Body Marks

Author’s Note:

 

This work is a novella I’ve started awhile ago, and continued in Winter 2011. It is not my intent to say much in the way of commentary, but I would like to provide a warning:

This work contains graphic scenes of m/m and m/f sexuality and borderline emotional abuse. It may constitute offensive or triggering material. It is also heavy drama/angst. Please exercise all due caution.

Acknowledgments:

Thanks to Dan Savage and Mika Sadahiro-sensei for inspiration (little though may she know me), and angsty sexually confused young homos everywhere.  In life as in fiction, it gets better.

I’d also like to acknowledge the ideas of Antonin Artaud, the music of Ani DiFranco, and the helpful feedback of my classmates.

And one last time, I’ll dedicate this to my old posse: Ste, Aja and Amalin. Because it just is, even when I write things that they wouldn’t want and will never even read. Without you, for better or for worse, I would never have written this.


1.  Bone

this is my skeleton
this is the skin it’s in
that is according to light
and gravity
i’ll take off my disguise
the mask you met me in

~ Ani DiFranco

It’s dark, but there’s a spotlight on him: only on him. It was always like that, Mac thought.

That’s the Golden Boy.

That’s his cock.

Oh, but to start at the beginning: this was a post-graduation reunion party, and Mac Felton, persona non grata, had been invited. He could see the shark-like glints of smiles from the shadowed faces sitting in a circle around him, assessing his current worth and finding it lacking. Those were his enemies, once; then his ‘friends’, once everyone he knew deserted him after his father’s trial. ‘Friends’ was an iffy term at Mac’s old boarding school to start with. They were British; they were well-bred. Having mates and grabbing a pint on Sundays and laughing heartily at off-color jokes by bints in cakey make-up… or whatever it was they did, these Headmaster’s pets. Mac had better ways to spend his time, as he did now. Showing up this time was really inexplicable, and a big fucking mistake besides.

The invitation was probably driven by something worse than pity; honestly, he didn’t want to know. The return address was to Ben Sheehan, Bonner’s best mate from their first year. Mac could only assume his goody-goody wife was behind this. As for Mac having leaned towards accepting, there was no possible sane reason, though maybe the reason didn’t matter. Maybe it was those couple of times he remembered the old days in the shower, and had to give it a miserable pull just so he could calm down. Maybe it was the dreams he still had sometimes. Maybe Mac needed to get out of the flat more. He had to remind himself that Bonner was the same insufferable git he’d always been. Reality had always done a better than average job being the cold shower Mac needed.

::

It was autumn of sixth year, and Mac was bored. Bonner was there and therefore convenient. That’s all it was. “Hey Bonner, which cheerleader are you shagging this week?” Mac sneered.

A long-suffering sigh. “I told you. Just. Leave me alone.”

“Can’t take the heat, is that it? Scared of my Prefect’s stick, Bonner?”

Bonner turned, glaring. “Are you heading somewhere with this? I really don’t feel like a stupid fight, have homework to do, so….”

Oh, he’s too good for me, is he? “You can’t walk away from me, Bonner! I’m the Prefect!”

“Watch me.”

::

“What’s gotten into you? Can’t sleep at night? Have to pester me in my hour of solitude?”

“Nothing, Felton.” Bonner  kicked a stone at the lake, frowning at the water. “I wasn’t planning on talking to you, actually.”

“You’re invading my space and you spew that rubbish?” Mac laughed incredulously. “Shove right off and you’re set! Or do you want me to shut your mouth for you?”

Bonner leaned back, staring at the sky. Mac looked up automatically, and watched  the half-full  moon for a second, before he snapped back to earth. And Bonner.

“Don’t you ever get tired, Felton?”

“Tired? What the hell?”

“Yeah. Tired.” Bonner sighed. “I guess not, huh. You probably wouldn’t admit being human if I asked, would you.” He laughed softly, and Mac’s chest twisted, which only made him angry.

“Are you finally gone wrong in the head, Bonny? Should I call your ickle mates to rescue you from yourself?”

“Don’t bother. It’s fine. Do what you want.  I’m sorry I asked.” He started to walk away again.

“Stuff it, Bonner! You think you’ve got any right to–”

“Fine.” Another sigh; Bonner got up slowly, kicking up a few rocks. “See you ’round, then.”

“Hey!”

::

It was a month later, but Bonner’s  been avoiding him, and the day at the lake felt like yesterday. “Your mother was a filthy gypsy whore!” He barely noticed his own panting. “Say something!”

Bonner stared, his eyes burning. “You make me sick–” he said. And walked away.

::

Mac was yelling, face flushed. “What the fuck do you want from me, Bonner? Who do you think you are, anyway? Answer me!”

“I’m no one special, Felton. Relax. Go fishing or something. It’ll be good for you.”

“Don’t lay that crap on me! You’re trying to trick me, aren’t you? I’ve always seen through that Golden Boy act of yours!”

“It’s sort of reassuring, you know.”

“What is?” He’d graduated to yelling by this point.

“The way you don’t give up.”

“You fucker! Come back!”

::

Bonner coughed, but he didn’t blink when Mac’s butterfly knife was pressed up tight against his throat. Still trying to be the hero, Mac thought, and sneered.

“What do you want, Felton?”

“I want you to fight me, Golden Boy! I want you to pay, and I want all your stupid friends to pay and I want– I want my father back, arsehole!”

“I’m sorry,” Bonner said quietly. “I know it’s too late for your dad.”

It was the sincere tone that infuriated Mac the most. “Are you fucking with me? Didn’t you hear me?”

“I heard you. Like I said, it’s too late. No one can do anything about it now. Maybe it’s time for you to deal with that.”

“Who the bloody hell do you think you are, Bonner, my shrink?”

“Think about it.”  Bonner pushed the sharp edge of the knife back carefully and straightened. “But you don’t need to tell me when you do.”

::

He’d come to the boy’s loo on the third floor on the month’s second Tuesday sometimes in the past. Usually it was when he’d been frustrated and didn’t feel like playing the minor social games that involved getting off with people one actually talked to on a daily basis. This was easy.

Mac’s eyes widened as the hands ripped at his trouser buttons.  It was around midnight, so the light coming through the high windows was minimal, but a dark suspicion grew at the back of his mind. Is that–? No, of course not. Mac refused to even think the bastard’s name at a time like that.

His panting grew louder, and he gasped as a mouth fastened around his cock and sucked. His hips bucked and he yelled, staring into nothing as his fists clenched in soft, messy hair.

Mac regretted his restraint the moment the moon came out from behind a cloud, and round glasses glinted up at him, taunting.

For a few seconds, Mac’s brain stalled, as he refused to process this new reality.

Bonner didn’t wait for his sensibilities, and got up in a fluid motion, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Well?” he said. His eyes were slightly red, hair disheveled. The Golden Boy.

Mac smiled slightly. “You could do that again.”

There was a beat when the world seemed to tilt crazily sideways, and then it righted. Bonner smirked back, then raised his eyebrows.  “Hands only from now on,” he said. “That was nasty.”

::

A week later, Mac had gotten sick of the ensuing cat-and-mouse game, and waiting for Tuesday next month, so he’d taken the expedient of passing Bonner a one-word note in class when Mr. Siegfried had stepped out. It contained one word, one mindful of interception. Talk.

Over lunch break, Bonner pushed him up against a wall, Mac’s wrists trapped in his surprisingly strong fist. “So. Talk.”

“F-freak.” Mac’s  teeth were bared. “Always have to have it your way, don’t you–”

Bonner’s hips swiveled harshly, but Mac refused to make noise. “Have you got something to say to me, Felton?”

Mac’s breath hitched even as he glared. “You can’t even take your own bloody advice, Bonner.” He sneered, though the effect was lost as his mouth rounded in a silent O. Mac bit his lip. “Maybe you should face up to the fact that you agreed to have a mutual wank, nice and regular. Be a man about it.”

Bonner’s hips pushed harder, till they both hissed. “No, I guess I can’t. How ’bout you?” Panting. Bonner’s grip tightened further, and Mac couldn’t hold back a wince, though he’d be damned if he asked Bonner to go gentle on him. Not when Bonner looked like this: not when he was flushing.

“That’s it, yeah,” Mac whispered, rubbing up against Bonner’s clothed erection. “I can’t.” What were they even talking about? Mac, for one, had no clue.

Did it matter?

Bonner’s spectacles slipped wetly as he tugged Mac’s wrist towards his mouth. “You will.” And he licked it where it hurt, watching Mac twitch helplessly, trapped against the wall.

In retrospect, Mac had stayed like that for a while. Those fantasies in the shower? He’d stand, pressed against the tile, eyes screwed shut. Four years later, he remembered the feel of Bonner’s fingers on his wrists as if the bruises were still fresh.

::

That morning, Mac sat with his tea and had toast and grapefruit, and calmly considered whether to accept Sheehan’s invite. He was wearing boxers and socks: Bonner would be shocked. Once, it had been strictly silk and tight. No one to impress here, though. There was no one to care what Mac looked like, or what he thought about when he wanked, or even what dark thoughts ran through his mind now. Living right by the shore of the Thames, where he could hear the clamor of people and cars outside, Mac felt more isolated than back in the Scottish wilds. It was funny how that worked. All in all, Mac thought he’d changed for the better since he’d decided to take a break from living in dear old dad’s mansion, what with his ancestors staring disapprovingly at everyone he’d ever brought home. Mac’s kitchen was spare but sunny, and in the mornings, he felt like he could take on the world. Plus, he’d learned to make coffee.

The months passed easily into years, and it’s been awhile since Mac had to ignore the rush of heat in his belly or the way his thighs clenched and belly twisted at the thought of him. All he had to do was remember he’d been Bonner’s charity case; he hadn’t been himself. In the bright light of day, his old self was so easy to dismiss, he could barely recollect why he did most of the crazy stuff they’d all done back in the old days. He was starting to think seriously about coming home in a few years, restoring the family estate, making his father proud after all. Why not? It wasn’t that easy to get a job these days.

The insanity was so far behind him, it may have been a dream. Here was proof, though: an innocent-looking– if thickly expensive– folded card. It was all quite proper, laid neatly by Mac’s breakfast in the middle of his mail pile.

What could it hurt. More, Mac thought without acknowledging.

::

Mac liked to believe he was no longer surprised by much of anything, but it startled him: there was Donaldson looking slim, relaxed and happy. In Mac’s mind he’d always be the pudgy, awkward boy he’d been at thirteen in the mess hall, wincing as Mac looked at him a beat too long before glaring defiantly. He’d been rather entertaining back then. And there was those unfortunate breeders: Sheehan and Goldberg, apparently shacking up together in downtown London, little gingers doubtlessly close behind. Probably not that far from his flat, but Mac preferred not to think about that too long. Mac couldn’t stop some vague memory from surfacing, having once read that they’d both found jobs on the same floor of their government office. Well, good for them, Mac thought, snorting silently. Why not? The world must need more gap-toothed freckled nerds. Someone had to go there, why not Sheehan?

At the moment, they were both laughing in unison, a phenomenon that was once enough to make Mac break out in a cold sweat. Best to ignore, ignore, ignore.

He thought that pale girl– Linzie something?– was a flashy kind of bird. What’s with that all that jewelry? And was that sparkly underwear on top of her shirt? Why hadn’t he noticed before?

Mac relaxed into his corner chair, listening to the loud thumps of the stereo, nearly obscene in somehow. Punk in this crowd? A guitar screamed out and a small, best unnoticed part of Mac screamed along with it. At that moment? Yes, he was a little tipsy, but life was all right. Yes, he really shouldn’t have come, but it wasn’t that bad. It was all right. He wasn’t even looking in certain directions, and the more buzzed he got, the more okay he was with certain unfortunate circumstances.  Like Bonner’s presence, for instance, or the drink he was nursing.

He’d overheard the cocktail was mixed by Bonner’s little girlfriend– pardon, fiancé.  That would be the redhead sprawled on Bonner’s lap, Sheehan’s little sister. The one Mac hadn’t bothered looking at. Of course, he did hear Bonner laughing, but so what? It wasn’t even that familiar; Bonner didn’t really do that so much around Mac, anyway. It was pathetic how she was so snug on Bonner’s lap in public, but Mac supposed those sorts of couples were like that.

A few minutes passed, and Mac became aware the giggling wasn’t all that sincere, if it ever was. That does grate on one’s ears, he thought. How did Bonner stand it? And he could feel her eyes on him.

Did he tell? It was hard to tell; Bonner was the honest and earnest type, but he was also tight-lipped and elusive as an eel, as Mac had cause to know.

Mac couldn’t help the painfully obvious rising flush, the sudden cold burst of hatred threatening to choke him even as his cock went half-hard. Bonner remembers, a little voice whispered in his head.

He’d long ago learned to seethe in silence; no more broadcasting each childhood resentment. He’d learned to wait, to heed his chances as they come. He’d finally learned not to get carried away where Bonner was concerned. Seventh year had taught Mac that. Seventh year also taught him everything else he’d needed to know, though it had been Bonner’s face after he’d had his prick in his hand that first brought the lesson home.

It’s always been Bonner.

Even now, Bonner could crush Mac’s nuts anytime he wanted. He might have told her simply because he knew she’d blame him for everything. She’d never believe that it had been Bonner shoving him in closets, holding his mouth shut, taking what he wanted when he felt like it when that mood hit him.

Still, Bonner never gave any clue that knew the first thing about Mac’s feelings– neither about himself nor about anything else. The man was as dense as a loaf of bread.  It once gave Mac some leverage and wiggle room for emotional blackmail, but that really wasn’t Mac’s style, so it got old. He’d used to almost wish Bonner would buy a clue at some point. But no, there had been too much satisfaction, too much control in knowing Bonner better than he did himself.

No, the Sheehan bint was too precious to sully with Bonner’s fears and needs and kinks. What they had back then could best be broken down into one simple rule: Hands Only. No snogging, no fucking, and no looking. Mac suspected there was a corollary: no coming on Bonner’s face, nipples, or cock. He wasn’t sure. Certainly, Bonner took the liberty of spraying some portion of Mac’s anatomy every chance he got, marking his territory. He couldn’t ask. They wouldn’t speak about it, they wouldn’t do it in the daylight, and most importantly, they wouldn’t admit to it.

Of course, Mac had been a card-carrying teenage male; there was no need to be nice. The only problem lay in the fantasies, the ones where he got greedy. God, but he’d wanted to see it. He’d needed to finally see Bonner’s prick, at least, but that would have never been enough. Nothing would be enough for his runaway wish-list: seeing Bonner blow his load solo, or wanting to see his eyes half-lidded and soft after a proper buggering. He’d look at Mac like he wanted to eat him alive, lick by lick, soft and vulnerable, belly up.

This wasn’t helping. Mac started to the realization that the music had changed, his drink had gone flat and weirdly grey colored in the dim lighting. The pathetic state of his trousers wasn’t going to be a huge secret for much longer. Worse, they’d started playing card games. The only bright spot of this unfortunate evening was going to be beating Sheehan at cards, but he couldn’t very well shuffle over with his dick waving hello.

Mac jerked his head no when one of the gang politely invited him. It wasn’t as if they wanted him there. They wouldn’t know what to say to him. In a way, they’d never known what to say, except back in school, one could cover it up with taunts and punches instead of strained small-talk. At the moment, Mac wasn’t sure which was preferable.

If he came over, he’d have to play his part: sneer, make eyes at Sheehan’s wife and maybe Bonner’s future Mrs., though he could barely look at her.  It was part of the dance, and Mac would hate to disappoint. Mac would say something suitably snotty and deluded, and they’d laugh. Mac had always been a riot, and they want to see him crack. Isn’t that why he was invited?

Tough luck, Sheehan, Mac thought bitterly. It was too bloody late for that.

::

“Let’s get naked,” Bonner said, and exhaled hash smoke. It was an image that had a special kind of obscenity on John H. Bonner, Mr. Squeaky Clean-freak. He looked straight at Mac, unblinking.

Everyone laughed, though it was down to the five of them now. Bonner and his wife-to-be, the Sheehans, and Mac; Donaldson must have been blushing like a virgin, but he’d said nothing and simply left. Mac himself felt trapped. He couldn’t leave without showing his hand. He was uncomfortable. They’d gotten him. Childish, but he still couldn’t give them that.

They’re all drunk or stoned off their arses by now, and Bonner’s only just rolled up his piece of newspaper. Mac thought the smell was something awful, but it was also starting to feel close in the room, with everyone’s body scents mixing. He fancied he could smell Ginger’s shampoo. Mac thought it was too bloody funny that Bonner ended up with a girl called Ginger; the jokes made themselves. Mac thought that was a little too easy, personally.

Mac stayed silent. He felt a headache coming, and wondered just how good an excuse that made.

Everyone else– certainly Sheehan, but even Goldberg, who Mac would have thought wouldn’t sink to such things– grinned in the semi-dark at Bonner’s inane dare. If that’s what it was. Apparently that Linzie bird disagreed, since she’d left the room with an inarticulate murmur about getting more beer.

A small part of Mac shriveled quietly, and he fought a shiver at the notion that this is a prank Bonner aimed at him. Mac Felton: he’s so desperate he’d wank his guts out at the first sight of Bonner arse. The problem was, he couldn’t figure Bonner’s angle: surely he didn’t think Mac would fall for it?

Mac sat up a little straighter in his lumpy armchair, determined to win this round, mind-fuckery or not. His fists clenched at his side, but he smirked and leaned back, raising his eyebrows.

“Go crazy,” he said dryly, “I’ll watch.”

“Uh-uh,” Bonner said, chuckling. “Ginger wouldn’t be very happy if I showed off the merchandise to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Would you, sweetheart?”

“Mmm. Nope,” Ginger giggled. She sounded fake-pouty and high. “Turn the lights off. All off.”

“See? I know how her mind works, don’t I? Well, it’s ok. It’s better in the dark anyway. Wouldn’t you say so, Mac?”

Mac bristled at the use of his first name, but his throat was too tight to reply. In the ensuing silence,   Bonner got up to blow out the candles and click off all the mood lighting in the dim room. The only light came from distant streetlights and the kitchen’s lamplight seen through the cracks in the door.

Somehow, it’s not a surprise that Bonner went ahead and did it: Bonner always had to be first. Doing the impossible? No, but doing the inadvisable was surely his specialty, especially when Mac was there to provide the stakes.

Bonner unbuttoned his shirt with his own eyebrows raised, just before he leaned forward to blow the last candle out. His nipples had stood out as small dark spots, spot-lit. The image was so vivid, Mac would have given his nonexistent firstborn to simply bite. He’d tear and grind and pull till Bonner admitted what a huge sodding hypocrite he was.

Bonner smirked like he could read Mac’s dirty mind, and the room went dark.

Mac could still see hints of motion. He could half-see, half-sense when Bonner burrowed his nose into Ginger’s shoulder, going so far as to cup her tit. When had this become some sort of twisted game of chicken? Wasn’t Sheehan awake anymore? Was Ginger really that stoned? Did any of that matter?

Mac swallowed.

It was a game of chicken: he saw the glint of Bonner’s smile when Donaldson babbled something even more inarticulate than Linzie had, fumbling his way out the door with the dark shape of his bag clutched in front of him like some defensive chipmunk.

Bonner didn’t pause, but made a smooth move to slip Ginger’s blouse off her shoulder. She moved to nuzzle into his shoulder. At this point, the torture took on a whole new flavor. If Mac stayed further, he wouldn’t respect himself in the morning: that much was clear. Mac saw a pale quarter moon of flesh, and wished he could burn his eyes out. Mac sneered, but mostly he tried to ignore the fantasies where he yanked her off Bonner by the hair and stepped on her face.

The sheer unreality… no, the insanity of this scene was staggering.

Mac  took deep breaths. He hung his head, pinching his nose. This was ridiculous: was his arse glued to the chair? He needed to leave.

He looked up, full of resolve at last. That’s when Mac glimpsed the clichéd little thong that did little to cover her bottom that Bonner’s woman was currently wearing, more undressed than dressed by this point. And she wasn’t alone.

Mac couldn’t see much more even if he looked, but he could hear them. The future Mrs. Bonner moaned a little, as if they were two lovebirds all alone in their dark corner across the room. When he looked, he unmistakably felt Bonner’s eyes on him.

Easy as that, none of it mattered anymore. The thick spicy smoke went to Mac’s head all of a sudden, and he felt woozy. He could barely see, of course, but he half-glimpsed, half-remembered the tiny path of skin low on Bonner’s rippling stomach. There was nothing but Bonner in the whole universe.

Bonner knew it.

Oh, he knew. And Bonner knew Mac knew, and he knew Mac watched hopelessly as Bonner reached between the bitch’s legs, listening as she gasped and arched. Mac also knew he heard the door shut with a quiet thunk when the first article of clothing had hit the floor. Bonner knew Mac watched as he pushed his girlfriend back to straddle the edge of Bonner’s knees. Mac heard the tiny zipper noise when Bonner pulled his prick out.

The lit roll of hash on the corner table burned a little red alarm right next to the exposed skin. Bonner made a few strokes for effect, eyes glittering predator-bright.

Honestly, Mac never thought Bonner was such a performer; neither did he realize Bonner was this cruel. It’s not an altogether congenial realization. Sure, he was hard as a rock, but this was pretty obviously wrong. He thought the Golden Boy was picky about shit like that. This wasn’t a man Mac recognized.

He heard the pathetic little squeaking noises Ginger kept making, reminding him this wasn’t some kinky game between two consenting adults in a night club or something. What Mac actually wanted wasn’t for Bonner to stop, though, but for Ginger to shut the hell up. This was between him and Bonner, after all: that much must be clear. Trying to distract himself from his throbbing crotch, Mac wondered what Bonner was trying to accomplish here, on the grand philosophical scheme of things. If he had a grand design, so to speak, what would it be?

Then it hit him: he wanted Mac to see it. All those months, all those frantic fumblings in the dark, he’d never seen it, really. Maybe Bonner was having some sort of twisted bachelor party type last-minute dotting of his missed i‘s. Something of that sort, anyway. The only iffy part was Ginger, but maybe that could be explained away in that grand scheme; after all, without Ginger, this would all be a little too queer.

Bonner made it look casual, almost natural, like he wasn’t trying to make Mac start crying or come in his pants. Just showing poor Felton what he’d been missing, right? No harm done.

So yeah, he knew it, whether or not Bonner did himself: John bloody Bonner wanted Mac Felton to see his cock. He wanted to make ever so sure of that, so Mac played his game the way he always did: “Have it your way, Bonner,” he said, and stripped.

::

He couldn’t feel Bonner’s gaze on him anymore. Now that Mac had caved, now that he sat in the padded chair with his legs spread and his fist working, of course Bonner wouldn’t be looking now.

Mac could hear Bonner sucking at the bitch’s pale freckly skin. He mumbled some endearments while he was at it, romantic as you please. Bonner’s hadn’t gone all the way yet; Mac knew this because he couldn’t hear the inevitable smacking noises, and he was listening for those. By this point, Mac was mostly feeling relieved about the darkness, seeing he was crying like a grade-A idiot, thankfully silent. Still thinking about what might possibly be going through Bonner’s mind, but wishing he wasn’t.

He wondered about this as his palm slid slow and steady along his cock, gripping painfully tight. Mac wondered if Bonner thought he was doing him a favor, curing Mac of any remaining sentiment, but that was doubtful. Bonner wouldn’t recognize a genuine feeling of Mac’s if it brained him. Maybe Bonner was testing him though, trying to see when Mac would finally snap and tear the ginger bitch off. Or maybe Bonner just didn’t have anything better to do with his life than bait him because Sheehan was such a lousy shag. That last thought did cheer him up a little.

No matter what, it didn’t add up. Bonner was supposed to be Mr. Nice Guy, honest and true and so on. He was an arsehole to Mac, sure, but hadn’t Mac deserved it? Wasn’t he a twat back in school? He’d admit to that, no problem. So why beat around the bush? If Bonner did have something to say, he’d say it. Maybe he was too good to actually say it, though: “I don’t want you, I just want you to remain my bitch: get it through your skull, Felton.”

Mac bit his lip bloody as his prick pulsed hard in his clenched fist. He cursed himself viciously for still being there; for not looking away for a single second. Mac had shut his eyes minutes ago, for all the use that was: he could hear it. He thought he smelled Ginger’s cunt even at that distance.

Then Mac’s eyes snapped open. He’d felt– he saw— Bonner look right at him once again. He’d lit up the weed again, blowing smoke as he held it loosely between two fingers, an elbow on his lap. He was intent on Mac. Watching him. He watched him alone. The girl was gone.

Bonner wasn’t touching his prick, but Mac could see it glisten at the tip by the tiny light– he could nearly taste it.

“John!” he gasped, and unraveled right there in front of him. Bonner had made sure of that.

2.  Skin

i cannot name this
i cannot explain this
and i really don’t want to
just call me shameless
i can’t even slow this down
let alone stop this
and i keep looking around
but i cannot top this   

~ Ani DiFranco

It was a slow Sunday night, and John was a bit restless. He sat down on the sofa with a beer, sighed, got up again; went to the refrigerator and stared sightlessly for a few moments, then shut the door. He thought about turning on the radio and thought better of it. John flopped onto the bed, throwing the covers off.

After a minute, he got up blindly and stumbled to his desk, where he kept the porn. He thought of the memory of Mac’s face in the candlelight the night they’d all spent stoned off their arses, and the lengths he’d gone to get that reaction from him. It used to be Felton that did all the pushing in that regard. Honestly, John wasn’t sure what devil drove him that night. With Felton there and Ginger between them, he had felt so restless, so itchy he could have crawled right out of his skin. A small, oddly vocal part of him wanted to know how far he could push both of them.

John sighed. This sort of brooding wasn’t good for him. He hadn’t done much of it since sixth year, really.  He was suddenly aware of the hole that existed in his recollections of sixth year, especially where Felton was concerned. John frowned. No, that wasn’t it, was it. He didn’t forget: he chose not to remember, most days. He’d put Felton away with much of his past. There was no reason to let the ghosts and goblins of his childhood keep ruining– or running– his life now, was there.

John hadn’t even liked Felton. The pointy-faced git had been as maddening at eleven as he’d been at sixteen. That time when he was sixteen going on seventeen felt clipped from someone else’s life; that had been neither truly him nor Felton. They’d been thrown together by chance, and John had simply taken out his frustrations and anxieties in the most convenient way at the time. And if Felton’s stubborn resistance had inflamed his curiosity, that particular cat was long since dead, wasn’t it?

One thing John did remember: that year, he’d been restless too.

John flopped onto the bed again, deciding against a wank after all. He needed sleep. Burrowing his head in the pillow, he sighed. The feel of the cool breeze through the window was his last sensation before he slept.

The dream began with John’s hand on Ginger’s breast. He never kissed her, never undressed her: she was always nude, her body pale and soft. Ginger’s skin was too pale in the dream; it shone white like a vampire’s, and her mouth was red with blood. John, she whispered. Come back to me, John. Obligingly, he’d leant down and licked the red off her lips, thrusting inside her, but he could never get any closer to satisfaction– he just kept going at those yielding thighs with a mounting claustrophobia. In the dream, John felt like he could get lost inside her. It wasn’t long before his lungs burned; he was afraid.

John only woke up all the way having already stumbled to the toilet, heaving the remains of last night’s supper. He sat down on the floor; head propped up on his knees, John told himself it couldn’t go on like this. He had to do something, but what? All he did do was clean up the mess, rinse his mouth and sleep through the dreamless night.

::

He had no reason to do this. He was stupid. He was stupid and he was throwing away everything that had ever mattered, and his cock felt so good down the nameless bloke’s throat.

So.  Fucking.  Good.

John groaned, picking up the pace, slamming the other’s head against the filthy toilet wall with every thrust of his hips.

“Take it,” he gritted out, fingers rough in short, bristly hair. “You can fucking– take it, you stuck up little– fuck!”

John jerked away, clutching at his leaking dick, staining his own trousers in his hurry to tuck it in as soon as possible. How had that slipped out again?

He hadn’t meant to do it tonight anyway, not in some grotty park bathroom. He’d just wanted to get out and dance and forget himself a while. He shouldn’t have come to this club, though, knowing it was notorious for anonymous pulling. If he were honest, of course, that was the appeal. That wasn’t something John wanted to consider at the moment, what with that taste at the back of his throat as he stumbled away. A part of him felt guilty, too, since this hadn’t actually been a whore. It was just a lad who’d had the particular misfortune to be bent, blond, and daft enough to grind up against him in the club when he’d been in a mood.

Sex was supposed to feel good; John knew that. This was something other people enjoyed in a normal, sane fashion, queer or not. John himself wasn’t queer; he merely had a problem that he couldn’t fix by himself. Regardless, this never felt good; he craved the revulsion, craved the anonymous blowjob, the rough hand in a piss-stained alley with rumbling bass shaking the walls. He wanted to come with that sickening twist in his stomach. There was something about it– the self-hatred afterwards? That reminded him more of sixth year than anyone’s hair color.

He knew this would have to stop soon, what with him getting married and all, but it had become a habit. He’d started going to clubs, and sometimes seeing street kids, almost immediately after he’d graduated.  He’d always meant to stop– everyone had a vice they haven’t quite kicked yet, and this one was tricky. It was simply fucking; that’s all it was, but he knew Ginger wouldn’t understand.  She couldn’t accept that it had nothing to do with her; she couldn’t fix it. That wasn’t how it worked.

Ginger wanted all of him, but if there was one thing John knew for sure, it was that no one got what they really wanted.

::

Ginger had only asked the question once, the first time he’d asked for her hand.

They’d almost gotten done taking the A-levels, having crammed and swigged constant coffee and slept on chairs for several weeks straight by then. They’d been staying over at one of their teachers’ home the past few frantic days; Mr. Cuiper was the long-time lover of John’s godfather, a fact that mostly surprised John by how much it hadn’t startled him. It was a little weird staying over at a teacher’s house, but it was a better idea than taking time off to cram at his foster parents’ home, though that was pretty much a non-option.

The night before the last exam, John managed to fight off an attack of nausea and exhaustion by sheer will. Ben had suggested they have a pre-exam party, which wasn’t as counter-intuitive as it first seemed. They all needed to relax or they were going to chew paper rather than write on it tomorrow. Still, it was draining to keep smiling so long and John felt himself deteriorating. He wanted Ben and Lorraine to have a good time, though, since they deserved it. If not for the two of them, John would still be off playing ball and pretending the future was never going to get there. They were probably more tired than him, too. Lorraine in particular was frazzled and gaunt, her hair a frizzy halo and her skin increasingly yellowish. Tonight she looked positively pink for the first time in a month. He had to make a more conscious effort to think of his best friends more. He had to support them, and not just expect them to work at keeping him afloat.

In the end, John’s bright idea was to drag Ginger out to the football field with a few beers, heaving a sigh of relief when they leaned against a tree and took some long sips together. She didn’t speak, didn’t insist of asking him what was up. Ginger was always so good at knowing when to back off.

They wound up tangled together under that oak tree, breathless and hushed. The moon was particularly bright that night, and John’s breath caught when he saw Ginger watching him. What did he do to deserve her?

He tried to summon up an appropriate wave of love– or something, but all he felt was gratitude. John cupped Ginger’s cheek, smiling at her gently. His thumb rubbed across Ginger’s wide mouth, pulling at her bottom lip slightly as it passed. He drew a deep breath and plunged ahead.

“Will you marry me?” he blurted, and winced. They hadn’t gotten back together yet, not officially. Even he knew he was taking her for granted, but he wanted a sure thing. Was that so wrong?

There was a long silence, and John cringed deeper. Was she crying? He couldn’t quite see her expression clearly as the moon hid behind a stubborn cloud.

“Do you love me, John?” Ginger asked softly.

“I– really fancy you,” John said, blushing, and snogged her, pressing her back into the grass. The crickets chirped nearby, but mostly John heard Ginger’s sigh.

“You have to tell me at least once. I won’t keep asking.”

John couldn’t say it.

Instead, he raised a dry hand to her soft breast, kneading through her mum’s newest jumper. He could only mutter into her ear, biting it and grinding a bit against her hip to make it easier.

“I love the way you make me feel,” he whispered, nudging the jumper up over her bra. “I love the way you smell.” He grinned against the swell of her left breast as she moaned and wriggled against him. He snapped the bra hooks one-handed with the ease of habit.  “I love your hair. I love your firm– tasty– titties,” he swiped a lick all the way up across her nipple, pausing to bite it. “And your bellybutton–” he kissed lower down, “and your thighs– Mm, and all the way up.” He swirled his tongue until she gasped and shook in his hands. “I love the way you–” he pressed his tongue in and forgot to continue.

“That’s not–” she gasped– “that’s– that’s– ” She shuddered, and raised her head.  “Dammit, John! No, I won’t bloody– ahh!– marry you, you idiot!” Finally, Ginger gave another moan, and let him press her down deeper onto the grass.

He had her then, even so. She believed in him, even when he didn’t give her words to believe in. He would do anything it took to keep her safe, to keep her happy. Anything.

::

Ginger was everything he wanted to come home to; she was his in a way nothing else was. Just hearing her laugh made John feel as if everything was the same. His life was still his life, no matter what else changed, because Ginger was his constant.

She is so beautiful, John thought when he looked at her beside him.  She was tough and strong and she simply fit; they must have been inevitable ever since John had met Ben’s snot-nosed little sister.

So why did he dream about pointless, meaningless– fucking? Sleeping next to her at night, what he saw was Felton, who was dirty and shameless with his pretty legs obscenely spread. He dreamt about doing Felton on his bed with the sun streaming through the windows. They went at it like the world was ending– he made Felton whimper like a girl and bleed onto the sheets, which only made him do it harder, so that Felton hissed and clutched the pillow. That slick, fine hair was sticky with sweat in John’s fist. Felton is so filthy, he thought, he’d always wanted this. Felton would even like it if John hurt him; he didn’t mind when John came through the door and whipped it out without a word. He dropped to his knees like a slut, and when John came, he moaned and licked his lips. He loved it. John knew that Felton loved it, and he throbbed with the need to simply rut; to give it to Felton until the nasty bastard could feel it up in his throat.

“Tell me!” he yelled. “Tell me you love it!”

That vicious red mouth of Felton’s parted, puckering before he swallowed and licked his lips. “Please! Please….”

He pumped and pumped at Felton’s arse, but the goal– the satisfaction– only seemed farther away. Too late, it hit him that he was the one losing control. John moaned and flipped Felton onto his back, sucking on Felton’s tongue. He was half out of his mind with the need for release, but he couldn’t get there. He could only jerk between Felton’s legs, his hips in a mindless frenzy. The only sounds were squelches of their flesh slapping together and Felton’s wheezing inhales. Sometimes, there was the faint scrabbling noise of Felton’s fingernails as he scratched at the sheets, grunted near-silently and came yet again while John’s awareness narrowed painfully to a single point of seething frustration, and he woke.

John became aware he was panting loudly, so he smothered the noise with a pillow. He was groggy and had a pounding headache, and the sticky sheets clung maddeningly to his stomach. His whole body buzzed with the need to come, and he sat for a moment with his head in his knees, trying to be perfectly still so Ginger wouldn’t wake up. He stayed motionless but awake for interminable minutes, feeling half-sick with self-disgust. He was still so hard it actually hurt, and the idea of touching Ginger with a hard-on from that was unimaginable.

After a moment, he got up and stumbled to the shower, turning it on to cold full-blast. He tried to use reason, to figure out how to deal with this, but it was early morning, and he’d never been the best at self-analysis. What he knew was that this was disgusting, and pathetic besides. It wasn’t like some sort of PTSD flashback, because they’d never done that: they’d never gone all the way. The only person he’d ever done that with was his future wife; he’d been so careful not to edge over that line of no return. So why did he have to torment himself with this Felton-that-wasn’t, that was nothing like the sarcastic git he’d actually known?

In these dreams, Felton was transformed. He was pathetic, the way he looked with thin trickles of sweat running down his temples as John pounded him. The softness was what was different, though: the way he looked at John, humiliated and angry but also needy. John didn’t know what, but it was some a softness in Felton’s eyes that made John want to keep fucking him forever, until nothing was left of either of them but unconscious slabs of meat. The softness was impossible, really– but in the dream, it was like seeing Felton’s vulnerable belly left John himself exposed. He was dizzy with the consuming need to smother that weakness in himself, smother it with the sheer volume of fucking.

The shower method wasn’t really working anymore, so he gave in and turned the temperature up. He may as well be comfortable. He didn’t look down, just leaned his head against the slippery tile and tried not to move too much, not to moan, not to think anymore. He came under a minute, making a sticky, smelly, gooey mess that washed away all too easily, but then he was hard again, imagining that smell on Felton’s squeaky-clean high class body. John had to breathe in hard not to let frustrated tears escape.

He was in hell.

::

It didn’t take very long for Ginger to confront John over the sleepless circles under his eyes and the heightened irritability, not to mention the fact that he could no longer touch her. He couldn’t even look her in the face without flinching.

“You can tell me, John,” she said, watching him. Letting him tell her when he was ready.

He would never be ready for this, he thought.

“I don’t want to get married. Yet,” he said instead, his voice a hoarse whisper. God, he could barely force the words from between his clenched teeth. He would rather have this conversation than have his small intestine pulled through his throat, but not by much. “I’m sorry, Ginger, okay? It’s all my fault. I’m really fucking sorry. Can you just– give me some time? I’ll fix it, I swear!” He stared at her earnestly. “I’ll figure something out.”

“Okay,” she said after a minute or so with her eyes closed.  Her mouth was a thin white line. “Tell me why, John. I need to hear it.”

“I can’t,” he said tightly, “I can’t explain it, all right? You wouldn’t understand.”

Ginger’s eyes snapped open, and they were blazing. John knew right away he’d said exactly the wrong thing.

“How dare you,” she hissed. “How fucking dare you say that to me, after all we’ve been through? After all I did for you? Have you really got no shame, Bonner? Are you really that blind?”

He tried to bite his tongue, knowing how hard this had to be for Ginger. He was trying to be understanding, though a part of him wished there was a way to make her leave right now without actually having to ask. But no, he’d had to go and propose, didn’t he; she wasn’t some slut he’d picked up in a club. Of course, he didn’t pick up girls in those clubs, or bring them home for that matter. He couldn’t meet her eyes.

“Well? Do you really think my patience is unlimited, John? Do you? I knew you took me for granted, I knew you had bloody issues from your childhood. I was going to wait! I was going to help you, I was going to give you all the chances you needed because you needed them, but this is beyond–”

She rose and stalked over to him with her hands on her hips, with her glorious red hair flying around her shoulders. She should have been the spitting image of Mrs. Sheehan right then, but she wasn’t. She was Ginger, and she looked absolutely furious and– damn– gorgeous. God, he wanted her.

She waited until it was clear John wasn’t about to volunteer an explanation. “You know what? Fuck you,” she said in a voice that was so soft it made John shiver. She always yelled. All the Sheehans yelled in a fight, but this was Ginger at her limit. He’d finally gone too far. She turned around without another word and walked to the hallway, fetching her coat in silence.

At that moment, it was like John slammed right back into his sixteen year-old self. He knew he had no right to say anything, knew he should let her go. They’d had fights before; they’d taken breaks before. This was okay. But he could almost hear the door slamming shut, maybe for good this time. He’d really be alone every night, then, and panic always made him reckless.

“Stop! Stop! Wait!”

And because Ginger was Ginger, because she loved him, she paused at the door. Her back was to him and it shook with rage, but all John wanted was to rub against her arse, really give it to her from behind like this. Not looking at her, not seeing her eyes, not even taking her knickers off, like it was the back door of a club and they’d spent the past fifteen minutes grinding to electronica. He was panting, but Ginger might think it was from emotion.

“Wait,” he said again, lamely. He didn’t know what else he was supposed to say. Most of his mental effort was taken up by clenching his fists and counting from one to ten, then back to one.

“I’m waiting,” she said tersely.

“I’m–” He flushed, his scalp prickling, heart pounding. Fuck, what could he say? Was it too late to run away? John took a shuddering breath. “I can’t because– because I don’t want to h-hurt you, and– don’t take this the wrong way, okay?” He swallowed, his erection thankfully dead. “I’ve been, er, c-curious about– you know, other blokes. So. I thought– I thought I should, um, figure out what’s going on– I mean, what the hell’s wrong with me. Whether I’m–I’m not like that, but. You know, I should know for sure. Before I got married. Okay?”

He almost slid to the floor right there, because that was almost the truth.

Ginger turned around and looked at him mutely, and his mouth kept running as if someone forgot to turn the motor off. “I mean, I still want you,” he blurted. “Too. I still want you too, you know?”

She sighed, sliding down the door to sit on the floor next to him. She dropped her head on her knees for a moment, then turned her head to look at him, and what shocked him was the look of relief on her face.

John,” she whispered. She reached out a hand, and John grasped it tightly, shuddering.

“G-god.” He shivered, moving to put his arms around her. This was exhausting, but was he also a little relieved?

“It’s okay,” she whispered, making a wet spot on his neck. “John… John, you could’ve told me. I understand– Shhhh, it’s okay….”

The corners of his eyes prickled and he knew– he knew he didn’t deserve this, but the comfort felt so good, and she was warm and God, he didn’t want to lose her.

“Ginger….” He muttered senselessly, kissing his way up her neck to her mouth and finally taking it in a gentle kiss, licking at her lips as she kissed him back just as gently. He felt boneless, safe, like he could tell her anything. Almost like he could tell her about Felton, because it was only a dream, wasn’t it? Plus, he was still nineteen, he could– well, he was supposed to experiment, right?

He had to take it slow. He couldn’t just spring it on her all at once. That would be selfish. He had to wait… he had to pick the right moment, and then they’d figure something out. Hell, they could have a threesome; they could do it as a couple, the way it should’ve been. It was so bloody simple! Why didn’t he think of this before?

He squeezed her tighter. “So, um… are we okay, then? It would only be for a little while. And I could– we could–” God, why couldn’t he spit it out? Since when was he such a bloody coward? “I mean, there’s a few blokes I had in mind, and if you’re up for it– together, you know–” He kneaded at her breast, cursing at the jolt of heat in his belly as he found it pebbly against his thumb.

Ginger arched against him, before pushing him down on his back and straddling his chest. She moved slowly, deliberately. Her fiery hair hung down and hid her face; John couldn’t see her eyes, but she was panting, and her fingers dug into his sides. Her inner thighs made that jerky little squeeze of arousal, dampening his trousers.

“It’s okay if you’re there too,” she whispered roughly. “Anything you want.” Ginger still wasn’t looking at him, and she seemed a little too willing, but this was what he wanted; he couldn’t think past that anymore.

“Thank you. I mean it,” he blurted, immediately mortified. Where the fuck had that come from?

“Yeah, I know,” she said. Then she rose up on her knees so she could take his dick out.

John blinked at her in confusion, but she only held it tighter, squeezing him to the point of discomfort. He looked up at her steadily, and finally she shook her hair back like he’d known she would.

“Ginger?”

She released him, and her mouth twisted in an unfamiliar, bitter and unflattering sort of way for a moment. She reached into his jeans pocket like she knew what she was doing, and John was speechless when she withdrew a small bottle of lube.

“You want my arse, don’t you? Oh,  I know you do.” And she wet her finger before thrusting it unceremoniously behind her down the waist of her jeans, making one small gasp. After an awkward moment that seemed to stretch for entirely too long, she returned her attention to him, holding his penis up though he’d grown soft. John kept making a superhuman effort to keep still, to wait patiently and not turn her over and bugger her arse till she bled, and– he grunted in shock.

“Yeah!” he yelled. He jerked one arm around her so she fell forward, but Ginger balanced on her other arm. He watched her breasts sway wildly above him, mesmerized and entirely silent now, before his eyes rolled up and he checked out completely. His girlfriend was tighter and hotter than anyone, than anything.

He’d sullied her.

3.  Blood

what bothers me
is that you don’t know how you feel
what scares me
is that while you’re telling me stories
you actually
believe that they are real

~ Ani DiFranco

It was the way Felton leaned. He wouldn’t  even be caught dead looking at him, but he’d be leaning, and John thought he shouted, look at me!

John hadn’t been able to look away.

Felton’s sharp hips in tight jeans, and his cruel smirking mouth, and the way he’d look at him as if he could see through him: all that made him so angry back then. Felton didn’t know shit about him! Had he?

John liked to think he was a nice guy, pretty even-tempered. Felton made him feel like a savage, a caged animal, ready to rip Felton’s throat out or die trying. He’d tried so hard to be above it all, to be reasonable, but Felton wouldn’t stop pushing, so in the end he’d gotten what he deserved, hadn’t he? He’d asked for it, hadn’t he?

He’d hated feeling that way. Filthy and angry and out of control desperate needing skin.  It was just fucking. It shouldn’t be a big deal, anyway. Everyone did it, John thought. Everyone did it with everyone.

Except Ben probably didn’t want to cry after he’d gotten a blow from some random girl by the bleachers, and didn’t bite the mouth of his last girlfriend, feeling the blood trickle down his chin. John hadn’t even realized he’d been snogging Felton that one time, and had come to himself with his hands buried in the other’s hair, near-delirious from the breathy moans  Felton made, like he was melting in place. The more Felton moaned, the harder they snogged, so that both their lips ended up swollen and red.

He hated it, he couldn’t get enough and he hated it. His whole identity felt like it was melting along with those moans. He was getting addicted and he couldn’t stop.

There were so many of those times, moments he didn’t know what to do with. Any sane person would say none of that stress was worth the relief it got. Not remotely. There were moments, like two months or so into their thing in school, when they’d happen to be sitting in neighboring tables in the library. They were both silent. John thought  he could feel Felton’s body heat from ten meters away.

“Hey, do you remember how to factor trinomials?” Felton asked him calmly, out of nowhere.

“Oh,” he said vaguely. “Yeah.” And he got out his maths textbook and went over to help with the problem over at Felton’s table. Lorraine had been tutoring him and Ben in algebra, which was the only reason either of them could stay on top of it, what with soccer practice trumping everything. Ben and Lorraine had gotten together at the beginning of the year, finally, but this meant Lorraine got to put down ultimatums regarding their study habits and allotted soccer time. John would have resisted, but she had Ben wrapped around her little finger. Honestly, it was pretty weird, since both of them had known her since they were eleven, but even John had to admit Ben was a lot more tolerable now that he was a ‘taken man’. Regardless, this was the only reason why John was any good in class, compared to Felton, who was no nerd but clearly put more effort into studying than did John.

“Thanks,” Felton said, a while later.

John started. He found himself bent  over a book at Felton’s side, casually repeating the things Lorraine had explained earlier in his own words. Felton took notes, of all things. For a second he’d forgotten it was Felton, and treated him like any other human being. It was… disconcerting. The images of Felton’s hot sticky skin in his hand and his attentive, calm face overlapped and crumpled together in his mind almost painfully. The sudden erection was as disturbing as the pleasure he got seeing Felton’s  face with respect written on it.

He muttered something antisocial and borderline rude and clumsily went to get his books, scrambling to get out of the library before his blush reached his face.

Then there was the time Lorraine saw them, accidentally walking together to the dining hall just after a mutual wank: after all, it was lunchtime and they were headed in the same direction. They couldn’t help but walk together. Unfortunately, Felton’s face hadn’t quite reached its usual pasty color, so he sported a fetching blush. John himself was in an annoyingly good mood, having just shot a particularly strong one. Whatever the reason, as soon as Lorraine saw them, she said: “Oh, John. Why didn’t you tell me you got a boyfriend?”

He really should have shot that down properly, but it didn’t quite compute for one moment too long. Meanwhile, Lorraine’s eyebrows climbed higher, Felton made a sound like he choked on a fishbone before making a sharp retreat to his usual spot near his mates, and John’s indignant denial sounded lame even to his own ears.

For weeks after that, Lorraine would make well-meaning remarks about being willing to listen, how her older cousin was gay, and how she always would support John’s choices and would be his friend no matter what. If it was anyone but Lorraine, John would have gotten angry and told them where to shove their useless advice and their assumptions, but this was Lorraine, so John only stammered and felt guilty and embarrassed and more guilty still. John wasn’t a total asshole; he knew Felton, at least, was actually queer, and what they were doing was wrong on all sorts of levels, but one of them was that John’s experience was fundamentally different. He knew Felton didn’t really want John to treat him the way he did, though of course all his good intentions went out the window as soon as he saw Felton in the flesh again. John didn’t like being an asshole. He wanted to really love someone. In the end, of course, he got together with Ginger, which solved that problem. Lorraine stopped badgering him, and she had the grace to leave the ‘don’t hurt her or else‘ conversation to Ben. Small favors.

John wanted to love someone, but in the cold light of morning, with Ginger sleeping on her stomach with her arse colored with bruises left by his fingertips, he doubted he could. He felt like shit. He couldn’t make her happy. He was the asshole creep he’d fought throughout his life, the creep he’d despised in Felton from the beginning. Little selfish bastard, he’d thought. Relies on his daddy for everything. Can’t even do his dirty work by himself, always lugging those two bloody bruisers with him everywhere, thinking he looked tough, but he only looked like an idiot. Felton thought everything revolved around him, and John was never going to be like that. John was a decent human being. The bile was so thick, he could almost imagine shooting himself in the head to get the taste out of his throat.

That was going to be the end. He was going to break up with her. But then Ginger turned over, and her breasts were tipped pink, round and perfect, just like her arse, so he bit down on her nipples. She was mostly asleep, but she moaned and opened her whole body to him, ever so sweetly. Before he knew it, his body was on top of hers, his cock inside her, and she hadn’t done more than move onto her back. He liked it this way: with Ginger slow and groggy, her eyes sticking shut with sleepiness, and her arms pinned above her head as he took what he wanted. Like scooping up pie.

At some point, as always, something snapped, and justifying himself became all too easy. He wanted to. He craved it. How bad could it be? He was the way he was, and Ginger accepted that. He was a lucky man.

It was three days later that John came to the gay bar, having gotten off work early. He didn’t really have a plan in place except some notion of a nice nondescript blond bloke to bring home with him, test the waters a bit. On some level, he realized this could turn into a train-wreck all too easily– women were like that– so he thought non-threatening and low-key were key points to keep in mind. Also bisexual, of course.  For this first time, he’d have to play it safe, have the other cock be present simply to satisfy Ginger’s needs. It wasn’t about John, that way: it was about the two of them having some variety to spice things up. John wouldn’t have to do anything, and it would be like a free porno starring his girlfriend. He could wank to her sexy body and noises of pleasure; she’d feel powerful, sexy and in control. What was wrong with that? It was win-win. It was every man’s fantasy.

::

It was Felton, sitting calmly in the corner, smoking. He didn’t know Felton smoked, was John’s first thought. His second thought, or rather unbidden split-second image, was to imagine Felton’s penis  sliding wordlessly into Ginger that morning instead of his own. His third visual covered up Ginger’s thighs entirely with Felton’s bony hips in his mind, and John saw himself on top, giving it to him up the arse in sharp little jabs, making Ginger cry and clutch at John’s arms. She looked a little uncomfortable, almost in pain from Felton’s rapid pistoning, and it only made John’s stomach stoop sharply, wanting to see her gasp louder. In his vision, Felton’s face was totally invisible, with only the slick motion of his hips and the sweat on his back clear to John’s mind. And then there was nothing but the sight of Felton’s mouth in the flickering neon light by the bar, with his pale skin glowing a fierce, sharp blue.

John could never remember what he’d said, if anything, to get Mac Felton out of his seat and into the alleyway back exit. He’d probably said nothing. He vaguely remembered coming up to Felton’s seat in the at the left corner, watching him nurse his drink meditatively until he snapped and defiantly met John’s eyes.

“So. Cat got your tongue?” Felton drawled, but it was soft and lacked the usual sneer.   He knocked back his alcohol and stood, and John simply turned around and headed for the exit. It was that simple. He thought he could hear soft, measured steps behind him, but he didn’t turn around until he was there.

This was like a dream, but not any dream John actually had about Felton. There was a surreal quality to their motions and the clarity of Felton’s eyes on him. As soon as the door shut, they moved in unison, their lips sealing together in one inevitable swoop, as if drawn by down by gravity alone. Somewhere at the back of his mind, John observed and near-panicked, but his body had ideas of its own: they were snogging for only the second time ever, as if it was the most natural thing anyone ever did.  Felton poked his tongue in, testing his welcome, and heat shot thickly down to John’s stomach in an instant. Distantly, he was embarrassed: was he some stupid virgin, or what? Felton’s tongue had barely brushed against the side of John’s own. None of the indignation mattered, and he only groaned and sucked slowly at Felton’s lower lip. In a minute, he settled into the rhythm of it, and got comfortable as he gripped the other’s arse, pulling Felton’s body up his leg to settle against his hip.

Someone was moaning, and it was unclear whom; it wasn’t just one person. Their flies were open and they fumbled at bare skin. That remained an afterthought, a secondary thing to the shock of swallowing Felton’s spit. They kissed on and on, long after they’d come, and a bit after John started to notice the garbage and urine smell of the alleyway around them. It stank here.

At last, they slowed down and simply brushed each other’s mouths together silently. There were no tongues, only the heat and silky feel of the shirt covering of Felton’s chest and one of his legs sliding between John’s, smearing congealing come between them where their zippers were open.

Felton mumbled something, licking at John’s mouth something like a kitten: in tiny, precise vertical strokes.

“Nnnn.” John sighed and offered his neck, which Felton obediently licked. His blood felt congealed, slowed with carnal pleasure. Of course, it never could disguise that current of bitterness that told him this was Felton. He was still sprawled languidly against the wall, barely upright with his cock half-hard and come smeared on a flash of pale belly. John pushed away from him, propping an arm against the wall as he hung his head and breathed out.

“I hear your father’s old associates may be looking for you. You should watch your back.”

Felton’s eyes focused, sharp and calculating. He snorted. “I’ll make sure to remember that.”

“I’m a cop, Felton,” John said flatly. “I’m not trying to give you a hard time.” He tensed up when Felton laughed dryly, not in a mean way.

“You don’t give a shit about me, and that’s fine. You don’t have to pretend.”

John’s mood soured.  “Either way, you must know there’s going to be a trial of one of his executives. They’ve just extradited Karkoroff from Romania, and the natives here are getting restless again. The department can offer you protection if you play ball with us.”

“Don’t tell me.” Felton raised a dubious eyebrow, giving John a bit of a nostalgic pang. “You were looking for my answer in my pants all along.”

“Go ahead and mock me,” John spat. “I’m only trying to reason with you like a normal human being. My mistake.”

“You must have an angle on this, though. I mean, Jesus, Bonner, you haven’t even zipped up your trousers. Don’t talk to me about reasonable with your dick hanging out.”

John glared at him and grabbed at Felton’s own cock rather than zipping up his own. “Yeah,” he said roughly. “I’ve got an angle, sure.” He gave Felton a jerk, watching him hiss through his teeth with satisfaction. “Yeah….” He gave a few more absentminded pulls, until he licked his lips, focus returned. “I know a slimeball like you isn’t about to come running to the cops just because your daddy’s old friends are restless. Hell, you may be considering getting into the business yourself. I heard the Felton fortune isn’t what it used to be, and you’re not exactly up for marrying your way into the black, are you?”

Felton paled, then flushed, pushing John away with such sudden force that he stumbled. Felton had never been physically violent, preferring to leave the dirty work to others. Now, he seemed to have forgotten he needed brothers Dull and Duller to do some damage, and sparks of barely banked violence sizzled the air between Felton’s clenched fists.

“Something else you want to say, Bonner? Go ahead. Make my fucking day.”

“I want you to fuck my girl.”

John didn’t even see it coming. Next thing he knew, he was crashing into the wall, his head knocked back into brick with the force of Felton’s punch. His ears rang, and he could feel something wet and sticky trickling hotly down his neck. He slid to the ground with a smile on his face, and he coughed weakly, tasting blood. He could only focus on the fact that Felton’s cock was eye-level now, and it was hard as his own, an angry purplish red, pulsing with blood.

If only Felton hit him harder. They’d have both enjoyed it. Just like the good old days.

He shook his head and groaned, wincing. “That’s one hell of a swing you’ve developed, Felton. Maybe I shouldn’t have been worried. I’m sure you’ll show those bastards a proper welcome without our assistance. Who cares about guns when you can stop bullets with your dick?”

They both looked down, and Felton gasped, turning around and fumbling with his zipper awkwardly. “Bugger! Why do you always have to– ah! Bugger!”

“Did the zipper get you?” John asked mildly.

“Bloody hell, Bonner, why do you have to be such an arsehole? What the fuck did I ever do to you? Leave me the hell alone! You can take your bloody protection and your girlfriend and shove them up your face, motherfucker!” He started down the alley to the street without another word.

When it hit John that he was serious, he shot to his feet, cursing at the stab of pain to his temple, and caught up with him right before the final dumpster met the street.

“Wait! Wait.” He huffed. “Ow. Wait.”

“What.” He didn’t turn around.

“Sorry. I mean, I was serious, I really think you’ll need some back-up for a few weeks. Do me a little favor, and I can make that happen without you having to testify against that bastard. Otherwise, simply come to the station, give your statement and we can get you  set up. Come on, be reasonable!”

Felton turned around, completely incredulous. “You mean, you were serious? That’s what you want? For me to fuck your little girlfriend? What the bloody hell are you on about?”

John flushed. “It’s complicated, and it’s none of your business, but me and Ginger are trying to work out an arrangement, okay. I’d rather it be someone I’m comfortable with than some stranger, so that’s where you come in.”

“Wait, wait, so you’re comfortable with me fucking your precious pure girlfriend? Are you mental? Do you even realize how fucked up this is or have you become that delusional?”

John’s mouth thinned. “Look.  It’s pretty straightforward: I don’t feel all that threatened by you getting any funny ideas or starting an affair with her, do I?” John was starting to feel a bit defensive in spite of himself, seeing the incredulous look failing to go down on Felton’s face. “We’ve already gone pretty far in that direction already, that one time. It’s not that different, just… the other way around. It’s an easy deal. Think of it as relationship counseling if it helps.”

“No, it doesn’t bloody help! You– I have no words for you! I never thought I’d say this, but I’m starting to feel pretty sorry for Sheehan. I’m sure she didn’t sign up for this.”

John’s fists clenched, his head smarted, and he was starting to think that perhaps this was a really bad idea. Maybe so, but damned if he was going to give up now.

“I’m not asking you to approve, am I? If you don’t want to, that’s your choice, but our relationship is none of your bloody business, Felton.  Stay the hell out. What matters is whether you want to be shot in the head from across the street by someone you’ll never even see.”

Felton didn’t flinch, but John could see the slight narrowing of his eyes. He’d never been known for his courage. “I don’t know nearly enough for them to simply take me out,” he said, but it lacked force.

“You really may not know shit, but how sure do you think they are about that? They’re not  your family: they can’t know the reality of your relationship with Mr. Felton. They’ll want to make sure to minimize risk, no matter what. And if you really don’t know enough to be a good witness, the department   will still help you, but of course you won’t be a high priority. You know how it is with budget cuts. My deal isn’t so bad, is it? You may even enjoy it.”

There was a pause. “When did you become such a crooked cop, Bonner? What happened to you? I used to think you were an self-righteous little prick back in school, but I respected you.”

“Shut up! You think you know me?” John took a few heated steps forward, till the streetlights hit his face. Felton was looking at him calmly, as if it was someone else who’d gotten a hard-on from trying to smash John’s face in. “You always said we weren’t that different,” he muttered. “Maybe you were right.” Felton’s searching look only made John angrier. “I don’t mean I’m some Nancy boy, all right? We both do what we have to do. If you don’t get it, well then I don’t expect you to.”

“Christ.” The startled look was still there, driving John up the wall. “You’re seriously fucked up, man.”

“It’s you!” he yelled, unable to hold back the accusation anymore. “It was always you! It’s your bloody fault  I’m like this, isn’t it? It all started with that stupid mistake in sixth year, and it just never stopped. Who do you think is responsible for fucking me up, anyway? If I’m not the Golden Boy you’re expecting, it’s because I can’t stop– I can’t stop– fuck!”

He took Felton unaware, and banged him back against the dumpster, grabbing the other’s head between his hands and devouring his mouth like he was a starving man. Grinding up against him mindlessly for long moments, he thrust his tongue in unconcerned by rhythm or pleasure,  until he tore himself away and ran without looking, only stopping five minutes later, in a  part of the neighborhood he needed a second to recognize. Luckily, he was in walking distance from the Tube.

Numbly, he made his way to the train, his mind empty of all thought and feeling as he stared out silently into the fast-moving dark.

::

It took four days for Felton to leave  a short message on his phone: “Don’t make me regret this.”

John got the voicemail  on his lunch-break, having settled down with his fish and chips and coffee by the fountain near the station. It was the sort of early spring morning that made one feel a little more energetic and hopeful: crowded but not too much so, slightly breezy and nippy if you weren’t wearing layers, but generally warm for March in London. There was a vague scent of green things mixed in with the usual mixture of exhaust, pigeon poop and street-vendor curry. He repeated the message several times, and he still wasn’t actually sure how he felt about it.

Here, in the brisk sunshine, wearing his uniform and thinking vaguely about his current caseload, having anything to do with Felton, or even thinking about his private life too deeply, seemed grotesque. Whoever it was that had done all those desperate things to keep Felton where he wanted him: that wasn’t anyone John recognized as himself. His behavior towards his girlfriend was similarly unreal, and mostly ignored unless something forced him to remember. He twisted the phone in his hand, humming. He could simply ignore it. He should ignore it. No doubt Felton himself would be relieved. Further, he should call in a favor or two and set up a detail to follow Felton while the heat died down; it wasn’t just for his sake: those arseholes would be sure to swarm around him like flies around shit. It only made sense to have Felton followed. In fact, John was going to do that regardless of Felton’s decision, so the whole drama of asking him to choose was purely spur-of-the-moment theater. Theater he was at a loss to justify or explain.

It was a simple case of reason and common sense controlling his base desires, the ones which at this very moment, sitting in public with a coffee-cup half-full in front of him, conspired to tent his trousers. What he wanted wasn’t what he should have. What he wanted wasn’t even what he wanted long-term. It was madness to gamble his relationship and his self-control on purely momentary satisfaction.

So what John did next simply didn’t make much sense: he called Felton from his work phone, where the message had gotten forwarded but which John reserved for outgoing work calls.

He called Felton from his work phone, with his trousers around his ankles, standing in a grotty park stall with his dick in his other hand.

He called Felton with only fifteen minutes to until he was due at his office, with the fish and chips left to cool on the metal table, and the coffee-cup emptied in one gulp, lying discarded on the ground.

At Felton’s brief ‘hullo’, his breathing got choppy and he immediately asked him, low-voiced, grinding out each word: “What are you wearing?” Like some creepy street molester they’d pick up.

And it was all so filthy and creepy and wrong, so Felton’s response was all the more striking: like a circuit closing, his breaths turned sharp in response. Then he told him: it was pyjamas and slippers,  a towel around his neck. What kind of pyjamas? It was his old plaid pyjamas, worn through with holes showing, since he was doing the washing today. Where is the hole? The breaths turned harsh: it was between his legs, right at the seam.  How did you manage to tear pyjamas there? He used to spread his legs as far as they would go, but the fabric would pull, and finally started to rip. What were you doing? There was a tell-tale slick sound for a response the first minute, but he answered: this. Just this? There was a slight gasp. You can tell me. Silence, with slight noises he couldn’t quite hear over his own breath. Shit, tell me! His legs were spread wide and he’d been trying to stick it in. Stick what in? Come on, I’m so close! Fingers, he whispered. Good. Good boy, Mac. That’s good. What about now? Bastard. A grunt, then: yeah. Oh yeah, I want you to remember this when you come inside her. There was a pause, a curse, and finally a disgruntled sigh. What? He’d lost his erection, and he was hanging up now.

Five minutes later, John was still sitting on the dingy toilet, head in his hands. How the hell had it come to this point? Any way you looked at it, Felton would’ve done it if he’d said it was a threesome. Hell, he’d done it already when he’d had to watch. It’s not like Felton secretly wanted to this time; John himself didn’t really want to. Rationalizations about what Ginger wanted aside, since Ginger likely wanted this to have been a bad dream, what he wanted was to fuck Felton himself. To be honest, he was just being a stubborn arse. There’s no way he’d go back on his word now that he’d told Felton what he intended to get. He knew it, Felton knew it. At this point, his whole department probably knew it.

It would almost be funny if it didn’t smell so bad here, and he wasn’t late from his break and feeling peckish again.

::

When he called Felton again two days later, he was alone in his bed, and it was after midnight. He’d had trouble falling asleep, and called without thinking as soon as his mind inevitably turned to sex.

“What now.” Felton sounded groggy, and there was a bit of a whine in his voice.

“What about doing it next weekend?” John said, surprising himself.

“Is that what you called me about at three in the morning? I’d have thought you’d try to convince me Her Majesty’s Secret Service is after me this time, at least.”

Experimentally, he didn’t answer, and instead gave his cock a languid pull. There was silence at the other end of the line, and finally Felton spoke, sounding annoyed: “Don’t tell me you want a wank at this hour, too.”

John’s mouth tightened. “You liked it well enough last time.” Dear god, I sound like his boyfriend.

“Yeah, well, there are times I like chicken liver well enough, but then I realize I’m rat-arsed and likely to chuck up any second.”

“Don’t tell me you’re getting shirty because of that one thing I said last time.” John could almost feel Felton’s eyebrow rise.

“I’m not getting bloody shirty, all right? Oh hell, you’ve woken me up in the middle of the night to ask me to roger your girlfriend for you, haven’t you. And you know what? I can’t be arsed.”

“You– you promised!” he sputtered.

“So? Do her yourself. If you’re up for it. Now, I’m going back to sleep.”  Felton hung up.

When he put it that way, John wasn’t too sure why he wanted it himself anymore, but he supposed it mostly had to do with the fact that Felton was saying no. That was not to be tolerated.

He was pretty sure if he called Felton again, he’d lose any respect he may have, not to mention any self-respect. With that in mind, he set a team of two loyal department lads, wet behind the ears and eager to prove themselves worthy to everyone’s favorite Scotland Yard prodigy,  John Bonner.  He told them to make themselves  available to the bloke first, so he knew he’s safe now, all that.

A call wasn’t long in coming.

“You self-righteous tosser! Do you ever pay attention to what anyone else wants except yourself?”

“When I need to,” John said mildly. “Don’t try to pretend you don’t appreciate having those boys at your back. Those two have a good field record, and those sweet dull faces must remind you of your old mates, eh? So how about we do it next weekend?”

Felton puffed a dry laugh. “Don’t bother trying to play oblivious, you git. If you think I need– no,  I deserve protection, that’s police business, isn’t–” Felton drawling tones got cut off with a sudden yell, and the line disconnected.

John called back again and again, and no one picked up, so he ordered a trace on the call and got a car to Beak and Lexington Street, which was hardly very far, being right at Piccadilly. When he saw a small ring of people clustered at the corner, his stomach dropped. He bit out orders to call for the medics,  jumping out of the car before it quite stopped.

“Police! Stand back!” John yelled, half-a-second before he would have started shoving. Instead of Felton on the ground, he saw the broad form of McAllister with Felton huddled over him. He was making an odd keening sound, but there was no obvious wound.

“Stand back, Mr. Felton,” he said firmly. “You’ll have to let the medics do their job. Olsen! Ford!”

While his lads took over crowd-management and kept the situation under control, John pulled Felton into the back of the car, shutting the door and asking some brisk questions. It was soon clear that John had been right on one thing: Felton hadn’t seen it coming. He’d almost forgotten he actually had a detail on him until he heard the people’s exclamations as the man threw himself on him, pulling Felton under as he dropped. Aside from staring at the blood on his hands with wide eyes, Felton wasn’t much help.

“They shot at me, Bonner!” Felton said for the fifth time. “I need a tissue. Do you have a tissue?” He raised wide grey eyes at him, blinking slowly as he held out trembling blood-stained hands. His starched white cuffs were stained as well. He’d have to make sure and make time to visit McAllister every night this week.  It was the least he could do.

“Right. Sit tight, I’ll drive you to A&E.” He didn’t wait for Felton’s okay and got in the driver’s seat, phoning the department to let them know the change of plans as he wove in and out of traffic. The boss won’t be happy, but no one would be surprised.

“I don’t need a doctor,” Felton said with a ghost of his usual peevishness.  “It’s McAllister, Bonner.”

There was a pregnant pause.

“Right. You’ve gone into shock, but you don’t need to worry. Everything will be fine.”

“They would have killed me if not for McAllister,” Felton said, ignoring him.

“I know,” he said, but didn’t touch him. He was torn, unsure he wanted to, sure Felton would either crumple or lash out, but regardless it would be wrong. Simple expressions of human kindness seemed wrong between them, he thought.

::

John found him crying once, before they’d started messing around sixth year, right after Mr. Felton’s conviction. This was before the famous prison-break and subsequent manhunt.

He’d stood silently for a long time, extremely uncomfortable with Felton’s pointy pink, twisted face, but he was unable to look away. As soon as Felton noticed, of course, there was hell to pay.

Felton didn’t bother with calling John any names, liked he usually would have. When he saw John’s reflection in the mirror, his face twisted into something dark and ugly, an expression John had never forgotten.  They stood locked like that in what seemed like ages, but it must have been a split second.  Then Felton screamed, and his whole body jolted as if electrocuted.

He moved faster than John had ever seen him. Before he knew it, John was on the floor, and Felton’s thin, bony fingers were clasped tight around his neck.

He was hissing. Staring down at John and hissing. Even then Felton didn’t seem mad, but he did seem dangerous, for the first time in his memory. The poisonous little git was a man at the very end of his rope. He stared down its end at John’s eyes, and there was nothing he wouldn’t do.

So John kicked then elbowed him, watching in frozen horror and fascination as the blood spurted violently from Felton’s mouth, and he made that small gurgling sound before falling silent on the tile floor.

His first few steps left bloody footprints, but then John was out and running. He only made it around two corners before he was stopped by Professor Gaither, and the inevitable sequence of cause and effect was set in motion. It ended up with John sitting quietly in the Hospital Wing, breathing in and out slowly as he watched Felton sleep.

“I do hope you’re reflecting upon your actions, Mr. Bonner,” Gaither had told him in his insufferable, fake posh accent. “You’ve got to learn you can’t get away with everything. I daresay you’ve met  your match in Mr. Felton.” After a hanging pause, he made a small clicking noise in his throat and nodded stiffly: “Then, good night.”

Staring at Felton’s frail body lying motionless, his taunting, sharp mouth relaxed in drugged sleep, John felt like he was suffocating. The resentment was too much. I could do for you before you wake up, you little fucker.

He’d never really know how he managed to stay in his seat, and not swing a leg easily over Felton’s torso and let him get a taste of his own medicine. Then again, he wasn’t that kind of bloke, was he? That’s the whole point, arsehole.

It was likely because Felton was crying, even in his sleep. His mouth parted, those pale eyelashes fluttering like a newborn’s…  who wouldn’t want to stuff a pillow over their own face, so as not to look?

A part of him felt it was a test of sorts. The more he resisted the various black thoughts that came to mind, the better he felt about himself. The one that wouldn’t leave him longest was probably the desire to push a finger into Felton’s mouth.

Gag him. Make him wake up. Make him sorry.

Finally, at a point in time no different from any other, John got up and left without looking back.

His fists only managed to unclench and his breath to calm as he lay in his own bed, listening to his roommates snore in a homey symphony.

After that, John went out of his way not to look at Felton, not to speak to Felton, not even to think about Felton. It was a relief, really. He hadn’t been himself for awhile, that was all.

Back in the car, John couldn’t quite find it in himself to seize this moment. Felton being vulnerable awakened all sorts of bad memories. Looking over at him when they’d stopped for a red light, seeing him pale even for pasty skin, with his arms wrapped around his middle as he stared out the window… Felton cut a lonely, shrunken figure. John kept his hands on the wheel and stared straight ahead, breathing in and out.

The deep breathing returned when he sat at Felton’s bedside again. This time it was nothing serious, but the doctor advised they keep him a few hours for observation. Of course this involved intravenous sedatives and “some vitamins”, though who knew what that greenish-yellow liquid really was. It hadn’t taken much to take Felton down, and he’d been under for over three hours now.

John hadn’t noticed when he’d started absent-mindedly tracing circles around the injection site on the top of Felton’s hand. It was a little soothing, and no one was around, so he continued.

It wasn’t that he pitied him. Right now, he didn’t even want him. He couldn’t imagine something that would have normally been a no-brainer, like pushing up the paper gown and starting to suck. Hell, it may be better without Felton conscious enough to make inane commentary. Instead of pushing down the thin sheets, he straightened them, looking out the window at the anemic late afternoon sunlight. Inevitably, the room looked out onto skyscrapers, grey sky and cement, but there were birds out there somewhere.

“I hate the– bloody– smell,” Felton said in a weak croak, then sighed.

“Yeah.” John answered before fully processing, but then he jumped. He snatched his hand away guiltily, but Felton didn’t appear to notice.

John got up awkwardly. He was here in an official capacity. “Let me know when you’re ready to give a statement. I’ll be around another hour. Just page the nurse.”

“Don’t go,” Felton said, unblinking, and John twitched again. He had to fight not to fidget.

“The nurses are right here. You’ll be ready to go soon.”

Felton turned his head towards the window silently, his shoulders sharp and thin in that ridiculous paper outfit.

John swallowed, then made his way towards the armchair in the opposite corner by the window. He’d meant to go there all along, he thought.

“I’m going to get some kip,” he said, trying to get comfortable. It was startlingly easy.

“Thanks,” Felton whispered.

“I didn’t do anything,” John said, not opening his eyes.

“Mm.” There was the rustle of paper as Felton turned over on his back again.

John was almost asleep for real when Felton whispered: “Do you really want me to?”

Only if you want to.

Only if you want me.

John never answered aloud; in a half-asleep state, all that came to him were scattered images from his fantasy scenarios. In some of them Felton was a woman, and in some of them John was the one being fucked. There were too many things he wanted, and too many things he wished he didn’t, that were wrong, that were impossible, that made him sick.

In that space, it made sense to John that Felton’s body was his body; his body was Felton’s. He wanted to own it completely, to use it as if it was his own. In the darkest wish, he would also be used: Felton would need him, and would simply take him, and consume everything that’s his. She’s mine too, Bonner, he’d say, smiling. And Felton’s cock would be his cock, owned through owning Ginger in turn. Of course he’d know; Felton’s body would know the secrets of John’s body. He wouldn’t need to say it, but he’d know, and that would destroy John. That would be the end, and as much as that would destroy him, John wanted– needed— Felton to know.

It made sense:  if Felton could do Ginger, then John, too, could be fucked. The ultimate wrong. It would only be fair.

You don’t have a choice, Felton would say. You think this is your body now?

The worst would be when Ginger watched, as she did by the end of that montage.  John sobbed, his legs bent back all the way to his shoulders. Ginger wore a look of horror and pity; it killed him to have her see him like this: reduced to a shameless hole. She was his queen. He begged Felton to stop, please stop, but naturally, Felton didn’t care what John said or wanted, though that was obvious. Throughout the sobbing and denials, John’s cock twitched and spurted, dancing on its own.

Over and over, Felton took him, until John stopped caring about his audience or anything else. Over and over, until John no longer remembered who was fucking whom. One moment he was on his back, being raped, and the next he was the one holding Felton’s shoulders down.

You little fucker! Beg me!

Yeah, Felton gasped, and suddenly he was grinding into John’s hole, sneering. You like this.

It never ended.

Felton was there when John woke up, embarrassingly enough.

The window shone dimly from the office windows facing them, and John could see Felton’s profile reflected in it.

Felton stood near him in still silence, leaning on the windowsill wearing an unfamiliar black turtleneck and tight jeans. His figure was remote, more severe than John ever recalled seeing it except at Mr. Felton’s funeral. John had come in an official capacity, though at the time he’d wished he didn’t.

“Has someone come?”

Felton frowned. “Mother, naturally. Who else would you expect?”

“And you didn’t wake me?”

“You seemed tired,” Felton said in a flat tone.

“It’s up to me to make that kind of call, Felton. I’m on the clock here,” he said, though of course that was a lie.

“Yeah. I should trust your judgment more,” Felton said quietly.

John flinched. “You shouldn’t. I’m sorry.”

“I owe you.”

“You don’t,” he said, feeling inexplicably tired. “It’s my job.”

At that, Felton turned to face him, eyes clear. It was obvious he’d been crying, but that simply made him more inaccessible at that moment.

Felton moved silently, straddled John’s hips and ground down on his lap in a single light twist.

John blushed at his own immediate and blatant reaction, and something faint lit up in Felton’s eyes before it was hidden, and he got up again before John could remind him where they were. It wouldn’t have been very convincing, since Felton was so composed and John was already breathing hard through his nose.

“Your job.”

“Yeah,” John breathed, but he didn’t tug Felton back down.

“So you want it, then?”

Yes. “What?”

“Your prize,” Felton said evenly, as he was speaking to a child.

“Oh.” John’s lips twisted, as if he tasted something sour. “That.”

“What, you thought I was offering to fuck you?” Felton raised an eyebrow. “That would be unprofessional, wouldn’t it? You’re just doing your civic duty, aren’t you, Bonner?”

He’d gone from cold to so hot it made him dizzy, but he wouldn’t be humiliated. He had his word. He had a girlfriend. He didn’t need Felton’s arse on his cock when he could have anything of his girlfriend that he chose to have.

This was why, though. This was why he did those daft things, like taking out his tool in full view of several of his friends, that time, wanking until Felton couldn’t stand it anymore. It was Felton; why shouldn’t he spread his legs for John? It was obvious he wanted to. It was his fault, the way he was, the way he was never John’s unless he forced the issue. He never made it easy. He’d liked to rub John’s face in it, how much he wanted it, how much he could withhold. How many times had John had to look and not touch?

It seemed like his whole school career involved looking at Felton looking back at him. He’d never wanted this. Felton was a pathetic little bastard who wasn’t worth his time. He didn’t need him. He’d had brilliant mates. Ben’s little sister was gorgeous. Felton was just this little creep who used to make grade-school taunts way past their sell-by date.

“Fine,” John said, and got up. “Fine. Call me and we’ll set up a good time.”

He meant to leave, but instead he couldn’t quite get past Felton without pulling him up against the wall, fastening his mouth on his neck and sucking hard till Felton hissed again.

“Sssst–”

He never said stop, though. He never said stop when it hurt.

::

Ginger refused to do it at home. They ended up taking the Tube to a cheap hotel in Telegraph Hill that John was familiar with from his college days. Normally they sat down together and  chatted, or Ginger read an article in the day’s paper and they had an easy back-and-forth over the unfortunate state of the city, not to mention the country these days. This time she was tense and silent, and it was obvious even to John that she was having second thoughts.

She was dressed oddly, too: Ginger was a North country girl through and through, with the smudged cheeks and faded jeans that implied. He’d never seen her wear a skirt outside of work outfits, but right now she was full speed into the secretary look: sensible heels, a knee-length skirt and jacket, and a pale pink lip color. It was both wrong and kind of sexy, imagining this prim little lady, with her pinned-back red curls and pursed pink mouth, all breathless and disheveled with her hose tearing when her legs spread fast enough, the fabric of her skirt stretched and rucked up around her hips.

Knowing he wasn’t supposed to touch her today was making John both horny and guilty; a heady combination. Here was his girlfriend in clear distress, all but trembling as she sat ramrod straight at the edge of the seat, and all John could think was that she’d probably worn a new bra, too. He could see edges of it peeking through her fancy silk shirt. It seemed pretty lacey, and Ginger wasn’t a lace kind of girl either. To his horror, John realized he was enjoying her discomfort; he was seriously twisted. This was his girlfriend, not some arsehole bully from school. There was no way it was okay to push her like this. There was no way it was okay to take advantage of the crowding in their connecting train, just to brush across her nipples ever so lightly. She’d always been so sensitive there.  She’d be gasping and trembling harder, while she saw every expression on her face reflected in the blackened window. John’s own nipples hardened just thinking about it. If only he could tell himself she wanted it; needed it. If only he could believe he had to be fantasizing the same way he was, getting wet off the whole thing.

They could duck into an alley and he could take her in her secretary skirt, her legs around his waist, moaning like a bitch in heat while the cars zoomed by and teenagers laughed around the corner, scratching his back, desperate. They could snog till they couldn’t breathe, and ditch Felton to go home and shag more.

He was a sick pervert, wasn’t he. His girlfriend was obviously quite out of her element, and had to be needing John’s support.

He wrapped a hand around hers on the pole, squeezing lightly.  Ginger  tensed further, but didn’t pull away. Her hand was unexpectedly sweaty, he thought.  He had told her she didn’t have to do this, of course. In fact, he’d told her so just before they left, more than half-hoping she’d take him up on it. True, he wouldn’t have wanted to answer who exactly did he not want shagging whom in this scenario. Regardless,  reckless stubbornness was one trait John shared with Ginger, so here they were.

Taking a chance, he sat down and propped his chin on her  shoulder, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. This time she did pull away.

“Not here!” she whispered, but she didn’t blush. She scowled.

Oh. They were in public.

John had a weird swooping feeling, something like fear or a premonition. “Sorry. I mean… sorry.”

“It’s okay!” she said in that same tone, still not looking at him. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay. Sorry.”

They lapsed into silence the rest of the way. Looking at Ginger’s outfit again, John thought it had ‘no’ written all over it.

::

Felton was already waiting by the door when they got there. He wore a black trench coat and impressively sized boots, standing stiff and upright beneath the building’s overhang as he watched the cars go by.   Ginger had slowed her pace down drastically when they’d sighted Felton from a ways away, but then she walked faster, her heels clicking smartly on the sidewalk.  It started raining in a sudden burst when they were almost there, and John’s hair stuck to his skull in moments.

There was a long, awkward interlude when they all stood in the same space, with no one willing to break the silence. Finally, John said: “Inside is warmer,” and they piled in. John got the room from a friendly old woman who blinked at them behind round grandma spectacles.

The atmosphere in the lift was even worse: tense enough that you’d have thought their destination was bound to be an interrogation chamber. At that point, John was pretty sure it would all be okay as long as they could relax a little. Sighting the wine menu on the room’s desk, he saw their salvation. To that end, he called downstairs and asked for their best vintage, and plenty of beer. He didn’t want seize control of this thing, or it would never go anywhere. It was hands-off in every way once the booze arrived.

“Will you be wanting any food brought up with that, Mr. Bonner?”

John thought for a second. “Feeling peckish?” he asked the room. Felton rolled his eyes, and Ginger kept pacing in place a little. “I’ll have bangers and mash.”

“Coming right up, love.”

“Ta.”

He hung up to the sight of both Felton and Ginger giving him a Look. Naturally, John got a little defensive. “What?”

Felton had to come to the rescue. “Crisps, if they have them.”

“I’ll check,” John said.

That  was the last thing they said for nearly ten minutes.

By that point, John was quietly placing bets with himself about how much he’d give so that none of this ever happened. He felt very British at that moment. This whole openness and frankness about sexuality business was too bloody hard, not to mention highly embarrassing.

Felton had the nerve to have ignored him completely after that one charitable contribution. He turned on the telly and plopped down on the edge of the bed with apparent satisfaction. Soccer was on: Spain vs. Romania. John held off, unwilling to simply sit down on the bed next to Felton, and the only other place was the armchair in the corner. Ginger, on the other hand, had no such problems.

“Woo!” Ginger’s game face was on once the  Romanians proved their mettle with their first goal a few minutes later. She’d always been a sucker for the underdog.

It was Felton’s turn to give Ginger a Look. “This is war, you realize,” he said with an arched eyebrow. His lips twitched playfully, and John only gaped.  The rival commentary switched on near instantaneously, though John knew for a fact Felton thought the Spaniards were overrated.

When the beer came a couple of minutes later, they barely said thanks. They certainly downed it fast enough, though, so John found himself playing gopher, ordering another few bottles– and then another.  He was left nursing the wine, his appetite gone.

He wanted to  say something, but wasn’t sure what. He’d been watching them and not the game, though he’d been the team Captain back in school. He’d even played against Felton once or twice in school matches, and John thought he wasn’t bad. Not really suited for the rough and tumble of the sport, but not bad. That wasn’t to say Felton didn’t play dirty, because he certainly did. All that wasn’t on Ginger’s radar at the moment, of course.

Seeing them so animated now, John couldn’t help remembering those days. Did they remember he was in the room?

The way Ginger giggled and leaned over sideways meant she was well on her way to piss-drunk, and Felton wasn’t doing much better.  John thought watching his girlfriend flirt with Felton was definitely not why he’d brought him here.

By the time the stupid soaps came on after the game, they were calling for more beer again, with Felton making his usual sarcastic comments on the silly show. Ginger ate it up with the loud, obnoxious laugh she saved for her friends.

It’s good to get them to relax, John told himself grimly. Dragging her away by the hair was probably beneath him. Bad idea all around. She was laughing non-stop.

John snapped. “Hey!” he called. Nothing. “HEY!”

Ginger’s head snapped around, and she blinked at him owlishly. Then she smiled her silly wide, affectionate grin and began to crawl over Felton’s lap. She leaned across the bed with her arm hanging off, reaching towards John. He distantly noted that Felton wore an odd expression. A little uncomfortable, maybe a little something else. Well, her tits were mashed into his crotch at the moment, and he hadn’t always been such a poof. John thought he remembered overhearing some rumors about him and that loudmouthed Debby– Patty?– person.

“Honey?” Ginger prodded, her nails  barely scratching his knee. They were pink today. “Are you feeling lonely?”

Felton guffawed, and John promptly glared at him, though Ginger only sent back a chastising look she might have given Ben. “Now, Mac. Don’t provoke him. He’s lonely. Aren’t you, honey?”

“I’m not,” John muttered.

“He’s shy.” Felton deadpanned.

“I’M NOT LONELY!”

Ginger reeled back. “You didn’t have to yell,” she said with a moue. “I heard you the first time. Well, what then? Don’t tell me you’re horny?”

“Why would I be horny?” John said, exasperated.

Ginger seemed to consider this, but Felton answered easily in his let’s-be-reasonable tone. “You’re always horny, Bonner.”

Ginger giggled, giving Felton’s shoulder a light slap. “Aww yeah. That he is.” She paused in the midst of something that passed as thought at the moment. “I know– should I strip? Would you like that? You liked it before,” she said, trailing off.  Before John could muster a proper response, Ginger slipped her blouse off one shoulder. “You know what? I’ll tell you a secret. Do you want to know a secret, Mac?”

“Of course,” Felton said immediately.

“This outfit is really bloody stuffy. I’ll start to smell soon.”

Felton huffed a laugh. “That’s not good.”

“No,” Ginger said with a little smile. “It isn’t.” She slipped out of her skirt before either of the two men could react. With a sigh, Ginger settled cross-legged on the bed.  “See? Comfy.”

“Ginger!” Felton squeaked, alarmed.

John relaxed, suddenly relieved.

“What?” Ginger mumbled, distracted by trying to unclasp her bra without taking off the blouse entirely. It seemed some sense of modesty remained to her.

Felton opened his mouth, then closed it. Giving up, he looked at John pointedly. “She’s your girlfriend, Bonner.”

“Awww,” Ginger whined, crossing her arms dramatically, which had the possibly intentional effect of pushing her breasts up. “Traitor!”

“I’m not the boss of her.” John said faintly, then cleared his throat. “As you can see.”

“Ah.” Felton turned a light pink. “Well– that is– do you want some help?”

John decided that now was a good time to open the last beer.

Seeing Felton’s blush, Ginger grinned mischievously. She took his hand and thrust it up her back, underneath her shirt. She practically beamed at Felton’s dumbfounded, bright red face.

“Give it your best go.”

Felton seemed frozen, oddly mesmerized. After a few long seconds, he did move, but instead of unclasping her bra, Felton’s hand glided slowly up Ginger’s back, as if she was a cat. Indeed, she leaned back into the caress, closing her eyes.

“Mmm, I could go for a massage.”

His hand stilled. “You–could? You want one?”

“Yeeaahh,” Ginger sighed. “I’d love one.”

After a moment, Felton responded, his voice notably lower. “You’d have to take your blouse off and lay on your stomach.”

They were ignoring him again, John thought, in shock. What the hell was this rubbish? What were they playing at? Were they daring him? Mocking him? Was she that pissed?

While John was frozen, Ginger simply removed her shirt and threw it over by the telly with a small grin, both eyebrows raised expectantly.

“Right, then. Lie down.”

“You won’t need any lotion?”

“You have some?”

“Of course. A girl is always prepared for chapping.”

Felton laughed while Ginger dipped down to rummage through her bag, emerging triumphantly with a flowery tube. She handed it over for a sniff and waited. “Not bad,” he said. “Apple and… freesia?” He paused, then gave another delicate sniff. “Faint notes of red currant too, I think.”

“Oh, brilliant! That’s it!” Ginger beamed. “Of course, it is written on the package.”

“Please, that’s so plebeian. This is a natural gift that needs no supplement,” Felton said with his usual modesty, watching impassively as Ginger lay down on her stomach, face down into the pillows. He coughed lightly. “I’ll need to unclasp your bra.”

“I have had massages before, you know.”

“Oh, good. I’m not a pro, mind you.”

“Will you stop procrastinating?”

Felton chuckled, spreading the lotion on his palms, and rubbed them together briskly. “I hear and obey.”

Ginger hummed. “That’s what I like to hear.”

They stopped the back and forth once Felton got going, though the silence had a different quality than before. Ginger gave off a constant low purr, squirming in pleasure when Felton gave a particularly strong squeeze around her lower back. Felton straddled her and moved up and down as the situation demanded. John was sure he wasn’t on their minds anymore, but he was utterly unprepared for the heated lance of shock he got when Felton’s hand lingered at Ginger’s inner thigh.

That’s when John reached for the remote control, switching off the telly. The background noise instantly disappeared, but neither of the people on the bed appeared to notice the sudden ringing quiet.

Ostensibly, Felton was only giving a massage, face serious and intent, but the telltale blush was obvious, as were Ginger’s throaty moans. She spread her legs in small degrees, increasing access to her inner thighs.

He was watching closely,  but John wasn’t sure when they crossed the line between massage and caress.  All he noticed with certainty was the moment he knew: Ginger was squirming that little bit too much. Felton’s strokes had gotten long and silky, and John thought his breaths sounded loud in the small room. He could even hear the small, constant rustling noises as Ginger unsubtly ground her hips into the covers. John was sure she would be biting her lips the way she always did when she had gotten wet enough. He couldn’t see, but he knew.

Ginger had always been unselfconsciously sensual, so the reason John could hardly believe his eyes was Felton. His hands were noticeably jerkier, his thumb rubbing circles barely inches from the line of Ginger’s knickers. He’d seemed to notice and snapped out of it, gliding his palm back down around her knee or up to her waist, only to be drawn back to the same spot. Both his thumbs worked in unison now, working in and out slowly. He kept kneading until he was essentially tracing the fold of Ginger’s buttocks, his mouth partly open.

She had gone really still, though her hips were more obvious in their tiny squirming wiggles. John’s own mouth went dry, falling open when Felton’s movement naturally brought his palm between Ginger’s legs, with the heel pressing firmly in the familiar motion he’d used on her upper thighs. He pressed in and she pushed against it, her back slightly arched.

Felton’s look of concentration never wavered, nor did the heavy silence. He pressed the tip of his tongue between his teeth, now switching between a slow glide with two fingers and a press with the heel of his palm. His hand rocked back and forth slowly, then gained speed, and the heavy huffs of air Ginger took grew impossible to mistake. At this point, John almost felt he should leave, but some remaining blind stubbornness kept him glued to his seat, though he sat rigid and shaking.

Suddenly the tension changed in quality: Ginger moaned loudly, then gave a low grunt. “Yeah!”

She bucked up against Felton’s hand and arched sharply, then moaned again in several waves.

Felton shuddered, crying out softly. He sounded half-surprised, and this seemed to urge her on. Ginger’s movements intensified, and Felton was openly panting. At last, he gave in and grabbed at his bulging crotch with his other hand, hissing through his teeth at every breath. He was shaking as hard as John was, almost as if he was in shock himself. His whole body spasmed and he gave a pained moan, slipping a finger in under Ginger’s knickers with a tortured, half-disbelieving, half-frenzied look.

This drove Ginger’s hips entirely off the bed. She was twitching and coming hard, almost silent now that her face was buried deep in the pillow, and John’s eyes squeezed shut. He didn’t want to see.

He quickly realized he heard them instead: Felton’s wheezing breaths, the quick slick noises of his fingers slamming in and out, and the moment when Felton started to make noise himself.

John’s eyes snapped open in time to see him pull his hand out– all four fingers had been in, and it seemed Felton was on the verge of fisting her when he’d quit. Ginger panted, her hips shaking, the muscles spasming in her thighs, while Felton scrabbled to undo his trousers with clumsy, shaking fingers. It took several tries to undo enough buttons, and while it wasn’t unexpected by then, the sight of him actually taking  out his hard penis was obscene. Impossible. Wrong.

Felton hadn’t bothered to actually take his trousers off, and Ginger still had her knickers on: they’d only been pushed aside. Hell, her stupid secretary hose remained stretched between her lower thighs. Observing it, the whole thing was so obscene it was almost funny.

With a pained grunt, Felton gripped his cock and clumsily leaned over Ginger’s back. He pushed her down into the covers, an attempt to stick it in. After a moment, it had become all too clear that wasn’t going to happen naturally. Ginger arched her waist, pushing him off her a bit as she reached back between her legs with her hand, spreading herself open.

Felton was impassive again, staring at the open, swollen red hole before him wide-eyed, hand locked around his cock. He seemed to be at a loss for a moment, kneeling behind her and pressing his erection down between his legs as if he could make it disappear. He appeared equal parts aroused and horrified. Ginger gave in to impatience and started to thrust her own finger in repeatedly, moaning as if neither of the two men were in the room.

John’s own mouth had long ago gone dry, and he hadn’t bothered paying attention to his own actions much as the others had been ignoring him. He only really noticed he’d been rubbing himself once the action had stalled, and his frustration mounted. Seeing Felton freeze like that had provoked an uncomfortable, swirling mix of emotions, from relief to sheer dismay.  Now, it was as if he was pulling at his dick harder in retaliation, growing ever bolder by the fact that they simply weren’t looking.

“Going to– come!” John whispered,  disbelieving.

“Nn, fuck!” Felton thrust his own finger back in along with Ginger’s own, and she gasped.

John’s hips bucked forward and he bolted upright, feeling prickles bursting at the top of his scalp as he got close enough to come all over them if he tried. Too close.  Flushing, he gritted his teeth and fell back into the armchair, breathing hard through his nose. He couldn’t. Couldn’t

He whimpered and curled over his knees when he came, his fist squeezing hard at the base, though it wouldn’t stop.

Felton had apparently lost his self-consciousness, and his hand moved in sync as he kept watching Ginger, though he must have heard. He must have listened, though John’s fading grunts were swallowed by the wet sounds of their wanking, and Felton’s tiny gasps. He moaned in those familiar soft hiccups, making excruciating wet slapping noises in counterpoint to Ginger’s. He’d started to thrust into his own fist and he was sweating visibly now.

John couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d come sure enough, but his stomach felt leaden and every muscle so tight it hurt: he didn’t think it could get worse, but it did.

“I want to come! I want to come!” Felton gave a sudden low groan. In a sharp movement, he grabbed Ginger’s hips and thrust forward. His eyes squeezed shut, and he shouted when he slid in as if by accident, though both of them were wet enough that it must have been all too easy.

He thrust frantically at first, rutting like a thirteen year-old virgin, and at that moment, John remembered they’d both forgotten to use a condom, but he couldn’t speak. Felton’s head was thrown back and he stared at the ceiling as his hips worked, and he was audibly trying to hide sniffling. Then something seemed to snap in him, around the time Ginger shouted and convulsed for the second time that night. He slowed, twitching, eyes wide open and his hands clasped tight around her waist. Felton gave a moan and pulled out in a single jerk, rolling onto his stomach and biting down on the pillow while his cheeks clenched. A tear trickled from the corner of one eye, and he shuddered silently.

John couldn’t move– literally couldn’t move, could only focus on the pale white of Felton’s skinny arse. Felton restarted thrusting in a diligent, slow rhythm, getting almost all the way out before sliding slowly back in. Ginger’s breath caught and she gasped each time, her neck exposed and her red hair fanning out around her. She was beautiful, but she was almost a stranger, somehow.

He couldn’t help fixating on that incongruous juxtaposition of Felton’s pale cock and the flaming red bush he slid up against between Ginger’s legs. Felton seemed curious: he looked at the place where he fucked her, finally holding himself up by one arm while pushing the other down between them. His eyes squeezed shut, holding Ginger open while he slid in between his own fingers. Ginger was totally lost in her own little world, making little kittenish noises that John had thought were for him and him alone. And Felton– he made no noise whatsoever anymore: there was only the squelching in-out in-out sound his dick made as it penetrated John’s girlfriend. It was like he’d automated it.

John wasn’t sure what he wanted himself at that point.               The fact that he’d switched places with Felton from the party that time didn’t escape him. How must Felton have felt, watching John flash him everything he wasn’t supposed to have?

He could have broken in, taken Felton’s arse just to smash this– whatever this was. He could see how fast Felton would come with his arse spread open.

In the end, John didn’t move. For once, he simply wasn’t hard.

::

When Ginger texted him to say she needed a “break”, John was mostly relieved. Felton going for an extended vacation was a bit of a surprise, though quite warranted. John only found out from McAllister when he visited him a few days later. The man was doing well; the nurse had told him he’d be out by the end of the week. Apparently, Felton had been in every day, and had confided his plans to McAllister but didn’t bother informing John.

“Where did he say he’s off to?” John asked, rather casually.

McAllister turned his face away, clearly not comfortable but sticking to the line. “Can’t say, Sir. He must have informed the Captain, so if you want to ask him, that would be your best bet.”

“That’s not very cooperative of you, McAllister.”

“Sorry, Sir.” The thing of it was, the man did sound sorry. This whole situation had so much wrong with it, it grew mold on its mold, but McAllister was always about the straight and narrow.

“Felton can be stubborn,” John said finally. “I can find out, though. I’m not a detective for nothing,” he smirked.

“Thank you for understanding, Sir.”

John sighed.

::

It was pure chance that he caught Felton leaving the building the next day.

“Hey, Felton,” John called. Catching sight of his back, his burgeoning acceptance disappeared. Wasn’t he owed something besides this slinking out the back door?

The sound echoed oddly in the station lobby, mixing with the tinkling gush of the fountain’s tinkle outside and people’s murmurs. The everyday mellow hum made a farce out of John’s indignation.

Felton stopped, his head turned in profile. “What.”

“Nothing,” John said. “Just–” He actually blushed. John was vaguely horrified at himself, in spite of everything. He rubbed the back of his neck, almost sheepish when Felton glared at him.

“Bonner.”

John took a step closer. “What.”

“You are a colossal… there aren’t words for how dense you are. I hope you got what you wanted.”

He didn’t  actually wince; this was Felton. “Yeah.”

“Well.” Felton paused, squinting at him a bit. “Jolly good, then. See you around.”

John’s stomach twisted, but he nodded. “No doubt,” he said, but Felton had already gone. In the end, he’d forgotten to actually ask Felton where he was going.

::

After a few minutes, Lorraine had come up to him and laid a hand on his forearm. “John?” she said. “We still on for lunch?”

A part of him wanted to tell her everything– ask her to explain it, just like in the good old days. He was pretty sure he was supposed to figure this out by himself, though. Maybe he could bring up the gay thing as a conversation starter one of the evenings Ben was gone: Hey, by the way, you were right. I think I’m gay. She may very well bust out a self-help book, just like the good old days.

“Sorry. Um. I have a question. Bear with me. This may seem a bit off.” John coughed a little. “Do you think I’m an idiot?”

Lorraine choked, hand flying to her mouth, but to her credit she didn’t actually laugh. “Is that it?” She huffed another stifled laugh. “Your question?”

“No,”  he said sulkily.

“You can ask me whatever you like. Don’t you know that by now?” She raised both eyebrows, an amused light in her eyes.

“I guess… yeah. So, uh–” He mumbled, trying not to think and just say it. “Right. What would you say love is?”

“Oh, is that all.” Her brows knitted for a second. “That’s pretty simple, John. Honestly.” She looked at him, probably hiding a smile. “Love is simple. Love is us.”

“Us? Don’t you mean– you two? You and Ben?”

Her eyes widened at him reprovingly. “John! How could you! Of course not. It’s us.  It hasn’t been that long since it was the three of us against the world, has it?”

There was a pause. “Well, no.” He smiled a bit. “I mean, yeah,  it can’t be that difficult.”

“This isn’t a conversation we can have in two minutes standing in the station lobby, you know. There aren’t any magic answers this time. We’re all kind of figuring it out as we go along.”

“Yeah, probably not,” John said, taking her by the elbow. “Some people aren’t as rubbish at it as I am, though. Well, it doesn’t matter, does it. Good riddance to bad rubbish, all that.” He went on before Lorraine could chastise him. He was sure she’d heard all about it from Ginger herself. “Hey, want to have lunch? I hear a Pakistani deli opened up by the twins’ place that’s supposed to have kosher pickles…. ”

They both laughed, and Lorraine threaded her arm through his. “I’m holding out for egg danishes today.”

“Lead on,” John said, and followed her out.

::

It was another grey, overcast day in London, and that suited John just fine. Watching the constant stream of pedestrians as he perched on a  window stool, he felt a state of Zen calm was within reach. It wasn’t that he’d reached it, but it was within his grasp, he thought. He simply didn’t care that much anymore.

He took another meditative sip of his latte. Mm, pumpkin. The bitter tinge of ‘healthy vegetable product’ left something to be desired, but it had high caffeine content. Plus, he’d gotten his way with the pickles. “Right. So you know Ginger’s left me.  I’m not going to make a fuss.”

“You know Ben is going to kill you,” Lorraine said promptly, sipping her smoothie.

“That’s a given.”

She cocked her head to give him a closer look, and John appreciated the effort she made to ease off the lecturing instinct and level with him.   “I don’t blame him,” she said flatly.

“I know,” John said, and took another swig from his mug, wincing. He really should have stuck with the places that put whiskey in their coffee drinks. “Ginger won’t tell him if you won’t, though.”

Lorraine pursed her mouth. “That’s a little… optimistic.”

“No one’s accused me of that lately. Delusional, maybe. Optimistic, no.”

“Oh, John. Of  course Ben will give you a hard time, but we’re completely on your side. You know that. What’s going on? I’ve been hands-off about this, but I want to help. It certainly looks like you need our help, too.”

“I’m not sixteen anymore,” John mumbled, cringing at his own tone. He hoped he looked simply looked like yet another naff bloke in beat-up beige trench coat. It wasn’t that John didn’t have the money to buy new clothes anymore, but stuff he’d had since he was fourteen was comfortable. Not that he had much to be nostalgic about.

“I think you’re confusing being an adult with becoming a social recluse, John.”

“I’m not a recluse! I’m busy.”

“You forget I do know you a bit, dear. Unless it was some other boy who’d made a habit to keep things to himself till the last minute, pretending he could do everything on his own.”

You forget I have lunch with you twice a week.” So there. The truth was, it was sort of funny how often he went out to lunch with Lorraine as compared to Ginger. Still, they did work together on a consistent basis, with Lorraine being a solicitor attached to the station, so lunch was convenient, really.

Lorraine raised an eyebrow. “Once I come up to remind you, you do.” She cracked a small smile, though it came and went. “Feel free to feel a bit guilty, but mostly please let me know what’s wrong.”

John sighed, staring intently into the foggy middle distance. Truthfully, it wasn’t excruciating to talk to Lorraine; he was simply at a loss for words.   “Just– I don’t know. Nothing is the way I thought it would be.”

Lorraine chewed her danish slowly, then pursed her mouth.

“Oh, honestly! Don’t say that as if you’re the only person in the world who’s  having trouble living up to their teenage dreams. This is why it pays to talk about it, John. You’re far from the only one dealing with this. And I’m certain you’d have a better outlook if you took care of your diet and went to bed at a reasonable hour. You look like hell lately.”

“I told you I’m fine!” John snapped, using his cop voice somewhat. It gave him a guilty twinge, but why did Lorraine always have to push? “I’ll admit the Ginger thing is a mess, but I just don’t want to talk about it, all right. On the bright side, Ben probably wouldn’t either– he’d just go straight for the thrashing. I wouldn’t mind it, really.” He ran a hand through his hair, mouth twisting.

“When did you start running away from your problems, John?” Lorraine said quietly.

John stared at her, disbelieving. This was Lorraine! Didn’t she just make a big spiel about being on his side and acceptance and all that bullshit?

“That’s not fair! Can’t I not want to deal with it right now? Give it another week before you sit on my neck, at least. I don’t really have a bloody clue, Lorraine! I couldn’t give her what she needed, so– it’s better this way.”

“And that’s different from what the rest of us have to face how?” Lorraine said dryly. “You shouldn’t feel bad about it. Getting a real clue takes ten, fifteen years– it’s a long-term process.”

“Lorraine. I’ve made my decision.”

She brushed hair out of her face, a quick gesture, and laid her hand on top of his. John froze.

“I’m not challenging it, John. Not now. All I’m saying is that you’re not alone.”

John stared at the place their hands touched, unmoving. If anyone else had said it, he’d have laughed, but this wasn’t anyone else.

“I know,” he said in a low voice. He turned his palm around and squeezed.  “I’m sorry, Lorraine.”

She looked at him through a sheen of tears. “It’s been so long since we–” Her lip trembled suddenly. “We missed you.”

He swallowed, self-consciously tugging his hand back. The two of them looked like a straight couple indulging in a little PDA, but Hermione was a married woman. He had a good reason to feel a twinge of guilt.

“I don’t want to ask her to wait again,” he said quickly, trying to get another sip out of his empty cup. Somehow, he’d managed to finish without noticing. “She should see other people. We both should.” He hoped he wasn’t as transparent as he felt he was.

Lorraine cocked her head thoughtfully, considering. “You have been oddly sheltered, John. You may be right– more experience may help clear things up,” she said after a while. She gave a rueful chuckle. “You know it helped Ben in sixth year, though I’d nearly killed him by the end. It’s best to explore without strings attached, if that’s what you need.”

“Ben always loved you, Lorraine. He was just being dense.”

“And fifteen.”

“That too.” John hesitated. “Thanks. So. Can I have a bite of egg?”

“Even love needs limits,” Lorraine said with a smirk,  tugging her plate closer. John laughed.

::

In the dream this time, Felton wasn’t naked.

John lay still and cold on white sheets, and he felt with the absolute certainty of dreams that he was old; he was dying. Fretfully, John wondered if he might be in Maudsley, because something about the dimly lit empty room reminded him of visiting Donaldson’s parents.

This was how it ended, then, John thought blankly. His friends were nowhere to be seen, and he wasn’t going with a bang, battling bad guys. Not even an accident in the middle of some heavy-duty assignment. No, John Bonner lay alone. He felt like the white sheets might swallow him; the moonlit silence smothered everything until only his fading heartbeat remained.

Suddenly, a white door opened in empty space, showing an adjoining room. An old man leaned against the doorway, smartly dressed in a dark grey jumper and slacks. His pure white hair fell across his forehead in a parted fringe. John could tell the man was his own age, but he stood ramrod straight, not a hair out of place.

John’s mouth dried up, but under that gaze, he couldn’t accept any weakness. He sat up, his cheeks warming. The bed gave a loud creak as he leaned over to turn the light on, fumbling for his glasses. He needed to see.

“So,” the man said, and it was him. Of course it was him; no one else would look at John like that. No one else would drawl something like, “Where are your friends, Bonner?”

John gasped as Felton walked toward him. He sat down by John’s bed, head cocked as he studied him. John’s own gaze lingered on the well-hidden crotch.

Felton smiled dryly, as if he knew, and then he turned off the bedside lamp.

The next moment, John felt a dry, papery hand wrap around his fist, squeezing. He shivered, both afraid and exhilarated, as if this was the moment before a leap off the London Tower during one of those crazy games of chicken back in school. His heart raced: he felt– alive. Every future moment was a dangerous secret. He could feel it pressing down on him from all directions, but he didn’t have to be afraid anymore.

“I love you so much I could die,” said Felton’s old, raspy voice.

::

John gasped awake.

It was 3:01am.

Five months since he woke up alone every night.

His heart raced, and cold sweat was dry and itchy on his arms. His skin tingled madly all over, and he couldn’t lie still. John got up, paced his way to the kitchen, filled a glass with cold water from the tap. Then another, and another.

Finally, he breathed out several times and leaned over the sink, trying to return his heart rate to normal. He couldn’t think. Suddenly, he felt flushed with purpose. He had to get out. He tugged on his trousers, slipping out of his sweaty, damp underwear, and pulled on a shirt and coat. Slipping on some shoes, he ran out the door, forgetting his socks and barely remembering his keys.

After running blindly for about ten or fifteen minutes, he ended up panting with his hands gripping his thighs. He stood by a bench near  the entrance to Kensington Gardens. The trees loomed dark and forbidding at this time of night. Perfect, he thought. Why not.

He collapsed on the bench without thinking, burying his head in his hands and not looking up when some loud, drunken tourists passed by.  Of course, they were all too happy they ran into him.

“Excuse me, Sir!” A girl giggled, and her companion shushed her. “Wait, no, this is perfect! We just wanted to know how far to the nearest Tube station. Siiiir? You know where you are, right?”

John looked up. His old instincts were too strong where the ladies were concerned. He looked around him and blinked. “Ah, what? What did you want again?”

The blonde knitted her brows in concern, while the brunette was preoccupied with leaning on her friend and keeping upright. “I’m sorry for bothering you.” She looked him up and down critically, noting his messy clothes and settling on his face.  The birds really had really gone for the face once, he thought blearily. “Is there anything you want?” she went on. “We’re on our way to a good party, if you like….”

“What I like is a good piece of arse,” he said, instincts having given him up for lost. “And your tits are in the way, love. No offense.”

The blonde flipped him off, tossing back her hair before she strode away. “As if you’re God’s gift! Loser!”

“No kidding,” he muttered, alone again.

4.  Breath

This is the last time
That I will say these words
I remember the first time
The first of many lies
Sweep it into the corner
Or hide it under the bed
Say these things they go away
But they never do

~ Keane

 

In the dark,  the rain looked like tear tracks down Bonner’s cheek.

Mac didn’t want to see him like this. What use was this now?

“Go home,” he said softly, not looking at him. “Stop embarrassing yourself, Bonner. I won’t pity you.”

Bonner stood there silently for a long time, not answering. So did Mac.

“Neither did I,” Bonner said, just as quietly. “I never pitied you.  I’m not here to ask you for anything.”

“So why are you here?”

“What about you?”

Mac went for the next best subject. “Shagging would just feel queer now, I’d reckon. And we never did much besides shag. And argue.”

“Yeah.”

Another long pause.

“So how’s life? Got that promotion, Bonner?”

“I quit,” Bonner said in that same monotonous voice.

“What?”

“Well.” A tiny smile lodged in his voice. “An enforced sabbatical. Not a huge chance I’ll come back all dewy fresh, but everything’s going to be fine if I pass the psych screening this December.”

“Oh. Well, that’s–”

“You don’t have to pretend you care, Felton.”

Mac smiled a bit at the echo of their earlier conversation. “You should never have let me do it, idiot. Your girlfriend, that is.”

“Yeah.”

“Christ,  I need a fag.” Bonner offered one to him wordlessly, and Mac lit up, sighing. “Better.”

“Want to have a drink?”

Mac gave Bonner an incredulous look. “That old tactic again? Do you think alcohol solves everything?”

There was a pause, and then they both smirked.

“We don’t have to talk,” Bonner said with his innocent face. “We just have to drink. And I’ll respect you in the morning.”

“Ugh. Just because I chose to tolerate you, you think it gives you leave to make bad jokes.”

Bonner’s eyes crinkled behind his spectacles when he smiled. He looked older, suddenly. Mac cursed himself for a sucker even as the thought occurred to him. He rolled his eyes.

“I know a place,” he said. “You better not make me unable to show my face there later.”

Now Bonner rolled his eyes.  “I’ll be on my best behavior,” he said.

“That’s what worries me,” Mac  grumbled.

::

It was anyone’s guess how the two of them wound up sitting side by side on a bench facing the Thames past five in the morning, near-empty bottles between their knees.

“The sun will rise any minute now,” Bonner said slowly. Mac was already half asleep, but he refused to be just another bum dozing off on the streets. He also refused to get a hotel room. Obviously, he further refused to take Bonner home. The question was, why were they together?

“Look, it’s pink! Just like–” Mac gave him a Look, and Bonner wisely reconsidered whatever unfortunate analogy to Mac’s anatomy was forthcoming. “Just like a baby’s arse!”

Mac shook his head with studied ruefulness. “You think you’re crass and wicked, don’t you,” he said. “But you’re just sort of… stupid.”

Bonner looked scandalized.

Mac smirked. “A little cute, though mostly stupid.” Bonner smirked back, and it was so like the expression he had as a wicked fifteen year-old soccer god, something in Mac gave a tiny, painful twist.   He was ten thousand different  kinds of twat, wanting to kiss him. Of course, this sort of thing had to be killed on contact, preferably with fire.  “You know, the kind that ends up first against the wall.”

Bonner’s smirk was unphased. “Good form!”

Mac looked away in disgust and leaned back against the bench, staring up into the fluffy pink clouds. Still mostly grey, of course, but increasingly rosy-colored, with baby blue around the edges. He exhaled, and fished in his pockets for more smokes. Ever the gentleman  whenever it was least desired, Bonner held out a light, and in spite of himself, Mac leaned forward.

“I have to admit,” Bonner said after a minute. “I’d have thought we’d fuck by now. That, or pass out. Or, I don’t know, have a deep and meaningful chat about our souls or some shit. There’s the sunrise, so I mean, the mood is right. We’re certainly pissed enough. Don’t you feel… disappointed?”

“Should I be?” Mac asked the clouds, quite philosophically. “My trust abused. My arse just used….”

“I didn’t know about the trust part.”

“There’s lots you don’t know about me, Bonner.”

“Like what?”

Mac thought about it. “I can make my own coffee! And… it’s pretty good.”

Bonner groaned. “Is this the best we can do? I feel like a cheap smartass on a cheap date.”

Mac blew smoke through his nose, and thought it blended quite well with the fog. “I wouldn’t date you if you were the last bloke on earth without clams who wasn’t severely retarded.”

There was a pause.  “So. You really like me, then.”

Mac sighed and gave up. “Yeah, I used to, you tosser.”

“Oh,” Bonner said, a bit faintly.

Thankfully, he shut up after that, letting Mac finish his smokes in peace.

Once Mac realized that Bonner shut up since he’d passed out, the morning brightened, though he had the beginnings of a blinding headache. He hated not getting his eight hours nightly.

On the bright side, Bonner looked more like your average London bum than the Golden Boy of Mac’s fevered imaginings, and he spent a few moments taking stock. Only a few, of course. He needed a piss something fierce.

What do you know, he thought. An opportunity like this only comes along once in a lifetime. It was too bad that Mac was too good-natured and gently bred to leave him in his y-fronts, with cute drawings on his nipples and dried come on his face. It was tempting, of course. He couldn’t resist a fake moustache. Yes, it was primary-school, but Mac felt a little too sorry for Bonner to draw any spurting penises instead. Besides, he was an adult about these things.

When Bonner woke up, he’d quickly discover he held a cardboard sign: “Help! Told my girl I’m a Golden  Boy, and she kicked me out! Rub my belly for luck: 2p”. The paper cup stood on the ground, and Mac left the first two pence to encourage business.

Sometimes, he thought, satisfaction comes cheap.

::

The back of his neck prickled, and on a hunch, Mac turned around. Naturally, Bonner was only a few feet away, and though he was surrounded by people streaming by in both directions, he stood alone. For a moment, he remembered that first glimpse of the new boy at Assembly, the one who looked so plain with those patched-up spectacles and scruffy hair. Somehow, he’d stood out then same as now, as if there was an invisible hill to stand on, and an invisible wind to stand against.

Mac had known exactly what to say, then. Every word was serious and sincere: ‘Hullo! My name is Mac Felton. Want to be my friend?’

Now, he didn’t have anything to say, nor did he need to say it.

Bonner nodded at him, but neither of them moved. The spotlight lingered on both of them, freezing the frame until the edges hurt.  He’s looking at me. He’s really looking.

Bonner stretched out a hand. He didn’t smile, but Mac knew he was thinking of that first meeting too. He was wondering if Mac would return the gesture, and maybe he was even nervous and bluffing a bit, the way Mac did back then. He should refuse it: come full circle. Besides, he was too good for this kind of juvenile nostalgia these days. Wasn’t it about bloody time to move on? How long was he going to keep playing the game by Bonner’s rules, anyway?

He couldn’t look away from the uncertain look on Bonner’s face. The power he had, now that he didn’t want it. Mac laughed out loud, and kept going in the opposite direction.

“YOU FUCKER! COME BACK!”

He laughed harder, until he had stop, as the tears prickled and his fellow hardworking Brits began to stare. Never. The game never ended, but the rules did change.

As he passed another mirrored shopfront, he turned and paused again. His face had an odd, twisted expression.  Was this really him? Mac Felton, twenty-three years old, soon to be a student at Trinity, where no one would know who he or his father was, and no one would care.

If Mac closed his eyes, he could still see a blurry image of himself, receding in the distance.

What did Bonner see, if anything? What was Bonner looking for?

Did it matter?

He opened his eyes, smiling at himself and all the reflections of busy people walking by.  There was a flash of movement at the edge of the mirror– that same messy mop of black hair he remembered from twelve years ago– soon lost in the crowd.  Mac walked on, and his smile felt beautiful.