I bought The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger half a year ago and I loved it. I know Holden is annoying to lots of people but there was something about him that I clicked with. Either way, I let my friend borrow the 'goddam' book - sorry :) - and she left marks up the spine. :( Last time I ever let a book, EVER.
Either way, I always liked the idea of Holden and Stradlater getting up to 'stuff'. There was a little bit of tension between them (or is that just me?) so I decided to sort it out. Here we go; read and review as always! Anything you have to say or scream is appreciated. Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to J.D. Salinger. Well, he's dead...I suppose they belong to whoever had publishing rights to the book. Chrissake, what're you asking me for? Jesus! I don't own anything. Except my hunting hat and attitude.
The Catcher in the Rye:
Things Always This Tense?
"Pass me my hat, will ya?"
Stradlater looked up from his homework, perking a dark eyebrow. His roomate was fumbling with the tie he was being made to wear in some kind of assembly before a large mirror on the wall. The dark suit pants hugged his long, thin legs and his slender waist was accentuated by the tight black blazer.
"Sure," Stradlater said, reaching over to his side where the red hunting hat had been lazily discarded. He hated doing his homework, but he'd gotten in so much shit over Holden writing his last paper he wouldn't risk his next essay being late. Holden was still turned so he was side-on from Stradlater's point of view, his head bent a little as he awkwardly adjusted his tie. He'd grown his mousey crew cut out a little so it wasn't as short and his pale, calculative eyes were focused on his shirt.
At that moment Stradlater's eyes travelled up from Holden's shiny black shoes, making their way to his face. The next moment, he found himself staring at his behind.
He wolf whistled. Holden looked at him, frowning. Stradlater threw him the hat and he caught it, if a little inelegantly.
"That's sure one nice ass you got there, Caulfield," Stradlater said, wolf-whistling, running a hand through his dark hair. Holden turned away, tugging his hat on, blushing madly. Stradlater raised his eyebrow again at that and he laughed, his voice not too deep and not too effeminate.
Holden shook his head, never removing his eyes from his tie. Things like that had been happening for a while now. Suddenly Stradlater didn't piss him off so much; they didn't fight, or shout, or act like goddam children. Sometimes they actually got on like regular best buds. But then one of them would say something like that, or do something...and Holden would blush madly. Alternately, Stradlater would react with surprise more than anything else.
"You never could whistle," Holden muttered, Stradlater laughing.
"Don't change the subject," he chided, like an adult waving a finger at a petulant child. Holden looked at him with perplexed eyes. He gets sore about the littlest things. Stradlater knew that more than anyone; he'd slept with him for the last year.
Well...not slept slept. They hadn't done that. They hadn't really done anything at all. The past few weeks had been riddled with words, whistles, occassionally Stradlater jumping Holden from behind and holding him gently or Holden running a hand through Stradlater's hair. And then insulting him about something or other. But with the way things were going, he often noted with a sarcastic grin, he wouldn't be surprised if they did end up getting off with each other before the end of the month.
Stradlater didn't really know what the deal with him and Holden was. He was used to having a string of girls following him, and the fact that he was feeling certain things for a guy - worse, a guy he was close to - felt unusual and alien. Still; the farthest he and Holden had ever gone was when they'd been particularly near each other on the carpet (Holden reading and Stradlater doing yet more homework) when Stradlater had turned to Holden, propping his head up with his hands. Holden looked down at, him, cross-legged.
"D'you wear aftershave?" Stradlater queried. Holden caught on straight away and his eyes filled with anxiety and anticipation. He gave his roomate a warning look, the peak of his red bomber hat turned backwards.
"Don't start that again," he said, gripping the book harder. "You tried that before. No, I don't. Now finish your goddam homework, for Chrissake."
Stradlater smiled. He finished another question, thinking again. When he looked back at Holden, he was still staring at him. He blinked innocently.
"What?" Stradlater asked. No reply came, and Holden fidgeted uncomfortably. Stradlater pretended to have understood something, giving a look, over-wrought 'Ohhh'. "I understand now," he said, still sporting his mock comprehension. "You want to know if I wear aftershave."
Before Holden could react Stradlater had placed a firm hand around Holden's neck and brought their faces closer together. He noticed that Holden was looking nervously at his lips.
Cute, he thought. I knew Holden would be like that.
"Do you like it?" he pressed, moving Holden's head so that he was inhaling Stradlater's expensive French aftershave. He heard Holden breathe in deeply and smiled. Holden could feel the smile; Stradlater's left cheek was touched lightly to his own.
"Mm," is all Holden could manage. He was thinking a lot of things. But he couldn't say them. He didn't really want to say them. His thoughts were his: private. He was going to try to ask what the Hell Stradlater thought he was doing, but all that came out was a shocked incoherent exclamation followed by a moan. Stradlater had placed both hands around his neck and his teeth were skimming the pale, vulnerable skin. As soon as the contented sound had slipped from his lips he regretted it. Stradlater, chuckling darkly, now knew what he was doing. But Stradlater's lips felt so good, and he'd never really had any girlfriends before even though he was sixteen.
Stradlater pulled away, the grey hairs shining in the light as he retreated from Holden. He honestly believed that his naieve friend would have French kissed him if he'd pecked him lightly on the lips. He smiled, Holden looking down. The book was still somehow in his hands.
"Yeah," Stradlater nodded, turning back to his work. "I bet you do."
Then, Holden had looked shocked and annoyed.
Now, he looked at Stradlater warily and with acute frustration. And like he was waiting for something else to happen. Almost like he was eager for something to happen. Stradlater laughed to himself, thinking that he must be. He's been chaste all his life, he thought, knowing that unlike himself, Holden wasn't lucky with the ladies. He's probably so horny he wants to jump me right now.
"And what exactly is the subject?" he demanded.
Stradlater gave him a cheeky wink.
"Your nice ass, of course."
Holden looked at him flatly, though the blush had returned. At that he left the room, cursing, Stradlater highly amused and satiated.
To summarize: Things had been weird between them for a while. Actually, weird was putting it mildly.
After another pecular week, the next major event between them happened. Stradlater was going to some party or other, though he'd lost interest in them of late. Strangely enough, he much prefered sitting in with Holden and talking about stuff - often stupid things - and screwing around with his head. But a few people were beginning to talk about him. That was fine. But at the same time they were beginning to talk even more harshly of Holden. He wouldn't tolerate that. So he was going to his first party in a long while, and he was showering as he usually did before he got dressed to go out.
He stepped from the shower when he was finished, his scent largely one of zingy lemon and lime. He stood before the mirror closest to the showers in the empty bathroom, about to apply some shaving foam, his unsightly razor ready and waiting. He stopped when he noticed Holden behind him, fully clothed. Stradlater wasn't too self-conscious; beside, only his chest was visible. His towel - with the Pencey emblem - was secured steadfastly around his waist.
"Jesus, Caulfield, what'dya - "
He didn't get the time to finish. Before he knew it he was being pushed back into the shower, which was still running thanks to the fucked up plumbing system. Showers took ten minutes to turn on and longer to turn off. He was getting wet all over again, his towel dampening, clinging to him modestly. Holden's clothes were already soaking, but his hat took most of the blow.
Normally Holden is weak; he stood tall at six 2, looking taller yet thanks to his lankiness, but Stradlater was just taller and more muscular. But this time, Holden had the element of surprise.
"Someone could see us," Stradlater said quietly, taken aback by the 'assault' of sorts. Holden didn't seem to care.
Holden had his hands around Stradlater's waist, Stradlater holding his towel tightly. He was alarmed and aroused by their proximity and he was scared that the symbol of his current state of arousal would be too noticeable through the wet towel.
A second later those thoughts left his head; Holden had pressed himself very close to Stradlater, their bodies wet and Holden's shirt sticking to Stradlater's toned chest.
"Dammit, Holden," Stradlater groaned, his head hitting the tiled wall behind him as Holden's tongue moved up his chest, Holden tasting warm water and feeling Stradlater's heart beating quicker than his own nicotine-infected organ after excercise. Holden proceeded to move his lips over Stradlater's skin until finally he reached a hand down and placed in on Stradlater's own ass. Stradlater jumped, startled, and Holden brought their lips closely together, almost touching. They stared at each other intently.
"Nice ass you got there, Stradlater," Holden said. At that he kissed Stradlater - pecked him softly, and quickly - on the lips, and left him, almost falling over his drip-wet shoes as he skidded over the tiled floor. Only seconds later a guy from his Calculus class entered, asking him why he was in the shower with his towel on. As he approached he asked is Stradlater couldn't breathe properly, and finally if he wanted him to get one of the medical staff. Stradlater came back to himself slightly and shook his head. The guy left him alone, frowning, and Stradlater stared at the opposite wall for a while. The shower finally went off, and he felt cold at the sudden deprivation of warmth. He got out of the shower and shaved, but he decided not to go to the party after all.
"Goddam crazy sonuvabitch..."
Stradlater woke up as Holden entered their room, slamming the door behind him with fiery eyes. He wasn't wearing his hat (Stradlater had already seen it on the desk again) and Holden threw himself down on his bed in the corner next to the window, looking out at the stars.
"What's up?" he asked, rising from his own bed and slowly approaching a scowling Holden. Holden didn't look at him.
"Robert Ackley, that's what's up," he growled. Stradlater slowed up a bit. Holden in a sore mood was never pretty. You had to calm him down before you could talk to him seriously. And Stradlater, fortunately, knew how to do that. First, you let him vent as much as he needs to.
"What did he do?"
"He said that I'm a fucking flit; apparently he saw us sat together on the bench when it was raining. You've probably forgotten. Maybe three days ago when it was bucketing down and I gave you my hat, and you draped your scarf around us both. And I leant my head on your shoulder, but only because I was tired."
Stradlater smiled. Tired. Sure.
"Right. Well, he came up to me when I was on my way back from Mr Spencer's place; in the lobby, actually." The lobby was the general name for the large first hall of the boarding school. Since the boys felt like they were staying in a hotel rather than a school. "Apparently I'm the 'queerest thing he's ever seen' and we have fun fucking each other." He shook his head, his hands slowly but surely unclenching. "But I don't care that much, what with him being a pimply goddam sonuvabitch with bad teeth and lousy hair."
Stradlater smiled, sitting on the end of the bed. Holden looked at him somewhat sheepishly, a definite sign that he was over it.
"Ya done?" Stradlater asked.
"I'm done," Holden nodded. Part of him still looked annoyed. Stradlater noticed.
"What's up, then?"
Pause. Holden blushed, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Did you know about it; that people have been calling us...well, ya'know..."
Stradlater nodded quickly. Holden didn't respond, simply stared at something invisible.
"Yeah. Why - does it bother you?"
Holden looked up sharply; Stradlater sounded like he was laughing. He held the gaze of his handsome, well-built friend, his cold eyes narrowing considerably.
"No," he spat indignantly. This only made Stradlater grin wider. Holden felt his blood boiling. "It's too bad for you that I'm not bent. Well; I guess no flit in a thousand miles would settle for you, ya goddam moron."
Stradlater narrowed his eyes a little. Holden knew he hated being called a moron. But he wouldn't allow Holden to get the upper hand; and judging by the smug little smirk on his lips, he clearly thought he had attained it already. Stradlater shrugged, faking an air of almost bored indifference.
"You didn't think that when you kissed me," he said calmly.
Holden's ears pricked.
"I never kissed you!" he barked. Stradlater looked at him, one eyebrow raised like it had been around a week since. He shook his head.
"Holden, you pressed your lips to mine. Actually to my chest first, and then my lips. That's the definition of a kiss, you idiot."
"What, you search that in a dictionary?"
Stradlater gave him a flat look and edged closer. Holden froze up; Stradlater took that as a good sign. Generally when Holden didn't shy away, it was a good sign. He budged closer yet, until he was sat before Holden, both teenagers on their knees, the stars and lights in the school parking lot shining through the window. Well; not through the window. Their dorm was on the third floor of the Ossenburger Memorial Wing. But they could see the lights, and they could definitely see the stars.
"Admit it; you liked it," Stradlater murmured, his voice husky.
Holden said nothing, only stared at Stradlater with a plethora of emotions behind his eyes, dancing inside them. Stradlater moved as close as he could, moving his hands and leaving them on Holden's neck. Holden turned and gently nuzzled one, and Stradlater was surprised. He thought Holden would have been obstinate, aloof...not welcoming, and reciprocal.
"I guess so," Holden whispered, his voice coarse. Stradlater laughed.
His expression grew serious again as Holden stared at him full-on again. Slowly he leaned in closer, feeling Holden's short breaths on his lips, hot, frequent. He touched his lips to Holden's and they hesitated for a second, Holden staring into his eyes and then closing them, his hands resting on Stradlater's face.
"At last," Stradlater murmured. Then he parted his lips and felt Holden do the same, the slender young man's tongue eager to entreat entrance into his (boy?)friend's mouth.
The next few moments were a whirl. Cliched, yes, but that's all either could think of; a mad, insane whirl of tongues, and hands, and moans breaking through the room, illuminated only by the desk lamp Stradlater had left on during his brief nap. Holden felt tingling sensations running up his spine and his groin felt like it was on fire. It was, of course, also under attack by Stradlater's sure, skilled hands, and Holden found himself falling backwards with his head in the pillow, his spine curling - as well as his toes, and fingers, one of his knees jerking his leg into a V.
"Chrissake, Ward!" he cried, Stradlater chilled in a wonderful way to hear his first name elicited from Holden's darkened lips, the same lips that Stradlater had lusted after; unbeknownst even to himself. The same lips that he was now addicted to; almost like the nicotine he could faintly taste on them. It was a cry of pleasure, and that alone thrilled Stradlater. He proceeded to explore Holden's crotch with his agile fingers and Holden moaned every other second, his breathing irregular and hypnotic. Stradlater was right; he was horny enough to jump him. They both were. He'd never been so turned-on in his life.
They were both cut short when they heard several people at their door. They jumped up, Holden sorting the bed and Stradlater diving towards his own, buttoning the few buttons that Holden had undone on his shirt. Holden righted himself hastily.
"Anyone there?" he yelled. He stared over at Stradlater, wondering how the hell that had happened. It didn't matter that much. He was just fucking glad it had.
The door opened; Robert Ackley and Edgar Marsella walked in, Edgar small and dark and Robert Ackley six foot 4 with pimples covering his face and awful teeth revealed in his large, toothy grin. Holden scowled at him deeply and they both stood up, Stradlater moving to Holden's side a little and putting on a wide smile for his and Holden's - their. Hm. He relished that word - two fellow students.
"Hey, Ackley kid," he said, knowing that Ackely hated that nickname. Why else would he use it so much? He nodded to Marsella, smiling brightly. "What can we do for ya?"
"Jeez; were you two fighting or fucking?" Ackley asked rudely. Holden became aware of how audible their breaths were - his own were practically gasps - and he rolled his eyes, looking poisonously at Ackley, ready to pounce.
"Don't go there again, ya sonuvabitch," he warned, his voice threatening.
"No, you're boyfriend'll stop you trying to get into a scrap," Marsella snickered. Ackley laughed uproariously and Holden looked at Stradlater. Nothing they could have said would have made a difference; Marsella saw their exchange of looks and rushed from the room with Ackley soon behind, both shouting 'CAULFIELD AND STRADLATER ARE FUCKING FLITS!' or other things to that effect.
Holden sighed, no really giving a damn what the other people had to say. He shut the door, locking it. He went back to Stradlater, falling into him. Stradlater wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly, both of them rocking in a sleepy motion. Holden felt his eyes close and he relaxed his head on Stradlater's chest, sighing with happiness, feeling like he belonged some place for once. He smiled, Stradlater's lips kissing his hair affectionately.
"Hey, Stradlater?" he said, his voice quiet in the near-darkness.
"Yeah?" Stradlater answered, his arms tightening a little and their rhymthic sway slowing even more as they relished each other's heat and skin.
"I love you, ya goddam moron."
Stradlater laughed. He didn't even care about the 'moron' thing. It was the first time he'd been insulted and he could use the phrase 'it was said in love' without lying. He hugged Holden, knowing that whatever happened, they'd have each other, even if sometimes it might be a rocky ride.
"'Love ya two, ya little freak," he returned. Holden smiled. He could feel the smile, because Holden's cheek was pressed against his own.
He smiled again at the familiarity, and upon realizing that there would be many more moments like these to come.