Ryo tapped the end of his pencil against his lips and gazed out the window in front of his desk. It started with a calculus problem he needed to puzzle over, but before long his outward gaze turned to wandering daydreams. When a sharp knock sounded on the bedroom door, he was so startled he nearly fell off his chair.
"It's me, sweetie." It was Aunt Elena's muffled voice on the other side of the door. She must have come home early from her errands.
Ryo sighed in relief and pressed his palm against his chest as if to slow his pounding heart. "Come in," he called.
Elena strode inside, shopping bag in hand. She stopped at his desk, smoothed his bangs back from his face and planted a lipsticky kiss on his forehead. "Doing some homework?"
He set his pencil down. "Yep. Just finishing up."
"I got you some briefs while I was out," she continued brightly. "Figured it was about time for some new ones." She fished through her bag and pulled out a few identical packs of underwear and tossed them onto his bed.
Ryo glanced at the packages. They were a different brand from the ones he was used to--Calvin Klein instead of the usual Fruit of the Loom. He supposed it didn't really matter. They were his size and the style he liked best—plain white with a Y-front fly—but it was still one more reminder that life was different now that his parents were gone. There was also the fact that Aunt Elena had called them 'briefs.' His parents always called it 'underwear' or even jokingly 'Underoos' even though Ryo had never worn the kind covered with cartoon heroes. In all the years he'd spent with his parents, they'd never called them 'briefs.' It was just one more term he'd learn to adopt. Long after the worst of his grieving was over, it was the thousands of nettling little details that haunted him with his parents' memory.
"Thanks, Aunt Elena." He gave her one of his self-conscious smiles.
"Well, don't work your brain too hard," Elena said, ruffling his hair. "I've got a frozen lasagna in the oven and it'll be ready in about an hour."
Aunt Elena closed the door behind her when she left and Ryo picked up his pencil again. He turned back to his math homework, the binder paper covered with columns of meticulously neat numbers and variables. Try as he might to refocus, his mind churned with thoughts of his parents, of his mother's baked eggplant parmesan that was nothing at all like frozen lasagna...
No. It did no good to dwell on things like that. But try as he might, he could not concentrate on math any longer. He went to his bed instead and picked up one of the packages of underw—no; they were briefs now.
He peeled off the plastic wrap with neatly-trimmed nails and indulged for a moment in the enjoyment of unwrapping a gift, even if he already knew what it was. It was the same basic pleasure that made him strip the cellophane off new CDs when he got them home even if he didn't have time to listen to them right away.
The plain white briefs tumbled onto his duvet, looking withered and small from being crammed into the package. The new name brand was printed proudly across the taut elastic waistband of each pair and there was no trace of the garish blue and gold stripes from Ryo's usual brand. Kind of stylish, he thought to himself.
He looked at the thin piece of cardboard left in his hand with all the sizing information printed on the back. On the front was a black and white photograph of a male model sporting a pair of the briefs. The model was muscular and fiercely handsome. Ryo thought with a slight smile that perhaps the picture was the reason Aunt Elena had chosen this brand above any other. With a soft chuckle, he tossed the packaging in the trash, dropped the new briefs into his laundry hamper and sat back at his desk.
He pecked at his graphing calculator for a minute, twirling his pencil in his other hand. This problem was a real stumper. Maybe there was a typo in the math book, he thought. It wouldn't be the first time. While he pondered the assignment, he absently sharpened his pencil. Ryo always liked to keep the point needle sharp.
Somehow in the midst of integers and cosigns, his thoughts returned to the underwear model with the green eyes. ...But he couldn't really know he had green eyes, could he? It was a black and white picture, after all. Yet the exact shade was indelibly printed on Ryo's memory.
Just to satisfy his curiosity, he reached into the trash can beside his desk and pulled out the cardboard packaging again. It was a monochrome picture sure enough, but he could see why he thought of green when he looked again. The model was young, maybe in his mid-twenties, and his short-cropped hair was raven black, but his eyes were a much lighter color. Ryo supposed his eyes could have been blue, but something inside told him that they were really lichen-green.
Satisfied with this answer, Ryo turned back to his math assignment with the picture still sitting on his desk. When curiosity nibbled at him again, he didn't even try to focus on his homework, but picked up the picture of the model. Anything was more interesting than this darn math problem.
The model really was beautiful. Ryo couldn't blame Aunt Elena for her choice now that he looked at the picture again. He was muscular and lean with a fierce and predatory hunger lurking behind his dark brows and pale eyes. Ryo supposed it was just the type of guy that women and homosexuals would go crazy for. Not that Ryo could see the attraction that way, of course. He scrutinized the picture with the detachment of a man who was decidedly straight, but still able to recognize a handsome man when he saw one.
And the model was handsome. His broad hairless chest was hard with muscle and his flexed stomach looked almost like an overturned egg carton, forming a perfect six-pack. One muscular arm hung loose at the side, and the other bulged with strength as it crossed over his belly. The model's open palm planed across his abs, touching his own smooth skin.
It reminded Ryo of the way girls could drive boys crazy by touching their own bodies without thinking about it. They could sweep their hands down their sides, smooth out tight skirts, and rub lotion onto their long lithe arms. It was no big deal to the girls themselves, of course, but to a spectator virgin male, it was hard not to think about just how nice it would be if only it could be his hands running over those alluring curves. Ryo didn't think much about it, but his guy friends complained that it was a big conspiracy that girls kept up just to flirt and drive men crazy.
Looking at the picture again, Ryo though he understood the phenomenon a little better. He felt a quiet bemusement to know that even women were susceptible to such ploys. Perhaps the very reason Aunt Elena had chosen this brand over any other was that subconscious curiosity of how it might be to put her hand on the model's warm skin.
Even more devious than the hand resting on the rolling hills of his abs, the man had his thumb hooked temptingly in the tight waistband. He had pulled the elastic band down ever so slightly, exposing the angle of his hip bone as if to say, 'You want me to go a little further? You want me to take these all the way off?'
And so what if he did, Ryo wondered to himself with a strange mix of guilt and entitlement. If the model with the piercing green eyes pulled his briefs down past his thighs, what would it look like underneath?
Ryo blushed self-consciously and threw a nervous glance at the door as if he expected someone to have overheard his thoughts. It's not like that at all, he thought to himself. His suspiciously homoerotic thoughts had nothing to do with sexual attraction, but were born from simple teenage curiosity, that was all.
It was the fate of all boys, and girls as well he supposed, to be curious about that age group one step ahead. He remembered being very young and watching with awe as the "big kids" did their big kid things like riding bikes without training wheels, driving remote controlled cars and going to the park without a grownup. Now he and his friends still watched wistfully as the boys just a few years older than them enjoyed their adult pleasures and rites of passage: getting jobs, smoking behind the cafeteria, sneaking Wild Turkey from their fathers' liquor cabinets, and the most sacred of sacreds--Having Sex.
It was that same innocent curiosity about older boys that made Ryo wonder what lay hidden beneath the model's snug white briefs. Judging by the bulge beneath the crisscrossed seams of the Y-front fly, he guessed it was pretty big. Ryo was already well past the worst throes of puberty, but he knew it was still a while yet before his face hardened and his body fully developed into the impressive angles of manhood. They had the same bodies, yet they weren't the same at all. What lay coiled beneath the bulge in the model's white briefs would not be mistaken for some eighteen-year-old's rod, that was for sure.
He imagined the model peeling off that thin layer of white fabric, sliding the briefs down his angular hips with his thumb hooked in the waistband just like in the picture. And there beneath the rolling hills of his stomach muscles and the shadow of his navel he found... A brushstroke of trimmed dark hair, the smooth shaft with its swollen head, the faint suggestion of thick veins like the ones in his muscular forearms.
The green-eyed man on the package was flaccid of course, but in Ryo's mind the model was ramrod straight when he peeled back the concealing layer of white. Coolly erect and awaiting attention, his cock bobbed in the open air once free of its cotton restraints. Then the same hand that had pulled down the waistband curled fingers around his shaft in a tight grip at the base. Green Eyes gave the full length a satisfying stroke, drawing the sensitive skin upward toward his drum-taut head...
Ryo suddenly realized that during the course of his daydreaming he'd unzipped the fly of his Levi's. He hand his hand down his underwear and was gripping his penis that stood on end and throbbed like a second heartbeat.
A shiver of guilt followed and something that came dangerously close to self-disgust, but Ryo pushed those thoughts aside. He was curious, that was all, and it wasn't a crime to be curious. Even so, he gave another nervous glance toward the bedroom door, which remained serenely shut.
Screw it, Ryo thought to himself in a fierce rebuttal against the encroaching guilt. It wasn't like he was doing anything wrong after all. He leaned back in his desk chair and pushed his jeans down beneath his backside before closing his eyes to resume the fantasy.
Behind Ryo's closed eyelids, Green Eyes came alive once more. He stepped out of his monochrome world of the cardboard packaging and Ryo found the man's skin was a warm olive tan and his irises were even more vividly green than he ever could have imagined. Those eyes pierced him, beckoning him with an intensity that made his legs feel helplessly weak.
Green Eyes stroked his own cock in patient languid strokes, his other hand breezing across the smooth planes of his chest. Ryo pumped at his own straining shaft as he watched, his palm slick with sweat. Green Eyes dropped his gaze to Ryo's stroking hand and gave a gentle smile. There was bemusement behind the curve in the model's full lips, but no trace of malice or mockery. He stepped forward, closing the gap between them, and took Ryo's cock in his hand with an unspoken, 'Here, let me show you...'
Ryo let his hand fall away when Green Eyes' fingers close around him. The man's hand was dry and cool with a firm insistent grip. Ryo timidly stretched his own fingers to wrap around Green Eyes' perfect cock. He shivered at the searing heat that radiated from his skin and the girth so thick his fingers could barely close around it.
They rubbed and stroked at each other until Ryo felt his legs tingle with the onset of orgasm. Green Eyes' gaze was too intense to bear and Ryo dropped his forehead against the man's chest. His eyes were closed but his mouth hung open, panting humid breath against the sheen of sweat on his muscles. When Ryo was sure he could not endure any longer, Green Eyes pulled him close against his chest in a crushing embrace. Dark spots hovered in front of Ryo's eyes and he felt liquid heat splash across his belly and dribble down over his knuckles.
When Ryo opened his eyes, he felt hollow. He looked down at the sticky mess in his lap and the feeling of shame descended on him like carrion crows. Torn from the fantasy world, he suddenly felt keenly aware of his surroundings: the poster of the solar system on the wall, his clarinet and music stand but more importantly the open math book and pencil shavings on his desk. On top of it all lay the cardboard packaging for a pack of plain white briefs.
He threw it into the trash can again as quickly as if it burned him, but a small voice inside him knew that he would pull that picture out again before it came time to take out the trash. He would rescue Green Eyes from the garbage and tuck him away at the bottom of a drawer for future contemplation. What bothered him the most was the feeling that he was helpless to do anything else.
For a moment, he felt sick. Then he wondered if he was.
There's nothing wrong with me! Ryo told himself fiercely and reached for some Kleenex to wipe away the traces of what he had done.