Comforting Touch

by Wendell Locke

Fanning Flames


I can't believe life can be so amazing. Three weeks ago, I was sleeping in an alleyway's dumpster, but now I was snuggled up naked next to the most amazing guy in the world. There were nights, when I woke up wondering where I was, what happened to my dirty clothes, or where would I get my next meal. All I needed though was just Ben's warm body to remember, I was safe and home. Ben took me to the clinic to get tested the Saturday after the blizzard, we got the result by email on the following Wednesday, I was disease free. Ever since then, we have slept naked together every night and I never doubted any moment after that. It also helped that Ben and I rarely ever wore any clothes around the house, with exceptions to the rule that we compromised on. Ben supported my need to remain naked, an urge that felt more normal and less deviant as time passed without judgement. I wondered sometimes as we interacted openly and nakedly at home if maybe the Biblical Adam and Eve, or Steve in our case, were so free at the dawn of time. Perhaps the ancient Semitic peoples had a genetic memory of what life originally was like before human beings added stuff like clothing, jewelry, wealth, and materials to adorn themselves, a life where people could be free to be who they were and speak their minds. I expressed those thoughts to Ben, which opened up a discussion on the state of human nature.

By the following Friday, my new Medicaid card came in the mail. Also, during the week, we had received approval for a replacement social security card based on the social security number I provided, since my college provided the social security number and an old valid state ID number. My college gave a full transcript and student data sheet that included my actual social security number and my Indiana driver's license ID from the forms that were filled out by my parents. Ben had told me that might be the case and we could be lucky enough to data mine my original social security number along with other identifying information from my old records. It shocked and scared me how easy this was. Ben assured me that if I weren't the same guy on the photo ID or my fingerprints weren't on file, they wouldn't have given me the details. Turns out Ben actually worked as a student office admin for his university, when he was in school, so he knew the ins and outs of college administrative offices and documentation. While visiting my old college, we visited the registrar's office and Ben was able to wrangle one-year deferment for me, claiming some obscure policy that I never paid attention to during enrollment. Financial aid was still not possible for the moment, but Ben had found out that summer courses could be registered immediately after FAFSA application is processed under the new school year, so he had me look at the courses that I might be interested in taking. Ben scheduled me for an appointment with a doctor for a full body physical and found a highly skilled counselor, who accepts Medicaid patients. In a matter of a week, Ben had put my life back into a semblance of order. He says he is not a superhero, but he seriously is to me.

After getting me settled with school and government ID, Ben had to work during the days and I was left at home by myself, which I took in my stride. I did a little cleaning, cooking, and tried to help Ben out as much as I could. During our first week, I learned that I sucked at cooking, but Ben ate my chicken and rice without complaint even though I knew it was bland. Most of my time was taken up reading in Ben's little library. Ben has an extremely good collection of books, both the electronic variety and actual hardcover books. He read a lot of historical non-fiction and gay fiction stories, but his tastes were wide and expansive. There were books I anticipated on finding like the Harry Potter series, which was a fantasy series my parents weren't fond of kids' reading and to which I wasn't exposed to until late into my teens. I never got into it like some kids. However, I found his complete collection of the Rick Riordan's books from Lightning Thief to Tower of Nero, which I had been following since my preteen years. My parents were far less alarmed by that series and acquiesced to buying many books in the series for me. By the time one of the main characters was outed, it was already too late for them to stop me from knowing what this meant. It's really cool too; the character despite being so defined by death ends up with a nice gay doctor at the end of the last series that I read before going to college. I guess the theme of finding love through his healing hands might have nudged me a little into choosing my original career path. Every gay teen needs a hero to look up to, I can't imagine a world where there weren't gay heroes fighting monsters and doing good despite the odds. Yet, I know that's the world Ben grew up in though.

Ben and I are twelve years apart in age, I know there's a generational gap in there. He's not old enough to be my father, but he's old enough to have idiosyncrasies that make our interactions different. Gay guys I've known in school, who I kept as casual acquaintances were very open minded and uninhibited. I think I would have been to, if it weren't for my parents holding the purse strings over me and keeping a vigilant eye on me for any bad actions that could negatively reflect on them. Ben is open minded and accepting, but he isn't uninhibited. We talked about the generational divide and changes over the decade we grew up in as teens. Things like mainstream fiction, gay heroes, didn't exist for Ben, nor did common place things like gay adoption, gay marriage, or even the right to have sex with your boyfriend without a criminal record. I know if my parents could have had their way, those things would return to the good old days, when America was great and holier, not to mention their bank accounts had double the collections from donations and book sales.

We talk every day about plans, ideas, and just anything on our minds without a filter. Ben's need for bilateral connection isn't easy to maintain, I know it will take a lot of work for both of us to keep the communication up. I've considered things with him over the last three weeks and I know that the stressful life of residency would probably drive us apart with thirty-hour shifts. I never considered what my medical specialization would be in school, despite my good MCAT results, nothing gave me clarity back then. Spending time with Ben, talking about our issues and finding solutions though has given me clarity on what I want to do with medicine. The idea of psychiatry became a crystal-clear specialty; Ben comedically said he'd let me have his head any day. Another fun thing I learned about Ben; he is a fan of the double-entendre.

That brings us to sex, our first night together was awkward and wonderful. The stories about how gay sex works blow by blow maybe technically accurate, but I never experienced that doing what I did selling my body for money after losing my parent's financial support. During the first night, I actually learned what we both liked and our "threshold of pleasure" as Ben called it. That was just the beginning though, Ben was a patient teacher and we began pushing past our established limits, Ben noted that good sex should be a workout of both partners to grow as well as explore. Sex stopped being about physical pleasure with Ben and became something else entirely different. He showed me various things and concepts about gay sex that I never read about online: terms like edging and frotting weren't items you found in stories. Sex was never routine or mundane either, not between us. One night, Ben had us both put on blindfolds and earplugs, teaching me how our senses of smell and touch can be honed into providing pleasure for each other's bodies. I don't know how long I was kissing, sniffing, rubbing, and humping up against him, but when I finally came and removed the blindfold, the sun was creeping up on the horizon. Sex with Ben changed my outlook on what sex meant and could mean. I understand why people made the mistake of assuming he's into hardcore things, but he's just invested in the emotional and sensorial aspects of sex, when he uses all these techniques and toys. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good and to make the person you love feel just as good at the same time; it's what I imagined gay sex should have felt like the first time when I gave a guy a blowjob for ten dollars. That felt hollow and empty; unlike sex with Ben, which always feels meaningful. I realized after a few nights that I was a virgin in the emotional sense before I met Ben, even if I had done more than enough things to not be one physically. It became another reason why I never wanted our relationship to end.

Time slipped by us very quickly between my life getting sorted out and our amazing sexual sessions, I hadn't realized Christmas was just one week away. I wished I had money to buy Ben something. I should have gotten my stuff settled faster, so I could find a holiday temp job or something. I felt like a horrible boyfriend after what Ben has done for me in the past three weeks. I'm not artistic enough to make a gift for Ben, either. All I can offer him is my novice sexual services, which sounds horrible and is a major failure for me. That's what was stuck in my head on Saturday morning as I made coffee and Ben cooked a breakfast of omelets, using precise measured cups of eggs, peppers, onions, and grated cheese due to his visual impairment.

Ben, being the open communicator, asked me directly without preamble, "Baby, what do you want for Christmas?"

I froze at the question, "You've given me everything I could have asked for Bingo, I feel like I should be getting you something."

Ben chuckled as he flipped an omelet, "Jason, you are giving me your love and trust. What else can I ask for? Besides a few more minutes of that noise."

I blushed at the mention of the noise I made on the edge of orgasm that Ben discovered, "Bingo, you're the only one who can get that out of me though. I can't control it."

Ben smirked as he plated the omelets, "If you want to give me a gift, record that noise the next time I get it out of you, then create an audio track of it. It's far more fun than any other holiday song or Christmas carol. It's coming from you and it's something I want."

I frowned, "I don't feel like that's enough though, Bingo."

Ben placed a plate of omelet and toast in front of me, "I feel like it's more than enough Jason, I feel like you are enough. I don't want you to ever feel inadequate, okay. I like what you give me and what I get from you."

I grabbed a piece of toast, bit, and swallowed with chewing a piece, "I just feel like I could be doing something more. School won't start up for another nine months, maybe six months if the summer courses kick in like we planned. I've got a lot of time around the house and I feel like I could do something more for you."

Ben nodded, "I know the holiday season is coming to a close and winter is a slow time for part time gigs. None of that is your fault that it's taken this long to get your life sorted. In fact, I am really happy we got so much done so quickly, things could have been slowed down due to the holiday stuff you know with vacations and stuff. At least, you have a fighting chance next month to look for something," Ben grinned and rubbed his hand over my exposed nipples, "Even if you don't, I have no problems with having my live-in boyfriend double as a houseboy."

I knew he was joking and trying to cheer me up, "I thought houseboys were supposed to be twink maids. I am skinny and stalky, hairy despite all the shaving I do, and my skin is far from perfect," I winced looking at the huge scar on my chest made during the night I was raped at the homeless shelter, pausing for a moment, then pushed that memory down focusing instead on Ben's touch, "Also, I can barely clean and my cooking is crap."

Ben shifted his fingers to my chest, caressing the scar, "I don't need a stereotypical Twink houseboy, you're perfect as you are. You are so beautiful to me, nothing else matters," he lingered for a moment with me frozen in awe, then suddenly pinched my nipple for effect, "Now, let's have breakfast and enjoy the rest of our Saturday."

After breakfast, we spent most of the morning lounging in each other's arms on the leather couch. We had the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch playing in the background. Ben offered commentary about how the show is so much darker and occult than the original TV series he grew up on. I found the characters personally a weird mix of poignant inverted sensibilities. The idea of devil worshipping witches being portrayed in the same light as fundamentalist evangelical Christians was smart in a heretical way, but according to my parents, I'm already damned so why not paint them in the same light as their adversaries. Even the angels in the show were just as hellbent on their beliefs that the other side did not deserve to exist. All of it makes you realize the entire dichotomy of good and evil is systemically an unhealthy concept for either philosophical alignment, if people actually take the other side. As I watched the show, Ben gently rubbed my back occasionally; it grounded me from going too deep into some of my thoughts.

As we were drifting into each other's comfort, Ben suddenly tensed and spoke, "Shit, it might be my mom or…"

The front door lock clicked audibly, then a female voice called from the doorway, "I'm home brother, this bitch is back!"

I was caught like a deer in the headlights, scared of the sudden and uncomfortable reality of someone entering our personal space. I held Ben down in a vice-grip, preventing him from running towards the bedroom to grab clothing or escorting me into a less open space versus a living room. A loud rumble and burst of cold air caused goosebumps to cover my skin. I hadn't felt cold in weeks, hadn't felt wanting, or lacking, but now, I was about to meet Ben's family.

A strikingly beautiful young woman appeared in front of us. She wore sunglasses and had the features of a tanned Brazilian model. Her natural black hair was highlighted with streaks of brown, her neck was covered by a black silk scarf. Her overcoat was made of black fur, maybe of Eastern European or Russian in origin. She wore stylish black jeans and completed her runway ready presentation with a pair of dark seal skinned boots. She threw a large roller bag and handbag of some fashionable design into the living room, then observed us, completely naked in each other's arms.

She cocked a crooked smile as she noticed my naked body, "Well, what have you been doing, brother?"

I let go of Ben instantly, trying to cover myself, while Ben responded to his sister placing his body in front of mine, "Jade, what the fuck are you doing here? Why didn't you call?"

She laughed at Ben's question, "Well, this is my home too, Bingo. I can come and go as I want, even if you bought it from dad. Maybe you should have thought of that before hooking up in the middle of the day."

The nickname that I've used to express my affection had never sounded so dirty and callous. This was Ben's home, our personal space, what gives this woman any right to question what we do and do not do here. Ben did not respond as he and me darted into our bedroom for clothes. We got dressed quickly and then went back outside to the living room, where she stood tapping on her phone. Her gazed turned up towards me, then my clothes, which she probably noticed were her brother's old ones as she raised an eyebrow, questioning me.

Ben addressed his sister tersely, "Jade, this is Jason, he's my boyfriend and he's living here with me. He's a medical student, currently on deferment until the summer."

Ben held my hand tightly, tighter than he ever had, causing pain, I rasped out reflexively, "Bingo, it hurts."

He quickly released my hand, shifting to pet my hand gingerly as if to apologize with his motion, blushed, and angrily snarled at his sister, "You got a problem with this arrangement."

Jade noticed everything and shrugged it off, "No, but I need to take your bedroom again. Kind of need my personal space for a few months. Also, I doubt mom or dad wants to see your bare ass in the living room fucking your boyfriend, so can you guys do what you want in your little library room?"

Ben was incensed, but Jade moved into the room with all her luggage, then closed the door and locked it from the inside. I had never seen Ben so angry before, never seen him so disturbed, but I felt violated, too. We were alone in our private world for two amazing weeks of bliss. Ben had told me three weeks ago about his crazy family drama, among other things, but it wasn't a tangible concept for me to comprehend that sweet normal superhero Ben could actually have family that dysfunctional. However, even with only a brief taste of Jade and her quick appraising glance at me naked, I was now completely alert. Sure, she's stunningly beautiful for a woman, but I'm not attracted to her. If anything, she makes me feel unnerved with her brusque actions to take over a house that her brother legally owns, because she feels entitled to it.

Ben and I moved into the little spare bedroom and library, then closed the door behind us to talk privately.

Ben sat on the bed patting the side for me to sit next to him, "I'm so sorry Jason, this wasn't how I wanted to spend our first Christmas together. She's a huge pain in the neck."

I wrapped my arm around Ben's T-shirt covered torso, it felt so wrong after what we had earlier, so I had to ask "Can we stay naked in here at least?"

Ben nodded and began to remove my clothes first, "I'm sorry I tensed up out there and hurt your hand Jason. It's not an excuse for what I did to you, I was angry at her for ruining our peaceful moment together. I'm not sure if I can forgive myself for what I did out there to you."

I was naked now, I placed my injured hand under his T-shirt to rub his nipple, "Bingo, it's fine, see. I've forgiven you already and I hope you can forgive yourself. I know that's hard for you to do, but if you want to make it up to me, can we finish cuddling the day away in here?"

Ben tentatively stripped off his clothes quickly, then we spooned on the small twin-size bed, his words were filled with regret, "I'd offer that we stay in my dad's room, but I try not to touch any of his stuff while he's travelling. In the past, when she did this kind of shit, I was fine just staying in here and having random hookups at other places. It's not fine though anymore, because you and me deserve more than this."

I took his fingers in my mouth, greedily sucking for comfort and to express my attachment, before I asked, "Why do you let her do this?"

Ben nuzzled my neck, kissed it, then sighed, "She's my sister and technically, she is right. This was my father's house and we all lived here at one point before the divorce. My mom and dad prefer that she stays at this house rather than do what she does: travelling to seek fortune and especially lovers. They beg me to let her stay in some foolish delusional concept of Chinese familial loyalty. I accepted it, because I had no reason to deny them until now."

I licked his ears, then returned kisses to his neck, "Bingo, I don't want to be the reason for you taking a stand against your family. As long as she doesn't try to make a move on me, I can accept living like this. I slept in a dumpster just a few weeks ago, sleeping in a small bed with the man I love isn't the worse thing."

Ben stopped his playful overture, "I feel so lost right now Jason, I feel like I'm not even in control of my own body, because of her presence. How can I love you, when I may break the very foundations of our relationship, our structure and rules?"

I lifted my head against my elbow, "We never said you couldn't hold my hand tightly, what if I were on the edge of a cliff or something, I'd appreciate that kind of death grip you had. I wish I could be naked around the house like we were earlier, but we compromised in our rules on that too with guests and stuff. Losing control didn't hurt what we are to one another."

Ben's face contorted and I noticed tears streaming down his face as he spoke sullenly, "I'm afraid for us, Jason. I am so afraid of what will happen, what she'll do, and what I might do in response. I hurt you once already, because she made me mad. The kind of boyfriend, who can do that without thinking, is dangerous. I can't forgive myself for that even if you can. No amount of talking will make me forgive myself. I can't share this kind of pain with you."

I remembered him telling me about his unique demisexual attraction dynamic and the weakness of his emotions and guilt. As he teared up, I noticed his fingers left my mouth and the gentle rhythms of our naked bodies ceased. I had been reading psychology books that Ben had in this room, reading up on BDSM techniques online, and as many gay romance novels as I could. This was our breaking point, if I didn't do something, it would eat him up and our relationship would suffer a blow it might not come back from.

I looked down at his neck and bit hard. I had first read in one of the gay vampire novels that Ben had in his collection about how pleasurable a bite can be. Though the concept seemed ridiculous as part of a fantasy gay romance novel, the author made it sound very scientific. It intrigued me, so I asked Ben about the concept. He directed me to a term, Odaxelagnia, which I went online and began a web search of biting and learned about the concept. Ben and I talked about it like we did everything; he confirmed that it's a minor part of BDSM practices, but it became mainstreamed. The prevalence of hickeys became popular in western culture as an offshoot of this sexual practice, originally considered fringe by both gay and straight couples. I had originally declined his offer to experiment with it, because of what had happened to me and the cuts on my skin. However, Ben needed to know that he could be forgiven for that accidental pain he gave me.

After I bit and sucked his wound, I stared into his eye and asked, "Bingo, can you bite my neck too? I want you to know I forgive you and you can forgive me. I am willing to give you this part of me, too."

Ben was silent as I noticed his amazement at my initiative and the unexpected sexual pleasure that it created in him. Ben's erection was fully hard and rubbing against mine, which was growing harder in response. Gone was his sullen and guilty expression from moments before, it had been replaced with a visage of joy and desire. I was hoping that would be the response as I had never done this before and I know it's very simple to do, but I was worried maybe it wouldn't be enough. I must have gotten incredibly lucky with my technique.

As the sublime pleasure subsided, Ben considered my words, "Jason, I don't want to scar you though, you said you didn't want this before."

I kissed and sucked on the inflamed area of his neck, then offered my response, "I was worried, but you need to know I am in this with you and forgiveness is part of who we are. Bite me, Bingo."

He hesitated, then bit into my neck, sucking and caressing with his tongue. It felt electric like my entire body was struck by lightning. I felt so warm and comforted as I never had felt before. If Ben felt even one tenth of how I feel right now, then I had communicated exactly what I wanted. We could share our pain and our pleasure, no matter who was in our lives disrupting its flow. I didn't care if Ben marked me up with bite marks or if anyone else saw, this was how we showed our love.


Jason didn't realize how happy he made me by just being with me, despite my neurotic fears and emotional needs in order to maintain this relationship. I'm worried about what happened and if I could be strong enough to protect him, but Jason's courage caught me off guard and probably saved me from my self-doubt. So far, I had been the one initiating most of our sexual explorations. Since Jason needed to know sex was not just fucking and sucking and I had more experience, it was an obvious choice. This time, he saw how upset I was at myself and what I did to him, then he took the reins and jumped in. I've experimented with biting before and knew if done well it's great fun, but Jason wasn't ready when he learned about the actual sexual term behind the vampire romances. I didn't push him into this as his sexual and physical assault were far too recent for such explorations. Yet, he threw off his fear and we now had another personal exchange of our feelings with each other, one that was slightly painful and arousing at the same time. I did not gain clarity from the pain itself, but knowing that we could share each other's pain was emotionally fulfilling. There's a reason why bite marks have left their fetish origins behind and have become a fully accepted part of mainstream foreplay and sex for both gay and straight couples.

The one good thing that my sister's abrupt arrival introduced was that Jason and I had to sleep cuddled side by side. So, we slept with a long kiss and hours long embrace, then woke up with a short kiss and a lingering sense of our bodies missing their counterpart. When we slept in my King size bed, there was far more room for angles and different positions for knees and elbows, which was good in its own right, but I don't think either of us felt as close as we did Saturday night.

Sunday morning started off with the unhappy reminder of my sister's presence. I woke up to the smell of bacon, eggs, and what I presume were pancakes or waffles based on the smell. This is how she was; she'll be demanding and bossy during the first day due to some personal issue, usually realizing "he's not the one" after dumping another guy, and jetlag from wherever she came back from. Then, on the second day, she realizes how big of an asshole she was the prior day, so decides to make breakfast and show that she can be a team player, while dishing out about her adventures along with overtures into what I've been doing or gossip about the family. Her breakfast was usually very good and I did give Jason an overview on what to expect and what to watch out for. She would probably ask him about his background and how we met during breakfast. Jason and I had talked about the revelation three weeks ago of how we met, which would just be the whole truth without sugarcoating. This was not a romantic comedy; we didn't need to come up with some elaborate story in order to hide the fact that he was homeless and I was supporting him.

Like usual, we went into the bathroom together, brushed our teeth together, and took our shower together. We only put-on boxers to enter the bathroom and put-on actual clothes only after we finished our shower. I know Jason prefered nudity and to be honest, I had grown accustomed to feeling his bare skin on mine continuously, so any chance we got of that normalcy for us, the better.

We sat next to each other at the dining table, Jason politely offered Jade, "The breakfast looks great, thank you Jade."

She patted Jason on the head, like as if he were a puppy, "No problem Jason, do you like hard bopped eggs, if not I can scramble or fry one up for you."

Jason smiled warmly at my sister, "It's fine, I can eat anything really."

We sat and ate breakfast in relative silence. It was unnatural for Jade to be so quiet during these breakfast meals; usually with either me or my father present, she would tell amazing tales about her travels and rant about how the last guy she loved was a complete waste of time. I was not complaining about the quiet and peace, but there was something unsettling about her silence.

Then as I was finishing my pancake, she asked the question I was waiting for, "So Bingo, how did you meet Jason?"

I turned to Jason and placed my hand on his before replying, "In an alley, Jason was living there in a dumpster after his parents tossed him out and stopped paying for his college back in June."

Jade froze, then gauged me and Jason to see if this were a joke, then focused her attention on Jason, "Really, I thought that shirt looked familiar the other day. I bought it for my brother, when he was bigger and he never wore it."

Clearing my voice, I made sure Jade knew where I stood, "Jade, I love Jason and Jason loves me. We might not have met under ideal circumstances, but neither one of us coerced the other into a relationship. I've helped him get his life sorted out and he's going back to college next year to finish his pre-med degree and will focus on psychiatry as his specialty."

Jade nodded, keeping her gaze focused toward Jason, "I majored in psychology in college and have an MBA in brand management."

Jason tried to sweetly to change the focus of conversation from himself to my sister, "You must have a lot of insights into psychological profiling and analysis."

Jade smiled at his interest, "Yes, it's really amazing thing you know. People live with passion and desires; hopes and needs that they don't even recognize. I look at their behavior and I cultivate their desires into something real, at least to them. Like one corporate campaign I consulted for, they had over produced several different colored lipsticks and there was no way they could sell it to the available market of women, while still being price competitive and maintain their high-end brand image. No one thought that straight men had any interest in different color lipstick until I pointed out the obvious re-alignment. Well, a good campaign highlighted the beauties of perfectly formed shiny ocean blue lips on a beefy male model being humped by barely dressed girls in bikinis and ogled by guys in swim trunks side by side with an average looking guy with cracked lips. Also, they didn't call it lipstick as that might create sexuality questions, instead we called it vita-lips, because there were some added vitamins that are reputed to help skin. That's how my brand psychology works, give people an object and a dream that object confers, then scare them with the contrast of what life would be without it. I love consulting on those kinds of gigs, makes me feel like I am creating the world or something."

I personally hated her application of psychology, but Jason replied before I could deflate her ego, "So, does the lipstick do anything for guys like lip balm is supposed to help in cold weather?"

She sipped her coffee pondering, "It was marketed for style and health, so it probably had some sort of health benefits, too. Products like that don't need FDA approval or anything."

Jason raised his brow, "Isn't that like a placebo then? Like you're promising them something that doesn't do what you are saying it will."

Jade laughed at Jason, "Jace, people always have a choice to buy in or not. I am not promising them anything they don't want for themselves or they can't achieve for themselves if they truly wanted it. For one hundred people who called vita-lips a placebo, I can get one person to come out and claim it was a stunning success for them. Maybe the one person is lying to himself, but I did not force him into believing in the lie, he did it to himself. That's also part of psychology, too."

I jumped in, "You're just a fancy version of snake oil salesman. Your job is to hype something or some idea, get people invested, and when the interest dries, your client and you run off to the next fad."

Jade snorted, "Oh Bingo, you're so naïve. That's how all businesses work nowadays. Even you guys use marketing and promotions showcasing reliability and stability. People need to feel good and buy into one dream or another. This last thing I was into with the Cannabis growing company, it was pure greed that drove people into buying what amounted to sharecropping arrangements like a timeshare. Everyone knows that legalization means big money for growers, so a corporation have finally taken the initiative to sell off shares of based on the production of a certain area. My job was to figure how best to get people into dropping money into the deals. My work allowed millions of people to get jobs, insurance companies to pad their claims, and society to enjoy a product that they like."

I chewed out my sister's remark, "Those guys you worked for are only passing on profits at pennies to the bushel, if prices or demand ever fall, those investors are completely screwed over paying maintenance fees."

Jade sneered, "Someday maybe someone will figure out that, but there's no proof of an issue, right now. Besides, doctors are prescribing this stuff like candy with how relaxed rules are. Demand won't dry up for years."

Jason shook his head, "It doesn't really do anything medically though. Marijuana only has weak correlations with positive health benefits."

Jade smirked at Jason, "Jace, if it doesn't hurt to use it and money can be made promoting its cultivation, why not let people live out their smoky dreams."

The rest of the conversation was an introductory course in the concepts of psychoanalysis and how it relates to branding and marketing concepts. I love seeing Jason in his element; he genuinely is very intelligent and you can tell that he loves the application of his knowledge to healing people, both physically and mentally. My sister on the other hand applies the psychological concepts that she learned and have gained through experience to practice a modern form of hunting and gathering. Her objective is personal gain and gratification, while Jason's is based on a desire to do good for no other reason than other people needed his expertise. I don't know if I had influenced him in that direction, but I really am glad, either way. If he feels helping people is his calling rather than my sister's attitude, Jason and I share a personality trait.

After breakfast, Jason and I retreated into the living room, where we curled into each other, clothed. It's not as fulfilling as being naked while doing it, but Jason and I compromised by taking off our T-shirts and placing a duvet over us. We had our skin-on-skin contact, it was enough for now. My sister was busy flipping through the selections of streaming shows and chose "You", a Netflix series about an obsessive unstable bookstore manager. It was not a bad show and the unique blend of intense psychological tension and framed storytelling reminded me of old Hitchcock films.

Maybe as a result of being visually impaired, I prefer small interpersonal stories rather than Hollywood spectacles. Yes, I have enough sight to view explosions, gore, and massive light shows, which film directors like Michael Bay pride themselves in creating, but after all the sound and fury, there's nothing really in the story except the same old rehashed character arcs and tropes. Of course, there are some Hollywood moviemakers who can blend between story and tension well, like James Cameron or Steven Spielberg. They deserve their accolades as billion-dollar film directors for creating movies that inspire you and make you cry. Yet even with great directors at the helm of great movies, I still prefer a standard show. There are just more dynamic characters on a TV or streaming show with episodic arc development for characters to change and evolve from their beginnings. Watching these shows is like reading a fascinating book, so I can draw a line from the classic novels of Dickens and Dumas to the current culture of streaming shows.

After several episodes of tense stalking and manipulation by the main character, Jason whispered in my ear, "That's not love, Bingo."

I nodded in agreement, whispering back "No, it's obsession. I don't believe in the concept of an objective reality for that reason. What one person thinks is beautiful doesn't mean it must be beautiful to others. Nor can you focus obsession for one person into love."

"Weren't you obsessed with me though?"

Our candor was part of our relationship, so I told him the truth, "It wasn't obsession, it was sympathy. I cared about your wellbeing before I loved you. To me, this character is just selfish and self-centered, he wants to love and be loved by another person without human empathy. Those feelings he emulates for her aren't empathy, it's narcissism at its core. Straight or gay love usually has empathy in the relationship, sometimes instances of two-way empathy too. What we have is different. It's based on mutual continuous empathy, we're not afraid of sharing our feelings or thoughts. We don't obsess about it, it just happens."

"I'm glad you felt sorry for me first before falling in love with me, but does that sound selfish?"

I chuckled a little too loud, causing my sister to shush me, then I whispered, "No, I'm glad I cared about you and love the idea of always waking up with you in my arms. As long as it's mutual, it's not selfish, just our form of love."

While the show was intriguing, I had to work the next day, so I didn't stay up to watch the second season. Next week would be the week of Christmas, so the office would have tons of paperwork coming in for last minute spending requests. Everyone else might have a good time at parties, bonuses for Christmas presents to loved ones, and vacations to distant lands, but someone has to initiate all of it, like me, your humble accounting manager. Every dollar that goes out during this time had to be organized by someone, charged to accounts, and properly managed for tax purposes. People forget that joy isn't free, sadly someone has to work up until the very last minute of Christmas eve. Still, I was glad my colleagues, my vendors, and my clients could benefit from what I do; even if all I ever got was a fifty-dollar amazon gift card and some Christmas biscuits from one very nice vendor every year. Knowing that I, a legally blind person, wad having this kind of impact every year made me happy. If I wanted money or fame, I'd be like my mother or sister.

Jason followed me into our little bed. Stripping completely naked now, Jason and I got into our positions, then kissed. We didn't need to have sex in any form, just the warmth of our bodies touching one another, knowing we had this time together was enough for us.


Ben left for work like normal on Monday, but we spent even more time together that morning than usual. The presence of Ben's sister was disruptive to our routine. Spending an entire day alone with her felt daunting at first, but I told myself that I am not attracted to her like I am to Ben. His fears might be overblown, based on some kind of sibling rivalry. I could tell Jade had interest in me at least on a technical level, but she didn't try anything. Actually, she left the house in the morning without talking to me at all, so I was left alone in the house for most of the day until Ben returned from work, a few minutes earlier than normal with a frazzled expression. Ben found me naked in the library reading a six-part story series from his tablet, Will and Patrick Get Married by Leta Blake, which is an amazing story despite its romantic comedy origins. I identified with Patrick, even though I'm not autistic and Ben isn't a recovering alcoholic. They're both caring people, who figured out they love each other and unconsciously knew they should be married, despite how irrational it seemed to them initially or to others. I wondered if Ben had considered the idea of getting married, maybe even before I finished school.

Damn, what was I thinking? I knew it was too early for commitment and what I felt for Ben was complicated by so many things: I had abandonment issues on top of the entire homeless experience, sexual assault, and what I was fearing were dependency issues with Ben. I was not a great catch; maybe in a few years, we could do this and I could work through my problems. I knew Ben wad patient enough to wait for that.

I put the tablet down and waved to him to join me, "I've survived a day, Bingo. Your sister has not impugned my gay virtues."

Ben's soft hands were cold from being outside, but my blood pumped warmly to compensate for his touch as he spoke, "I've been thinking of you the entire day. I wished you had a smartphone, so we could text or video chat. By the way, I spent my lunch time shopping and ordered a new iPhone for you and me. It was a special holiday deal; I'll pick them up tomorrow night before I come home. I should have thought of that yesterday, but I didn't want to leave you, Jason."

There was a frantic energy in his voice, I tried to calm him, "Let's get naked and just snuggle right now. I missed you, too. Your sister isn't home yet and we have the entire house again."

Within minutes, Ben and I were had laid out towels and other objects in the living room, we didn't know how long we had with each other or how much sex we could get through. Jade had thrown clothes, underwear, and bras on top of the bed that Ben and I shared, making it uninviting, so this was the only large open space we had beyond the kitchen.

Once all was prepared, we kissed, then I asked, "What do you want to do tonight, Bingo?"

Ben contemplated my question touching the shiny head of a vibrator, "I want to sixty-nine with you tonight along with prostate stimulation," Ben stroking the back of my arm, "I don't have to stimulate your prostate if you don't want to Jason. I like blowing you and you can just blow me with the vibrator in me."

I took his hand stroking my arm and sucked on his fingers, then answered with conviction, "I'm ready Ben, not just with the vibrator. I'm ready for the real thing if you want."

Ben twitched, then rasped out "Yes, I want you," then his expression softened as it always did when his logical side took over, "No, we can't. I want that to be special and something we can both enjoy like everything else that we've done sexually together. With my sister possibly returning at any time now, we can't take time to explore our pleasure or properly enjoy it."

I knew he was right, but I wished we had the time, "Compromise then, we'll both use vibrators and suck each other off like you suggested."

Sex was enjoyable like usual, but there was an urgency between us that had kept it from achieving what each of us wanted. This must be the feeling people with kids felt, when they can't truly enjoy each other with unlimited freedom of time and space. I'm twenty-two years old, with about two months and one week left from my twenty-third birthday, which I hadn't shared with Ben yet, but I was dealing with sexual limitation issues that new couples shouldn't be facing until well into a decade of their relationship. This wasn't how online gay fiction stories worked out; they never mentioned unsatisfactory sex being a consequence of sibling interruption. Love was supposed to be enough for a relationship to prosper and grow.

Then, again, maybe Ben spoiled me in the first three weeks; I never read about any of the sex we had or the slow satisfaction that is gained from exploring the edges of our pleasure. Ben did say that a lot of the stuff we did was part of the fringes of gay sex, either stuff few people really talked about or few people ever experimented with, because they were fine with settled routines. Was what I was feeling nothing more than the cooldown?

I wanted to ask Ben immediately after the sex, but we had to rush to get dressed as Jade arrived home, a few moments after I reached orgasm. Ben had not been as lucky; he was still very hard and flushed as he quickly got dressed. That made me feel awful; he had gotten me off with his expert use of a vibrator and his mouth as I was clumsily trying to coordinate my hand and mouth into a proper rhythm.

When we were naked in bed, I offered, "Can I finish you off before you go to sleep, Bingo? I don't feel right about what happened earlier."

Ben's erection had long since disappeared, "No Jason, it's fine; I don't think I need it anymore. Let's just get some sleep."

I begged him, "Please Bingo, let me do this for you. You know this isn't right and I can tell. We do things together and this isn't right."

Ben let me suck him off, which I did slowly to tease his pleasure out. I know Ben had work tomorrow and probably should have been sleeping, but he should be allowed to relax too. Ben does so much for other people and he doesn't take the time to actually enjoy life. I could sleep late tomorrow if I had to, but I wanted Ben to reach the deepest level of his pleasure that my mouth could offer him. After about two hours of sucking and edging, Ben moaned and came in my mouth. He went completely limp and I think he fell asleep in moments. I crawled into my position on our small bed and gave him a snowball kiss, which his unconscious body reciprocated with a lick of my lips. With that taken care of, I could sleep contentedly.


I want to kill Jade and run off with Jason. My dreams, post-orgasm, were filled with wild fantasies of suffocating my sister with a pillow, marrying Jason, and hiding out in some wooded region, wearing matching plaids shirt with denim overalls. I wonder if they still have log cabins and wilderness guys like E.M Forster's Maurice depicted for the happy ending of its gay couple, at least in the original epilogue. The novel may have gotten a lot of flak back in the early twentieth century, but compared to modern gay romances, it's very tame. I've shown Jason my copy of it, then listed out what E.M Forster probably would have changed if he had come out in the modern era as a Nobel prize winning author, instead of writing it during the era of UK sodomy laws and publishing this story post-humorously with queer historians debating whether he was on the spectrum. However, there's one thing that was true in 1920 as well as 2020, when you love a man fully, nothing else matters except your relationship. I'm not Maurice. Jason is not Alec, but we know their feelings.

I woke up Tuesday morning satiated, but Jason did not wake with me like we usually did at each other's stirring. I knew what he had done for me last night and how tired he must be right now due to God only knows how long he spent going to town on my erection. It wasn't his fault that Jade came home before I could shoot my load. I was planning on just jacking off in the shower this morning, but Jason gave me what I needed. Our rules and structure were bending due to the strains of Jade, but they had not broken. My sister was busy yesterday, so Jason had zero interaction with her. I don't know how long my luck will hold lucky I can be with her continuous presence though.

I found Jade outside in the kitchen after my morning routine, she had a mug of coffee, she asked "We need to talk about Jason."

I frowned and replied, "What about Jason?"

Jade sipped her coffee, "You picked him off the streets, he could have diseases or be looking to score. Did you even consider…"

I was mad, "Stop it, let me explain everything right now. Jason was kicked out by his overly Christian parents, who paid for his college. Without financial aid in college, he lost housing, too. Things went downhill fast for him, then I found him in the alley, while picking up some Chinese food. One thing led to another, I invited him to stay, then we built a relationship. He's been tested for STD's, he's clean. I got his college transcripts and reset his status for deferment until next year. We got him replacement Medicaid and social security cards. Passport and state ID are my next steps. He is wearing my old clothes, which I would have donated either way. He is my boyfriend; I expect him to be treated with respect. I don't blame you for being worried about me or wondering about us, but I'm an adult and this is someone I care about."

Jade was silent, then laughed, "Why is he so special? Is he great in bed?"

I checked my smartphone for the time, I had to leave soon, "I'm heading to work, don't bug Jason, okay."

Jade sipped her coffee again, "I was planning on doing some shopping with Kevin, you know my best gay friend who isn't you. I could invite Jason to join us. Is that too thrilling for your boyfriend to handle?"

I knew Jason wanted to do more than stay at home all day, despite my massive collection of books, e-books, and audiobooks. He should have some freedom and not be chained down to the house like some Victorian female matron, but I just didn't have the time to spend with him exploring the city and enjoying the holiday season. We went out a few times for meals and walked a little to different places during weekends, but I couldn't be the center of Jason's social life. I am not ignorant enough to believe in the false notion from gay romance stories, where one partner must be devoted entirely to other. It's psychologically unhealthy and even if it could happen as I suspect Jason might agree to it if I wanted it, such a relationship is deeply toxic. Jason needed friends and he needed social interactions like any healthy adult.

I know my social life was on hiatus for the holidays right now, because everyone else was celebrating or doing things with their loved ones. I had no outlets, except for my work and Jason, but this wasn't normal for me. My non-profit board member duties during the holidays were clear after thanksgiving through MLK day, when valentine's day events are planned. LGBT non-profits pick up steam in February around that major holiday, love is sort of our thing and we help organize "safe" dances for teens, who can't attend proms. I was going to invite Jason to do volunteer work with me, which would help him meet new people and make new friends as several were gay college students. What Jade is offering would be better and more immediate.

Above all, I trusted the person she was going with a lot more than her. Kevin is a decent guy, out of all my sister's friends, he and I got along the best. He's completely self-assured about his sexuality, so my sister's multiple attempts at seduction have failed, including several attempts made by her to have a threesome with his boyfriend. Kevin and I share several things in common as well: we're both accountants, Asian, and anime dorks, who compare notes on One Piece, Dragon Ball, and Naruto. There is a big difference though between us, which prevents any romantic connection though. He makes his own hours, because he owns his own private practice firm. Also, he has a younger bisexual college age twink boyfriend, probably the same age as Jason, and a gay sugar daddy, double his age, who pays for his large penthouse apartment. Like my sister, he is manipulative in his own way, but unlike her, he has boundaries and knows what he likes. Beyond the two romantic partners, he doesn't sleep around like some gay guys.

I sighed, "Fine, take him shopping, but let him sleep a little longer. I'll leave him a note."

I typed up a quick note on my laptop, printed it, stuffed two hundred dollars into the wallet I bought Jason, and left for work. As I was leaving though, Chris waved me down.

Chris genially offered, "Are you okay that Jade is back home?"

I wanted to cut the conversation as short as I could, but didn't want to seem impolite, "It was unexpected, but I'm starting to get used to it."

Chris nodded, "How's Jason and you handling this change?"

"We're dealing with it."

Chris patted my shoulder, which gave me an uncomfortable reaction due to Chris' past, "Well, Jason is a sweet boy and you guys look good together. I just wanted to tell you that I'll be coming home a little late tonight as I am volunteering at another shelter, can you move the trash barrels to the curb for pick up tomorrow morning?"

My uber had arrived and I blurted out my answer, "Sure, I'll take care of the trash. Do what you can to help those in need."


I woke up around 10 AM and felt cold for the first time in a long time. I was naked, but covered in a nice comforter, so I shouldn't have been physically cold. Maybe, it was because I didn't wake up with Ben. I didn't like the feeling. Being naked was warm and inviting, when it was just us together. I looked around and noticed a letter fixed above me by a sticky note:


My sister invited you to go out shopping with her and her friend Kevin. Kevin is a decent gay guy in a complicated though committed relationship. I've texted him as well and I think you will get along with him. I left $200 in your wallet. Your transit card should still be full of credits for the month. Don't buy me anything, look for stuff you may like and take some fashion tips from Kevin, he's got a good eye for clothing. Love you, Bingo

I took care of my morning routine alone, had a quick breakfast of pop-tarts and coffee as Jade spoke about the different stores she wanted to visit, and put-on Ben's old sweater, jeans, and a black winter jacket. I placed the wallet with my newly acquired ID's and Ben's cash securely in the inside pocket of the black jacket. I couldn't imagine I'd spend that much money on anything today and I was happy with what he had given me; Ben was being too kind again. Then, I proceeded to the living room, where Jade was waiting for me.

She smiled, "Our ride will be here in a few minutes, the driver is dropping it off shortly."

I was confused, thinking we'd be using mass transit, "I thought we were going by bus or train."

She winked her eyelashes, "Oh Jace, my brother and his simple ways are so twentieth century, have you ever heard of Car sharing apps?"

I shook my head, "No, is it like an Uber?"

"Sort of, but instead of getting a driver to pick you up and drop you off, the driver drives the car here for you to drive wherever you want. It's far more freedom and there are actually options for the type of car you want. Do you drive?"

I nodded, "It's been a while, but yeah I do."

"I'd let you test drive the car later if you want. I have it for the day. First though, we have to pick up Kevin from his apartment, then we can do Brunch together before shopping and other stuff."

I wasn't sure what I was expecting from Jade, but it wasn't this. She had ordered an Aston Martin to be driven in front of Ben's house. The only time I had seen cars like that were in movies, they are easily worth the price of a house; hell, they are worth like ten houses in Indiana, where I grew up. Jade just walked in front of the car tapped a few codes in her smartphone and unlocked the car for her use. She acted like this was a common occurrence for her and I finally realized, Ben wasn't lying about his family's background.

Ben lives so humbly, he keeps his spending tracked on a spreadsheet every week, hunting down his expenses on credit cards and his bank accounts primarily, with an only a handful of paper receipts for groceries. I watch him doing his meticulous personal finance every Saturday morning, he makes comments about price increases and potential re-stocking costs for household items, then settles on a targeted weekly budget. Ben isn't a miser by any means, he told me he always keeps about one to two hundred dollars in the cash budget for anything extra that might be needed and he keeps a decent amount of savings to cover home repairs or other problems. Ben keeps a bank account balance for a modest sum of twenty thousand and fifty-one dollars and fifty-seven cents pretty normal for a homeowner with tax responsibilities and a mortgage. Everything about Ben seemed so far removed from a sister, who enjoys driving an Aston Martin around. I have heard of people like that and should have realized after the conversation from breakfast on Sunday that being a mercenary marketing consultant like her meant something like this would happen.

I got into the car in the back seat, not feeling ready to be sitting next to Jade in a luxury vehicle like this. The ride was surreal, the leather seat was extremely comfortable, the seat warmer was toasty, and luckily, I wasn't in conversation with her. She was busy chatting it up with a guy named Harvey, who I presume was one of her current boyfriends. They joked about people I didn't know, argued over what they had drank, and settled on a conversation about doing lunch in Charleston, next time she's down south.

We reached a nice modern apartment building and a skinny short Asian man opened the passenger door, he sat and made his introductions, "Hey there Jade, you are prodigious as always," he turned towards me, "You can't be Jason, Ben never told me, you were this cute. You are so like pulling off the boy next door look. I should just dump Brent and take you for myself."

I was shocked at the flirtation and extreme "gayness" Kevin exuded, "I…uh…thank you."

Kevin laughed, "Oh baby, don't worry, I'm just playing with you. Ben told me all about you and your fucking sad story. Brent's folks were homophobic too and I'm totally into the Cinderella thing."

The change in tone and his understanding demeanor made me understand see why Ben considered him a decent person to know and befriend. Kevin was probably a few years younger than Ben, probably his sister's age. Kevin was shorter and had a little more arm muscle than Ben, along with broader shoulders. He was cute in a rakish kind of way; he was very flamboyant, but he could be serious when he needed to be. As we spoke in the car, I learned he was also an accountant, just in private practice instead of working at a firm like Ben had to. He didn't have to work every day as his clients were all privately wealthy individuals, who I he acquired through his well-connected boyfriend.

Most important about the details, he had two boyfriends, Brent was my age just turned twenty-two, and John, who was fifty-three. Kevin explained the concept of a throuple, a three-person couple and polyamory with gay guys. I thought my relationship with Ben was complicated, but Kevin's relationship made ours seem normal. I remember reading about poly couples, I had never encountered someone from such a relationship until then. Based on what Kevin told me, Brent stayed with him and they usually slept together most nights, except when Brent had to travel for college basketball games. John came in and out of Kevin's life, because he with a similar background to Jade he had to travel a lot. The three of them got together occasionally to have sex as a group, but it was usually Kevin with Brent. John paid for the apartment and most of the living expenses. Kevin enjoyed the perks of being financially unrestrained with John's support, so he was also into "Hot Yoga". That was how he met Jade and through Jade met Ben.

We reached a nice restaurant for Brunch, the food was pricey, but not insanely pricey as I had feared based on Jade's choice of car. Jade ordered a Waldorf Salad, Kevin ordered a Croque Madame, and I ordered a Quiche Lorraine, which I had before at one of my parent's prayer breakfasts, where they were promoting some kind of Christian seminar about the steps to reach heaven or steps to receive salvation. To be honest, the food was far more memorable than any of the subject matter.

During the middle of our Brunch, Jade asked me, "So why him? Why Ben? You know my brother is sweet and caring, but you guys didn't have to get together and he still would have helped you."

Unlike Ben, who I can share anything with, I felt like I had to be wary around Jade, so selected my words carefully "I guess it was the fact that he cared about me, when no one else did," a truthful answer without revealing all the intimate details of our relationship.

Jade pressed on as she finished chewing a piece of chicken, "Seem sort of sudden, you know. My brother never sticks with a guy for more than a few months and rarely has them stay over. Now, you are living with him."

Kevin made a mock cough with a steely stare at Jade, "Girl, your brother found Jason and they're happy."

Jade smiled at her friend, knowing she had to retreat, "Kev, you're one to talk; weren't you complaining to me the other night that you thought Brent might be hooking up with one of his teammates."

Kevin made an exaggerated expression of shock, "Oh please! Brent can suck off any closet case he wants with those perfect lips, but his gorgeous ass belongs to me."

Gratitude toward Kevin was not something I expected to feel, he might come off as a bit too much, but when you need him to rise up at the right moment, he comes around. I see why Ben wanted me to interact with him, I could tell that he would be a good gay friend to have in the future. I had forgotten about having friends during my time on the streets and didn't realize until now, what that meant. Being homeless was a daily struggle for survival; other people co-existed in your world, but ignored you mostly. Ben had been my first friend in a very long time, then he became my lover and the center of my universe. I probably could have lived that way forever, like just have been in his orbit and been his partner without anyone else in my life. I had read a lot of gay books now from Ben's library and knew that was kind of a running theme among some writers, so assumed it might be how we would end up too. However, like Ben always said, reality isn't exactly like those stories we read. Having just one other friend like Kevin made me feel less lonely, when Ben wasn't around. I still wanted to be naked with Ben and have him snuggle up to me constantly, though. I should probably read up on social isolation and exclusion theories, because this feels like a breakthrough, I should tell my counselor next time we meet.

We spent the rest of the day jumping from one store to another, wandering around shopping outlets, and modelling clothes. Kevin picked out two button downs and a pair of khakis that were perfect for me, then at checkout even before I took out my wallet, he flashed his credit card through the chip reader. I tried to offer him cash, but he refused, stating it was a Christmas present. By the end of the shopping, Kevin had bought a turquoise-colored polo and several pairs of skinny jeans as we left the parking lot of the 3-premium outlet.

As Jade drove onto the highway, she announced, "We should celebrate and find a dance club."

Kevin laughed, "Sweet idea Jade, Jason, you'll love our usual spot. It's clean and very gay friendly. I've taken Brent there a few times and he loves it."

Since our attire wasn't exactly club chic, we pulled into a rest stop and changed into the clothes we had just bought. This was not something I had done before; I never just bought clothes and put them on immediately to go dancing. I know some people do that, and it was really exciting to for me. At age twenty-two, this was the kind of normal stuff guys like me were supposed to do and I just never had the chance to explore this stuff, because of my parents and then my homelessness. What we were doing right then was how it should have been for me, instead of bible camps, hiding in my room studying, or reading gay stories secretly as my parents kept an eye on me, in other words being frozen out of life.

After getting dressed, Jade waved me to the driver's seat, "Jason, why don't you take the car the rest of the way? The GPS will give you navigation instructions."

I was excited, but hesitated, "I don't have my license back yet. Ben is still requesting my driver's license ID from Indiana. If we get pulled over, we'd be screwed."

Jade smiled, "Come on, live a little Jason, my brother is rubbing off way too much on you. You only have one life to live and a sweet ride like this is worth a little risk. Besides, the club is only fifteen minutes away, you're safe."

I considered my options and took the driver's seat. The drive was amazing; even if it was short. I pulled up to the parking lot of a large modern three-floor brick building with neon signs. It wasn't much to look at outside, except for the large neon sign and a long line of people waiting to enter. When I parked the car, several people turned their heads to look at us from the line. I wasn't used to being the center of attention by so many people, but Jade strutted with confidence up to the bouncer and handed him a hundred-dollar bill, then whispered something. Kevin motioned me to follow Jade as she entered the club at a side door. No explanations or ID checks, we were ushered into the club and seated at a table and our drink orders were taken.

After a few drinks and small talk, we hit the dance floor. I'm not a great dancer by any stretch of the imagination, but a little gyration of the hips and movement was enough to approximate competence among a crowd of people around my age and up. It felt freeing to just be out there and enjoy everything that life had to offer, I felt completely free and uninhibited. Being with Ben was blissful and sweet happiness, what I was experiencing then felt like a different type of happiness, like I was floating in the air.

After a while of dancing, I returned to the table, where Jade was seated with a Hispanic guy, she pointed to me, "Jason, Paolo said that there's a house warming party nearby, there's tons of really cool people. You want to go(?)"

Feeling uninhibited and open to anything right then, I told her, "Hell yes!"

My mind was buzzed with the shots of vodka and rum as Jade led me and Paolo back to the Aston Martin, I didn't even realize that Kevin hadn't joined us until we had already left the club. My alcohol addled mind wasn't worried though about that inconvenience, Kevin would join the party at some point or he could join another party. Life was a party and I was finally living it up.

After what could have been five minutes or fifty minutes, we reached a very nice colonial styled home, loud music and chatter could be heard even from inside the car. My body was hot and I left the black winter jacket I had on in the car. We entered the home and greeted the host, who did not know either me or Jade, but knew Paolo, so we were allowed inside. The scene was chaotic and quite impossible to process. The loud music and strobing lights gave the ambience of a massive party scene. There were people rolling joints, snorting white lines of what I presume was cocaine off tables, guys making out with girls and guys, and there was even an orgy going on in the adjoining room between what looked like five people of various genders. This was absolute hedonism personified.

Jade whispered in my ear, "You should start with the bong, then move up from there."

Part of my mind was screaming at me to walk away; this wasn't my type of party or scene or whatever people call it. I didn't do drugs and I didn't have orgies with random people. Yet, my mind was overruled by the continuous buzz that was still in me from the alcohol earlier and the intoxicating delights that I saw around me. I was already damned to hell anyway, so why shouldn't I be the awful sinner that my parents thought I'd become when they found out I was gay. So, I took a few hits on the bong and my head grew lighter. I drank more alcohol, some kind of green liquid called Absinthe. I ate something that was supposed to make me feel even lighter than a cloud.

Jade and I crossed paths at some point, she pulled up to me, "Are you enjoying yourself Jason? You fucking love this shit, huh."

I giggled my answer, "Uh…Yeah…like you are the devil and I like all of this..."

Jade pulled in and gave me a deep passionate kiss, forcing her tongue into my mouth. My body did not respond as she probed me with her tongue and wrapped fingers around my ass. There was something off about this; something I should remember, someone important to me told me to watch out for something like this. It was not unpleasant with all the drugs and alcohol in me right then, but there wasn't any arousal from it. Wonder why I couldn't remember what it was or who told me to watch out for something. She stopped kissing me after I showed no response to her for like ten minutes or something.

Jade frowned, "Guess you really are perfectly gay."

She left for the living room to be with Paolo and I left in the opposite direction towards the back of the house, where an older looking guy winked at me to come over. I remembered the guy gave me a drink and talking to him briefly before my head started feeling fuzzy. He said a lot of things about me, how hot I looked in my button-down shirt, how sexy it would be if I'd go on my knees and he pulled out his cock for a blowjob while everyone watched. I could only nod and smile at him as my body couldn't really be bothered to move. He pushed me to the ground and unzipped his fly to reveal a massive hard dick. He slapped my face with it and called me names like "filthy cocksucker" and "slut". He told me to open my mouth for him. In my fogged-up mind, I heard a different voice and saw a different man in front of me, so I opened my mouth not caring that we were in the middle of a stranger's home or that others would see me. I remembered the taste of something salty in my mouth and an empty feeling, like there was something wrong with what I had done. He offered to take me home and "give it to me rough". My memory of the word "home" was a comfortable small bed with a skinny Asian guy, who let me suck his fingers and cuddle him. I think we spent a lot of time talking about everything. He said he was demi-something and I felt so connected with him.

This man was far from the guy in my thoughts, he was Caucasian, bearded, and showed off an impressive array of tattoos. He was built like a bull and even had several piercings, including one on his dick, he was called an Albert or something. I didn't care about this guy or what he was telling me he'd do to me. I just wanted to go home, so I let the guy take me to his car, let him drive me for god knows how long, and let him rub my dick in my khaki pants as he called me filthy names and continued to tell me how he would "destroy me tonight".

At some point, he pushed me into a doorway and whispered, "I'm going to fuck you nice and hard."

He pushed me inside just enough for me to feel the heat of his home and undid my pants, then lifted my shirt up to my chest, stopping, "Fucking shit, what the hell is that on your chest? I am not into that shit. You didn't say you had been worked over before. Fucking no way man!"

He shoved me out the door and I was left semi-conscious and semi-naked on the ground of a stranger's porch. The cold air began to slowly thaw my mind. My mind focused into consciousness with bitter realization, the fog of drugs and alcohol was completely subsumed by shock and revulsion at what had happened and what I had almost done to myself. I pulled up my pants and tugged down my shirt, then ran off into the street, not looking back. I ran and I ran until I was out of breath. Then, I threw up in the street, a pale green mixture of everything that I had ingested that day and night.

I looked around me and did not recognize anything about the street or the buildings. I checked my pockets for my wallet and realized I had left it in Jade's car with my black jacket. Then, the stream of memories began to filter in, the emotions of freedom and the loss of inhibition from the dance club, going to the house party with Jade, the drugs and alcohol, Jade's kiss and response, and ultimately the fact that this guy would have violated me if not for the scars on my body scaring him off.

My mind chided me, "Ben didn't care about the scars and loved me all the same, why didn't I listen to him? Why didn't I love him more? Why did I screw up the only good thing in my life?" I couldn't answer those questions as I walked aimlessly trying to find someplace warm. The temperature was starting to fall and I could tell it was probably below freezing, because my breath was jetting out a steam in the air. This was the same situation I was stuck in three weeks ago, but Ben had found me. He saved me, but now I was alone, because I wanted to…live. Is that what this was?

I wanted to live a little, be free from all the rules and all the expectations for just a while. I did that tonight, I really did. What did I lose? I lost Ben, if he knew how badly I screwed up tonight and that I ignored his warnings about Jade and her lifestyle, I rationalized that my pleasure was worth more to me than him and his rules for a few moments tonight, I can't be forgiven. I screwed up our perfect relationship, I listened to the devil and let her lead me into temptation. I deserved what happens next, I deserved to die out here in some unknown town, unknown street, alone, and forgotten by the only man who ever truly loved me. I couldn't even blame my parents or bad luck for any of this shit tonight, I did it to myself.

I found a little back alley behind a bar, curled into a ball and cried. This was how I had felt three weeks ago, I was given a second chance and I blew it.


If Jade had done anything to Jason, I'd kill her. I didn't care if she was my sister or what the consequence might have been. I have never had such urges to pull my crossbow from its place on my wall, load, and crank for firing position. Jason had never been gone this long from me, never has been so distant, since we started living together. Kevin was apologetic and noted that Jade had texted him about some house party that one of her lovers, Paolo, invited her to. Kevin had to take an Uber home from the club, which pissed him off, but Jade promised Kevin a contract with the sharecropping cannabis corporation's clients next week. As much as Kevin was pissed off at being left at a dance club, he was mercurial when there was enough personal gain. I loved him as a friend, but he had to really consider his priorities and personal ethics. He was a nice guy, but he was selling his soul to maintain the freedom of a private practice, when he was dealing with people like Jade.

Knowing what I did about what happened, I waited sleeplessly in the living room for hours, until I heard the door's lock clicking. However, only Jade returned home. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face showed signs of wear from a long night of partying.

I jumped at her with irate questions, "Where is Jason? Why isn't he with you? Is he okay?"

She shrugged, "Chill Bingo, last thing I heard was that he was blowing some guy and went home with him. He's probably enjoying himself, right now. Sorry man, better luck next time."

I couldn't believe it, "That's impossible, what the fuck Jade?"

She shrugged again, "I'm too tired to talk, some of his stuff is in the car, if you want your old sweater and jacket back."

She passed me her cell phone with the app for the car lock, I took it and went to the rented car outside, knowing her it was probably the fanciest one on the street. I needed to figure out what happened through what Jason left in the car. I was not being rational or logical, this was just me acting on pure instinct. As I left the house in sandals, I felt the bone breaking chill in the air. I didn't realize it had become this cold until I went back out…oh fuck no. Jason left his jacket in the car; this can't be good. Memories of the cold night surfaced when Jason nearly froze to death waiting for me to pick him up.

Then my mind remembered what Jade said, "blowing some guy and went home with him", could Jason really be messing around with another man right now. Sweat was starting to form in my pores. I never defined our relationship to be monogamous, just implied it in our rules. I'd told him that our emotional bond was meant to be bilateral and between us in all things, no matter what happened. I didn't make rules against seeking sexual partners outside our relationship. In my heart, I knew I couldn't accept any other man being with Jason except for me. I knew it was selfish to think that way. Jason having a social life was something I wanted. Yet, my boundary ended when there was another guy involved sexually. Kevin can be happy in his throuple, but I can't see that ever working with my unique conditions.

No, I can't think of Jason as any other guy, I know him too well now. Even if I wasn't explicit about it, Jason knew me far too well to ever break my confidence like that without asking me or hinting he wanted to try an open relationship. Something was off about this entire thing, especially the winter jacket being left in the car. I pulled out the black jacket and inspected it, there was something in the interior pocket. Unzipping it, I found the wallet with two hundred dollars still inside along with Jason's new ID's. Now my heart was bursting, even if Jason for some unknown reason had decided to have sex with random strangers, he wouldn't have left his winter jacket and a wallet with all his ID's in the car. I sniffed the jacket, there was a heavy odor of alcohol.

Horrible ideas came into my head, what if Jason had been drunk and some guy took advantage of him? Gay guys are many things, but we're not all saints. I've met plenty of people who don't understand that "no means no" applies to guys as well as girls. What if the guy wasn't picking up Jason like Jade had said, what if he did stuff to Jason, what if he were a serial killer and…No, I can't think about those kinds of things happening to Jason. Yet, my horrible mind played their plotting games with me. I imagined Jason meeting a nice seductive guy at the party, giving too many alcoholic drinks or even tainting one. I imagined Jason being horribly hurt, his body parts chopped off, and him crying my name with his dying breath. Fuck, I needed to calm down; remind myself, the chances of Jason encountering a gay serial killer like Jeffrey Dahmer were incredibly small. Those guys are the rare boogeymen that exist in the world, but you have to be really unlucky to encounter them. My mind chided, "As unlucky as it was to be a homeless twenty-two-year-old."

Oh God, how did all this go to hell so quick? My mind was quick to answer, Jade. My sister must have done something to screw with Jason's head. She doesn't ever act overtly at first, but she loves to play games and get people to make moves as she anticipates them to make. Getting him drunk was probably just part of her bigger gambit for tonight, I was so stupid to think that Kevin would be able to curb her. Knowing Kevin was around put my mind at ease and let me feel assured that someone responsible would at least be watching out for Jason's best interests. I fell for her ploy completely.

It was getting cold, too cold for anyone without a thick sweater and winter jacket on. Jason could be shivering out there or worse experiencing life altering psychological damage, because of…me. It's my sister, whose machination led to this, it was my fault for not putting more time into getting Jason acclimated with a social life, and it was my fault for putting my boyfriend's life at risk.

I swear if anything happened to Jason, first I'll kill Jade, then I'll kill myself. I couldn't live knowing it was my fault.


"Jason, is that you?" said a kindly voice very close to me

I blinked twice and stared at the familiar sight of an old stocky Irish American man, a man whose kind expression hid a dark past, "Chris, what are you doing here?"

"I'd ask you the same thing, but to answer your question, I'm volunteering to round up as many homeless as I can for a local shelter. It's too cold out tonight to leave people out without freezing to death. Why are you out here without a jacket or a sweater? You got a death wish?"

I slouched against the dumpster, then sneered "Maybe I do."

Chris focused his piercing gaze at me, "Ben loves you, he already saved you once from this, why are you throwing it all away again?"

I was pissed off and hungover, so I didn't have any niceties, "What would you know about saving people, your calling ended when you decided to put your hands on a kid."

Chris' face paled, then he looked down, "There's not a day that goes by that I am not sorry. Ben was kind to let me stay for whatever reason he had. Since leaving prison and finding a home, I've dedicated my life to doing as much good as I can. God doesn't give people a lot of second chances, you got to take the ones you are offered."

"You think doing good now forgives you for what you did wrong in the past?"

"No, it does not grant forgiveness. It just makes the world just a little better and a little less ugly than what it would be without such little acts of grace. I hope in the end God will grant me a measure of forgiveness in his mercy."

I rose with hot tears in my eyes, "Ben won't forgive me; God might, but he's not the one I want to be loved by the most right now."

Chris nodded, "I wish I grew up thirty years later like Ben or forty years later like you, things might have been different for me and my choices. I've seen you two interact and recognize that there is true love between you, everything else is just noise compared to that."

I choked up a sob as I asked, "I want to go home."

Chris did not drive me home immediately, he had to finish his round gathering homeless people into the shelter or at the very least giving them a warm thermal blanket to give them a fighting chance at serving the night. I remembered people like Chris in my past life; actually, come to think of it, I was starting to remember someone very similar to Chris himself offering blankets and doing headcount checks at a shelter. I remember that particular night very well, because it was the night, I received my scars. Was I mixing my memories? Were the drugs still affecting my cognitive functions? Chris mentioned that Ben had already saved me from this before, we never told him about how we met or the circumstances of me being homeless.

As we drove back home, I had to know, "Chris, how did you know I was homeless before?"

Chris pondered as if searching old memories from a hundred years ago, "I was a volunteer at the shelters close to the house. I've seen you a few times huddled next to hot air vents and hiding inside dumpsters, during the weeks before you moved in with Ben. However, the first time I saw you I thought you looked kind of young to be homeless. You had just walked up to the shelter in dirty clothes and smelled awful. You told me that there was no room in the other shelter you went to, so thought you'd try your luck with mine. To be honest, we had already reached max capacity too and I was handing out blankets to folks at that point. However, seeing your despair and dejection, I made an exception. Good thing, too, a lot of homeless people died during that first bitter frost."

Chris didn't know the truth that his kindness was a double-edged sword. While he might have saved me from death, I was raped and further physically scarred by the overpacked and under-supervised homeless people that I was housed with. I know he genuinely believed that he did some good that night; perhaps in some small measure he did, but would dying in the cold that night have been better than to suffer all the things I have since? Ben might have been the ultimate grand prize of all my misery, but is that even still an option.

When we reached home, I noticed the lights at Ben's doorway were still lit. Was he waiting for me? Was I still wanted by him? I didn't have a key, so I rang the doorbell, once, twice, and three times, then Ben appeared in dress shirt and slacks. He hadn't changed out of his work clothes, he must have been waiting for me from the start of the night, when I was drinking and doing drugs to see how free I could feel. Those memories filled me with shame and guilt.

I was about to speak, but Ben put his finger to my lips, "Your home, let's get you warm before everything else"

After that, we didn't speak as I entered the house, Ben hugged me tightly and dragged me into our little bedroom. I was frozen in place for most of it, like I was earlier at the party, but instead of elation and freedom, I felt dread and forlorn despair. Ben took control of everything that night he undressed me and himself, then he slid us into our position in bed. We stayed that way until I was ready to speak.

I breathed in Ben, thinking this might be the last time he let me in his arms, before I spoke, "Ben, I broke the rules tonight. I didn't listen to your warnings about Jade, got drunk and high off drugs, and I gave a stranger a blowjob. The guy almost did more to me, but he stopped when he saw the scars. He kicked me out and I came to my senses half naked on his porch. Then I ran, I ran as far from him and the memory what I did as I could. I don't know why I did what I did or how I could have been so relaxed enough to have another man's dick in my mouth. Most of all, I feel guilty, because I promised you, we'd keep what we had between us and that we'd talk about anything emotional with each other. We didn't explicitly say sex was part of it, but I felt it was what made us special. In my despair, I almost froze outside again too, if it weren't for Chris rounding up homeless people and finding me. Above all that, I broke your trust, I wanted to push the limits of my freedom and learn what I've been missing. I feel foolish, selfish, and guilty right now. I screwed up and I know you said that you can't trust your partner, you can't love them. I don't expect you to be able to accept me anymore."

Before I could pull away, Ben nuzzled my neck, then kissed me, "I'm also to blame for this too. I should have known that Jade was planning something this morning, but let my guard down. I was so worried about your social isolation that I didn't consider I was playing into my sister's trap. When she told me, you had sex with another man, I couldn't believe it. I still don't believe it even after you told me, now. I know the drugs and alcohol were to blame for some of it and am trying to figure out how to deal with what happened. I can't blame you Jason, because I love you too much. I've never felt so exposed as I do with you, but I feel like I could have done more for you. This was preventable if I were more attentive to you."

I felt fresh tears streaming down my cheeks, "I should be blamed Bingo, it was my choice to go clubbing and drink. Please don't blame yourself, you should hate me. You should abandon a worthless piece of shit like me to the dumpster you found me at. I am not a good boyfriend; I was tempted by all the stuff that I never got to experience today and it all went to my head. A few nice shirts that were bought without any forethought, driving a luxury car and being seen at dance club as the driver, and having so much alcohol that my brain stopped forming thoughts, these were all things I wanted to experience. With my parents keeping tabs on me and me hiding in the closet, I couldn't experience those things, then being homeless, it was further out of reach for me. I didn't even consider them as things I wanted until they were presented in front of me. I fell into temptation and knew I was giving up on this life with you each step of the way, when I did it. I feel absolute guilt and shame over it."

Ben hugged me tighter, "Those were things you should have experienced and enjoyed, Jason. Don't feel guilty for that. I want you to have a normal life, I experienced those things when I was younger. They weren't my interest, but it's not wrong to want to wear nice clothes, drive a cool car, or enjoy a night of dancing with friends. Don't let Jade take that away from you."

My breath shortened as I remembered more revelations, I held Ben tight anticipating his reaction, "Bingo, a lot of stuff is starting to come back to me from tonight. I don't want you to do anything crazy okay. Jade tried to kiss me at the party tonight, when I was wasted. I think she planned it from the start, when she gave me the combination to her Aston Martin to lure me into a compromising situation. Even though I was drunk and high as a kite, I didn't feel anything for her. It was that kiss that led me to the guy. He gave me a drink, which made me feel fuzzy and everything else happened. When he pushed me to the ground, he pulled out his cock and called me names, but all I heard was your voice, Bingo. I wanted to open my mouth for you and afterward, I felt empty. I was still out of it, but I followed the guy, who promised to take me home. In my mind, home meant to be here in bed with you."

Ben's expression shifted from shock, anger, resentment, rage, and despair. He didn't talk to me that night again, but held me even tighter, like any moment I might disappear from the bed. I held onto him tightly as well, knowing if I didn't, he might actually go after his own sister out of righteous anger. I didn't know how we could deal with all of this or how I could fix what I did wrong. Jade might have instigated things, but I had to accept her temptations. I knew at least initially that I was getting into a world of extremes, but I never thought I'd lose so much from it. Everything else in the world felt sick and ugly, I couldn't trust myself and couldn't trust other people; I could only trust Ben. Yet, how could Ben trust me knowing what he did about my weaknesses and how I behaved tonight.

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