Brian was riding bitch in the back of some football player’s Camry, despite having the longest legs of his fellow passengers. With every bump in the road or turn they took, his knee brushed against the guy to his right, the friction warming him up in the heat-less car. It didn’t go unnoticed that the guy to his left was uncomfortably contorted against the car door rather than touch the fag’s knee.
“Getting nervous, Brian? It might be dangerous,” Kyle asked from the front seat. Brian’s head popped up, ready to respond, when a voice rang in his right ear.
“Not a bit. Danger’s my middle name,” McCook responded. Brian couldn’t get used to his name being Brian too, had called him McCook in his head before they’d even attended the same party that evening, by some joke of the universe. Was their town so small that the theater losers were somehow mingling with both the jocks and the goths? What kind of ABC Family bullshit his life had become.
“Whatever dude,” the driver scoffed.
They were on their way to the cemetery to fulfill McCook’s round of Truth or Dare, and Brian was silently contemplating how soon he could leave the party without being called lame after they returned. Between the skunky beers some of the guys had been drinking and the escalation of dares, Brian was beginning to feel as much of the pussy as they had told him he was all through middle school. He’d really only come out to the party because his friend Rachel had wanted to come, and she’d promptly abandoned him once they arrived.
“Any chance you wanna join me?” vibrated near his shoulder. When he turned to look, McCook’s head was bowed down, eyes lifted up and looking at Brian through blonde eyelashes.
“Hell no,” Brian laughed, resisting the urge to cover his mouth and hide his teeth, “There is no way I’m streaking across a cemetary.”
“It could be fun. Live a little,” McCook grinned, his shoulder bumping into Brian’s arm, probably because of a bump in the road.
“No thanks, I’ll just watch.” Brian’s ears turned pink, grateful for the darkness in between the sparse street lights.
“Promise?” When he smiled, every single one of his perfectly straight teeth revealed themself individually, almost as if he was purposefully grinning like the goddam Cheshire cat.
“That’s not what I meant,” Brian stammered.
“You can watch, I won’t mind.” The car slowed to a stop, and the kid to Brian’s left was already barrelling out the door. McCook didn’t move. “I love to put on a show.”
“Oh my god, clearly,” Brian huffed, shoving himself away from the kid that had literally been rumoured to drink his own blood, and out into the cold.
McCook joined them quickly, already shucking off his shirt and kicking off his shoes. Brian purposefully looked out towards the treeline that backed up to the cemetery, and not to where his classmate was now wiggling out of his jeans.
“Hey,” Brian turned to see McCook’s white, blindingly insanely white, skin glowing everywhere except where his hand was cupped around himself, and the faint shadow of hair that fuzzed behind it, “Wish me luck.” His eyes, blue and brighter than the stars above, were locked onto Brian’s.
“Fuck you,” he scoffed. McCook shrieked out a laugh and took off running. The other guys cheered him on as his spindly legs took him effortlessly down the pathway between the graves.
With his back to them, he released both arms up into the air, whooping and wiggling as he ran at top speed. Brian clenched his toes in his sneakers at the way his little ass jiggled with each step. He turned a corner, and as he sprinted closer, Brian’s eyes narrowed, trying to zoom in on what he couldn’t yet see.
“Sick, dude!” Kyle shouted. McCook laughed, mouth wide open, and cupped himself again as he approached.
“Fuck, it’s cold,” he complained, teeth chattering as he stepped back into his boxers. Brian took a step backwards.
“Did a ghost get your dick?” someone asked.
“Yeah, it was your mom, she said she liked yours better,” McCook replied, zipping his pants. Brian laughed, finally feeling able to look towards the group again.
“Your turn to pick, bro.”
“Yeah, sure. Can we go back to the party though?” McCook asked, pulling his shirt on as he stepped into his shoes, “I’m hungry now. The ghosts took all my nutrients.”
They loaded back into the car, and it wasn’t until McCook’s knee was back, firmly against Brian’s, and the car was in gear, that he said, “Firkus. Truth or dare?”
Brian sputtered, coughing with his mouth closed. Neither was a safe choice coming from him. But there was something in the guy’s eyes earlier, that made Brian feel like he knew him already, too well. He didn’t want to give him the chance to get to know him any better.
“Dare, I guess. But no more cemetary shit. I want to stay at Kyle’s house.”
“Sure, sure,” McCook shrugged, “Let me think for a second, I dropped my wits somewhere in the memorial gardens section.”
Brian moved his leg away from McCook’s, but the next turn in the road, they were pressed together again. He repeated the action, trying to distance himself from the guy who held his fate at this party in his hands, the hands that were just cupping his naked dick. But McCook’s knee met his again, this time with a soft chuckle accompanying it. Brian felt like he was playing gay chicken, and of all people, was somehow losing.
“I know, once we get back to the house, you have five minutes to convince someone to swap clothes with you, or else you have to be naked for five minutes of the party.”
Brian rolled his eyes, but inside, the pit of his stomach twisted.
“What is it with you and nudity?” He moved his knee again, this time to the point that he was touching the guy on the other side of him. McCook threw his head back in laughter.
“We’re all born naked,” he explained, stretching out so that his leg was pressed firmly against Brian’s.
“Fine.” The rest of the ride, Brian stubbornly kept his leg as still as possible, letting the weird, pale kid jostle around in his seat and bump into him as much as he wanted.
As soon as the car parked, Brian scooted out of the backseat, rushing to find anyone who he wouldn’t be embarrassed to approach for this favor. He didn’t have many guy friends, any guy friends, and honestly wasn’t too comfortable with the senior class as a whole. His friend group at this point was composed of lower-classmen who had not yet realized theater was lame. He spotted the back of Rachel’s head and rushed over, grabbing her by the forearm and dragging her into the nearest closed room.
It wasn’t until he had to open the door and reveal his new outfit that he saw his mistake. Looking down, Brian was wearing a red babydoll top that somehow made him look pregnant. Rachel’s black leggings were shiny, as if the look she’d gone for was leather, but ended up with more of a vinyl vibe. His dick was barely concealed by the hem of the top, and he was sure his ass was completely out.
“Tick tock,” a voice rang out, likely McCook’s, “You ready sweetheart?”
“Fuck you,” Brian responded, pushing the hysterical Rachel aside to open the door. She hadn’t stopped laughing since he wiggled into the leggings.
“Oh, my god, you look beautiful!” A crowd was gathered around, and they erupted into laughter. Brian, ever the showman, pretended to toss his hair over his shoulder and wiggled his chest as if he had breasts there. Rachel, always good at following his lead, strolled out with more machismo than Brian had ever put forth in his jeans and hoodie. Brian threw out a little curtsey, playing into the laughter to overcome his embarrassment.
“Satisfied?” He tossed towards McCook, not wanting to meet his eyes.
“You have no idea.” Brian stepped back into the room, pulling Rachel by the hood to do the same. Slipping back into his clothes had never felt so good, and when he was finally back in the main room, he noticed McCook hovering, drinking a Diet Coke.
“You could have just asked to trade with me.”
“I’ve seen enough of you naked tonight, thanks.” Brian brushed past him, reaching for a soda as well.
“If you say so,” McCook shrugged. “For what it’s worth, you looked hot.”
Brian wheeled around, eyes wide, but McCook was already walking away.
Kyle’s kitchen counter was crowded with varying bottles, and Brian poured himself a drink while keeping an ear open for the sound of any familiar voices. He was trying studiously hard to not think about the last time he was at Kyle’s house for a party, right before they’d graduated. He wasn’t sure why he’d come to the makeshift reunion, but he’d told himself it was better than staying at home and avoiding talking about his dating life so far in college. He hadn’t talked to many of the people he’d graduated with in the past six or so months, and didn’t know why he expected this night to be any different. He poured a second splash of vodka into his cup to manage his anxieties.
“Brian, hey!” Fuck. He replaced the bottle, not bothering to put the cap back on.
“Oh, hey Brian, how have you been?”
“Oh you know, a little here, a little there. How’s school treating you?” McCook’s face was open, pleasant, and he hopped up on the countertop next to where Brian stood.
“Pretty good. It’s nice to be away from here, ya know?” Brian took a slow sip of his drink, grimacing slightly against the taste.
“Totally. It’s like, you find a town with more than 300 people, and you can start to find some like-minds. You’re studying theater, right? I’m sure you get it.” He talked with his hands more than Brian remembered, slinging his Diet Coke around loosely, but Brian bristled at the implication as soon as it clicked.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” His teeth were clenched, and talking through them was a conscious choice.
“You know, must be a couple of fags in the theater department. Must be nice to--”
“You don’t have to be an asshole,” Brian interrupted.
“Oh shit, sorry, are you not gay?” McCook’s face paled, “My bad, I just always--”
“It’s none of your business.”
“-- and I saw you doing Rocky Horror so I just--” McCook kept going.
“What does it matter to you anyway,” Brian demanded. McCook’s eyebrows shot up, exposing even more of his blue eyes, somehow only enhanced by the purple hoodie he was wearing.
“Oh, me too! I’m gay too, or at least probably,” he shrugged, “Maybe bi. I don’t know, but somewhere in the cocksucking family, for sure.”
Brian simply closed his eyes, as if he didn’t see him, he didn’t have to respond. He took another drink.
“Anyway, I told my family yesterday, and it was awesome. I feel like I want to tell every single man I meet on the street just to see if he’ll let me suck his dick. Have you told your family yet?” He pushed on, as if Brian had confirmed that he was-- or that he didn’t-- as if there was--. He had a large gulp, used the time it burned down his throat to debate how honest he could be.
“No, I haven’t. It might.... Be dangerous,” Brian hesitated.
“I love a little danger,” McCook giggled, his face lighting up as he smiled.
“Not, not like this,” Brian said, unsure of how to proceed.
“Oh, shit. Okay, well,” McCook patted down his pockets, and pulled out an honest to god notebook and pen. He must have seen Brian’s bewilderment, because he grinned that wide, white smile and said, “Art school, baby. Here, write down your number or your skype or whatever. I’ll give you mine. That way if you ever want to talk to any other like-minded fags, you’ll know where to find me.”
Brian took the pen from him and did as requested, head fuzzy with vodka and the adrenaline rush of someone understanding him and the smell that filled the air when McCook moved.
“We should be friends. I was planning on leaving, but I’ll message you, okay?” McCook said, ripping off a piece of paper with his info on it. Brian nodded dumbly, not stepping back as McCook hopped down off the counter and into his personal space.
“You’re not staying for a round of truth or dare?” Brian teased, courage finally starting to flow, as he walked away.
“Nah, not tonight. See ya around, Brian.”
They hadn’t actually seen each other around. They’d messaged, and become buddies on Skype, and had in the past year somehow become pretty close friends. He had become close with lots of people at his school, but it had been Brian who he’d turned to when he broke up with his first boyfriend, Brian who had gifted him a year’s subscription to Sean Cody for his birthday, Brian who had kept him company while he sat in front of a mirror and practiced gluing down his eyebrows.
In fact, Trixie was just finishing up becoming Trixie , flapping his hands to dry his lashes onto his face faster, when the Skype tone interrupted his playlist. He clicked over and accepted the call from Brian without a second thought.
“Hi, hello,” Brian’s voice connected faster than his picture, just a pixelated blob of beige.
“Hey, I can’t stay on for too long, I’ve got plans later,” Trixie announced.
“Booked and busy, Barbara.” Brian’s face materialized, sharp and pale as always, but his wild eyes were looking down. Without seeing his eyes, Trixie always found it hard to decipher how much of Brian’s zany voices and one-liners were for humor versus a coping mechanism for something else.
“What are you doing?”
“I fell into a bush when I was running from a security guard earlier, and that motherfucker had thorns so I’m trying to get them all off,” Brian explained, as if this was a common occurrence. Maybe it was for him, Trixie reasoned. Brian glanced up, and Trixie saw the double-take, almost comical with the delay that Skype produced.
“Wow, you look incredible,” Brian said, soft and full of wonder.
“Thanks,” Trixie brushed the compliment away, “Can we go back to the running from the security guards part?”
“Oh, it was nothing. A few friends and I decided it’d be funny to climb the student center. And it was! But the guard I almost peed on didn’t agree.” His face was gleeful, lit up like a fireworks show. Trixie’s heart thunked in his chest.
“I cannot afford to bail you out of jail, Brian.”
“Looking like that, I think you’ll make lots of money tonight,” he teased. Trixie rolled his eyes and stepped away to grab the wig he’d spent the afternoon styling.
“Oh my god, look at you,” Brian exclaimed when Trixie sat back down, but he was distracted by the sight on his own computer of Brian, shirtless and more muscular than Trixie would have expected.
“Sorry, I got some thorns on my shoulder too I think,” Brian explained, twisting in his seat to see his arm. Trixie didn’t respond, stuck staring instead, watching as Brian squeezed at his skin, poking and prodding.
“Does it hurt?” Trixie asked.
“No, it’s not too bad. I had a great fucking time.”
“Please be careful. I don’t like the idea of you getting hurt.”
“You big softie! I’m glad we’re friends” Brian laughed, “I’m fine. Just out here chasing the thrill of life, mama.”
Trixie’s cell phone rang, and he ended the call with Brian so he could finish getting ready for another night at the club.
Time passed as it was prone to do, but Trixie really only measured it in the skype calls or texts between him and Brian. April wasn’t just April, it was the month Brian sprained his ankle. June wasn’t the first month of summer, it was the month that Trixie had travelled back and forth between Chicago and Milwaukee for drag gigs, constantly trying to find a connection that could get him a gig in Boston. September was the month that Brian had his art show; October had been filled with the two texting pictures of themselves in exceedly avant garde Halloween costumes. He hadn’t meant to do that, hadn’t meant to become so focused on their friendship, on Brian. He’d meant to start dating again, but it was so much more fun to spend time on his laptop with Brian.
Now, it was Christmas break, Trixie’s last one of college before being thrust into the real world. He was dancing with the line between buzzed and drunk at the local bar, with his cell phone in his hand, considering clicking on Brian’s name. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say, but he had a lot to say, for sure.
“Trixie? Brian? Is that you?” Trixie wheeled around, recognizing that voice even without the tinny laptop speakers distorting it.
“What are you doing here, bitch?” Trixie rushed to stuff his phone back into his pocket, hoping he hadn’t already dialed Brian.
“Had to get out of the house,” Brian wrapped a single arm around Trixie’s back, squeezing him in for a hug, “What about you? I thought you’d stay in Milwaukee for the break!”
“No, I’m here with Rachel,” Trixie glanced around, “Or I was, until she ran into someone and left me to go dance with him.”
“Oh my god, it’s so good to see you!” Brian said, pulling him in for another hug. He smelled… warm, like soft sheets, and Trixie tamped down the urge to nuzzle into his neck.
“C’mon, sit, sit,” Trixie reclined back on his stool, kicking one out for Brian.
“Catch me up, bitch! What have you been up to?”
Trixie dove headfirst into a story, and it was easy to continue rambling, words falling from his mouth faster than he gave them permission. He accepted Brian’s offer to buy him a drink, and his cheeks burned every time Brian’s laughter made him lean back, grabbing onto Trixie’s forearm for support.
“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” Brian announced, squeezing Trixie’s bicep twice as he stood up, “Stay out of trouble.”
He could still feel everywhere where Brian had touched him that night, tingling hot like a day old sunburn, his arm, his hand, his knee. It made no sense, but then again, it sort of made perfect sense. Without overthinking it, he stood up, wobbly after that last drink, and followed the trail Brian took towards the bathroom.
Thankfully, they were alone in there. Brian stood at the sink, washing his hands, and when their eyes met in the mirror, Trixie didn’t hesitate to grab him by the back of his jacket and yank, towards the single stall in the men’s room, pulling Brian in after him and shutting the door behind them.
“What, Bri, wha-” Brian stumbled, laughing light and loose.
“Let me suck you off,” Trixie said, breathless at just the thought. He was already half-hard from their interactions at the bar, and wanted desperately to see if Brian was too.
“What? No, honey,” Brian tried to catch Trixie’s hands, which were roaming down his firm, rock hard, honestly what the fuck, chest and abs, successfully twisted their fingers together before Trixie could catch at the zipper of his jeans, “No, not here, c’mon, not like this.”
“I thought you liked danger, c’mon, let me suck your dick, I need it,” Trixie heard himself whining and actively ignored it. Maybe Brian didn’t notice.
“Yeah, a little danger, not a full on hate crime. Stop, let’s go back to the bar, get you some water.” Trixie froze, finally hearing the rejection, the risk that he was putting them both in.
“Actually, I’m just going to go home,” he said, pushing past him and out into the bathroom.
“Let me drive you,” Brian insisted, latching onto Trixie’s arm before he could get further. Trixie hated the way his skin tingled with the touch. Suddenly, it was all too much. The smell of the urinal cakes, the bright lights above the mirror, the care in Brian’s voice. He knew he couldn’t drive, and didn’t know if Rachel was still there to take him home, so he simply sighed and nodded.
They didn’t speak in the car, and Brian didn’t put the radio on to make it any easier. Trixie looked out the window, cycling back and forth between not wanting to cry and thinking that if he cried while looking out the window of a moving car in the dark, he’d be the star of a very emo music video about heartbreak. Not that this was heartbreak.
When the car rolled to a slow stop outside his house, he chanced a glance back at Brian, whose eyes pierced into him, a worry line deep between his eyebrows.
“I’m glad we’re friends, Brian,” he said, reaching his hand out to touch Trixie’s arm. Trixie instead fumbled with the seatbelt, getting out of the car without a thanks. He didn’t look back while he struggled with the lock, but he could tell that Brian was still there, waiting for him to get inside safely before he left.
It was New Year’s Eve, and Trixie had zero plans. He had argued with Rachel after she abandoned him at the bar, didn’t have a bus ticket back to Milwaukee for another few days, didn’t dare bring his drag home with him, and was stuck in the house with his younger sister. They were watching the Times Square broadcast, and Trixie had filled himself to the brim with cheese puffs and other assorted snacks. He was so blitzed out on carbs that he didn’t even notice his phone ringing until a rough nudge by his sister’s elbow alerted him to it.
It was Brian.
They hadn’t talked since the night at the bar. Brian had reached out once or twice, but Trixie was too embarrassed to respond. Panicked, Trixie sent him to voicemail.
It rang again. He knew Brian, knew that he wasn’t going to get away with sending him to voicemail twice.
“Hey, are you at your mom’s house?”
“Uh, yeah. Look, I am so sorry for--”
“Come outside!” The line went dead. Trixie stared down at the “call disconnected” message before his body took action ahead of his brain. He stomped into boots and tossed on a coat before trudging through his back door and around to the driveway, where Brian was sitting on the hood of his car.
“What are you doing?” Trixie called, still making his way to him in his unlaced boots.
“I can’t stop thinking about the other night at the bar,” Brian said, sliding down from the hood.
“I’m so sorry about that, I’m a dumb drunk,” Trixie defended, crossing his arms as he came to a stop, a few feet in front of where Brian stood.
“I just didn’t know that was an option. For us.” Brian’s eyes were dark blue, nothing but the glow from the windows to reflect in them.
“What do you mean?”
“Look, I’m so glad we’re friends. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and while I am constantly distracted by the thought of fucking you, I don’t want to ruin what we have.” Brian was exasperated, as if he’d explained this all to him before.
“What? Brian, what?” Trixie demanded.
“It just seems risky, to jeopardize our friendship,” Brian shrugged.
“Risky,” Trixie repeated, “Dangerous, even.” A small smile tugged at his mouth, and he saw it mirrored in Brian’s face.
“Don’t,” Brian warned, lips already curling in a grin.
“I thought you liked danger,” Brian pitched his voice lower, taking a step closer to him. The fog from their breaths in the cold air mingled.
“I don’t want to ruin this,” Brian’s voice held none of the conviction that his words did, and Trixie could see the way eyes kept darting down to his lips.
“Ruin it. I dare you.” Trixie challenged. Brian closed the distance before Trixie could finish his words, hands tight around Trixie’s face and pulling him in, their lips crashing together, soft but rough. Trixie pulled him close by the hips, warm and strong, even through layers of winter gear.
“Fuck, I’m so glad we are friends,” Brian laughed, his breath hot on his lips. Trixie leaned in for another kiss.