DISCLAIMER: I do not own Forever the Sickest Kids, or anyone in this story at all. Lord what would happen if I did.
Warnings: Lots and lots of abundant smut, cursing, drinking and destructive behavior. This is a depressing one, folks. So reviews would be smashing! :) It reallyreallyreally helps me write knowing what I can improve on.
"Happy two years, Kyle!" Caleb sing-songs, carrying a large birthday cake into the dining room of their apartment. The white buttercream frosting—with raspberry jelly filling, the way Kyle likes it—is decorated with a gigantic candle in the shape of a rainbow two, and the words are done in bright green edible gel, proudly spelling out Two Years Sober and Counting!
Kyle cracks a huge grin and sets down the skateboarding magazine he had been idly flipping through. "Aw, Cay, you shouldn't have."
Caleb sets the cake down and leans over to kiss Kyle lightly. "What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn't? It's not every day a recovering alcoholic celebrates their two-year-sober anniversary."
"You make it sound so easy."
Caleb cracks a grin. "You had lots and lots of help, Kyle. And I'm not just talking about me." He sits down across the table, one hand reaching out to cover Kyle's.
"You're right," Kyle responds, and blows out the candle, letting a cloud of smoke rise and twirl in patterns to the ceiling.
"Hi, I'm Kyle Burns, and I've been sober for two years."
He pauses to let people clap, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. He hates being up here, letting people know that even though he'd fucked up his life, he was fixing it. Nothing is ever fixed completely. Kyle knows this well enough. He notices Jonathan out of the corner of his eye clapping the hardest, white baseball cap skewed over his long brown hair.
Kyle feels like he's a role model for the imperfect, trash thrown and picked up and polished. He's teaching these people, the ones who grab a bottle that says "drink me" and try to forget everything that's wrong with the world.
These people, they wouldn't know problems if it was a big target inked across their faces.
"Many of you know me already, but for those who don't, I got into drinking when I was sixteen or seventeen and my parents were going through a pretty rough divorce. It progressively got worse, and when I was twenty-one I realized I needed help." So sugary sweet it made diabetics keel.
"I started coming here, and when I was six months sober I met the most amazing boy. We've been going out ever since. He's partly the reason I can stand in front of you right now and say this," Kyle says, eyes shifting over each person.
At the farthest end of the semi-circle Brendon, a wide-eyed newbie, hangs onto his every word. Honestly, Kyle has never met anyone so determined to kick the habit before in his life, and deep down he respects the kid a lot.
Brendon is twenty-one, three years younger than Kyle himself. It's terrible, knowing that just in this room there are people who made the mistake of drinking at such a young age like him. You'd think that with Kyle's quick success story he'd be elated and happy to preach it for anyone.
See: cynical, angry, unsatisfied.
Also see: would rather be anywhere else on the planet.
He sucks it up though, putting on a front. Deep down—and okay, maybe not even that deep if he wants to be brutally honest—Kyle wants to help people. Doesn't want them to go down his road, where he pushed family and old friends away.
There are the success stories that make headlines and bring tears to the eyes, and there are the ones people don't talk about. These rehab groups, these last-ditch efforts to help, are just cheap imitations of the real deal, where you get round-the-clock 24/7 care for all your addicted needs.
Cheap imitations are all anything is anymore.
When Kyle finishes his speech and the director dismisses everyone for a five-minute break, he goes to the refreshment table, eyeing up the sketchy-looking coffee pot.
"Hey," comes a voice behind him. Kyle recognizes that voice.
"Hey Jonathan," he says, turning around. The smile that breaks out on his face is genuine for the first time that day. "How's it going?"
Jonathan shrugs and twists the brim of his cap from side to side, a sign that he's nervous about something. Kyle picks up a doughnut, debating before biting into it. Fuck it. "Oh, I'm pretty good. Just working on my seventh step now."
"That must be going well. You know, with you being religious and all."
Jonathan laughs softly and fixes Kyle with an amused stare. "Yeah, you know," he mimics, then gets serious. "Listen, I really loved your speech today. It was beautiful."
Kyle shifts uncomfortably. "Uh, thanks." He hates being praised when he knows that anything he's said is complete BS. "Just trying to help you guys out. This road is pretty bumpy for the next few years."
Bumpy is putting it mildly.
"I agree," Jonathan replies, giving Kyle a napkin when he starts to reach for one. "God's on my side, though. He brought me here, didn't He?"
Kyle nods his head and chews, rubbing the rough brown paper over his fingers to clean off the sticky residue. He doesn't say anything.
They're called back into the meeting, and when Kyle goes over to sit by the director who begins to continue on about the previous week's lecture about the Steps program, he finds himself staring at Jonathan more than is necessary.
I have a boyfriend, Kyle says to himself. He's always been sober, and he loves me.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. It's all lies.
When nobody's telling the truth anymore, who's going to listen?
It all falls apart when Caleb leaves to go visit family the following weekend.
"Casey misses me," he says, "and Chase has some weird new videogame he wants to try to kick my ass at." He packs a few more shirts into his duffel bag.
"Can't you wait until next week, baby?" Kyle asks, leaning on the doorframe. He runs his hand through his blonde hair, pushing the bangs off his forehead. "It's Christmas, then. We can go visit them and then see Marc and my family."
Caleb shakes his head, disappearing into their bathroom for a few seconds to grab his toothbrush. "I wish I could, Kyle, but I feel like this is kinda overdue. I've actually forgotten when I last saw them."
Kyle sighs in defeat. "Fine," he pouts. "But we'd better have incredible Going Away Sex tonight."
Caleb laughs and grabs Kyle, pulling him close. "Anything you want."
The doorbell buzzes incessantly, echoing throughout the apartment. Kyle hurriedly puts down the mustard he was squeezing onto his sandwich to answer the door. He looks through the peephole and sees a familiar spiky, styled black-and-blonde catastrophe.
When Jack Barakat is at the door uninvited, nothing good can ever come out of it.
Kyle sighs but opens it anyway, stepping aside to let the younger man in. "To what do I owe this glorious, and yet unexpected, visit?"
"Sarcastic as ever, I see," Jack replies, stepping inside. Kyle rolls his eyes and shuts the door, stepping back into the kitchen.
There are the things he loves—and hates—about Jack, and this is one that's equal in both categories. Jack drinks more than is healthy for someone his age, and Kyle knows he can never call him out on it because Jack will pull the hypocrite card, the bastard.
"Where's the Turmanator?" Jack asks, looking around the apartment. Kyle notices he brought a six-pack. He frowns.
"You know we don't like alcohol here, especially Caleb," he says.
Jack smirks and laughs. "Apparently Caleb isn't here, and I don't think you mind."
"Jack, I'm a recovering alcoholic!"
"All just words," he says, and waves his hand dismissively.
Kyle opens his mouth to speak but shuts it, shaking his head. He'd made the mistake of letting Jack in, so he figures listening to him ramble inanely would be punishment enough. Instead, he walks back into the kitchen, hoping that somehow Jack will get the hint and leave.
Unfortunately, nothing is ever as easy as that.
"What exactly do you plan on doing with all that beer?" Kyle asks as he finishes up making his forgotten sandwich. He regrets the words before they even leave his mouth because he's got this sneaking suspicion that he knows exactly what Jack is going to do. And…
"Having a party, of course!"
"So, what? Because Caleb isn't here you think it's okay to come into my apartment and drink?" The anger boils hot liquid into his veins and heats his face, sends his heart thumping into overdrive. Jack is so fucking insensitive.
Jack's face appears into the kitchen doorway, peeking out from the frame, confusion etching lines into his forehead and creasing his thick, dark eyebrows together. "Whoa, chillax bro. I'm not forcing you to drink or anything."
You might as well be, Kyle thinks, gritting his teeth. "This is my apartment," he says, words clipped and voice cool, veiled as thin as ice with anger. "You don't know how hard it is to be a recovering addict. Just because I haven't drank in two years doesn't mean it can't happen again."
See: can't happen again.
It can't. Everything would unravel like yarn, spinning out of control into the dark vortex of space, and Kyle would be alone again. Caleb is his gravity, his everything keeping him on this planet. Life force, life jacket, life.
"I only invited Gaskank," Jack says, walking into the kitchen to perch himself on the countertop. "And a little someone named Jonathan S. Cook," he finishes, smirking like he knows a secret.
Kyle's mouth dries up.
Jonathan. Did Jack know? But how could he? Kyle took a few deep breaths and threw the remainder of his sandwich into the garbage. I'm just overreacting. Maybe they know each other through Alex.
"Oh, really?" he says casually, ignoring how badly his hands are shaking as he reaches one of his Starbucks coffee mugs. "Uh, how do you know Jonathan?"
Jack shrugs. "Alex. Mainly Kent, though."
Kyle sighs in relief. Kent Garrison was safe territory; he was friend to practically anyone in the local scene. He was always harping on Kyle about how they should start a band, get away, and Kyle can't deny that he wants to, but his roots are deep in Texas and he can't see himself leaving just yet.
"When were you talking to Kent?" he asks as he starts up the coffeemaker. He doesn't ask Jack if he wants any and doesn't expect the other boy to ask for any.
"A few days ago. He said Jonathan goes to that self-help group you frequent."
Kyle inhales sharply. Here it comes. But Jack doesn't say anything more, just watches Kyle in peace for a little bit before disappearing back into the living room. Kyle stares at the empty space on the counter for a few minutes, blowing on his mug of coffee.
"Overreacted," he mutters, heading to the living room as well. "That's all."
The doorbell rings again at somewhere around seven o'clock, just as Kyle's getting comfortable on the couch. Jack still hasn't left, which means they've been watching Jersey Shore reruns for the past few hours and Kyle's about ready to stab himself in the ears if he has to hear "situation" or "guido" one more fucking time.
"Jonathan!" he hears Jack exclaim from the doorway. Huh, weird. Kyle hadn't even heard him get up. Nevertheless he returns, a very nervous-looking Jonathan Cook in tow.
"Hi Kyle," Jonathan says, waving awkwardly.
Kyle jumps slightly, eyes losing that glazed look they'd acquired from tuning out annoying Jersey accents. "Shit, I didn't know you were here."
Jonathan laughs softly and then looks at Jack, who's standing nearby smirking like an idiot. It makes Kyle kind of want to punch it off his face. "Yeah, Jack kind of invited me. I hope it's okay."
"Nah, it's cool," Kyle replies. "So, like, what exactly did Jack say to you about tonight?" The last part is purely for Jack, who doesn't look at him as he exits the room.
"Not much," Jonathan admits, sitting down on the couch next to Kyle. "Oh, Jersey Shore? I love this show." Kyle socks him in the arm and Jonathan laughs loudly while pretending to be hurt.
Tonight just might not be that bad.
Jack comes back in the room at about nine, toting the six-pack in and dropping it onto the table. Kyle looks over, his eyes growing dark as he angrily stands up, reluctantly pulling himself away from the warmth of Jonathan's side. "Dude, what did I tell you? No fucking drinking in this house."
"And I told you that you don't have to drink if you don't want to," Jack replies nonchalantly.
Kyle looks behind him and sees Jonathan watching them curiously, eyes darting from Jack to the beer, want flickering in the irises. Kyle grabs Jack's arm and pulls him to the hallway. "Jack, he's just barely getting over his addiction. How do you think I'll look if he relapses and people find out it's at my apartment?"
"Don't tell them."
Kyle's temper flares are he has to restrain himself from punching Jack in his pretty face. "Look," he says, trying to calm down, "if you're going to do it, please do it in the kitchen or the balcony or something. Just not where Jonathan can see."
Jack shrugs, says okay, and leaves. Kyle rubs his temples, sighing. Getting through to Jack may mean treating him like a five-year-old, but at least he listens to some extent.
When Kyle gets back into the living room he finds the couch empty, and at first he's confused. Jonathan couldn't have left—the door was close to where he and Jack had been standing previous, same for the bathroom. Then it hits him.
The kitchen. Jack.
He races into there, practically skids on the abrupt change from carpet to cheap linoleum, and stops dead, jaw open. "Jonathan!" he screeches.
He wants to believe that maybe he's seeing things, that maybe Alex came over and looks suspiciously like Jonathan tonight, but even when he blinks a few times and shakes his head, the image doesn't erase itself.
In present time, Jonathan is still drinking a beer.
In past time, Kyle is shutting the door on Jack Barakat's stupid fucking face.
He still wishes he could've had the self-control to do something, but he feels like every atom of his body has been replaced with cement. "Why—" he starts and finds his throat closing up.
Jonathan was coming along so well. And now… now it was back to the drawing board.
Jonathan looks over at him, showing no sign of remorse or confusion. "Life's too short," is all he says. Kyle watches him tip the bottle back, sees the amber liquid rush toward the neck.
You're ruining your life is what Kyle wants to say.
Stop, you can still save yourself.
I think I might like you.
"You worked so hard" is what slips out instead. Jonathan shrugs. "I can always try again," he says, and then looks back at Jack, who then looks at Kyle, raising an eyebrow as if to say come on, if Jonathan can do it, so can you.
"Caleb—" Kyle starts to say but Jack cuts him off.
"Just this once," Jack says, pressing the cold glass bottle into Kyle's palm. Instinctively Kyle's fingers close around it, triggering memories of before, moving pictures of his life before, and now, standing in his living room, those memories don't seem so dark and horrifying as they do anywhere else.
Jack watches him, hawk-like, as Kyle opens the bottle. The blonde looks up, down, creasing his brows together. "I shouldn't…" he trails off. He feels the horrible pull of temptation, tries to remind himself that he's responsible for his life, and if he isn't he might as well sell his soul now.
Except… he remembers how good it felt to drink. How he forgot everything after the burn of alcohol slid down his throat a thousand times. Kyle looks from Jack to Jonathan, the bottle to the ceiling.
He says, "Okay," as he's already letting the liquid slide down his throat.
Kyle has lost track of time, where he is, and why he's there. The six-pack is long-gone, replaced by another one, empty amber bottles lying around the coffee table in the living room. Jack tells some racy, morbid joke and they all laugh raucously, and it probably isn't even that funny if it is at all.
"'M—I'm tellin' you, Jack," Kyle slurs between sips of his fourth—or fifth, fuck if he knows anymore with all the chaos—beer, "without you, bro… without you I'd prob'ly be—fuck, sober." He laughs.
Jack laughs too, claps Kyle jovially on the back, almost makes him choke on a swallow, and replies, "Without me you'd be a prude."
He stops, eyes flickering between Kyle and Jonathan, who are both on the couch with at least two feet of space between them. He gets a devilish grin on his lips, and if Kyle were sober he'd be freaking the fuck out.
"How much would I have to pay you guys to make out?" Jack finally asks, lips twitching in a shit-eating grin. Kyle can see Jonathan widen his eyes beside him, knows he's probably not comfortable with this at all, but he doesn't object or say anything, for that matter.
"Seriously," Jack presses, insistent. "How much?"
"You're a fuckin' teenager," Kyle says.
Jack doesn't reply, just stares them down, and Kyle sighs, scoots closer to Jonathan. He takes the other boy's bottle and sets it on the table, places his hands on Jonathan's shoulders. He feels the tension in the muscles, hears his frantic breathing, but he still leans forward, closing his eyes slowly until he makes contact with Jonathan's lips.
Kyle feels more than hears Jonathan breathe in sharply, body rigid. Kyle leans back, whispers, "Shh, it's okay," before he presses his lips back to Jonathan's. He feels the resistance slide, the other boy relax slightly into his arms.
Kyle runs his tongue along the seam of Jonathan's lips, licking at his teeth before slipping his tongue fully inside. Jonathan moans, shifts on the couch until he's completely facing Kyle.
Somewhere in the background Jack is saying, "Uh, wow."
Then, "I think I'll leave now."
The door closes and it's just Kyle and Jonathan, lost in scent, touch, passion. Kyle pulls away, looks at Jonathan before saying, "Do you really want to do this?"
Jonathan responds by grabbing the front of Kyle's flannel shirt and pulling him forward, pushing their lips back together. His hands slide from Kyle's shoulders down to his hips, slipping under the shirt to trace his fingers over Kyle's warm skin, then down further to brush over the front of Kyle's jeans.
Kyle groans, hips bucking up, teeth clamping down gently on Jonathan's full bottom lip, tugging slightly. "Please," he whispers, begs as he rests his forehead against Jonathan's.
"Would you let me fuck you?" Kyle asks, hands traveling up Jonathan's torso, index finger brushing against a nipple. Jonathan exhales, presses gently against Kyle's cock with the heel of his hand.
"I—I don't know," he finally responds. "I like you, Kyle, but…"
Kyle nods his head, brings his hands up to cup Jonathan's chin. "I get it," he whispers, pulling back so he can stare the older man in the eyes. "Too soon, if ever."
He knows you have Caleb is hanging in the air.
Kyle moves his hands back down to Jonathan's jeans, tugs and pulls at the belt until it drops to the floor with a thud and clink. He undoes the button, slides the zipper down and slips his hand inside, slender fingers wrapping around the base of Jonathan's cock.
Jonathan sighs, cants his hips up and helps Kyle pull down his jeans. "Shit," he murmurs, tongue darting out to wet his bottom lip and Kyle thinks it's one of the hottest things he's ever fucking seen.
And Jonathan cussing? Kyle feels like he could come right then and there. He captures Jonathan's lips in his again, licking his way back inside as he moves his hand up and down. He pulls back for a second to spit into his palm before wrapping his hand back around Jonathan's cock.
By now Jonathan's desperate, grabbing for Kyle and kissing him with a ferocity Kyle didn't know the other boy could possess. For someone who he's never made out with before, Kyle thinks, Jonathan's fantastic, fingers seeming to know all the right places.
Kyle thumbs at the head of Jonathan's cock, squeezes slightly before sliding down. Jonathan gets Kyle's jeans undone, pushes both denim and boxers down just enough so that cool air hits the head of Kyle's cock, making him shiver.
Jonathan awkwardly wraps his fist around the shaft, but it's enough to send Kyle over the edge, gasping and moaning as he comes over Jonathan's hand. Kyle manages to get a few more strokes in before Jonathan's muscles are tightening, hips snapping up in rhythm.
"Oh, God," Jonathan murmurs, a high, keening noise emitting from his mouth as he spills over Kyle's hand, body shuddering as he comes down.
They just breathe for a few minutes, slumped boneless across the sofa. In the back of his mind Kyle figures they should get cleaned up, clean the damn room up, but his body doesn't seem to want to cooperate with his brain.
Suddenly Kyle hears the click of a latch, the door opening before Caleb's voice is ringing through the house. "Ky, I'm home early. I figured maybe you were right, we should go next week and—"
His voice cuts abruptly off and Kyle feels the dread in his stomach. "What the fuck?" Caleb screeches, the thud of a dropped bag echoing in the too-silent room. Jonathan jumps, frantically searching for his belt as he pulls up his jeans.
Caleb steps over to the coffee table, eyes livid and mouth set in a tight line. His brown eyes survey the room, see the bottles upon bottles and he takes in a deep breath. "Whoever you are, kindly get the fuck out of my goddamn apartment. I have something I have to discuss."
Jonathan is out as fast as he can get, scrambling and tripping over his shoes, the carpet, as he rushes to the door, shutting it loudly on his way out. Kyle tries to curl in on himself, completely aware that he still hasn't zipped up his pants.
Caleb steps in front of him, fist clenched like he's going to start swinging. "You're drunk."
Kyle can only nod.
"Who was that?" Caleb asks, teeth gritted and words clipped.
"Jonathan," Kyle responds, fumbling to tuck himself back in and zip up. "From AA."
"Kyle, has there ever even been an AA for you?" Caleb finally asks, and there's such a weight of disbelief and disappointment and hurt that Kyle just wants to die. "I mean… have you just been going there for him?"
His voice is near tears, scratchy and broken in that way that he gets when he wants to cry but is holding it back. Kyle frantically shakes his head, wipes his hand on his jeans as he gets up. He sways slightly but forces himself to stay upright. "No, no, baby. Never. I love you, Caleb."
"You have a fucking funny way of showing it," Caleb shouts, pushing Kyle away. The older man stumbles and falls back onto the couch, eyes filling up with tears, spilling over and running tracks down his cheeks.
Caleb shows no sign of remorse as he continues, voice rising in volume. "Fuck you, Kyle Burns. Just fuck you. How could you do this to me? I stood by you when you were still struggling with addiction and I helped you fight it off, and this is how you repay me?"
Kyle swallows, standing up again. "I fucked up, Caleb. I'm so sorry. I can't tell you that enough."
Caleb shakes his head, tears stinging at his eyes. "Kyle, you… I mean, Jonathan, dude. That kid is, I always thought he was straight, by what you've told me. I hadn't even ever met him."
The rejection stabs at Kyle's heart, and he finds himself backing away from Caleb's shaking form. "I—" he starts, but knows it's useless. He hangs his head, clenches his fists until his skin is stretched tight and white over the bones of his knuckles.
"Caleb, can you please just listen to me?"
"No, I can't." Caleb shakes his head again, wiping a tear from his cheek angrily. "Kyle, can you…" he stops and sighs, presses two of his fingers to his forehead. "Can you just leave? I can't stand to see you right now."
Kyle doesn't want to tell Caleb that Jonathan was drunk too, and he coerced him into it. They were just AA friends, met at the first meeting, and Kyle, deep down, had always liked Jonathan. He was just troubled, Kyle knew that.
Kyle doesn't like to think of himself as an instigator, but he so, so is.
Caleb's harsh words sting and Kyle flinches back slightly. He really did screw up, but he knows he can't say anything, so he hangs his head in defeat, swallowing the lump in his throat. "Jack Barakat was here, too," he says, taking a deep breath. "He left, but he was here."
Caleb doesn't say anything, just shuffles his feet and chokes back a sob, sniffling. "Get out," he finally says, voice firm and eyes red. "Please, Kyle. Please, just get out."
"Fine." Kyle's voice is clipped, and he turns on his heels so fast his shoe catches on the carpet and almost causes him to fall. He doesn't want to cry, bites the inside of his lip so hard he almost breaks the skin. He's humiliated, rejected by his boyfriend, and he just wants to be gone.
Jonathan isn't even gay, bisexual, bicurious. He's the straightest guy Kyle's ever met, but it just goes to show that with a little alcohol people will do anything.
And guys? Guys really do think with their dicks.
He gets to the door and turns around, looks at Caleb while his fingers toy with the buttons on his flannel shirt. "It was an accident," he says, but he knows Caleb isn't really listening anymore, knows that he had pretty much stopped when he walked in the door. "I relapsed and I'm an idiot."
The response Kyle gets is a strangled sob and a slammed door.
The clink of glasses is almost completely overpowered by the too-loud Lady Gaga song blaring in the background, but the coolness of the shot glass is familiar in Kyle's palm, and the warm buzz of too much liquor is marinating in his system. Home away from home.
Kyle laughs, a little too loud and he's now more than a bit tipsy, the sobriety he had gained a few hours ago now a thing of the past, but he still signals for the bartender to send him over another shot. "Two years sober and I'm back here." He receives the shot and downs it, feels the warmth of the tequila travel down his throat.
The girl sitting next to him gives him an obvious once-over, heavily-lined hazel eyes traveling not-so subtly up and down his hunched frame. Kyle almost wants to laugh again, get up and tell the girl, sorry, I've just left my boyfriend. Sorry, I'm just a cocksucker.
Sorry, I'm just a failure.
Kyle tries to hide himself in his white-blonde hair, curl into himself until there's nothing left except a black hole of despair. Even through the haze of alcohol he knows this is wrong, wrong, wrong and he's compromising everything he's stood for in the past two years.
Hypocritical, stupid, idiotic. Whatever you want to call it.
He thinks of Jonathan, whose life he's probably fucked over completely just because he was horny and Caleb wasn't around and Jack was over and had convinced him to have a beer, which led to two, then four.
Maybe everything they teach in high school is true. Don't give into peer pressure. Use willpower when drinking. Keep it in your pants.
Kyle thinks of Caleb, sitting at home, crying, and his stomach ties into tight little knots that seem to squirm and move throughout his torso like ants, strangling his lungs and crushing his heart.
He orders a gin and tonic and stresses the gin.
He thinks, fuck it, before he's tipping that back, too.
The first guy Kyle picks up is a tall, lanky Latino named Gabe. Gabe is pretty in a way Kyle doesn't normally go for, and he's got this amazing torso that never ends. When Kyle kisses him on the dance floor, Gabe's lips are soft and his hands knead into the small of Kyle's back.
They go into the bathroom and Kyle's on his knees before Gabe can get a full sentence out.
"You're… eager," Gabe gets out once Kyle's lips wrap around his cock, one hand tangling in Kyle's hair and the other gripping against the white porcelain basin of the dirty sink.
Kyle hums, partly as an answer and partly to get Gabe off faster. It works, because now Gabe's moaning louder and bucking up slightly, and just this one time Kyle isn't going to hold down his hips.
It doesn't last long—not in a public bathroom that's less-than-clean—and Kyle really doesn't want it too, anyway. He's just doing this to forget about Caleb. Forget he's just thrown the past two years of his life away. He stands, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
Gabe asks, don't you want me to reciprocate?
Kyle shakes his head. He wasn't really into it, anyway. He wouldn't tell Gabe that he didn't get hard at all, just to save his ego a little bruising. He follows Gabe back into the gyrating crowd; hand in the back pocket of Gabe's jeans, hair mussed and lips red and swollen.
And he used to be such a good kid.
Gabe buys Kyle a Sex on the Beach and is gone before it's slid to him. By now everything is hazy, Kyle's fingers shaking and slipping on the moisture on the glass when he picks it up. The backbeat of Lily Allen's Smile pulses into Kyle's head and makes his temples throb.
He looks down into the now-empty glass, tells himself this is it, I'm done. Then the bartender slides a Jack and Coke down to him, says it's paid for by the man at the end of the counter. Kyle looks down the row, sees a man in a too-bright shirt and gets up, leaving the drink.
The guy's name is Austin, and Kyle quickly realizes that he's a fantastic kisser. He's also got this amazingly silky straight brown hair that goes to his shoulders and Kyle's always been a sucker for dudes with long hair. He takes his time, kissing slowly and avoiding any kind of contact with their hips.
He likes Austin, doesn't want to let him go. Doesn't want him to be just a quick fuck.
"I like Four Year Strong," Kyle slurs, fingers digging into Austin's shirt.
"So do I." Austin laughs. Kyle stumbles over his feet and the only thing that keeps him from falling is the warm weight of Austin's palm on his back. "Dude, I think you've had a bit too much."
"You… enabled it," Kyle mutters. "'Sides, I think I might… Austin, dude, I might love you."
Austin laughs again and pets Kyle's hair. "Yeah, seriously. Too much. How about we get you home?"
Kyle shakes his head feverishly and it's like a dam opens up in his eyes. He doesn't even have a home right now, because home is where Caleb is, and he isn't Kyle's Caleb anymore. The tears drip onto Austin's shirt, and when Kyle pulls away to take a deep, shuddering breath, the wet mark where his face had been pressed is like Fight Club.
"No home?" Austin asks, the tone of his vice softening and going from joking to somber.
"Not anymore," Kyle says, throat tight. "Not since this evening."
Austin's quiet for a few minutes, hands rubbing gently up and down Kyle's back. "Then come with me," he finally says. "I'll take you home."
Austin's place is a cozy little apartment up 4th Street, third floor, first room. He helps Kyle all the way to his room, arm holding tightly to his side. Kyle wishes he was a bit more sober so that he could thank Austin properly.
He cares, and that's more than Kyle can say for a lot of people. A few hours ago Austin was just some strange dude in a bar who bought him a drink for whatever reason. Now he's Kyle's savior of sorts.
The littlest things can sometimes amount to the greatest satisfaction.
He's led into the only other room in the apartment besides the bathroom, so Kyle can only assume that this is Austin's bedroom. Austin takes his time in setting him down gently onto the bed, running a hand over Kyle's forehead to brush the hair off the clammy skin.
"I'll get some water and aspirin for you." He pauses and chews his lip, looking up and down Kyle's body. "And something to soak up the alcohol in your system. You're so fucking skinny that I don't know when you last ate."
"Mm, today," Kyle mutters, eyes squeezed shut. "Dunno when, though."
Thinking requires remembering Caleb, and that was why Kyle was in this mess right now. Forgetting is bliss, and in the haze of alcohol Kyle remembers the AA meetings, how wanting to forget doesn't have to involve drinking.
Some role model he is.
Hypocritical, stupid, idiotic. Your choice.
He never liked AA, anyway.
"Maybe I'm just a fake," he mutters, staring at the comforter, taking in the subtle shades of blue, which seemed to be Austin's favorite color. "Maybe we're all just role models for the imperfect. Maybe we don't really amount to anything and this is just a test."
Austin shakes his head, places his hand on Kyle's shoulder reassuringly. "Everyone is molded after who they look up to, good or bad. We're just human."
While Kyle curls in on himself Austin leaves, and it's suddenly so quiet that he doesn't know what to do. He needs something for noise, always has, and at least when he lived with Caleb they either had music, TV, or sex.
Sex still really wasn't the road he wanted to take with Austin, especially with how his stomach was crashing and tumbling like it was caught in a violent storm. He moans, mainly out of frustration and anger, and fists the covers of the bed.
Austin comes back, damp washcloth in one hand, a bottle of pills and glass of water in the other. He creases his brow when he sees Kyle. "You okay, dude?"
Kyle mutters a response but keeps his face pressed into the pillow. He doesn't want to talk about this, not with a guy he's known for an hour or two. It's too personal, too depressing, too familiar.
Austin sits down on the edge of the bed. "Come on, there's got to be a reason why you're here. At least tell me why you got so drunk in the first place."
"It was a bar," Kyle snaps, lifting his head out of the pillow. He looks like hell, he feels like hell, and he doesn't want to do this. "Do I need a reason to get wasted?"
Austin stares him down. "You're sobering up," is all he says. Kyle notices he's changed and put on sweatpants that match the purple sweatband in his hair.
Why he kisses him again, Kyle doesn't know. Austin doesn't stop him, just brings his hands up to hold gently onto Kyle's back, and when Kyle gets up and moves forward, brings his hand to Austin's lap and squeezes, all Austin does is moan softly and buck up into his hand.
I need to stop this. Twice in one night is never a good thing. I need to, but I can't.
Kyle slips his hand inside Austin's sweatpants, runs his fingers up and down the length of his cock. He isn't even fully hard yet, but for the first time that night Kyle is.
"Do you think this is too soon?" Kyle asks, apprehensive.
"I… don't know," Austin gets out. "You're the one who's got his fingers on my dick. You tell me."
A hysterical laughs builds itself up in Kyle's chest but he swallows it back down, nudging Austin up the bed until he's lying down, Kyle straddling his hips. He takes his hand off Austin's dick, wraps his fingers around the waistband of Austin's sweatpants and pulls them down to his ankles.
Kyle leans back down, avoiding eye contact with Austin as he licks a stripe up the length of his cock. He ignores the straining in his jeans as he laves his tongue over the soft, warm skin of Austin's balls, sucking one into his mouth, then the other.
"God, shit," Austin gasps, muscles quivering under Kyle's fingertips. "'M not gonna last long if you keep doing that."
Kyle doesn't want it to last long, not tonight, not ever.
So he wraps his lips back around the shaft, hollows his cheeks and swallows as much as he can, slipping in two of his fingers alongside the warm suction of his mouth. He takes them out, moves them down, down to prod at Austin's hole, pushing in only when the other man whines high in his throat, fingers clenching tightly into Kyle's hair.
Kyle starts slow, pushing one in to the knuckle, then two, scissoring, guided by Austin's deep breaths and shallow pants, the way his grip will tighten on Kyle's hair and the other hand will clench onto the comforter.
"Close," Austin says when Kyle gets in the third finger. "Fuck, so close."
Kyle moves off, tongues the slit of Austin's cock, curling his fingers upward just so to brush against Austin's prostate. Austin moans, back arching as Kyle slides his mouth back down, and then he's coming hard down Kyle's throat.
When Kyle swallows, pulls off, Austin gathers up enough energy to say, "We probably shouldn't have done that."
"Do you regret it?"
Kyle sits back, ignores his cock pushing against the front of his already-too-tight jeans, the uncomfortable feeling that comes with it. He looks Austin in the eyes and says simply, "No."
The next morning Kyle's phone vibrates loudly on the nightstand, and he gropes for it, unsure of where it is. When he finally locates it, he clumsily presses the Talk button with his usual morning grogginess.
"Kyle? Where are you?"
The voice is on before he even has a chance to croak out a greeting. It registers in his sleep-addled brain, though, that this voice is very, very familiar. He sits up in bed, rubbing his eyes, looking around the room confusedly before realizing he was at Austin's apartment.
The apartment of someone he met while completely drunk last night. He'd blown him and said he didn't regret it. He made a big, big, big mistake.
"Marc?" he finally asks, stretching.
"Yes! I called your apartment and Caleb said you weren't home but he wouldn't say why or where you were. I got worried and called you. And he said not to expect him at Christmas. What did you do, Kyle?"
Kyle checks his phone; sure enough, there are six missed calls from Marc. He feels guilt churn violently in his stomach. He winces when the reality sets in: Caleb told Marc he wasn't going to be at Christmas, and wouldn't tell him anything else.
"I—I…" he trails off, feeling tears spring to his eyes. "Shit, I fucking cheated on him, Marc. I cheated on him and he walked in on us."
He sniffs, tries his best to hold back his sobs as the silence on the other line stretches on to what feels like infinity. "Marc?" he asks quietly, feeling five years old again.
There's a sigh, then Marc finally says, "Yeah, I'm here. Kyle… why would you do that? You love Caleb." He stops abruptly, like he's made a revelation. "You relapsed." His voice is deadly quiet, and it's a statement, not a question.
Marc's voice is full of disappointment, and it breaks Kyle's heart. "Why, Kyle?"
Kyle sobs as he finally loses the hold he had tried to get over his emotions in the past day. "I—I don't know, Marc! I fucking gave in to Jack-fucking-Barakat and drank and he dared me to kiss Jonathan and fuck, he left and I jerked him off."
"Ky," Marc says, sighing, and his voice is now softer, more soothing. "It'll be okay, bro. Alright? We'll get it straightened out and Caleb will take you back. He really does love you; that's why he did this."
Kyle shakes his head even though he knows Marc can't see it, but he imagines the curly-haired boy with furrowed brows, trying to figure out what to do. By now Austin is awake, sitting up but staying silent. "I don't deserve him. What kind of boyfriend gets drunk and jacks off another guy on a dare?"
Austin gently places a hand on Kyle's shoulder. "It'll be fine," he mouths and Kyle resists the urge to roll his eyes. He somehow seriously doubts it will work out anymore.
"Look," Marc says, "where are you, really? I can come get you and we'll figure out what to do."
Kyle looks back at Austin, quietly asking him exactly where his apartment is located. Austin tells him and Kyle relays it to Marc, who says "You're staying with Austin Bello? Why?"
"How do you know Austin?" Kyle asks, ignoring the question.
"Dude, who doesn't? If he's there put him on."
Kyle does, but not before frantically whispering that Austin does not mention what happened last night. Marc's already disappointed enough, and that's two people in under twenty-four hours. He doesn't need to add more to it.
He lets them talk and slides out of bed, feeling exhaustion settle deep into the marrow of his bones. He had been ignoring his headache until just now, and it's fucking killer now that he notices it. He groans and rubs his temples, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Bathroom's across the hall," Austin calls to him, palm over the mouthpiece of Kyle's BlackBerry. "Medicine in the cabinet."
Kyle says thanks and leaves, stumbling into the bathroom on unsteady legs. He rummages through the shelves before finding Excedrin, taking two dry and grimacing when they go slowly down his esophagus.
Now that's he's completely sober he can appreciate Austin's apartment. In the living room, against the far wall that catches the light, he has a row of three basses, gleaming perfectly in the morning sunlight.
Kyle walks over to them, runs his fingers along the smooth, glossy bodies. Now doubt they're perfectly tuned, too. He has stacks of CDs, ranging from old to new, and a pretty impressive movie collection as well.
"Why didn't I know you sooner?" Kyle asks himself, smiling for the first time in hours. He feels uncomfortable, just standing in the middle of Austin's apartment, and he wonders why after what happened last night.
Austin walks back into the room, Kyle's phone in his hand. He hands it over and says, "I'm driving you over to Kent's place. That's where Marc is right now."
"You know everyone, don't you?" Kyle asks.
Austin shrugs and walks into the kitchen. "Just in the scene, you know? Kent and I are real tight. He's been trying to recruit me for months to start a band with him."
"Shit, me too," Kyle exclaims and then blushes at his outburst. "I mean, he's been doing it for what feels like forever."
Austin smirks as he opens the door to his fridge. "What do you play?" he asks as he grabs a bagel. He offers one to Kyle and Kyle takes it, knowing from experience the carbs will help a little bit.
"Drums," he says around a mouthful of bagel. "Since I was about sixteen, when my parents got divorced. It really helped."
Austin nods. "That's rough, dude. I'm sorry about it."
Kyle shrugs and finishes off the bagel, not realizing how hungry he was. "Shit happens, I guess. But I got the most awesome step-brother out of it." He half-grins.
Austin laughs his infectious laugh and goes to get his car keys. He motions for Kyle to follow and he does, trailing a little behind Austin as he locks up his apartment. They step outside into the muggy Texas morning and almost instantly Kyle spots Austin's car.
"Shit, that's bright," he says of the electric blue color as he opens the passenger door. "But I love it."
Kyle thinks, just hours ago he was in this car, drunk off his ass. Now he's sober, happy as Austin starts the car, the song blaring from the radio incredibly familiar. He widens his eyes, turns to the other man to see him smiling.
"Told you I like Four Year Strong."
Marc answers Kent's door when Austin knocks, and immediately he reaches for Kyle. "You okay?" he asks through a hug, though there's a coldness behind his eyes that means Kyle isn't off the hook just yet. It's understandable that Marc would still be mad at him.
Kyle sighs, shrugs and nods half-heartedly. "I guess." He fidgets uncomfortably and pushes his unwashed hair off his forehead, making a face at the feel of it between his fingers.
"You're a mess," Marc says and ushers him inside. "I'm pretty sure Kent will let you take a shower if you don't mind re-wearing your clothes again today."
Kyle nods robotically, like he's not controlling himself anymore. He doesn't care, not with the huge amount of mistakes he's put under his belt just overnight. If only a shower could actually wash him completely clean.
When he gets in the bathroom and strips off his clothes, he automatically turns away from the full-length mirror, feeling heat rise up in his cheeks. He'd always heard of people being too ashamed to see themselves after doing something immoral, but he never knew it could happen to him.
See: it can always happen to you, even if you think it can't.
See also: your mind is your own worst enemy.
Kyle starts the water, sees and feels the steam rise in the room as the temperature gradually rises, and when it's to the point of scalding he steps in, hissing at the burn on his skin. He doesn't reach for the soap, shampoo, anything, just lets himself stand under the spray, eyes closed as water runs in rivulets down the tracks of his skinny body.
When he steps out he wraps a towel around his waist, sitting down on the toilet seat in the hazy bathroom. He feels another wave of tears rushing forth but he shuts his eyes and shakes his head, murmuring no, no, not now.
It's another ten minutes before he dries off, puts all his clothing except the button-up back on. His jeans are stiff on one leg and he remembers why, doesn't want to think about it as he walks into Kent's kitchen where everyone else is standing.
Kyle mutters a "hi" to everyone, keeping his eyes on the floor as he sits down on a stool. Marc shares a glance with Kent, then Austin, before he speaks. "Kyle, we think you need to go back to your apartment and settle this out with Caleb. He's a reasonable man; if he really loves you as much as you love him he'll take you back."
"Are you fucking high?" Kyle snaps, looking up and glaring at the three of them. "I cheated on him. Don't you get it, Marc? It's over. He's smart enough not to take me back."
Marc raises an eyebrow and crosses his arms over his chest. "Are you sure about that?"
"Yes. Completely and one-hundred-percent sure I'm screwed."
"I hate seeing you like this," Marc says. "When you mope you do it well. I swear all of us will tie you up and drag you to your apartment if we have to."
Kyle scoffs and drums his fingers on the counter. "Really? You could erase Caleb's memory of the past twenty-four hours with one of those pens from Men in Black and it wouldn't work."
"Oh my God, Kyle," Austin chimes in. "Don't be such a downer. Just listen to Marc."
Kyle glares at him, feels a retort hot on his tongue, but he bites it back and doesn't say anything, just huffs and resists the urge to pout like he's ten years old again. "If this doesn't work I'm never speaking to any one of you again."
Marc grins and claps Kyle on the back. "Dude, it'll work. Promise. You'll be kissing our feet when Caleb takes you back, no questions asked."
Kyle doubts it, but doesn't say anything else.
"Just like we told you," Kent says when they drop him off outside his apartment complex. "Be yourself. Don't beg too much but just enough." Why did Kyle let them talk him into this? The idea itself was ridiculous and just stupid.
Kyle gives him a dubious look. "Dude, what do you even know?"
"He's had to win back a lot of girlfriends," Marc says. "Believe me, his stories are a lot more heinous than yours." Kyle stares at Kent, who just shrugs and half-nods. "It's true."
Kyle sighs and rolls his shoulders. "So, like, you're saying Caleb is as easily won over as a girl?"
"No!" Kent exclaims. "Turman is a badass, there's no question about it. I'm just saying that when you're in love you'll believe anything, and if Caleb really does want you back he'll believe every damn word you have to say, so just go with the flow."
"Ugh, fine," Kyle says, and they drive off. He looks up at the building, feeling anxiety build up in his chest. The wind blows through his hair, threatens to take off his beanie but he catches it in time, clamps it back down onto his hair. He has just one shot at this. One shot to redeem himself and patch up his life.
One more shot with the boy he loves.
Here goes nothing.
And then he steps into the building and heads for the stairs.
Kyle hesitates before turning the knob to his—can he even call it that anymore?—apartment, peering inside the room as he calls softly, "Caleb?" He steps inside, gently shuts the door behind him as he walks past the living room, down the small hallway to their bedroom.
He can't believe he actually let Marc convince him to come here. It wouldn't work; Kyle knew how headstrong Caleb could be from experience. He'd heard Caleb rant enough times about cheaters to know that his odds were slimmer than Sarah Palin winning the 2012 election.
"Caleb?" he says again, voice apprehensive. He reaches the door, hesitates for a few seconds, fist raised to knock on the door, when it opens and Caleb's head pokes out, ginger hair sticking out in all directions—more so than normal—and eyes red-rimmed.
"What do you want?" he asks, voice cracking. "I thought I told you to get out."
"You didn't say forever," Kyle quickly responds, gnawing on his lower lip. "So I'm here. I'm so sorry, Cay. I really am, and it may have taken me a whole night to realize it, but I love you, probably more than I've ever loved anything before in my life."
There it was; his first attempt at begging for forgiveness. He doesn't see the stony expression leave Caleb's face, or his shoulders relax. Please, just let this work.
It has to.
Kyle steps inside Caleb's room, the redhead backing away slowly before stopping, looking at Kyle with a mixture of hurt and sorrow etched onto the worry lines on his forehead. He doesn't say anything, just tugs at the hem of his white v-neck.
Kyle doesn't want to be the one to break the silence, though he knows he should be. He takes a deep breath, swallows the lump in his throat, eyes settling on the unmade bed. "I'm sorry I hurt you," he finally says, voice sounding as loud as a gunshot in the silence of the room. He winces.
"Look, I know… Okay, I know I was an idiot. I get that. I know you shouldn't ever forgive me for what I did, but that doesn't stop me from wanting you to, does it? I'm fully responsible for everything; I'm adult enough to realize that." He holds his breath for Caleb to speak.
Caleb doesn't, at first, and Kyle rambles on. "Please, Cay. I fucking love you, and it took three different people to get me to even go anywhere near this place. Just take my word for it."
"I… Kyle…" Caleb starts, then stops, looking at the floor before back up, a new light in his eyes.
"What the hell," he says, steps forward and kisses Kyle roughly, one hand moving up to run through the hair on the back of Kyle's head. "I'm fucking addicted to you. I can't let you go," he breathes against Kyle's lips, the familiar warmth against Kyle's skin sending shivers up his spine.
"Please don't," he whispers back, hands wrapping around Caleb's waist. "Not ever."
"I won't," Caleb says before he's kissing Kyle again.
There should be a legal limit—absolutely no pun intended—to this much sex. And the good sex, too, none of that honey you promised once a week for our health shit. Raw, rough, passionate sex that pulls at hair and curls toes, scrapes vocal chords and shifts mattresses to the point of annoyance, all while preventing virtually anything from getting done.
Caleb's not sure how long he and Kyle have been here, but judging from the slant of light coming in through the blinds and the way his stomach growls when he thrusts up into Kyle again suggests it's been almost all day, and he has absolutely no immediate plans to leave this room until the windows have long turned dark.
Kyle gasps, arches his back and braces his weight on one arm when Caleb shifts his hips, and he's staring at the ceiling, moving his hips in tiny circles to the rhythm of Caleb bucking up into him, other hand traveling down his stomach to grip his cock, jacking lazily. "Fuck," he breathes, looking back down at Caleb, locking eyes with the redhead.
"C'mere," Caleb says, reverent at the way the blonde is completely wrecked, pale chest tinted red with exertion and hair mussed and sticking out at all angles. The second Kyle's in reaching distance Caleb grabs onto his arm, pulls him down for a rough kiss that's more of a war with tongues and teeth, and fuck Caleb loves it when Kyle bites like that.
"Like that," Kyle whispers, their eyes locked, both sets reflecting love and lust like a continuous blinker. He reaches down; grasps Caleb's hip and grinds his ass down, feeling the tip of Caleb's cock hit his prostate. He doesn't bother to hold back the moan that crawls from his mouth.
Soon it's just Kyle fucking himself down onto Caleb's hips, mouths attaching wetly, swallowing both their moans. Caleb's sure that Kyle is trying to say something, but all the lanky boy does is arch his back, detaching himself from Caleb's mouth to move it to the nook between his neck and shoulder, breathing hotly onto moist skin and sending too much sensation through Caleb's body.
This is the reason Caleb's more than happy to oblige to being in bed all day. Watching Kyle come undone, pale skin glowing with sweat, skinny hips gyrating in figures, Caleb's hips snap up, hands circling around Kyle's wrists on their own accord, anchoring them both to the bed. He believes this is heaven, and the tight heat around his cock doesn't prove any different.
He's aware of his own impending release, the way the muscles in his stomach tighten and his breathing quickens. What he wants is to be close to Kyle, to fuse together and tumble off the edge as one.
Caleb arches his back, white-knuckles the sheets, heels digging into the mattress. Kyle watches him, mouth half-open, fingers still locked on Caleb's hips. He says "Fuck, move," and then he's flipping them over, wrapping his legs around Caleb's waist.
Their eyes lock, Caleb's breath coming out in soft pants as he runs his hands up and down Kyle's body, caressing every inch of skin he can reach. "Love you," he whispers before he's pounding into Kyle, movements erratic, and shit he's so far gone already.
"Look at me," Kyle says, repeats it two more times before Caleb lets out a deep breath, the temporary cease in movement stopping the crescendo of smacking flesh. He does, and Kyle curls a hand around his bicep, brings the other down to his cock, jerking slowly at first, then picking up tempo when Caleb does.
Caleb recognizes the rapid wrist flicks, knows Kyle is close and desperate, and he's really never been the type of person to deny Kyle anything. He braces his weight on one arm, shoos Kyle's hand away so that he can wrap his fingers around his cock instead.
Kyle's eyes slip closed, head digging into the pillow, one arm now braced against the headboard. The way Caleb's hips push against him is vengeful, the drive behind his thrusts suggests he's still mad, and Kyle doesn't blame him.
"I'm sorry," he says, the words losing themselves in the tangle of heated air between them. "I'm sorry I was such a fucking idiot."
Caleb hears him. He grabs Kyle's hand, which had been steadily stroking Caleb's arm, and laces their fingers together. "Come for me," he murmurs, eyes boring straight into Kyle's. "Come on, Ky."
Kyle moans, twists and arches his back as Caleb pounds into him once, twice, three more times, and then he's coming right after him in hot spurts onto his stomach.
They catch their breath, sucking in lungfuls of moist, sticky air tinged with the unmistakable stench of sex. Caleb stares at the ceiling, arms folded behind his head, and when Kyle slips out of the bed to get a damp washcloth to clean himself off he sneaks glances at Caleb's naked body sprawled out on top of the comforter.
"I see you looking at me," Caleb says, eyes never leaving the ceiling. Kyle winces. He knows that tone; Caleb still wants to talk, and he's undoubtedly still pissed.
He doesn't reply, just disappears into the bathroom, returning a moment later with the washcloth in his hand, stomach glistening with lukewarm water. He walks over to the bed and shifts his weight from foot to foot, holding out the cloth.
Caleb takes it without word and wipes the sweat off his face and chest, setting it on the nightstand when he's done. Kyle edges down onto the bed, keeping his distance as he slips on his boxers.
"I can't believe you did that," Caleb says quietly, biting his lip. Kyle looks over at him, tears stinging at his eyes. "You just—it hurts, Kyle."
"I know." God, did he know.
"This is something I can't just get over right away."
He fucked up.
Apologies are unnecessary anymore.
"I love you."
Words can't save you now.
Caleb turns, looks at him. The light in his eyes suggests a smile that doesn't want to go to his mouth. "If I let you go now, after everything we've been through, I wouldn't be able to take it."
Kyle knows he's forgiven.