Everybody's Wounded - 1. Chapter 1
They call it the Thanksgiving Turkey Dump, that glorious fall ritual when college freshmen return home for the first time to shed their high school sweethearts. If they’re lucky, it’s fast and what waits for them on campus is exciting, and they leave behind the broken hearts and guilty consciences, and return to new campus liaisons with an incredible lightness of being. Last year, my senior year of high school, I’d watched some friends come back and do it, and comforted other friends to whom it had been done. This year, I’d listened to a number of my new college buds agonize over how they were going to do it themselves.
I was so thankful that I was not one of them, that David would not be a victim.
And I was proud of myself. Through those first glorious weeks of freedom, a thousand miles from home, I’d resisted every temptation and stayed true to my beloved boy. I was going home to him, pure of body if not of mind, and I could hardly wait. Email and instant messaging were god sends…but virtual sex could only carry you for so long. Heck, even that had faded the last couple of weeks. David and I weren’t so good long distance, I’d discovered. We needed to be together.
And there had been temptations. The gay community on campus was well established – one reason I’d chosen to come here – and there was an air of freedom and possibility that I’d never felt before.
Not that I’d had all that hard a time in high school. I always knew I was gay, and by the time I hit puberty I think my parents had kind of figured it out too. Or maybe my uncle Ben had warned them. Ben’s the youngest of my Mom’s four brothers, and he and his partner Ryan have been like second parents to me and my older sister Emily our whole lives. I was fourteen when I told my family I was gay, and no one seemed shocked or surprised. I didn’t come out at school until four years later, after David arrived. That was a little tougher, but not terrible. There were times when I felt the censure, from some kids and even from a few teachers, but it wasn’t often spoken, at least not in my presence. I suspect the fact that I’m six-foot-four and on both the football and hockey teams kind of kept a lid on anything overt.
David suffered a lot more. He told me once that he’d been picked on ever since he could remember. David’s small and slight and pretty and, well, kind of effeminate I guess. It’s not something he does in any deliberate way, like a campy routine or whatever. It’s just the way he is. He’s incredibly sweet and kind hearted, despite the abuse that he’s taken over the years. And he’s a really talented artist and photographer. But he is kinda stereotypical. I think he’d find it pretty much impossible to convince someone he isn’t gay.
His family moved to town the summer before my senior year. As soon as school started, guys started picking on him. I was oblivious to it at first; he’s a year younger than me, so we had no classes together. Then the camera club had him take pictures at a football game against our major rival.
The pictures were awesome. A spectacular one of me lofting a pass just as I was about to be tackled made the front page of the sports section of the city paper. All the guys on the team were jazzed, and told the coach they wanted to meet the photographer.
The talk started in the locker room right away. Fuckin’ fag this. Fuckin’ queer that.
I don’t do homophobia well. I mean, my uncles are the most important people in my life after my parents and my sister. Even though I didn’t know David at that point, I wasn’t going to listen to it. I decided the way to put a stop it was to come out myself.
To say the guys were shocked is the understatement of the millennium. But in the end they were pretty ok. I guess they had to be. I mean, most of them had known me my whole life. And they’d met my uncles as well, since Ben and Ry were huge sports fans and came to a lot of our games.
The guys stopped talking shit about David, at least in my presence. And when he and I became a couple a few months later, well, it just wasn’t something they talked about at all. I guess they knew, I mean, it wasn’t a secret. But I kept my jock life totally separate from my life with David and the small but loyal circle of artsy friends he gathered around himself. Hell, David’s friends probably found our relationship just as freaky as my jock buddies did, but they were a lot more open minded about it.
Anyway, the level of acceptance at home was endurable, at least for me. But it was nothing like the community I found at St. G’s. Here it’s just so totally ok to be out. And in addition to being welcome in the broad college community, there was also every social venue imaginable for those of us who are “gay, bi, transgendered or two-spirited” – or just plain curious or confused. There are two other gay guys and a lesbian couple on my floor in residence.
And now that I was in university, I’d discovered that it was even ok to be out and a varsity athlete.
Not that I’d intended to be one – I didn’t come here to play hockey or football. I actually have an academic scholarship; I never had any aspirations about college sports beyond house league. I mean, I was a decent defenseman and a second string quarterback, but I don’t have any illusions of serious talent. I just love sports, and I’m big enough and fast enough that I’m good at a lot of them. The college’s hocky and football teams were both, quite honestly, way out of my league.
But it turned out St. G’s had started up a pretty decent rugby team. Rugby’s not played much in Canada, and a lot fewer guys go out for it, which is a shame because it’s a great sport. Anyway, it turned out they could really use a big guy like me as a backup, and I was thrilled to make the team.
So being out AND a varsity athlete – well, let’s just say there was a lot of temptation. I could have had a lot of guys if I wanted. And man, there had been nights, especially these last couple of weeks, when David’s emails had grown vague and he’d seemed so far away, that I almost wanted.
But I didn’t. And now we would be together for three days and it was going to be fucking fantastic.
Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October, when the maples are brilliant red and the very last of the year’s warmth still lurks in sunny afternoons. It’s not the big deal that American Thanksgiving is, but it is traditional for freshmen to head home for the long weekend if it’s at all possible. My two Friday seminars were cancelled, which meant I could head out Thursday afternoon.
I even had company on my flight to Toronto -- Josh Templeton, a guy I knew from the Friday-night Rainbow pubs. Josh is twenty-four, and had been working as a policy analyst for the provincial government for a couple of years. He’d just started a two-year leave of absence to come back and do a Masters in economics. He’s smart as hell. He;s also almost frighteningly gorgeous, in a tall, lean, elegant way, with neatly trimmed black hair, green eyes, and a sophisticated urban style that made a lot of hearts thump. But I don’t know, there’s also something…difficult about him, something that said keep away. He was one of the few guys at Rainbow who seemed to want to talk to me without trying to pick me up, and we’d become friendly.
“So Big Guy,” he said, as we stood in line waiting to check in. “I assume you want the aisle.”
“If it’s ok,” I smiled gratefully. Josh is tall, but it’s not just a matter of leg length. His lean runner’s build would fit a lot more easily into a window seat than my big boned, heavily muscled frame. Heck, I was big when I left home, but after seven weeks training with the college rugby team, I’d added a good 10 pounds more of solid muscle. “We can switch part way, if you get too cramped up.”
“So,” he said, when we settled into our seats. “What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when you get back?”
“Get laid,” I laughed. “Seven weeks is a long time.”
“Ah,” he said slowly. “So that explains it.”
“Explains what?” I asked.
“Why you’ve been saving yourself. I think every second guy at Rainbow has been trying to get your attention since day one. Haven’t you noticed?”
I laughed. “All my attention’s well and truly taken.”
“So tell me about him, then. What kind of guy can keep you on the straight and narrow – well, queer and narrow -- from half way across the country?”
So I told him about David. I even pulled out my laptop and showed him some pictures.
“So,” he said. “No agreement about a little playing around?”
I was shocked. “Of course not,” I said. “David and I have been together eight months, and neither of us would ever dream of seeing someone else.”
“You wouldn’t even play together?” he asked, with a slight smile.
“Hardly!” I tried to sound worldly, but even I could hear the shock in my voice.
Josh started to laugh. “Well,” he said knowingly. “Something I never thought I’d see.”
“A hot jock who’s an incurable romantic!”
We got into Toronto at four; Josh and I pre-booked our return seats together and arranged to meet in the departure lounge Monday afternoon for the flight back. His luggage came off first, so he headed off while I waited for mine. Then, finally, I was through, and scanning the crowd for David.
I saw him first, through the glass walls from the baggage carousels. It took me a while to pick him out, which surprised me. David excited is usually pretty hard to miss. But when I finally spotted him, he was standing quietly to the right of the exit.
He wasn’t even looking for me. His head was bowed and he was chewing anxiously on his bottom lip. I found myself wondering if something could be wrong. But when I finally reached him, he looked up at me and smiled and everything was ok. I pulled him into my arms. I didn’t care who was watching. To my surprise, he stiffened a bit, before relaxing and slipping his arms around my waist.
“Scottie,” he said, with a sigh, and I felt myself relax. I knew that sigh, and for the first time since I’d seen him through the window, I felt I was really home.
“God, babe,” I said. “I missed you so much.”
Then I held him away from me. “Hey, I like the hair.”
I did, too. It was longer, and he’d had white blonde streaks put in it, lightening up his natural golden colour. Not something that would ever have occurred to me, but it suited him. And that wasn’t the only change. He’d had his ears pierced. Both of them. There were steel rings in each lobe, and a stud through the upper part of his right ear. I didn’t know what to say about it, but he saw me looking and started chewing his lower lip again.
I leaned over and stuck my tongue in his ear. “Nipples too?” I asked, and laughed at how shocked he looked.
He had his Dad’s car, and I expected us to head north, to the suburb where we lived. Instead he headed down town.
“Where we going, babe?”
“Ben and Ry’s,” he said. “They’ve asked us for dinner. I thought you might want to stay there tonight, and head home tomorrow morning.”
I laughed. What a plan. My uncles could be counted on to give us their guest room and make themselves scarce.
“They out for the evening?”
“No,” said David to my surprise. He was concentrating on the rush hour traffic. “They’ll be home for dinner.”
When Ben and Ry bought it twenty years ago, their fabulous 19th century Victorian at the edge of Toronto’s “Gay Village” was a vermin-infested boarding house. Ry’s an architect, and Ben’s a contractor, and restoring it was their first major project. It won awards and got featured in some magazine spreads – they have the pictures framed in one of the guest rooms – and that was the beginning of their success.
I love it there; it’s been a second home to me since I was kid. I used my key to let us in, and pulled David in behind me, practically dragging him up the stairs to the second floor guest room that I thought of as mine.
“Scottie, wait,” he said breathlessly as I pulled him down the hall
But I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t wait. All I could think of was how much I wanted him, needed him. Now. Seven weeks is more than a long time. It’s fucking forever, especially when you’re surrounded by hot guys and have to settle for nothing but your hand for company.
I practically dragged him into the room, kicking the door shut.
“God, I missed you,” I said, lying him down on the bed and stretching out on top of him. I was careful, taking most of my weight on my elbows. David’s so much smaller than me that being careful with him has become second nature. I kissed him slowly, teasing his mouth with my tongue, grinding my hardness against his.
Through the haze of wanting him, it took a few minutes before I realized that he was lying perfectly still beneath me. He’d let my tongue into his mouth, but there were no returning thrusts. Normally, David is the completely uninhibited one, clutching and rubbing against me, wild and fierce and fearless, letting me know with every incredible movement and gesture exactly what he wants from me, what he needs. This kind of passivity was not David. It was like a wall.
I half slid off him, propped myself up on my elbow, and looked down into his face.
There were tears in his eyes and, stupid fuck that I am, I totally misinterpreted them.
“It’s ok babe,” I said, leaning over and kissing him slowly, licking his jaw from beneath his ear to his chin. “I know it’s been a long time, but I’m back now. We’ve got the whole weekend.”
I reached for the front of his jeans, smiling at what I touched there. He grabbed at my wrist.
“Stop, Scottie,” he said, with a strangled little cry. “Please. Stop.”
He couldn’t have made me stop. Fuck, I’m twice David’s size, and there was nothing he could have done to make me. But at that whispered little command I froze, and let him push my hand away.
“This is so hard,” he said.
And then it all made sense and I knew. I just knew. The changes in his messages these last few weeks. The hair. The piercings. His stillness and passivity. I rolled completely off him onto my back and stared up at the ceiling. Neither of us said anything for a long time.
“So it’s over.” I said finally. “That’s what you’re trying to tell me, isn’t it?”
“I’m so sorry, Scottie,” he said.
And then he rolled towards me, put his head on my chest and his arm around my waist, and cried.
I guess I should have known that David and I couldn’t make it long distance. He needs a lot of attention, a lot of physical presence. How could I not have realized that there would be other guys willing to give him that?
It turned out that he’d been with someone else for the last three weeks. Well, sort of. They hadn’t actually done anything yet or declared themselves a couple. David wanted to tell me first, in person. Alex Burton. Short, stocky guy who wanted to be a screen writer. I hadn’t even realized he was gay, let along that he’d been in love with David the entire time David and I had been together.
I felt like I’d been sucker punched.
He cried the whole time he was telling me, his small, perfect body stretched out on top of mine, his arms around my neck. My shirt was soaking wet. I just held him til he went quiet. There didn’t seem to be much else to do.
Then I felt a heat in my cock and realized he was caressing me through my jeans. I grabbed his wrist.
“What are you doing?” I asked, my voice breaking.
He looked down at his hand for a long moment, and then I heard him sob. He let go of my cock and raised his hand to my face. I closed my eyes, felt tears oozing out from beneath my eyelids, sliding down my cheeks, and then the heat of his tongue licking them away.
“It’s goodbye sex, Scottie,” he whispered, dropping small, soft kisses along my cheekbone, over my ear.
The smell of him made me tremble. The touch of his tongue, and his hot, hot breath made me weep.
“I love you,” he said. “I’ll always love you. But you gotta know that I can’t wait for you. I can’t be alone. I need to be with someone. I’m not like you. I need someone who can take care of me. Someone who’ll help me be stronger. That’s why I’m with Alex, babe. I need him. I need someone to be there for me. Every day. I can’t make it on my own. Maybe someday, but not now. Not yet.”
At first, it was like I just didn’t have the strength to move. I just lay there, feeling tears at the back of my throat, and let him do what he wanted, freezing every movement in my memory. His fingers unbuttoning my shirt, unzipping my pants, reaching in and freeing my hard, hard cock. His beautiful mouth, trailing hot kisses, daring little licks and sucks, going down, over my jaw, my neck, slowly down my chest, pausing at nipples, belly, navel. For the last time, I buried my fingers in his soft, silky hair.
But when lowered his head to take my cock in his mouth, I just couldn’t let him do it.
“Don’t,” I choked out. “Please. Just don’t.”
I don’t know how long he’d been gone when I heard a knock on the door and Ben calling out to me softly.
“Scott? Is it ok if I come in?”
I didn’t answer, and he came in anyway. I was lying exactly as David had left me, flat on my back, half naked with my pants open.
Ben lay down beside me, reaching his arm around me and pulled me to him. At first I resisted, then I didn’t. I let him pull me into his arms, my head on his chest, and he rubbed my back in great warm circles, just as he had when I was a small child.
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