Smile upon me...
I held up my hand in front of my mouth, so as not to show how broadly I was grinning. Nate was really punishing his evil tumbler-drier, kicking at it and yelling at it. I felt defeated; he definitely knew more foul language than I did, and I had considered myself a master in the art of cursing. After once more questioning the machine's sexuality, Nate turned to face me, and my smile stiffened. There were tears running down his cheeks, and such pain in those deep, blue eyes.
"I'm so sorry... I don't know what to... Why didn't you tell me before?"
"Because I wanted to enjoy dinner, not to fidget over clothes."
"Fidget? First I drench you, then I burn up your clothes!" He laughed coarsely. "I wonder what's next."
"You haven't thrown me from your balcony yet."
"You think this is funny?"
"No, but it's no disaster, either, so don't treat it like one. Just be happy the entire house didn't burn down."
"Damn! I never thought of that!" He sat down on the side of the tub, hiding his face in his hands. "Why the hell's everything going down the drains!?"
"It isn't! Don't make such a fuss! Nate, listen to me." I grabbed his shoulders. "I'm not a clothes freak. Those were cheap jeans and an old t-shirt."
"And a pair of socks."
"The kind that come in packs of five, at the sports store. Totally brandless." I held one up, and poked a finger through a hole. "Or at least, they used to be."
Nate looked up at me with a puzzled look on his face, but it vanished as I wriggled my finger. Instead, he cracked a smile, which broadened until we were both laughing. The mood lightened, we took turns at shouting abuse at the abusive tumbler for a little while, before we returned to the living room. It was dark outside, and it was still pouring down like there was no tomorrow.
"Well," I said, "at least my boxers survived. I should be able to pass off as a national team swimmer on my way home."
"Shit, Chris, don't be an idiot!" He laughed. "You'd be a popsicle before you reached the street corner."
"You think? What flavour?"
"I don't think you'd let me find out." It was my turn to laugh. "You look like you'd be fruity, strawberry, perhaps."
"Seriously, you can't borrow any clothes from me, and if you climbed into a taxi in just your boxers, you'd get arrested."
"Why can't I borrow clothes?" I asked, feigning indignation. "Afraid I'd steal them?"
"First of all, you're taller than a flag pole, second, you're too fat."
"I'm not fat!"
"No?" He patted my stomach which, agreeably, could stand losing just a little bit of its roundness. "I'd introduce you to Mr Beer Gut, but I think you've already met."
"I don't have a beer gut! It becomes a gentleman to have a certain rondeur."
"Don't worry, I think it's cute."
"You would." I laughed. "My last girlfriend said I should lose it."
"I said, don't worry! It does become you."
"Thanks. I really appreciate you saying that, even if it's not true."
"But it is!"
"Yeah, that's what you say," I said, winking. "You probably adore anything with a penis."
"Not quite! I'm a connoisseur. You, my friend, are an object d'art."
"If you've finished making me blush, Nate, how do I get home?"
"You can't. I'll have to adopt you."
"I want a Playstation 2, and a substantial allowance."
Nate and I whiled away the remainder of the evening in a similar mood, slightly silly, lots of humour and that sort of insulting banter you only develop with really close friends. We decided that tomorrow, Saturday, Nate would drive over to my apartment and bring me a set of clothes. That meant I would spend the night, something I felt a little anxious about. Not that I didn't trust Nate, far from it; I already trusted him like I would a long lost brother. No, the one I didn't trust was me. Nate's advances were friendly, and at least half jokes, but deep down he meant it. The tingly feeling I'd had during the night was still there when we began talking about tucking in, and I tried to convince myself that I wasn't attracted to him. But that wasn't easy. Nate was such a sparkling personality, not to mention quite good-looking, that it was hard not to love him. If he should ask me to have sex with him, I wouldn't find it easy to say no. Me, Mr Macho, the straightest guy alive! Even during the hormonal hurricane of my teens, I hadn't felt anything for a guy, not even felt the need to check one out in the gym showers. No, I was a ladies' man, even though I didn't date much. But there I was, feeling my heart pound faster as Nate asked me if I minded sharing the bed.
"I've got two spare bedrooms," he said, looking sheepish, "but I never thought about putting a bed in either of them. Guess I never thought about having friends stay over."
"Oh, I don't know..." I said, scratching my ear. "I wouldn't want to risk getting raped in the small hours."
"Comedian! Think of me. If you roll over, I'll be crushed to death."
"All right, one bad joke each." We laughed. "No, I don't mind sharing, Nate. Just one thing, though."
"You treated me to dinner because you drenched me. So, how are you going to make up for ruining my clothes?"
"Breakfast?" I shook my head. "Breakfast, new clothes, then lunch on town and a movie?"
"That's more like it."
"All right! It's a date!"
"No, it's not. Don't start again."
"I never stopped." He grinned, and I couldn't help but smile back. "I'll never stop."
"Great. Not only am I trapped without clothes in a stranger's apartment, but I've got a drooling pervert on my tail, as well."
"Ready to pounce when you least expect it," Nate laughed. "That could make the setting for a great horror movie."
"Yeah, `Nightmare on Homophobe Street', or `You Know What I Did Last Night?'."
"If you'd let me, Chris, I could make you `Scream'..."
As the TV shows grew steadily worse, my eyelids began closing by themselves, and I could see Nate yawn widely a couple of times. I caught his gaze, raising an eyebrow slightly, and he nodded, turning off the set. The bedroom was huge, much larger than I had thought. It held two walk-in closets, more bookshelves and a king-size bed that looked invitingly soft and comfy. The walls were covered with paintings and drawings, all portraying more or less naked men. If I hadn't caught on earlier, this would have been more than enough to let me know which gender Nate favoured. While I looked around, he had sat down on the side of the bed, and was removing his socks. I walked up to the other side and pushed gently at the soft cotton bedspread.
"Damn, Nate, this thing is big enough to get lost in."
"Perfect if you feel like sleeping in. Once you close your eyes, you never want to get up again."
"I believe you, my friend. I believe you."
"Chris, you go ahead and use the bathroom. There's a packet of toothbrushes in the cabinet."
"Thanks," I replied. "I'll try not to take too long."
"No need to rush, you hear?"
I didn't. After taking care of business, I brushed my teeth, then jumped in for a quick shower. Towelling myself, I went over to Nate's full-length dress mirror, and suddenly I felt like having a good look at myself. I was curious as to what he saw in me, what made him decide I was `hot'. I had half-long, dark blond hair, framing a square, quite masculine face. Blue eyes, just like him; maybe that was what attracted him. I used to work out, but was nowhere near bulky, just nicely toned. My stomach I blamed on too much sedentary work and to much junk food. I sucked it in, watching my chest rise out instead. That worked better! Then I inflated my stomach as much as I could, and sighed at the disheartening sight. It was definitely time to start training harder! I stroked my downy chest, the hair too thin and sparse to be more than barely visual. It thickened just below my bellybutton, trailing down to my patch of light blond pubic hair. Now that it was wet, it lay flattened against my skin, but once dry it would fluff up, like a little cloud hiding the base of my penis. It hung flaccid now; not a very impressive sight, but when called to attention, it would reach a nice eighteen centimetres. I reached down to pull back the foreskin, and toyed gently with the head. I almost giggled as a thought entered my mind; what would Nate do if he'd walk in right now? Faint? Jump me? Or just shrug and go about his business? He hadn't seen me wearing less than the terry robe, so that wasn't it. I looked closely at my face again, trying to think away the fact that I knew every square millimetre of it. Would I consider myself attractive? Probably not, I decided. I thought my face looked plain, nothing really separated it from everybody else. As I ran a finger down my nose, I heard Nate's voice from the other side of the door.
"Chris, would you stop admiring yourself in the mirror and hurry up? Please? My bladder's about to start a revolution!"
"Erh, just a sec, okay?"
Blushing like crazy, I slipped into my boxers, put the bath robe on but didn't tie it closed. He rushed past me as soon as I'd unlocked the door, smiling thankfully as he dashed over to the toilet bowl, not thinking to close the door behind him. Almost reflexively, I half turned and followed him with my eyes as he opened his own robe. I blushed again as he began to relieve himself, half leaning against the bathroom wall, his eyes closed in contentment. In a way, I felt certain that he didn't really mind, since he hadn't bothered to lock the door, but I also thought I was invading his privacy, so I turned and walked back into the bedroom. Hanging my robe on the back of a chair, I sat down on the edge of the bed, stroking the soft fabric. My thoughts wandered to the sight of Nate's bared crotch, and I felt a sigh of relief pass involuntarily through my body. Well, I thought, that answers that. His goodies had been on display, yet I felt nothing. Not a single stirring inside my boxers. Whatever I had felt before, it wasn't a physical attraction. From the hall, I heard the shower stop, and a couple of minutes later, Nate walked in, wearing only a pair of tight briefs, which did little to hide what was hidden beneath. Still, there was no reaction in me, and I simply deduced that I hadn't the faintest bisexual gene in me.
"Normally, I sleep in the buff," Nate said as he pulled back the bedspread and wormed his way in beneath the full-sized bed cover. "But for tonight, I'll make an exception."
"Thanks, man, I appreciate it," I replied. "Makes me feel a lot safer, all this armour protecting my decency."
He chuckled at this, and I joined him beneath the cover. The sheets were soft and cool, but soon warmed to my body heat, and I felt myself begin to drift away even as Nate turned out the light. In the dark, I could feel him moving about in the bed, and I began to get worried as he seemed to be coming my way. Then I felt his soft lips touch my forehead, but before I had time to react, he was back on his own side of the bed. His boyish giggle quelled my first wave of angry protests.
"Nate, what are you...?"
"Household rule," he said, laughing. "Nobody spends the night without a good night kiss."
"Oh. Well, good night to you, too."
"Don't I get a kiss?"
"You're pushing your luck, pal."
"Household rule, Chris. When I said nobody I meant me, too."
"Better have damn long lips, then."
We both laughed, then settled in to sleep. I knew I wouldn't stay awake long once my head hit the pillow, and I heard Nate's breathing becoming slow and steady, as well.
"Good night, Chris," he whispered. "Sweet dreams."
"'Night," I replied, then a deep, dreamless slumber claimed me.
Well, that's the end of chapter two. More to come, so stay tuned. Like always, thoughts and comments are welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org