Disclaimer: Don't know the humans, don't know the dogs, don't know the alligators. All fiction.
Warning: Slightly sweaty, homoerotic contents. You know your own local laws on that better than I do. (I hope you do, because I know nothing.)
Feedback: Yes. Please!
The Tail Of The Tiger, chapter 7
When I woke up, I was on my belly and a warm body was halfway on top of me. Chris! Heavy and full of sleep, crushing me into the mattress. I closed my eyes and opened them again to make sure I was awake and still on the planet Earth, but the trick didn't really work.
He shifted a little, then he lay still again.
He's almost naked!
Well, good morning to you too.
I wondered if my recollection of being pushed and pulled around had anything to do with reality. He wasn't wearing his T-shirt anymore, so the elbowing and 'Stop that!' had probably happened. I tend to undress my bed partners in my sleep. I certainly had gotten rid of my own clothes.
He hadn't left.
Feel his nipple!
He moved his head, leaving a spot on my back open to the air. It felt cool; actually, it felt - wet. It took a moment's puzzlement before I realized that I was being drooled on.
For some reason the realization made my chest ache.
I needed to pee and the position and pressure only made the need greater. I didn't really want to move; I wanted more drool on my back. But the messages from my bladder got more and more urgent and I had to turn, carefully, didn't want to wake him just yet. He grunted, it sounded like part protest and part question. He didn't roll away but snuggled into my embrace, sighed and slept on.
It shouldn't feel this good, shouldn't feel as if Chris snuggled right into my heart, all varm and fuzzy. There was sweat on his temple. I nuzzled him; he smelled good. Yes, so good.
His hand slid over my belly, settled on my hip. He almost touched me!
The lit display on the clock was like an accusing voice in the dark, telling that it was past six and late. I had slept in. The dogs would be hungry; there were things to be done... What? It's Chris! My bladder babbled an interruption. Don't listen to it.
A sleepy grunt from Chris went right into that fuzzy cave in my heart. He settled more comfortably against me, his head on my shoulder, his arm across my belly, a leg across mine. The skin on the inner side of his thigh was warm and damp, incredibly soft...
The guy could argue even in his sleep.
All right, just five minutes more. He felt so good. Told you.
His hand crawled across my chest, oh! Sleepy fingers played with the hair, found, zap and sizzle, a nipple. Yes! Make him do more of that. He murmured sleepily about "no tits".
I buried my nose in his braids, breathing his smell and trying to ignore the urgent message from the other head, the stupid and very persistent one. The companion to the half-hard one that pressed against my hip.
I should get away. Up and away. What!? We shouldn't do this without talking first. Talk, a lot of talk...
Talk? Who needs talk? Smell him, feel him, see him, hear him breathe. Touch, lick, make him feel so good. Beautiful, beautiful Chris...
Stupid head. 'Evil dick'. Wasn't that a song? I-don't-want-to-think-about-him-Martin-shit-I-did-it-again had liked it a lot. Why the heck was I thinking of him when Chris was here?
"Mkl?" Was that my name? Yes.
"Sleep. I'll bring you coffee when you wake up." I tried to move away, tried really hard, but the soft skinned leg slid further up my thigh and set all nerve-endings on fire, killed all power in my limbs. Yeeeees! He's almost here! I can feel his heat. "Please?"
He rolled onto his back. Let me go. I turned on the lamp and rolled out of bed, knees shaking, skin flushed. Chris opened his eyes a little.
Stupid, stupid Mikkel! Look at those eyes! Feel them, they touch you, burn, burn. Stupid Mikkel. Stupid, stupid. Get back in bed. I wished the stupid lump of meat would just shut up. He wants me.
"Sorry. Just having a discussion with my dick. Didn't mean to talk out loud."
Chris smiled sleepily and gazed at my discussion partner.
I can feel that! Beautiful Chris.
Did my legs work? Yes. Those sleepy brown eyes followed me... I fled to the bathroom. After some painful swearing I managed to empty my bladder. Masturbation was a two-second affair when Chris' smell was still around me and the last minutes of the shower were cold, cold. But it shut up my dick.
The quiet lasted until I got back into the bedroom and the faint smell of fresh semen hit my nostrils.
Chris' cheeks were a little rosy and looked softer, his lips were slightly swollen. He was hugging my pillow. There were paper tissues in the wastebasket.
I turned my back to him and the laughing wastebasket, and got dressed, quietly, not wanting to wake him up. I couldn't turn my back to the smell, though.
He was beautiful. Tangled in the sheet, braids spilling all over the pillow, dark eyelashes resting on pale skin. I had turned to look at him without realizing what I was doing.
There were things to be done. I tried marshalling the lists I had stowed away in my mind, but the chores on them just tumbled around in my head. It wasn't until after I got into the hallway that it was possible to bring some order to my thoughts.
Miguel arrived when I was tidying up after having covered up the bedroom floor and exposed parts of the walls with sheets of plywood.
We unloaded his truck. He was smiling and in a good mood. His oldest daughter had been on the winning basketball team the day before and I got a shot by shot account of every goal that his daughter had scored. In Spanish. I listened to the pride in the happy voice while we unloaded the truck, stopping every once in a while when he needed his arms to illustrate some point in the game.
It was a beautiful morning and nothing seemed heavy to lift. His two aunts would be over the next day and help us out. "They are good workers; just let them have it their own way," he told me. The day got even more beautiful.
When we had finished unloading the truck, he gave me a hand removing the staircase that led to the patio by the kitchen door. We carried the heavy thing out of the way. "Here is fine," I told him and we put it down. The back door opened and when I looked up, Chris was on the patio, watching Miguel and me. "Buenos días," I said without thinking, being too busy to take the sight of him in. He looked cuddly and comfortable in soft, torn jeans and a large, bleached red shirt with paint stains on it. He had tied a red and white scarf around his neck.
He smiled over the rim of the mug that had held my lukewarm coffee. "Buenos días," he said and continued in Spanish. "You need a hand?"
I shook my head. "That's Chris," I told Miguel. "He's one of the guys that are helping out. Chris, this is Miguel."
"Ah, the small one," Miguel smiled. "Good morning."
Chris raised an eyebrow at that. There was a honk from the street before he got the chance to be reproachfully silent. Miguel said good bye and walked to the car. When I turned from waving Miguel and his wife off, Chris was glaring at me. "The small one?"
"Miguel is the one supplying the foot gear."
He grunted; the glare subsided gradually as he sipped his coffee or whatever one would call the substance. It didn't make him grimace so there probably were at least five spoons of sugar in it. "Your Spanish is even kinkier than your English."
"I know. Any of the other guys up?"
"Paul. I helped him find a towel. He's got a real problem with his complexion, you know."
"Did you comment on his underwear?"
"What do you want for breakfast?" I pulled the work gloves off and climbed unto the patio.
Which I knew Mormor liked to have; a truly barbarian breakfast habit that she insisted was quite common in this part of the world. "Sure. Ice cream with the pancakes?"
The sun rose for the second time that day, going straight for midday height and I basked in its light. "Yes! Lots of ice cream."
"All right. Pancakes it is."
He followed me into the kitchen. "Can I have the rest of my story?"
"What is the last part you remember?" I turned the tap on and washed my hands.
Chris frowned and passed me the towel. "They were about to disguise Thor as a Freja."
He had been pretty much awake for that part, but if he wanted to hear it again there would be no protests from me. He had been especially impressed with the rocks that Loke and Thor had used for breasts. He had protested a few points; to shut him up, I had had to introduce a new concept in Norse mythology and accept that Thor was wearing a wrought iron bra.
"Ah. Right." I collected my thoughts while getting the ingredients out. Chris jumped up to sit on the counter, swinging his legs. "So, Loke has been gone for a while. He comes back and he's carrying a huge woman's dress and a lot of other stuff. 'I have an idea,' he says..."
Paul came into the kitchen right after Loke had told Thor that the beard had to go.
"Ssh." Chris frowned at Paul.
Paul stared at Chris but answered my question. "Stiff, limping a little. His eye hasn't closed completely. He's alright as long as he doesn't have to do any heavy work, I guess. He's in the shower now."
Chris gave my leg a kick.
Paul blinked confusedly.
"Good. Remember, he's the god of thunder and right now he is really pissed off. He's all red in the face and it sounds somewhat like-" I tried to sound like I imagined Thor must have sounded when confronted with Loke brandishing evilly clicking scissors.
My yell was followed by a "Shut up!" from the direction of the bathroom.
"That was Sif yelling from the kitchen. She was still angry with the menfolk for harassing Freja..."
I continued with the story while cooking. Paul set the table, moving around quietly. Chris swung his legs, stole a few pancakes and interjected protests and questions, brown eyes sparkling.
By the time the food was ready, the story had gotten to the wedding feast and I broke it off.
"There's more, right?" Chris dumped a chunk of ice cream on his pancake.
"Yes. Later? I'm hungry."
"Sure." Chris looked around.
Tom pushed the jam over to him. "Man, heathen myths for breakfast." He didn't seem to mind. He chewed his food slowly and in small mouthfuls; his face looked colorfully sore.
"What do we have to do today?" asked Paul looking curiously at the pancakes. I couldn't see anything odd when I looked and Chris seemed to like them well enough. Perhaps the barbarian breakfast habit wasn't as widespread as Mormor had insisted.
I ran through the must-list, taking my time to eat in between, and added an item that hadn't been there yesterday morning. "We have to talk with Mormor, she may want to see one of us. Perhaps you should call your parents?"
Paul blinked and nodded. "Can I listen when you tell the rest of the story?"
"Hey, it's my good night story."
Tom blinked and looked from Chris to me and back again.
Paul hesitated. "Well, you can share, can't you?"
"Good." Paul got that shy, mischievous look in his eyes that were sure to make Tom forget about good night stories. "Pass me the pancakes, please."
"Whaddaya want with my pancakes?"
"Put them in the dryer to dry, paint them checkered and sew the together for a kilt to use when I play my bag pipes." The words ran out of Paul's mouth like stampeding hamsters, then his mouth snapped shut and he reddened as if he had been surprised by the stampede.
Apparently it was the right answer. Chris hurriedly pushed the pancakes towards Paul, and they would have made it to the floor if Paul hadn't stopped the plate; he yelled, "Stop!" when the ice cream and jam followed in close succession. Tom grinned and sparkled.
"You really play bag pipes?" I asked Paul.
His complexion went from rosy to crimson and he looked down, giving a lot of attention to the food he was arranging on his plate. He mumbled something I couldn't hear.
"Why didn't you tell me?" There was a trace of hurt in Tom's voice as if some vital piece of information had been withheld from him.
Paul didn't look up. "It's not like I'm good at it or anything."
Tom spent a moment processing the new piece of knowledge about his boyfriend. "That's great. I mean, not that you aren't good but that you are playing. Can I hear you some time?"
"Yeah, me too?"
"No!" Paul's head came up really fast; he stared wild-eyed at Chris. "Not you!"
Tom smiled and stuck his tongue out at Chris who ignored him demonstratively. "Why not?"
"Because you're a professional musician and..."
He shook his head. "No. You're too good."
Paul, Paul!, sent me a glare. "Why did you ask?"
"Bag pipes are my favorite instrument. Besides, if you're going to use my pancakes for a kilt I sort of have a right to know."
Chris straightened in his chair. "My pancakes."
"My pancakes, and you gave them away to be sewn into a kilt."
"You've got a kilt?" Tom asked Paul.
Who made a very odd sound in his throat, pushed his chair back, and went to sit under the table.
Tom got a concerned expression on his face and leaned stiffly sideways to look under the table, the hand that held on to the table showed white knuckles. "Paul?"
Chris eyed the neatly arranged food on Paul's plate.
"Timeout, timeout and a new subject," muttered Paul.
Chris reached out and took Paul's plate and scraped the contents onto his own plate.
Tom flinched when he stiffly sat back up. "I think he wants to be let alone for a few minutes."
Eventually Paul came up to sit again and got a pancake and we all finished eating. While the other three fixed the kitchen I called Mormor.
The phone was picked up almost instantly.
"Hi, it's Mikkel."
"Good morning Mikkel. You're speaking English - did you burn my house down?"
"No, I just figured that's what we would be speaking. There was a... stupid little scene here last night that you should know about."
"A stupid scene?"
"Paul and Chris were here. Jenny and Frank dropped by. It got ugly when they started blaming Paul for making Tom gay. Tom took some bruises. The dogs are all right. Your living room got trashed."
"... I certainly hope that Tom got a proper punch or five through."
"Well, it was mostly Chris, really."
"Little Christopher got into the fight?"
Little Christopher? "Yes, he did. We all did, kind of. Jenny too. Frank was out of control. Tom is the only one of us that took more than a small scratch."
"Oh, my. How is he?"
"Basically all right. Nothing's broken. He says he is fine."
"Then, did Christopher punch Frank good and proper?"
"Split his eyebrow-"
The phone was snatched out of my hand. "He stole my fight!" Little Christopher snapped.
I groaned and left Chris to deliver his detailed report, escaping to the guestroom with Tom and Paul so that we could make sure that they knew what to do.
Chris appeared in the door when I was almost finished giving the instructions. "Rose wants to talk with Tom."
Tom nodded and went to the kitchen.
"She wants to meet you," Chris told Paul who turned pale.
"Me? Why? Now?"
"She didn't say. Relax man, she isn't gonna bite you. It's Jenny and Frank that should shake."
"Yeah?" Paul didn't sound like he believed that.
"Chris is right." Not that Mormor's support might not be a fierce thing to fear but Paul didn't need to know that now.
"You are what?"
"Gay. Mrs. Collins is her daughter and Tom is her grandson."
"I'm just..." Paul was studying the floor intensely and it looked like he shivered. I went over and put an arm around him and he leaned against me so I pulled him into a proper hug. Suddenly Chris was there as well and Paul was getting as hugged as one can get by two people.
I nuzzled the top of Paul's head. "So, you are gay. So am I. It's not that important, really."
Paul's "What?!" was muffled against my shoulder.
"Like, it's much more important what kind of guy you are."
I thought I could feel him relax. Chris grimaced a question at me and I shook my head, no, I didn't think Paul was crying.
"I'm not," said Paul and Chris patted him on the head.
There was a soft growl from the doorway. "What are you two fuckheads doing to Paul?"
Paul shivered a very different kind of shiver at the sound of Tom's voice. I met Chris' gaze and saw that he, like I, had trouble not laughing out loud.
"Just draw a number and get in line," Chris told Tom. Paul tried to raise his head but Chris pushed it against my shoulder. Not that Paul was fighting him, likely he didn't mind hiding his face; the heat in it almost scorched my skin through the shirt.
"You're nuts." Tom came over and put his arms around Paul and me. He looked pointedly at Chris. "I got a special number."
"Well, we got here first." Chris grinned, and I thought that I shouldn't think too much about Chris' warm hand on my shoulder or Paul would get really embarrassed standing this close to me.
"Don't I get a say in this?"
Chris gave Paul a light cuff on the head. "No. You just stay in hug."
"He's afraid of meeting Mormor," I told Tom. "Chris told him that she wants to see him."
"She does. Paul it's alright."
"She scared the poo-poo out of you."
"Shut up, Chris. Trust me, she'll be fine."
"She wants to see us, like, now?"
"Today sometime, depending on what your parents decide to do."
"We're not going to smuggle any dogs into the hospital, are we?"
"Ah... I kind of promised..." Tom bit his lip; he didn't like it either.
"Which one?" asked Chris.
"Leika. She's good at staying quiet. We put her in a bag," I explained.
"Man..." murmured Paul.
"Granny wants to talk with your parents, too; I gave her their phone number."
Paul raised his face and stared pleadingly at Tom. "I don't want this day. Make it go away and give me another."
Tom gave him a chaste kiss on the mouth, looking only fractionally less shy about it than Paul which added up to a lot of shy.
"Too quick," muttered Chris and tapped Paul on the shoulder.
Paul turned his head, all innocence. I held my breath; Chris wasn't going to...
Yes, he was.
Look, look, look - Chris is kissing! I want that! Look at that jawline, cute ears, want to lick, those lips... Wantwantwantwant! Want!
Paul's eyes almost popped out of his head, then he got the idea and kissed back, shyly, and without tongue. Chris didn't press the tongue issue. I forced my self to turn my head and look at Tom. His eyes were in immediate danger of popping and he had red spots on his cheeks.
Chris withdrew leaving Paul red-faced and with a mixed expression of embarrassment and laughter on his face.
Tom growled at Chris. "You just stay away from my boyfriend, little man."
Paul shivered. It had to be the growl.
"You want one too?"
Chris yanked my ponytail. "I wasn't asking you!"
"Chicken," I said and could have bit my tongue because it was likely not a smart thing to say.
"What?! You callin' me chicken?"
"No, it was just a remark about the world in general. Actually it was about me. Couldn't be about you, could it? I mean, you are no ouch!" He grasped a fistful of my hair and pulled me in.
Suddenly the swirling universe opened right in front of me, and 'smart' was a small town in Russia and very far away. Yes! Chris' breath on my face was hot, his eyes a seething glittering darkness. His lips were surprisingly soft and very much alive, nibbling playfully...
I caught his lower lip and suckled it.
I don't know when the fist let go of my hair and became a firm palm that pulled me closer. Perhaps when I opened and let his tongue in, folding around him, inside at the same time...
Eventually we pulled apart, both of us panting. I wondered if I looked as surprised as he did. "Don't do that," he snapped but the flash of anger was just - a flash. Reality came rushing in with a relief that he wasn't really angry. There were strange aches from hammers hitting the walls in the fuzzy place in my chest, making more room for Chris.
"Fuck," Tom said softly. "Don't any of you dare do that to my boyfriend!"
Which for some reason struck me as funny and I couldn't help laughing and Chris did too, pulling away.
Paul was staring at us, crimson faced, muttering under his breath, "I want to try that."
Tom blinked. "What?!"
Paul's eyes widened and he bent his neck; maybe it had been another stampede of hamsters. "Not with them."
Tom swallowed; even without looking at me he managed to make it clear that it was me he was talking to. "Granny wants you to call."
"I get my show now?"
Chris got the tough end of a Tom-glare. He seemed unfazed enough to make me question his survival instincts. I quietly withdrew to make the phone call. Apparently Chris had to learn the hard way. Behind me I heard Tom's low growl. "Get out."
"I promise to stay quiet. Hey." There was a scuffle followed by the sound of a door slamming.
I went to the kitchen and dialed Mormor's number. The line was busy. Chris slapped me on the back of the head when I hung up the phone. "You ran out on me, you coward."
I considered the time it had taken him to reach the kitchen. "You couldn't see anything through the keyhole."
He smiled. "When do I get to work?"
"Number one - safety equipment. I put it in the bedroom. I hope the shoes fit..."
The smallest pair did. I didn't quite understand his agitation, since the shoes were about a size 8 1/2, like he had said his usual shoe size was, maybe a little larger than that. One just had to use the size system used for women's shoe sizes. Miguel had explained it to me. I didn't even get around to tell Chris that the shoes really belonged to Miguel's fourteen-year-old daughter. He glared, pulled my hair and punched my shoulder before I got half way into my explanation of shoe sizes. I left him to cool and take the doorframe down while I called Mormor.
This time I got through. "Hi. Tom said you wanted me to call."
"Yes. I want the boys out here around two o'clock. Paul's parents are coming too."
"Have the boys bring a cake. I'll arrange for coffee and drinks. And, Mikkel, I want a list."
"It's already made; Tom will bring it. Chris videoed the room before we started tidying up. You want the video, too?"
"What about Leika?"
She sighed. "I suppose she better stay at home... How are the boys, really?"
"Still a little stunned. I think all of us are. They have guilt issues with each other but they are talking. Paul - well, you'll see. He really needs to talk with you. Are the three of you going to have some time before Kate and Daddy-Paul arrive?"
"That's good... How are you?"
"Mad. Fine. It's not important." Which meant I better ask her when we were face to face and alone. "How's the work coming along?"
"Okay. If Tom's things aren't too late in arriving I'll drop by tomorrow and show you pictures."
"Good. I'll see you then."
"Yes. I better get back to Chris. He's begun taking the wall down."
"Make sure his voice doesn't suffer from the dust."
Little Christopher indeed. "We have dustmasks."
"Good. Bye, then."
Chris looked quite competent wielding the crowbar so I went to tell Tom and Paul about Mormor's plans. I didn't tell them to leave Leika at home, though.
Then I went to see how Chris was doing. He had finished taking down the doorframe.
"You know how to use this?" I handed him the maul.
He hefted it, checking the weight. "Hold this end and bang the wall with the other?"
"Sounds about right."
I showed him anyway. We took turns breaking down the wall. It hadn't taken much instruction. He was using his body just right, like a powerful, controlled whip with the maul at the end.
Look at him move! Beautiful...
I wanted to see him dance.
It was going to be a warm day. After a few turns with the maul, the sweat was running in rivulets off both of us and I chucked my shirt. Chris was a while longer before chucking his, and I thought that perhaps it was because he was bothered by me looking at him.
So I really tried not to pay attention to the play of muscles in his arms and back, the sweat glistening in the sparse dark hair on his chest, drenching the dust there, making its way to the love trail... Also I really tried not to stare at his stomach that would bunch and quiver when he wielded the maul, and the jeans that parted in the tears to show flashes of knees when he moved, the muscles in his thighs...
He caught me staring a couple of times and crossed his eyes at me. So perhaps he didn't mind too much. Oops, he definitely didn't like it when I looked at his belly; that direction of my stare triggered a glare.
I wondered if his stares were mere payback.
About the time when we had almost done what we could do with the maul, Chris disappeared for a moment. I had just decided that it was time for another pause when something cold and hard was pressed against my back. "What..." I turned and found Chris with two bottles in his hand.
He had removed the dustmask and the goggles and had wiped his face; the red white scarf was still in place covering his hair. There were smears of dirt on his cheek and forehead and I wanted to lick him clean, but then the smears would be gone and they looked really good on him.
He smiled. "Let us go outside and have a drink."
We put our shirts on and climbed out the window. I looked in on Tom and Paul when we passed their window. They were busy painting. It was slow going but they were careful with what they did and there really was nothing to say other than praise. "We are taking a drink, you guys coming?"
"Story time?" asked Paul.
"Yes," said Chris, and that was that.
I followed Chris to the dogs' enclosure. The furry gang welcomed us and was quite happy to share a spot of lawn with us. "Man," sighed Chris. He pulled the scarf off and lay down in the grass. He reached into his pocket and got a beer opener out before rolling unto his side and fumbling with the bottles. It looked rather awkward, so I sat down cross-legged next to him and held the bottles while he did the opening.
"Cheers." It felt good to lean the head back and let the cool beer run down my throat. It was quite obvious that Chris felt the same way. "How are your shoulders?"
He let out a small burp. "Okay." He pulled his feet up and unlaced the shoes before kicking them off. "That thing is getting heavier and heavier."
"Aye. Mauls are like that. I think there is a trick to it. Good thing we'll be finished with that part soon."
"It's great, though. Like, kawam. Therapeutic. Could be a concept..." He frowned and drank his beer. Violet plonked sidewards down next to him, bumping against his belly. He patted her. "Hi, girl."
Tom and Paul came over to us and sat down. Tom sighed and lay down on his back, wincing when two pups decided that his belly was the perfect playground. "Go kill Chris instead," he mumbled, and told them the opposite thing with his hands.
Paul popped a couple of cans open and passed one to Tom. He sent me an expectant gaze, unknowingly reminding me how far away my nieces were. They would look like that when a bed time story was about to begin.
"Okay," I said and began the last part of the story.
By the time Thrym got his brains and entire household smashed, Tom had fallen asleep with his head in Paul's lap. Chris was making odd fart sounds with his mouth, using my sound for Mjoelner's impact with Thrym's head as a theme.
"That's kind of a bloody good night story." Paul was looking down at Tom with a fond expression on his face.
"Yes. Looks like it worked, though."
Paul smiled and nodded.
I turned to Chris and put a hand on his shoulder. He sat almost still, waiting with an expectant grin on his face as I leaned in to 'whisper' in his ear. I dragged the brain-pulp sound out as far as I had air in my lungs. He shivered and giggled. The soft hairs on his neck were standing out. Ooh! Soon we had a 'conversation' going which lasted until laughter made it impossible to keep going.
"Are they funny?" Tom sleepily asked Paul when we had calmed down some.
Paul giggled and shook his head. "Not really."
"Of course not," Chris sounded slightly annoyed. "It's serious stuff. Mikkel is giving language lessons."
Tom yawned and smiled. Smiled? I really wished Paul were there every time it was wake up time for Tom. "Sounds like Danish."
"Yeah. What was that I was saying?"
"Pinch my toes and wash my belly with jellyfish on a Sunday."
"Thought that was it." Chris got to his feet and I rolled up too. "My turn with the maul."
Paul looked up at him. "If you want me to take over - I can do that."
Chris shook his head. "My wall."
I picked up the bottles and cans. Tom rolled up to sit, wincing. "Maybe you should go lay down for a while," I suggested.
"All right." I left to take down the rail and back up the truck. A broad plank for ramp made it possible to roll the wheelbarrow from the patio and directly onto the truck.
Chris was leaning out the bathroom window when I climbed unto the patio. "Do you have a license for that?" He nodded towards the small truck.
"Yes. Do you?"
He shook his head. "Car and bike only."
"Bike? That's great."
"I've been looking for one on and off for a while." He stepped aside so that I could climb in.
"What kind do you have in mind?"
"A racer. I really like the RC600."
"The F3 is supposed to be mmm."
"I know, but I ain't exactly rich. I was hoping to find a used F2."
I nodded. "You might find a dealer who has a new one in stock."
"Man, that would be luck... You got a bike?"
"No longer. I had to trash it and bought a bicycle instead."
"Bicycle. The kind with pedals and a bell that goes pling. Know them?" He grinned and nodded. "The money I was going to use for a bike this spring went into this trip. Now it'll have to wait for another year I guess."
"I was thinking of another off-roader or one of the new dual-purpose machines." I put my dustmask and goggles in place, picked up the maul and started my turn. We talked about the bikes we'd like to own if we were rich and the ones we had ridden. The last stretch of mauling seemed to be over in no time; perhaps there was magic in talking about boys' dreams with lots of horsepowers.
When we had finished we took a pause, taking a drink.
The door opened and Paul stood there, felt pen in hand. "Guys? Who of you have the ugliest handwriting?"
"I do," Chris and I said at the same time. Chris was closest to the door so he got the felt pen before I did.
Paul held the hair away from his forehead. "Not your fault."
"How about "Fuck guilt"?"
Paul blinked and smiled. "Sure."
Chris uncapped the green pen and scrawled "Fuck guilt" on Paul's forehead and added a rather asymmetric heart. It was like the faces he had cut in the potatoes - the lines were clumsy and childish and the spacing was grown-uppishly right. "There." Chris recapped the pen and passed it to Paul. "Charm attack, go!"
Paul reddened and smiled. "Thanks." He pocketed the pen and left.
We listened. Shortly after we could hear Tom laugh.
"My cousin is going to have his hands full with that one."
"No kidding." Chris emptied his bottle and put it by my empty. "Have you had the Talk with him yet?"
"What?" I got a couple of buckets from the pile outside the window.
"Who else should do it? Your granny? His dad?" Chris took the bucket that I handed him.
"Oh. That Talk. No, I haven't, not really." I picked up a couple of pieces of debris and dumped them in the bucket, thinking it over. "Guess I should or she will."
Chris chuckled and started clearing the floor at the other end of the room. "That's a scary thought, man, getting the Talk from your granny."
"I doubt it would do much good; Tom would be deaf from shame. Who gave you yours?"
"My stepdad. It was pretty horrible. You?"
"My stepdad and..." Fuck.
"... My first boyfriend's older brother gave me the seriously long edition." Niller.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Chris straightening up and look from me to the bucket and back again. "That bad?"
"No..." A couple of breaths and I could continue without throwing the bricks. "Actually, he was good. He knew what was going on." And he had known Martin-I-don't-want-to-think-about-him better than any. And the other guys. Probably gave them all The Talk About Mikkel as well... I pushed it away.
"My stepdad didn't. It probably was worse for him than for me."
"He didn't ask?"
"No. Man, it would've been damned embarrassing if he had. The first girl I'd kissed had punched me afterwards. The second time I kissed a girl - her mum saw us and she complained to my mum. That's what prompted the Talk."
"She really hit you?"
"Yeah. In the belly. I never found out why, it wasn't like I was groping her or anything."
"Phew. That's a bugger for a first."
"Yeah..." He went to the window and got another bucket. "How was your first kiss?"
"It was with a girl. She told me she thought I was gay. Translate 'gay' to 'an unbelievably lousy kisser'. I had no idea what I should be doing."
"She didn't punch you?"
"How old were you?"
"Thirteen, I think."
"Same here." He looked around. The floor of the bathroom was mostly cleared of what little rubble that had fallen on the 'wrong' side of the former wall. "Do we continue in the bedroom?"
"I was thinking that you can start with the pneumatic hammer in here and I can begin clearing the other room of rubble."
He smiled, not minding at all. A short while later he was the center of a dust cloud and a grinding staccato roar. The ear protectors looked like orange Mickey Mouse ears but gave far better protection from the noise. His eyes glittered behind the goggles.
He broke off when I waved him down and went outside to take the full buckets that I passed him through the window. When I had loaded the heavy buckets onto the truck I went to clean up and make lunch and cakes.
I was rinsing the salad when I heard Tom yell. "Who let the dogs in, Chris?"
I turned the water off to listen.
"Whaddaya mean 'Chris'? It wasn't me!"
"Like hell it wasn't. Get them out of here."
"Man, don't be so prickly. Come here, girls."
"Violet don't... step in that. Fuck."
"Well, it wouldn't happen if you guys didn't pour paint all over the floor."
I tried to close my ears, and succeeded at not to running to them like a nervous babysitter.
"You have her?" That was Paul's voice.
"Yeah. Come Frida. Help me wash Violets feet. No, don't lick that, Violet."
Paint on the floor? They had covered it in papers. Covered it well, I hoped. No, I was sure. "You guys get ready for lunch," I yelled and from the far end of the house there came a high pitched hungry wolfs howl, which of course set off the dogs.
Some minutes later I nearly dropped the steaming muffins on the floor when Chris voice suddenly came through the open window. "Pass me something liquid, will you? I'm parched." He had taken the scarf off and his face was clean; it wasn't just Violet's paws that had been washed. The braids were bunched on the top of his head.
"Yes sir." I slipped the muffins unto the grill and got him a glass of orange juice before putting the baking sheets with tops of chaux pastry into the oven.
He drank and leaned on the sill watching me make the sandwiches. "I let the dogs run loose for a spell."
"You weren't supposed to listen."
"Listen to what?"
"Don't know what you're talking about."
"Did I say anything?"
"Sorry - did you say anything?" He eyed the sandwiches that were almost finished. "I'm hungry."
I made a roll of meat and a bit of green stuff and passed it to him. He bit off a piece and chewed. "We're out of buckets."
"We or I have to make a run and dump the stuff. I'd like you to come."
"Sure. I can drive."
I sensed an argument coming but Tom and Paul came into the kitchen. "We can't get the stuff off Paul's face."
"Well, leave it on," Chris said sensibly.
Paul shook his head. "My mum'll rip my head off."
"Don't worry. It's a hospital, there's bound to be doctors around. They can sew it back on."
Paul looked doubtful. "I'm not sure I'll look good with a seam all the way around my neck."
"You won't." Tom opened the cupboard under the sink and found the denatured spirits.
"Oil would be better," Chris hoisted himself through the window and wormed inside which was not that easy since the sink and a few dishes were in the way. He moved like a cat, getting to his bare feet, stepping lightly to the edge of the counter and jumping down.
I opened the cupboard that held the oils. "Any kind better than the other?"
"Mm. I don't know." Chris picked the olive oil. "I like the drawing on this one."
"Let me." Tom took the bottle. "I'm not sure I trust you near Paul."
Chris grinned and took a muffin. "You want another kiss?" he asked Paul.
Paul reddened and shook his head. I nodded but that earned me no kiss, just a slap to the back of my head.
"Ha," said Tom smugly and smeared Paul's forehead with oil. Chris set the table while I got the pastry out of the oven.
"Does it work?" I went over to see how Tom and Paul were doing.
"Yeah. I can't get the last bit off, though. You know, water soluble ink would- ouch." Tom hissed when Paul stepped on his foot.
"You already told me that at least ten times."
"Help, I'm in an abusive relationship," muttered Tom and wiped the oil off with a piece of kitchen roll. Paul smiled goofily.
"We could tie a scarf around your head, like Chris-"
Chris slapped me on the back of my head. It sounded to me like he said "Banana."
Which was rather confusing. "Banana? I don't think bananas would work like a scarf. Not without getting really messy."
"Ban-dana. Scarves are for women." Ah. New word.
"You have one?" Paul asked Tom.
He shook his head.
"Mormor has lots."
"I'm not going visiting Mrs. Werner wearing one of her own scarves."
"You can borrow mine, it's kind of dirty, though. I guess we could turn it inside out."
Chris bounded off and returned with the bandana.
While Tom and Chris fought over dressing Paul, I whipped the cream for the pastry. Then we finally could sit down and get something to eat. Afterwards, Tom and Paul got ready to leave.
I began cutting open the pastries in order to fill them, and thought seriously about tying Chris to a pole in the driveway.
"Can I ask you something?" I pushed the bowls away, not letting go of them entirely so that I could maneuver them in a different direction while Chris was behind me.
"Sure." He leaned casually against the counter eyeing the bowl with the chocolate icing. Very casually.
"Did your mother ever roll you into a red carpet and tie you to the chimney like a bow for decoration?" I took the mocha cream and began filling the pastries.
"Only at Christmas. I would hang up there singing Christmas carols for the entire evening." He moved into position for a surprise attack. "Santa Claus came by around midnight."
I held the bowl away and made a brain-splatter sound into his ear and he jumped, the hairs on his neck standing out. His ear seemed to be talking, telling me to lick it. Yes! I blew air into it instead. Chicken! He shivered. I bumped him with my hip and continued filling the pastry.
"He was in drag. He looked a lot like Pamela Anderson with a huge nose, a chest stuffed with presents, and a false beard."
I spent a moment trying to imagine that. "Yes?" I had finished with the mocha cream and gave him the bowl and took the one with the vanilla cream that went on top of the mocha.
"The reindeer ate my sneakers, bit the toes right off... What am I supposed to do with this?"
"That's what he said yesterday too... The answer is the same. Lick it, my dear."
Chris grinned and began scraping the bowl with the spoon while I finished filling the pastry with the vanilla cream. Then I passed him that bowl to keep him busy while the whipped cream, the lids and the chocolate icing were added.
He reached for the bowl with chocolate icing and I gave it to him.
Paul and Tom came into the kitchen, Leika dancing around Tom who carried the Bag. "Finished?" Tom asked and eyed the cakes.
"Any bowls left to lick?" Paul asked and Chris gave him the one with whipped cream.
Tom slipped an arm around my shoulder. "Is it all whipped cream in those?"
"No, the cream underneath is low fat. It's still pretty high calorie."
Paul looked at the bowl Chris was holding. "Is that cocoa icing?" There was some kind of magic in Paul's gaze because Chris after only a moments hesitation let him have the chocolate icing and accepted the bowl with the whipped cream.
I packed the cakes. Tom put the Bag on the floor and Leika climbed into it and settled down contentedly. Frida sniffed her and the Bag and tried to climb in too. "Sorry, girl. You have to stay here." I picked her up so that they could leave without falling over her.
When the house fell quiet after their departure Chris came over and scratched Frida. "Man, Leika really wanted to go."
"Yes. They really miss Mormor. You want coffee before we go?"
I found the map so that we could look at it while we had our coffee. "It's somewhere around here." I pointed to the spot that Miguel had showed me. "There is a small dirt road a couple of miles down this road. It's at the end of that."
Chris studied the map. "We're going to dump Rose's garbage at some guys private property?"
"Does he know?"
"That's what Miguel said. The guy is building his house out of second hand materials. It should be all right."
"Ah, that's why you were such an uptight ass about sorting it." He sipped some coffee, his attention still on the map. "The shortest route will take us right past my old apartment."
He pointed it out to me. "Actually - it's still mine. A couple of my friends are borrowing it."
"That's why you moved in with Joey?"
He nodded. "My place is pretty small for four, just two rooms, and Joey offered, so..."
"Miss it, don't you?"
"Yeah. Sometimes. It's not, well, the place's a dump, really. This whole area's just old run-down apartments."
"Show me when we pass it."
"Sure." He downed his last coffee.
"Yeah. Let's move. I drive."
"Not when it isn't my truck. That is - not until the dirt road."
He smiled. "Okay. I'll take care of the dogs."
"Sure." I got up to fix the kitchen, and shortly after we were out of there.
Miguel's old truck was not exactly a racing machine. I was glad I didn't have to take it through town during rush hour and that I had a local guide sitting next to me. Between looking through the glove compartment and squirming around, Chris managed to keep us on course. That is, most of the time. I was not satisfied with the route that took us past his old apartment. We were on the highway when he pointed the blocks out to me. His apartment wasn't even on our side of them.
"I wanted to see it," I complained. "This is not seeing it, this is 'almost passing' it and that's not the same."
"Man, it's just another dump." He was sitting with his feet on the dashboard and turning an old, wrecked transistor radio over in his hand. At a guess it once had been connected to the loose wiring underneath the dashboard in my side.
"It's your old home; I'm curious."
"Hm. You got any batteries?"
Chris took his feet down and leaned forward to roam the glove compartment again. "We can do it on our way back. If you want, we can go in and say hello, Sally is probably at home."
He found some wires. "You got a screw driver?"
I gave my little kit to him. "Tell me about your apartment."
"It's just two rooms and a small kitchen and a small bathroom. No air-condition. Drafty, damp during rains, hot in summer. Cockroaches. Justin, Joey and I sometimes made cockroach races on the kitchen table."
Cockroaches. On the kitchen table. I shivered and wondered about rats but I didn't ask; if there were rats then I didn't want to know. "No heat?"
"Man, this is Florida, remember? No heat." He was poking the innards of the radio. His tongue had come out, folding over his upper lip and signaling concentration. It was also a traffic hazard with me at the wheel.
"I guess. Hot water?"
"Sure. There's a shower. The floors creak a lot. There's a floorboard in the living room that has a really good creak. Like, if you stand in the right spot you can play some pretty spooky stuff by shifting around. If you smoke up first and watch scary movies it's really good."
"You think maybe Sally will let you show me?"
"Probably. I doubt she'll let us play with the cockroaches. She hates them." He gently put the radio on the floor.
"I don't mind missing that."
He chuckled and almost made me swerve into the next lane when he lay down across my lap. "Got ya." He was talking to the wires under the dashboard - or perhaps not.
"Shit, Chris, give me some warning next time. I'm driving here."
"Sit still." He worked with the wires, shifting about, pressing against my thighs and a very excited lump that continually yelled commands at me.
"Give me a bit of room. Watch the stick." He leaned forwards and I adjusted myself. "Thank you." I put my hand back on the wheel. Touch him, you idiot. Let me out.
"Your dick's talking again?"
"Going totally politician in the defensive."
"Motor mouth dick. Do you know why there are five wires here?"
"No. You want me to find a place to park so that you can get a proper look? Connecting two wires to two out of five gives you twenty possible combinations. One of the screw drivers has a what-do-you-call-it-pool-seeker..."
"The word is pole finder. Can you get it for me?"
"You want me to search for it?"
He went totally still for a couple of breaths, giving off heat. "It's in the window."
I reached over and fumbled around until I found the kit and gave it to him. After a few minutes of Chris moving in my lap the radio scratched to life, sounding about as noisy and incoherent as my dick. Chris sat back up again and picked up the radio, turning the noise down. My lap tingled.
He dug around in the glove compartment again and pulled out a roll of steel wire. "He!" he muttered to himself and set about to rig an antennae.
I took a couple of deep breaths. Really, I should concentrate more on the driving. It was hard with Chris climbing all over the cabin.
Movement in the side mirror caught my attention. A glitter of chrome - bikes coming up behind us, a whole herd of them. I kept an eye on them, there were two groups, the largest one was in front. "You want to watch this," I told Chris when the first one began overtaking us.
"What?" The bike slipped past. "Oh. Man," he sighed, sounding like he felt the same longing pull at his heart that I did when dream after dream of chrome and sleek horsepowers joined the growing formation in front of us. It was mostly cruisers and, considering where we were, of course almost all Harleys.
A broad leather clad back on one of the few bikes that wasn't a Harley nor a cruiser but a Honda Gold Wing made my belly clench. I was overtaken the same odd sensation of crossing paths with my past that had taken me the night before when I offered the good night story.
"Was that all of them?" mumbled Chris, on his knees on the passenger seat and almost pressing his nose through the window.
"No. Another small group is coming up. Five. Here comes the first one..." Another Japanese, the rider without a helmet, a mane of golden hair caused a sting in my heart and a flare of anger. This wasn't crossing an old path; it was being overtaken by it, literally.
A hand on my shoulder and a "You okay?" made it quite clear that the odd mewing sound I had heard had in fact come out of my own mouth.
"Yeah." The distance grew steadily as the herd of bikers took off towards the horizon, the two groups melting together and becoming one. A whiff of magic clung to the cabin. "You ever had this feeling of... meeting ghosts? Not of dead people, I mean, but like, messengers out of your past, or something..." It sounded stupid when I said it but the words were out and I wasn't sure I had really wanted to say them.
Chris didn't laugh. "Yeah..." He picked up the radio and turned it on again. "Those guys?"
"Two of them. The Gold Wing and the Virago."
He found a very scratchy station. "Friends?"
"Yes. I haven't seen them in years. It's odd. I mean, there is no going back and then..." I could feel Chris intense gaze on me, pulling words out that I hadn't thought it was possible to say. "I'm kind of pissed off that they sent their ghosts here, like, they didn't have the guts to show up themselves. And Martin's still crazy, riding without a helmet. Should have thought he would grow up a little..." Had something happened to them? Stupid superstition. I pushed it away; it was all in my mind, really.
It couldn't be long before we had to get off the highway.
Chris was experimenting with the antennae. I could hear a crooked grin in his voice. "Do your ghosts want anything? Apart from a scolding about riding without a helmet."
"Probably. I'm not sure that I want to know. It's the next exit, right?"
"I don't know." He turned the radio off and pulled out the map, humming in a soft high voice while he studied it. I liked listening to him and was a little disappointed when he stopped. "It's not like you're having premonitions or something?"
"I do, but I don't believe in them and I try not to think about them."
"You have premonitions but you don't believe in them?"
"Not in this kind."
"It's the next exit. What do you mean, 'not this kind'?" He turned the radio on again and fiddled with the antennae.
"There are like premonitions and then there are premonitions... You know, the ones that comes from knowing and reading people really well and then there are the ones you get when you loose a cup or a mirror and it falls to the floor. I don't believe in the mirror-kind."
"But those are the best!" He rolled the window down and stuck the end of the steel wire out of it before rolling it back up trapping the wire. It didn't seem to help much.
"You mean the most scary."
"Yeah." He fumbled with the radio and apparently did something right, because suddenly we could make out what was going on. "Next time, can you ask for a ride? I'd like to ride a ghost bike. The Flying Japanese... Cool."
I shivered, not liking the way the pictures in my head ran. Chris was hunting through the wave bands for something worth listening to. Perhaps if I threw the radio out the window he would begin humming again. I had really liked the sound of that.
The exit came up. The radio started sputtering and wheezing once we changed direction. "Fuck," muttered Chris but waited until we were on the straight piece of road before mucking about with the antennae and the angle of the radio.
"Help me look for that dirt road," I said when I thought that it had to be coming up soon, if we hadn't already passed it. We were driving along another lake, or perhaps it was the same one. It was difficult to tell due to the thicket along the road.
"Sure. There! Stop! Hey!"
I stepped on the brake and looked where he was pointing. "Goof!" I punched his shoulder.
He cackled. "Got ya."
I put the truck in first gear and got us moving again. "Chimney decorations and Santa Claus in drag."
"I'm shaking like a leaf. There it is. Right after those trees."
I slowed down. Yes, it was a dirt road and it had a boulder on each side like Miguel had said. I inched the truck past the boulders and stopped.
Chris was ready to climb into my seat before I had switched the ignition off. "Get out. My turn." The brown eyes glittered eagerly. My chest ached in that funny way again only this time it was a bit like the pressure was from champagne bubbles. He shoved me. "Move, Mikkel!" I laughed and jumped out, went around the front and climbed in.
I turned off the scratching radio. "You got the gears?"
"Sure." He turned the key, the truck shuddered and coughed back to life. "I watched you." He was sitting on the edge of the seat in order to reach the pedals.
"We can adjust the seat-"
So I shut up and leaned back enjoying the ride, alternating between watching the alien landscape and watching Chris drive. He was quite competent like it wasn't his first time behind the wheel of an old truck without servo steering.
I wondered at the ghostly growth on the trees. "What's that stuff on the trees?" I finally asked Chris, figuring he probably wouldn't mind questions that were not about how he was doing driving.
"The gray beards."
Which sounded innocent enough and he was smiling. I thought I saw something moving on the bank of a small island and remembered one of the very few things I knew about North American wildlife. "You think there are alligators here?" As soon as I asked I knew it was a stupid question.
"Yeah. Bound to be." Which he would have answered in any case and that was why it had been a stupid question. There was no telling from looking at him so I turned to look at the lake instead, trying to catch a glimpse of what ever it was that had moved out on the island. In my head, I tried to form smart questions that would get usable answers from him, like in the fairytales, but I could only come up with questions like 'When are alligators dangerous?' and 'How do you read an alligator?'. I didn't need him to fuel my imagination with answers to those.
Chris shifted to a lower gear and I looked ahead to find out why. The road wound steeply down and then up again. At the bottom there was lake on both sides. It looked like a tricky spot after rainfall. Likely it some of our rubble would be going into that stretch of road. Somebody had secured the edges with timber and spread a layer of broken stones and shards of bricks and concrete on top of the road; it both looked and felt like it had been done recently.
Chris' little smile turned into a satisfied grin when the truck began laboring up the other side. The sharp turn at the top of the small hill made for some turning of the wheel. "Oops. Hello." He stepped on the brake as a pickup came into view. It stopped too. The gray-bearded man behind the wheel eyed us for a moment before getting out, leaving a small dog to watch us from the car. I climbed out of the truck.
"Hello." He smiled a yellow toothy smile with a hole in it, speaking in a drawl that I had a hard time following. "Ah think ah seen that truck before. Ya Miguel, the kid."
I smiled and reached for his hand. "Yes. You're Will with the house?"
"Hole in one, kid." He gave my hand a callused shake.
"This is my friend Chris."
"Hi." Chris got a handshake as well.
"Ah been waiting for ya. What ya brought?"
He followed us to the truck to look things over. "Ya already sorted it. Good."
"There'll be a few more bricks in the next load. This is from the mauling."
He nodded. "Le'me show ya where it goes."
So we got back in the cars and he backed up. The half-finished house was just down the road behind orderly piles of materials and junk. He pointed the proper piles out, talking in that drawl that sounded like his tongue was huge and very soft.
"Ah'd like to show ya'round but ma woman's waitin'."
That one took a second's processing before I understood. "We can do this. You want us to spread the rubble on that stretch of road that you are building?"
Which he did and I didn't quite catch all he said after that but he seemed in a hurry to leave so I didn't ask.
"What was that last part about?" I asked Chris when Will had left and we were unloading the buckets with usable bricks.
"He told us not to kick the 'gators."
I looked at him but there was no telling whether he was pulling my leg. "I thought he was saying something about his woman."
"He did; her name's Alice. What're you doing?"
"Filling the bucket with stones. We might as well take an extra couple of buckets of stones for the road."
"Buckets of stones for the road. Sure. I'll go with Danish tradition."
We finished unloading and loading. Chris insisted on turning the truck himself. I stood behind the truck so that I could signal him. In the side mirror I could see that the tongue had wrapped itself over his upper lip again. After a lot of going back and forth the truck finally got its snout pointed in the right direction without damaging the house or anything else. I got back on board, climbing right into a satisfied smile that made my heart skip a few beats.
I had to get out again when we reached the new piece of road. Chris drove the truck forwards slowly, making frequent stops while I stood on the truck body emptying the buckets behind us. Afterwards we worked side by side helping one another evening the piles.
We had been doing that for a while when I noticed Chris' quiet and that he was working at a slightly forced speed. Sweat was running of both of us and we had tied our shirts around our middles. Perhaps he was in one of his moods. I tried to read him without staring to openly, wondering if this was one of the times when I should break it or just let him be.
I had just made up my mind to ask. Then I noticed him looking over water, eyes too clear for this to be one of his moods. He scanned the shores of the lake. When he noticed me noticing, he smiled tightly but didn't say anything, kept on working.
Perhaps the smile had been meant to calm me. It surely made me jumpy. I picked up speed too, and scanned the surroundings with quick gazes, looking for torpedo shaped, large objects with legs. All the time I kept Chris in the corner of my sight. I still wasn't sure that he wasn't pulling my leg. The longer he kept his mouth shut the more convinced I got that he was not. After several minutes of silence he had me convinced he was not having fun.
He stopped and straightened, looking over the water. "See? There, on the bank of that island?" He pointed.
I couldn't see anything but what looked to be an entangled pile of brown branches, some of which had rather weird shapes. "See what?"
"'Gator head. I think it's looking at us."
"Oh." I squinted, seeing just a tangle of browns and greys. There was something that resembled an alligator head. I worked a little faster, and considered leaving the piles and just driving off but that wouldn't be nice towards Will who might be coming home late.
A moment later Chris froze. "Ssh."
I waited quietly and watchfully while Chris listened and looked around. Then he bit his lip and shook his head. I tried working more quietly after that and kept my own ears open. My senses were working overtime, hooked directly into my motoric system and interfering with the work at hand. Or maybe the interference was because of the tremors.
There was a sound behind us. Chris threw his shovel and grasped my wrist a split second before the sound really registered in my mind, pulling me with him. "Run!"
I let go of the shovel and ran, reaching the door of the truck a few steps before Chris and tearing it open. He swarmed inside and I was right at his heels, slamming the door behind us. Chris scampered across and rolled down the window in the driver's side and poked his head out. My heart was beating for five when I did the same in my side.
No alligators in view.
"Fuck," muttered Chris.
"You see anything?" I asked.
"Big bastard. Probably moving into view in your side in a moment."
Shaking, I leaned out again and listened. There was a sharp taste of fear in my mouth. Chris moved around behind me. A hand came to rest on my shoulder and did a lot to calm me down. He poked his head out next to mine, scanning the area behind us.
It occurred to me that such a big animal was likely to make a kind of rattling noise when walking through rubble.
I hadn't heard that kind of sound..
Chris sent me sideward look so quick that I almost missed it and so full of laughter that it was a wonder that he could hold it all inside.
He giggled, then he began laughing.
"You twit!" I began laughing too, too much to take advantage of the fact that he was laughing so hard that a headlock would have been the easiest thing to catch him in. I could push him, though; I did and he tumbled to the floor.
"Hey." He looked up at me and frowned which came out rather weird because he was laughing at the same time. "You pushed me!"
I grinned. "You stuck?" For some reason it was really funny watching him trying to get up.
He punched my thigh. "Move your legs." Laughter still bubbled in him.
I did, but not the way he wanted and he swore at me. Our eyes caught, locked, and then we were laughing again.
"Gi'me a hand." Of course I did and I pulled him up. It wasn't easy maneuvering in the cramped space, and he ended up landing heavily in my lap. He must have lost his balance. I couldn't believe there could be any other reason for him sitting down there - a shirtless Chris on top of me, smelling of fresh sweat, his naked skin against mine: it was too good to be true. It had to be an accident.
I dried my watery eyes with my free hand. "Devious bastard." He was still there when I put an arm around him so it was not a fata morgana. He leaned against me, relaxing. Perhaps his belly was hurting from laughter like mine did. Beautiful belly, touch the love trail.
He was grinning. "Got ya."
His ear was right there in front of me and I growled as menacing as I could into it. "You, my friend, are chimney decoration."
He shivered, squirmed and giggled, giving off a sudden wave of heat so I made a fart noise too, just to court him and to watch the short hairs on his neck stand out. Yes! Make him squirm, feels good, nice butt. He put an arm around my neck, the tuft of hair in his armpit tickled, and snuggled deeper into my lap. I buried my nose in the hair at his temple.
"What are you doing?"
"Smelling you. You smell good."
"Wanna make out?"
"Make what out?"
"Man, do I have to explain everything? Make out. Kiss and grope."
Did I? Maybe a little. Just a tiny bit. Just enough to make me shiver. "Maybe." What?! You didn't say that! Fool! Kiss him, grope him.
He frowned at me. "Maybe? You telling me maybe?"
"Wrong answer?" I was swimming in the dark pools of his eyes; his breath was warm on my face, making my whole body sing.
The lips moved, smiled. Beautiful mouth. "Maybe."
I licked the corner of his mouth.
"That's not making out, that's romancing. Fuckhead." He was singing choir with my dick, implying that the romancing part had stopped when we fled the alligator.
So I did what I had really wanted to do since a few hours after meeting him, pulling him in close and kissing him when he tilted his head, letting my hands and mouth go where they wanted. It wasn't like he minded at all, hugging and kissing me right back, all warm and eager, solid and full of life, so real that it hurt.
Later, when we were catching our breath, Chris was sitting astride me. His chest rested against mine, I could feel his heart hammering. His breath caressed my neck in time with his words. "I think you're gay."
I chuckled and ran a hand down his strong back, drunk on the input from my senses and levitating somewhere in the center of the seventh heaven. Stop levitating, get those pants off him. "You telling me I'm a lousy kisser?"
His soft laughter was magic, penetrating my skin same as my ears and entering my blood. The fuzzy place in my chest ached when it tried to expand enough to make room for that magic little sound. It was too much. I just had to... crush him against me and bite him. He hissed and his back arched when I sunk my teeth into the junction between his neck and shoulder. Yes! A hot spot, make him squirm, make him rub. Yesyesyes...
Everything dissolved into swirling sensations from there, lasting until Chris mewed, shivering and pulsing heat, pulling me with him over the edge.
Then the slow fall back into reality, wrapped around one another in that place where it isn't quite clear whose skin is whose.
Chris licked my jaw and pulled back, resting his sweaty forehead against mine. One or both of us had leaked jism over the top of the pants and it was smeared all over our bellies.
"Mmm." His love trail was foamy and glistening.
"I don't think I wanna visit Sally like this."
"No? You look really good." I took a deep breath through my nose. "Smell just fine, too."
He chuckled. "This is gonna feel really good when we go digging rubble."
I laughed. "Maybe we should take a quick swim."
"Maybe not exactly a swim." His eyes glittered, not quite concealing the laughter that was way bigger than the small crooked smile.
"No. Look, the bank of the nearest island."
I stretched and looked to where he pointed and only saw a mesh of brown colors. Then suddenly my perception of the browns shifted, and I saw several meters of scaly reptile with legs and sharp teeth, too real to be my imagination running amok. My blood froze and fear blanked my mind with white noise.
Chris gave me a squeeze and laughed.
End of chapter