Addams family while he got drunk.

"Yeah, except you don't," He huffs, exhausted "I got held back a year John, I am eighteen,"

I ponder it for a moment, bite my lip and narrow my eyes, not really a lie, just a secret now revealed. I don't care how old he is, not really, "Still legal."

"Shows you can't judge a book by its cover, especially when the book is intentionally lying to you," I somehow consider this is not Arthur's first rodeo, not with this conversation at least. Everything is framed to perfectly; I am having the reactions he is expecting and can present the arguments expertly to why I am wrong.

"Alright, so he gets a pass on the age thing," I give in, I still don't think it is Arthur's fault, he was vulnerable. I can't lay full blame at Matteo's door either. Must have been a shock finding out he was only fifteen. "Still don't explain the others, was Matteo your pimp?"

"No, he was my Dom" It sends a shiver up my spine, the casual way he says it. What fifteen-year-old has a fucking Dom, abused fifteen-year-olds, that's who.

It's almost ridiculous when we say it, but my inexperience versus his experience always made it feel reasonable. Arthur is happy to submit to me because there isn't anyone on the planet that would believe I have an ounce of actual power over him, and therefore it is mutual. An 18-year-old dominating a 15-year-old that reduces ambiguity to zero, how can he not see it?

"Is there a difference?" I say it angrily, I am starting to lose it, that he can use our words to justify those horrors. I am trying to provoke a reaction from him that isn't so fucking credible, none of this is permissible.

"You tell me, you want to take his place" Last time I was mad at him like this, all of 24 hours ago. I went hormonal teenager on his ass, and I realise how wrong that was. Being physically violent towards him was not only inappropriate on my part, but something he could brush-off and ignore. He was able to deflect that whole argument away because I lost my shit, that isn't happening tonight. I will just punch a wall later in the privacy of my own home.

"Yeah, well after tonight I think that position might be vacant again," I mean it, I am holding back bile and spitting venom at him, I want him to hurt like I am hurting. Then I remember he is vulnerable; I am supposed to be keeping an open mind, and I still don't have the full fucking story.

"Fine, do you want me to take you home?" He gets off the bed and stomps to the door, he is so petulant when he doesn't get his own way.

"You're too drunk to drive" I point out following him, attempting to contain him.

"I'll sleep downstairs," He grabs his discarded pillow and turns the doorknob.

"You wanted him to share you," I spit out quickly, making myself jump from the words. Logically from what I know of Arthur and what Mary-Beth said it's the only conclusion I can come to. Arthur willingly consented to it, possibly enjoyed it, his Dom Matteo sharing him with other men until they all got found out. Still fucking fifteen though, that doesn't leave my head, not for a second.

"I begged him to," Arthur drops his pillow, closes the door and returns to the bed. He doesn't try to hide now, doesn't use the bedding to protect. Takes my hand in his, softly squeezing it, Arthur wants me to understand. "He used to go to these awesome parties, hosted in houses like this, rich, wealthy, powerful men, and it sounded so intoxicating. He always went on his own, said I wasn't ready, but I made such a big deal that he finally gave in and took me, everyone was doing it John, not just me."

"If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?" I know not open-minded at all,

"Alright, mom" he smirks his weak smile, it almost breaks me.

"The first time we went, there was all sorts of stuff going off, I was like a kid in a candy shop. Men being whipped, men paraded around like dogs, there was an orgy in the living room," I slightly hate him at this moment because I got so hard thinking about the collar and leash in his draw last night and the fun we could have with it, now I can see how he gets off.

"Matteo wouldn't let me get involved in any of it, I could only watch, it was torture." I squeeze his hand prompting him to continue, "We went into this one room, there was a guy bound in a seat suspended off the ceiling, men lined up to take their turn, that was it for me."

I am erupting with such different emotions, I have seen porno like that, watched it, got off on it. But they are grown-ass men, they are safe and secure and know what they are doing. I would love for us to do that, together, explore. I have no idea what Arthur looked like when he was fifteen, all I can envisage is a kid that should never have been exposed to any of it, let alone allowed to participate.

"I wanted it so much, it was everything," My heart is breaking, how Matteo could fold on that, the most extreme thing, he could have put a collar around his neck, and Arthur would have been happy. How can you be stubborn towards minor requests and then give in on such a major one?

"I never felt so alive, fulfilled because up until that point I was no different to you, locked in my room watching porn confused why I wanted certain things, why I was drawn to them." I push his hand away, irritated that he is trying to make the comparison. That somehow, I will think it was relatable because I am sexually suppressed with only porn as my outlet to express my needs and wants.

"I didn't do it that night," He corrects himself, thinking that is the problem, "but that is all I talked about for weeks, I broke him down, eventually, and he agreed." His eyes sparkle with the memory, my stomach is in knots that he can feel so attached. It's not a holiday or getting your first car, but that is where his mind is taking him, a happy memory.

"Yeah, so why are you so damn insistent that we have to take it slow and be safe; if it was normal you wouldn't be so protective of me?" This is not an argument that I would ever claim as a victory if I won, it’s to depraved to relish in it. However, if the tide is turning in my favour that is the point I must hold on to, if this is all so totally fucking ordinary, he wouldn't be so controlled when I beg him to move faster.

"I am scared if we go too fast too soon it will happen again," He runs his fingers through his hair, his pools of blue are darting distraught, "My mistake wasn't that night, getting stabbed was where it went wrong."

The typical criminal response, or the victim-blaming themselves, if we had never been caught, it would all have been fine, but it wasn't ok, no one other than Arthur saw it as acceptable. Hell, I don't even know if Matteo thinks it was ok, he was doing something extreme with his 17-year-old partner, out there, but at the time in his mind, legal. Now I am bloody victim shaming, for fuck sake, that is the darkest part of all of this, not that it happened, as the crime has been punished, it's that Arthur honestly doesn't see what the problem is, doesn't see how it could be wrong. He is totally into this 100%, that is terrifying. My mind is the consistency of scrambled egg, I thought I was getting a boyfriend, a steady relationship, this is so far outside my comfort zone I have no idea where to even begin with what all of it means, does he expect me to do that?

"So, what does it mean, for us?" It's pretty much all that is left in my locker.

"That's up to you?" He responds half-heartedly, expecting that this is well over every line I imagine, it probably is. I haven't really defined my lines anywhere near those boundaries.

"It can't be my decision; we are obviously looking for very different experiences." Understatement, "If we don't know what they are then we are going to keep clashing," I try and give him a bit of reassurance that I am not running out the door, my mind has don't get me wrong that has jumped out the window hours ago. The burgeoning adult in me, who has been on a massive fucking journey since meeting Arthur knows that the least I can do is hear him out.

"I am sorry," He says, squeezing my hand once more, "I kept telling myself we should set boundaries, yet you are so inexperienced it didn't feel right."

"Yeah well inexperienced and naïve are two different things," I correct him, he can't use me as an excuse to any of this. We probably should have had this talk before we embarked on anything, weird talk to have, more so now, we still haven't even had sex. It's only fair that we are clear what the lines are and if this relationship is workable. "You're worried that something you want will be something I can't give you?"

"I don't want to lose you" His pained frown, and quivering lip melt me. I don't know how I can reassure him, what he wants or what I think he wants are so extreme, especially at our age. If we were older, if I was more confident, more experienced, we might have a chance. Yet, I will always be reminded of when it started for him and how wrong that was, surely, I would be facilitating the continuation of his abuse. I can't save him or change him, he clearly knows his own mind, and his wants, the question is, can I live with that?

"No, but you can't deny who you are or your desires more than I can control the weather," I again try and be the adult, or at least the reasonable one even though my stomach is in knots. "We have to be honest with each other, or this isn't going to work."

"If we are honest it might not work" He dips his head, his hair tumbling forward across his eyes. I suspect he has been here before, a few times since Matteo, rejected, and it is killing him. What's worse the world they exposed him to at a stupidly young age or the fact that he has been searching for it since, and hasn't been able to find it, only found rejection, weird fish.

"Risk we have to take to stay safe" I smile and kiss his cheek, I am not ready to give up on him, he is too special.

"Sound like Dutch" He laments and pulls me into a hug, resting his head on my chest like I am the protector.

"Sound like an adult," I remind him "didn't realise I was dealing with an eighteen-year-old child."

Chapter Text

I ask if I can take a shower before we have the chat, I stink to high heaven, I am tired, and I need to get myself alert so we can discuss this properly. He denies my request, his eyes are on me, watching me with those smouldering embers of want, similar to the Dom's from earlier, a telling expression of deep primal yearning to maul me. I can't explain to him how he lights me up when he looks at me like that, I am the condemned man's last meal, to be savoured and enjoyed. I go to join him on the bed, pulling at my hoody, at least I can try and be comfortable in my own skin, he demands that I keep it on. I smile, he still wants me after everything, he is kicking my ass on the maturity scale tonight, won't let anything get in the way of this crucial conversation, even his obvious lust for me.

"Do you want to start?" I ask, flopping on the bed, far too overdressed in my hoodie, t-shirt and joggers. My game is to see how much I can peel off through-out the chat without him noticing, it will make the punishment so much better when he does. I have a bottle of water that I acquired from somewhere, I take a sip and run the plastic along my hands. I have done this so many times, in so many different ways, but I still get nervous. Its exposure, confessing your deepest fantasies, and the fear, rejection when you find out the person, cannot realise them for you.

"What's the etiquette, how are we supposed to do this?" He asks, he such a strange boy, gets caught up in the rules when it's not about that, any discussion should be relaxed and natural.

"Greenlight all the things we know we match on, amber the stuff we may consider or are unsure of, red light for no." Sounds simple, should be easy to follow, the devil is always in the detail. I position myself, legs crossed on the bed so his skinny frame is opposite me and I can study his reactions, I perch my chin on the bottle, hands clasped tightly around its plastic casing.

"What about why?" He responds and mimics my pose, this is good, open.

"What do you mean?" I clarify I have never been asked that before.

"Well, there might be something red, but if you explain why it might become a green," He grabs the bottle from my hand and takes a sip before chucking it on the floor. He is an observant little shit when he wants to be, that bottle was my safety blanket, now I am exposed.

"You either do, or you don't" I gesticulate flippantly as I lament the loss of the bottle, willing it to return. My hands are rude if they aren't occupied, this can come across as threatening, which is why I always have something in them. John has recognised that and destroyed my protective barrier.

"That is so black and white," He rolls his eyes at my response, and I can feel the negative energy coursing between us. We are so bad at talking, always see things from entirely different perspectives. He has no boundaries, everything is a wave, connected. I have clearly defined lines, ones that don't get crossed, apart from when I am shit-faced drunk. My ethos contradicts itself when I have had way too much to drink. The obvious answer is don't drink, if the lines are significant and should never be crossed, then I shouldn't leave myself vulnerable to breaching them. That is boring, I know way too many adults who are control freaks that cannot have a drink because they cannot lose control. They are wound tighter than the strings on a violin, for all my determination for control, I will not allow myself to live like that. I know someone with a less than expert bowman-ship will snap my strings and chaos will ensue, drinking oddly mitigates that.

"Why would you do something you wouldn't want to do?" I try to understand, my wants might be extreme, but my won't's are set in stone, I couldn't imagine bending to please someone else.

"Because people in love make compromises" I am taking that as a hypothetical at this point, not directed to us, not about us. Isn't compromise responsible for the downfall of society, everyone is miserable because they never do what they want, always yielding. Isn't what we desire, bondage, submission, the exact antithesis of compromise.

"Not on this stuff, doing something you are not comfortable with to make me happy isn't how this works," Ah the safety argument, tough to battle against, mental and physical safety is always of the utmost importance. Compromises degrade surety and therefore should never be considered.

"If it makes you happy, then I wouldn't be uncomfortable" Shit, that is a prospect I haven't faced before. Most in the scene are very clear on their motives, I have never met someone who fits their desires to another's individual wants, I sense it is dangerous, long-term it wouldn't work. John is scanning me with his suspicious gaze, can probably see the invisible steam coming out of my idiot's head as I try and counter his stance.

"What if I wanted a train set?" He slaps me on the knee with giddy excitement at the prospect of it. I am trying to identify what the hell a train set is, I have never heard of that, can't even try and guess at what it might be, a position, a new piece of bondage gear?

"What?" I finally give in; he clearly has more knowledge on the subject that I do.

"When I am an old man, I want a massive train set in the basement" I burst out laughing at his admission and the fact that it is an actual train set.

"How are you such a nerd?" I mock him cruelly, a train set, the men that have those are always weird. God, does he wat to go to the station and take pictures of the different trains. That would seriously damage any cred I have, even if he is an old man. Is that why he hangs around under the by-pass, trainspotting, urgh, I love him a little less.

"So, you wouldn't let me have my train set?" His lips curl, revealing his pearly white teeth, the tip of his tongue is poised. I frown, sensing I am walking into a trap, we are not talking about train sets after all.

"You can have your train set," I respond with the most obvious answer, because why would I care if that is what he wanted, "I won't be playing with it."

"Well, what's the difference?" He argues, my eyes narrow slightly because as a metaphor for deviant sex I am completely lost with what he is getting at, "I want a train set, you will allow me to have the train set, even if you don't want to play with it. Instead, you want an action man, I will allow you to have that, even though I don't want to play with it,"

I kind of tremble, as my grasp on this conversation, I suspect, isn't the same as his. He is in the hypothetical zone, the one where, as caring lovers, we don't deny each other our wants. What he is missing entirely is that a person can play with toys on their own. In this game, the BDSM one, it is damn near impossible to play on your own and if he doesn't want to play with me, will he allow someone else to.

"What if I want someone else to play with my Action Man" My mouth is dry, as his eyes flicker and flash. I worry he thinks that I want someone else, I don't, I want him and only him in that respect. I don't want a green card to sleep with other men, he is the only man that should get that honour.

"Well I hope I am always the first person you want to play with," He threads his fingers together as he ponders the next words and my heart is beating faster than a jackhammer. I don't want other men without him, "but if I am not interested, you can always invite a friend."

"Would you want to be there when we play with my Action Man" That would be the only agreeable scenario to me, that he was present and giving me to the other man. I am a bit insecure that my toy is an Action Man, the innuendo, I hope that doesn't become the nickname for my cock. Get your Action Man out its playtime, makes me shudder.

"Amber," He says cautiously, at least he remembers the coding system and it isn't an out and out red, that might have been a problem. First, I need to tackle the massive elephant in the room, not about me, about him. While I want nothing more than for him to confidently pass me around other men, no better than an hors-d' oeuvres on a silver platter, he can never have that, not with me, not in any form. If I am his then there can only be me in his world, I wouldn't feel confident enough to do what I need if his head could be turned by another. I take a large gulp of air, close my eyes and prepare myself for the argument over hypocrisy, it is what usually happens.

"I don't know if I would like anyone playing with your train set" There is silence, I peek, his long lashes flutter, bemused at my reaction.

"I don't have friends" He states assuredly.

"You might," I drawl, it's not like we will be this way forever, he will come out of his shell one day. Friends, especially sex friends, don't tend to ask for the school yearbook to mark popularity before considering whether to stick their dick in you. My skin prickles at the thought, I am suppressing jealousy and rage at anyone else touching him, unknown faces in the darkness trying to have a piece of my boy.

"You're the only one I want to play with my trains" I lurch forward on the bed, pushing him back as our lips collide in a ravishing and tender kiss. I want him to say that to me every day and night, to remind me how I am the only one for him. I am a bit slobbery like a dog as I kiss every inch of his face, from his frowning brow, along his sharp cheeks and to his rounded chin. He eventually pushes me away, wiping the saliva off and chastising me for being gross. A blanket of security wraps around me as I sense that this isn't going to be all that bad, he wants to do things with me and only me, and if he can't do what I wish I am welcome to find someone who can. The only uncertainty is if he will watch, stay with me because I want him there to provide the same security he is giving me now. I wrap my arms around him, deciding that we are comfortable enough to continue the conversation in a warm and loving embrace.

"What if you get a new engine I don't want to play with," I ask, still labouring the point a little to be doubly sure.

"A lot of my engines only need one driver" He admits, placing his head against my chest so I can cradle him, I carder my fingers through his hair while I ponder what he means.

"Ok, you have lost me now?" I chuckle

"What I want is power, to dominate you and drive you crazy, until you break." He is so honest, I want that too, "How I do it isn't really important to me."

"What if you get bored?" It is the biggest fear, the one that sits just under the skin. I blame 50 Shades of Grey, stupid book and even worse film. The idea that someone can eventually turn their back on the scene because the right person came along is absolute rubbish. It scares me sometimes that John might be placating me, thinking this is just a phase, some titillation that I will grow out of, for him. I would do almost anything for him, but I can't do that.

"Well that would be a wider problem with our relationship, and we might decide to break up" He pulls away from my chest, capturing my eyes in a loving gaze, "I am not going to leave you because you deny me a sexual request."

We kiss again, so sweet and soft as the saliva mingles in our warm mouths. I am in heaven, everything I have ever dreamed of is coming true. A deviant, malevolent, Dom that wants to push me and break me in the bedroom and a soft, caring, understanding man who wants to make me happy. I wasn't starting to worry that my fantasies were unachievable, then I met John Marston.

"I get to do everything I want to do" I confirm one last time to make sure we are on the same page

"You haven't told me what you want, not explicitly or why you want it!" He scowls, and I am a little confused, I thought it was clear, we have been talking about it all night in one guise or another.

"I want to be shared" I holler almost laughing, everything else is inconsequential, that is my main requirement.

"Amber/red," He says it casually like it is not tearing my heart in two. I pull up from the bed and away from him, grabbing the plastic bottle for protection. I take a few sips, stand towering over him, my body quaking at the act of denial of my most precious need.

"You said someone can play with my Action Man," I remind him, bloody toy analogy again.

"Yes, but sharing means giving you away," He whines his clarification, his throat bobbing, it's stuck with pain and anguish. I can feel myself shaking, thinking that a hard line is forming, one neither of us will be able to overcome, "knowing that someone else has control over you,"

My mind is racing, I don't want the option of causally sleeping with other men with or without his explicit permission, not if I am with him. I need him to have the power to give me away, to allow other men to have me under his watchful eye and if he can't give me that, realise that for me, then I don't know what to do. I replay the conversation on how I can be so off with this being a line. Then I remember, if I can explain why, why I need it, then his red might become green.

"My need is for a man to have complete power over me, so I don't have to think for myself," I begin, his eyebrows are set to shock mode, and I realise I am not explaining this very well. "When Mom and Dad died, I was on my own, and everything suddenly became my responsibility, getting up in the morning, feeding myself, chores, making decisions, I was fifteen running a household on my own. I was good at it, everything was perfect, but I craved release, a few hours where I didn't have to be responsible. I met Matteo, and he started telling me what to do, making decisions for me, it was everything I desired, not having to think."

"Why were you on your own?" He asks scowling, I suppose it is an obvious question, not many kids find themselves in my position when their parents die.

"Annabelle and Dutch were my guardians, we all agreed that I missed too much school and taking me out mid-year was disruptive, neighbours agreed to keep an eye and the pair of them visited when they could." I am not lying when they were both the worst and best days of my life, I would give anything to have my parents back but once I had grieved it felt right to be on my own. I didn't have any urge for someone to try and take their place or recreate them in a different form. It was the fastest accelerated learning curve, the day before they died, I was a child entirely dependent on them, even though they were pushing me to grow up. A month after I was an adult totally independent, didn't need anyone to help me with anything. Actually, got to the point where Dutch and Annabelle turning up was frustrating because it put a stop on me living my life.

"Wow," He rolled on the bed, and I take the opportunity to lie back down next to him, sensing the heat of denial evaporating slightly. "Rich people get away with being so irresponsible; if my dad abandoned me, child services would be around in no time."

I never really saw it that way, considered it was perfectly normal, Mom and Dad were always away with work or for some conference, so it didn't appear unreasonable when Dutch and Annabelle were the same way. If anything, since moving in with Dutch I see him less now compared to when I was in Texas.

"You're already in the system, so they know to check, this is Texas, they are not big on state interference," I try to rationalise the difference. The distinction being the only people punishing me were the ones I explicitly begged, unlike him who takes a periodic beating he never consented to.

"I can tell you what to do," He chimes all gleeful, flipping himself onto my hips "I have been doing my own washing since 10, I would love to have a slave that did it for me."

"Can I do it naked?" I say provocatively.

"With a dog collar and a leash," He offered insistently

"Green" I responded before pulling him into another deep and yearning kiss, this time breathless and hungry. Perhaps there was enough between us that we could explore before reaching for the heady heights of sharing.

"I don't get the giving away?" He mumbled in my mouth before retreating, breaking our kiss. I gather now he knows what I want it will act as a schism between us. Any progression of romance will be punctuated by the gnawing doubt that it isn't really what I want. That isn't fair, I want the hearts and the passion, the security of being held, just every now and again I need the other too. They can live together side by side; they can't be one or other.

"It isn't about the men, I promise" I try to reassure him, most of my experience of this is that other men assume it is a get out of jail free card. You line up all the men you secretly want to get fucked by and pretend that it is merely an act of submission. That couldn't be farther from the truth, that would require too much planning, too many conversations and far too much coordination. "It's the anonymity, the indifference and the care."

"Dichotomy" He punctuates the word as though it is an argument.

"That's probably why I like it" I pull him near me as I want him to understand, really get why I like being shared, it is not about the other men, they are mere vessels to my wants, it's about me. "The act itself is brutal, to be used over and over requires letting go, but there is also tenderness."

"Aftercare" He pipes up.

"That is an element but…" I stutter a breath "Matteo never left my side, held my hand throughout" My fingers massage the back of his neck trying to lull him into satedness as I deliver the true meaning behind my love of this act, and the man who I once loved that helped me to achieve it.

"He went last, claimed me back, touched my strained body with sweet loving caresses, made me feel so warm and safe, I told him I loved him, and he said it back," I stop for a moment, allow the silence to roll between us. I know John enough, he won't be thinking of the act, and whether he can deliver that for me, he will be thinking about Matteo and how I felt about him.

"You know I am jealous," He croaks, "Not of what you did together, I don't want to know another man loved you."

"Well, duh," I mock, "You're a Dom, notoriously possessive."

"I wrote to him in prison told him I was sorry; he didn't write back." I need John to be aware that whatever we had, it died when Matteo went to prison. I never heard from him again and don't expect to, it was a moment in time, perfect, my supernova that burnt brightly and then extinguished just as quickly.

"Did you get stabbed at the party?" My clever boy, always thinking, connecting the dots.

"No, the next day," It was reckless really, a trap set by another gang who had beef that I had been selling in their territory.

"You're filth, surely you showered," He squeals and jumps on me once again. A rush of warmth travels up my skin as I once again accepted the feeling of security. Not pondering the vicious act that almost ended my life, no, just judgement for my questionable cleaning regime.

"Like you let me shower tonight?" I point out the hypocrisy, my Dom's, most Dom's love the scent of my ripe body, it is lost on me, I prefer to be clean. "No, might have been wearing a bloody butt plug."

"Oh Arthur," He giggles and I melt, such a horrible day, one of the worst, he manages to bring brightness to it.

"It was kinky at the time" I try to justify, laughing with him. I trace my hands up his bare arms as our laughter diminishes, we fall into another silence, a longing sadness permeates from his muddy pools, still not completely comfortable with it all.

"God, still can't get over you were fifteen," That is always the stumbling block, I try to explain, I was never a normal fifteen-year-old, been through far too much not be classed as an adult. Hell, I am more mature than most twenty-year-olds I know.

"Three weeks off sixteen," I confirm "Statutory rape and consent is the difference of three weeks."

"Seems harsh" He leans forward and kisses my nose; my perfect boy finally gets it.

"Thanks, John," I say

"For what?" He takes my fingers in his locking them together, we are so close, our souls are combining in a perfect union.

"For listening" A beautiful smile crosses his face, praise kink.

"I want to lick your sweaty armpits and sniff your crotch I am in no position to judge" He rattles confidently as he dips down to my neck and inhales a long deep breath

"Urgh, Amber" I push him away,

"Seriously!" he cries out in shock

"Yeah apart from cum, no spit, piss, blood, scat or sniffing my sweaty body" I suppose that was a rather significant line to state,

"You are red carding bodily fluids!" His eyes sparkle and I can't work out if he is overjoyed or devastated by the loss of those options.

"That doesn't mean if we have an accident I will be fainting, involuntary is fine, purpose no" I clarify that it's not that I am squeamish, I am quite pragmatic, that stuff is just not sexy to me. John flinches a little and screws up his face in the most unattractive manner

"Did Dutch tell you!" He whales and collapses against my chest.

"Tell me what?" I try not to chuckle, of course, Dutch told me about my little damsel fainting from the trauma. John slaps my chest, he gets so aggressive when his weaknesses are on display. "Ok, he did, has anyone ever talked to you about it?"

"The panic attacks?" I roll him over and pin him to the bed, he is so beautiful when he sulks, a petulant little angel ready to pounce.

"No, your struggle with doors" I cackle once again, only my boy could faint after struggling to open a bi-fold door.

"Shut up, Arthur" He tries to push me away, but I won't let him. Instead, I plant a kiss on his chin, sucking hard until he squirms. It doesn't break him, he is determined, something is rolling around in the mind of his, another problem, I release him, providing him with the space he needs. That's what I like about John, he can't not be honest, he certainly always has to reveal what is on his mind, even when he really doesn't want to.

"So, are you actually a bottom?" He huffs, and I sense his pain, I don't think he is verse, he will be a lifelong bottom "And you are just topping for my benefit; eventually you will want the roles to switch."

I melt into a puddle, he always so sweet when he thinks of me and my needs, such a giving Dom. I try and allay his fears with the titles, he works well with them although mine is beyond contradictory. "Ok, so if you a Dom, bottom with a praise kink, I am a top, sub, cum-dump."

"Weird Fishes," He rolls into the most infectious laughter, I treasure it, there are no judgements in him, just considerations.

"As long as we are in the same fish tank" I pull him closer, capturing his frame in my beefy arms, I could make love to him all night when he is like this, calm, relaxed and caring.

"Surely verse?" He studies my reactions,

"Mmm, sub likes to be given away as a cum dump," It is vital to make the distinction, that there are clearly defined lines to when I will and will not indulge in certain activities, "Arthur, your Arthur, who wants to hold your hand and sleep next to you at night, he is a top."

His eyes dart seductively over me, I think we are almost there, the breakthrough. The irony is none of this truly matters at this point, sex parties, cum-dumps, being given away to other men. It is what I crave more than anything, but I can live without it for ages, I am not going to fall apart if I have to forge it for a while until he is ready, I just need the promise that it will happen.

"Is there anything else?" He says breathlessly, exhausted probably, I scan the clock, and it is midnight, another late one. I can feel the piece of beermat digging into my thigh, he is crushing it with his chicken legs and much against my better judgement I decide I need to be honest with him.

If we are reaching for the stars, I need to propel us from the gutter that I keep dragging us into. Not because of John or anything that he has done wrong, I have ticks, reactions when things go awry, I have to learn to control them for both our sakes and that starts with telling the truth,

"I...I almost got with a guy tonight," I reach into my pocket and pull out the number that Dutch gave me, for one Doug the barman, Arthur and Doug, doesn't fit as well as Arthur and John. "I have his number" I hand him the card expecting him to explode like a firework tear it into pieces and demand I never see Doug again.

"So, if you want someone else to play with your Action Man" I am sure this metaphor is becoming the name of my dick. He rolls off the bed and stands frustrated, trying to find the words, I want to help him, tell him it doesn't matter. Doug wasn't about sex; Doug was just a reaction to my family. "I don't want to know, it will break my heart if you cheat on me, the only way I can protect myself is by not knowing." Wow, so I just got a green card to cheat as long as he doesn't know, which is not what I was searching for. I try to grab him, he steps away, am I really that unreliable, that he thinks I will cheat on him, is that the way he sees me? My heart is aching with intolerable anguish, he gives me the impression that I am a slut that can't keep it in my pants and that hurts

"That doesn't mean in the future I won't consider possibly inviting others in but at this moment, no." I shake a little as I realise, we are still out of sync, John is giving me permission for polyamory, secret liaisons, with the potential of threesomes or whatever at another date. That isn't what I want, I don't require causal hook-ups with other guys or the options for orgies, I would only indulge in that if he wanted that. What I covet is very specific, a loving relationship, where I am owned by my partner so expertly, and we trust each other so completely that said individual can give me a way to other men to be used and abused. Then he can claim be back, as his, and I can feel that love, warmth and ownership that I so crave, that I once had.

"I can only do it if you give me permission" I try to make him understand, this isn't about casual sex; this is very much about our relationship as Dom/Sub.

"Then I don't, I can't" He is just as deflated as I am at this point, we stand there is silence once again. So many times, I have had to walk away from someone after this conversation, albeit never this intense and never having my heart riding on it.

"You didn't ask my permission tonight like you didn't when you kissed Abi," He pipes up, a visible scowl of indignation rising across his face. This is a crossover of conversations, it's getting confused, and I should have had the wherewithal to keep them separate. Tonight, was me letting off steam because my family sending me into a tailspin, Abi is just a business transaction with a friend for protection, being shared is everything. "So as much as you want to convince yourself that it isn't cheating, it is, and it hurts,"

My heart pounds in my chest as I realise my reactions are hurting him, causing him pain. I can't say that after a few more beers I wouldn't have gone home with Doug and fooled around, that is primarily my go-to response to my family behaving like dicks. I would never have considered that cheating or wrong because I was off my head, and it is what I always did. Compartmentalised, that is my life, things happen irrespectively and independently of each other. Fucking Doug would have been in the family zone, away from John and my feelings towards him. Sharing is very much in the John zone; I need him to be engaged with that.

"If I wanted to sleep Doug, how would I?" I ask tentatively, I want the answer to be no, a command denying me the option. I don't seek the Doug's of the world, I need John, I want John to take the decisions away from me, to control me, so I am compliant to his commands

"You're not even fucking me yet, and you want other men" He yells, and my heart slams into my rib cage "Do you want me?"

"Of course, I do" I try and close the space between us, to hold him and show him how much he means to me, he pushes me away

"Then start acting like it," He cries out "At the moment I feel like the whole town has a chance of getting fucked by you before I do."

Chapter Text

We rage, our bodies crash together with ferocity, our mouths burning with intensity as they clash, his teeth nip, bite, scarring my lips. I am a category five hurricane whipping up the waves roaring against his jagged rocks, storming his solid body with my fluidity. I am not weak, determined to meet his force with my own. I pull at his clothing craving his flesh, his coated skin, his musk is so ripe it would offend most, I crave it, I dream of every drop smothering my skin, seeping into my pores, so I smell of him. No one could deny I was his and he was mine, our scents bonding each other together.

I find access under his layers, wind my hands up his chest, his whole body is taut and tight, rippling under my touch and caress, his nipples are solid peaks atop his prickling pecks. God, he is fire and heat, so aroused already, I slide my thigh between his legs and get the confirmation. I want to see him, all of him, Arthur naked and entirely out of control, it is essential to me.

He pulls off his grey tank and t-shirt in one, throwing it forcefully against the door, then in a whoosh, his joggers and boxers are gone. Leaving my two-tone Adonis, with his throbbing member, almost pained as its veins pulse aggressively. I try to study, he has other plans, pushing me hard onto the bed. He is at my jean's, flicking the button and ripping them from my hips and down my legs. He reaches for my t-shirt, I scowl, "no!"

There is a glimmer, a glint of doubt, an extinguisher of passion, as his eyes betray his sadness, wishing to explore my reaction. It's instantly suppressed, and he is on top of me, kissing me vigorously, powerfully, my lips are swelling from the onslaught. His tongue rolls, a wheel rotating endlessly along the tracks of my lips. I try to mimic his approach, I don't possess his roundedness, I am sharp and jagged, my tongue is a claw, it pincers, probes, preparing to strike. When I find a break in his water wheel tongue, I become dominant, leading, my edgy exploration of his mouth has him groaning, a ship listing in the ocean ready to sink. My synapses are a thousand stellar explosions as the solar system of my sexuality aligns. I can't pull away, wouldn't wish to if I could, he has me pinned, his hip is digging into my thigh, I buck, involuntarily, my body requiring tension, friction, my mind is exploding from the intensity.

I gasp for air as he releases my lips, he is assaulting my neck, the pressure as he sucks, nips, licks, bruising my skin shouldn't feel this good. I am bucking wildly, rubbing my rampant cock along his thick muscled thighs. My nails stitch red ribbons down his back as I try to fight the uncontrollable pressure building in me. My brain is wiped of all reason, caution and apprehension, I require sating, my body yearning for a sensation it has never experienced before. Yet it fires all the cylinders so there can be no reservation, his cock has to be inside me as I cannot deny myself any longer.

"Arthur," I squirm, my body spasms and jolts, every nerve is electrified from the seeming denial, impatient to the thought of foreplay or time.

"Arthur, fuck me!" I cry out pleading painfully, he stops the ravishing of my neck, his hand snakes down to my boxers ripping them off in one swift movement. Arthur is possessed, his irises are roiling with chromatic blues, swirling, Van Gogh's Starry Night. His hands are visibly shaking, as he takes my shaft and plunges his full plump lips down, teasing my head as his tongue licks up and down the shaft. He has ignored my plea, didn't respond, I assume that it is his way of saying no, you're not ready.

I decide not to spend my first proper blow job worrying about what I am not getting, live for the moment. I wrap my fingers into Arthur's fine locks, digging my nails in hard every time the tip of my head reaches the back of his throat. I didn't expect him to be so good, I don't know why, probably because I have the worst gag reflex in the world and his cock is massive, I cannot return the favour. I am an apprentice on his first day, learning by sight, feel, watching the master in his expert artistry. The pupil will become the teacher, for him, I will learn.

His fingers rip along my thighs, he flips my legs into the air, spreading them. The cold air tingles against my cheeks as he navigates along the crease of my ass and finds the stopper. I gave myself a schedule, in all the heatedness of today it was an anchor, the plan was to wear it for thirty minutes in the morning and work up to an hour in the evening. I failed to take it out, I was busy creating grooves in the driveway, pacing, waiting for him to return. My cock falls from his mouth with a pop, while he investigates what is blocking his entry into my ass, a tragic groan of loss squeaks out of me.

"I am going to take this out," he informs authoritatively, I nod my head in agreement. Anything that has him working his way into me is more than agreeable. The removal leaves me empty; the air is so cold; the tingling is surreal.

"Oh John," he rumbles with desire, "I wish you could see yourself."

I am intrigued, excited at the spectacle that part of me extracted such a sultry response from him. I work my fingers down, past my shaft and tight balls until I reach my hole, it feels obscene.

"Arthur" I fly up, throwing myself into his arms, excited and scared.

"Its ok" he coos and runs his fingers through my hair, "Does it hurt, too uncomfortable?"

"No, just tingly" I whisper into his neck, sneaking the opportunity to inhale his sour aroma. I shouldn't love it so much, his stale sweat, its heady, light, all freshly mown grass after a spring shower. I am sure a perfumer would cherish his notes.

"You sure you want me?" his drawl is thick with concern and hesitation. The intensity of our liaison was doomed to burn bright, our flame is blue with passion, at maximum heat to extinguish now would be worse than death, I add accelerant.

"I will always want you," I wrench myself away from his muscular neck, seeking his cornflower irises. The swirling starry night has abated leaving calming oceans I adore drowning in.

"Do you still want me?" I am confident the answer is yes, his cock is slapping uncontrollably against my hip.

"More than anything I have ever wanted" my heart aches for him. Arthur loops his arms around my ass and lifts me as light as a feather back onto the bed, positioning my head of the pillow like a princess. I am rigid unsure what position to take; doggy seems the most obvious, I watch as he leans over to his bedside table retiring a tube of lube.

"We have our whole lives to work through the Karma Sutra," how does he do that, I haven't even moved. "I need to be as close to you as possible."

I nod, my voice has been stolen by nerves, I require his closeness, want him reading my expression so he can navigate me to ecstasy. The click of the cap sounded intolerably loud, my only experience of sex is usually accompanied with a guitar and wah-wah pedal being manipulated in the most disturbed ways. The silence is too clinical, it is vital all my senses are engaged. He is busy smothering lube on his massive shaft, then with ease his finger slips into my relaxed whole. The stretch from the plug sufficient to make it comfortable. I don't even feel the intrusion until he crooks his finger and finds my prostate. I am zinging, my blood pumping with expectation, I grind my hips forward begging for more. He starts to pump faster, slipping a second and then a third. I am wrecked, grumbling obscenities, my cock dribbling ready to blow. He withdraws and I am tense waiting for the inevitable, I am terrified, a wave of everything crossing me. It's the knowledge once this is done, I will never have something I have always had, my virginity, it is such a monumental moment. 

Trying to balance the experience with the significance, I sense the tell-tale sensation of tears growing in the back of my throat.

"Sing me a song" I quake, the silence is too much, I crave his voice soothing me as he storms my walls.

"I can't sing John," he says calmly as he works another layer of lube along his shaft. His eyes dazzle as they flick to mine and he reads it, because that is what he does. "Any requests?"

I shake my head; I don't know which of the millions of songs that exist would provide relief. I don't even think I am searching for that; I require someone else's words to fill the moment and speak to its significance, that would settle me. I shouldn't have said sing, a poem would suffice, its not the sound, I need words. Maybe Shelley, Music, when the soft voices die, the endurance of my memories of this night will long after he has gone. Or Don Juan by Byron, oh that is Arthur, he is not the provocateur seeking pleasure in other's flesh, just easily seduced by those who peruse him. Perhaps I should steal my Don from this land, adultery, is much more common where the climates sultry, take him to Alaska to the nations of the moral North. But all the verses of that poem one speaks deeply in my mind:

Then there were sighs, the deeper for suppression,

       And stolen glances, sweeter for the theft,

     And burning blushes, though for no transgression,

       Trembling's when met, and restlessness when left;

     All these are little preludes to possession,

       Of which young passion cannot be bereft,

     And merely tend to show how greatly love is

     Embarrassed at first starting with a novice.

He is my Don, and I shall tame him; I am his Julia, although he is my first, I am the novice, it is my job to show him he doesn't need to search any further than me.

He nods reluctantly, I must be the most intolerable Dom ever making requests that I cannot provide details for. He has to fill in the gaps, can't deny my request, he always delivers hesitation in his acceptance, which makes me swoon deeper into his broken perfection. I might be more helpful if I didn't trust him to know the right thing, he has yet to let me down. A man who could woo me with Shakespeare can never misstep.

He gracefully maneuverers along my tense body, resting plank above me. Holding my gaze for a few seconds more, one final check, then he sweeps his nose against my cheeks, his warm breath electrifying my nerves, my chest is heaving with anticipation. I dig my fingers into his biceps, anchoring myself ready.

"You are my sunshine" I still, frozen to the spot as the tip of his moist head rests gently against my hole. I gasp a fractured breath,

"My only sunshine," It is not Bryon, or Shelley or Keates, it is more beautiful and unadulterated, a song from my childhood, whispered one last time as I am about to become a man. I gulp and shake as I take the first few inches of him, he is so thick, more significant than the plug. It pinches, loaded with sharpness, a dull stab into my being.

"You make me happy when skies are grey," the world has ended, not with explosions or hysteria, just ceased, there is nothing left other than us and his pulsing cock as it fills me fully, too full.

"You will never know dear how much I love you," He continues to nuzzle his nose along my cheeks. Tiny droplets of moisture expel from his gasping lips, his tumbling hair tingling against my sensitive skin, he is magnificent in his control and weakness, meeting all my sensual desires.

"Please don't take my sunshine away" I feel the tip so firmly seated against an unyielding part of me and I burst into tears. Arthur doesn't move, flinch, or even flicker stays as still as the dead as I whine indecipherable murmurs and apologies for the shame that is writhing through me, trying to verbalise without success what it is I am experiencing.

"Talk to me baby" he tenderly kisses my chin, "is it too much?"

"it's too.... perfect" I gargle through my sobs, releasing his redraw biceps, my trembling hand rests on my brow, I am so distraught, trying to regain my composure because who aspires to fuck a sobbing mess. "I feel like my heart has exploded,"

"I have felt that way every day," His assurance confident, and delivered without hesitation, deepens my distress for this loss of dignity because he still chooses me despite my torment. 

"I love you, John," He says it so lightly, even that is too exquisite to domesticate my undisciplined body and bring to heel my wild mind, "But I really need to fuck you now."

I nod, smiling, those are the words I really wanted to hear, not of poetry and forever, just carnal flesh, slapping wildly from unsated need. God, only I a peasant could surrender my body to a Hidalgo, demand sex and then turn it into an emotional earthquake,

"Yes, please" I mumble assured that it would take an eternity to explain my thoughts to him, too long for the passion that created those visions to be sustained. I swoon as his shallow thrusts start triggering atomic reactions in me. I can't explain how bizarre a not moving cock feels, it inexplicably removes the air from your lungs, makes your throat tight like someone got anatomy all wrong and we all need our assholes free of objects to breathe.

When he starts moving, shallow and slow, the ecstasy begins building, I want to scream, for the world to hear what he is doing to me, how I consent entirely. My acknowledgement that I understand what it's all about, lamenting that I waited so long that I have not been doing this forever. He reads my growing enjoyment and takes that as a signal to start thrusting, my god, his thick shaft stretching, tightening my tightly coiled spring. It is a competition, what is better, my reaction to his movements or his guttural groans, sung in response to the notes hidden deep with my intimacy, a song sheet that only he can read the music to.

With every thrust of his hips, his thick manhood is satisfyingly scratching an itch that has been burning my skin since puberty. I am externally repeating the process for him, along his biceps, his back, digging deep into that muscular ass, oh that ass a gift from heavens sent to me. It appears as steel; my touch is oxygen, making it react in salacious rolling movements.

I reach for myself, determined to maximise every point of pleasure, my cock is dead, flaccid, flat, why isn't it working, I try and revive it before he notices, I can't bear the thought of him thinking I am not enjoying this.

"The blood has gone somewhere else baby," he is smooth and reassuring,

"I don't want it to go somewhere else" I whine petulant and annoyed.

"Oh, I think you do baby, wait and see" he pulls me into a longing kiss, his hot rolling tongue returns, the removal of breath and air makes me dizzy with his intoxicating artistry of my body.

His sweat sluices down our groves, a stream of exertion, storm clouds seeded from our combining heat. My furnace, fierce, could evaporate every last drop before I have a chance to savour his taste. The moisture from our bodies combined creates a thirst in me that cannot be quenched without drinking from him. The strings of his neck are tight, his whole body is unrelenting, the odd stutter confirms it's ready to shatter under pressure. I plunge my lips deep into his veined muscles, sucking, licking, biting until the skin breaks, salt and metal mixed, tingling my taste buds. I realise I am crossing a line, his but as he is still moaning like I am every star in the universe, I think I my crime has not been witnessed. My boy has clearly defined boundaries, a Piet Mondrian, big thick black lines. I am Dali, Persistence of Memory, my clocks are melting under the heat of his dawn, but I will remember every second.

His cock has me making promises I have no intention of keeping, he can have everything at this moment, every need fulfilled. I know once I cum, I will melt back to reality, all the doubts will flow back and I will confine myself to the box that means I don't have to acquiesce to his wants. How could he ever desire anything but this union, repeated, forever. I find myself lost once again in his irises my mind and body no longer working together, one is floating in the ethereal plains while the other has been buried deep into the earth. All I can see is him, cannot hear or speak, deafened by some strange sensation that is stirring within a part of me I had no sense of until this point. He continues to chase his pleasure, aware that I am no longer capable of participating. 

He tries to whisper sweet prose in my ear, his veins bulge, his blood focussed deep within me. His lips contort, possibly a cry, impassioned by his release but I am too dead to give it sound.

The heat of our bodies makes it impossible to touch, we are heaving, pleading without words for the night air to cool us and return us to a human state. I give him a paw, all I can at his point, he grabs it, crushes it against his own and kisses quickly before returning to his sated revival. I struggle to come back, all power and energy has been spent, my only option is to delicately float like a feather down from my exceptional high. I sense him moving, his recovery time quicker than mine, he is engaging with the world around us, as though it had always been there. The light of the en-suite near blinds me in its whimsical warmth, the touch of a dampened cloth pricks my skin uncomfortably, my skin too sensitive to tolerate any contact, I whine at its intrusion. Throughout his lips move but he has deafened me with his love.

I fear my mind will never return, my body is flicking as every nerve is still in shock, confused and unsure of what has happened, fighting a none exist virus that has sent its mainframe haywire. I gurgle what I think is speech, words, language are lost to me, reassure Arthur that although my eyes are open, I am very much living in a dream state, he should not wait for me to return. Should get his own sleep, rest his depleted batteries, if this weary travel of faraway universes were to return by morning, I am sure he will want to drain his batteries once again. So, I am left, unmoving, staring into space as he falls asleep, all I can manage is the twitch of a finger to periodically check his still there, he is all that is anchoring me to this world.

Chapter Text

In the haze of my dreamy half-awake state, I only think of him, what we did and how we did it. A rolling wave of emotion fills my stomach, I am too nervous, embarrassed and enamoured to turn and face him. Last night I made love to John, the subject of all my affection. Through the heated angst of trying to position our place in each other's worlds, I forgot the most important thing. We are two separate worlds that have collided, that would always bring violence, explosions, as we search for correspondence but from the collision, a new world could be built, together, better than the last, as the sum of parts unify to make a whole.

I am nervous because I have never allowed my heart to be exposed in this way, to let someone in passed the carnal flesh of want and desire, to the inner chambers where all my weaknesses and insecurities live. I am embarrassed because, for all of my experience in sex and submission, I have never had the sensual experience of making love to someone, feeling the emotional bond as well as the physical. I am enamoured because he provided all these feelings and experiences, without the knowledge or any sense of what he is doing. He has provided a deep sensation of contentment, furnished with love, healing what I didn't think was broken. All I wish in this moment of enlightenment is for him to jump on me and demand a verse of Shakespeare, I don't have one to give, I selfishly need that energy, those coals smouldering burning my skin with his ridiculous demands. The coward I am hides, waiting patiently for his move. It doesn't come, I cannot deny it to myself any longer he is not there.

Floating on a cloud, accepting the cherished waves that confirm I am wanted I head to my bathroom; I know he is not there, but my bladder is full. I see myself in the mirror, I am laughing at my own stupid grin, I can't stop myself, a bashful expression of complete bliss. I won't be able to keep our secret, it's written all over my face; one glance and they will guess. I gasp, they won't need to guess, my neck, it's a state, I could feel him nibbling but its massacre. I am sure that was a line, bodily fluids, sweat and blood, he has dissolved that, can have it any time he so wishes. They wouldn't require his dental records to identify his body they can just use my shoulder. That moment I remember, I doubt he will, his explosion, his orgasm was so intense I was jealous. His voice hoarse and loud, caused him to plant his teeth into me. I braced for the pain, absorbed it into my own release, the boneless wreck afterwards was a sight to behold. He couldn't even speak properly, his incoherent sentence was a puzzle to decipher, I got the gist, go to sleep, leave me to my bliss and repeat the process in the morning. It is morning, just, and I intend to collect on my promise of a repeat performance. I run downstairs, all arms and legs, weight thundering. I am greeted not by John, my dishevelled family, muted, other than inevitable mornings as they have an uncomfortable breakfast.

"Morning," I say to brightly even for me.

"Good night?" Dutch asks with no hint of irony, other than his wry smile which has Mary-Beth sniggering, perhaps we weren't as quiet as I had hoped.

"You just jealous" I confidently counter, wouldn't everyone want what we did last night. I dive into the fridge and guzzle the milk gaining scorn from my aunt.

"Arthur, look at the state of you, you've been mauled by a wild animal" My Aunt points to my neck, I am not going to conceal it for school, nor would I want to. The questions, the knowing glances, the innuendos poor Abi will get, it's too funny.

"No wild animal," I smirk, "Just John" my boy marked me it sends shivers of pride up my spine.

"Does sleeping beauty want breakfast?" Dutch offers, he is just as considerate of John's needs as I am.

It fills me with unburdened joy that Dutch is willing to accept him, love him almost.

"I don't know, I thought he was awake," My heartstrings pull tight, as I realise, he isn't here, perhaps he is taking a shower.

"Haven't seen him," Mary-Beth confirms, identifying the concern in my eyes.

I run upstairs calling his name, the main bathroom is empty. I thunder across the landing to my room, grab my phone, there is no text from him, just drunk ramblings from Abi abusing me over John Marston. Where is he, I haven't even told him about Abi. I am trembling, my heart is pounding against my ribs. I can't reason where he went or why? Did something happen, his Dad maybe, would he have gone without waking me. What if last night wasn't magical for him, it was, he was dying a thousand deaths. I replay every second, I had consent, he pleaded, begged me to do it. I dress quickly and race downstairs, grabbing my car keys.

"Arthur you made sure he was agreeable to your advances," My Aunt rolls her words as though it is obvious I did not, her blaming nature is all the crueller by the causal way she delivers it.

"Annabelle!" Dutch shouts, just as angry as I am that she could think that of me. I shake my head in objection, but I don't have time for another family implosion I have to find John. I head for the door, slamming it behind me.

"Arthur stop" Dutch booms behind me, I want to freeze for him, a command but I edge towards my car, pressing the button on my keyring to open the gates. The pull to find John is more significant than my loyalty to Dutch, "Stop son, please,"

"I have to find him, Dutch" My voice is cracking with fear, I am fighting the tears. What if I was wrong, if he wanted to stop, is that why hit bit me? I run my fingers across my wounded shoulder. What if his silence wasn't ecstasy what if it was fear? My mind is collapsing, struggling to process, Dutch reads it, comes to me, his face is twitching with concern. He might have chastised Annabelle, but I suspect he is thinking along the same lines. I defiled John without his consent, that is who I am to them, a pervert that gets off on others discomfort.

"No," Dutch is on me, his large bejewelled hands, intervening. "Give him space, he isn't you, Arthur, he is the exact opposite."

I frown because Dutch barely spent any time with him, he doesn't know John, not as well as I do and right now, he is missing and needs my protection or an explanation and an apology.

"What do you mean?" I plicate him, the sooner this conversation is over, the sooner I can find John.

"Don't make this about you, what you need," He is massaging my shoulders, trying to calm me. I perch on the bonnet of the car, if I can at least touch my means of escape it means that it is still possible. "You always move so fast, rip the band-aid and get it over with. It's your most endearing quality and most challenging. John doesn't operate that way, he needs time and considering how quickly this has progressed, he probably needs a day alone, to gather his thoughts."

I take a deep breath, he is probably right, John left on his own, he wasn't kidnapped or stolen away from me. If I go, I don't wish to be found until I am ready, I have Dutch who is so in tune with my spells of chaos he is good at judging when that time is. I need to be the same for John, get him back when the time is right, how do I know when that is? For me, its right now, at this minute, don't let it fester, whatever it is.

"What if he is hurting?" I counter I can't spend all day with my thoughts in my head. The darkness, it creates the worst notions, perceptions of reality that I start to believe, I doubt myself and my own experiences.

"Then you can't fix that pain for him, you can't fix everything, Arthur," Dutch pulls me into a hug, and I am grateful, his strength cocoons me. "Sometimes people experience pain, and you just have to let them handle it om their own way, work it out for themselves."

"I didn't mean to" I blub, moistening his shirt with my tears and snot.

"Don't listen to your aunt, poisonous witch, you didn't hurt John, his life is a pile of shit, has been for some time, even I pity the kid, and I am a hard bastard at the best of time. If everything is so miserable and something as good as you came along, you would run Arthur, you always do, so don't panic that John is doing the same." Dutch lifts me from his shoulder, cupping my distraught face in his large hands. "But unlike you who he needs intervention, I trust John, if he needs space, then we should give it to him. On the plus side, I doubt I will have to pull him out a club and pay his tab."

"He is too good for me" I mumble because unlike me he will be managing his despair on his own, I don't have to growl at the thought of the Doug's of this world trying to letch over him. I certainly have no concern of him giving them the come on. Perhaps that is what made him run, after the ecstasy our physical lovemaking dissipated, he was able to review the evidence. Review what I had told him, that I would cheat if pushed and my desires of being shared. I am such an idiot, I was too honest, too upfront, and now he has run, scared of the intensity in which I choose to live my life. I was so confident of my line, but now I am starting to think they were barriers, excuses for my behaviours, reasons why when I did eventually let him down, I could absolve myself of guilt because I had been upfront.

"Oh, don't believe that you are as both as good as each other in different ways." Dutch reasoned seeing the inner turmoil, the war raging in my thoughts. "We don't talk about what happened to you because you get defensive, you are so sure that you consented, wanted it."

"Dutch this has nothing to do with that" I quake my usual line of defence, it falls out so naturally now, so many times I have delivered it and yet I am starting to question if I believe it anymore.

"You're a stubborn ass sometimes." He chuckles warmly, "I am sure in your head it was the best thing ever, part of who you are, and you have protected that side of yourself and the expense of everything else." He pulls me in for another hug, sensing my walls are crumbling slightly, rather than starting a fight he is giving me affection, we have never been this way, I have always kept him at arm's length even when all I have craved is to be held. To feel parental love again, that someone is protective of me unconditionally. "What would happen if you let that side of you go, just for a bit, don't live your life by these rules you have made for yourself.

"I would fall apart," I confess, it's the truth, the barriers I place around myself are to stop me crumbling into a certifiable mess. Where would I reasonably start, which string to pull first, I haven't dealt with any of it, just built up walls and compartmentalised. There is so much of it now, dismantling would be a considerable risk, it could all fall down and crush me.

"That isn't healthy, deep down I think you know that." Dutch rubs his hand along my shoulders and his touch, comfort is so warm and inviting, I am scared that I will need his arms around me forever. "There is something in you, a part of it that has wounded you, Arthur, that pain has been festering for so long. John has come along and turned your rules on their head, is challenging everything, I love the boy for that, a slap across the face you needed."

"If he is good for me, why have I got to stay away from him?" I try to retaliate, I have to know he is ok, that this boy who slapped me across the face in all the ways I needed will maintain that roll in my life. He can't hit and run, I am not strong enough to cope with that,

"Because this is not just about you, as much as you need this, John might need different things," Dutch clarifies, confirming I am selfish again. Poor John, I was like a whirlwind in his life, he probably thought I was taking him away from all this and instead he is OZ with a lion who has know courage trying to defeat the wicked witch. That is why he didn't stay, for all my promise I have just proven to him that there is no place like home, a shitty, violent home with no love is better than I am.

"He says I shift gear to fast he can't handle it," I recall our conversation, the one I listened to for all of five minutes and before shifting gears again. Giving him demands he couldn't meet, lines he might want to cross and the fucking him when I should have said no.

"Such a smart kid, I trust him, Arthur," Dutch pats me on the back and then perches next to me on the bonnet of my car. "I struggle with the same problem, it's your mother's side of the family, all like it, thank God Mary-Beth takes after her father, I couldn't cope with two of you." It makes me laugh a little, being compared to my mum fills me with warmth, even if it isn't for the most positive reasons. "I am remote from you, I shouldn't be, I should be there for you. I do love you, you're my brother's kid, and it's my job to protect you. Loving you Arthur Morgan is a terrifying prospect, that night in the hospital I never felt failure like it, I let my brother down, put his son at risk, all because that kid changes gears so quickly I didn't know if I was coming or going."

"It wasn't your fault I wanted to be alone, I liked my life." I try and reassure him, I have always done that attempted to convince people I was happy, wished everything to happen. I now realise I was probably broken beyond repair, and instead of seeking the help I needed, I found it in less salubrious places.

"Yeah, there is no book in the world that advises giving teenagers what they want, because it isn't what you need." Dutch chuckles, I didn't realise he had been reading about how to raise me or was it just a joke. "You are a cocktail of hormones, rage and deep sorrow caused by the loss of your parents; you can't make the right decisions with that potent mix pumping around you." I nod in agreement, which makes him whiplash, his coal eyes are wide with surprise. I am capable of listening sometimes and for once I can see he might be right. "Stop fighting us, start being honest with yourself, take this time away from John to work out what you need, not what you want, and start putting it in place. I am sure John will appreciate your efforts."

"Ok, but I need to know he is alive," If we both accept that I am broken and need to spend time fixing myself, the irrational still requires feeding, or I will go haywire.

"You can text him one, don't put are you alive that is a bit melodramatic, you are lucky you are attractive because your game is a bunny boiler." I gasp with faux indignation; I can agree I am slightly intense, but no way am I Glenn Close. I think about it for a moment and then laugh, yes, I am, if John dumped me and got another boyfriend, the bunny would be taking a hot bath.

"Come on then Casanova, what should I say with my one text," Dutch smiles at the request for advice, the monkey in me is evolving, slightly.

"Put, I am here when you need me, John would appreciate that," I whip out my phone and send it to him, when not if, that is important for both of us.

"Oh damn, did I miss the tears," Abi is standing on the driveway with a plastic bag in her hand full of what looks like treats, the break-up hamper, she is too astute sometimes.

"Abi, good to see you again" Dutch greets her and then retreats to the house.

"I brought three tubs of chocolate ice cream; thought they might be required." She waves the bag in the air and assumed the spot left by Dutch. "So, he dumped you then?"

"I don't know," I confirm, checking my phone to see if he has read my text, delivered not read.

"Its probably for the best," Abi swings the bag nervously "There is no way the football team would accept you and John,"

"When has that ever been part of my decision-making process," I try to remind her that this is me, others feelings don't really register, even they should. I get that she is trying to be supporting in her pragmatic, no-nonsense way but actually I don't need a list of all the reasons why John and I wouldn't work. I want to pine and be told it will all be ok; love will find a way.

"No, you could probably front it out, what about him?" She scowls at me like this is why I am irresponsible, putting him at risk, she doesn't know the half of it, school is not why John is hurting I am.

"I would protect him," I am indulging in this conversation because at this moment in time confessing to Abi the real reason John ran is too much.

"I didn't see the vacancy for his shadow," She quips making me groan. I push her towards the house, eating ice cream always needs to be undertaken while watching trash television. Lucky for me Annabelle and Mary-Beth have plans to go out and see the sites, don't know what sites there are worth seeing in Annesberg but I want space from them just as much as John wants space from me. We crash on the sofa, which has been expertly cleaned by the cleaner, who has received an extra bonus, out of Dutch's account. After the usual argument of what to watch, we crack upon the first tub, then commence our debate over the suitability of John in my life.

"I assume you are going to college?" Abi asks, considering it's our final year I have been pretty tight-lipped about the whole college thing, haven't even thought of which I want to apply for. I am hoping scouts will make the decision for me, so I don't have to put any real thought into it.

"Yeah, probably," I mumble, focussing on the rubbish on the television like I am going to be sitting an exam on the contents of the show once it's finished.

"What's John doing?" She leans forward and takes a scoop of the ice cream, an excuse to try and capture my attention. I fall back against the sofa; we are having this conversation.

"I don't know, haven't really discussed it," I try to be rational about it, "I suppose he can come with me, or we can do long distance."

"Arthur" She scorns me, ok maybe that isn't realistic, in all the heat and passion I may have forgotten about long-term, not with him, I can see us in our forties making breakfast in our apartment. I might not have put much thought into how we pay for that apartment or where that apartment is. Dreams are that ambitions to work towards, life is what generally happens when your busy dreaming up those future states.

"Please, I just need a friend right now, not more fuel on the fire," I growl, I have enough on my plate without having to think about us being apart for the next three years while we are at colleges, possibly different ends of the country.

"Ice cream the perfect extinguisher to fires," She jokes, taking another scope. I wrap my arm around her, and we settle in to watch season 10 of Catfish, that show never gets boring, it's always rewarding to see others having the worst time of it, makes my problems seem insignificant in comparison. Only today it doesn't, I am in a far worse position, I don't know how to get out of it.

"You're going to have to put make-up on your neck," She says it casually, "I am not taking the hit for that mess," I smile, he marked me, he wants me, everything will be alright.


Chapter Text

I ran, of course, I did. What Arthur did was magical, sublime, all the yearning and desire fulfilled. How could I have experienced such a brilliant sensation, an erotic explosion of love and security and not run a mile? I was compelled, the world closed in around me, suffocating energy, my breathing laboured, shards of glass spiking into the soft tissue of my lungs. I am an absolute wimp, but that isn't what necessitated my departure, in the half-light of dawn, the post glow of amazing sex I obtained confirmation of my position. It transpired I wasn't his equal, his partner or his one and only, there will always be another.

I spent most of Sunday in hysterical circumspect anxiety or sleeping from fatigue. My muscles ached intensely, trekking across town after my core had been tested to the point of rupture wasn't probably the best idea. I should have engaged my brain at some point, been realistic, booked a taxi but I didn't have any money. If I woke him up mid-flee he would try and reason with me, hold me and assure me everything is alright, how can it be? For all his encouragements, this isn't ok. I took a shower as soon as I got home, discovered blood, freaked out, didn't have the man I love consoling me, standard for the first time, apparently. The internet validated it wasn't anything to worry about until it started banging on about unprotected sex, STI's and HIV. My mind went to stratospherically dark places, we hadn't used a condom, I didn't ask or consider, the heat and passion, all sense vanished at the time. Was it the same for Arthur? He confessed, without acknowledging that he indulges in risky sex, loves to be shared, nothing in what Arthur said implied he practised safe sex.

I wasted most of the morning throwing up, the remnants of last night's Chinese staring back at me from the bowl, a horrible juxtaposition of the ecstasy and now the crippling agony. I panicked, paced, focussing in the delirium trying to work out what to do. The internet was quite clear, go to the clinic, get PEP, take for four weeks and feel like shit. That is never an excuse to play chicken with sexual health, the fear of the cure being worse than the disease. Although having sex with Arthur was the game of chicken. Having lost and the car totalled, this is the equivalent of getting out of the wreckage and deliberating whether a trip to the hospital is necessary. Of course, it is, untold and unseen damage that cannot be assessed externally by me, who has no medical knowledge, a virus could be pumping through my veins as we speak and I am standing around debating the odds. I, stupidly, try and persuade myself that Arthur would never intentionally put me in danger, wouldn't have unprotected sex if there were a possibility that he was carrying something. That is the doubt, he could have unknowingly done it. This growing angst is quelled slightly by my exhaustion, my memories of last night, so pure, so stimulating, I could never have dreamed my first time would be so enchanting, Arthur did everything, made it special, for us, for me. I am still floating in that dream-like state caused by the monumental orgasm he provided me. I sleep and sleep and sleep, when I cannot sleep anymore, it is pitch dark outside, a quick check of my phone confirms its early evening.

My phone has a message, I am surprised he hasn't scaled my house, gained access through my window, his dulcet tones "John baby what's wrong" perhaps he has done all the chasing he can stomach. Tested the goods and decided I am not worth the effort. It's wrong of me to scorn him, I was the one who ran, for good reason I might add. Yet, I waited for him, allowed space and time he required, was there to hold his hand when he returned, provided him with reassurance when I was freaking out inside, supplied him with a place to sheath his monster dick. I check the text anyway, preparing myself for the "see you around John, Doug's the man for me." I groan at the thought of his name, who would ever pair themselves with a man called Doug.

"I am here when you need me."

Ok, so maybe I should check myself, he thinks he is in trouble which he actually might be, I just can't think about it right now. I throw my phone across my desk, here when I need him, God, I need him all the time, but I can't be anywhere near him right now. What is that, when someone is so addictive and so unhealthy at the same time, Arthur is my Heroin or Crack, I have to withdraw before there is no going back. 

It's getting late, and my batteries are fully charged, I pull out a clean canvas, too much noise in my head, need to paint, create, get some of this emotion out of my system. I am falling hard, deep, and it is terrifying. I keep making stupid decisions believing the gold at the end of the rainbow is worth the sacrifice. I have to work out if that is true or if I will never get to the pot of gold, it doesn't exist.

I am still painting at 5 am, its fire, engulfing his two-toned body. I have painted him as he wanted, a genuine representation of him, taut, built muscle defined by soft edges around his hips and stomach, I even speckle his thighs with his stretch marks. The silver licks ignite the colours of the flames, shining, he is cleansed by fire, consuming his sins, metamorphosing his past self, broken and hurt, into something more revealing, more beautiful. God, I love him, his imperfections, his twisted sense of himself, why he fights every day to build up walls, a view of who he thinks he should be, worthless and devalued, why? How can someone who is worshipped by his peers, loved by everyone who knows him, be so loveless towards themselves? I replay everything he said, the confusing certainties of what he wants, how he wants to be treated. The dichotomy of his need to feel secure with one person, to be loved so wholly that the person can give him away. It's not the act with Arthur, not the people, its something more profound, more in-depth, it's the loss, shit.

So, I might have missed school on Monday, was asleep after spending all night musing, then I didn't attend on Tuesday because no one ever has one day off, it looks too suspicious, especially after the weekend. He didn't text me to see where I was or call or clamber through my window in the gracelessly adorable way. Arthur is giving me space, and I appreciate the effort because it must be killing him, he will be a panicked mess, probably not sleeping. While torturing him is a kink we share, making him wait is also cruel, I need this time for myself to work out what I want to do, I think I might be getting there.

By Wednesday, I am ready, determined, I have a well thought out plan I just need the courage to execute it. I arrive late intentionally, avoided the clamouring cacophony of my peers filling the halls, evading any contact with the man I am dodging. There is still an unease, my stomach rolling between butterflies to stabbing pains, unsure if I have read this all right, filled in the gaps appropriately. Every footstep is punctuated by the dull ache in my ass that reminds me of what we did together. There is only one person that I can think of in my wretched life that will know the answers I am searching for; God help me; we don't have the best relationship.

"Mr Marston hell must have frozen over, and someone has forgotten to inform me," Grimshaw crows from behind me, alluding to our last conversation where I announced aggressively that hell would have to freeze over before I set foot in this office again.

"I am sure by law you have to be more attentive towards me, I am a vulnerable juvenile" I try and counter. Her manner is brusque, blunt and totally inappropriate, I am surprised she still has a job, there aren't a dozen upheld complaints against her name.

"With most other students I am warm and reassuring, I am harder with you because I know you can handle it," She says, sitting opposite me, I am not sure if that is meant to be a compliment. She doesn't feel the need to patronise me or handle with care. "So, let's cut the bull and get to the terrible event that resulted in me being the one you turn to,"

I smirk, she said bull, and she has given me the green light to offload, straight to the point, only its not that easy my palms are sweaty as I massage them into my grubby jeans, didn't get chance to wash them this weekend, busy doing other things. 

"So ummm……" She blows out a deep unforgiving breath of frustration, seriously this woman hasn't got an ounce of patience, "There is this guy," I am weaving my fingers into knots, as I carefully select every word from my limited vocabulary. As I am struggling, there is a flicker of amusement in her eyes, a little twitch of her tight lip, almost a fucking smile.

"You know!" I challenge her, she huffs again this time a little lighter obviously her iron features can't conceal everything.

"I will say to you what I told Mr Morgan, I am not in the business of discussing other pupils' information," She is tight, stiff, so that isn't all she said to Mr Morgan. Arthur is in therapy with Grimshaw, is that by choice or is he made to come, is Arthur just as much in the system as I am, something else we share. I shake the thought, building bonds on something as miserable as your life is so shit the state had to be involved, isn't the best way to start things. Although, it does explain a lot, how to totally dissimilar boys in every way can see passed the social veneer and find our own correspondence.

"Did you discuss me at length?" I cock an eyebrow, a shit-licking smirk crosses my face I have snared her in a trap, now I am just loading the gun.

"I saved you a visit from child services so be grateful Mr Marston," I wonder if he raised his concerns before or after my panic attack, was he really that troubled, he hasn't asked me about it. However, I shut down every opportunity, stop him dead when he is probing. I might actually be worse than he is, more reticent to my past that my repressed golden boy, two peas in a pod.

"There is something about Arthur," I start to say, she nods almost smiling as though an epiphany is only moments away. "I don't think he is honest about it; he has told me all the weird stuff that happened to him,"

"Mr Marston, for two years I have been trying to discover that allusive piece of the puzzle," She shuffles uncomfortably, is this crossing an ethical line for her. "All I can say is don't stop searching, he is more likely to reveal it to someone he is affection towards."

I think I am getting all I can garner from this source, at least she has confirmed I am on the right tracks, I just long for some reassurance that I am heading in the right direction, "All the weirdness is a barrier he has built to protect himself,"

"Oh, I think he is all those things, but there is a catalyst that sent him stratospheric," I am actually quite good at this, J. Marston school therapist/art teacher. The thought makes me shudder, there is no way in hell I am ever coming back to school voluntarily.

"Try and be each other's anchors," Her eyes grace over the rims of her glasses, "And remember to practice safe sex and be emotionally available to each other," I burst out laughing, not at her, she has to say that but if that was a rule to judge a successful relationship by we are epically failing,

"Did you tell him the same thing?" I have to ask, if he was in receipt of that reminder recently then I suppose the choices he made for us are safer than my mind would previously allow me to believe.

"Of course, why do I need to worry that you are not?" she cocks a suspicious eyebrow in my direction,

"I can't believe you told a boy with no emotional filter and questionable sexual predilections to be emotionally available and practice safe sex," I chuckle again as I grab my bag and head for the door.

"Mr Morgan is quite a reserved individual," She tries to defend her advice, which in fairness for most of the population would be sound, for Arthur, it has given me a rather intense experience.

"Not in the bedroom he isn't," I laugh again and run before she tries to engage me.  

I spend the rest of the day chuckling to myself if only I understood the enjoyment I could get from Grimshaw's company when I actually needed her in my life. Perhaps that is the irony of therapy, only get to explore your inner workings when it really is the last thing you wish to be doing. I keep my eyes peeled for him, he isn't in any of my classes today, but in the hall, at break, lunch, there is no sign. I check the car lot, and Bodie isn't in her usual spot, I know now I am acting like the car is a person. If he loves her, then I must love her too. I decide not to text him, not out of angst, I am conscious if he is skipping school I might be the reason, and inviting him around will to mine after school will just lead to more confusion. Keep the temptation of angry makeup sex until we have actually had the fallout and feel the need to makeup, moves to fast for me when it's all happening in the same moment. Best laid plans and all that, I am pounced on and dragged into an empty classroom by one incensed and snarling head cheerleader,

"Do you have any idea how many burpees I have done to burn off the calories I have consumed comfort eating with your boyfriend," She is actually quite cute when she is angry, her nose wrinkles adorably.

"Wait, he told you about us?" I am astounded, he is expert in hiding in plain sight and yet I was the specimen that made him crumble.

"Yes, he is my best friend, we don't keep secrets from each other," while the sentiment is noble, I am so confused,

"You're not heartbroken?" My voice croaks, making her eyes narrow and then widen.

"Oh, you thought I didn't know I was his beard; do I really appear that dumb?" I am hoping that is a rhetorical question. "So, he hasn't told you about our deal?"

"No," I labour the sound as I realise that Arthur and Abi are secure to share, but somehow, I am not in that circle of trust.

"He is an adorably loyal bastard when he wants to be, warms the heart." She goes all gooey at the realisation, "Anyway, I can't hang around, people will start talking, Arthur is a tool, a moron, and has quite frankly the strangest taste in men, but he is my friend, and whatever he did I know he is sorry and hurting. It's on you John Marston to fix it, I can't top the pyramid if I put on any more weight."

"I'll sort it," I am rolling with intimidation, she has that effect on almost everyone,

"Good," She smiles, which isn't adorable. It is unnerving and scary, the type of smile that is given moments before a punch in the face, a psychotic bunch of reprobates I have ended up in school with. "When you two start acting like a normal couple we can go on a double date," Not an invitation I ever expected, I nod but hope she doesn't take that as acceptance. Jesus, John Marston, school outcast with zero friends is fucking the Quarterback and double-dating with the Head Cheerleader. I am sure I must have eaten magic mushrooms, currently in a psychedelic trance, alone in the woods because this is not my life Toto.

Chapter Text

Taking Dutch's words on-board, I gave John the swerve. Well not really, I did what I always do, full bunny boiler, secretly. When he didn't turn up to school on Monday, I panicked, heart racing, I harassed Mr Matthew's until he agreed to find out what was wrong with John. Apparently, he called in sick, which I knew was code for distraught, heartbroken, devastated, but alive. That thought made me realise Dutch was right, I had to sort myself out, get my shit together for John because there might be a thousand doubts in his mind but I am clear and pure, I love John Marston, and there is no one else for me.

I completed the request Monday night, surprisingly it was agreed for Thursday 10 am. I am not sure how the system works, but I hope that means he has decided to see me, Dutch agreed to share the driving. He stayed home after Mary-Beth and Annabelle departed, said he will work from home until I am strong enough to be left alone. If felt good to have him by my side, right up until the point I told him my plan, now he is boxing my ears with his relentless scepticism on my decision. It is my decision, my choice to do this, I need to talk about my past with the only person who was present to witness it.

We are in the Panhandle by 8 am, tired a little dishevelled, Dutch's five o'clock shadow is almost springing to full beard, a peppering of wispy grey hair speckled within the black alluding to his age or possibly the stress of having me in his life. We took it in turns driving throughout the night, the 24-hour long drive was relentless, but we both slept when the other was driving to make it sure we got here in time. The rough, rugged prairies of my homeland remind me of what I have been missing, I loved being raised here, even in the city cowboy country was around every corner. Anytime life became intolerably hard, I would find myself walking the terrain, seeking solace in the land's vast almighty beauty. It pulls a little as I think of John, he has never experienced such an escape, the freedom and realisation of how insignificant one truly is in the grand scheme of things, our lives a mere blink of an eye in the majesty of the world. All John has is that goddamn bypass bridge, how anyone finds their liberty in such a suffocating and stifling environment is beyond me.

Dutch pulls over to a ma and pa diner with a service station attached, listening to the rumbling of my stomach he offers me breakfast while I freshen up in their facilities. I have tried not to think too hard on the meeting, not wishing to set my heart on outcomes that might prove unachievable. Every hour that ticks by I consider more and more I would like to say, who am I kidding, more likely be mute as he shouts at me solid for the one-hour visitation that I have been granted. I splash cold water in my face trying to reinvigorate that chilled exterior that has served me well over the past three years. I take a few deep breaths and close my heart, John, in his innocence, has left it exposed and vulnerable, and this is going to be far too raw an experience to have it outside of its cage.

"I ordered you pancakes, bacon and a coffee," Dutch says as I lower myself into the booth.

"S'cuse me miss" I call over to the waitress who is doing her rounds with a pot of coffee, her peach dress and white apron so stereotypical, I am waiting for the slacked honey voice that is so common in these parts, like my moms

"What can I do for you, sweetie," her face is tight from the interruption, but her eyes are smiling at me, so I smile back,

"Can I order another stack of pancakes with extra bacon, and a glass of milk" I shoot a glance to Dutch who is shaking his head in disbelief, I am a growing boy after all.

"Sure thing, honey," she writes down the order and takes the check to the serving hatch,

"People gonna think I don't feed you properly," Dutch whispers. We sit in silence until our food arrives, too tired from our journey to attempt to reason with each other. I am doing this, he is begrudgingly allowing me to do this in the hope I achieve some closure to the chapter in my life, but I can tell he doesn't like the idea. Suspect he thinks I will take one look at my former lover and remind myself of what I am missing.

I am overwhelmed with joy when two large stacks of pancakes with heaps of bacon are placed in front of me, with the obligatory maple syrup placed next to them. I cut my knife through the middle creating my well for the beautiful woody syrup to pool and moisten my pancakes, in all the excitement I forget to scorn Dutch for watching me, the same way John watches me when I am about to eat. I am a wild animal in a documentary being studied for my animalist eating habits,

"I was thinking of enrolling you in finishing school this summer, knocking out some of those edges you seem to have developed," Dutch says in his matter of fact tone which means he is joking. I respond, my mouth so full it is incomprehensible what I am saying, he just cocks an eyebrow confirming his point.

Dutch pays the check for breakfast and fills up in the gas station next door, I take the opportunity to change my shirt and spray on some deodorant, can't be showing up after all this time smelling like a barn. Dutch gets back in the car grumbling of that stink, challenging why I felt the need to make such an effort for this man, I don't answer, we both are well aware of my feelings toward Matteo. At the same time, I can honestly say I no longer love the man, he will always have a special place in my heart, he was my first.

The prison is stereotypical grey block behemoth that rises up from the arid ground, multiple fences of barbed wire add to the intimidation they are meant to provide. I have never been in prison before, my heart is racing, and I am sweating something awful, as though I have committed a crime, maybe I have, it is time to face my judgement.

"I'll wait here for you then," Dutch says pulling into the parking lot, I nod, I want to say thank you to him for letting me do this, but my mouth is stuck dry with fear or too much maple syrup. He reads it and much to both our surprises he grabs behind my neck and pulls me close so he can kiss my forehead, "I am proud of you Arthur,"

My heart blooms, acceptance, craving it for so long. I push people away, fearful that they won't want me, that I am not good enough. I am starting to realise if I just let them in, allow them to see the real me and not this perverse concoction of brutality that I try to display maybe I can be loved. I walk towards the gates, taking a glimpse back at Dutch, his bejewelled hand encouraging me forward. I get in line, there are a few people here, a man in a suit with a briefcase barking on the phone, obviously someone's lawyer. A short Hispanic woman with long wavy hair and tight jeans hugging against her curves, she smiles at me, acknowledging the stressed look on my face.

"Is this your first time visiting?" She asks in a half Texas, half Mexican twang.

"Is it that obvious," I chuckle,

"Don't worry sweetie, the guard's bark is worse than their bite, just follow their instructions, and you will be fine." I gulp, quickly patting myself down to check that I haven't been stupid enough to leave anything incriminating on my body. The perimeter is lined with guards with dogs, what if they can smell weed on me, my mind goes into overdrive and panic, sweat pouring down my face as the line is ushered into the waiting area.

It is a slow process, first emptying all items into a tray then walking through metal detectors, nothing goes off. Then a pat-down, the rough hands of a man going up and down my legs while his holstered gun protrudes from his hip is way too salacious not to make my dick twinge slightly. We are then guided through to the visiting area, it is not what I was expecting, open plan like the school cafeteria, the tables bolted down can sit four, we are each shown to our designated tables, informed of the rules on contact and then told to wait. A buzz goes off in the far end of the room, and a door opens, another guard walks through followed by a string of inmates all dressed in the standard orange jumpsuits.

The first sight of him has my heart leaping into my throat, he has changed significantly, his once slender muscled body with slick black hair is now thick brawn almost my size, his hair shaved with tattoos around his neck. It is highly inappropriate, but he looks hot as goddamn hell, a snarling glare written across his face, I suspect that is for me although he hasn't met my gaze yet.

They are lined up along the length of the room, some sort of display of rigid conformity, then they are released to their loved ones. The scrape of chairs moving as they each get up to meet the arms for the mandated timeframe of physical contact, echoes of mum, love, dad, good to see you, fill the room and I wait for him to come to me. I stand, but don't try and touch him, he just nods and offers me to sit.

His brown eyes were almost black, filled with intense sorrow, I study his face, a faint scar divides the lower part of his cheek to his chin, an initiation into prison life I presume. He is quiet, eyeing me up and down, I go to speak but he intercepts before any words pass my lips.

"Boy's I would like you to meet my jail bait," Whoops and hollers fill the air, a few slamming of fists on tables as encouragement. I fucking blush and smile, in jail a man's dick can only enter another man's ass, so him admitting to me being his jail bait is not met with the derision and shock that I have to live with on the outside.

"There's that smile I remember," He says warmly, his charisma still exudes effortlessly from him, and I realise it would be so easy to fall back, allow him in. "What can I do for you, Arthur?"

"I have met someone," I grumble, this isn't what I had planned in my head,

"And.." he takes a sharp breath, "You don't need my permission, you don't expect me to think you been waiting for me?" He challenges, always the same, making statements as though they were questions.

"No," I tremble a little, and he grabs my hand, lightly, sensing my nervousness, "I keep fucking up, and I thought…" I trail off, what did I think, that a man who is behind bars because of me is going to give me all the answers to my own fucked up existence.

"You thought that I might be able to enlighten you on yourself?" He says it jokingly and then leans in, a slam on the table from one of the guards breaks our focus and our moment of tenderness.

"The guilt," I choke out trying to regain some control,

"I got your letter Arthur, I know how you feel about what happened," I lean back in the chair, he read my letter,

"You never responded," I whine a little, thinking all of this could be avoided if he just wrote back, he laughs his warm, seductive laugh,

"Arthur, if I got caught writing back to my fifteen-year-old victim, how do you think that would have looked?" He draws in closer to whisper, "And I was beyond angry with you at the time, for good reason I might add, nothing in my response would have made you feel any better about yourself."

I take in a deep breath, suppose I deserved that, maybe not receiving a letter back was for the best, still hurt though, broke the last threads of my heart allowing it to plunge into darkness, why I can't be healthy with John?

"Why did you agree to see me," I ask if he has nothing but venom for me and has the sense to protect me at his most potent then why now has he let me back in.

"What are you eighteen, the state can't touch me now," He leans back placing his hands against his head to rest on, "Guess I was curious why you wanted to see me?"

"I don't think what we did was wrong?" I huff hoping he feels the same, it was a bond we shared, and no one can break that.

"You goddamn idiot," he chastises lightly. "Of course it was wrong, I shouldn't have been engaging in half the shit we got up to, I was young and impressionable, hell I think I was being groomed by some of those sick fucks and I was eighteen so believe me fifteen is definitely abuse."

I drop my head too ashamed to look at him, my eyes start filling up with tears, I take a sharp breath, stopping myself from releasing those tears, there is no way I am crying in front of a room full of criminals.

"Your problem Arthur is someone did one hell of a number on you, and that wasn't those men that took advantage of you or me, the damage was already there when I found you." Those words stung something awful, "Perhaps I should have asked you, but I knew you weren't ready to talk about it, so here we are." He slaps his thighs almost playfully, snapping my gaze back to his.

"If you are having problems with your boyfriend, I suggest you start with being honest, not about me or this but the real reason you are the way you are." I gulp, all this time I thought he would be mad at me for lying, turns out he knew me better than I thought, better than I know myself, even. "You are one hell of a convincing liar Arthur Morgan, and if this hadn't happened," He flung his arms into there air highlighting his point "We still wouldn't be together,"

"What do you mean?" I clarify, once upon a time I thought we would be for keeps, us against the world.

"How long do you think you could have hidden your age from me, even when you did become legal? What did you think you were going to do invite me over to your sweet sixteen and shout surprise," His tone is cruel, shooting pain through my heart, "That lie is something we would never have gotten over if you want this new relationship to work, stop lying."

I take a moment, withdraw from the conversation, imagine what it would be like to tell John the truth, no one knew the truth, not even Matteo. God, I suppressed it so deep it feels like it happened to someone else, a movie that I watch once and not my actual life. I check the clock, we are only thirty minutes in and I realise this has all be about me, as much as I want to run to the car and go home I need to show Matteo that I have grown into a decent man and I still care for him.

"So, what happened to your face?" Seems like an accessible place to start, go through the physical signs of change before delving into the mental.

"Really, do you care?" He snaps back, his eyes a thunderous pool of angst and emotion, I flinch a little, perhaps he doesn't want me prying, the barrier we built should remain. "I got shanked in the shower the first week I got here," he confirms reading the fear in my body language.

"I thought you would be untouchable with your father being who he is," I try to probe. Matteo's family were the most prominent crime family in the Panhandle, their reach was long, especially in the prison system, most of the guys had several visits under their belt.

"The Corolla crime family don't take to well to child molesters in their ranks, they disowned me, Arthur," I am hit by a freight train of guilt, that old feeling of twisting knots in my stomach, he lost more from this than I ever could have imagined.

"Don't look so defeated you, idiot, it was the best thing that could ever have happened to me," My mouth falls open like I am trying to catch flies, how could losing everything be the best thing ever. "I got my GED, I am training to become a mechanic, and I am no longer answerable to my family, I could be out in a year on good behaviour and free to live my life how I choose."

It was the most upbeat he sounded in the whole conversation, actually glad to be free, gained by being locked up, his redemption. The bell rings alerting us, time is up, we both rise, and he actually comes in for a hug.

"I can come and see you again," I offer, my excited tone more to provide support than anything else; if he has no one else.

"Shut up numb-nut, do you really think I want your ass visiting me reminding me of what I have been missing all these years." My dick twinges, as his big bulky arms wrap around me, security what he always gave me, "Go and convince your new man you are worth the risk, I might see you around when I get out, we can try and be normal friends, go for a beer perhaps."

"I am not old enough to drink" I remind him chuckling

"Fuck you, Arthur," he laughs, and I melt, we used to laugh so much together, I realise we were both living lives we would not have chosen, a port in a storm for each other and now that storm has passed we are free to sail the seas separately.

Dutch is waiting for me, perched on the bonnet of his car, the hot sun making him perspire, he hates the south. "How did it go?" He calls over,

"Better than expected," I confirm smiling,

"Do you want to hang around here for a few days? Reminisce about the good old times," He slaps me on the shoulder encouragingly.

"No, let's go home," I say, winking at him. I have never referred to Annesburg as home, it was always someplace I was forced against my will to live. Dutch and I used to have the most tremendous rows when I told him Texas was my home and as soon as I was old enough, I would go home and never come back to the shit hole Annesberg. From the stupid grin on his face, he appreciates the significance of my request.

Chapter Text

The week was almost over, and I hadn't seen Arthur once. Apart from Abi's little intervention and the tender ache in my ass, I could quite easily convince myself that my whirlwind romance with Arthur Morgan was a fantasy concocted in my lonely little mind. I have always dreamed about him, got lost in my thoughts, panicked when I have been so distracted, I couldn't focus on anything else. Perhaps I have finally stepped over the line, and all of this is just madness, my deranged mind has gone schizo, and I was actually dry-humping my pillow.

There is a strange buzz in the air, not that anything important is happening it's just a random Friday in October, nothing special. Yet everyone is geared up for the weekend making plans, Halloween is just around the corner, and there is talk of a massive blow out party. Not that I would be invited, he definitely would, so I know where he is going to be, I could go and find him. Only if he is not there, I have turned up to a party I wasn't invited to, with people I am pretty sure want me dead. Why is everything so hard, I thought school was the complexity in our relationship we had to navigate, I thought I had the batshit crazy back story, my man sure has layers to him. Thinking of Arthur's layers isn't helping, my cock is twitching something chronic, I can't believe I have had that body riding me all last week, and now it's missing.

I approach the only weirdo that I know who sometimes transcends the lines of popularity, my girl Bridget. She only achieves this because she is the cousin of one Micah Bell and although Bridget loathes to admit it when it suits her, she takes full advantage of being one of the untouchables. She looks at me like I stepped in shit, which I am not offended by because she looks at everyone like that, her top lip curls as though she is sucking her teeth, it really accentuates her bulbous nose.

"Hi Bridget," I say confidently,

"What do you want?" She rakes her eyes over me and stops on my neck, vampire, checking out my not so subtle bruises. They have turned in to black, yellow marks which makes them all the more embarrassing. Every time someone sees them, I want to shout out Arthur Morgan gave them to me, he owns me, I am his.

"Are you going to the party tonight?" Her head bobs back in a comically-stunned kind of way, and I am waiting for her to start cackling. The likes of her would never be seen dead with me and I am not welcome at any party.

"Why?" She returns her head to its normal position, but her eyes are still set at dumbfounded.

"I thought we could go together, as friends." I get the last bit it, in case there are any thoughts in her mind that I might be thinking of more, I hope not. I also admonish myself slightly for using this poor girl as my beard to get into a party so I can find my man.

"John Marston doesn't have any friends," She giggles, which is entirely outside of her usual cold dead persona and has me off guard, great even Bridget is picking on me.

"Forget it," I just wave her off and start to walk away.

"No, you idiot," she weaves her arms around mine and walks at my getting the fuck out of here pace. "I am not saying no one wants to be your friend, plenty of people do, you just don't ever give a fuck about us."

I stop dead in my tracks because what the fuck is she on about. "What do you mean?"

"You are by far the top of the alternative wish list, John, all the kids around here that don't fit in or have to put up with Jocks kicking their ass's worship the ground you walk on because you give zero fucks about what anyone else thinks." My chin is on the floor, there is nothing but sincerity in her eyes. "You have no friends because you chose to have no friends, everyone has been trying for years to break down those walls, but you have proven to be an impenetrable fortress." I cry out with laughter, what a turn of phrase to use the week when my fortress has definitely been penetrated. I am getting all sorts of stares as I almost piss myself, Bridget is bemused, laughing with me as it is infectious but has no idea what has got me so tickled.

"Right," I wipe the tears from my eyes, chucking a bit more, "Meet at seven, and we can go together."

"I would like that very much, Mr Marston," She winks at me which is slightly distributing.

Standing on the driveway, a trail of sweat rolls down my forehead, the house is large, the glass already shaking from the loud thudding of music as streaks of green and blue lights emanate out. I almost grab her hand because crossing this threshold is wrought with danger, she grabs mine instead and shouts come on as we walk up the driveway to the door. Great, Micah is on the porch with some of his rough ass buddies, not the football team, other kids who aren't at our school, turncoat traitor, fraternising with the enemy.

"No, Bridget!" he shouts over to his cousin when he clocks sight of me. "He ain't coming in here,"

"Fuck off Micah," she responds and flips him the bird, I just laugh as he recoils back in his chair. Wow to have the power to dominate Micah Bell, perhaps I was wrong about her, she is the untouchable and Micah is her inferior.

"What have you got on him?" I ask her working out that she probably has access to all the secrets, them being family.

"Enough to keep him compliant," She winks, we head into the main room, all the furniture has been taken out. There is a sound system at the back and a kid on decks, the music is not my thing, but the vibe and the chatter has my blood pumping, this could actually be quite fun. I spot Abi in the corner and give he a little nod of acknowledgment, she looks up from her phone and gives me a curt smile, still not in her good books. I follow Bridget into the kitchen, a bomb of alcohol has already hit every surface,

"What's your poison?" Bridget points to the array of bottles lined up against the wall, from hard liquor to fruity punch concoctions.

"I don't drink," I shout over the sound system,

"Shut up John, everyone our age drinks," She rolls her eyes and gets two cups reaching for the rum,

"My Dad is an alcoholic," I tell her because what is the point in hiding anymore. Perhaps that is why I don't have friends, spent too long in the quagmire of my home life to actually reach out to people, tell them the truth. She fixes a glare on me so hard I can see the cogs whirring, piecing together all the absences, the cuts and bruises that weren't so subtly landed, the get out of class cards to go and see Grimshaw. It's not that I was even trying to hide it, no one had the sense to ask, or was I so aloof and disinterested that no one felt comfortable to inquire, except Arthur.

"Coke it is," she pours my rum into her cup and fills mine with some coke. A bashful smile crosses my face as I am glad it hasn't descended into a therapy session. I don't want to talk about my life right now, all the shit things in it, I just want to have a good time until Arthur gets here and then I am going to claim my man back.

We are dancing, or more Bridget and the others are dancing I am engaging in a self-conscious shuffle. Alcohol obviously dilutes inhabitation, certainly does for my father, he has only ever hit me when he is drunk. I roll my eyes at the thought, crushing the plastic cup that is half full of coke. Is this my life, to miss out and sit on the side-lines because I have been exposed to the wrong side of everything, never going to smoke, cancer in the family, never going to drink, alcoholics in the family, drugs no, got them too. It is time to stop looking at the state of my family as a tutorial of how not to live and start cutting my own path. If I am old enough to have a man's cock in my ass, then I am old enough to have a drink.I grab Bridget by the hand and lead her back into the kitchen.

"Fix me a drink!" I say excitedly,

"Are you sure?" She rakes her eyes over me, and I can't stand the judgement

"I am not my father, got to start living my life." I say a little too profoundly, a yes would have sufficed. She pours us both a dark rum, she doesn't fill hers with coke, but mine is almost a pint glass, "Take it easy if it's your first time, you will get a little buzz, and then you stop, this stuff is all about tolerance and not going wild." I nod, accepting my first glass of alcohol, it tastes divine, honeyed warm cinnamon heat burns down my throat. I can see why the whole world seems to love this stuff, it doesn't taste as grim as I thought it would, just smoothly descends my throat and cuddles the butterflies in my stomach. I can't be drunk already, its just the excitement of tasting it for the first time.

Now I can dance on the floor with my peers, actually cutting loose and enjoying myself. I can't believe I denied myself this experience for so long, that I thought it was stupid and ridiculous how these oafs partied, made art judging them for their ways. I realise what a relaxing experience it is, the worry, the pain that I have carried around with me for years seems to ebb away. I am free from my skin and living in the moment. I stumble a little and giggle with Bridget as we pour ourselves another drink.

"It is good to see you smiling Mr Marston," Bridget puts a loose arm over my shoulder and chuckles,

"It is good to be smiling," I confirm, accentuating my grin, so my pearly whites are on show. Our eyes lock for a moment, in a watery fog of drunkenness. I don't know why, but I am overcome with a desire to kiss Bridget, not in a sexual way, but as a thank you. She has made this night amazing and certainly what I needed. Before I lean in any further blue stormy eyes capture me from the darkness of the hallway.

His bulk is weaving so divinely through the thronged masses, as they shift a path for him, he doesn't take his goddamn eyes from me. I am being consumed with heat and fire, while he is by far the sexiest thing walking, I can feel fear rising in my belly. Just then I sense soft wet lips against mine, my eyes bulge at the sensation and I am too slow to break the intrusion. He stops dead in the doorway of the kitchen, his body stiffening with evident rage, I try and plead wordlessly, not here, don't become a jealous ass now in front of everyone.

"GET OUT!" Arthur bellows so loud, the turntables screech to a halt, all eyes are on him. A few people scurry past him out into the hallway and he slams the door behind them. "You too," His glare pierces through Bridget, the girl could be dead from his ray-gun stare, she grabs her drink and heads to the back garden. Arthur follows her, waits until she is a few paces out, slams the door and locks it, a kid shouts hey when he realises the access route to the booze has been blocked.

I jump a mile from the door slamming, my ass is firmly stuck to the countertop gripping tightly to anchor myself. Sickness churns in my belly as the alcohol and adrenaline fight for dominance, its toss-up whether I scream or vomit. Typical goddamn Arthur, his weight and bulk set to intimidating as he places himself on the island, leaning casually, arms folded and his glare set on me, waiting for an explanation. My eyes dart to him and away, too set on not having an argument in front of all our peers, who are deadly silent, ears probably pressed against the door.

"Well" He grumbles in his thick commanding voice which always managers to irk me, its fine for him to talk to others in that way but not me,

"Well, What?" I say challenging him with the same aggressive tone just a few octaves higher. My eyes snake up his body, his thick thighs pulsing, his chest rippling, he is ready to explode and so am I.

"He's going to kill him, Micah," Bridget screams from behind the door, obviously bolted around the house to try and regain entrance.

"So," Micah says nonchalantly, "I don't see what the problem is,"

"Don't be an ass your whole life," She screams, "I like him and I would like him to be alive,"

"Stop," Abi commands, "Leave them be,"

A clatter of pots rings out, stupid overhead pot rack, genius storage solution. Arthur has picked me up and has me pinned on the island as we assault each other with lips, tongues and teeth. Our hands are everywhere, clawing at our clothes, to much texture and fabric when all I want is skin. His bulging hard-on is so thick on my thigh I could come right there and then.

"Make him stop Micah, you saw the state of him last time Arthur got his hands on him," Bridget shouts out, her voice piercing through the clatter,

"Now come on everyone shows over," Bills booming voice rattles from behind the door. "Just get back to dancing,"

Arthur smirks against my lips; that his power Bill doesn't even like him, but he is running diversion for him to make sure no one opens that door. Abi is probably plastered to the wood, her grip tightened on the handle and then crash everyone jumps.

"What the hell!" A screech of anger fills the room, my eyes are set on the smashed bottle that I accidentally knocked off the island. I slowly bring them up and find so many eyes staring back at us. Mainly the angry piercing brown eyes of one Micah Bell. Arthur is still, his one arm pinned to my side the other clenched around my t-shirt. I have a hand anchored to the island, the other around his neck. This could look like a fight, it has all the heat and anger of one, apart from my legs wrapped so tightly around his hips and our lips are swollen and puffy, fuck.

"Are you a fucking faggot, Morgan?" Micah snarls, a hushed murmuring of anticipation escapes the party goers' lips, this isn't going to be good. I take my eyes from Micah and try to read the rest of the room, Abi is wincing, Bridget quivering, Bill can't even look, this isn't going to be pretty.

"Say it again!" Arthur roars, making me jump more than anyone else. He takes a few steps towards Micah, they are the same build, Arthur slightly taller but he appears to be a giant at this moment.

"Say it again," It is almost a whisper, cold direct and chilling. Micah's anger is leeching from him, a puddle forming on the floor as he realises this isn't going to end well for him.

"Faggot" Micah almost spits it in Arthur's face, the rush of intensity, of fear, the air filled with testosterone has my adrenaline pumping so fast. I throw up over myself. Time stops, and now all eyes are back on me.

"Your girlfriend needs a Bib," Micah says spitefully chuckling to himself, using the break in proceedings to high-tale it out of there. I am sure for certain this isn't over, one on one, Arthur could beat Micah every time, with his cronies Arthur doesn't stand a chance.

"How much have you had to drink?" Arthur scans the mess I have made, I can feel his judgement, he thinks this is all my fault.

"Enough to make me fucking vomit," I shoot back with anger.

"Bill, get me a t-shirt man, I can't take him home like this," My hackles rise as he talks like I am not there, or I am a fucking Baby that needs to be taken care of. Without even asking or securing us some privacy, most eyes are still on us, he reaches over and grabs the hem of my shirt.

"Get the fuck off me," I scream a protest in his face as he tries to pull it over my head, my shaking hands desperately trying to keep the fabric down. We are stuck in a battle of strengths when the shirt rips, and I hear the gasps. My body makes people gasp in horror, I have always been aware of this, why I chose to leave my shirt on, didn't need another confirmation of it tonight.

"John," Arthur mumbles trembling, I push him away from me. He has the manners or the shock to stumble backwards, just enough time for me to make my escape, unlocking the door, my shirt in tatters, I fucking run. Confirming why I John Marston, do not do friends and apparently not boyfriends either.