Genre: high school; drama; romance; boys love.
Contains: sexual themes
- - -
"You don't get it, do you, Finlay?" Charlie says dryly, as if he were talking to a pre-schooler.
The boy is shaking violently, like he's trying to hold himself back from thrashing out at him. Finlay puts both hands on his shoulder in an effort to hold him down. Charlie tries to shrug him off with strong aversion, but only succeeds in making Finlay hang on with an even stronger determination. Charlie looks up at him with eyes brimming with consternated horror. Something inside Finlay recoils at the sight. Don't look at me with those eyes, he thinks.
"It'll hardly go away if you keep touching me," Charlie says in earnest.
Finlay lets go in surprise. He's the one causing this reaction? He doesn't know whether to feel repelled or flattered, though he feels like he should be embarrassed for Charlie and be at least merciful enough to leave him alone. But there is also something thrilling in having this effect on him. Charlie the straight-laced student that ignores the world over and tries so hard to make a place for himself in the shadows of others is now having a boner because of him; it's almost like an ethereal portrait has been ruined by the drawing of a moustache: amusing by its incongruity.
Finlay sighs. "Okay. Can we just talk, then?"
Charlie eyes him for a moment before replying. "Will it take long? I need to prepare dinner. I don't tolerate being behind on my schedule well."
Finlay looks around the hall, trying to think. "Okay, okay. Maybe now isn't a good time. Could we talk tomorrow? We could wait for each other in the parking lot after classes, next to your bike."
Charlie nods hastily. "Yes, yes. Right, tomorrow. Whatever you want. Goodbye now."
The boy marches down the hallway, out of sight. Finlay scratches his head and looks back at the music room. Well, he can't go back after saying he'll see them tomorrow
The last class of the day is physics. He tells Rick and Christie he's busy today and swears to make it up to them. Out in the parking lot, he sees Charlie dressed in a loose white shirt and black slacks, but as he gets closer he sees dirt staining the clothes and notices his hair is dishevelled. The lack of glasses shows a fresh bruise above his right eye. He looks like a broken bird.
"Hey," says Finlay. "Uh
where's your bike?"
Charlie shrugs. "Trashed," he says as if he were talking about a broken pen.
Finlay doesn't know if he should push for more details, but he's doubtful he'd get any anyway.
"Do you want to
" he says, "come over to my house, maybe? I mean
you know, 'cause it's more private and stuff. Unless you don't want to, 'cause we could totally go somewhere else
" Finlay feels like he's thirteen again, asking a girl out.
Charlie tilts his head to one side, and then rolls his shoulder. "I guess."
They walk over to his where he's parked his motorbike. Charlie doesn't bat an eyelid when they arrive at his all black Suzuki Cruiser. It's not a Harley Davidson, but it's just as good in Finlay's opinion. He's never been able to use it much in back in L.A. He hands him a faceless helmet from the storage under his seat, and they hop on.
Charlie's arms around him leave a comfortable pressure in his back.
Finlay insists that Charlie sits on his bed since it would be more comfortable. Charlie obliges and sits at the end of it. The boy has been acting oddly compliant today, though his actions seem more lifeless now than anything else. Maybe he just can't care anymore. Finlay sits on his rolling desk chair and takes a breath.
So it's been bugging me for a while." He can't look at Charlie in the eye and just blurts what he's had on his mind for a while now. "Who were you sucking off in the boys' room when I first saw you?" His cheeks are burning, but he is determined to know who else knows this side of Charlie.
He looks up at Charlie who looks at him with a serene expression, eyes half-closed, as if his voice was merely background noise. It takes him a while to understand the question is directed at him.
"That was Neil," he says without a change on his face.
"Neil?" Finlay cries. "Neil Neil? Neil Durham? Neil Durham from English class? Strawberry blond hair Neil?" No matter how many times he says the name, he can't get past the shock.
Charlie nods and looks elsewhere, feeling that his part in the talk must be over now. Finlay takes another breath and continues.
Are you guys going out?"
Charlie doesn't respond; he's miles away.
uh." Why was it so hard to say? Finlay cringes and forces the words to free fall out his mouth. "Do you love him?"
Charlie looks at him then, as though gazing through a thick haze and finally recognising him. He gives a heavy shrug.
Are you high?"
Finlay leans forward to take a closer look at the boy.
Charlie shrugs him away and mutters, "It's lack of sleep, Finlay. That's all."
Finlay gets up and takes Charlie's face in his hands. The boy seems to wake up a bit from the contact.
What the hell's been keeping you awake?"
Was it Neil? God
He feels confident he could punch a hole through the wall, or at least break his hand from trying.
" Charlie looks up, trying hard to focus his eyes on him. "Do you have your saxophone with you? Could you maybe play something? I'd like to hear you play properly."
Finlay lets go and steps back. This is the first time Charlie's ever asked him something. He mutters, "Sure," and goes to fetch the case in his cupboard. Somehow, the boy's request has made his hands clammy and slow, as if he were moving through swamp water. Finally, he attaches the mouthpiece and thinks hard about the one song he knows well enough.
Rapid, graceful beats hammer the walls and transport them both to a black and white continent where cigarette smoke seeps in like tar through the rifts of their make-believe domain. In the rancid shadow of the musician lurk cries that make the wallpaper peal. Sucking on the saxophone like a cigarette, its smoke curls up like diamond splinters stuck in his fingers. Life in their microcosm scratches at the walls, eager for the hushed cave-in where the music ceases and the world drops.
Charlie is mesmerised by the sound that sparkles like tinsel in his eyes, and Finlay wants to keep those fixed eyes on him. Once he stops, an electrifying silence floods the room.
"Again," Charlie says in a low, feverish voice.
"Are you sure you're okay?" asks Finlay.
"You can't stop," Charlie says, now sitting fully erect on the bed. "Oh god, don't stop. I feel like I'll disappear if you stop."
The boy starts to breathe quick and shallow; his whole body trembles uncontrollably while he sweats profusely in his shirt. Finlay drops the instrument and climbs onto the bed with Charlie and pulls his head to his chest.
"Look, see? I'm holding you. You're not gone," he says, wondering whether he should call for his brother. "Dude, please calm down. I swear I'll play for you any time you want, just calm down."
Finlay can feel his shirt dampen from sweat and saliva; the usually strong, brilliantly strong, Charlie is trying to burrow a hole in his chest so he could climb in until the storm in his own body passes. Finlay wants to know. Finlay wants to know what's tumbling and turning inside that head of his, what could possibly be keeping him awake. Once the breathing has died down, he takes Charlie's face in his hands and rubs his thumbs under puffy eyes. He doesn't want to think about anything; he's often wondered what kind of body this caged bird-like creature has. What bars has he been bruising his body against? He leans forward and deeper still, until their lips meet. It's warm and wet, a slippery balm of saliva that coats both their lips. Finlay trails his tongue from under the boy's chin to his parted lips, and dips inside. It's hot, so hot, inside. He can taste the boy inside and out and it makes his heart race.
He pushes Charlie down on the bed, pinning the boy's hands above his head. Buttons have come undone and the shirt is rumpled, revealing smooth taut skin blemished only by one or two stray contusions on his sides. The image of Charlie's knees hitting the bathroom floor flashes in his mind for a brief second, and he feels sick.
Charlie looks at him through curious, chilling eyes.
"If it's sex you want, I can do that."
Frustration wells up inside him. How could he think that? A ball of anger and hurt forms inside him and grows the more he looks at Charlie's glistening, slender limbs. He can't help it; it's already come to this. He's weaker than Charlie; he can't refuse himself anything. All his life he's had what he wanted, and he's been patient up till now.
He can't wait any longer he has him now, right under him. He undoes the buttons and reveals the rest of the sheltered skin. It's soft and hot to the touch, and he feels himself pulled in by Charlie's legs, insisting on closing the gap between the two of them, and yet he wears such a pained expression.
Without their clothes, it's nothing but skin on skin. Finlay traces his tongue around a nipple while his right hand carefully maps out each rib under his fingertips. He can feel him all around him the warmth is undeniable and yet he isn't there; he's never been; always trapped, keeping his thoughts caged somewhere in the remote hinterlands of his mind. He reaches down and stretches Charlie open, in and out, searching for the spot inside that would fully open him up to him. The boy turns his face to side and lets out a deep moan. Finlay licks a burning trail from the hollow of his throat to his bottom lip, biting it just hard enough to hear Charlie gasp and arch his head back.
He's found it. Charlie is throbbing hard across his stomach. His face is flushed and his eyes are half hidden by sticking, matted hair. Finlay brushes the boy's hair aside and slides two fingers across his cheeks, and into his mouth. His tongue rolls and sweeps across his fingers as he sinks into him. He holds onto him tighter with each thrust, earnest in reaching out to him in any way.
Charlie runs a hand through his hair, softly, almost patting him.
Once Charlie has gone home, Finlay's eyes well up. He scrubs his eyes dry and closes his bedroom door behind him.
He's never felt so broken and empty
He didn't know it was possible to feel so alone after sleeping with the person he loves.
- - -
Charlie doesn't understand it, but he feels somewhat regretful after the experience. He pushes the thought aside and starts frying the chicken for dinner.
Later on, he notices Colbie's hair has become unkempt and neglected; her once sleek and soft long coffee-coloured hair is now a battalion gearing for an attack with hairs sticking out every which way. She's sitting at the kitchen table reading a marvel comic book she doesn't understand while Cody plays with his sister's rag dolls.
Charlie fetches a brush and some elastic bands and pulls up a chair behind her. Colbie is startled at first, but remains absolutely still, afraid that she might frighten her brother back into his cave and remain dead to the world. Strand by strand he unknots and untangles the bird's nest into a polished curtain of single threads, taking care to split a ray down the middle as he collects the hair into two symmetric pony tails. As a final touch, he ties a secondary elastic band attached to two transparent pink plastic balls into the pony tails.
He turns her around and gives her a stern once over.
"There you go," he says as though he's just scratched an annoying itch. "You look much better. Don't you think, Cody?"
Cody looks up from the dolls, looks at his sister and giggles.
"But now she looks like a girl."
Charlie can't remember the last time he brushed his siblings' hair. Colbie gets up and runs to the bathroom to look at herself. She comes back excited and flustered, asking him if he could do it again for school tomorrow. Charlie remembers this comfortable feeling.
The next day at school, Finlay finds him in the library and tells him that he'll be hosting a Halloween party next week and would like it very much if he came. They're at the back of the library in a deep enclave of book shelves that form a hidden island on a single chair.
Finlay adds in a shy, low tone, "I can't get you out of my mind, Char. I'll play my sax at the party; I'll play it for you."
Charlie can't feel the book between his hands anymore, nor does he feel the pressure of the chair around him. Foreign lips are soon on his, and it's as though they are the only thing holding him in the air. Finlay pushes in for more, claiming him with hands cradling the back of his head, only to break away and look at him with a conflicted expression before walking away with heavy steps.
Charlie doesn't know how he should feel right now.
After walking the half hour home, Charlie sees a familiar dark green four-by-four parked in the driveway. He continues on inside to confirm his suspicions. His mother is out of her room, all dressed up, and the twins surround him.
"Charlie! Charlie!" Colbie screams from on top of her father's shoulders as soon as she sees her brother in the doorway. "Pa's back!"
There he is, the strong man with a military upbringing, an insurmountable mountain of a man with broad shoulders. In fact, the back of those shoulders are what he remembers most of his father. Colbie giggles with delight from the top of her conquered mountain, while Cody stands, more subdued, in his own corner, wholly aware of what their father's return means.
Charlie's lips thin into a smile.
"Welcome home, Pa."
- - -