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CONTROL and KAOS
Seth and Theo sat, as they did almost every evening, in Seth's playroom with their homework sprawled out before them watching TVLand. Usually, half of their attention was taken up in watching the show, half in talking, and, if a half was left (Theo, in particular, hated fractions) in doing their homework. But this was one of their favorite episodes: Snoopy Smart vs. the Red Baron. It was the one where Max and Sigfried have the dogfight over the potato fields of Idaho. More importantly, it was the one in which 99's mother was introduced. She was one of the boys' favorite characters. As a result there was more watching, more talking, and less homework tonight.
"Go get me a soda," Seth said when the commercial came on.
"Get it yourself," Theo answered dismissively without looking up from his math. "Jesus. It's your house."
Seth sighed. "Theo," he began, closing the French book he was pretending to read, "we both know you're going to get me a soda. I'll ask you again, and you'll be all, fuck you, and then I'll say, pleeeease, and you'll be, like, get it yourself dude! and I'll get all whiney and annoying, and you'll finally get it just to shut me up. So we can save on time if you just get it now while the commercial is still on."
"I am not getting you a soda," Theo said. Unfortunately, Seth's logic was impeccable, and Theo knew it. Seth always got his way. He was the pushiest, most obnoxious, most self-centered person in the universe. Sometimes Theo wondered why he put up with him. But at times like that, he remembered that he was also funny, he could be tremendously sweet and, when you got down to it, was a very good friend.
"Pleeeeease..." Seth whined with a dimple-pocked smile.
"Max, you realize you're a pain in the ass?"
"And loving it!" Seth answered. So much of their interactions had been lifted from Get Smart they hardly realized when they were doing it any more.
"Jesus Christ," Theo muttered, getting up. "But only because I have to pee." Seth batted his eyelashes coyly. "Don't push it," Theo added. "You're not that cute."
"Yes I am," Seth answered with a smile. "And thanks."
When Theo returned, he threw Seth his soda and took a swig of the one he had gotten for himself. "I saw them together at the Bell," he said.
"Who?" Seth asked, pretending to pretend to do his French conjugations.
"Mr. Yummy and your boyfriend. They were tailgating on the back of this really old shitbox blue pickup truck in the parking lot of the Bell at about 9:00 last night. We were driving by on the way back from my lesson. I saw them in front of one of the lockers in the Science wing a few days ago. Evidently they hang out a lot."
"Gasp! Locker in the Science wing? How is it I didn't know this sooner?" Seth said animatedly.
Theo laughed. "It was, like, yesterday, dude. I would'a told you but you were too busy squeaking."
Seth pursed his lips, unamused.
"Anyway," Theo continued, I can show you tomorrow where it is."
Seth rolled his eyes yet again. "We can't just show up there, Dingus."
"And why is that?" asked Theo, thumbing through his algebra book as if he knew the page on which he was supposed to alight.
"Because then he'll know."
"Ooh, I think he knows, 99." Theo said, putting his hands into a high D fingering pattern and issuing a blastissimo vocal eep. "You missed it by thaaat much."
"You're an asshole."
Theo smiled and kissed the air in the direction of his friend.
"Anyway, if he's going to be my husband, he's going to have to learn who's in charge, and the sooner he learns it, the happier he'll be."
"And that would be you -- the one in charge?"
Seth thought a moment before answering. "Look at Samantha and Darren. On the one hand, it was always about his work and doing it his way. But when you come right down to it, you just know that when they hooked up, she totally called the shots. And he was kind of cute -- at least the first Darren was -- but he's gotta have known that one little nose-twitch and she could'a had anyone she wanted. That's the way it Should Be."
"You ever begin to think that maybe we watch too much TV?"
"Definitely Not," said Seth, momentarily confused by Theo's non-sequiteur. "What made you think that?"
"Whatever," said Theo. "So what's the plan now, 86?"
"Simple, 99," Seth said. "We get him to come up to me and say hello."
At 10:15 p.m., after Theo had left, Seth stood before his bathroom sink, assessing his reflection and sharing with it thoughts so private he hardly felt comfortable confessing them to the mirror. Clothed he was not so bad, but naked he felt he left a lot to be desired. The hair was good blond, though darkening as he aged, cut short on the sides with a little to play with right up top at the front. The eyes, too, were good. Light green, widely spaced across a nose that still had a bit of a boyish buttonness remaining. His lips were full, his jaw square. His cheeks contained his best features, he felt: dimples which, when fired and on target, were devastating in their effectiveness. But things went south with his gaze. He was Too Short, Too Narrow, Too Pale, and Too Smooth. He had hair under his arms and on his crotch, but that was it and, he feared, that was the way it was going to stay. His father was as smooth as he was. Nor did he have much hope for his stature in general. His chest muscles were beginning to get a shape to them, but even if he grew taller, his shoulders weren't wide enough to support a really good chest. The best he could hope to achieve was "swimmer build" that term he had read so many times on the Internet it had lost all meaning. His dick was a good enough size, he had decided. It neither stood out as very large or very small. He also felt he had a pretty good ass, but again, that was because of the way it looked in pants. Nude it did not seem as high or firm or pronounced.
He brought a hand to the area between his crotch and navel and rubbed the skin lightly. He had counted a total of six hairs there hardly enough to be classified as a "trail." Still, he was thankful he had any at all. He tickled them a little and felt his dick pulse in response. He spent a minute wondering if one could take a pulse on a hard dick and if so, might he want to become a doctor rather than an actor?
His hand absently traced his centerline up past his belly button to his pectorals. He poked the muscles a few times, testing for any firmness, then struck a WWE double-pump pose. There was depressingly little response from his chest which, continued to break, though just barely, the plane of his torso.
He released the pose and brought his inspection to his nipples. Strange little things, he thought. Why do men have them? His were small with areolae that hardly cleared the central knobs. He squeezed his entire pectoral, half-imagining milk squirting out. Where's the hole? Women's have holes, don't they? Why do they have holes and men's don't? Do women's not have holes either? Does the baby have to chew off the tip of it like a cigar before they can get any milk? That's gotta hurt!
Seth brought his fists up beside his head and flexed his biceps. These were more visible than his chest muscles, but still nowhere near where they should be.
"Tomorrow I'll start doing push ups," he told his reflection, who listened as patiently and silently as it had the night before when that very same promise had been made.
He put his arms back at his side and sighed. It didn't matter how many pushups he did. He'd never have arms like Saxyguy had. Seth closed his eyes and pictured those arms for the umpteenth time. Each muscle was separate from the other ones. You could actually see where each individual muscle started and ended, making his upper arm look like it was pieced together out of interlocking parts. Seth's looked more like it was rolled out of dough and baked into place. He wasn't sure if Saxyguy's looked so good because the muscles went so far out or because the crevices between them were so deep. Seth's muscles hardly went out at all, and there were certainly no crevices between them. Slight depressions at best.
Then there was the hair on his chest. He had hardly seen it under the mesh of the football jersey Saxyguy wore on Fridays, but that was enough to fuel a dozen different fantasies. Seth had seen the hair on his stomach more, since he tended to wear short shirts and was always lifting his arms above his head for some reason or another. He had two pronounced muscles that ran vertically up his stomach, dividing his front in half. They were separated by yet another deep furrow. But this furrow was not fallow. It sprouted a luxuriant line of hair from the chest down to where it disappeared below his belt line.
Seth's fantasies frequently centered around that vertical line of hair. They were lightweight fantasies, he knew. Not much really happened in them. Even though Seth had read endless accounts of sex on the net, he had never had any of his own -- save for some experimentation with Theo -- and fantasies need experience to take root. So mostly they were of Seth running his hand up and down that soft, silky line of hair while feeling the hard muscles underneath expand and contract with Saxyguy's breathing. Sometimes, he'd imagine his hand sinking into Saxyguy's pants to feel what was hidden there. Sometimes he'd imagine Saxyguy holding him in his strong arms and pressing his body to his.
This time, it was of Saxyguy sitting in his band chair across the room. In the fantasy, he was wearing shorts and the mesh football half-shirt jersey and his light blue Tarheels cap. The shorts were open in front, and Saxyguy's hand was down the front of them, tenting out his penguin-covered boxers. In the magical way movement can happen in fantasy, Seth appeared on the floor, kneeling in front of him, staring at the tent. Seth's fantasy hands rose to stroke the tops of Saxyguy's calves as his real hand lowered to stroke himself. Saxyguy's legs were hard and warm. The hair on them made the skin feel pebbly as he rubbed. Saxyguy seemed not to notice or to mind, so Seth stroked up and up, past the back of his knees to his hamstrings. His hands disappeared beneath the low-riding shorts as he felt the majestic curve of the thighs. He rubbed them up and down, up and down, warming the skin, kneading the steely muscles beneath. The exertion was causing him to lose his breath. Finally, his fingertips blisteringly hot, his hands moving at a frenzied pace over the tightly stretched skin, he looked up to see Saxyguy had turned his head and was looking directly at him, a slow smile breaking on his lips. Seth froze, every nerve in tense anticipation, every muscle bunched, his lungs paralytically full.
"Go for it," said the senior, and Seth did. So completely, in fact, that he had to get the Windex when he was done. That night, his dreams were populated by penguins.
A mile away, EJ turned in his bed as the blue-green lights of his alarm clock flashed 1:04 a.m. He had finished his homework an hour and a half ago -- the Calculus took almost two hours that night -- and, having spent a few minutes chatting with Kristen on the phone, had turned in to try to sleep.
Kristen was trying to get into his pants. All things being equal, he'd have been delighted to let her get there. She was, indeed, quite the babe. But all things weren't equal. Kristen wanted everything EJ wanted to avoid -- commitment, involvement, intensity. It wasn't worth it.
God damn it, why did the Rabbit have to go and graduate? He was so perfect. When they had first met, EJ had been completely clueless. But the Rabbit had made quick work of EJ's naiveté and inexperience. Within a week of their first hook-up, he had had EJ fucking him like a pro.
Despite his desire to sleep, EJ smiled in memory of their first time together. EJ had been so hot for the kid he was still amazed he was able to make it the whole minute forty-five before cuming all over him. The Rabbit had laughed at him, which had kind of pissed him off but did nothing to deflate what was, even post-coitally, a persistently strong erection.
The next two times were a bit more relaxed. "Just lie back, stud," the Rabbit had said. "Lie back and let me do the work. I'll show you how it's done. Pay attention. This'll be your job very soon."
Of all the times they had hooked up -- and those were almost countless over the next two years -- that was still one of the most powerful memories for EJ. Invariably, it boned him, as it had just done again. His right hand slid under the sheet.
EJ was always a prominent and central image in his own fantasies. Even when he was remembering something that had actually happened to him, it was almost as if he remembered in the third person. There he was, lying on his back on the Rabbit's bed, pants strewn on the floor, shirt still hanging askew on the bed post. And there, straddling him and holding his wrists immobile above his head, was the Rabbit. EJ saw Rabbit slowly lifting himself and recalled the intoxicating tightness of his ass as it sucked at his dick. He saw himself trying to buck up, trying to rebury his slick, shiny dick as it emerged from Rabbit's grip. But the Rabbit was controlling the pace, teasing, bouncing shallowly a little before sinking all the way down again in a wave of liquid flame. EJ's left hand joined his right under the covers.
It was the sight of his own dick disappearing into the Rabbit's ass that got him most hot. There was something about the strength of it. His abdominals became prominent with the exertion of desire. He began pumping himself under the sheet as he watched his hips rise to the Rabbit's shivering ass. His other hand began stroking his chest, enjoying the feel of his own skin.
The scene morphed, and he was fucking the Rabbit in the empty stands on the sidelines of the football field. Rabbit was bent over, hands on the bench in front of him, grasping for balance while EJ stood behind and plowed him relentlessly. A strange scene for a fantasy -- EJ had never screwed Rabbit in the stands. The Rabbit's pants were puddled at his feet, and EJ was wearing his uniform as if he were at practice. The lacings of his pants were undone, and the tops flapped as he drew Rabbit's hips forcibly back. EJ's own hips left the bed as he jacked himself, pushing into his own hand as demandingly as he used to push into the Rabbit.
Another morph, and now it was the little blond kid he was defiling. EJ liked to think of it as defiling. Sex was supposed to be dirty. It was more fun that way. He was still in his pads, but the ass had changed. It was the blond kid's, and EJ was taking it for the first time. The kid whimpered, and EJ, toes curled and calves rock hard in contraction, blew into his own hand.
At 2:40 a.m., Theo finally turned off the computer. He had been an insomniac for as long as he could remember, or perhaps since he was twelve. He wasn't really sure. But he wasn't sure of much at 2:40 in the morning, and he had seen a lot of 2:40s. He didn't need much sleep. Not at night, at least. That's what English class was for.
He had hung out at Seth's until ten or so. The two spent most nights together hanging out, watching TVLand, doing homework, talking about nothing. They had met in sixth grade when Theo's family had moved to town -- or the GBMD -- the Greater Bumfuck Metropolitan District, as Theo called it. He had been put in Seth's class and the two bonded immediately after they both failed a spelling test, only to discover that they had each been trying to cheat by copying off the other's test.
They had discovered the joys of anime together, and had taught each other how to look good dancing. They had shared their first clandestine drink -- a sloe gin fizz of all things -- and had developed a joint passion for old, stupid sit-coms. Finding a shared attraction for boys, they taught each other how to kiss and practiced the art of giving hand and blow jobs on each other in preparation for the day they found real boyfriends.
Seth made Theo laugh. And, as wrapped up in himself as he was, he was a good friend. True, he was pushy and stubborn at times, and once he got an idea stuck in his head there was absolutely no dislodging it, but when Theo's folks split up, it was Seth who got him through it.
Seth had gotten a lot of ideas stuck in his head over the years. Shortly after they had met, he had convinced himself that he was going to be the next Triple Crown-winning jockey, despite the fact that he had never been on a horse. A mild growth spurt finally put an end to that, and that idea was replaced by the notion that North Dakota was just a hoax. Since then, Theo had endured, in turn, the convictions that an affected English accent bespoke sophistication, that he could marry Mr. Matt Damon if he could only arrange a meeting, that cats were spies, that the answers to all life's questions were encoded in old sitcoms -- especially Get Smart.
The current fixation was unusual in that it seemed to be, at least in part, based on reality. Theo really had seen Saxyguy staring at Seth and, as remarkable as it seemed, had read the same desire in that stare as Seth had. But the idea that that stare was, inexorably, going to turn into the great love of Seth's life was ludicrous. Or, as Seth would have put it if he were thinking more clearly, it defied the Inexorable Laws of the Universe.
Ah well. Seth's foibles were something to muse over, but not something to be concerned about. At least not at 2:40 in the morning. Theo plugged in his headphones and cranked his CD player. He'd be asleep in a couple of hours.
At 3:00 a.m., Topher was doing the same thing he had been doing at 11:00 p.m. -- he was fast asleep in his bed. Sleep came easily during football season. After school came practice, and then, after dinner, he ran five miles or, if the weather was bad, worked out for three quarters of an hour or so. By the time he hit the sack, he had enough energy to strip and pull the sheet over himself. He was usually asleep within ten minutes of his head hitting the pillow. When Toper died, it wasn't going to be from stress-related illness. Topher didn't believe in stress. When he was happy, he laughed. When he was angry, he yelled. And any frustrations that built up were easily released on the field where he could rely on something solid: the capacities and limitations of his own athletic prowess.
He did dream, though. Strange, vivid, color dreams. In the one he was having that night, Lise and he were on a roller coaster. She was screaming and holding onto him. In his sleep, Topher smiled.
Seth and Theo had just left their World Cultures class. With band and lunch, it was one of three periods over the course of the day they were able to spend together. They were playing one of their favorite games: Name the Agent.
"Okay," Theo said, "the name of the chambermaid protecting Tanya Lupescu in Too Many Chiefs?"
"Easy," Seth answered. "41. How about the elevator operator who's watching 41 'cause Max doesn't trust him in the same episode?"
Seth nodded. They poured out into the hall with the rest of the class when the bell rang. Theo was on his way to Math, Seth to Biology, but they were in the same direction. Knapsacks slung over their shoulders, they navigated the hall rapids with the confidence that only boys in their third week in a new school could.
"I got one," Theo said. "What's the name of the firm that Max's lawyer belongs to?"
"Good one," answered Seth, racking his brain. "The law firm. The law firm. That was in The Little Black Book...It was...18, 26, 36, 44, 51, 33 and Sons?"
"Pretty impressive!" Theo allowed, "but it was 35, not 36."
"Un unh," Seth said. "36 was the one in Strike While the Agent is Hot."
"No," Theo said, "that was 35."
"Dismissive snort," Seth replied. "No, he was the one who was hiding in airport locker 31, and..." The sentence was never finished. Without notice, Seth was flat on his back on the ground. He had been looking at Theo instead of where he was going and as they turned the corner the irresistible force had walked smack-dab into the immovable object.
EJ and Topher stared down at Seth in momentary confusion. The kid had come out of nowhere, run directly into EJ, and taken a dive. As the sea of humanity flowed by, he sat on his butt staring up with the same look of surprise that was directed down at him.
It was EJ who recovered from the irony of the moment first. Without saying a word, he bobbed up his chin slightly in the universal greeting of the disinterested. But Seth was right on his heels. With equal nonchalance and in recognition of the compromising position in which he found himself, he charged up his dimples, took aim, and fired.
In response, EJ grinned (but not too much), slouched back against a locker and puffed his chest out a bit. Seth looked down demurely and rubbed his inner thigh, as if that was the part on which he had fallen. EJ gave his gum a couple of chews in a way he knew accentuated his jaw muscles, hooked his left thumb into his front belt buckle and leaned to the side, pulling the pants a bit lower on his hip. Seth reached for a book that had fallen from his knapsack which made the front of his jersey ride up over his belly button.
Theo rolled his eyes. "Jesus Christ," he said, "this could go on all day. I've got to get to class."
"Hi," Theo said, holding his hand out to Topher, "he's Seth."
"He's EJ," said Topher taking Theo's hand and pumping it once. "He's glad to meet you."
"He's glad to meet you, too."
"EJ wants to know if you need a hand," Topher said after an awkward silence in which EJ licked then pursed his lips.
Theo looked over at Seth, who was all but batting his eye lashes.
"Naw," Theo said, "he's fine. Seth wants to know if you're going to Candler's party this weekend."
Topher looked over at EJ. "Don't know. We'll see," he said.
The bell rang. Velocities around them increased.
"Well...nice to meet you," Theo said reaching down to pull Seth up by the collar, "but he's gotta get to class."
"So's he," Topher replied. "Later."
"Yeah," Theo smiled. "Later."