Chapter Fifteen - In the "L" Word
by Jeff Wilson
Dustin didn't need the alarm clock to wake him up in the morning. He'd been watching the clock slowly tick closer and closer to Judgment Day for about an hour. When the alarm finally sounded, he was up and out of bed in about three seconds. He'd slept so soundly that night, he felt more refreshed and awake then he'd felt in months. He walked to the shower and let the water flow over him. It felt so warm and relaxing. He could have spent hours standing there, just letting the water wash over his body. He'd never really taken the time to just enjoy a shower before. It was always just something that he'd done to get out of the way and move on to something else. When his shower ended, he dried off and looked himself over. His hair looked brown when it was wet. Or rather, it looked brown with red highlights as it dried. He looked at the beard that had somehow grown over his face over the last month. It was like he was seeing it for the first time. It didn't look half bad actually, but it didn't look like him. He ran some water in the sink and within a few minutes Dustin's real face was revealed again. He went ahead and finished the job on his chest and belly, and Dustin felt like Dustin again for the first time in a long time. Just as Dustin was finishing up his shaving, he heard a knock at his door. He wrapped a towel around his waist and found Brett standing in his hallway wearing a faded Yankees baseball cap. "You can get shot wearing that hat in this town. This is Pirates country." Dustin said. "When was the last time the Pirates had a winning season?" "1992." Dustin replied. Brett laughed out loud. "Ha!!" "Okay City Boy. We can't all buy a championship, you know." "Hey, I do like the Steelers." Brett offered. "Yeah whatever." Dustin laughed. "Wow, you shaved." Brett said. "Yeah." Dustin replied. Brett walked inside and plopped himself on the couch. "Looking good, Dustpan. So, I guess you're just about ready to go then?" Dustin hadn't followed Brett inside, though. He was busy looking up and down the hallway. He turned inside and sighed. "I left before he woke up." Brett said. "He stayed up late." "Oh... I didn't care. I was just..." "Sorry I didn't tell you he was at the house. He asked us not to tell you." "He did?" Dustin asked. "He's still trying to get himself sorted out." "I see." Dustin replied. "If it makes you feel any better, I know what you're going through. I've been there." "Been where?" Dustin said. "I just thought he might like to know if I pumped him full of AIDS, that's all." "Sure. But what I mean is, I know what it's like to know what you want but be scared to death of it at the same time. I was scared out of my skull when I was first trying to get together with Billy." Brett said. "Oh well. It all worked out. You better get dressed so we can go find out. Unless you want to go in the towel." "Like you've never gone anywhere in a towel." Dustin replied. "Not the places you've been, I'd bet." Brett sniped. "Oh, harsh." Dustin replied. He quickly put his clothes on and was soon ready to leave. He slipped his winter coat on and Brett noticed a strange look cross Dustin's face. "What's wrong?" Dustin quickly recovered his bearings. "Oh, nothing... I just was thinking. Everything's going to be different after today, isn't it? One way or another, I mean." "Maybe, maybe not." Brett replied. "Do you really want things to stay the way they are?" "I guess not." Dustin sighed. As Dustin was locking his door, he cringed when he saw that Mr. Johnston was walking down the hallway towards him. "Wearing clothes this time, huh Red?" Mr. Johnston asked. Dustin groaned. He'd sort of hoped that Mr. Johnston hadn't seen him the day he'd done Craig. "Why wouldn't he be wearing clothes in the hallway?" Brett asked. "Never mind. Let's just get out of here, okay?" Dustin said. "What did you do, go streaking or something?" Brett asked. Mr. Johnston laughed. "It'd be hard to go streaking with the way he had himself attached to poor Craig. Looked more like he was trying to play leap frog." "Alright!" Dustin snapped. "Shut up you stupid old fuck!" "Did this happen recently?" Brett asked. "Just the other day." Mr. Johnston laughed. "Poor Craig's been walking around like he rode a horse ever since. And judging from what ol' Red was giving to him, that's not far from the truth." "Okay, so I banged Craig in the hallway. Would you just shut up and leave me alone you fossil!" Dustin sneered. "You're such a dick!" Mr. Johnston laughed as he entered his apartment and closed the door. "God, I hate that old piece of shit." Dustin scowled. "Whatever." Brett said coldly. "What's your problem?" Dustin asked. "Nothing, except that I feel like I've just wasted about two months of my life with you." "What's that supposed to mean?" Dustin asked. "I told you before that you wouldn't change. I was right. You couldn't even wait for your results to come back before you started back up again, could you?" "It wasn't like that." Dustin said. "Well what was it like then? Because from where I'm standing it looks like you didn't learn a thing from everything that's happened. Did you even think about the poor guy you were doing before you decided to screw him? Or did you just think with your dick again? I swear every time you get a hard on it must suck all the blood out of your brain." "You don't have to insult me, you know." "Did you even stop to think that you may have just killed whoever it was you screwed?" "Nate was negative." Dustin replied. "And how many people have you fucked since him? And Nate sitting at my house wondering if you and him could ever..." "We couldn't. It's not that I don't care about him. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it could never work." "He loves you, you big dope! Don't you get it?" "I fucked him the first night I met him." "It's not about the sex Dustin! You did something right in your life for once, don't you get it! You actually made somebody feel like they weren't just a hole to use. Nate's never had that before. Sure, you banged him the first night, but since then, you've made the guy feel important. You haven't treated him like an object. And surprise, surprise, guys like it when somebody treats them nice." "So I know what he's been through and can sympathize. It's not love! I don't believe in love." "Well maybe you don't believe in love, but you're in it." "Oh bullshit." Dustin replied. "Can we just go get our test results please?" Brett fought back the urge to say more. If he'd wanted to argue with a stubborn mule he could have stayed home and discussed politics with Billy. The two continued on their way to find out Dustin's destiny. As they sat in the car, Dustin could feel the cold hard steel of Craig's pistol against his chest. He wondered about Brett's words. Was it that obvious that he really liked Nate? Dustin looked at the young man in his faded Yankee cap who was driving him toward his destiny. Brett Reilly had always been a pain. He remembered the first time they met. Billy introduced them, of course. "Meet the new kid from New York City." Somehow Dustin knew even at that first meeting that he didn't like the little brown-haired twerp. Sure, they'd been friendly toward each other. But there was always something between them. A something with green eyes. He watched Billy slip closer and closer to the "Reilly bastard," as his father had so eloquently put it. If he hadn't had reason to hate Brett before, that gave him all the reason he needed. Dustin had never really looked at Reilly before. Sure he'd seen him more than he ever thought he would growing up, but he'd never paid that much attention. "What does Billy see in you anyway?" Dustin thought to himself. "Why'd he pick you instead of me?" He glanced down briefly. "Nah. It's not that. I guarantee I've got you beat there, or Billy would have said something." "He's wearing that damn brace under his pants. Poor kid. I remember when you did that to yourself. That's the only time I've ever seen you cry. You didn't even cry when I beat the shit out of you. I guess maybe that's why Billy likes you. You're tougher than I ever gave you credit for." Dustin spoke. "Wearing the brace today?" "The weather's changing." Brett replied. "Always aches when the weather changes." "A lot of things are changing." Dustin said absent-mindedly. "Not really." Brett replied. "You're like Billy. Too stubborn to change." "I'd like to change." Dustin said. "I really would." "I'd like to believe that." Brett thought. But instead he simply kept on driving. "Why does Nate love me?" Dustin asked. "Maybe he has a thing for redheads." Brett offered. "No, seriously. I'm no better than Luke really." "You're a hell of a lot better than Luke." "So, how long is Nate going to stay with you guys?" Dustin asked. "I don't know. He doesn't really have anywhere else to go." Brett replied. "Yeah. I guess not." Dustin said. "He's really hurt, you know. Seems everybody in his life has either used him or tossed him out on his ass at some point. I guess now you can add Luke to the list. I don't see us kicking him out any time soon." "I used him too." Dustin said. "At first, yeah. But then, he used you too." "How?" Brett laughed. "Gee you really are dense sometimes. You know, there are guys out there who really do like what you can do to them with that beast you've got between your legs. Just because you're too wrapped up in your own thoughts to realize just how nuts you're driving the guy doesn't mean he's not enjoying it. And just your luck, you found somebody who likes the person that dick is attached to even more than he enjoyed the ride." "I don't want to hurt him, Brett. He doesn't deserve to get hurt again. I mean, I can't control myself. You know? I honestly can't. I try, and I try... But I just end up in bed with another nameless guy again. That's if we even make it to the bed. You know what I mean? I can't stop myself." "But you've never even tried to stop, have you? I mean, you never really had a reason to. Nobody's ever given you a reason to, really." Dustin stared out the windshield at the road ahead. In his head, a thousand thoughts were blasting through his brain. The image of so many guys who he'd slept with appeared in his mind. And then there was Nate. He was so... Indescribable. There were so many good things about him. There wasn't the usual attitude he had with the guys he'd had. He really liked Nate. It was so much more than just fucking him. It was a feeling he'd only ever had for one other person, one who he'd never had sex with before. "What does Billy think about him?" Dustin asked. "Billy thinks he's great." Brett replied. "Okay." Dustin said. "What? That's it?" Brett asked. "Yeah." Dustin replied. "He's really cute, you know." Brett said. "I know." Dustin replied. "And he has the best ass I've ever fucked." "Well, there's more information than I needed." Brett laughed. Dustin laughed. "He does! Come on, we were getting too serious there." "Yeah, I guess so. And we're here." Brett pulled into a parking spot and the two of them stared at the Health Center Building yet again. "I don't want to go in there." Dustin said. "I know." Brett replied. "Is it true what Billy says about you?" "What did he tell you?" Brett asked. "He says that you can do things with your tongue that can..." "Yes it's true." Brett interrupted quickly. "Can't you go more than five minutes without thinking about sex?" Dustin laughed. "Yeah..." He sighed deeply and then asked, "Hey Brett?" "Yeah?" "I really am scared." He admitted. "I don't want to get sick." "You won't." Brett said. "What makes you think that?" "I can just feel it." Brett replied. "We better get inside." Dustin and Brett walked through the door to the clinic and Brett informed the receptionist that they were there. Then they sat for a while and waited...
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