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CONTROL and KAOS
"It was sweet, dude. You should have seen him. The second time, he actually begged me for it." They were on their regular Saturday run -- they called it the long run -- though it was late afternoon rather than the usual late morning, and Topher had set an uncharacteristically relaxed pace at the start. The air was pleasantly cool as they ran side-by-side. "I should'a been a cowboy, ya know?" EJ mimed the cracking of a bull whip as he jogged. "Yee-haa!"
Topher laughed easily. He ran lightly with a bounce to his step that EJ hadn't seen in a while. "You do it at his house?"
EJ shook his head. "Mine. Had to keep him quiet. Jesus, what an ass on that kid. Tightest thing you ever saw." Their route brought them to the ornate stone gate of one of the town's cemeteries. They jogged through, each jumping at the entrance, trying to hit the twelve-foot-high keystone as they had pretty much every Saturday for four years. "You know he stays completely hard when I punch fuck him? Never seen anything like it."
"Cool, dude," Topher said, picking up his stride again after the jump. "So he's the new Rabbit, huh?"
"Gettin' him there," EJ said. "You know Tyler was chatting him up at the party last night? Fuckin' Tyler, man."
"That why we left so quick?"
"Yeah," EJ said as they headed toward the pond in the middle of the grounds. "Pissed the shit out of me. And the kid was all, "I don't see what the problem is...I like you better.""
"So what's the problem?" Topher asked.
"That's not what he was saying, man. He wasn't saying I like you better than Tyler."
"But you just said..."
"Dude, it's not what he meant. He was saying, like, I have to compete for him. Like he didn't need me to get off. Like he could always just do Tyler."
"Yeah, Toph. It's all part of the game."
Topher considered it. EJ was probably right. EJ understood this kind of shit so much better than he did.
"So what did you tell him?"
"Nuffin'," EJ said. "Showed him. Kind of explained the rules. Dude," EJ added with a self-satisfied grin, "I had to cover his mouth he was screaming so hard."
The cemetery was a great place to run. Smooth asphalt paths and no people -- live ones, at least. Topher ran at a couple of ducks, scaring them into the air. "What if he doesn't like 'em?" he asked.
EJ laughed. "See, this is what you never figured out with Lise, dude. You gotta lay down the law with them. You gotta say, bitch, you want this? Then this is how it's going to be. Makes things much easier. They expect it. They respect you for it." Their route brought them up a small rise, then down to a large, kidney-shaped swan pond. Yellow leaves were beginning to collect on its surface. "That's why Lise pulled all that shit she did with you. You never let her know you were the boss."
Topher didn't respond, which EJ took as lisense to continue. "Like with this kid, right? He's trying to dick me along, like I need it as much as he does, right? So pow! I gave it to him big time. He practically fucking jumped out of his skin. It was beautiful, man. You should have seen him."
"Pow, huh?" Topher laughed, imitating him.
"Pow!" They rounded the pond and headed for the rise at the far side of the cemetery. "I tell you, dude. This is what they want. They want you to be strong and take charge and all. It's part of what turns them on. And if you don't do it for them, they get all out of hand."
"There's just one thing I don't get," Topher said.
"You did need it. It's, like, the only thing you've been talking about all week."
"That's not the point," EJ said. "That's not the point at all."
"So he has to feel like he wants to fuck more than you do?"
"Now you're getting it."
"It doesn't seem very nice," Topher said as they neared the exit to the cemetery.
"Nice?" EJ echoed incredulously. It was not a word he could ever remember Topher having used.
"Bud," EJ said patiently, "nice is nice, but nice ain't hot. This is what they expect, which ain't so bad since givin' it to 'em is so much fun."
Reaching the street, they turned again, following the route they could both run in their sleep and headed toward their elementary school playground.
They went a few blocks in silence as an idea began to coalesce in Topher's mind. When it was almost coherent, he gave it voice. Had he waited until it made sense, it would have been too hard to put into words. "I think you're right about Lise."
"I know I'm right about Lise, dude," EJ answered.
"I think she kept feeling like I was...I mean, I'm tough, right?"
"She kept expecting me to be something...I don't know. I think you're right." They ran another block before he continued. EJ had gotten used to Topher's way of processing things. You just had to give him time. "She's not the only one, either. Like, Alissa? She had it too, only she wasn't a bitch."
Another block passed. They turned onto the playground. "And Annie. She had it."
"I lost you, dude," EJ said. "Had what?"
There was another long pause. "This...I don't know...like you said. Expectation. This idea of what I'm supposed to be like, you know?"
"They all do, man. That's the point. That's why you gotta be the boss. They all think you're going to be, like, like..." EJ searched for the right word.
"Like you," Topher said.
They circled the little league diamond where they used to play as kids.
"I don't know how to take that," EJ said.
"No, it's fine. It's just that...I don't...I don't know...I'm not."
"Not like you," Topher said.
EJ looked over with concern as they ran. "Dude," he said with care, "you're fine. You're just having a bad coupl'a weeks. The bitch fucked you up. You'll see. You'll pull out of it." Topher didn't respond, clearly opting, instead, to think deeply. EJ continued gently. "Toph, you're like the hottest guy in the school. You're strong, you're a great guy, you're the fucking quarterback of the football team, for Christ's sake."
"No, that's not it," Topher finally said. They ran on for a few paces. "I think it's different for me." Another long pause as they crossed the green, heading toward the jungle gym. "Did you know Theo didn't even know I was the quarterback?"
"Fuckin' sophomores, man," EJ said.
"No. It's kinda nice. All these girls. They want to go out with the school's quarterback, you know? They expect...I don't know...they expect a quarterback."
"You are the quarterback, man."
"Yeah, but I don't want to always have to call the plays off the field, you know? And, like, Theo didn't even know what a quarterback was."
"And that's a good thing?"
They passed the merry-go-round where two five-year-olds were playing. One was holding on for dear life while the other spun it as hard as he could. The boys looked at each other and smiled as they ran past. That was how EJ had chipped his front tooth. They had bet Topher couldn't make him fall off. He hadn't, but in the end they had collided as Topher tried to push from the edge and EJ tried to hold on. It was still a bone of humorous contention. The tooth fairy had only left half a dollar when it finally fell out, since it was only half a tooth. Ever since, EJ had insisted Topher owed him fifty cents. It was that kind of history which made this kind of conversation possible.
"Yeah," Topher said in a strangely cheery voice. "I kinda like it."
"Did he stay all night?"
"Most of it," Topher answered. "It was was kinda weird. I fell asleep right away, you know? And I could've sworn he fell asleep too. But then when I would wake up to roll over or something, he'd be there staring at me."
"Is he a psycho?"
Topher laughed. "I don't think so. He says he an insomniac. So he'd be, like, just staring at me in my sleep or something. I told him I couldn't fall asleep again if he was doing it, so he stopped. But then I got up a little while later to pee, and there he was again."
"You gotta tire him out more."
"I don't know, dude. We fucked a lot. Anyway, one time I woke up and he was just gone. I think he left when the sun started coming up."
"So what do you think?" EJ asked. Topher grinned and ran on. EJ looked over, saw the expression on his friend's face, and punched him playfully on the arm. "I told you. Did I tell you?"
"You told me," Topher allowed, still grinning. They jogged on past the seesaws. "Are they all that tight? I mean, it was really tight."
"Yeah, well compared they are."
"And that knobby thing. Jesus Christ, dude!"
"He liked that, huh?" EJ asked.
"Fuck that! Me!"
EJ stopped in his tracks. "He fucked you, dude?"
Topher kept going, running circles around him. "Naw. Stuck his finger up my ass. Didn't think I was going to like it, but fuck!"
EJ started up again. "Yeah. That can be pretty good. You're in a pretty good mood, huh?" he asked as Topher wove a slalom pattern among the swings.
"Yuh," Topher said, shadowboxing as he jogged. "I like him."
"Yeah, it was good. I like him." Topher repeated, wondering if EJ would hear him. Most of the time, it was hard to find a way to say things. Sometimes, though, it was hard to get EJ to hear things.
"That's great, Toph. See? You found a good easy fuck. That's what you needed to get your mind off Lise. You'll see. You're going to feel so much better."
"I like him."
"Cool, dude. So I know this kid, goes to North. Great little ass on him. Talks the whole time you're doing him about how much he loves it. Pretty hot. I can set you two up if you want. He owes me a favor anyway."
They reached the far end of the playground and turned onto the street. "No thanks," Topher said. "I like Theo."
"Wait a minute," EJ said, "you like him?"
"You like him?"
"I like him."
"You don't mean you liked it?"
"I liked it," Topher said, "but I like him."
"Theo. I like Theo. He's coming with us to the movies tonight."
They jogged three blocks in silence.
When Theo showed up at Seth's door, the boys took one look at each other and burst out into laughter. Never had four feet climbed a set of stairs more quickly or recklessly. They got into the room and Seth slammed the door.
"Three times!" Seth whispered giddily when he was sure the cone of silence had descended.
"Five!" Theo whispered back. They stared at each other for a second with openmouthed expressions of delighted wonder before both cracking up again.
"He seemed pissed at you in the truck," Theo said when they were finally able to settle down. "What was that all about?"
"Oh, that," Seth said, waving his hand dismissively. "There was this stud at the party that started coming on to me and EJ saw it and got all pissed."
"That's so cool!" Theo exclaimed wide-eyed.
"Yeah, actually," Seth responded, considering, "it is, isn't it? It came in handy later, too."
"How do you mean?" Theo flopped down on the bed.
"Well, we were in bed and he was going all soft..."
"No, not like that," Seth said joining him on the bed. "He was still hard. I mean, he was starting to get all wishy-washy and lovie-dovie. So I pissed him off."
"Yeah. Worked, too," Seth said with a grin. "Oh, God, Theo, he was So Sexy! You can't believe what he looks like naked. And he's so Strong and..." he searched for the right word, "...heavy, you know?"
Theo nodded. "Yeah! Yeah! Topher's heavy too. Isn't it great when he's just lying on you and feel like you can't breathe but you don't want him to move?"
"...And his leg hair's all scratchy..." Seth added excitedly.
"...And his breath is tickling your neck..."
"...And his dick is poking into your stomach..." They brought their hands to their mouths and giggled like Betty Rubble.
"And it didn't hurt nearly as much as I thought it was going to." Theo added.
"Really?" Seth said. "EJ must be bigger."
"Why, it hurt?"
"Oh, yeah," Seth said. "Both times. At first it hurt awful. But once I got used to it, it was Spectacular." He emphasized the word with an OK sign.
Theo sighed. Seth sighed in response. They laughed again.
"Have you taken a shit yet?" Seth asked. Theo shook his head. "You're in for a treat."
Theo crinkled his nose. "So, like, where did you go? What did you do?"
"He took me back to his place" Seth said. "We were, like, tiptoeing up the stairs so we wouldn't wake his parents. It was so cute. And I started giving him this kick-ass blow job, right? -- look," he said interrupting himself, "I know you're embarrassed about your dick and all, but I am So Glad you are the way you are, Theo. I can give really good head now. Oh! Did you deep throat Topher?"
Theo nodded. "Twice!"
"Word! So anyway, I pissed him off and he fucked me. Just took me, you know? Like, Bang! It was So Hot. I can't even begin to say. And then he starts totally losing it 'cause of what I was doing. Did you have that effect on Topher? It was like, hey, I can push this button, and you have to go nuts. Sorry. You don't get to choose. I say so."
"The button!" Theo exclaimed. "Did you find the button? That was unbelievable."
"Oh," Seth answered, "EJ's got lot's of 'em. If I tug on his balls when I'm blowing..."
"No! The button!" Theo waved his hands excitedly. "Up his ass. Did you press it? Did he press yours?"
"You mean my prostate?"
Theo nodded. "Yeah. Yeah. Prostate."
Seth nodded. They went wide-eyed again and, in perfect unison, cracked up and laughed so hard that Theo had to get up to pee.
"So anyway," Seth went on when he returned, "the first time it really hurt. But then I loosened up, you know? And so we came and everything and just lay there for ten minutes, and then I was like, do it again, do it again, and he was like, beg me for it, babe." Theo smiled at the impersonation.
"Did you?" he asked.
"You bet your ass I did. But then once we started, he talked through the whole thing. He was like, you like that babe? I'm shoving my big dick up your ass."
"That's kinda weird," Theo said crinkling his nose.
Seth shrugged. "It was hot. I mean, I never thought about talking during it, you know? But he was so sexy when he did. And then the third time, he wanted me to talk. He kept asking me how much I wanted it and to tell him what it felt like. And when I did, he'd get hotter and hotter. I think he gets off on the the talking."
"We didn't really talk while we did it," Theo said. "Lot's of laughing, but not much talking."
"That's kind of rude, don't you think?"
Theo rolled his eyes. "He wasn't laughing at me, idjit. We were joking around."
"While you were doing it?"
"Yeah," Theo became introspective. "It's weird. Like you said, it never would have occurred to me that you could laugh during it. But when it was happening, it felt completely normal."
"We didn't laugh at all. It was Serious Business."
"There were times when we were serious too. But it was nice. It was...relaxed."
"How was he?" Seth asked.
Theo thought about the answer before giving it voice. "He was really sweet."
"He looks so scary."
"I know," Theo said. "But he's really sensitive. He's just like, I don't know, like this little puppy. He must have asked me if I was okay, like, a thousand times."
"EJ never asked me if I was okay." Seth pondered this state of affairs. "If he did, I think it would have been kind of weird. It was like...it was like we were wizards, and we were casting a spell together. And everything we said made the spell stronger. I think if he had asked if I were okay, it would have...broken the spell or something."
Both boys were over their initial giddiness. They sat with their legs crossed, facing each other knee to knee, and talked softly.
"I think it was just the opposite for us," Theo said. "It wasn't like we became other people like that. Each time we did it, it was like...we were becoming more and more ourselves."
"Was it hot?"
Theo nodded. "And kind of scary."
"Mine was kind of scary, too. But in a different way."
Seth collected his thoughts. "Like...it was like when I pissed him off I was unleashing this...this force. And it just took over, and I wasn't really sure I could handle it."
"Yeah, I still don't get why you pissed him off."
"I already said," Seth answered. "He was getting all lovie-dovie."
"Isn't that a good thing, though? I mean, Topher was so...tender. I really liked it."
"I guess," Seth said. "It just didn't feel right. He was like this force of nature the first time in the gorge. I really liked it. And then it started looking like it was going to be all...well, like you said -- tender, I guess...and I thought it'd be more fun if it were like it was the first time."
"You don't like tender?"
Seth thought about it a while. "I think I would, but not with EJ. Does that sound weird?"
Theo shrugged his shoulders.
"It's like EJ gets off on thinking he's so macho. And I think I kind of do too. So I pissed him off to kind of rile him up so the sex would be..."
"Fiercer?" Theo asked.
"Yeah. That's exactly the word," Seth said nodding. "It was fierce. But then I didn't know if it was going to become too fierce, you know? That was the scary part."
"Did you think he was going to hurt you?" Theo asked with concern.
"No," Seth said. "Not like hit me or beat me up or anything. I don't know. It's like...it's like have you ever gone out in a Reeealy strong wind? One you have to lean into or it pushes you sideways?" Theo nodded. "It's really fun, right? It almost feels like you're flying. But then if it turns too strong, it blows you away completely."
They pondered this, each in the light of their own encounter. Theo drew his knee up to rest his chin on it. He chewed his upper lip absently. "Me and Topher were different," he finally said. "It was scary because it made me feel...see-through."
"Like transparent?" Seth offered.
"Yeah," Theo echoed, "Transparent. Like we could see right into each other. It was like we were reading each other. And it was kind of scary to be that visible to someone else."
Seth nodded. "Like you have this power over someone, and he has power over you, but it can get away from you."
Theo thought about it for a bit. "You know how you said that it was so hot, knowing you could make him spooj when you wanted?" Seth nodded. "I felt that too. Topher was so good. We'd be doing stuff together, right? To each other. And then I'd do something that he liked and he'd be so...I don't know...he'd like throw me back and just do everything to make me feel good. And it would be so intense that after a while I would have to make him stop 'cause all I wanted to do was make him feel good. And it was so chill knowing I could, you know?"
"Same and different," Seth answered. "I didn't really feel like he was trying to make me feel good a lot of the time. It felt like he was trying to make him feel good. But what he was doing to feel good felt Really Good, so it all worked out anyway."
"When you did what you did, was it so you'd feel good or him?"
"I don't know," Seth said, thinking about it. "I think it felt good knowing how I could make him feel. Like when he was fucking me, I could go tight or loose, you know?"
Theo nodded. "I did that too. He liked it."
Seth grinned. "EJ too. A lot. But I liked it too."
"So was that for you or him?"
"I don't know," Theo answered.
Seth shrugged. "So I think it all works out the same in the end, you know?" Theo nodded.
"When are you going to do it again?"
"Don't know," Seth said. "Maybe tomorrow."
"We're going out to the movies tonight."
"What a gyp!" Seth griped. "I have this stupid thing with my parents I gotta go to. Childish pout!"
"So what are you saying?" EJ finally asked as they passed the corner that marked the beginning of the last mile of their run.
"Nothing. Just that I like him."
"Like you want to date him?"
"I dunno," Topher said. "Maybe."
"Jesus Christ, Topher. If I had known, I never would have suggested...I mean, wasn't the whole point that you find someone who's easy? You fall in love with everyone you fuck, man. It's degenerate."
"He is easy. He's the easiest guy I ever been with."
"He's the only guy you've ever been with."
"You know what I mean." Topher had begun to increase the pace. It was an unwritten rule. The first five miles of the long run were for talking or thinking or just hanging out together. The race couldn't begin until the last mile. "Anyway, I don't fall in love with everyone I fuck."
"Yeah?" EJ said, matching the pace and passing him. "Name one."
"Well there's your mama, for one." EJ laughed. Topher slid past. "Anyway, why not? I like him. So the fuck what?"
"So the fuck what?" EJ asked from behind, planning to draft for a quarter mile before a final sprint, "I'll tell you so the fuck what. You're going to become totally whipped. You did it with Lise, and you're doing it again with this..."
"...this Theo. It's like you're telling them to walk all over you, guy. You can have anyone you want in the school. You're like, the prize. And you're totally giving it away. That's why the bitch took advantage of you. You totally asked for it. People are going to start thinking you've gone soft, dude."
They were running pretty much all out by now. Topher's response was punctuated by deep, gasping breaths. "I think...I don't give...a shit...what they think."
EJ started making his move, pulling up next to Topher for a sprint past. The finish line -- a nondescript driveway at the end of a long, flat stretch of road -- was in sight. Topher charged onward at max plus ten. He knew EJ was going to pass him. While he had more upper body strength, EJ was a better runner, especially at distance. It was the difference between a running back and a quarterback. That didn't mean, though, he was going to let him win. He tried to lengthen his stride, ignoring the growing oxygen deficit building up in his muscles.
"Besides," he puffed, "you...like...your...boyfriend...too."
"He's...not...my...boy...friend!!" EJ answered, reaching the driveway a quarter second before his best friend. They bumped knuckles and collapsed onto the lawn, gulping for air. The runs always ended like this. EJ wondered what it would look like if, once, whoever lived in that house returned home just at the right time. He'd pull in to see two sweaty teenagers fighting for breath in a heap on his front lawn.
When they caught their breath, they stood and walked the last block and a half to Topher's house. "Anyway," the blond said, "if anyone gives me shit, I'll fucking kick their balls in. Or you will. Remember?"