Well here goes, I really tried :), as always comments are wonderful!
I have a theory that every beautiful person has to have a friend, a less beautiful homely friend, to always be there to assure them of their beauty and perfection. I, unfortunately, have been that friend for my whole life. I have gotten used to it over the years. But it doesn’t lessen the sting every time someone fawns and tells me how it must be wonderful to have such a beautiful man for a best friend. It hurts almost as much as it hurts to pick up the pieces each time he participates in his little experiments. And that’s how he always phrases it. No matter the gender, “I could be persuaded to participate in a little experiment.” He's that insecure. That screwed to hell. But I am always there to pick up the pieces.
I had missed the original proposition but I could imagine it. When Peter came laughing into our tiny student loft I knew it had happened again. He glowed, even more than usual.
“Oh Jax, his accent is perfection.” If it were a movie Peter would have twirled and fallen onto his four poster bed covered in decorative throw pillows. Fortunately this was not a movie, unfortunately it did not make Peter's false happiness any less sickening.
“I'm so glad for you.” My voice was flat, I knew it was and I knew I should try harder to be happy for him, but I couldn't. Even though this time could be the time it worked out. The time that the experiment didn’t end up with Peter falling in love and whoever realizing that the ball of energy and broken glass was so not worth the (supposedly) great sex.
“Why can't you be happy for me?” He's still smiling, but a bit less brilliantly. It's still better than any smile anyone normal would ever dream of having.
“I am, I just don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t think jumping into things has worked for you in the past so maybe taking it slow once wouldn't-”
“Just cause you're a little prude that can't ever let loose doesn't mean that I can't ever have a relationship!” Oh, now he isn’t smiling. But even mad Peter looks pretty good. He doesn't get blotchy like most people, or cry like I do.
“Sorry just saying.” Peter stomps across the loft and begins furiously texting. I can only imagine it is his new amazing love interest. I hope it doesn’t last too long. The longer it lasts the longer Peter is sad. Even though he can somehow sob and look good doing it, I can't stand it when he is miserable. Even if he is an idiot that should realize that he does the same thing each time.
It is amazing that Peter can still love with the wholeheartedly abandon that he does. His mother died a few years ago, when she killed herself. Ever since then his father blames him for everything. His little brother does everything his father does, and recently that has been ignoring Peter unless calling him a dirty whore or other worse things, always Peter shrugged it off. He still insisted on going home and sends his brother presents. He paid for his own college and half of the loft. He didn’t seem to mind that his family was completely alienated from him. But I knew that it bothers him. He had loved his mother with all his heart and he had been the one to find her, wrists slit in the bathtub. There had been no note.
I thought maybe that was why he had so many partners, but even before his mom died Peter had been rather free with his affections. It had gotten worse, after, but not a lot. I almost wrote it off as a part of his personality, but each time it ended he was so hurt. Peter wasn't built for casual relationships, but couldn’t seem to stop hooking up with people that wouldn't commit.
“Jax, you cannot believe what Marc got me!” So that was his name. Over the past month I had learned that this new experiment was an exchange student from France, that he had a wicked accent. I had also learned many things about his anatomy that I had not needed or wanted to know, but up until this point I had not known his name. I hadn’t particularly wanted to know, and I don’t think Peter was a eager to share this Marc with me as he had been to share many of the others, in that way at least, this time was different.
“I have no idea.” Peter held up a necklace. It was really pretty, but looked like something you would most likely get a girl. Not that I had anything against pretty things, it was just that it was a very fine chain, and on it was a tiny fleur de lis with a tiny heart shaped red stone in the center.
“Very pretty.” Peter's face dropped.
“You don’t like it.”
“I told you, I think it's pretty. Plus it doesn’t matter what I think. It's yours from Marc. It has nothing to do with me.” Peter looked a bit pissed at me. I didn’t understand. What did he want me to say?
“Why do you hate Marc so much?”
“I don’t hate him.” Now I was getting upset, how was this my fault, all I was doing was writing my essay for English class that was due tomorrow, I still had a page and a half to write and the whole 20 to edit. “I don’t even know him, I didn’t know his name till two minutes ago. Why do you care so much what I think? You are going to date who you want, and I’m not going to interfere until you get dumped and come crawling back crying. That’s how it's always been what makes you think it will all change now? ” I could feel the tears tickling the back of my throat. Peter looked stunned.
“You really think that's going to happen?” He spoke softly. I shook my head and sniffed. I really didn’t want to do this right now.
“It's pretty. I’m happy for you.” I tried to sound sincere and go back to my essay, but I could tell Peter was still looking at me. I wondered what he was thinking. If he was thinking.
“I've been stupid before. But Marc is different. Really, I think I love him.” I turned to look. Peter was back to glowing, “I think he loves me too. He is so nice to me, he makes me feel so safe and
looked after. He never makes me feel dumb, or like a slut.” Peter's eyes focus on me and for a moment I feel like the worst scum that has ever walked the earth.
“Peter-” He doesn't let me finish.
“Not that you meant to. But, Jax, sometimes I wonder if you like people at all, you never date you don’t have any friends-”
“I like you-” That kind of hurt, I did have friends didn’t I? And Peter was my friend. We had been for years.
“And whenever I go out with someone you look at me each time I come home like you are trying to guess what we did, trying to see if I have some stray semen in my hair.” I flinch- ick, but then I can't help but look up at Peter's hair, luckily the only things I can see are perfectly sun gilded locks tousled by the wind. “Have you even been on a date? Are you straight? Gay? Asexual?” I stare at him. My supposed best, and only, friend.
“How can you not know?”
“Do you know?” Now he doesn’t seem angry. I’m not either, and I don’t know how to answer, so I stay silent. I go back to my essay and hope that this is one of those things that fade into the places between memories never to be seen again.
The morning dawned all too early, I found that the essay I had unhappily finished was actually supposed to be 25 pages and had to stay up all night to finish it. Peter had also stayed up all night, but talking to Marc. The conversation had, luckily, stayed in the pg-13 range, it had also been sickeningly sweet and very distracting. The good thing was that Peter did see to have forgiven me.
“Come have lunch with Marc and me!” he had exclaimed over breakfast. “Then you can see that it is different with him, then you can be happy again.” Peter was so happy about his perceived solution I couldn’t say no. Anyway what was an hour, when they broke up I would have days of Peter telling me how sorry he was and how he should have listened. I could stand one hour hearing how wonderful he was. Or so I thought.
After English I headed to the cafe Peter had told me to meet them at and seated myself at one of the outside tables and sipped a juice. I was still tired from my all-nigher, but coffee didn’t seem like the best idea before the coming ordeal.
“This is Marc!” Peter spoke from behind me. I jumped, completely startled. I didn’t remember the daydream I had been having, but it had been a nice one.
“Bonjour!” said Marc. It seemed a bit forced to me. He spoke perfect English, I had heard it, and I knew that most people didn’t use such formal greetings with peers, even in France.
“Hi, I’m Jackson, I’ve heard lots about you.” I tried to smile. But I’m sure it came off as a bit fake. Whatever we could both be fake, just as long as Peter bought it.
“You are very pretty, you together are a pretty pair.” Marc stepped back and pushed Peter gently so our faces were close together.
“What do you mean?” I asked, no one had ever said I was pretty, it was ridiculous, especially next to Peter.
“Yes, together you are quite pretty.” Marc smiled. I think it is because your dark hair makes Peter's hair look more blond and less brown, yes. You are close in height and build. You would look good together, do you want to have a trois with us, Peter and I?” Marc asked.
“What?” I asked I was pretty sure I knew what he meant but-
“Three, three of us together, in bed, loving, menage? A threesome?”
“We could have out own little experiment,” laughed Peter, “it would be like always, only you would be there.” His eyes lit up. I couldn’t imagine this was happening. I would think it was a nightmare, but I don’t think my mind could come up with something so twisted.
“You seem to be forgetting, that each time you have an experiment, I end up holding you when you cry.” It was a mean thing to say, and Peter looked devastated. But I was sick of this I wasn’t going to be pulled into one of these sick games. I couldn’t be one of the throw away notches, an experience to be remembered and recorded in The Journal. No, I couldn’t do this anymore.
“Peter, I don’t think that would be a good idea. I know it wouldn’t be a good idea.” Peter looked a bit sad, he was probably making excuses for me in his head. I would surely be hearing about this later. I pushed my chair back, I didn’t like the way Marc was still looking at me. “I still have a lot of work to do-” Peter was disappointed that I wasn't even willing to stay to lunch. But after that little conversation I didn’t think it would be that good of an idea. Plus I needed some sleep.
“I can't believe you didn’t even give him a chance. I really Jax, he was just being nice.” The door banged open and Peter swirled in, well walked. It just seemed like he swirled because of the mass of bags he carried. “We went shopping and he even made me pick you out things. You have to come look.” I didn’t want anything that Marc bought. Even if Peter picked it out.
“Peter, you know that really isn’t-”
“Jax, when are you going to stop being a dick?” I stared at him. Peter and I had been friends forever. We had never really fought, but I could tell Peter wasn’t just irritated. He wasn’t just playing. He wasn’t going to pass this off later as tiredness. “Don’t look at me like that Jackson. You know you are being an idiot. Just because the stick up your ass is starting to hurt doesn’t have anything to do with me. I could care less that you are so far in the closet you might as well be in Narnia. It doesn’t mean I want to be. Just because you think anything other than straight missionary with the lights off is gross doesn’t mean the rest of the world is stuck on the Mayflower with you. Oh are you going to cry now? Might as well, maybe that should be your hint you aren’t as straight as the dry spaghetti you are so eager to impersonate.” I did feel like crying. This is what I got for trying to protect my best friend. What could I say to such an attack. Where could I go, what could I do?
“Standing there like a fish out of water really isn’t that attractive Jackson. You are always so bitter about your looks. You aren’t even ugly, you could get a date if you pulled out the stick and maybe smiled once in a while.” Peter didn’t seem angry anymore.
Peter turned to his bags and began digging through, looking for something. He smiled cruelly and held up a small silver object.
“Even Marc could tell how tightly wound you are, in the ten minutes he met you. Found something to loosen you up, even just a bit.” It must have been some sort of plug or vibrator. I couldn’t take it. How could Peter be so mean? Deliberately cruel? I picked up my keys and left the room. Walked down the stairs to the street and along the sidewalk. I didn’t know where I was going except away. Peter and I had never fought, at least not like this. What was it about Marc that made Peter so different? Was I wrong? Maybe this time really was different.
The tears hadn’t fallen, and for that I was grateful. I supposed their glassy redness made me look a bit high, but better high than the numb desolation I was feeling. Peter was the only friend I really had. It was the reason I was still friends with him, the reason I always waited for him to come back after his relationships, even if he ignored me for months. Honestly I was just as messed up as he was. I wandered up the third floor in the library. It was one of the most beautiful places on campus, a great place to think. I settled on one of the window seats and watched the trees outside the window, and finally the tears began to fall.
I sat in the library for hours, waiting to calm down enough to face Peter again, but each time when I would think about seeing his face, all of what he had said came rushing back to me. He couldn't have been saying it all in anger. The most hurtful were things that had been stewing, things that I had done in the past. How had I not noticed before?
Finally exhausted, long after the sun has set, I made myself go back to the loft.
Peter was there, sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream. He didn’t look up when I entered. The silver object still rested by my computer. I ignored it and headed toward my bed.
“Jax?” Peter finally looked up. “I don’t want us to fight.” I shrugged. Peter was good at forgiving and forgetting, I took a bit longer. “Jackson. Don't be a dick.” Peter dropped his spoon and walked toward me. He stopped just in front of me, and I was reminded that he did have an inch and a half on me. It usually wasn’t a big difference, but from this close- it did.
“I'm not, I just want some time to think.” It was true, except I had spent the day thinking and it hadn't helped me at all.
“I'm sorry, I should have known you wouldn’t want a threesome. It was rude of Marc to ask. Can we be over this now?” Peter flashed one of his award winning smiles. A lesser man would have been appeased.
“Peter, it isn't just that.” I took a step back. It was uncomfortable to be so close to anyone, even Peter.
“I know I’ve been a dick too, but come on. You shouldn’t be so surprised.” I frowned, surprised? That Marc though I was pretty enough to fuck? That Peter thought of threesomes and common?
“I don’t know what you mean.” I was really ready to be left alone. It was impossible to express to Peter that his way of life wasn't quite as normal as he seemed to think, that his actions would come back to haunt him. That had remained the same for all the years I had known him. He never learned from his mistakes.
“I think you are gorgeous.” Peter leaned closer to me, I turned my head. I couldn’t do this, now or ever.
“Please? I’ve loved you for years. No one can replace you. When you left I didn’t know what I would do if you didn’t come back.” Peter's eyes were open and clear of deceit and malice, as they always where. But just because he didn’t mean to cause harm didn’t mean he wouldn’t.
“Peter I-” I didn’t know what to say.
“I am always sad after a breakup, but I always know that you will be there to make it better. I think I am a bit relieved when it ends, because I know I’ll have your full attention, for as long as it takes for me to feel better. I know I shouldn’t be so selfish. I know I should listen to you more, but each time I meet someone, I wish they were you. I wish I could have waited for you. But when I realized how much I loved you, that the difference between what I felt for you and all the others was love not friendship, it was already too late. I don’t even know what you like, you never date. I would always imagine when you left parties early, alone, that it was because you couldn’t bear to be with anyone other than me. That it wasn’t because you hated the music, or the party was in a gross basement, or that some drunk person was all over you threatening to puke. I couldn’t bear for you to reject me. But more so I didn’t want to loose your friendship.” Peter was so close to me. I could feel his breath against my face. He smelled like chocolate and caramel.
“Were you eating my ice cream?” My mind was so behind, I though through all the years, breakups. How many times I had wondered what was wrong with me that others didn’t like me, but Peter the most perfect of them all did?
There were tears forming in Peter's eyes, he was so close.
“That's all you can say?” He sniffed and pulled away from me. “I'm so sorry. I knew I would ruin this somehow. I can leave if you want the loft. I paid through the rest-” I didn’t know what I was doing, but I couldn’t live without my best, only friend. It had been a crazy week of ups and downs and I couldn’t take one more down, it would break me.
Before I could think I leaned forward and kissed him. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I couldn’t let him leave, I didn’t have the words yet. I felt Peter's soft gasp against my lips. I began to pull back, but he wasn’t having any of that. I felt the wall against my back, the coolness of the smooth paint a contrast to Peter's warm body and velvet tongue brushing against my lips. What had I started?
I wrapped my hands around Peter's chest for security, and he hugged me tighter to him. My head was forced against the wall, and somehow it felt amazing. I felt one of his hands sneaking under my t shirt, and the tickling sensation made me gasp. How could such a simple touch feel so good. I gasped into his mouth and arched my back. The nervousness I imagined feeling in my first kiss was absent, and everything was about what felt good.
Peter's kisses stole my breath, and he had my shirt off and on the floor before I could process what was happening. As I was going to protest he pressed back against me and the wall against my back and his soft shirt against my chest stole the protests from my lips. My own hands tunneled under his shirt, his skin was so smooth, he felt like sunshine. I moaned into his mouth and he took the opportunity to slip his tongue past my lips. I felt his smile and I gripped him tighter. I never knew how much feeling a mouth could experience. Peter ground his hips against mine and liquid heat shot up my spine. I was harder than I had ever been before. I couldn’t imagine being more turned on, then Peter ran one of his hands up the leg of my pants to rest just below my pubic bone, I shuddered, it was so, so close to where I wanted to be touched. Each movement of his hand brought me closer to the edge. I had never cum with another person, I had never gotten close, The intensity frightened me, but I couldn’t bring myself to step away.
Peter kissed his way down my neck and I arched under his touch, hitting my head against the wall, my knees were shaking, only the pressure of Peter's body kept me upright. As he traveled down my neck he slowed, licking , and nibbling, and kissing down my chest. When he blew on one of my nipples a drop of precum dripped into my underwear. I couldn't imagine lasting much longer without orgasm, and Peter seemed to sense this.
“Come on, I can't hold you up forever!” Peter slip his hand from between my legs and nudged me toward my bed. His blond hair was tousled, his eyes bright. I licked my lips and he moaned. “I knew you'd melt eventually.”
Each step hurt I was so painfully hard. The bed looked so far away. I pulled Peter down to the floor with me and began fighting with his pants. He quickly stripped me out of mine, then finished undressing himself, I was whimpering and dripping and hindering him more than helping. He laughed at my eagerness then pushed me onto my back.
“Knees up.” I obeyed without thinking. First he blew on the tip of my erection and the sensation was more than I could bear. I tried to push away from him, but he pinned my hips and licked me root to tip. My muscles froze and my heart stopped. I tried to scream but didn’t have the breath. With another laugh Peter took me into his mouth and began to suck. I gripped his hair as tightly as I was able and tried to push in as deeply as I could. Each giggle or moan from Peter's mouth turned my spine into a tuning fork. I felt an explosion was imminent, but right before it truly became too much Peter pulled away.
“No, please, so close!” I whined and twisted, trying to force his head back. Peter merely smiled and pushed my legs closer to my chest and disappeared behind them. I held my breath waiting for what he would do, and when his tongue touched my most private place I couldn’t hold back any longer. Streams and streams of white decorated my chest, and long after they stopped my orgasm continued. I Lights spun behind my eyes as I felt Peter's velvet tongue cleaning my stomach and chest. His hand petted my sweat soaked hair from my face. I opened my eyes to him smiling at me.
“Intense?” He asked, I could only nod.
After a few moments of basking in Peter's borrowed glow, I began to itch, my mind turned back on. How could I have crossed that boundary, when you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone you both have. Peter had done so many things with so many people, how would I be different? How could I deal with knowing I was probably in the triple digits just from touching him?
“Peter?” I asked. He propped himself up on an elbow to look down on me. “What are we doing?”
“I'm loving you.” He smiled, “what do you think? I want you to feel better than you ever have. Did I succeed.” He looked so happy.
“Love isn’t just sex you know.” He nodded. I rubbed my nails up and down my arms, trying not to think. The skin began to redden. I didn’t stop.
“I know, it's just a way to show it. And it's fun.” I sat up to look at him easier.
“Peter.” He seemed to suddenly understand.
“You can't leave after that. You have to stay, at least think about it, I can be better, I would be faithful to you, I love you more than anything.” He gripped my hands. I pulled it away gently. And went back to scratching. I had to distract myself. It had been so long since I had an attack. I had forgotten how to stop one.
“What about Marc?” Peter's brow clenched.
“I didn’t think about that, but he will be okay.” Peter sat up too. “All that matters is that you are here with me now. I want to teach you everything, let you feel everything.” Everything he had done with others. I felt dirtier, thinking of all the places his mouth had been, how many germs there could be. I shivered for a completely different reason.
“I need a minute.” I went into the bathroom and set up a shower. I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste, and began to brush. I shouldn’t have started, now I couldn’t stop.
“Jax? Jax, you've been in there for 20 minutes, isn’t the water getting cold.” It was, but I wasn’t clean yet. The toothbrush was still in my mouth and I was working on the 7th round of body wash, I still didn’t feel completely clean. I rinsed my mouth out with the lukewarm shower water and spit pink blood tinted foam down the drain. My gum's may have been bleeding, but my teeth still weren’t clean.
“Almost done.” Just a few more rinses.
The doorknob turned, the shower door was glass and there Peter was, dressed only in a pair of tight dark blue briefs. I could see he was still hard. I grabbed the soap, time for another rinse.
“Jackson, stop.” He took a step toward me.
“Stop!” the toothbrush almost dropped out of my mouth, I held the sponge up like a shield. I was glad the shower doors were still steamy, I didn’t want him to see me naked.
“Jackson, your panicking. You just need to stop.” I shook my head frantically. I wasn’t panicking, I just couldn’t get clean.
I screamed when Peter opened the shower door and turned off the water, a bit of bloody saliva dripped to the soapy shower floor.
Peter held out a clean white towel, I couldn’t help picturing all the things it may have wiped up. I imagined germs hiding in the soft white weave, little sperm cells just waiting to dirty my skin. I choked on a sob.
“It's not clean.” I fumbled for the water to turn it back on.
Peter left the tiny bathroom and I sobbed harder, icy water fell on me, and I upturned the nearly empty body was container over the sponge and began washing again.
The skin under my fingernails was turning purplish when Peter returned, with him was a medic from student services. My heart began to pound. My mom often threatened to send me to treatment, but she would never do it, the school might. My throat threatened to close.
“I'm not crazy.” Great way to start, that was what the crazy people said, “It's just not clean, and the towel is dirty and-” The medic pulled a clean towel from a plastic wrapping and held it out to me.
“No one thinks you are crazy sweetie,” she said. “We just don’t want you getting too cold in the shower.” I took the towel from her hands, happy to see the gloves covering her hands. “That's it, time to get you tucked in.”
Ten minutes later I was tucked into bed, with clean sheets, with a hot cup of tea and two Xanax. I was still shivering, and still didn’t feel quite clean, but much better than before. Once she was certain I wasn’t going to do anything stupid, and making Peter promise to watch me, the medic left.
“You should see your psychiatrist to talk about this.” She had told me before leaving. “The school can't do anything unless you ask for help, but you should talk to someone.” I had nodded, relieved that this wasn’t going on some record.
“I made her promise.” Peter whispered after she shut the door. “That nothing would happen to you. I know you don’t want anyone to know.” I nodded and held my cup tighter. I tried to not think of all the germs on Peter's skin, but I couldn’t help it.
“Maybe you should shower?” I whispered, not wanting to offend. With a shake of his head, Peter went to take his very first cold shower.
“I didn’t think this would happen, I didn’t think.” Peter was wrapped in a bathrobe with a towel on his head. He perched on the very edge of my bed. “I just wanted you to feel what I do.”
I nodded, it had been years since I had had an attack. Peter had talked me out of a few.
“I know, I didn’t think either.” I tried not to think about attacks at all, if I though about it too long I began to think of the germs, so thinking about them was almost a sure way to have one.
“Maybe we could try in the shower.” Peter smiled trying to make his words into a joke, but I knew he was at least partly serious, I hadn’t reciprocated, and Peter was notoriously bad at self restraint- he was probably hurting by now.
“How do you know this is even a good idea? I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to-' I gestured vaguely toward his crotch, “and you-”
“We can work it out, plus there are lots of really clean things we could do.” I didn’t want to think about it anymore. Or all the “clean” thing Peter had probably tried. I was getting unbearably sleepy, and I had to brush my teeth after the sugary tea. I slipped off the bed, tiptoeing to avoid touching too much of the ground.
Peter trailed me to the bathroom. I imagined him as a golden retriever puppy and laughed, it was perfect. So sweet, so loyal, so eager to please and yet so misguided.
“Peter I am trying to tell you, I can't do this right now. I have to think. Not for five minutes, not for a night. I really don’t know if I can do this with anyone, never mind my best, only, friend.”
“Oh” Peter whispered and retreated from the bathroom. “I think I understand.”