Jensen awoke and looked down, a warm stain spreading on the bedsheet between his legs. Flicking his eyes to Jared beside him and finding him asleep, he balled up everything and rolled off the bed in search of the linen closet. It was late, and the others would be too drunk to hear his footsteps.
Misha's bachelor party, an assortment of tight-fisted Stanford scholars with the exception of Jensen, had opted for a rental house far from the beach. It was a sprawling maze of open air rooms, filthy, leaking, and mismatched, as if homeless people had built a tiki bar in the 1980s and left the key in the front lock. But Misha had filled the washing machine with Golden Grain slurpee, so they were all too trashed to notice.
Jensen ran the sheet under the bath tap while replaying the wet dream in his head. Fuck, he barely even knew Jared. They'd hung out in high school, sure, but Jared had run in smarter circles, and Jensen could count the number of one-on-one conversations they'd ever had on one hand. Misha had only paired them as roommates because Jensen didn't know any of the other groomsmen.
He snatched an old shampoo bottle and shook out the last inch. Dinner last night had been rough, with Jensen trying to follow ten academic discussions and having nothing to offer in reply.
"...they whine about the lack of breast cancer research, but come on, there's no point testing on the female of the species..."
"...I need to publish next month before that bitch Lindsey does it first..."
"...I'm a goal-oriented analyst, and I'm sorry if that offends my boss..."
"...If you're going to invest in a Hong Kong credit services, you have to hire Indians for tech support, our Chinese office fell apart when they tried working with Koreans..."
Jensen picked at his food, when his ears pricked at something Misha said.
"...you can't disqualify results like that, you'll end up with a Black Swan."
Jensen smiled. "What, like a lezzy ballerina?"
One of the profs studied Jensen, his glasses sliding down his long nose. "The film's not about gay ballerinas," he said pointedly, "It's about female alienation."
Misha waved him away. "I'm talking about Black Swans in statistics," he explained, "It's dangerous to assign a zero probability to an event with which you have no prior example. For example, I've never seen a black swan, therefore they must not exist."
"Oh." said Jensen, flushing a little at his ignorance, "So what were ya'll talking about?"
"We were teasing a colleague about her checklist for a husband," said Misha, ticking off his fingers, "Must be a doctor, must want children, must not be an asshole, et cetera. I mean, I'm sure this guy exists, but your first reaction is to say she's high, right?"
"Right." said Jensen, looking at his empty plate. His last girlfriend had walked out a month ago, the last in a series of white trash willing to date a small town mechanic. He stood up. "I'm gonna start on the dishes..."
The kitchen was wrecked but quiet, and he washed plates while watching the party's reflection in the window. Every now and then a face would study the back of his head, and every time it was the same mixture of disdain and pity. Fuck-up.
Wiping his hands on his ass, he looked up to see someone standing in the back doorway. "Hey Jared," he said smiling, "Late flight?"
"Lot of weather delays," said Jared, grabbing the lintel with one hand sleepily, "How're you?"
"Same old." he said, eyeing Jared's hand-made suit. Trial lawyers did not stint. "Can you believe this house?"
"I know, my foot went thru the floor on my way here," said Jared, laughing, "We oughta call the safety inspector."
"Fuck man, you should see the room Misha's sleeping in, there's like five extra doors."
"Yeah and they're all identical. It's like, one goes to the roof, one has the water heater, one's a closet, one we can't unlock, and there's another that's just glued on for fuck knows why."
"He's gonna get drunk and end up peeing on his suitcase," said Jared, stuffing his hands in his pockets, "How's work?"
"Good," said Jensen, grabbing the counter, "The garage owner's retiring this fall and passing it to me. I'm not complaining about the money, but I know I won't get another vacation like this for a while."
"I know the feeling." said Jared, reaching for a beer, "This year can just die already."
Jensen twisted the cap off for him. "How's the divorce?"
"Shitty." said Jared, leaving it at that. He leaned against the wall with one leg folded behind him, bangs in his eyes, high cheekbones hollowed in the florescent light, beautiful and bored. "What about you, you have um...Darla, right?"
"Did," he said, taking a pull and letting foam spill over his fingers, "She was batshit man, gettin' drunk and wouldn't take her meds. Great in the sack, but..."
"No I get it. It's hard," said Jared, looking at a spot a thousand miles away, "I mean, what're you supposed to do when they don't want your help?"
Jared wasn't expecting an answer, and didn't push the conversation when Jensen said nothing. It was the first expression of sentiment Jensen had heard in a long weekend of high-minded patter, and an old loneliness rose up in him. Jared made some noises about napping on the porch, and when he turned away Jensen wanted nothing more than to card his fingers thru his long hair and fuck the Sad right out of him.
Where the hell did that come from?
Fishing a clean sheet from the closet and changing into his other pair of sweats, Jensen got into bed and closed his eyes. He could have slept in the bath tub, but the other men would comment, and he didn't want to risk looking more low country than he had to.
Jared felt the new sheet pull over him, and rolling over in a warm tangle of limbs, he pulled Jensen into a tight hug. Jensen held his breath. Jared always slept in his underwear, and his knee was now two inches from Jensen's erection.
"You're a good cuddler." he mumbled, his head tucked under Jensen's chin.
Jensen lifted his hand and tentatively patted the back of Jared's head. "Are you gonna be weird about this tomorrow?"
Jared snorted. "I'm not that drunk."
Jensen pursed his lips. No way he was gonna sleep now. "Are you okay?"
Jared looked up. "She took the dog," he said, his face in shadow, "It's been eight months since she filed for no contest, and I didn't want to fight her over it, but..."
Jensen nodded that he understood. "Don't wanna talk, but don't wanna be alone in the house at night?"
Jared sighed. "I think it started with my mom..."
Oh shit, Jensen thought, He wants to process.
He didn't mind. They lay like that for hours, Jensen idly running his fingers thru Jared's hair as he narrated the metamorphosis of his marriage, the ex-wife transforming from high school sweetheart to pre-med ballbuster to PhD candidate with a hankering for Advisor Cock.
"I didn't think people could change so much in college." said Jared finally.
"She seemed nice when I knew her."
"When, in ninth grade?"
Jensen thought back. "Yeah. She acted like an old lady back then. Maybe she's gotta be fourteen now."
"Can I ask you something?" said Jared, the side of his face warm on Jensen's shoulder, "Is it true you slept with fifty people in high school?"
Jensen laughed. "Who told you that?"
"Chad's a bitch," said Jensen, "And he'll get the bitch beatdown he deserves next time I see him. Was this cuz I dated his ex?"
"No, he was having a party after the basketball game, and you were really drunk and..." he said, biting his lip to keep from smiling, "He dared me to make out with you."
"No fucking way."
"You were passed out on the couch in his basement, and he said he'd pay me a hundred dollars to do it."
And you gotta tell me this ten years after the fact? Jensen thought. "I fucked a lot of people back then, but I got standards. Why, how many girls did you get with?"
"Just my wife. My ex-wife." said Jared, trying out the word.
"You coulda done worse. I mean she's hot."
"Yeah, but she wasn't very nice. That's what kills me. I wish my first time had been with somebody..." he said, closing his eyes and then opening them again slowly to look at Jensen, "...nice."
Is this a pass? Jensen thought nervously, Fuck this and his Fuck-Me eyes, dude is drunk and straight and leaving tomorrow and I'm not having it.
"What time you gotta be at the conference tomorrow?"
Jared glanced at a wall clock and puffed out his breath. "Crap it's late."
"I'm gonna check on something," said Jensen, unhooking his arm from under Jared's neck, "Get some sleep, be back in five."
Once he closed the bedroom door, he listened for the others. The house was still, the yard outside empty save for a cone of light from the streetlamp. He left his hand on the doorknob for a second, and then let it fall, wondering where the fuck he was supposed to sleep now.
All the rooms were taken, two men to a bed, and none of the couches were very long. He stumbled outside in the dark, seriously contemplating just crawling into the backseat of his car, when his leg brushed against something on the porch.
"Jackpot." he said, his hand steadying the hammock. The owner had left a large blanket behind, and balancing himself on one foot he levered his weight into the netting, exhaling as he felt his spine uncoil.
He didn't have complete privacy, the kitchen and main bedroom doors faced him on three sides, but it was dark, and he only needed five minutes to jerk off. He peeled off his briefs, tenting his knees inside the blanket to hide what he was doing in case someone should walk by.
He scrolled thru a gallery of hot ex-girlfriends to get him started. He didn't lack for variety, alternating between the Columbian babysitter and the MILF he'd fucked in the Disneyland men's room, but as ready as he'd been all night long, nothing clicked in his head.
A moth fluttered past, setting off the motion sensor, and for a few seconds the porch was bathed in weak light. His head snapped to the bedroom window, afraid Jared might be standing there, watching him, wondering...
He was very close, his body not his own. When he licked his hand it was with Jared's tongue, and when he jerked himself he held Jared's cock instead, with Jensen looking into his eyes, breathing into his wet, parted lips, and ordering him to "Fuck my hand."
A lifetime of workplace cuts and burns criss-crossed his body, and when the end came they burned like a Christmas tree, as if he were lit from within. As much as he tried to substitute Jared's face for a girl's, he kept coming back to his friend, and this indecision took the edge off, so that instead of a barreling rush to the finish line, the heat built slowly, rising in a long wind-up until it spilled over the edge in an endless wash of white noise.
He bit down, his hips lifted off and snapped back as hot jizz shot across his bare chest. Checking to see he was still alone, he breathed thru his nose, shivering as the cold air hit him.
Not fucking cool, he thought, using the blanket for clean-up, Whatever, he'll be gone today, what're the odds we'll ever share a room again?
He stood, too wired to sleep, and sure enough Misha shuffled out two minutes later asking about coffee.
"Man, fuck this house," said Misha, when a pantry shelf came away in his hand, beetles scuttling in the drywall, "We better be getting our deposit back."
Jensen spent the morning in the kitchen, reading the news and discussing Misha's plans for the day, which involved bar-hopping and everyone going into town to buy gifts for their wives. When Jared walked in, he was suited up and ready to roll out, while Jensen manned the grill for breakfast fajitas.
"You coming back after the conference?" Jensen asked, turning over beefstrips with a fork.
"Nah, it'll run late and it's right by the airport, I'm probably gonna leave straight from there."
Jensen smile came and went. "Okay."
Jared craned his neck. "Are you grilling watermelon?"
"You never had grilled watermelon?"
"I didn't know you could do that."
"Well clearly you didn't grow up honky," said Jensen, spearing a small piece on the end of a knife, "Try it."
He held it out for Jared, opening his mouth in an "aaah" for Jared to mimic. Their eyes locked as he did this, the food dissolving in Jared's mouth until a sweet, red line ran down his chin, and his hand flew up to catch it.
"Good isn't it?"
Jensen pulled back approvingly, cleaning the knife across his tongue in two quick stropping motions. He stuffed it into his back pocket, and only then realized he'd pulled the same trick on countless girls back in his schools days. He pushed Jared out the door a little harder than usual.
"You're gonna be late, are you packed?"
"Almost, I can't find my toothbrush or my blanket."
Jensen froze. "You brought a blanket?"
"Yeah, I didn't know how cold it would get," said Jared, "It's black? With swirls on it? Lemme know if you find it."
He walked past Jensen to search for the toothbrush, and as soon as he rounded the corner Jensen ran for the porch.
The blanket was there where he'd left it. Rumpled and dusty and with a great white cum stain in the center shaped like Australia. He folded it up in a square and had it in his hands when Jared arrived.
"Oh good, I thought I'd left it here," said Jared, taking it from him, "Thanks."
"Guess I'll see you around?"
"Okay then." said Jared. If Jensen's reticence bothered him, nothing registered in his eyes, and he said his goodbyes to the others before driving away.
As nervous as he'd been, Jensen was miserable the second Jared left. No one else talked to him here, and he got thru the day with a lot of nodding and feigning interest as they trudged from one bar to the next.
He dreaded returning to an empty bed that night. He was too fucking old for pillow sniffing, especially over someone he'd never even kissed, and he planned to be blackout drunk. But as luck would have it, Misha switched his room.
"You'll never believe it," said Misha, displaying the collapsed bedroom ceiling, "The roof must have been rotting for ages, it caved in two minutes after Jared left. What're the odds?"
Jensen covered his mouth against the flying motes of fiberglass. "You want I should pull some couch cushions on the den floor?"
"What? No, take my bed, some of the guys want to build circuits in their room and I said I'd rig the soddering irons."
Jensen narrowed his eyes. "You're building circuits at your bachelor party? How is that fun?"
Misha clapped him on the shoulder. "I suspect you and I had very different high school experiences."
"You do your thing," said Jensen, grabbing a drink on the way out, "I'm gonna call it a night."
Jared rolled his eyes at the airport TV, a meteorologist gesturing at the huge green mass rotating over the city, and pulled out his cell phone. "Hey Misha."
Misha pushed up his welding mask. "Jared, you on the plane?"
"It got cancelled," he said, rolling his suitcase toward the exit, "Everything's been cancelled, there's some Storm of the Century coming and the pilots are freaked. Can I stay at your place?"
"Yeah man, come on over, more the merrier," said Misha, the basement heavy with smoke and the sour funk of Nerd, "You can use my room upstairs, I'm not sleeping."
"You're awesome," said Jared, hailing a cab, "Be there shortly."
Jensen climbed the stairs to the master bedroom, a strange outcropping on the south side of the house that led to a roof garden. Tossing his duffle bag on the floor, he sat on the bed and glanced around.
Misha hadn't exaggerated. The architect had identical doors in every available space, dark paneling spaced evenly against the yellow wallpaper with almost organic symmetry.
Glad of the privacy, he pulled a favorite skin mag from his bag and set to work drinking. If sixty pages of Japanese schoolgirls didn't wash Jared from his mind, gin surely would.
He looked up at the doors, snorting as he grabbed his cock for the first round.
Jared's cab pulled in, and paying the driver he walked to the back where the basement window pulsed with strobe lights and the strains of "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go".
Fuck this noise, I need to sleep. he thought. And pushing the retractable handle into his suitcase, he lifted it up the spiral staircase that led to the roof. Not only did the room have many doors, it had many ways in, including an indoor stairway, an elevator, and a vestigial rope ladder that terminated in a root cellar.
But the master bedroom was not redundant. It was larval. The wedding party had arrived at a propitious moment in the house's life, and that night the doors slid across the walls, folding in on themselves like a paper fan until there was only one many-layered door. And then it too vanished, leaving only the idea of itself, a door-shaped creature that dreamed of being a window.
When Jared reached the top of the stairs, he went to open it and his hand went right thru, the doorknob glowing with all the substance of a projected image. He passed his hand thru it again, mesmerized as his fingers disappeared and reappeared, and he smiled.
Wait til I tell Jensen about this.
Jensen floated on boozefog. Drifting in and out of consciousness, nodding off for a few seconds before snapping back, he wasn't gonna come any time soon, and that suited him fine. At one point he thought he was back in school, and another time he thought he was in a different house, but he closed his eyes and went back to his grindhouse fantasies.
Jared stepped forward, his hair edged in a sulphur haze, and froze. Jensen did not appear to notice his arrival, but if he ran now he'd be discovered.
Jensen stretched across the bed, boxers dangling off one ankle, his left thumb hooking his shirt over his shoulder to expose miles of cut brown muscle, while his right hand milked a drop of slick from the end of his cock in a slow wet squeeze. When he sped up, he'd suck in a breath, hold it for a few seconds, then let it out with a small high noise that makes Jared's knees shake like a prom date on third base.
The bed rounded beneath him, no longer happy with it's squareness, until Jensen lay sprawled inside a concave shell as soft as a bird's breast. Jared thumbed the top button of his shirt, unknowingly opening his collar. He opened his mouth to speak, and Jensen looked up to watch the other man undress.
This is a dream, they both thought, He is made of moonlight.
He unbuckled his belt, his cock pathetically hard inside, and stepped out of his slacks. Years of unhappiness had sharpened Jared's natural beauty without him noticing, and Jensen's eyes flicked down and then up again more slowly.
He extended his hand to Jared in invitation. Pressing his mouth to his, Jensen began gently, almost chaste, and seeing no hesitation he opened Jared's mouth and sucked on his lower lip until he shuddered and had to steady himself on the edge of the bed.
"This is impossible," said Jared, letting himself be pulled on top until their bodies molded together. The roof spun and bloomed like a black flower, opening itself to the night sky until they were awash in starshine.
Jensen smiled and kissed him again. "First time for everything."