What happens when two lonely boys meet in a shopping mall food court?
Note: Explicit language and graphic descriptions in this chapter.
Bryan didn’t answer. He wanted to; the urge to do so was like wanting to scratch a rash when he’d been told not to. He was afraid of the consequences, though, and at what he felt was at stake for him.
The silence stretched out. Finally, Josh rolled on his side and looked at him.
“Bryan, you can tell me. You’re getting a lot of stuff off your chest. You’ve already told me a lot. Why don’t you finish? Then we can discuss things. I have questions, and not only why you chose me. But I want to know that. It’s important to me. Please?”
Josh’s tone of voice—soft and gentle, trusting and plaintive—got to Bryan. He’d already developed strong feelings for Josh. He had reached a point where he trusted him as much as he’d ever trusted anyone. And he did want to talk about what he’d just told Josh. He needed to. He’d been holding so much inside him.
“I guess I did give you a lecture on telling the truth, the whole truth, didn’t I? About how we couldn’t really be close if we didn’t trust each other that much. I need to take my own advice, but it’s easier when you’re telling someone else to do it. Doing it yourself, it’s scary.”
Josh was going to respond, but then thought better of it. He merely looked at Bryan and tried to smile encouragingly.
Bryan paused, gathering his thoughts. “Okay. Part of me wants to tell you. The other part of me is scared shitless. That was a difficult time. To know what I was going thorough, you have to understand how I was feeling. I was really upset and lost that morning, with my duffle bag gone and no money. That left me just completely empty. And scared. I was upset with the decision I’d made about how I was going to get money, too. Yeah, I’d made it, I’d decided I was going to go through with it, but that didn’t help with how I felt about it. I was also angry, just a little at Eric but mostly at me for arguing with him. I knew he was right. And he’d helped me unconditionally, and now I was making him mad at me, shutting him out and not listening to him, and he was really the only support I had. That upset me a lot. I was also hungry and all the food smells there were driving me crazy. But I didn’t want to give in and take the easy way out and tell Eric I’d changed my mind, that I’d accept his offer of lunch. I thought if I did that, I might just as well give up. I had to have the courage to see it all through, what I’d decided to do, but I didn’t feel like I had any courage at all just then. Being hungry and scared and having nothing at all, well, that makes it really hard to be brave.
“So all this is running through my mind, along with some urgency to start trying to make money because my stomach was really starting to bother me, and I’m arguing with Eric, and I glance up and notice you looking at me.” Bryan stopped, and when he didn’t start again, Josh reached over and gently touched his arm. Bryan sort of shuddered, then said, “Okay, here comes the difficult part for me, not that any of this is easy.”
He stopped again, looking down at the bed, and Josh thought he saw a blush come to his cheeks.
Bryan cleared his throat, then said, “I see you looking at me, and a whole lot of feelings run through me. The first one, the very first one, is. . . .”
Bryan stopped again. The blush was more apparent now.
“Okay. Okay. The first feeling I felt was, Wow! I saw you looking at me and the main thing going through my mind was, this guy is so gorgeous.” The blush was now complete. Bryan was as red as he could get.
“Huh? I thought you were looking at me?”
Bryan sighed. “That’s one of the really great things about you, Josh. You have no idea how good looking you are. But when I was sitting there, and saw you looking at me, my very first thought was how attractive you were. Of course, that wasn’t the first time I’d had that feeling. But, going on, the second thought I had was, if I’m going to be giving blowjobs, if I’m really going to do that, at least this would be a good place to start.”
Now it was Josh’s turn to blush, and he was as red as Bryan in seconds.
“But Bryan, I’m not cute, or handsome, or even attractive. I’m not. I’m just me. Plain old small, kind of geeky me.”
“I know you think that, Josh. It’s obvious you believe it, too. But you’re wrong. Probably to everyone, but especially to me. To me, you’re one of the most attractive guys I’ve ever met. And you’re not simply cute. You are cute, but when I really look at you, I see more than cute. You’re really handsome. But I’m not the only one that sees how you look. When you left the lunch table, the first thing Cal said to me was, ‘Wow, he’s cute!’ Boys don’t say things like that, but both Kass and Kenny nodded. Even they thought so. And you have to remember, I’d seen you in the mall before. I told you that. I didn’t tell you that I’d sort of followed you around. When I first saw you, a couple weeks before we talked, I was attracted to you then. ‘Attracted to you’ is way understating it. Something about you just grabbed me and kept on tugging. And when you came in after that, I’d see you and sort of stay in the background and watch you. Walking to your table in the food court, meeting and talking to you—well, that was something I’d wanted to do from the first time I’d seen you, but I’d been too afraid to do. I’m not naturally very shy, Josh, but you were so stunning, you made me shy.”
When he stopped, Josh spoke up. “Bryan, I need to tell you something too. If you’re brave enough to say all that, I need to be, too. In the food court that first time, when you saw me looking at you? I was thinking the same thing. I was thinking how attractive you were.”
“Me? But Josh, I was sitting with Eric. He’s really good looking. I don’t start to compare to him.”
“Not to me. There’s something about you. I feel something when I look at you. I did then, and I still do. Remember that first night, when you came home with me? You kept pushing me to tell you why I was helping you, you got emotional about it and asked a couple times, and I couldn’t tell you why? I told you I was embarrassed and not brave enough. This was the reason. I was attracted to you, but couldn’t tell you that. Now, it surprises me, but I can.”
Bryan didn’t reply. Josh didn’t say anything else either. They both were quiet, thinking. The silence wasn’t uncomfortable. They both had learned something about the other that they hadn’t known, and were sitting together against the headboard of the bed, sorting it out.
Eventually, Josh slid over so his left arm was against Bryan’s right arm. He didn’t say anything, just sat there. He wanted the contact.
Bryan’s voice was soft. “Josh, I was scared to tell you. You’re about all I’ve got right now. When you invited me here, after feeding me in the mall, you can’t imagine how that felt. Here I’d been thinking about propositioning you, and suddenly you’re inviting me home. Now that I’ve been here, I can’t imagine going back. I was afraid if I said what I just said, you’d want me to leave.”
Josh sat up straight. “You don’t still think that, do you? You know I want you here, don’t you?” he said with some urgency in his voice.
“Thanks, Josh. I do now. I was scared. Being here with you, it’s all I’ve got.”
Josh leaned back again, wriggling even closer, so there was even more pressure on their arms, and their hips were touching. He felt like wrapping his arms around Bryan, hugging and comforting him, but didn’t know if he should.
Instead, he asked, “Can you tell me what you were feeling when you began to tell me your story in the mall? You came to my table to ask me, well, what you said, and then you started telling me your story. I couldn’t read your eyes at all. What were you thinking? You were supposed to just proposition me, then you started telling me the story, and you never did ask me if I wanted . . . .” His voice tapered off.
“I still had all sorts of conflicts in my head at that point. Yeah, that’s what I came over to your table to do. Definitely. But then I was there, and you were looking at me. The way you look. The way that makes me feel. And then you acted a little scared when I said I saw you looking at me. So there you were, sitting by yourself, this really attractive and hot kid, but you looked frightened and even vulnerable and I just had to talk to you and calm you down and make sure you weren’t scared of me. Part of that was I was attracted to you. When you’re attracted to someone, you want them to like you. That becomes important. How could you like someone who asks you for money and says he’ll blow you? My attraction to you was strong, strong enough that some of my other worries sort of became less important. At that point, I wanted to get to know you. So, I thought if I could tell you my story, maybe you’d get to know me a little, and then somehow, well, maybe I could make the proposition then. I didn’t know. Right then, I was really confused. Because, as much as I’d decided to proposition you, and as much as I wanted, in fact needed, money, it suddenly became more important to just be with you, and the thought of asking you that seemed so wrong to me, because mostly right then I wanted to be your friend, and friends just don’t do that. At that point, I was just so mixed up. I was hungry, but the most important thing right then was for you to like me. It made no sense. But that’s what I felt. And that’s why, instead of just asking you, or making the story real short, I just kept telling it and telling it and going into details to stretch it out.
“Also, to tell the truth, the closer I got to actually having to say, ‘Hey kid, I’ll blow you for $20,’ the harder it got. Not only just because it was you and my head was swimming being near you, actually talking to you. That morning, I’d decided to do it, but that was only deciding, it wasn’t actually doing it. I knew, in the back of my mind, I didn’t really want to do it. That it was wrong. I knew things would be different if I did it. I wouldn’t be the same person any more. I knew I’d be throwing part of myself away. I might not ever feel the same about myself, afterwards. I’ve never done anything with anyone else, sex I mean. My first time with someone else, doing it for money, the more I thought about that, the more I hated it. So some of that storytelling I was doing was also to delay getting to that point, and maybe to avoid asking you altogether. Which I’d sort of decided, at some point during all this telling, I wasn’t going to do anyway.
“Also, I saw how you were reacting, then later I saw how concerned you were about me. Then you bought me food. You’re incredibly good looking and, and, you’re so attractive to me in other ways, and as we sat there together my heart was beating faster, talking to you, and you were showing me you cared about me, not just out of politeness either, you really cared, and I had all these conflicting feelings going on. Then you insisted I go home with you. There’s no way I should have done that, I felt guilty as hell that whole afternoon, thinking I was playing you, taking advantage of your innocence, trying to get money from you for something that seemed even dirtier, even more wrong, the more time I spent with you. Going home with you made it even worse. I felt so bad about myself. But you didn’t really give me any choice. You insisted. My confusion was making me really indecisive, and, you know, Josh, I just gave in.
“I sooo wanted to go with you, to leave everything behind. I knew at that point I had to find a new place to sleep in the mall with the duffle bag missing. I should have been working on that. I needed food. I knew I’d need new clothes soon. I had so many problems, and here you, the hottest kid I’d ever seen, you were bailing me out. I’m not religious, but if I believed in angels, I’d have thought you were one. You looked like one, you acted like one, maybe you really were one.”
“Yeah, right!” was Josh’s sarcastic reply. He wasn’t through with his questions, however. He wasn’t about to let Bryan change the topic. But when he realized what it was he wanted to ask next, he became timid again. Still, he wanted to ask.
“Bryan, do you still feel that way? I mean, you were attracted to me before you knew me. Now we’ve been together a few days. Do you still feel that?”
“What are you trying to do, embarrass me?”
“No! I just want to know?”
“Well, I can ask the same thing. You said you were attracted to me, and now it’s a few days later. How about you?” When Josh paused, Bryan said, “Yeah, it’s embarrassing to answer, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, but I will if you will.”
“Josh! It’s amazing to me how you’ve changed. You’re not nearly so shy and withdrawn as when we met. You say what you want to say now, ask what you want to know, face up to it and ask, and you don’t back off. You’re changing, Josh. Okay, if you can be brave, so can I. You already know the answer, but it’s yes. But it’s no, too. I was attracted to you, but didn’t know you. Now I’ve spent time with you. You’re amazing Josh. You’re so cute sometimes I can hardly look at you without staring and then becoming uncomfortable. You’re kind and generous and fun, and, well, no, I’m not just attracted to you any more, it’s a lot more than that. I really, really have strong feelings for you, Josh.
“But you already know this. You didn’t have to ask, you knew. If you needed to hear me say it, okay. There. I said it. Your turn.”
Josh was embarrassed. He hadn’t expected anything as strong and sincere as what Bryan had said. But he also loved hearing it. He’d lived more than 14 years and the only affection he’d ever known had come from his parents, and lately, even that had become something that was more under the surface than overt as his father had become more and more involved in his own studies. Now he was feeling that from someone else, someone he himself was beginning to care deeply for.
“Bryan, I can’t put in words how I feel for you. I was a mess. I was afraid every day at school, I didn’t have any friends, I was shy and awkward all the time and had no confidence at all. I didn’t think very good thoughts about myself at all. Now, suddenly, my life seems just completely changed. And it’s all because of you. You know, it isn’t just that you’ve done all this for me, either. It’s more than that. You like me, I can tell by the way you act around me. I don’t mean romantically or anything like that. You like who I am. You like me. I can feel it, I know it, and that means more than anything else. No one my age has ever liked me before. You’ve changed everything for the better, and I can’t even begin to tell you what you mean to me.”
When Josh stopped, Bryan didn’t speak. Both thought about what had just been said. Then Josh tentatively rolled onto his side, looking at Bryan. Bryan saw, then did the same thing. Josh reached and out took him in his arms. Bryan took Josh in his, too, and they hugged. Neither spoke, they simply hugged.
Eventually, Josh, his head tucked into Bryan’s neck and shoulder, said, “Bryan?”
Bryan moved back slightly and said, “Yeah?”
“In the locker room today. I saw you go into the showers. I saw you naked. Did you see me?”
“Yeah. I was looking for you. Then I saw you.”
“I wish you hadn’t. I’m embarrassed. I’m awfully small, Bryan. I got teased all the time at Kennedy. I hated gym. Every day it was the same. No one teased me today. That was wonderful. But I was hoping you didn’t see me.” Sadness crept into his voice.
Bryan paused, thinking what to say. Then, he hugged Josh a little tighter before speaking. “Josh, remember when I told you how good looking you are? You didn’t believe me, did you?”
“No. I know I’m not cute. I like it that you think that, but it isn’t true.”
“So you won’t believe me now, either. But I’m going to tell you anyway, even if it is embarrassing saying it. Josh, you’re beautiful. Just as beautiful if not more so naked than with clothes on. I saw you today. You were perfect. Your face, your slim but perfectly shaped body, the way you walk, just everything. Your hair is the perfect color and it’s styled just right for you. Your body is perfect, too. Not fat, not skinny, just the right shape, just the right size. The curve of your shoulders, tapering down to your slim waist, the way it flares out to a bubble butt and then long slender legs. Perfect. You aren’t too small down there, either; you’re just right. You’re a small guy, and your stuff is just the right size for you, and looks, well, perfect. Don’t be embarrassed. Some guys in there are too small for their bodies, some are too big and look sort of gross. You’re proportioned just like you should be. I wish I looked half as good.”
“You! How can you say that? What do you have to be embarrassed about? I took one look at you and had to turn away. I couldn’t look again. I’d have got stiff, and no one wants to do that in the locker room, especially on his first day. I almost did anyway, just thinking about it. If the coach hadn’t stopped to talk to me, I would have.”
Bryan thought about making a joke about Josh checking him out, but stopped. He didn’t know how Josh would react, and didn’t want to go through what had happened in the dressing room again. He just decided to not respond. Josh seemed to have things on his mind. It might be better to let him talk.
When Bryan didn’t say anything, Josh continued. “Bryan, you said you’d never done anything with anyone. I haven’t either. I’ve read things that say at some point most boys do. Why haven’t you?”
“You keep asking me things that embarrass me, Josh.”
“I’ve never had this open and honest a conversation with anyone before, and I’ve never talked about things like this. It feels so liberating. I feel free, freer than I ever have. But I don’t want to embarrass you. Don’t answer if it makes you uncomfortable.”
“No, I can answer. Talking like this is difficult, but after everything I’ve said, I’ve felt good that it was out in the open. I think this being open and saying everything really does work. It does make us closer. So while it’s hard, I like talking like this too. The answer to your question is, it just never happened. I only had a few close friends. The ones I hung out with the most, they just never suggested anything like that, and I didn’t either. To tell the truth, I don’t know what I would have said if they had. I know I didn’t have any sexual feelings for them. I felt horny sometimes, everyone does I guess, so maybe I would have wanted to experiment if one of them had brought it up. I don’t know. It just never happened.”
Josh didn’t say anything for a while. He seemed content simply to hold Bryan. After a while, he asked Bryan another question. “What did you mean a few minutes ago when you said I didn’t have to ask if you still found me attractive, I already knew?”
“Josh, we were wresting on the lawn. It was fun, but it didn’t take very long before I was hard. We were crawling all over each other. I couldn’t help but get hard. Really hard. Because it was you I was wrestling with. You noticed. You got hard too. And when you did, I started feeling this huge guilt. That’s why I wanted to stop and finish my story. You had to know. You had to know I’m not this wonderful guy I felt you might be thinking I am. I like you so much, but you’re thinking I’m someone I’m not, and I couldn’t let you just think that. I had to tell you the only reason I’m even here is I was going to try to get money from you for sex. That’s who I am. I approached you to sell myself. I’m not the guy you think I am, and when you got hard, I couldn’t let you go on thinking that. I thought maybe you were getting some kind of crush or something on me, and I felt really, really guilty.
“Then when we’ve hugged on the bed now, we’ve both got hard again. Josh, it’s difficult for me to be near you, alone with you, especially when we’re touching, without getting aroused. The way you look, I get turned on just by that. But now, I know you like me, and I know who you are inside, and all that affects me. So I get hard, and when we’re hugging I know you feel it, because I can feel you, too. So I know you like me. And I know you know how I feel, too. You had to know back when we were wrestling on the lawn.”
Josh felt warm deep inside, hearing this. He now knew for certain Bryan shared his feelings. But he still needed to say something first and ask two more questions. The first part was easy.
“You aren’t a terrible human being,” he said with conviction in his voice. “You’re feeling guilty and you think you have to tell me things to be honest about yourself. That’s what an honorable person does, a truthful one. That’s who you are, not that other person you keep thinking you are. If you really think about it with your head and not your emotions, you’ll know it, too.”
Now for the harder part. Josh tried not to get nervous or fidgety, but he wasn’t entirely successful. Finally, his voice more hesitant now, he said, “You said earlier that you’re horny a lot. I am too. If someone wants to do things like that, sex things, do you think that makes him gay? And, do you want to do things with me?”
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