“all I can do
is stand on the curb and say Sorry
about the blood in your mouth. I wish it was mine.
I couldn't get the boy to kill me, but I wore his jacket for the longest time.”
-Richard Siken, "Little Beast"
Peter’s blood tastes like benediction in your mouth, like blessing, like praise, like Letha’s angel passing his blessing on to you, too. The cut is small on his arm, but you lick at it until his skin is clean, blood-loss pale, and every trace of red gone from his skin and the little brown hairs on his arm are slick with your spit instead of blood.
Your vision goes slightly hazy and the taste of his blood is so much better than anything you’ve ever tasted before. Your own blood is good, enough to get you off, enough to ease the burn in your belly, but in this moment you could bite out his throat just to drink your fill of him and you’re not sure you’d feel guilty.
“Roman, stop it.”
You drop his arm as soon as you realize you are gripping it tight enough that he will have bruises to frame the cut. He is looking it you guarded, like he did in the first days of your tenuous friendship. You back away from him, heart racing, palms suddenly damp and Jesus, if you’re not hard.
“Fuck,” you scream, turning away from him to punch the wall.
Your knuckles are bloody, wet and warm and not as all appetizing as you think they should be. You fall to your knees gripping your busted knuckles and Peter stares at you like he’s never seen you before. Like you’re rabid or a rat or the boy that just sucked blood from his only friend’s arm.
“Fuck, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Jesus, Peter, I’m sorry.”
He doesn’t say anything. You suck the blood off your knuckles but you can’t reach the high you’ve come to expect and the more you taste the sicker you feel, but you’re not sure if it’s the blood or Peter’s eyes on your back that make the bile rise to fill your throat.
The first time you kiss, Peter rubs his stubble across your lips, before turning in to you, like a sunflower towards the sun. You’ve had women fall to their knees for you before, but never had someone look at you like this, like they have so many expectations of you.
Like he expects you to not let him down.
You kiss him back like you’re a drowning man and he is miles of sweet air. You swallow him down, wrap him up in yourself. Suffocate him in your embrace.
You are going to let him down.
You hope he’s prepared for the fall.
Shelley doesn’t exactly tell you she approves of Peter, but she smiles when you mention his name. He is sweet to her, which has endeared him to you more than any kindness he could ever show you.
You’re almost sure that he’s genuine.
You help Shelley brush her wig and you sit with her while she types into her phone how her day was, and the phone reads her message out to you in a voice that is almost entirely different from how you’ve always imagined Shelley’s voice to sound. She smiles almost coyly when she tells you that Peter sat with her at lunch. You elbow her gently, careful not to hurt her and she grins happily.
You hope it doesn’t make you a terrible person that you don’t really want to know if he isn’t.
Watching Peter transform is like the very first horror movie you ever watched with Letha at the tender age of 6, when she laughed at all the gore, high pitched girly giggles, and you held out all the way until the end, and then threw up all over Uncle Norman’s chocolate brown sofa.
It’s incredible and it’s terrifying and you’re almost positive you’re supposed to be a man and watch stoically, but you want to lose your lunch on your black leather shoes and potentially on Lynda’s shoes, too.
His skin splits and the wolf emerges and devours the scraps of your friend’s flesh, and you know it’s him, that Peter is the wolf, but you feel squirmy and unsafe and like you should be mourning the man whose back just split to reveal a beast.
It’s kind of amazing, like the first time you watched Shelley take a breath all by herself.
It doesn’t stop you from covering your shoes with vomit when you realize that the eyes that fell out of Peter’s skull are staring right at you.
You used to cut yourself because it helped ease the ache in your chest where you would keep your feelings if your mother let you have any.
Now you cut yourself for the high, the taste, the crushing hum of lust and comfort and power so strong it washes over you and covers all your senses until you think you are drowning in it.
You’re not really sure there’s a difference.
The first time you fuck, Peter pounds you face to face, scruff burning against your neck while he places kisses on the length of your collarbone and along your jugular. He moves smoothly, jacking you in his big, strong hands, his sweat dripping on you and cock leaking into you.
He isn’t gentle, but he isn’t really rough either. He’s a thorough lover, a considerate one. He asks if every move he makes is okay, doesn’t leave a single mark without your say so. He isn’t gentle but he’s kind.
It makes you want to cry. You cover your eyes to keep that from showing, wrap your legs around his waist to keep yourself anchored. He presses kisses along your ribs, to the big scar on your chest. It’s good, it’s maybe the best anyone’s ever treated you, but it’s all you can do to keep yourself hard.
You try you keep your cool, keep from biting open your own wrist to get off.
You think he probably doesn’t notice.
(You hope if you keep repeating that, it will seem like less of a lie).
You never tell him that you love him.
He never tells you, either.
Your mother hates him more than she has ever hated anyone you’ve socialized with before.
You’ve never had a friend before for her to hate.
Peter is polite to her. He says “yes ma’am,” and “no ma’am,” and he plays scrabble with you and Shelley and he is a perfect gentleman.
Your mother is only just concerned enough with appearance to not outwardly despise him, but it’s a near thing. At first you think it’s because he’s a Gypsy (he has explained to you it’s Roma, but your mother said if you used that word in her house she would kick you to the curb) but you realize soon it’s because you have feelings for him.
And Shelley likes him.
Your mom gives up on a Sunday, storming out a room after telling you to make your own mistakes.
You think she knows that you will.
Letha tells you she might be in love with Peter. She tells you she thinks he feels the same. She says that he came over last night, that he held her hand and her pregnant belly and told her she was beautiful.
You don’t tell her how he fucked you up against a wall last night, how you snorted so much coke you thought you might go blind and how he held you until you came all the way down, and how he stroked your hair and made you tea.
You think once upon a time you loved Letha.
You’re pretty sure if you hadn’t gotten to him first, Peter would have, too.
The first time Peter punches you is after you call him a stupid cheating Gyp.
The first time you punch Peter is after he calls you an easy fucking faggot.
He heals up faster than you do.
You keep grudges better.
The second time you fuck, he breathes heavy in your ear, asks you if like that.
You say, “Of course I do. I’m an easy fucking faggot, after all.”
He doesn’t apologize.
Neither do you.
There is blood in your mouth. You’re not sure if it’s yours or his. He kisses you hard, like it’s goodbye, one last jab, one final “fuck you!” You’re not sure who is leaving, who is kissing the other off.
“I’m not sorry,” he says.
“I never asked you to be.”
He fucks you hard, up against a tree. Too fast, not enough lube, his fist in your hair, your teeth at his neck.
You think this might be what mutually assured destruction feels like.
“I hate you,” you tell him, through a mouthful of blood, and you’re almost sure it’s truth.
Beneath his skin lies a creature clawing at his insides to get out. Maybe to crush you.
“I hate you, too.”
He leaves you in the forest, alone. You don’t cry. You think your car is nearby. You get up, dust yourself off. His jacket is sitting in your backseat, where he left it days ago. You tell yourself you’re going to burn it, but you wrap yourself inside it instead.
When you get home you don’t check for blood because you already know it’s there.
You swallow your own blood down like whiskey.
Your throat is dry and nothing can ease the ache.
You don’t return the jacket.
You always were better at holding grudges.