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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Predator Prey - 28. Revealed

No warnings needed for this chapter.

"We need to talk," Graham said, seriously, coffee in hand.

He looked up, startled. Then he swallowed hard at the words. We need to talk.

Over the past day or two, Graham had been quieter than usual, reflective. Once or twice, he had caught Graham looking at him speculatively, as if looking for an answer. It had made him uneasy. The tall researcher was a man who often reasoned and mused aloud. He has noticed Graham’s silences, and wondered about them.

The previous evening, Graham had begged off their usual night time together. There was a team meeting or something, so he said. His worries multiplied.

He’d had a bad night and an anxious dogwatch. Unable to sleep, he feared that Graham was having second thoughts about being with him. And who could blame Graham for that?

We need to talk.

A pit opened up at the bottom of his stomach. Words like that never meant anything good when he'd uttered them. And he'd uttered them plenty of times. "Okay."

He stared at the tattered copy of One Piece, still open in front of them. They'd been making their way through the manga at a snail's pace. There were always interruptions for ironic remarks, conversational tangents, or just a brief kiss. Or two. Their time together with the Japanese comic had given them a tangible bond, a cheerful base to their growing relationship.

At least, he'd thought so. Until We need to talk. Now, all the color seemed to drain from the page in front of him. Graham's words could bode nothing good.

They'd had perhaps nine, ten, glorious days.

"I just want everything to be clear," Graham stated.

Clear? None of this was clear. He'd never thought he'd be in this situation, so in love that he'd be scared to hear what Graham might say. He never figured he'd fall for anyone. Let alone for someone like Graham – brilliant, funny, confident, and sexy under all that nerdy exterior. He was completely unused to the feelings he'd experienced, unprepared for having his brittle defenses overwhelmed by the tall, sinewy scientist.

"What do you mean?" he parried, playing for time. He didn't want to hear what he'd told so many others: that it was time to end things.

Graham shifted in his chair. "I mean we need to talk about us. About what's happening."

So there it was. Graham was getting ready to end it. To separate Graham and Scott.

In the darkness outside, the Feigenbaum floated carelessly on a warm, gentle Gulf swell. It was a perfect analogy to the past week. He and Graham had floated along on the peaceful tide of romance; they'd spent every moment they could together; they'd been physical, they'd been loving, they'd been tender. They'd been floating along, utterly unaware of the current. He had been contented, almost blissful.

Until now.

"Happening? How about I kiss you?" he tried a diversion.

It didn't work. Graham shook his head, avoiding him. "You know what I mean. Don't be dense."

Actually, he had no idea what was motivating his boyfriend's ominous words. But he didn’t like this, not at all. He stared blankly back at Graham.

"Scott, we have to talk about what happens at the end of the week."

At the end of the week. The cruise would end in six days, on Friday. He'd avoided thinking about it. Friday was an open door through which he'd have to pass, staring out into a blackness he couldn't penetrate. He looked away.

"I…don't know…"

He felt Graham's warm hand covering his. "That's why I think we should talk now. We really haven't discussed what happens when the ship docks. Scott, you know I…" There was a pause. "I mean, we really don't know much about each other's lives on shore, do we?"

The question elicited a sharp little bark of laughter. He'd evaded that very subject at every opportunity. He’d been very good at it. He really didn’t want to think about Graham going back to some distant university campus. And what the hell was he going to do in six days, anyway? He'd have to find someplace to live. He wondered if he could crash with Javier and Oscar for a while until he could get an apartment or something. But would he be able to swing the cost? He had no idea. That was something he'd have to deal with later.

Right at that moment, dark, difficult thoughts were now intruding on his mind, shadows swiftly sweeping over the green landscape of his daydreams. Graham was trying to let him down easily. He was surely going back to his research lab, possibly hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away.

And even if Graham were located somewhere closer, why would he want to continue their relationship? Was their time together just an affair of convenience? He knew he had avoided talking about any of this, because anything deeper, anything lasting longer than this voyage would mean having to tell Graham the truth about himself. He wouldn't be able to hide it; it seemed like half the world had seen the party video. The man who'd found the way to unlock his heart would want to know the truth.

But why would this man, this man he thought of as his boyfriend, want anything more to do with him once he knew his whole story? He wouldn't be able to edit and spin it as he had done for Michael. Graham would have to know who he was. What he'd done. And then it would be all over. He'd been such a fool.

"Don't know. Finish up my courses, I guess. That's what I'm supposed to do, anyway," he said, wondering if there were a way to avoid the storm about to hit.

"No, I wasn't talking about classes, Scott. I'm talking about what happens to us."

The open chasm of inevitability yawned before him, and yet still he danced on its edge, hope to keep from falling. "You're going back to your lab, and we'll keep in touch, is that it?"

"Keep in touch? What kind of answer is that?" Graham asked, surprised and a little irritated. "Look, I just wanted to know…well, hell, I just don’t know you outside the ship. I mean, you never really told me about your life on shore, what you do, where you come from…"

There wasn't any choice but to get it over with. There wasn't any way to make it easy for Graham.

"How can there be an 'us' after Friday, Gray? You don't know what I am, what I've done."

He'd said it. There was no preventing the drop into the abyss now. Graham stared in shocked silence.

"Just what are you trying to tell, me, Scott?" Graham asked, his voice betraying a tremor.

He looked away, down at his feet. He couldn't possibly face Graham. But he had to know.

"I'm a predator, Gray. Was a predator, anyhow," he began.

"A what?" Graham started to interrupt, but he held up a hand, and the taller man fell silent.

"A predator. I was a dealer. I sold all kinds of shit; you wanted to get high, I could get you as high as the moon. I could get you whatever product you wanted, for a price. You wanted weed, I had more varieties than Ben and Jerry's. You wanted synthetics, I could get those, or high quality blow, or anything else you needed. I'd figure out what someone, anyone, had to have, and I was ready to supply it. I played on that. Preyed on that. I used people. You needed some kind of fix real bad? No problem, I’d have it. I'd just make you pay for it. And if you wanted some party action, I provided."

There was a noise of a chair shifting on the floor. He looked up; Graham hadn't risen to go, just moved a little further away in his seat; his face wore a puzzled expression, but he didn’t speak.

He continued. "Gray, I didn't just sell drugs, I broke people. I used their desires to get what I wanted. And…" he faltered. He had to admit this. "I used people sexually. I made them do shit…"

"I don't understand," Graham said faintly.

He took a deep breath. "Look. I'd find a freshman, a younger guy, usually, and I'd make all friendly and shit, right? I'd seduce him if I could, get him high if it helped, get him totally wasted if I had to. But then I'd fuck him; fuck him so he'd know he been fucked…because that wouldn’t just fuck his body, I'd have fucked his mind, see? And then, when the kid came to, he'd be…I don't know, broken. And I'd be there, ready to sell him shit to make it all feel better," he concluded bitterly.

God, how he hated himself. Scenes from his life, from what he'd done, voices of all the people he'd used and hurt, swirled and clamored for attention in his inner mind. He could actually smell the stink of smoke and sex. He'd known love only well enough to spell the word. How preposterous, to have thought he could let Graham love him.

He stole another glance at the man who, for a brief span of days, let him hope there might be daylight in his soul. Graham seemed stunned. Utter disbelief at what he was hearing showed plainly on his face.

He plowed on. "And later on, once one of my boys really needed that shit, I could get him to trade his ass for it. Willingly. I gave people away as party favors at the best blowouts on campus."

There was quiet. "How did you wind up here? On the Feigenbaum?"

He looked away again. He swallowed. It was hard to remember that, too. "I got taken down. My roommate and a guy named Ted did it. I hunted Ted, but Ted turned my own game back on me. I got drugged and…raped. Gang raped at a party in my own suite." He had to stop; he winced at the memory of the excruciating pain. But had that pain been anything worse than what he had inflicted on anyone else? "They…Ted and my roommate…they tied me down to my bed, threw a huge party. They let anyone who wanted to fuck my ass do it. I lost count how many guys did me that night. Anyway, while I was tied up and…being used, Ted and my roommate took everything, cleaned me out."

Another beat or two of silence.

"I got free, but I had to get out, get away. I was bloody and had nothing. I don’t think Ted and my roommate would have been any kinder the morning after." He tried to keep his breathing normal. "When I woke up, I escaped with my clothes and my laptop, and not much else. A while later, I crashed with some…someone I knew. Someone who put me up, even though I didn’t deserve it."

"And then what?"

"The guy I crashed with found me a job here. God knows how or why." He wasn't bitter, now. Just immensely sad. He looked up at Graham.

Graham looked away. "It sounds unbelievable."

He snorted ironically. "There's a video of the party out on the web. Someone uploaded it from their phone. You can find it when you get back on shore. There I am, tied up, splayed out and party fucked for everyone on the internet to see. It happened."

Nothing was said for a while after that.

"I don’t know what to think," Graham spoke, at last.

"I'm sorry," he said, to Graham, and to the room in general.

"Sorry? You’re sorry? For what? For the people you hurt? For the lies? What was I, your latest target, Scott? Easy prey?" Graham's voice was hard, and rising.

"No! It's not like that," he tried to protest, but even he knew how lame that sounded.

"You fucking fooled me," Graham spat.

"That's not who I am, not anymore," he responded, desperation ringing clearly.

"Who are you, Scott?" Graham demanded, eyes narrowed. "Who the hell are you? To think I thought I knew you…" Graham's voice trailed off, sounding terribly troubled. He rose to his feet.

"Please," he was begging, even though he promised himself he would never, ever beg, "please, don't hate me, Gray."

"I don't…I can't…" Graham seemed to be having trouble finding words. "Look, I'm just going to need some time, okay, Scott? I just don’t know."

He couldn't even look at Graham as he stalked away, but he heard his footsteps fade down the corridor and up the ladder.

What had he done? He'd been completely honest for the first time in years. And it cost him the love and friendship of the first person he'd ever fallen for. He'd finally found someone who could make the scarred place in his heart whole, and he'd wrecked whatever relationship they'd had. He felt completely empty and desolate. Alone in the blackness of the night in his soul, he realized it was entirely the fate he deserved.

His parents would have been pleased.

Thanks go to Craftingmom for her patient and generous help in editing this and every chapter. Thanks also to tim, Carlos and Spike for their beta-reading.

Please leave comments and thoughts. I appreciate every one of them, rant or rave.

Copyright © 2017 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Why did the format change to a seriffed font for the last line in the paragraph?

 

I think it’s good that Scott trusted Graham enough to tell him the truth. It’s kind of like Coming Out, it’s not a one-time event. Scott will have to face it over and over again, but in the future, it’ll get easier as he becomes even more comfortable with himself.

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Well .. honesty as the best policy?  Not so sure it shouldn't be, honesty in small doses, with some warning, is the best policy. Hopefully Graham can sort out his feelings. 

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And there it is ... Let pray that the fates feel Scott has matured and allow him to move forward. Thank you Parker

  • Like 5
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Wow, Scott bared all to Graham, and he's given Graham a helluva lot to think about.

 

Scott is a changed young man; he's not the TP we knew and hated from the beginning of the story, but Graham doesn't know this. Sure, Scott said he's a different person now, but how can Graham be sure? Graham may be feeling betrayed now -- betrayed that Scott wasn't up front with him sooner, but then of course that would have ruined even their friendship.

 

Ok, on to the next chapter, and by the title, I'm sure it's going to be a sad one for Scott.

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Well, the brutal truth and nothing but. It's the hardest and best thing for Scott and Graham right now. Graham now has to think if knowing these things about Scott will change the way he feels. This is pretty new still so he has lots to think about.. 

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On 3/22/2017 at 5:06 PM, Wesley8890 said:

Damn at least Scott had the decency to tell him the truth

 Scott told the truth, and it says a lot that he felt he had to do it. But now, the cost of doing so seems quite high. Thanks for reading!

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On 3/22/2017 at 8:54 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Well .. honesty as the best policy?  Not so sure it shouldn't be, honesty in small doses, with some warning, is the best policy. Hopefully Graham can sort out his feelings. 

 

Graham has a lot of sorting to do. But I think it says a lot about Scott's overall changes that he felt impelled to tell the truth, even if it was a big dose. Now Scott gets to count the cost of speaking the truth. Thanks always for your reading and support! - P

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On 3/22/2017 at 9:08 PM, Rndmrunner said:

And there it is ... Let pray that the fates feel Scott has matured and allow him to move forward. Thank you Parker

Scott surely has changed, or he'd never have told the truth at all. But the way forward is shrouded in obscurity. Thank you for reading this story to this point, and for your thoughts.

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On 3/25/2017 at 2:48 PM, Lisa said:

Wow, Scott bared all to Graham, and he's given Graham a helluva lot to think about.

 

Scott is a changed young man; he's not the TP we knew and hated from the beginning of the story, but Graham doesn't know this. Sure, Scott said he's a different person now, but how can Graham be sure? Graham may be feeling betrayed now -- betrayed that Scott wasn't up front with him sooner, but then of course that would have ruined even their friendship.

 

Ok, on to the next chapter, and by the title, I'm sure it's going to be a sad one for Scott.

 

Scott told Graham the truth, and opened his soul. Graham would have to be a saint not to reel at the revelations. I think you are quite right that Graham must feel both betrayed and confused right now. He is probably terribly sad that the burgeoning relationship he and Scott shared has come to an abrupt turn. Thank you so much for reading thus far into the story, and for your thoughts.

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On 3/26/2017 at 11:55 AM, Defiance19 said:

Well, the brutal truth and nothing but. It's the hardest and best thing for Scott and Graham right now. Graham now has to think if knowing these things about Scott will change the way he feels. This is pretty new still so he has lots to think about.. 

It was a brutal thing to have to say, but there was no sugarcoating it. That Scott felt compelled to tell the truth to Graham simply shows how far Scott has come. But now it is up to Graham, as you say. The two of them will have much to think about, too. Many thanks for continuing to read the story, and for your comments.

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He sure didn't even try to sugarcoat anything. Kudos to Scott for that. I felt bad for both men. They'd thought they found something, and now they are floundering... I'm not sure I'd know what to do if I was Graham. We can see Scott's not the same man, bur can Graham ever see It? Awesome job, buddy... you made me sad, though... cheers... Gary....

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11 hours ago, Headstall said:

He sure didn't even try to sugarcoat anything. Kudos to Scott for that. I felt bad for both men. They'd thought they found something, and now they are floundering... I'm not sure I'd know what to do if I was Graham. We can see Scott's not the same man, bur can Graham ever see It? Awesome job, buddy... you made me sad, though... cheers... Gary....

 

I was sorry to make you, other readers - and Scott - so very sad. Yet, it had to be done. It shows how much Scott has changed that he knew the truth had to be told. He didn't soften the blow or spin the reality of his past; another man, or an earlier Scott might have done that. Graham, of course, can only have the faintest notion of the change, as you say. Thanks so much for your tremendous encouragement in your remarks and in reading the story.

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Aw. Amazing, how you have brought us full circle, from viewing Scott with complete contempt at the start of this tale to feeling the shattering of his soul in this chapter. He was honest with Graham, and he didn't leave anything out. And that he feels he got what he deserved is the saddest thing, because now he is not the guy that deserves to lose it all and be hurt.

 

I guess the saddest thing is that this needed to happen in order for Scott to move on in life. The secret is out, even in his own mind now. He let it out of the cage all on his own.

 

Now I have to go and see where it may lead him.

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I think this chapter shows how much Scott has truly changed.  He's not hiding who he is/was.  He needed to be honest with Graham or it would have never worked.  I wouldn't blame Graham for walking away.  I'm very curious to see what happens next.  Great job, Parker! 

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We need to talk. -- The most nerve-wracking sentence in the language. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of self-doubt, overthinking, and paranoia.

"I'm a predator, Gray. Was a predator, anyhow," he began. -- WOW!!! Bravo Scott! Just put it out there. Name the demon with as much honesty, and as little shame, as possible. We admitted to ourselves, to God, and to another person, the exact nature of our wrongs.

What had he done? He'd been completely honest for the first time in years. And it cost him the love and friendship of the first person he'd ever fallen for. He'd finally found someone who could make the scarred place in his heart whole -- Welcome to the world of intimacy, Scott, a world where you're vulnerable and definitely NOT in control. It's a scary place. And it's the only place love really happens.

Now is the time to hang on to faith, and hope. If Graham really is worthy of your honesty and vulnerability, then he'll remember you on that ladder and want to come back and be non-judgementally curious about the reality of who you are. And ready to tell you the vulnerability of his own life.

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7 hours ago, BlueWindBoy said:

We need to talk. -- The most nerve-wracking sentence in the language. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of self-doubt, overthinking, and paranoia.

"I'm a predator, Gray. Was a predator, anyhow," he began. -- WOW!!! Bravo Scott! Just put it out there. Name the demon with as much honesty, and as little shame, as possible. We admitted to ourselves, to God, and to another person, the exact nature of our wrongs.

What had he done? He'd been completely honest for the first time in years. And it cost him the love and friendship of the first person he'd ever fallen for. He'd finally found someone who could make the scarred place in his heart whole -- Welcome to the world of intimacy, Scott, a world where you're vulnerable and definitely NOT in control. It's a scary place. And it's the only place love really happens.

Now is the time to hang on to faith, and hope. If Graham really is worthy of your honesty and vulnerability, then he'll remember you on that ladder and want to come back and be non-judgementally curious about the reality of who you are. And ready to tell you the vulnerability of his own life.

I just want to thank you for saying so succinctly what Scott has done, and what it must mean. I appreciated your response very much. 

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