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Bloodflowers Excerpt 11*

July 1, 2013

*Brutally unedited. It’s 3am. I’m finally going to sleep.

 

I’m sitting at the bar and kicking ass in a game of Funky Monkey on a Megatouch machine when TGB shows up. Get ready, B., thinks Dave. He’s here.

“I can see that,” I respond. “He’ll be here all night. I want to finish this game.” I refocus on the screen and I’m about to start the third round, almost assured of a new high score (and subsequent free game) when a large hand covers the screen. “What the hell?”

I turn, looking to see who is attached to the offending hand, and I’m not very surprised at all to find that it’s TGB. My stomach flip flops on Dave’s behalf; for my own part, I have to quash the urge to smack the hand away and ignore TGB, but Dave chides me: It’s just a stupid game. We smile at TGB, and time runs down quickly on the round. High score busted.

“Fancy meeting you here,” I say to him.

“I don’t recall ever seeing you here before,” he replies. “Yes. Fancy that. Earlier tonight, you looked like you might throw up at James’ feet. Feeling any better?”

I can’t tell whether he’s being sincere or sarcastic in asking how I’m feeling, but before I can think about how to answer, Dave jumps in for me with another smile. “I am now,” he tells TGB.

Jesus, David, I grimace. Obvious much?

TGB half smiles. “So, uh, are you here to kick my ass?” he asks bluntly. He’s got about half a foot on me, and even though I’ve been trying to live a healthier life recently, and even though he’s pretty damn skinny, I’m still pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to take down someone TGB’s size.

“No,” Dave says. “Actually, I figured I’d press my luck tonight and see if you were here and see… well, see how you were doing.” He and I both suddenly feel like stalkers.

See? I think to him. You shouldn’t just invade people’s heads. We look ludicrous. He has no clue who I am, no clue that you even exist if he even remembers who you were, and yet we know exactly where to find him. Can we please leave before this gets really embarrassing?

Dave shushes me with a mental sigh. No. Trust me. It’s fine. I’ve got this. And he most definitely knows who you are. He thinks you’re awesome. Or did you forget that you’re famous?

“Yeah, I’m here, and I’m fine,” TGB says to us. “What of it?”

“Then it’s my lucky day, I think,” Dave replies, giving TGB a goofy grin.

“Mmmhmm…” TGB seems wary, and I can’t blame him. I imagine most people would want to beat the ever living hell out of the anyone that their significant others were cheating on them with. I watch as, with a small wave, TGB catches a bartender’s eye. She waves back and returns quickly with a drink for him, calls him “Buddy.” He didn’t even have to tell her what he wanted, so he must still come here often, if not every week, even years after Dave first wrote about him. Maybe it’s not so farfetched to think we’d find him here after all.

“You want another drink?” she asks me, nodding to my empty wine glass.

“Eh, why not? Another merlot… Please.” She smiles, her way of telling me she’s got it, then heads down the bar for a refill.

“Really,” TGB turns back to me once the bartender walks off. “Why are you here?”

Really,” Dave imitates his tone. “I wanted to make sure you were okay. You didn’t appear any too thrilled to find out James has been messing around, either. We’ve been cuckolded, it would seem.” There’s a silence that follows, and I’m starting to feel more like an idiot, an invisible third wheel. I can sense that Dave, however, is actually starting to relax some.

This is awkward, Dave, I think.

You didn’t have a problem with it when it was James, he snaps at me. You jealous, B.? I’ll tell you what. You can have sloppy seconds. And thirds. And fourths. But I’m taking TGB home tonight, and James is going to be sorry he hurt you.

You’re avenging me by hooking up with someone else? This seemed like a much better idea earlier than I’m feeling it to be now that we’re at the bar. Somehow, two glasses of wine tonight has turned me into a prude, as Dave would say, instead of lowering my inhibitions. Forgive me for not wanting to have a paranormal threesome, I mutter. I don’t feel very avenged. I’m going to sleep. Good luck with TGB. I know that Dave can sense my pain. I didn’t think that him wanting to have a last hurrah with TGB would bother me, but it definitely does.

Now you know how it feels, Bryan. Now you know. He has a point. After a while with James, I had thought that Dave was falling in love, too, but in light of tonight’s information, I realize now that I was just imprinting my feelings on him while blocking out everything he was trying to tell me. Maybe this is less about avenging my failed relationship with James than it is about getting revenge on me for being such a dipshit.

Yeah. I know, I sigh. Have fun. Wake me up later. And whatever you do, please don’t disappear without saying good – I can’t say the word. Without talking to me first, I finish.

I won’t.
Because we’re in each others’ heads, this little conversation only takes a moment. The silence isn’t long enough to be uncomfortable between Dave and TGB. I start to drift off to sleep as the bartender returns with the wine. Dave pays for both the wine and TGB’s drink as a “gesture of goodwill,” he says.

“Cheers then,” TGB smiles a little more fully and raises his glass from the bar. As he picks up his drink, he subtly moves just a little closer, and the last sensations before I have before fall asleep completely are of his legs brushing against mine, of Dave’s thrill at the subtle touch, and of my incredible jealousy. Yeah, I definitely don’t want to be awake for this.

As luck would have it, when I wake up again, Dave is asleep and refusing to wake up for me. I yawn and stretch, and a body moves beside me with a mumble. Oh gods. Not again.

“David! Wake up!” I think with as much ferocity as I can muster for still being half asleep. I picture myself shaking him, but I have no such actual recourse. He stays asleep. At least he’s still here. I hit the bedside lamp on, and I look at the clock. It’s 5am. TGB is definitely in my bed. I’m definitely naked. Awkward.

I try to avoid waking him, sitting up to find my boxers laying on the floor and get out of bed quietly, but I see him open one eye a little and reach out to trace a line down my back with his long fingers before I can stand up.

“Where are you going?” he asks me softly.

“Oh, uh, I’m just hungry. I was going to get something to eat in the kitchen,” I lie, turning a little more to look at him. I was actually going to find his wallet in an effort to figure out what the hell his name is before he woke up. No dice, so I lie. “You want something?” I ask him. “I can bring something up if you don’t want to get out of bed.” Maybe, just maybe, I still have a chance of him falling back to sleep so I can get a look at his ID.

TGB thinks, rubs his eyes, and then pushes himself to sit up. I’m still half facing away from him, boxers in hand. I noticed he’s smeared his eyeliner in when he rubbed his eyes. His previously perfect, straight hair is less than perfect. “Yeah, but I’ll come down. I don’t want to find out what happens if I drop crumbs all over your bedroom floor, let alone in your bed.” He grins, and leans over toward me, placing a warm, slow kiss on my left shoulder blade. To my surprise, rather than scaring the shit out of me in an otherwise ridiculously awkward moment, I feel a knot untwist in my stomach.

“Woah,” I breathe before I can stop myself. Okay, so I still have no idea what TGB’s name is, so it’s more than a little weird that he’s in my bed, but I have to admit that he looks really good there. I smile at him. “I wouldn’t kick you out for eating crackers in bed.”

“Good to know.”

For what it’s worth, Bryan, his name is – wait for it – Jeremiah, Dave tells me, slowly waking up while TGB and I raid the pantry for junk food, settling finally on tortilla chips and salsa. TGB and I sit on the couch together, close enough to touch. Neither of us says much, and we decide to watch an old episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It’s not uncomfortable. He’s a complete stranger to me, but as Dave wakes up, the gaps fill in. I can’t help smiling when I hear Dave yawn. He really seems to enjoy sleep as much as he ever did, even thought it isn’t something that has any necessity for him now.

Well, that’s a good start, I finally think at him. Is there anything else you care to share that I ought to know?

Hmmmm… well, he’s looking to settle down for real in a relationship. He could be a forever guy, B., Dave offers… hopefully, it sounds. Oh, and we didn’t fuck him. We could have, but we didn’t.

I quit paying attention to the Law and Order rerun entirely. Really? Why not? I’m pleased, of course, but shocked. Dave does the ghost equivalent of shuffling his feet in my head; that is to say, I can acutely sense his obvious discomfort.

This is going to totally ruin my reputation for being a complete dick as of late, he mutters, but I just couldn’t do it. He’s as gorgeous as ever, yeah. And it was tempting, but I don’t know him. I don’t love him. And most of all, honestly, I just couldn’t do that to you. I don’t want that on whatever conscience I may have left after this. If you like him, I, um, think maybe you should give this a shot. You do like him, right?

Wow, I think. Thank you, David. If I could kiss you right now, I would. It sucks that I can’t. But I hope you know how much I appreciate what you’ve done (and not done) for me. I sneak a look over at Jeremiah, who seems like he’s starting to doze off on the couch, and sigh. I’m not sure what I want to do anymore. I just want to be happy again. I want a good life again.

Aw, shit. Don’t get all misty-eyed on me, gay boy. Just because I didn’t screw him doesn’t mean I didn’t have plenty of fun with him.

Whatever, ya big softy, I smile. It’s strange to have this conversation with him. I have the real David Lukin back, and this time, I sense he’s really telling me it’s time to let him go. I’m torn. TGB – it will take a while to think of him as Jeremiah – is definitely hot. He’s happy to be in my bed, if only for the night. And now Dave is giving me his blessing to pursue a relationship with him if I so choose? He didn’t sleep with him? I’m incredulous. I’m waiting, in fact, for the other shoe to drop. Surely there’s a catch. Living with Dave the past several months, I’ve come to learn, to expect, that there is always a catch. Then again, the catch may just be having to finally, once and for all, say goodbye to the man I have loved for so long, and with whom I thought I would have so much more time.

Really, I swear, he whispers, there is no catch. I just don’t want to have to leave on bad terms. You know, in case this is it… you know. Time’s run out. That’s how it feels. Hurting you was never, ever my intention, although my anger, jealousy, and frustration certainly got the best of me. He says nothing else. I’m afraid either or both of us might cry, and I don’t want to wake Jeremiah again, not to that. I can’t possibly explain, and if I can be so lucky, I don’t ever want to tell him the truth about David. I just want… normal. He never needs to know that it was Dave, not me, who brought him home.

I sigh, knowing that this is likely to turn out nothing more than a one night stand, and I’ll be left with nothing at the end: no Jeremiah. No Dave. Not even James. But maybe nothing is all I can handle right now, anyway. When I’m alone again, without David, I think it would be wise for me to spend some time shaking loose the cobwebs of the past from my brain.

Maybe things with James could have been different if I had done that in the first place, I think to myself.

Dave is quick to respond, though. No… the only want it could have ended differently is for it to have never happened in the first place, he says. I’m sorry it is what it is and could only have ever been that way.

“Gods. That’s incredibly effing depressing,” I mumble aloud. I stretch and look over at Jeremiah nee TGB on the couch. I do hate to admit it, but I feel like he belongs there. It makes my stomach hurt, leaves me feeling guilty. It’s not that James seemed wrong – he just never felt quite right, even as I thought I loved him, felt right the way Dave always did… or the way TGB does now.

I tell myself that I’m stupid for feeling this way, that I have no right to compare TGB to Dave. When either of them leave, though, I’ll feel that much worse. I can barely keep my eyes open to think, so I put my hand on TGB’s arm to wake him. “You awake, dude?”

“Oh, yeah, I wasn’t sleeping,” he obviously lies. “I was just thinking. What’s up?”

“Eh, I was just starting to fall asleep. Do you want to go back upstairs to sleep?” I ask him.

“Are you going to sleep upstairs?” he asks me quietly.

“Yeah.”

“Then… yes?” He smiles at me like he’s asking permission.

I put the chips and salsa away, and he takes my hand as we walk back up the stairs. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. Still, as I switch off the bedside lamp again, I smile. I find myself moving to curl up closely next to Jeremiah despite the warning bells in my head. As I get comfortable, I kiss the nape of his neck. When I drape one arm over his back, he stirs. He pulls my hand toward his face, kisses my knuckles softly and whispers, “Bryan, are you happy?”

“Yes,” I tell him honestly, perhaps against my better judgment. “Are you?”

“Very much so. I’m glad that you found me to see if I was okay tonight. I really wasn’t. And maybe this is weird, and maybe I’m saying too much, but I’m starting to think I might be okay now after all. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome” doesn’t seem like the right response. Nothing I can think of seems to be, so I respond by squeezing his hand, cuddling even closer to him. Yes. This feels like I might be okay, too. We fall asleep that way, and wake in the same position in the morning.

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From → Bloodflowers, fiction

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