Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tell Me You Love Me

Tell Me You Love Me

* Story contains M/M relations, angst, and references to self harm*

I had a dream last night. I was sitting in a tree, not too high up, but even still, the view was breathtaking. Blue sky, green hills, ponds and birds. It felt good, it made me happy. It was a small tree, not very stable, and even though I was nervous sitting in it, the way I felt up there made the risk worth it. Besides, I didn't need to worry about the occasional wobble because anytime it gave me that jump of apprehension by dipping a little to one side or the other, I just looked down. And there you were, holding the tree. You weren't watching me, your attention drifted as it tends to do. One moment you had your face turned up to the sky, the next to watch something scamper, the next to a flick of greenery in the breeze. It was when your face turned and focussed that I felt that knot of tension tighten up into something tangible. I felt your grip loosen before the dream-you even made the decision to let go. I called out, "I'm coming down. Just hold on for one more minute." I don't know if you didn't hear me, or chose not to listen. I do know that the moment your hands left the bark, anything that had once had a semblance of strength underneath me became fluid. The tiny tree couldn't support my weight without you. I don't recall falling. I only remember waking, suddenly, with a pain so strong it was crushing. You let me fall. You were the only thing holding me up that high and you let me fall. I turned in bed and watched you breathe, while tears soaked my pillow.

Davis sighed and refolded the paper carefully. He'd read it so many times he could rhyme the words off by heart. Why he still bothered to read it was a mystery even to himself. The edges were worn so thin that the folded square appeared to be trimmed in tissue paper. So much guilt, so much condemnation in those prophetic phrases... Skye had known exactly what he'd been doing when he put that pen to paper. Davis could see the picture: knew he'd have been sitting at their kitchen table, with self-pity streaming down his cheeks, his pen bobbing in self-righteous exclamation. Davis often wondered how Skye had been that morning - one moment a slave to schedule, the next an anxious moment-to-moment tangle. Had he woken on strict routine, at 6:45, counted the steps to the kitchen in his blue and white pyjama pants, made coffee, poured 4/5 of a cup, and meticulously rinsed it before his eight minute shower? Or had he slept until 9:00, walked in naked confusion, and drank juice straight from the container? It could have been either, really. The house had been spotless. There'd been no trail to retrace the path of the mind that had woken, written the note, walked out to the yard, backed the car into the garage and let the exhaust lull him into eternal sleep.

Davis heard the bus rumbling before he saw it approach. 'Still no car, Skye,' he began the internal monologue that would make up the majority of his conversation throughout the day to follow. 'I checked out a couple last week but I just couldn't do it.' Twenty-eight years old and he was riding the bus to work every day because he couldn't bring himself to buy another car.

Skye crooned along to the radio, adjusting the sliders on the equalizer as if he knew what he was doing. "I got you, babe. I got you, babe." Skye turned, blue eyes shining with joy and Davis smiled at him over his shoulder. Davis turned his eyes back to the road and felt Skye lean in, rest his head, and reach up to trail circles over Davis' chest. "Do you love the car?" Skye purred into his ear and Davis flashed him a smile. Of course he loved the car. Who wouldn't? Skye melted against his shoulder again. "Not as much as me though, right? You love me best, right?" And then Skye's tongue was tracing ticklish patterns over his ear. "Tell me you love me, Davis." Teeth gently found Davis' lobe, the hands on his chest stroked over his stomach and towards his crotch. "Tell me," Skye begged him softly. "Please say it. Tell me you love me."

"Hey!" A soft flump and musical voice ripped Davis from his reverie. He stared for a second, trying to force his mind off adoring blue in order to focus on confronting brown.

"You said you were going to come and once again, you didn't show." The handsome young man that had dropped beside him shifted in his seat to stare at the front of the bus with a slight frown. "And I get it that you have a life and all the other shit that everyone says when they don't come to one of my gigs..."

"Keith..." Davis breathed, struggling back to present day. It was always hard to come back from those memories. It took a minute to adjust.

"Wow," Keith threw up his hands in mock frustration. "You can remember my name but not the date or address of the gig." He turned to Davis and though his smile was playful, his eyes looked hurt. "It was fun. You should have come."

A million different excuses and apologies flew to his lips but Davis swallowed them all. They'd be nothing Keith hadn't already heard before. At his silence Keith paused and a darker look crossed his face. Davis had to admit, the man could certainly pull of the broken, angry, punk-rocker look to a tee. Black hair, dark eyes and thin limbs - slight sneer even behind the smile - he was a young rock God. "Look," Keith said finally in that low, smoky timbre that had made Davis' toes curl the first time he'd heard it. "I also get it if you're just not interested. I really do." Keith turned so he was looking at Davis directly. "Just tell me. That's all I ask. Don't keep saying you're going to come and then not show because it kind of breaks me a little and I don't like the way that feels."

Keith's eyes searched Davis' face at the same time the other man's eyes flew to find his. Because as hard as it was to let go of everything, as bad as he felt, not interested was the last thing Davis was. It was just so hard to find the words that would make Keith understand. Hell, for that matter, Davis was still struggling to find his own understanding of everything. "Friday," Davis said suddenly, surprising even himself. "I'm coming Friday."

"Really?" Keith asked quietly. "You're not going to change your mind this time?"

Davis shook his head and fought to swallow the lump growing in his throat. He watched for Keith's smile instead of focussing on the buzzing in his ears. He fought it all the way down Dorchester, across Locust and over the bridge. He swallowed it back while Keith hopped off at the college and said a polite, "See ya." Then he let himself go under.

"Forever, right?" Skye mumbled against his cheek. As the sweat still cooled on his skin, with the scent of his cum on Skye's breath - even as his heart still struggled to find it's normal rhythm... "Tell me you'll love me forever." The overhead fan went click, click, click, click and the cicadas screeched against the brickwork outside. He slipped his arm around the thin frame and pulled Skye closer. Even though the heat was stifling. Even though Skye's hair hung wet and clinging all over the place. He murmured his promises, practised words repeated so many times a day that they'd all but lost their meaning in the repetition. 

* * *

Tuna, spring onions and mustard - never mayo - on white bread, no butter. Davis had eaten it every single lunch since Skye... left. He made it exactly the same way Skye used to, spinning the bowl while he stirred it, flaring his nostrils at the overpowering odour of the cheap yellow mustard.

He lifted his face into the sun while he chewed, the birds providing the background for the white noise of nature. Blue sky, green hills, ponds and birds.

He swallowed hard against the sudden tightening in his throat and squeezed his eyelids shut. Eight months and he could still hear the sound of Skye's voice as clear as if he was beside him. People told him he'd forget. People told him that the empty would start to fill again. So far, they'd all been liars.

"It's for you," Skye had said with a grin, presenting the plate like it was a masterpiece and not just a plain old sandwich. Davis hid his grimace. You just didn't tell Skye you didn't like something. Not unless you wanted to spend the next five days watching him weep away weight like he could control his metabolism through the shedding of tears. Not unless you wanted to spend hours scrubbing dried blood off cheap bathroom tile. "Do you like it?" Skye asked, eyes wide and bright, bending to crouch beside Davis, running his hands seductively up Davis' thighs. And Davis smiled, brushed long hair off Skye's cheek and leaned in to kiss him. "I love you, baby," Skye whispered against his lips. 

"Fuck!" Davis startled at the sudden burn on his wrist. He flicked his hand, watched the wasp rise with indignant disregard and buzz away. Sighing, he dropped the forgotten sandwich into the trash bin and rose, glaring at his arm. It would swell but he wasn't allergic. That small relief, however, did nothing to calm the heat burning in the reddening skin. Davis flashed a quick glance at his watch, though he'd drifted away most of his lunch hour, there was still time before he was expected back. And there was a drug store only a block away. If he hurried, he could find some AfterBite and not have to spend the afternoon sweating through a bee sting.

He crossed traffic, hurried down the street and pushed through the glass doors that brought a rush of cooled air, the odour of way too many fragrances and the buzz of overhead lighting.

'Make it stop," Skye said, hands over his ears and a look of panic in his eyes. Davis took his elbow, tried to lead him back outside. "No!" Skye screamed, way too loud for public and as the heads turned, Davis felt the hot creep of embarrassment flush over his skin. "Please, Davis," Skye moaned. "Make it stop."

Davis stood and trembled as he studied the labels in front of him. Sometimes it just got so hard to read and think at the same time. He reached for one of the tubes in front of him but found himself confused at what he'd come in for in the first place.To make it stop. He gritted his teeth, shut his eyes and tried to focus. One breath, then another, another, and slowly the pain in his arm began to surface. Bee sting. He'd come for something to soothe the bee sting.

"You have spent far too much time looking at those." Once again it was Keith's voice that pulled his attention and Davis turned quickly, stunned.

Keith smiled. "There is only one section in this store that deserves that much attention and it's over there." Keith pointed with a grin and Davis tried to focus suddenly weary eyes in the appropriate direction. Think, he told himself. Think. Because no matter how hard he tried, his mind refused to put together pattern and package. "Lube," Keith smirked. "Lube and condoms."

Davis lifted an annoyed eyebrow and snagged a tube of gel before he turned away from Keith altogether. "Or maybe the guitar strings." Keith was suddenly walking beside him. "I suppose they could prove interesting. If you were into that. Which I don't think you are. But definitely not," he suddenly reached out and snagged the little box from Davis' grip. "AfterBite." He stopped suddenly. "Oh. Are you hurt?"

Davis blushed and grabbed the box back. "No, just a bee sting. I'm fine."

Keith's eyes flew wide. Perhaps in mocking jest, perhaps in true concern, Davis couldn't quite tell. "Bee stings can be very serious!" Keith said with authority. "Where is it?" Davis frowned, reached out his arm and Keith took it cautiously. "Oh, hey now," Keith said in a deep, quiet voice. "That doesn't look good." He looked up, caught Davis' gaze and cocked an eyebrow. "I think I should try sucking out the poison."

Davis tsked. Keith grinned.

It was almost a smile that Davis tugged back as he walked the rest of the way to the cashier. Almost. And it was almost still there when they both found sunlight burning into their retinas as they tried to recondition their eyes from artificial to actual lighting. The street was quiet. "I have to go back to work," Davis said quietly.

"Ok," Keith said brightly. "You're still coming tomorrow, right? You said Friday."

"Friday," Davis repeated, quietly, drawing it out as his mind fought to come up with a polite and believable reason to bow out. Yet again.

Keith pretended not to notice. "'Cuz I already told the guys you were coming. And put your name on our guest list." Davis' jaw tightened at the hidden desperation.

It was everywhere. In the tub, the sink, sliding down the walls and spotting the lid of the toilet seat. Even the mirror was streaked with it, accusatory slashes across the reflection of Davis' surprise. He rushed the tub, dropped to his knees beside a similarly seated beautiful young man whose arms were a nightmare of chaos. Davis choked back a sob and yanked Skye towards him. "You didn't call," Skye said weakly. "You said you were going to call and you didn't. I waited all afternoon and you still didn't call."

Four hours, a four hour meeting, and one forgotten phone call - for fuck's sake. He dragged Skye closer to the faucet and spun the cold water tap until it gushed. How much damage? Mostly just scratches but there a couple of deep ones. The water became juice as it sluiced over torn tissue and Davis' eyes ran along with it.

"You can't..." he started, "you can't do this Skye. You know that. Do you want to go away? Do you want them to come and take you away?" Davis barely registered that he was shaking the fragile man until he heard Skye's teeth chatter. Of course, that could have also been the cold water pooling around the naked man's legs.

"Do you want to hit me?" Skye deadpanned, watching him with empty eyes. "Because it's ok if you do. I won't mind. You can do anything you want. Hit me if it makes you feel better. I want you to be happy. I love you." Skye paused until Davis looked at him. " I love you so much more that you can ever know. I need you so much more than you'll ever understand. Can you fathom that?" Another pause, a voice so quiet Davis had to strain to hear it over the water. "How much I need you? How much I love you?"

Keith smacked his forehead loud enough that Davis turned panicked eyes and felt a flutter of fear in his belly. But instead of escalating to a full-scale breakdown Keith merely dropped his hand and grinned awkwardly at Davis. "Sorry," Keith shook his head. "I'm being a jerk. I don't mean to pressure you. Come or don't come, it's up to you." The grin slowly heated to a shy smile. "I guess I've just gone and got myself a serious case of falling in interest with you, Davis."

Davis titled his head, "Falling in... interest?"

Keith chuckled. "You didn't think I was going to say love did you?" He suddenly leaned in, very close, and Davis stared wide-eyed. "I'd at least have to taste your lips before I knew that." For a brief second Davis almost thought that Keith was going to move forward, press his mouth to Davis' own, and steal his breath. Davis' lips parted at the thought. He felt a wash of heat in his stomach and his fingers twitched instinctively to grip hair that wasn't between them.

Instead, Keith pulled back, grinned, and lifted his hand for a fist-bump. "So, see you, or don't. Whatever. No pressure."

Davis licked dry lips. He swallowed with a hard click. "I'll be there," he confirmed and lifted his own fist against Keith's. "Friday. I'll be there."

* * *

Leather pants. No, not the leather pants. Just denim. But not the blue denim, the black ones. And a t-shirt with a... jacket. Something cool like the... he fingered sleek, dark sleeves... no, not this one.

"Do you love it?" Skye asked, searching his face with a delighted smile. Skye had a flair for what looked good on men, no doubt. "You look beautiful," Skye purred, advancing to wrap his arms around Davis' neck. Skye laid his head on Davis shoulder, drawing his left hand from behind to trace Davis' neck, over the collar of the new jacket... down the zipper. Davis leaned into the palm, dragging his eyes away from the way Skye's shoulder blades seemed sharp enough to cut through his shirt, refusing to see the bandages that he himself had placed on the left side of Skye's neck. 

A horn blared from out front. The cab had arrived. Davis dropped the sleeve, watched it fall back in place and firmly shut the closet door. He just had to keep walking. Each step would take him closer to the front door, then out to the waiting cab. And then he just had to keep watching the numbers grow on the meter. Another dime, another expanse of tarmac under tires.

Street lights, halos of colour against black sky, flipped past like sentinel angels guarding the sidewalks below them.

Tell me you love me, Davis. Tell me you'll love me forever.

October nightfall was so much more sombre than October afternoons; the true month of opposition. Just like the bar they pulled in front of - classic country set-up, complete with painted cacti and sombrero wearing hombres decorated the entranceway. Hard, raw punk-rock blared from the interior. Davis shivered.

Dim lighting and a speaker set up that promised to be sensory-depriving welcomed Davis when he followed a sticky path of worn carpet towards the stage. Five sets of eyes and one very wide grin met his approach. The jukebox died at the exact moment Keith opened his mouth, as if on cue. "Holy fuck," he said, "look what the proverbial cat dragged in!"

Keith dropped a spaghetti pile of black wires and rose. "I can't believe you finally came," he grinned. "And look how fucking hot you look!"

You look so beautiful. I just love looking at you, watching you. 

Davis blushed. Hearing that coming from the leather-clad, wrist-bound, buckle-festooned, black-haired beauty was almost a joke in itself. "You too," he mumbled. "Love the pants."

"Drink?" Keith asked, nodding towards the bar. Davis returned the nod and as they stepped together, Keith leaned in to speak against the music that had roared back to life. "Anything you want to hear? Any requests?"

Davis didn't need to think about his answer. "Anything as long as it's loud."

Keith chuckled, the sound lost but the action lighting up his face. He leaned close again. "How loud is loud?"

When Davis turned his head to speak, Keith caught him by the back of the neck and held him. Davis closed his eyes against the feel of the other man's skin against his cheek. "Loud enough," he said, "to drown everything else out. To make it disappear."

Keith pulled back, grinned, nodded, "I can do that."

* * *

The music had been pounding, almost as loud as the pounding currently beating in Davis' chest. The licks from the guitar had chased themselves up and down his spine in thrilling designs that almost, almost, rivalled the ones that currently raced through him.

The dressing room/storage room was tiny and crammed full of boxes and old bits and pieces - broken bar stools, spare napkin holders, a sound system so out of date that the last song it ever played was most likely Buddy Holly. It could have been a jail cell for all that mattered though. At the moment it was all about the wet heat between his lips. The hard hip bone pressed against his groin (shoulder blades so sharp they seemed about to cut through cotton), the hands fisted in his hair, and the movement of hard body against hard body.

Just a drink, in private, for Keith to catch his breath - that's all he'd agreed to. But it was hard to say no to someone who was that willing, someone who was that interested in tasting his mouth, moaning soft sounds against his skin, in touching him.

Forever, right? Davis? You said forever, right?

His hair was released as he pulled back to take a deep breath. Teeth nipped Davis' jaw while questing fingers traced the muscles of his back. "Keith," he said, his voice shaky and his tongue fumbling as Keith began to trace the waistband of his jeans towards his trembling stomach. Davis opened his eyes, watched Keith lay his head back against the wall as his fingers found Davis' fastenings. Black hair pressed against light blue (blue, Skye blue) and Keith's lips parted. A pink tongue darted from Keith's mouth to dampen dry lips and Davis couldn't stop himself from leaning forward to taste it again. Denim released between them. Keith groaned softly into their kiss. Davis melted into the comfort of another body, the sensation of warmth and the intensity of blooming lust (blue sky, green hills, ponds and birds).

"I'm going to touch you, Davis," Keith panted against his ear. "Just so you know." And he was reaching into Davis' jeans, and Davis dropped his head onto Keith's shoulder, pressing the other man harder against the wall. Davis shut his eyes against tanned skin and breathed the sweat rekindling on Keith's body. Sweat that slicked the flesh beneath it: salty, smooth, slippery (sliding down the walls and spotting the lid of the toilet seat).

Davis closed his eyes tighter, reached for Keith's body in retaliation and was instantly rewarded with a responsive thrust of hip and sigh of need. Brown eyes burned like lit coals when Davis lifted a silent gaze. No warnings, no pleading, no approvals or denials. Just want. Need without necessity. Desire without disaster.

Keith wet his own lips again. A flush darkened his skin. "Do you want to fuck me, Davis? 'Cuz I don't mind if you do." Keith's grip tightened around the flesh in his fist. "If you want." (You can do anything you want. Hit me if it makes you feel better.)

Davis groaned, ground his hips into the touch, searching for a way to make himself say fuck yes. He'd love nothing more than to sink into Keith's body, to watch the willing face tighten with his thrust, or soften with increased response. To watch Keith moan his name (Skye weeping tears that ran like opened flood gates), stutter praise (crystal eyes begging him for approval), gasp (blood)... pant (gray skin), beg (you let me fall), arch (you said you would call), thrust - anything except the images that kept trying to creep sideways into his mind's vision - God, please stop! Just stop! He wanted to scream it out loud - leave me alone! For fuck's sake!

You said forever.

"Oh, God," Davis bit back a threatening sob and forced himself to release Keith's body, to move away from the aroused man and the intense sensations that promised to rob him of his sanity. "I can't do this."

His hair was fisted lightly with one hand, and his body pulled back again with the other. A light chuckle, with just a hint of hidden desperation bounced off his cheek and back to the man watching him with lust-filled dark eyes. "No, you really can," Keith said. "Trust me. I give you total permission."

"I can't!" Davis insisted and reached for Keith's hand, forcibly removing it from his body.

Keith let his hands drop to his sides. He smirked sadly. "I'm starting to get the impression you just like to see me beg."

And all Davis could do was look at him with wide-eyed panic. Because how did one find the words to the tell a beautiful, clever, witty young man that having him beg would be the last thing Davis wanted him to do. If Davis never had to hear that sound again, in his entire life, he would die a happier man.

Keith's eyes softened. "Davis," he reached out and Davis had to fight back another sob, "please. Talk to me." When Keith pushed off the wall, it took everything Davis had to force away the flight instinct telling him to run.

"I know what happened," Keith continued. "I know about your boyfriend. And I may not know what you're going through but I can sympathize with it. Whatever you're thinking, whatever you're dealing with, let me help you."

Skye's parents: broken, tired, looking years older than they were. The funeral had been awful - the aura of expectancy, futility, like everyone had just been waiting for it to happen. Relief almost, in the fact that they would no longer have to wonder when, how, and who he'd be with. And grief, yes, still grief. At the waste mostly: the waste of so much beauty, so much emotion, so much love. Skye's mother had taken his hand, "Try to move on Davis. Try not to let this destroy you. He was just so sick. There was nothing anyone could have done." A pause, a momentary glance at Skye's father's eyes... the emptiness there... the ache. The look that said, I failed and I know I did. It was a look Davis understood so very well. "We all did the best we could. At least he had you," she'd said, patting the back of Davis' hand. 

"It wasn't your fault," Keith was saying, suddenly in front of him though Davis couldn't remember him stepping forward. "You can't blame yourself."

This time the sob did come out. All on its own. It raced past Davis' defences, leapt from his mouth and danced through the room, celebrating its freedom. Davis choked on the words that followed. "I let him fall."

"You didn't..."

"I did!" Davis cried, pushing Keith back and ignoring the resulting stumble. "He was fucking right! Nobody knows but he was fucking right! It was my fault!" Davis sucked air through trembling lips, found he couldn't stop the words now that they'd started. "I just couldn't do it anymore… he got too hard for me. All I found myself thinking of when I looked at him was how to get the fuck out and away." His lips trembled, his voice wavered. He felt his shoulders sag. "I was going to leave him. I was going to call his parents and tell them to come get him. I couldn't do it anymore." Davis laughed sadly, the chortle ending in a harsh choke of sob. "And he fucking knew it. I never said a goddamn word. But then, I never had to. He always knew me. He always knew what I was thinking. He always knew how I felt." A cold shiver chased itself through Davis' body. 

I felt your grip loosen before the dream-you even made the decision to let go.

Davis looked at Keith and Keith watched Davis struggle. Davis' voice was barely loud enough for his own ears. "It was just too hard."

"I..." Keith's expression was a combination of concern, pain, and outright panic. "I'm sure no one blames you."

Davis' voice cracked on the outrage. "I blame me!"

You were the only thing holding me up that high and you let me fall.

He repeated it, a whisper, "I blame me." Then Keith's arms were around his shoulders, his face was buried in his Keith's neck, and a soft soothing sound was winding itself around the tiny storage space. Davis felt the tears fall, tears he'd refused to shed because, God, had he not had his full share of them already?! Yet as he lay against Keith's skin, as he let himself drown in the man's quiet humming, for the first time in a long time Davis felt comfort. For the first time he experienced it, instead of frantically providing it.

He reached inside his jacket and pulled out the folded scrap of paper. He handed it to Keith. "I don't want to read this anymore," he said.

"Can I?" Keith asked and Davis looked at him for a long minute. Finally he shrugged. After all, wasn't that really why he'd handed it to Keith in the first place?

There was silence in the room as brown eyes skimmed expressive hand-writing. And there were tears in Keith's eyes when he refolded the paper solemnly. Gazes caught, one filled with apprehension, the other lit with empathy. "You sure you don't want this?" Keith asked and Davis nodded without pause. A lighter flicked, Keith checked silently again, and Davis repeated his nod. Flame caught paper, paper danced. Flame grew, bloomed and then faded into grey smoke and black curls that Keith stamped dead with heavy boots.

"You didn't, you know." Keith said quietly as they both stared at the black smudges on the filthy floor. He waited for Davis' attention and then clarified, "Let go. You didn't let go. He may have felt it coming, that might have been true, but you didn't let go. He jumped."

Once again a cold shiver gripped Davis and he trembled with it. But when it was gone, only warmth crept up to take its place.

"Drink?" Keith asked and Davis murmured an acceptance. "I'd like to catch up on this sometime though. Finish what we started." Keith said, reaching for Davis' hair and brushing a piece off his forehead. And Davis remembered doing something so similar, brushing back hair from a sweaty brow, but this time no words came back to haunt him. This time no voice pleaded into his subconscious.

Davis nodded. He couldn't return the shy smile, not yet. But he could nod. "I'd like that."

The End.

Copyright © 2011 AF Henley

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